There is often a trap in the words 'after school activities'. One may easily believe that since these activities are after school, they are not of much importance. But, one couldn't be more wrong. Research suggests that children pick up some of their most important skills from after school programs. That is why children who do not participate in any extra curricular activities are generally slow and less vibrant.
The learning environment that one fosters in after school activities must be as disciplined and as functional as that found in the school. This is especially true of educational after school programs. This is the best place to teach the child important skills like time-management and goal setting. Time-management is a vital skill, but it is not achieved easily.
Children need to feel the discipline that is needed to finish a task and the happiness of finishing the allotted work in a specific time frame.
Children look for different things in an after class program. The learning environment should be attractive, colorful and informative. Use charts, pictures, posters and drawings to liven up a class. Additional resources
(resources that are not easily available in the school) will make the classes interesting. For instance, when teaching a biology lesson, allow the child to see through a microscope or see slides of bacteria. This will add to their knowledge and also make them more enthusiastic about their after school program.
Discipline is a must in after school activities. In fun or sport-based activities, it is easy for children to step out of line and wreck havoc.
While children should be allowed to have fun, they should be curtailed from unacceptable behavior. The best way to enforce discipline is to lay down the rules at the very beginning. Let the children know what is
acceptable and unacceptable, right at the beginning.
Rewards are an important part of any learning process. The reward can be a simple pat on the back or a token of appreciation. Motivate your children to aspire for higher things by rewarding their achievements. Holding
competitions or sport activities where the children can show their proficiency is a reward in itself.
Children can get bored easily, especially in the case of an educational program. The main thrust of an academic program is to repeat what has been taught in class and to allow the child to learn it quickly. It is difficult to pique the child's interest a second time, especially when the child is already tired of one dose of the same lesson. It is best to thwart boredom by using creative techniques like an impromptu extempore on any topic, a quiz program or a slideshow.
After school activities are becoming more popular by the day. Parents want their kids to learn more. Children too have an insatiable quest for knowledge. In an after school program, it is possible to pay individual
attention and quench this thirst using various effective techniques.
Should your child go for the football practice 5 days a week? Are 3 days enough? It is common for parents to be a little confused when it comes to deciding how much is too much with reference to after school activities.
They argue that since most of the activities are fun (as different from studies), children will simply lap up these classes. But, too much of fun can also make a child sick. Here is a simple guide that will help you decide how much is too much for your child.
Your child is just beginning to learn to interact and get used to discipline. His or her after-school life should be simple and carefree.
One or two classes per week are enough at the beginning. Once the child settles down, look for more challenging activities like a music program.
One or two activities per week, play dates and playground visits are recommended. Avoid competitive sports activities. The child is still too young to have to worry about winning and losing. After the rigors of a full day at school, he or she needs a healthy outlet for pent up energy. Physical activities and noncompetitive sports are best for this age.
Your child is old enough to voice opinions on what activities he or she wants. Sports, skating, swimming or computers - steer him towards things he likes. Many children begin lessons on a musical instrument around this age. But, allow your child some 'alone time' during which he can unwind and just do whatever he wishes.
Socialization begins to take center stage. Team sports are a good choice. Developing motor skills, painting, drawing etc are good too. Let the child explore areas of interests. But leave aside enough time for the family and
for fun activities.
At this age, the child will tell you what he likes. He needs to get involved in activities that will boost his confidence. This will also help him manage stress as this is the time when social pressure is beginning to build. But, beware of the homework demon. Your child needs more time with his studies. Balancing his schoolwork with other activities is very important.
The fifth grader is bubbling with energy and will want to do just about everything. But she or he may conveniently push studies to the background. So, close supervision is needed. Keep one or two days free for
family time and other activities. Now is a great time to get your child interested in community service.
Steer him away from TV. Get him engaged in activities that reinforce learning. Academic performance can be improved by encouraging your preteen to join clubs like the Girl/Boy Scouts program, language clubs, chess
clubs etc. As a thumb rule, 16-20 hours a week of extra activity should be more than enough. But look out for signs of burnout.
What you select for your child and how long he should work at it is basically decided by the child's temperament. As a parent, you should closely observe your child and base your decisions on feedback from the
Initial enthusiasm in after school activities tends to wane after the first excitement is over. This is but natural. The trick is to keep up the hard work even after this. How do you keep your child motivated? This is
of particular importance when the child goes in for educational after school programs.
Make the career-academics connection early on:
Let your child understand how important studies are. Let them know that an excellent career is wholly dependent on wholesome learning. To develop their interest in studies, plan family activities that are connected with their studies. Emphasize the real-world connection to academics whenever possible.
Let your child know, through example, that hard work will be rewarded. If your child believes that achievement is a natural by-product of effort, they are more likely to put in hard work. Such children are also less likely to drop out of programs and college at a later stage.
When a child achieves something, it is necessary to praise his hard work. Positive reinforcements enhance confidence and increase self-esteem.
Conversely, beware of criticism. It can ruin the frail ego of children and play havoc with their minds.
When parents send their children for after school programs, they take it for granted that the child is safe. But since the number of children participating in these activities has increased, it is necessary to look
into safety issues.
Children are vulnerable when they are outside the classes. While going or returning, they should know the safest route to take. Many kids hang out with their friends just after these classes. Find out 'danger zones' from
your neighbors and make the children aware of these.
The child has to know how to handle emergencies. It is better to discuss various scenarios with your child. Tell them what they should do in case the class is suddenly cancelled. Show them the first-aid kit at home and make
sure they know whom to call in an emergency. Post any important contact information in a place that is easily accessible to the child. If the child will be alone at home, discuss a few unexpected things with them.
Tell them to use the safety chain ALWAYS.
Relay on your neighbors and friends when needed. Let your child know who can be contacted at times of emergency. Ask your child to check in by phone. Above all, always tell the child to be in a group. Visiting toilets
all alone or going home via isolated streets must be avoided.
Green marketing is an opportunity for your business to do the right thing and be rewarded for it.
Green Products and Services
Green marketing has two main aspects. The first is that it puts environmental considerations first when it comes to creating and selling products and services. For example, a lot of people use laundry services and dry cleaners. A green version of a laundromat would use cold water washing, water-efficient machines, gentle detergents, and energy-efficient washer and dryers. Some might even be solar powered.
A green dry cleaner would use fewer harsh chemicals that would have less of an impact on the environment, while still getting the job done. They would use less plastic and paper to wrap up the clothes and give customers incentives for bringing back the wire hangers so they don’t end up in the garbage, and therefore in landfills all over the country.
Green Marketing Methods
Green marketing can also be about ensuring that all of your marketing efforts are green and have a low impact upon the environment. For example, choosing whether to produce your sales materials on paper or digitally can have a huge impact on the environment, as well as on your bottom line.
If you decide you absolutely have to have a printed piece, your choice of paper and ink can also have a significant impact on the environment. Using recycled non-glossy paper and soy ink will make a huge difference compared to new paper that is coated (shiny) and has chemical-based inks.
If you are selling tangible goods, your choice of packaging will also have a significant impact. Again, paper and ink will affect how recyclable the packaging will be. If you use plastic, choosing a recyclable plastic can make all the difference between it being repurposed, or filling up landfills all over the world.
Even the day-to-day decisions in the office as you run your green business can have a significant impact on the environment. Do your colleagues hit the print button all the time without thinking? Or do you aim for a paperless office with good back-up on both hard drives and cloud storage?
Do you use paper cups and disposable plastic coffee pods? Or mugs and a standard coffee machine with a reusable stainless steel filter? If the latter, do you use the coffee grounds for mulch in your office plants or your own garden?
Which cleaning products do you buy for the office? Bottle after bottle? Or the small containers you use to refill the bottle and just add water? Are they green cleaner without harsh chemicals? Or heavy-duty ones that pollute the environment and even cause allergic reactions?
Once you enter the realm of green marketing, you will find that it connects with other ethical considerations and personal values. For example, green marketers will often source raw materials or buy wholesale from "fair trade" co-operatives and small businesses.
As the name suggests, fair trade means that the suppliers, such as coffee farmers, are paid a fair wage for their produce, not forced to live on a poverty-level wage. Coffee, tea, and cocoa are just a few of the items you might have in your office kitchen. Fair trade clothing, jewelry and furniture might all be part of your shopping site.
Green is a mindset and certain values you can share with your customers. Green marketing is therefore not just about selling, but is a way of life. Becoming more aware of green issues can be a path to greater profits once you start putting the planet first. Take a 360-degree look at your entire business and see if green marketing is for you.
One of the most common questions in relation to green marketing and selling more eco-friendly products is what price should be charged for them. This can be a tricky issue because people who run a business, and their loyal customers, can often hesitate when it comes to changing prices. And people who are just going into business need to have some sort of pricing benchmark so that their products and services will be comparable to those already on the market.
Business owners might be concerned that they will decrease sales if they increase prices. They might also be concerned that existing customers will feel they are getting a bad deal if they raise their prices.
Consumers are always concerned with getting good value for money. A price change might make your customer think that you don't value them. However, as with most effective marketing, the important thing to do is to understand the needs of your customers and what drives them when making purchasing decisions. It is also important to understand your own unique selling point - that is, why they should do business with you.
Greening Your Product Line
So your first step is to determine whether or not your customers are interested in green products. An easy way to do this is to look at your current product line and see if your top sellers can be transformed into greener versions of their existing selves.
If so, your next consideration will be maintaining the quality of the item. It should be just as good, if not better, than the existing product - only greener. If this is the case, most customers will not mind a price increase. This is because price and value are two different things.
Price versus Value
For example, not everyone looks for bargain-basement prices and shops at Walmart. They might have ethical concerns about whether their workers are treated well, where the raw materials are sourced from, and whether or not vendors that supply their products are fairly compensated. Since Walmart fails on all three counts, ethical shoppers will "vote" for more ethical companies with their dollars.
Studies have shown that customers interested in green issues have indicated they would be willing to pay 10% to 20% more for a product if it is green, provided that it gives them at least the same satisfactory experience as a product which is not. This being the case, you can use your current pricing as a guideline and add 10%.
The Financial Impact of Greening
Your next consideration will be if anything is going to change in terms of your raw materials. For example, switching to post-consumer waste paper for your packaging instead of your present packaging might actually work out cheaper, so you could keep your price the same and still win, and be greener too.
Or you might also decide that you wanted to source your raw materials from a fair-trade co-operative in Africa. In this case, you might pay a little bit more for your raw materials than you were previously, but you would also be doing something which was more ideologically sound and in keeping with green issues and the ethos of creating a better planet for everyone.
Announce this change on your website as a way of explaining any price increase, and most customers will be more than happy to pay a little bit more.
No matter which decisions you make regarding pricing, make sure that your customers understand the value proposition. In this way, they will actually feel good about the price increase, because they know that they are doing something worthwhile with their money.
There are a number of ways to start creating green products and services for your business. Your approach will depend on whether or not you are just starting a business, or have been in business for a while and wish to make your business greener.
Do Your Research
Your first step is to do your research. If you are starting your own business, you need to do niche research to determine whether the market you want to enter into will be profitable. Within that market, you then need to find out if green issues drive purchasing decisions.
For example, we know that dog training is a profitable niche, but are dog owners green, or interested in holistic living? The answer is yes. There are avid readers of Whole Dog Journal, for example, and would never miss an issue - especially the reviews of the healthiest all-natural dog foods for their beloved pet.
They will buy healthy toys that are not plastic and will steer clear of rawhide, since it is full of chemicals. They will avoid anything that says it is made in China after the pet food poisoning scandal that took so many pets' lives several years ago. Think about your niche and the green issues that might be driving your target customers' purchasing decisions, then cater to them.
Greening Your Existing Products
If you already have an existing business, it is important to survey your customer base to determine whether or not they would be interested in greener alternatives to your top-selling products. Below are a few ideas for creating greener products and services that your customers should love.
Organic Food Service
Ordering food online is booming. You could stand out if you were to offer organic whole food delivered fresh to people's doors every day. Emphasize freshness, locality, and taste in your chemical-free organic foods.
These days, people are interested in sustainable natural fabrics, not synthetics. You can source fabrics from all over the world that are 100% organic, such as linen, bamboo and cotton. There is also a great interest in recycled or upcycled items.
Some people love to shop in vintage stores, while others love repurposing pre-existing garments. For example, you can make great cushion covers with old sweaters, and even a wedding gown out of old umbrella fabric.
If you run a lawn maintenance and garden service, consider offering an organic one that promises no harmful pesticides and harsh chemicals will be used. When making choices about what products to use, also take into consideration any family pets and children. Cocoa mulch is all natural and very effective, but dogs have died from eating it because they should not consume chocolate.
Green Wedding Planning and Live Event and Party Planning
Weddings are a prominent example of conspicuous consumption. Many modern brides, however, are concerned with the impact of their wedding on the environment. They also hesitate about spending a lot of money on cut fresh flowers when there are many green alternatives, such as silk. If you are already a wedding planner, or live event or party planner, you will know all about the amount of waste such events can generate.
If this is the case, take a 360-look at the events you run to see how you can green them. Locate products and vendors and become an affiliate and earn a commission, or earn commission on referrals.
These are just a few simple ways to create green products and services you know there will be a market for, for greater profits.
Your website should be the hub of all of your marketing activity. If you decide that you are going to offer a new line of green products and services, the first place to start marketing this fact will be your own website.
If you have been in business for some time, one of the easiest ways to go green is to revamp your product line. Look at two or three of your best-selling products, and see if you can come up with greener versions of them. Ask your customers what they think of the idea. Survey your email marketing lists to see if they would also be interested in greener versions of your products.
Once you have done your market research, it will be time to take a 360-degree look at the product as it is at the moment to try to see in which areas it can become greener. For example, you might wish to look at the packaging. Opting for recycled cardboard and soy-based inks will make a significant difference in the impact your packaging has on the environment. Similarly, paying attention to the plastic that you use and opting for ones that are easily recyclable will also ensure that less trash goes into landfills.
When you make these decisions, write about them at your site. You might even write a press release about your changes if you are using any new, cutting-edge technology. For example, there is an inventor from New Zealand who has created a portable machine that can create standard-sized building bricks out of sea plastic shoveled up from beaches in the Hawaiian Islands, and using the bricks to make houses for the poor. That kind of innovation is headline-worthy and certainly should be reported on your website.
Greening Made Easy
Your website should also become the hub of all of your activity because a truly green company will try to be as clean as possible. This means discontinuing any paper catalogs or direct mail that you may have been using in order to market your products. This in turn will mean you need to do most of your marketing online, especially in relation to the social networks.
It might also mean ceasing to publish paperback books in favor of electronic ones and buying recycled photocopy paper and paper goods for the office and announcing that fact. All of these initiatives will have a significant environmental impact and you might even consider documenting all you do and the savings they involve. Then you can share your experiences and become a poster child for a leaner, greener company in your niche or industry.
You could even create eBooks, or become a coach or consultant, about greening one’s business, spinning new profitable products out of everything you learn. Naturally, you would launch these new products at your website.
Your About Us Page and Mission Statement
Your green initiatives also should also be part of your About Us page and mission statement. These "housekeeping" pages on your website are more important than you think. Google’s search engine spiders scan them more than any other pages at your site apart from your homepage.
New visitors to your site will want to know who you are, what your values are, and why they should do business with you. Don’t make them guess or hunt all over the site to find out this information. Put it where they can find it and be proud of your green offerings.
Your website should be a hive of activity, driving traffic to it to see all you have to offer. Once you have traveled down the path of being greener, be sure your website and all your marketing reflects that fact, and see what a difference it can make to your profits.
Once you decide to make your business greener, it will be important to market this fact to your target audience. One of the best ways to market any new initiative is on social media.
Having said that, announcing that your business is now greener can be a tricky proposition. On the one hand, regular customers don't really like change. On the other hand, up to 90% of US consumers are interested in green issues.
Know the Green Niche
About 20% of the US consumer base is "very green" - that is, takes green issues extremely seriously. Another 40% can be considered "medium green"; green issues tend to be one of their main considerations when they make any purchasing decisions, but it is not the most important one.
However, if you want to be seen as green and establish yourself as a green company, you have to be the real deal and "sell yourself" to the 20% who are truly green.
This is no easy feat. Fortunately, on social media, people tend to cluster in groups and share their interests. The green niche is a busy one. It also overlaps with other niches that have an ethical or even spiritual dimension.
For example, people who are interested in green issues are often also interested in LOHAS - that is Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability. This is a holistic way of looking at the way they live their lives, from the foods they eat and hobbies they engage in, to the products they buy, the clothes they wear, and the housewares they purchase for their homes.
People interested in green issues are also often interested in holistic health, and are therefore willing to try herbal supplements, organic foods, and healthy activities such as yoga, tai chi, a walking program, and so on.
People who are green tend to make their purchasing decisions based on careful research about the impact that the product has on their environment. Consider how many people have purchased hybrid cars, for example.
They do detailed research before buying. Many of them go on social media to find out people's experiences of the green item before they make their final purchasing decision. This phenomenon, referred to as social search, can greatly influence your target market before they finally decide to press the button.
In the course of their research, a green shopper will ask friends and family, and treat social media signals as word-of-mouth advertising. In fact, studies have shown that feedback on social media sites is more trusted than information given by the manufacturer. Green consumers listen to what their peers tell them rather than what they manufacturers or labels tell them.
This being the case, it is important to make sure that you pay attention to reputation management and good customer service in relation to all of your products. Social media can be a double-edged sword. It can be a great opportunity for people to share experiences. On the other hand, it can be a tool for anonymous haters or rival companies to try to undermine your business.
However, if you are sincere and honest about your products, and really have ethical issues in mind rather than just trying to cash in on the trend, you should soon see an uptake in the green products and services you are offering to this influential and lucrative target customer base.
Your website will be the hub of all your marketing activity, so be sure to have social share buttons on your site or blog so visitors to your site can share on their social media accounts with just a click. In this way, your happy customers will spread the word and create the impression of a clean, green company worth doing business with.
Smart business owners are always looking for easy ways to expand their customer base. One of the ways to do this is through affiliate marketing.
Green affiliate marketing is a little bit more specialized, but it is possible to find green affiliate programs that you can join, and in turn find affiliates who are willing to market your green products.
Green Affiliate Marketing
If you are thinking of expanding and "greening" your business, one of the easiest ways to do this in a risk-free manner is to become an affiliate marketer. In this way, you can test the market and your customers’ interest in green products without spending a lot of time, money and energy creating them from scratch.
There are many companies which offer affiliate programs so that you can sell their products in exchange for a commission. You could also sign up for Amazon Associates and create an entire store of green products with just a few clicks.
In addition, there is direct selling - that is, face-to-face selling of brand-name products and services in exchange for a commission. Good examples of top direct sales companies would be Tupperware and Pampered Chef. Avon and Mary Kay are also hugely popular; however, since they now test their products on animals, they are no longer green and ideologically sound.
However, you are sure to find a large number of green companies if you search for green affiliate programs and green direct sales companies in Google. Sign up for the programs, start selling, and track your results.
Getting Green Affiliates and Joint Venture Partners
If you are already selling green products, it is important to look for affiliates to help you broaden your customer base. Your best affiliates might also be willing to form joint venture partnerships with you, in which you work on mutually profitable deals together in order to make more sales.
In terms of green affiliate marketing, the process is similar to becoming a green affiliate yourself. Online affiliate marketplaces are a hive of activity with many opportunities that should be right for your business. Some of the top ones like CJ.com and Rakuten LinkShare are easy to use as an affiliate, but too expensive for small businesses to use if they wish to look for affiliates.
Fortunately, there are a couple of marketplaces which are affordable. ClickBank is the best affiliate marketplace for selling digital products - a perfect green product. For example, an eBook conserves trees, water, chemicals, ink and so forth.
ClickBank has recently also allowed people to start selling tangible products at their site, such as herbal supplements, customized clothing and mugs, and so forth. The listing fee for each of your items is currently $50. You set the commissions, which can range from 50% to 75%.
Another good site for picking up green affiliates is PayDotCom.com. It allows you to sell both the digital and tangible goods and has a very easy-to-use interface. You can create a shopping cart, and also offer valuable resources for your affiliates in order to help them sell your products like pros.
Joint Venture Partnerships
Once you are working as an affiliate, or have affiliates, you will get to know both you competitors and those who sell similar but not identical products to your own. You might decide to approach them with a deal, or vice versa. The deals usually involve mailing to each other’s email lists and splitting the sales 50/50. Other deals can be more complicated if you work well together.
Becoming a green affiliate, and collecting an army of green affiliates, are two of the easiest ways to grow your business by leaps and bounds and tap into this multibillion-dollar market.