Editor’s Note: Get to Know Co-Founder & Creative Director, Abi

  1. What do you do?

I work as a Product Manager for a wonderful company.  This means that I have strategic ownership for one of our product lines. It is my responsibility to stay ahead of customer needs, create and communicate a strategic vision for my product portfolio, and to lead the organization to develop innovative solutions that will help us gain market share and grow profitably.

  1. What was your childhood like?

My childhood was very warm and loving. My fondest childhood memories are of the times I spent with my family. My parents were very protective so outside of school, I didn’t get to spend a lot of time with kids that weren’t in my extended family. However, I truly remember feeling loved, safe, cared for, provided for and lucky. When I got to middle school age, I begged my parents, like many other kids my age, to go to boarding school and they accepted. I have lots of stories about my time in boarding school. When I look back now, I cannot believe I had those fun and crazy experiences when I was only 12 years old!

  1. What are some things your parents/guardians did that you consider critical to your success today?

My parents prioritized my education. In Nigeria, where I grew up, education equates to opportunity and therefore, is a top value of that society. My parents made sacrifices to send me to the very best schools they could afford and set high expectations for achievement. The best part was that they never hid their pride in me. They were quick to show off my latest accomplishments to their friends and provided any tutoring or extra helped I needed with my studies.

Because of the high value placed on education in Nigeria,  there was also a clear understanding on what success looks like. So my parents like other typical Nigerian parents had a clear idea of what path I should be on. In their mind, I was going to be a doctor. However, what was great about my parents is that as soon as they saw that I showed some responsibility for my own life and decision making, they let me have the wheel and fully supported my decision to ultimately study computer science for my undergraduate degree.  Now as an adult, I realize how truly lucky I am.

  1. If you could change anything about your upbringing, what would it be?

I would change the fact that I had limited exposure to different careers and paths outside of those that were considered tried and true. As a child growing up in Nigeria, you were encouraged to either be a lawyer, medical doctor, engineer or banker.  There was no concept of working in an area of passion because the purpose of work was not to make you happy but to adequately provide for yourself and family.

I wish I was taught early that you can succeed on any path if you work hard. I had an early inclination towards the arts that was not encouraged beyond my primary school years. I wish I was instead encouraged to find ways to incorporate BOTH the arts and sciences in my career explorations.

  1. What has been your biggest challenge as a woman in finding/defining your path so far?

My biggest challenge has been to resist the urge to compare myself to my male colleagues. Maybe one day, we will have gender equality but we are not there yet. The reality is that in many cases, I have to be many times better than my male peers to get noticed. If you let it, this struggle with equal opportunity in the work place can really mess with your mind. So I have decided that being better is an asset. I only have everything to gain by being the most effective and most brilliant I can be.

  1. If you had a daughter, how would you raise her to thrive in a world that still presents many challenges for women?

I am raising two beautiful girls. Though the world can be tough to navigate, I have found that the key to thriving is to find your own way. So I am intentional about teaching my girls to discover their strengths, love themselves, find their place in the world and make impactful contributions.

  1. What does the Raising Smart Girls platform mean to you?

This platform is special to me and I hope it becomes a very special place for moms of girls. There is great power in connecting with each other to educate, uplift, empower each other so that we can in turn educate, uplift and empower our daughters to live fulfilled lives.

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Editor’s Note: Get To Know CoFounder Uto

Many of you have asked that we share more about ourselves with you. We think it’s a great idea and would definitely love any opportunity to connect with you even more. So here we go! Co-founder Uto Ifudu is up first.

Although she hangs out mostly behind the scenes,  she helps put this newsletter together every week. Most importantly, she is leading our efforts to bring girl friendly math curriculum to you and your smart girls! Enjoy this peek into who Uto is and how she was raised. If you have any more questions, don’t hesitate to reach out or leave a comment.

1. What do you do?

I’m an IT Risk Manager at the World Bank in DC. In this role, I am primarily responsible to assessing various technologies being adopted by the organization to identify potential risks and implement solutions to resolve these issues. 

2. What was your childhood like?

My childhood was fun, fun, FUN! I have very fond memories of playing freely in the neighborhood, family meals filled with lots of laughter, sleepovers with the cousins, and growing up in a secure environment with people around that loved and cared for me. 

3. What are some things your parents/guardians did that you consider critical to your success today?

From a very early age, my parents ensured that my siblings and I had a strong sense of self. They made sure we were confident in our own skin and in our ability to motivate ourselves to do whatever it is we set our mind to. My parents also thought us to be kind, to be content with what we had, to have a sense of respect for others and to be compassionate to others especially those less fortunate than us. We also travelled a lot as a family – taking local trips and some international trips as well which helped shape my worldview.  My parents also made certain decisions and sacrifices so we could have the best education their money could buy, they believed that a sound education was one of the best gifts a parent could give a child. 

4. If you could change anything about your upbringing, what would it be?

If I could change one thing about my upbringing, I would wish that I were closer to my mom during my childhood. My mom was ‘obsessed’ with raising me to be the perfect daughter that sometimes, she was particularly strict with me. Because she was so hard on me, I was so scared of disappointing her and feared her as such, we didn’t have that mother-daughter bond. Thankfully, her efforts paid off and I grew up to be a decent adult (I think). My mom and I have since repaired our relationship and are now very close especially since I became a mom myself and are making up for lost time!

5. What has been your biggest challenge as a woman in finding/defining your path so far?

My biggest challenge as an adult has been in balancing the different roles I have to play as wife, mother, daughter, employee etc. These roles sometimes are in conflict with each other and pursuing success in one area usually comes at a price of sacrifice in another area. 

6. If you had a daughter, how would you raise her to thrive in a world that still presents many challenges for women?

I have been blessed with TWO beautiful daughters and everyday, I try to raise them to be confident, strong and kind hearted human-beings. I want them to have a strong sense of self, to understand the importance of a good education, to be confident in their abilities, and above all dare to dream!

7. What does the Raising Smart Girls platform mean to you?

Raising Smart Girls is the convergence of my passions about education, empowerment and strength of our daughters.  I am especially passionate about the education of the female child. I’m a firm believer that a solid education opens us up to many opportunities, break boundaries and envision our dreams as achievable. Our girls also face a different set of challenges relating to the various roles that society has typecast-ed for them  as such, its essential that we also equip our daughters with the right tools to sift through all the noise that society will throw at them. My goal with the platform is to support parents in raising girls of strong character, empower them to succeed in today’s world and provide them with the tools to create the world in which they want to live in tomorrow. 

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Editor’s Note: Protect Your Joy

 

“Are you having fun?”

That is what my older daughter asked me over FaceTime two days ago.When I am traveling for work, our sweet conversations over video chat at the end of the day are usually small talk about the day and an exchange of silly faces. She has never asked me if I was having fun on my work trip.  I don’t remember what my response was to her but i couldn’t stop thinking about that question. Was I supposed to be having fun? The truth is the 12 days of this month already feels like several weeks have passed. I have so much piled up on my plate at work, home and with my personal goals that all I can think of is getting things done.

How often do we start the year full speed ahead and burn out before the 1st quarter is over? If it is not fun, we end up hating it and if we hate it, we will eventually stop doing it.

I needed the reminder to do things the way I love and not just to check them off the list. I needed the reminder to protect my joy. So in order to still experience joy and strength at the thousandth step of our individual journeys this year, let’s remind ourselves of what we already know we need to do: fuel up, set a steady pace and plan for breaks.

It’s only Jan 12 and thanks to my wise little girl, I have hit the reset button already. Do you need a reset?

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Editor’s Note: You First!

I have a love hate relationship with new year resolutions. I love the energy it brings to every new year as we all gear up to be better and do better. But I hate that feeling at about day 50 in the year when you realize you are way off track.

 

We start off pumped up about our big hairy goal; every year, we are going to start a business, lose the weight, leave the dead end job, exit abusive situations, make new friends, reconnect with old ones, spend quality time with our kids, date our spouses, love our selves. Every. Single. Year.

 

Well, I’ve had it with the false starts so this year I am trying something different. I have picked only one goal for this year. One thing that gets all my energy and focus. One thing that if it’s all I get to check off my list, it will give me the boost I need to take on other challenges.

 

And to support my one thing, I have also picked one word that would serve as my compass when I start to feel myself wander off the path. My word is consistency.

 

And should I start to wander, I also picked a quote to remind me of what I set out to do. This beautiful quote from Goethe gave me the courage to start exploring my passion for writing years ago.

 

 

 

So before we get back to talking about raising our smart girls. Let’s start with you first.

 

What’s your word for 2017? How will you stay on track to achieve your goal?

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5 Ideas for Bonding With Your Family These Holidays

Be A Tourist In Your Own Town

There may be a chill in the air, but don’t let it slow you down. Bundle up, and spend an afternoon exploring with your girl. Head off to a destination that you’ve always wanted to check out, or take her to one of your own favorite spots that she hasn’t seen yet.

 

Twelve Days of Giving

Make others’ lives merry and bright during the 12 days of Christmas, beginning December 25 and ending January 5. Stuff decorated shoeboxes with toys, school supplies, and personal-care products for disadvantaged children. Ladle up nutrition at a soup kitchen or surprise your elderly neighbor with a homemade meal or treat!

 

Explore New Cultural Traditions

Broaden your family’s cultural awareness and spice up your typical holiday celebration by introducing traditions from around the world this year. Learn how to say “happy holidays” and sing carols in various language or try new recipes for holiday delicacies from various parts of the world.  

 

Bond Over Cookies

Whip up holiday cheer by gathering to bake and decorate cookies. Assign youngsters manageable tasks such as pouring pre-measured ingredients, stirring, and making shapes with cookie cutters. Older kids can measure wet and dry ingredients, crack eggs, and roll out the dough. Allow imaginations to soar when it comes to decorating these masterpieces. Share the baked goods with friends, family, and neighbors, and make a sweet gift

 

Enjoy the Big Screen at Home

After the craziness leading up to the holiday season, the best treat may be some much needed R&R at home. Organize a movie date complete with popcorn, drinks and cozy socks and let your little chick pick the flick.

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Editors Note: Where Did All The Time Go?

 

The day after we got home from the hospital after the birth of my first daughter, I remember feeling very overwhelmed. I wondered if we were adequately prepared to care for the delicate human we were now responsible for. I loved her immediately but I hated what pregnancy had done to my body and the tax on my sanity those early days of no sleep and constant crying. So I wished I could speed up the time. I wanted to get to the coos I had read start at 6 weeks and the smiles that will melt my heart at 3 months and the sleeping through the night at 4 months. Especially after that night at about two and half months when I was practically in tears because she wouldn’t go to sleep and I could hardly keep my eyes open.

Tomorrow,  my baby girl turns five. Really, where did all that time go?

So much is happening so fast. Each day is a new discovery of all the wonderful facets of her budding personality; I have no desire to speed any of this up.

In the quiet moments at the end of the day, after we have celebrated baby girl in all the ways she will appreciate, my husband and I will also celebrate the fact that the little delicate human we brought home five years ago has grown to be both so strong and so kind.

We could not be prouder!

 

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Ps: Thank you so much for your feedback this past week. We loved hearing both your kudos and your ideas. We look forward to your continued support and feedback as we implement some of those ideas!

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Weekly Roundup #6: Finland For The Win, The Hunt for STEM Girl Toys

PRESCHOOL/SCHOOL AGE/PRE-TEEN
FINLAND FOR THE WIN

Lately, Finland has been making the news for exceptional practices when it comes to education. First it was their philosophy on learning through play in kindergarten, then we learned they’ve figured out and are solving the gender gap in science education. As if that is not enough, now they have announced that they will be the first country in the world to get rid of all school subjects! Agree with all their policies or not, they seem to have this whole education thing figured out while we are still busy sorting out whether we are keeping common core or not. Who else is packing their bags and moving with us?

PRESCHOOL/SCHOOL AGE
THE HUNT FOR GIRL STEM TOYS

If you have been having a hard time finding STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) toys your girls would like, it is because only 11 percent of STEM toys are listed as a girl’s toy on search engines compared to 31 percent of STEM toys listed only under boys. Recently, brands like Roominate and Goldieblox have done a great job addressing this issue but many other brands can fill this gap by thoughtfully marketing their offerings to girls as well. Our 2016 Holiday Gift guide  is a great place to start for some awesome ideas.

Adequate representation for girls is important in other areas of entertainment; recently, movies have been doing a better job in letting all girls should know they can be super heros too!

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Editor’s Note: Six Weeks and Counting!

 

Its been six weeks since our first newsletter and we couldn’t be more thrilled to have pushed that send button on the first one. Our audience has quickly grown to 1000 readers and we are so grateful to you all for reading and sharing our content!! We hope the content has been useful and that you are finding ways to incorporate new ideas and insights in your day to day activities as you go about raising your smart girl(s).

Bottom line, we are so thrilled you are here and eager to connect with each of you individually over time.

To realize our mission to be your ultimate resource for raising smart girls, our immediate goal is to build a robust library of content and resources on our website that would be a mix of our own content and curated content. This is where your honest feedback would be extremely valuable.

We would love to hear from you. What type of content would you like to see more or less of? You can respond with specific topics you are interested in or with the types of format you love to see the content in .. .for example, video or checklists or infographics etc.

We welcome any and all feedback. Can’t wait to hear from you!

PS: Our Holiday Gift Guide is ready!

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Weekly Roundup #5: The Science Education Gap, Trash to Treasure … and Thank You!

PRESCHOOL/SCHOOL AGE/PRE-TEEN
OFF TO THE MOON? NOT SO FAST.

Turns out most of American kids want to build airplanes, find cures to all diseases and build really cool apps! Unfortunately their grades in the sciences don’t necessarily match that ambition.

According to a recently completed study by the OECD, 38% of American children (15 yr olds surveyed) hope to pursue science-related careers which is good news, considering some of the fastest-growing, highest-paid jobs are science-related such as  robotics, biotechnology, medicine or programming. However, the US ranked 19th in science education, out of 35 OECD countries. (And that was better than it did in reading and math, where it ranked 20th and 31st, respectively).

This discrepancy between the perceived and actual abilities of our children when it comes to science education is quite telling. While there is much work to do to improve science education in our schools, Science Bob thinks encouraging Science at home is much easier than you think.

PRESCHOOL/SCHOOL AGE
TURN YOUR KIDS ARTWORK INTO TREASURED GIFTS

Sure that first art project your child brought home from school was the most beautiful thing ever. However, if you are like me, these days you try your best not to get caught tossing them when the corner pile starts to spillover. Every now and then though, your child brings home that special artwork that you know you want to hang on to.

This holiday season, make ornaments out of those special works of art for grandparents, uncles, aunties and even teachers. They are actually pretty easy to make!And If you are not into ornaments, Parent’s magazine also has some other fun ideas you might like.

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