The Transition from High School to College

Academically, the step up from high school to college isn’t as steep as previous transitions may have been. Unless a student takes on an unusually heavy course load, the demands aren’t markedly different from before.

What is different, and what can trip up first-year students, is the atmosphere in which learning and studying take place. College affords young people a level of autonomy they’ve never experienced before. And if they’re attending a college away from home, they don’t have Mom and Dad standing sentinel outside their bedroom door to order them back inside to study for tomorrow’s midterm exam. Most students have the self-discipline to make the adjustment without too much difficulty, but others get swept up in the social whirl of college life.

“We see it here at the University of North Carolina,” says Dr. William Lord Coleman, an associate professor of pediatrics at UNC’s School of Medicine in Chapel Hill. “Kids go downhill or drop out because they can’t get organized enough to forget about the beer-keg party on a Sunday afternoon and go to the library like they’re supposed to.”

Colleges, recognizing the potential perils of youngsters living on their own for the first time, usually insist that new undergrads spend their first year or two living in the residential halls. A 1998 study from the Harvard School of Public Health painted a disturbing portrait of alcohol abuse among U.S. college students. Forty-two percent were found to indulge in binge drinking, which is defined as consuming five drinks in one sitting for men, and four drinks for women.

By far, the highest rate of excessive drinking was among fraternity and sorority members: a staggering 84 percent. The second highest rate, 54 percent, was among school athletes. Third highest were students living in coed dorms: 52 percent. Interestingly, the rate of binge drinking among students living in off-campus housing or in single-sex dorms was lower than the overall average: 40 percent and 38 percent, respectively.

You might want to consider steering an impressionable youngster away from schools with reputations for heavy partying. Believe it or not, every year the Princeton Review ranks the top ten party colleges in the United States, based on surveys distributed to hundreds of thousands of students.

Monitoring College Students From A Distance

Short of secretly taking up residence in an adjacent dorm room, what can parents do to keep tabs on a son or daughter living away from home? Dr. Coleman recommends “the age-old wisdoms: Call regularly, encourage visits home whenever possible and visit your youngster more frequently than just on Parents’ Day. Also, if you can, get to know the parents of the roommate or suite mates. If necessary, you can do a little networking together behind the scenes.”

If you suspect that your youngster is having difficulty adapting to college (homesickness, for example, is common among students living away from home for the first time), encourage him to speak to a counselor at the student health service. If you’re truly worried about his welfare, make the call yourself and ask one of the mental-health professionals there to pay a visit to your youngster or invite him down to talk.


Source: Caring for Your Teenager (Copyright © 2003 American Academy of Pediatrics). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.


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BACK TO SCHOOL: Tips for Your Family

back to school concept. hand draw with color pencils.

​​​The following health and safety tips are from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Backpack Safety

  • Choose a backpack with wide, padded shoulder straps and a padded back.
  • Pack light. Organize the backpack to use all of its compartments. Pack heavier items closest to the center of the back. The backpack should never weigh more than 10% to 20% of your child’s body weight. Go through the pack with your child weekly, and remove unneeded items to keep it light.
  • Remind your child to always use both shoulder straps. Slinging a backpack over one shoulder can strain muscles.
  • Adjust the pack so that the bottom sits at your child’s waist.
  • If your school allows, consider a rolling backpack. This type of backpack may be a good choice for students who must tote a heavy load. Remember that rolling backpacks still must be carried up stairs, they may be difficult to roll in snow, and they may not fit in some lockers. And review backpack safety with your child.

Eating During the School Day

  • Studies show that children who eat a nutritious breakfast function better. They do better in school, and have better concentration and more energy. Some schools provide breakfast for children; if yours does not, make sure they eat a breakfast that contains some protein
  • Most schools regularly send schedules of cafeteria menus home and/or have them posted on the school’s website. With this advance information, you can plan on packing lunch on the days when the main course is one your child prefers not to eat.
  • Many children qualify for free or reduced price food at school, including breakfast. The forms for these services can be completed at the school office. Hunger will affect a child’s performance in class.
  • Many school districts have plans which allow you to pay for meals through an online account. Your child will get a card to “swipe” at the register. This is a convenient way to handle school meal accounts.
  • Look into what is offered inside and outside of the cafeteria, including vending machines, a la carte, school stores, snack carts and fundraisers held during the school day. All foods sold during the school day must meet nutrition standards established by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). They should stock healthy choices such as fresh fruit, low-fat dairy products, water and 100% fruit juice. Learn about your child’s school wellness policy and get involved in school groups to put it into effect. Also, consider nutrition if you child will be bringing food to eat during school.
  • Each 12-ounce soft drink contains approximately 10 teaspoons of sugar and 150 calories. Drinking just one can of soda a day increases a child’s risk of obesity by 60%. Choose healthier options (such as water and appropriately sized juice and low-fat dairy products) to send in your child’s lunch.

Before & After School Child Care

  • During early and middle childhood, children need supervision. A responsible adult should be available to get them ready and off to school in the morning and supervise them after school until you return home from work.
  • If a family member will care for your child, communicate the need to follow consistent rules set by the parent regarding schedules, discipline and homework.
  • Children approaching adolescence (11- and 12-year-olds) should not come home to an empty house in the afternoon unless they show unusual maturity for their age.
  • If alternate adult supervision is not available, parents should make special efforts to supervise their children from a distance. Children should have a set time when they are expected to arrive at home and should check in with a neighbor or with a parent by telephone.
  • If you choose an after-school program for your child, inquire about the training of the staff. There should be a high staff-to-child ratio, trained persons to address health issues and emergencies, and the rooms and the playground should be safe.

Develop a Sleep Routine

  • Getting enough sleep is critical for a child to be successful in school. Children who do not get enough sleep have difficulty concentrating and learning as well as they can.
  • Set a consistent bedtime for your child and stick with it every night. Having a bedtime routine that is consistent will help your child settle down and fall asleep. Components of a calming pre-bedtime routine may involve a bath/shower, reading with them, and tucking them in and saying good-night to them.
  • Have your child turn off electronic devices well before bedtime.
  • Try to have the home as quiet and calm as possible when younger children are trying to fall asleep.
  • Insufficient sleep is associated with lower academic achievement in middle school, high school and college, as well as higher rates of absenteeism and tardiness. The optimal amount of sleep for most younger children is 10-12 hours per night and for adolescents (13-18 year of age) is in the range of 8-10 hours per night.

Developing Good Homework & Study Habits

  • Create an environment that is conducive to doing homework starting at a young age. Children need a consistent work space in their bedroom or another part of the home that is quiet, without distractions, and promotes study.
  • Schedule ample time for homework; build this time into choices about participation in after school activities.
  • Establish a household rule that the TV and other electronic distractions stay off during homework time.
  • Supervise computer and Internet use.
  • By high school, it’s not uncommon for teachers to ask students to submit homework electronically and perform other tasks on a computer. If your child doesn’t have access to a computer or the internet at home, work with teachers and school administration to develop appropriate accommodations.
  • Be available to answer questions and offer assistance, but never do a child’s homework for her.
  • Take steps to help alleviate eye fatigue, neck fatigue and brain fatigue while studying. It may be helpful to close the books for a few minutes, stretch, and take a break periodically when it will not be too disruptive.
  • If your child is struggling with a particular subject, speak with your child’s teacher for recommendations on how you or another person can help your child at home or at school. If you have concerns about the assignments your child is receiving, talk with their teacher.
  • If your child is having difficulty focusing on or completing homework, discuss this with your child’s teacher, school counselor, or health care provider.
  • For general homework problems that cannot be worked out with the teacher, a tutor may be considered.
  • Some children need extra help organizing their homework. Checklists, timers, and parental supervision can help overcome homework problems.
  • Some children may need help remembering their assignments. Work with your child and their teacher to develop an appropriate way to keep track of their assignments – such as an assignment notebook.

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2017). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.


BACK TO SCHOOL: Traveling To & From School

Review the basic rules with your student and practice any new routes or modes of transportation:

School Bus

  • Children should always board and exit the bus at locations that provide safe access to the bus or to the school building.
  • Remind your child to wait for the bus to stop before approaching it from the curb.
  • Make sure your child walks where she can see the bus driver (which means the driver will be able to see her, too).
  • Remind your student to look both ways to see that no other traffic is coming before crossing the street, just in case traffic does not stop as required. Encourage your child to actually practice how to cross the street several times prior to the first day of school.
  • Your child should not move around on the bus.
  • If your child’s school bus has lap/shoulder seat belts, make sure your child uses one at all times when in the bus. (If your child’s school bus does not have lap/shoulder belts, encourage the school system to buy or lease buses with lap/shoulder belts).
  • Check on the school’s policy regarding food on the bus. Eating on the bus can present a problem for students with allergy and also lead to infestations of insects and vermin on the vehicles.
  • If your child has a chronic condition that could result in an emergency on the bus, make sure you work with the school nurse or other school health personnel to have a bus emergency plan, if possibly, prior to the first day of class

Car

  • All passengers should wear a seat belt or use an age- and size-appropriate car seat or booster seat.
  • Your child should ride in a car seat with a harness as long as possible and then ride in a belt-positioning booster seat. Your child is ready for a booster seat when she has reached the top weight or height allowed for her seat, her shoulders are above the top harness slots, or her ears have reached the top of the seat.
  • Your child should ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle’s seat belt fits properly (usually when the child reaches about 4′ 9″ in height and is between 8 to 12 years of age). This means that the child is tall enough to sit against the vehicle seat back with her legs bent at the knees and feet hanging down and the shoulder belt lies across the middle of the chest and shoulder, not the neck or throat; the lap belt is low and snug across the thighs, not the stomach.
  • All children younger than 13 years of age should ride in the rear seat of vehicles. If you must drive more children than can fit in the rear seat (when carpooling, for example), move the front-seat passenger’s seat as far back as possible and have the child ride in a booster seat if the seat belts do not fit properly without it.
  • Remember that many crashes occur while novice teen drivers are going to and from school. You should require seat belt use, limit the number of teen passengers, and do not allow eating, drinking, cell phone conversations even when using hands-free devices or speakerphone, texting or other mobile device use to prevent driver distraction.. Familiarize yourself with your state’s graduated driver’s license law and consider the use of a parent-teen driver agreement to facilitate the early driving learning process.

Bike

  • Practice the bike route to school before the first day of school to make sure your child can manage it.
  • Always wear a bicycle helmet, no matter how short or long the ride.
  • Ride on the right, in the same direction as auto traffic and ride in bike lanes if they are present.
  • Use appropriate hand signals.
  • Respect traffic lights and stop signs.
  • Wear bright-colored clothing to increase visibility. White or light-colored clothing and reflective gear is especially important after dark.
  • Know the “rules of the road.”

Walking to School

  • Children are generally ready to start walking to school at 9 to 11 years of age.
  • Make sure your child’s walk to school is a safe route with well-trained adult crossing guards at every intersection.
  • Identify other children in the neighborhood with whom your child can walk to school. In neighborhoods with higher levels of traffic, consider organizing a “walking school bus,” in which an adult accompanies a group of neighborhood children walking to school.
  • Be realistic about your child’s pedestrian skills. Because small children are impulsive and less cautious around traffic, carefully consider whether or not your child is ready to walk to school without adult supervision. If the route home requires crossing busier streets than your child can reasonably do safely, have an adult, older friend or sibling escort them home.
  • If your children are young or are walking to a new school, walk with them or have another adult walk with them the first week or until you are sure they know the route and can do it safely. If your child will need to cross a street on the way to school, practice safe street crossing with them before the start of school.
  • Bright-colored clothing or a visibility device, like a vest or armband with reflectors, will make your child more visible to drivers.

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2017). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.


School Days

“What did you do in school today?”

“Nothing.”

This is a familiar exchange between parent and child. And it can be a frustrating one for an interested parent who genuinely wants to keep abreast of a child’s activities at school and yet not appear nosy. (This issue of intrusiveness becomes more of a problem with the ten- to twelve-year-old child and certainly with adolescents.)

Youngsters will usually be more responsive about their day at school if they are asked fairly direct questions at a time that is ap­propriate. For instance, when a child first arrives home from school, he might be tired and want a snack, or want to relax or play with a friend rather than rehash the day. It might be better to talk with him about school later in the day or evening. Or begin the conversation with a statement like “You look pretty hungry. Let’s have a snack and then you can tell me about your day.”

Make your questions as focused and nonjudgmental as possible. For instance:

  • “What new thing did you learn in school today?”
  • “What questions did you ask in class?”
  • “How is that book you’ve been reading in class? What’s hap­pening in the story?”
  • “Do you have any papers or artwork in your backpack that we could look over?”
  • “Is learning long division getting a little easier?”
  • “Tell me about the spelling test. Was there a word or two you had trouble with?”

Knowing that their students may have trouble remembering everything that happened in school, teachers often communicate about class and school issues through written notes. Ask your child each night if he has any notes for you.

At times your child might want to talk about school when you’re right in the middle of something else. As much as possible, try to be responsive, perhaps saying something like “I want to hear about school, but right now I’m very busy fixing dinner. Let me get this casserole in the oven, and then we can sit down and really talk.” Or “Why don’t you hop on this stool and help me make this salad while we talk.”


Source: Caring for Your School-Age Child: Ages 5 to 12 (Copyright © 2004 American Academy of Pediatrics). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.


Back to School Tips

Making the First Day Easier

  • Parents should remember that they need not wait until the first day of class to ask for help. Schools are open to address any concerns a parent or child might have, including the specific needs of a child, over the summer. The best time to get help might be one to two weeks before school opens.
  • Many children become nervous about new situations, including changing to a new school, classroom or teacher. This may occur at any age. If your child seems nervous, it can be helpful to rehearse entry into the new situation. Take them to visit the new school or classroom before the first day of school. Remind them that there are probably a lot of students who are uneasy about the first day of school. Teachers know that students are nervous and will make an extra effort to make sure everyone feels as comfortable as possible. If your child seems nervous, ask them what they are worried about and help them problem solve ways to master the new situation.
  • Point out the positive aspects of starting school to create positive anticipation about the first day of class. They will see old friends and meet new ones. Talk with them about positive experiences they may have had in the past at school or with other groups of children.
  • Find another child in the neighborhood with whom your child can walk to school or ride on the bus.
  • If it is a new school for your child, attend any available orientations and take an opportunity to tour the school before the first day. Bring the child to school a few days prior to class to play on the playground and get comfortable in the new environment.
  • If you feel it is needed, drive your child (or walk with her) to school and pick her up on the first day, and get there early on the first day to cut down on unnecessary stress.
  • Make sure to touch base with your child’s new teacher at the beginning or end of the day so the teacher knows how much you want to be supportive of your child’s school experience.
  • Consider starting your child on their school sleep/wake schedule a week or so ahead of time so that time change is not a factor on their first couple of days at school.

Eating During the School Day

  • Studies show that children who eat a nutritious breakfast function better. They do better in school, and have better concentration and more energy. Some schools provide breakfast for children; if yours does not, make sure they eat a breakfast that contains some protein
  • Most schools regularly send schedules of cafeteria menus home and/or have them posted on the school’s website. With this advance information, you can plan on packing lunch on the days when the main course is one your child prefers not to eat.
  • Many children qualify for free or reduced price food at school, including breakfast. The forms for these services can be completed at the school office. Hunger will affect a child’s performance in class.
  • Many school districts have plans which allow you to pay for meals through an online account. Your child will get a card to “swipe” at the register. This is a convenient way to handle school meal accounts.
  • Look into what is offered inside and outside of the cafeteria, including vending machines, a la carte, school stores, snack carts and fundraisers held during the school day. All foods sold during the school day must meet nutrition standards established by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). They should stock healthy choices such as fresh fruit, low-fat dairy products, water and 100% fruit juice. Learn about your child’s school wellness policy and get involved in school groups to put it into effect. Also, consider nutrition if you child will be bringing food to eat during school.
  • Each 12-ounce soft drink contains approximately 10 teaspoons of sugar and 150 calories. Drinking just one can of soda a day increases a child’s risk of obesity by 60%. Choose healthier options (such as water and appropriately sized juice and low-fat dairy products) to send in your child’s lunch.

Before & After School Child Care

  • During early and middle childhood, children need supervision. A responsible adult should be available to get them ready and off to school in the morning and supervise them after school until you return home from work.
  • If a family member will care for your child, communicate the need to follow consistent rules set by the parent regarding schedules, discipline and homework.
  • Children approaching adolescence (11- and 12-year-olds) should not come home to an empty house in the afternoon unless they show unusual maturity for their age.
  • If alternate adult supervision is not available, parents should make special efforts to supervise their children from a distance. Children should have a set time when they are expected to arrive at home and should check in with a neighbor or with a parent by telephone.
  • If you choose an after-school program for your child, inquire about the training of the staff. There should be a high staff-to-child ratio, trained persons to address health issues and emergencies, and the rooms and the playground should be safe.

Develop a Sleep Routine

  • Getting enough sleep is critical for a child to be successful in school. Children who do not get enough sleep have difficulty concentrating and learning as well as they can.
  • Set a consistent bedtime for your child and stick with it every night. Having a bedtime routine that is consistent will help your child settle down and fall asleep. Components of a calming pre-bedtime routine may involve a bath/shower, reading with them, and tucking them in and saying good-night to them.
  • Have your child turn off electronic devices well before bedtime.
  • Try to have the home as quiet and calm as possible when younger children are trying to fall asleep.
  • Insufficient sleep is associated with lower academic achievement in middle school, high school and college, as well as higher rates of absenteeism and tardiness. The optimal amount of sleep for most younger children is 10-12 hours per night and for adolescents (13-18 year of age) is in the range of 8-10 hours per night. See Healthy Sleep Habits: How Many Hours Does Your Child Need? for more information.

Developing Good Homework & Study Habits

  • Create an environment that is conducive to doing homework starting at a young age. Children need a consistent work space in their bedroom or another part of the home that is quiet, without distractions, and promotes study.
  • Schedule ample time for homework; build this time into choices about participation in after school activities.
  • Establish a household rule that the TV and other electronic distractions stay off during homework time.
  • Supervise computer and Internet use.
  • By high school, it’s not uncommon for teachers to ask students to submit homework electronically and perform other tasks on a computer. If your child doesn’t have access to a computer or the internet at home, work with teachers and school administration to develop appropriate accommodations.
  • Be available to answer questions and offer assistance, but never do a child’s homework for her.
  • Take steps to help alleviate eye fatigue, neck fatigue and brain fatigue while studying. It may be helpful to close the books for a few minutes, stretch, and take a break periodically when it will not be too disruptive.
  • If your child is struggling with a particular subject, speak with your child’s teacher for recommendations on how you or another person can help your child at home or at school. If you have concerns about the assignments your child is receiving, talk with their teacher.
  • If your child is having difficulty focusing on or completing homework, discuss this with your child’s teacher, school counselor, or health care provider.
  • For general homework problems that cannot be worked out with the teacher, a tutor may be considered.
  • Some children need extra help organizing their homework. Checklists, timers, and parental supervision can help overcome homework problems.
  • Some children may need help remembering their assignments. Work with your child and their teacher to develop an appropriate way to keep track of their assignments – such as an assignment notebook.

From the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).


First Day of School Checklist

As you and your child prepare for the first day of the new school year, use this checklist to help make sure you have taken care of the necessary tasks and learned the information you need.

  • Is your child registered? (If he attended the same school the previous school year, he is already registered.
  • When is the first day of school?
  • What time does school start?
  • How is your child going to get to school? If your child is biking, does he know the school rules for bicycles? If he is walking for the first time, with whom will he walk? Have you reviewed safety precautions with him, regarding traffic and strangers?
  • Does your child know his teacher’s name?
  • What will his daily schedule be like?
  • Will he need to bring a snack? What kinds of snacks are allowed and encouraged? Does he need to bring something to drink, or can he buy something? Will water be available?
  • What time is lunch? Can your child buy it at school, and how much will it cost?
  • What clothes will your child need to wear? Are there any re­strictions on what can be worn? Will he need a different set of clothes for physical education or art classes?
  • Does your child need to bring pencils, paper, notebooks, and other supplies? (Often, the teacher will announce these require­ments on the first day.) Does your child have something in which to carry his books and supplies back and forth to school? Will he have a place (besides his desk) to keep his things at school?
  • Have you filled out all health forms or emergency contact forms that have been sent home?
  • Have any new health problems developed in your child over the summer that will affect his school day? Does the school nurse know about this condition, or is an appointment set up to discuss it?
  • If your child will need to take medication at school on the first day, have arrangements been made for this?
  • Does your youngster know where he is going after school (e.g., home, babysitter)? Does he know how he will get there? If you will not be there when he arrives, does he know who will be re­sponsible for him, what the rules are, and how to get help in an emergency?
  • Does your child have your work telephone numbers in his backpack?

Source: Caring for Your School-Age Child: Ages 5 to 12 (Copyright © 2004 American Academy of Pediatrics). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.


Poor School Performance: How Parents Can Help

teengrades

“It doesn’t matter how hard I study, I just can’t seem to get the hang of geometry. I guess I must be dumb or somethin’.”

At least one in five students will have trouble keeping up academically at some point during junior high and high school. School slumps require our immediate attention, before the damage to self-esteem is irreparable or a youngster develops an aversion to attending school.

While the root of the problem may be school related and nothing more, a drop in grades can be a warning sign of one of the underlying causes below:

  • Physical ailments: undiagnosed sleep disorders, anemia, infectious mononucleosis, thyroid conditions, impaired vision or hearing, others
  • Emotional disorders: depression, anxiety, eating disorders, others
  • Learning disabilities/developmental disabilities: dyslexia, central auditory-processing disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), others
  • Substance abuse: a drastic decline in grades may be a tipoff that a child is experimenting with alcohol or illicit drugs

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Talk to your teenager. After all, she’s the ultimate authority on what’s behind her academic difficulties. But this should be a conversation, not a confrontation. Let her know that you’re on her side and want to help her get back on track:

“Honey, this is the fourth test in a row that’s come back with a C or a D. You’re usually a B-plus student. Is there anything going on in school or other areas of your life that you’d like to tell us about? We’re concerned and we want to help.”

Arrange a meeting with the teacher(s). Even the most involved parent doesn’t truly know what goes on in school. Adolescents sometimes reveal sides of themselves at school that they keep under wraps at home—or vice versa. So a teacher’s observations can provide invaluable clues to the cause of a child’s academic troubles.

In the days leading up to a parent-teacher conference, write down questions addressing the areas that most concern you. You may not be pleased to hear everything the teacher has to say once you get to the conference. But try to keep in mind that with rare exceptions, less-than-glowing feedback is not a personal attack on your youngster’s character or your competence as a parent. If your son’s home economics teacher says that he disrupts her class with his wisecracks, accept that what she says contains at least a shred of truth.

Ask her to be more specific and listen politely to what she has to say. For instance: “Could you please give me an example of what you mean? How frequently does he act up in class?” Then work together to come up with a solution. Perhaps you decide to warn your son that any future incidents of misconduct will result in the loss of a privilege, such as one week’s allowance or use of the family car.

“And,” you can add, “we’ve asked Mrs. Jackson to call us immediately if you should ever disrupt her class again.”

Memo to Mom and Dad: After a conference, always dash off a thank-you note to the teacher.

Consider hiring an after-school tutor. One-on-one sessions with a private tutor can work wonders with students who just weeks ago seemed unable to grasp the subject matter. Learning in a pressure-free environment probably has as much to do with that success as does the one-on-one instruction. Another advantage of letting a tutor work with your child, says Dr. Coleman, is that “it gets parents off their kids’ backs.”

Private tutors, listed in the Yellow Pages under “Tutoring,” generally charge between twenty dollars and forty dollars an hour. If that’s beyond your budget, you may be able to locate help through your teen’s school. “A lot of high schools,” says Dr. Coleman, “have study-buddies programs where teachers assign a peer-aged student or an older student to tutor a child at home or at school.” The cost is nominal—four or five dollars an hour—or sometimes free. Local colleges and organizations such as the YMCA may also offer tutoring.

Tutors can also help bridge the gap of time that teens are out of school because of a brief illness, extended family trip, and so on. Instead of falling behind during these short but crucial periods, tutors can make sure students stay caught up and on track until they return to the classroom.

Chronic complaints of feeling either bored or overwhelmed at school may be an indication that a youngster is trudging along on the wrong academic track. The student who yawns at schoolwork that leaves most of his classmates scratching their heads is more likely to thrive if his day includes some more challenging courses, while the perennial D student who has never shown much interest in school may be best served by a vocationally oriented program.

In the past, boys and girls belonging to the latter group might have been written off as lost causes destined to drop out. Since the 1970s or so, the educational system has made a greater effort to reach out to these youngsters. Some schools have implemented policies specifically designed for high-school freshmen with histories of academic failure, truancy and misconduct. As we noted earlier, ninth grade is a critical fork in the road for such students, who are considered high risks for quitting before the end of the year. According to the U.S. Department of Education, strategies like those below have been successful at helping them achieve school success:

  • Allow students to delay some required courses that may prove too difficult and discourage them to the point of dropping out. In their place they may take more courses that interest them.
  • Assemble these students into small groups, who then go from class to class together, offering one another support.
  • Establish alternative schools and mini schools for alienated students, either within the school building or off-campus. Youngsters who function poorly in a conventional school environment may find the less-structured, less demanding environment to their liking and be able to graduate.

If you believe that school could be made more enjoyable and fulfilling for your teen, arrange to meet with the guidance counselor or principal. Find out what accommodations could possibly be made in your child’s educational plan so that it better meets his or her needs.


Source: Caring for Your Teenager (Copyright © 2003 American Academy of Pediatrics). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.


Making Baby Drop Off at Child Care Easier

separationanxiety

Getting the day started can be a challenge. So here are some suggestions to make your separation at the child care setting a little easier for both of you.

0 to 7 months
In early infancy your baby primarily needs love, comforting, and good basic care to satisfy his physical needs. Although this period may be a difficult time of separation for you, young infants generally will transition to a consistent child care worker in almost any setting. Be patient during this initial settling-in period.

7 to 12 months
Stranger anxiety normally occurs at this time. Suddenly your baby may be reluctant to stay with anyone outside his family. The unfamiliar setting of a child care center also may upset him. If possible, do not start child care during this period, or just ease into it. If your child is already in a program, take a little extra time each day before you say good-bye. Create a short good-bye ritual, perhaps letting him hold a favorite stuffed animal. Say good-bye and then quietly leave. Above all, be consistent from day to day.

12 to 24 months
This is when separation anxiety peaks and your child has the most difficulty with your leaving. He may not believe that you will return, and may weep and clip to you as you try to leave. Be understanding but firm and persistent. Reassure him that you will return when you’re done with work or have finished your errands. Once you have left, do not reappear unless you are prepared to stay or walk with your child to the door.

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Source: Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5, 6th Edition (Copyright © 2015 American Academy of Pediatrics). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

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Friend or Foe?

friendfoe

Help your child navigate his social world by equipping him with the skills he needs to choose friends wisely.

I came to the realization this past year that the days of handpicking my son’s friends are officially over. As a kindergartner, Christian spent the better part of each weekday with 16 other kids, 14 of whom I had never met.

Being a high-energy kid himself, Christian was drawn to the other high-energy kids in class, some of whom didn’t always choose the best way to express that energy. After watching these little guys in action, I found myself wondering what I could do to help Christian choose some other friends that would bring out the best in him, rather than the worst. By reading up on the subject, discussing it with my pediatrician, and talking with parents who’ve already navigated these waters before, I’ve discovered there are some ways parents can help encourage healthier relationships in their children’s lives.

Educate
The best advice I received was to approach teaching Christian how to recognize a good friend, just as I would teach him about bike safety or stranger danger or any other important subject dealing with his health, safety, and well being. At 6, Christian is just beginning to learn how to build a relationship. The more I can guide him in this process, the better off he’ll be. Talk with your child often about how friends should treat one another. Explain that good friends respect others, follow the rules, and help those in need. The more children know about what makes a good friend, the easier it will be for them to recognize one when they meet that child — and to be one himself.

Emulate
As you strive to teach your child about healthy friendships, don’t forget to model them in your own life. Demonstrating good relationships skills with your spouse or partner, and taking time to nurture close friendships with others, is as important as simply talking about these skills if not more so.

“Children learn how to relate to people outside of their family from relationships within the family,” explains Ed Schor, M.D., FAAP, and editor of Caring for Your School-Age Child, Ages 5 to 12. “One would hope that the parents would be friends and would get along well, compromise, etc. Children learn from those exchanges.”

Communicate
While it’s important to talk about what makes a good friend, it’s also good to identify which behaviors are not welcome. Do not focus on specific children and why they are “bad” and others are “good.” Instead, explain the values that you live by in your home, such as positive language, respect for others, sharing, and fair play. It could be as simple as saying, “In our house, we have certain rules that we follow. When someone comes to visit and refuses to follow those rules, he is not showing respect, and that makes everyone sad.” You can balance that by saying, “We have so much more fun when we spend time with friends who do follow the rules.”

Facilitate
To encourage healthy relationships, create opportunities for your child to play with kids who you think have a positive influence on her. Set up play dates at your house where you can observe the children playing together, and then encourage repeat dates with the kids that you feel are good role models for your child.

“You ought to play an active role in choosing your children’s friends. Who better to do this than the parents?” notes Schor. “Know your children’s friends, observe what’s going on, and see if they demonstrate the values you desire.”

If possible, choose to live in a neighborhood with high-quality schools. An Ohio State University study found a direct correlation between school quality and the types of kids that adolescents choose as friends. Kids in better schools tend to choose friends with more “prosocial” characteristics, such as good grades, good attendance, and involvement in extracurricular activities.

Relate
Finally, focus on your relationship with your child. The Ohio State study found that teens are more likely to report positive friendships when they have a good relationship with their parents. (A “good relationship” was defined as one in which the child and parents get involved in activities together, talk frequently, and express affection for one another.)

The more involved you are in your child’s life, the more opportunity you have to help your child develop friendships that can stand the test of time.

The Bully Factor
No matter how many good friends your child has, there may still be times when he finds himself the target of a bully. Talk with him about bullying and share these five tips.

  1. Walk away: Bullies are generally looking for a reaction from those they target. When they don’t get one, they’re likely to move on.
  2. Speak up: If a bully keeps on bullying, stand tall, look him square in the eye, and say in a clear, loud voice, “I don’t like what you’re doing. Please stop it now.”
  3. Ask for help: Talk to a trusted adult about the problem. A teacher or parent can help make the situation better.
  4. Find good friends: A bully is only one person. Concentrate on making strong friendships with people who make you feel good.
  5. Keep having fun: Don’t let a bully stop you from being part of the activities you enjoy.

 


Last Updated 11/21/2015. Source Healthy Children Magazine, Back to School 2007. The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.