Going to school brings opportunities to learn, grow, make friends and have fun. But there are challenges as well. Here are a few and what you can do to help.
By the time they start kindergarten, many kids have been in preschool or daycare and are used to being away from parents. But those who have been home fulltime can have trouble with separation anxiety.
To ease their minds:
- Let your child know that it’s normal to feel anxious and nervous about being away from Mommy and Daddy.
- Talk about what to expect--the activities, the schedule, and the fact that other children will be there to play with and learn with.
- Take your child to school and meet the teacher together. Let him see you interact in a way that assures him the teacher is a friendly adult he can trust.
- Practice by scheduling short times apart from little ones. Dropping them off at Sunday school or allowing them to play at a trusted friend’s house for an hour or two can ease the transition.
Sharing and following directions
Some parents are stumped when their well-behaved youngster starts getting notes sent home about disrupting the class or not following directions.
- Stick to positive reinforcement at home as much as possible, going over normal routines the child already has mastered.
- Notice his energy levels and adjust his schedule accordingly. Try an earlier bedtime, healthful, energizing snacks and plenty of “down time” at home.
Middle School/Junior High
Junior high/middle school is often much different than the structured, insulated atmosphere of elementary school. Children who were safely tucked into one classroom with one teacher all day are now shuffed from room to room and teacher to teacher, braving the social scene in between.
- Work with your child to develop healthy study habits at home so she is better able to juggle her new workload.
- Help your child stay on top of assignments and projects by creating a simple chart at home using a dry-erase board to track classrequirements.
- Meet the teachers; attend parent-teacher open houses and scheduled conferences, and don’t be afraid to step in and ask for a special meeting if you sense your child is having trouble with a particular class.
Fashion and technology come into play in middle school, as peer pressure puts a squeeze on your child’s social status and emotional well-being. Suddenly children who were comfortable wearing whatever you laid out for them are asking for the priciest sneakers and the “coolest” cell phone.
- Though you want your child to fit in, now’s the time to talk about limits, both in your family’s budget and the ways in which materialpossessions can really make someone happy or cool.
- Help your child find ways to make friends with similar interests. Encourage your son or daughter to try out for a sports team or join a club. Just prepare him for the possibility of not making the team—another difference from elementary school sports, where everyone plays.
Just when your child masters the junior high classroom shuffle, she moves into a bigger school with bigger kids and bigger workloads.
- Involvement in a child’s education means more than just asking your teen whether she’s done her homework. Meet the teachers and stay involved. Many schools have online resources for parents to keep tabs on workload and grades.
- Expand on the time management practices you put into place in middle school. Make a “no cell phone/Facebook/Myspace until your homework’s done” rule, and put a reasonable limit on extracurricular activities.
- Though your biggest concern might be academics, keep in mind that your teen has other issues that, to him, are even more pressing. The simple “Who will I sit with in the cafeteria?” can be paralyzing; so ease up on the homework lectures in the beginning of the school year while your child finds his footing—and his new lunchroom friends.
Though there were rumblings of romance in junior high, hormones get revved up in high school. Self esteem can drop in relation to a child’s insecurity about her changing body and the shifting dynamic in social circles.
- Hopefully you’ve built a foundation of openness so your child will feel comfortable telling you all that’s happening during the school day, not just regarding academics.
- Allow your teen to spread her wings without giving too much independence. Group dates and chaperoned parties are a good way to open up this new facet of life.
Before high school, the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” was innocent, answered with dreams and whims. But in high school, it becomes a legitimate question, and if a child doesn’t have an answer, anxiety can set in.
- Let your teen explore interests by joining clubs or getting out in the community to job shadow or volunteer.
- College prep tests like the SAT and ACT can double anxiety, so stay on top of when they are scheduled and allow your child plenty of time to practice. Practice tests, handbooks and online resources are available. Use them!
- Tell your teen it’s okay to NOT have a career planned out just yet. Most colleges don’t ask students to declare a major until their junior year, so there’s plenty of time to figure it out.
Get familar with South Carolina colleges
By Jeff Vrabel
If you are under 18, you may face no more intense decision than where to go to college; if you are over 18, you may face no more intense decision than where your kids should go to college (there’s really kind of no way out of this one). Today’s parents—even parents of students who haven’t displayed preternatural ability at athletics or string instruments—start school-planning earlier than ever, which can be pretty daunting, and especially so when your first impressions tend to come via slickly-produced websites or thick recruitment packets. And since there’s no better way to truly get a read on something than to stand in the middle of it, here’s a quick look at South Carolina’s larger public schools.
Needless to say, these trips are less like taking a car out for a testdrive than taking an obscenely expensive car for a test-drive that you’ll be required to keep for years; so when visiting these places, take as much as time as you can without getting into trouble at work.
Wander, gape, kick tires, escape the beaten paths when you can (your tour guides will be very engaging, lovely people whose job it is to sell you their school in cold, mercenary fashion) and ask some of the friendlier-looking locals what they think. In fact, get as many opinions from different-looking people as you can, even if that includes, say, a shirtless, extremely terrible guitar player in a meadow. Which it probably will. Also, please note that if you’re visiting any of these places on football weekends, you are very possibly insane.
Location: Clemson, SC
Approximate drive time: 4 hours
Visitors’ website: www.clemson.edu/visitors
Where to stay: Clemson sports plenty of familiar names, including the Ramada (864-654-7501, ramadaclemson.com) which is located at a busy crossroads a mile from campus; a Holiday Inn Express (864-654-9410); and a slightly more distant Country Inn & Suites (864-622-2200). But those looking for a more luxurious touch should check out the James F. Martin Inn, part of the school’s Madren Conference Center, and bordered by Lake Hartwell and the Walker Golf Course; it includes the well-regarded Seasons By The Lake restaurant and, possibly more importantly, lobby Starbucks. It’s also near the extremely lovely South Carolina Botanical Garden. (864-654-9020, clemson.edu/madren/toc/martin/index.htm).
Campus tours: Guided 90-minute tours, which can include a scavenger hunt if you prefer, begin and end at the Class of 1944 Visitors Center, 109 Daniel Dr., off of S.C. 93. The center is open from 8 a.m.- 4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday, but tours take place Monday-Saturday at 9:45 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. (and also 1:45 p.m. Sundays during the fall and spring semesters). Call 864-656-4789 to set one up. No tours are offered during holidays, breaks, finals and, naturally, home football games. (If you’re the DIY type, you can take a self-guided tour by checking out an iPod Touch.)
Location: Charleston, SC
Approximate drive time: 2 hours
Visitors’ website: admissions.cofc.edu/explorethecollege/campusvisits
Where to stay: Savvy travelers will note that the College of Charleston is located in Charleston, which is a lovely place to be at nearly all times, according to folks at Travel & Leisure and Condé Nast Traveler, who are good people to ask. The school is located downtown, which affords the lively, walkable benefits of being in an urban setting; all hotels in the Historic District are an easy 10-minute walk (and hilariously short drive) from campus. Again, there’s plenty of familiarity, including two Marriotts (one at 170 Lockwood Blvd., 843-723-3000, and one at 35 Lockwood Dr., 843-722-7229), as well as a Days Inn (843-722-8411), a Hampton Inn (843-723-4000) and a Holiday Inn (843-805-7900). But for satisfyingly ornate Southern charm, try Charleston Place, a sprawling historic spot that features the Charleston Grill, a rooftop pool and a really large cool-looking staircase. When booking any room, be sure to mention you’re there to check out the school—it may score you a discount.
Campus tours: Tours begin at Admissions in Craig Hall at 65 George St.; they begin with a 30-minute orientation with a counselor and a 75-minute walking tour with a student guide. Tours are offered year-round on weekdays and some Saturdays, but fill up quickly, so the school recommends booking at least two weeks in advance. But again, you can take the go-it-alone route and download the “College of Charleston Tour” app for your iPhone for the extremely reasonable price of free; it features GPS, 18 campus videos and 60 pictures. (Quaint paper campus maps are also available at www.cofc.edu.)
Approximate drive time: 2 hours
Visitors’ website: www.sc.edu/futurestudents
Where to stay: Once again, campus is located downtown, so accommodation options shouldn’t be an issue, unless, of course, you were silly enough to book a trip during a football game. The school is but five minutes from the Hilton Columbia Center (803-744-7800), the Courtyard Marriott (803-799-7800) and the Columbia Marriott (803-771-7000). But the school recommends, conveniently enough, The Inn at USC, located at the corner of Pendleton and Pickens streets and, more descriptively, a block from the USC Visitor Center; it features a number of luxury suites and amenities. Call 803-779-7779 for details.
Campus tours: The Visitor Center is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays (803-777-0169 or 800-922-9755), and offers student-guided two-hour tours on weekdays and some Saturdays, so bring comfortable shoes. But the school’s website offers ways to personalize your visit, via their Scheduling Wizard, which sadly does not come with a hat. There’s also a virtual tour you can take via the Web, and a downloadable MP3 version for ambling about at your own pace.
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