Articles for Parents

Everything listed under: school

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    A Checklist for Sending Your Child to College

    In addition to sending her own two sons to college, Rose-Marie Hippler helps hundreds of families get ready for the college sendoff.

    "Having been through this personally as well as professionally, I bring experience and expertise to parents and their young adults as they leap into the next phase of life," says Hippler, who has a master's of social work and is an independent educational consultant at Winter Park College Consultants.

    "There are usually a lot of emotions stirring around as the anticipation of going off to college draws closer," she says. "I remember when we were on the countdown. There were days when I thought the first day of college couldn't get here fast enough. I decided that was God's way of preparing you to say goodbye."

    Hippler believes one way parents and their teens can keep nerves and anxiety at bay is to create a plan for all they need to accomplish before heading off to college. One way to keep emotions in check is to put together a plan of action.

    Here are some things that may not be on your radar, but Hippler says need to be on your checklist:

    • Make sure your teen has had a physical and all the shots they will need. If your teen is on a regular medication, you will want to transfer their prescription to a local pharmacy. And, unless you have signed the HIPAA form, healthcare professionals cannot legally give you information about your injured or hospitalized adult child.
    • Make a copy of everything in their wallet in case they lose it, which will probably happen at least once.
    • Mark all the upcoming events on your calendar. Don't forget parent's weekend, sports events you plan to attend, Christmas and spring breaks and even the mid-term and finals schedule. Make hotel reservations early for events such as parent's weekend and airline reservations for your student's Thanksgiving and winter breaks.
    • If your teen has not already opened a checking account, now is the time. Instead of writing all the checks, let them do it. It gives them a good indication of your investment in their education. Plus, it lets them get the hang of balancing a checkbook and keeping up with their own money.
    • Alcohol, drugs, sex, campus safety and mental health issues are factors on every college campus. Your teen probably thinks they have a really good handle on things. However, it's still a good idea to have some serious conversations about campus conduct. There are too many examples of teens whose poor choices during the college years forever changed their lives.
    • If they don't know how to do their laundry, teach them then let them do their thing. The first time Hippler visited visit one of her sons, she noticed a stack of sheets in his laundry basket. He explained that he put all three sets of sheets on his bed at once so he could pull off the top fitted and flat sheets and be ready to go. Then he waited until they were all dirty to wash them. It's not the way she would have done it, but it worked for him.
    • Tell them you believe in them and they have been preparing for this their entire life. From the time they went to kindergarten, to middle school, and then to high school, those firsts have been preparing them for this next step in their journey.

    If you're struggling with letting go, find experienced friends to walk you through this time of transition. And keep reminding yourself, this is normal.

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    5 Ways You Can Prepare for a Great School Year

    Every fall, children head back to school. While some will be going for the first time, others will be making the transition to a new grade or perhaps even a new school.

    Transitioning into a new school year can be exciting, but some children are fearful. Thoughts about new teachers, concerns over moving to a new school or anxiety about a new grade are all things your child may be thinking, but not talking about.

    No matter the age of your child, this is an important time of year for them. Parents can help get the year off to a great start by establishing rituals and consistency around the school day.

    As human beings, we like to know what to expect, but this is especially true for children. When structure and consistency are missing in their lives, they tend to feel out of control, which can lead to acting out. The acting out behavior could range from temper tantrums to refusing to do homework or being disrespectful.

    When preparing for a new school year, it is the perfect time to establish a game plan to help your child launch into the school year on a positive note. Here are a few suggestions to help your child have a positive experience:

    • Talk with your children before school starts about the weeks ahead. For younger children, a trip to school is very important. What doesn’t seem scary to adults may be very scary to a young child. Take their feelings seriously. Decide how many extracurricular activities will be allowed.
    • Discuss emergency plans. What happens if your child gets sick? Who will pick up your children in the event of a crisis? Also, talk with your child about how you want them to deal with strangers.
    • Establish a morning and evening routine. These times can be hurried and stressful, creating anxiety for parents as well as children. Determine ahead of time what you expect. Will you eat breakfast together? What time do you expect your children to be out of bed and getting ready? Who packs lunches? What time should everybody be ready to leave the house? You might want to do a couple of practice runs prior to the start of school. Evening routines might include: setting out the clothes for the next day, putting all of the school gear in one place, and touching base as a family before going to bed. This can really help the morning be a more pleasant experience.
    • Make sure your child gets adequate rest. Whether you have young children or teens, research shows that they need around 10 hours of sleep.
    • Know your child. Be in touch with your child’s needs. When making decisions about homework, chores, television, etc., consider these questions: Is your child an early riser or a night owl? Do little things tend to stress them out? Consider different options for accomplishing tasks.

    When children see you taking their concerns about school seriously, they are more likely to be more excited and less anxious about the experience. Investing your time and effort will give your children the best chance for success.

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    Dealing with Homework Pressures

    At the beginning of the school year, a second grade teacher in Texas sent this letter home to her classroom parents:

    After much research this summer, I am trying something new. Homework will only consist of work that your student did not finish during the school day. There will be no formally assigned homework this year.

    Research has been unable to prove that homework improves student performance. Rather, I ask that you spend your evenings doing things that are proven to correlate with student success. Eat dinner as a family, read together, play outside, and get your child to bed early.

    Thanks, Mrs. Brandy Young

    A parent posted the letter on Facebook with a hearty thank you to the teacher. It went viral as parents nationwide expressed frustration at the amount of homework their children had, along with the stress it created in their home.

    Stephanie Donaldson-Pressman is a clinical director at New England Center for Pediatric Psychology who contributed to a study published in the American Journal of Family Therapy regarding homework. She has serious concerns about the amount of homework children have and its impact on them.

    “One study found kindergartners were given 25 minutes or more of homework,” says Donaldson-Pressman. “Homework for kindergartners is supposed to be nonexistent. Children at this age need to be playing outside, experiencing the early stages of socialization, learning how to play, how to share so they are finessing their motor skills. Family activities and play are more important than homework at this age.”

    Donaldson-Pressman believes parents have a lot more control than they realize. Parents can set limits for how long their child does homework.

    The National Education Association recommends only 10 minutes per grade level per night. The same study that found kindergartners spend too much time on homework also found that first graders spent 25 to 30 minutes. By third grade, kids spent more than a half-hour per night. Donaldson-Pressman noted that in her practice, some third graders spent two to four hours on homework - and their parents can’t help them.

    According to Donaldson-Pressman, the data shows that homework over the recommended time is not beneficial to children’s grades or GPA. Evidence actually suggests that it’s detrimental to their attitude about school, grades, self-confidence, social skills and quality of life.

    If homework creates stress in your home, Donaldson-Pressman says you can help decrease the angst if you:

    • Create a quiet place to do homework.

    • Try to do homework at the same time every day.

    • Set a timer for 10 minutes for a first-grader, and then have them stop. Fourth graders need to move on to something else after 40 minutes.

    As a parent, you probably already know how important it is for children of all ages to get enough rest. Plus, you want them to have time to play, develop friendships outside of school hours and engage in family activities.

    In addition to managing the homework situation, assessing your child’s activities and how much pressure kids feel to perform can help. Hopefully, these ideas can allow your family to enjoy more quality time together after a long day at work and school.

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    10 Ways to Help Your Teen Succeed in School

    When children first start school, parents usually have a pretty clear understanding of how to help their child have a successful year. But when those kids become teenagers, parents sometimes struggle with their role.

    Parents usually play a much more active role with younger kids in making sure homework is completed, volunteering in the classroom, dealing with friendships, interacting with teachers and making sure their child gets enough rest. Too often, though, parents believe they can be less involved when a child moves from elementary to middle school.

    While parents may want to change how they engage their tween when it comes to school success, research indicates this is not the time for parents to back off. The tween/teen years bring their own unique challenges, and teens aren’t sure how to talk with their parents or any other adult about many of them.

    If you want to actively engage your teens and help them have a successful school year, these ideas can help you out.

    • Have a back-to-school discussion about expectations. Ask them what they want to accomplish this year and discuss ways you can help them reach their goals.

    • Establish healthy sleep patterns. When it comes to rest, plenty of research indicates that tweens/teens do not get enough sleep. On average, teens need 9.25 hours of sleep each night to function at their best. For various reasons though, many of them get significantly less than that. You can help with this by teaching them organizational skills. Have them look at their overall schedule of school and extracurricular activities, then develop a plan.

    • If you are still waking your teen for school, purchase an alarm clock - their phone doesn’t count. Make them responsible for getting themselves up in the morning.

    • Set a budget. Instead of constantly forking out money for this and that, allot a certain amount for school supplies, clothing, extracurricular activities, etc. and teach them how to manage this money. If they want to purchase things that aren’t included in the plan, resist the urge to figure it out for them. Instead, guide them in finding ways they can earn the extra cash.

    • Give them added responsibilities such as doing their own laundry, assisting with meal preparation and packing lunches.

    • Talk with them about the qualities of healthy relationships - friendships, dating relationships, relationships with teachers and school administrators. Discuss how to treat people with respect even if they aren’t respectful in return.

    • Avoid handling their problems for your teen. Talk with them about the issue, then help them problem-solve and determine a course of action. Facing a challenge head-on and making it to the other side is a huge confidence-builder.

    • Be clear about your expectations when it comes to bullying behavior. Research indicates parents are often the last to know when this is going on - whether your teen is the bully or the victim.

    • Talk about addiction. Discuss the opioid crisis and the impact of drugs and alcohol. This conversation makes it more likely for your teen to talk with you when they do encounter challenges.

    • Be very clear about your expectations and consequences for lack of follow-through, and avoid putting anything out there that you will not enforce. A great rule of thumb is this: less is more. Remind them that nothing they can do would make you love them any more or any less. Your teen needs to know you believe in them.

    The teen years are incredibly challenging because everything in their world is changing. Their brain is growing, their body is changing, relationships are different, and they are establishing their independence while still being dependent in many ways. While they may be taller than their parents and seem smarter, especially when it comes to technology, it’s good to remember that 12 is just 12 and 15 is only 15.

    Be present. Keep your eyes wide open. Let them make mistakes. Be there - not to lecture them - but to help them figure out what they could do differently in the future. Stay focused on your goal of launching someone who is capable of caring for themselves and being a productive person.

    Even though they may begin to push you away, adolescents need their parents. Don’t be lulled into believing they needed you more when they were younger. The truth is, they need you now more than ever as they navigate the potentially-turbulent teen years.