9 Back-to-School Tips for Parents and Students

Between the social-media-fueled pressure, college admissions madness and bullying culture, schools today can be a minefield. We collected some education-themed Op-Eds to help guide families as they settle into the new year.

Elementary School

CreditSophie Lécuyer

Is your child feeling left out? Angry at you? Embarrassed to speak up during class? Don’t ignore these feelings. Unless emotions are properly dealt with, children won’t be able to reach their full academic potential.

For students who seem to have less and less patience for long reading assignments, perhaps it’s time to bring back poetry memorization. Capitalize on their ear for the phony free verse of Twitter and texting and give them better words to make sense of themselves and their world.

Parents often wonder about the effect on kids when celebrities or leaders treat people badly or fail to stand up to bigotry and prejudice. Though there’s no way to measure the precise impact, we know that they absorb shared ideas about what behavior is permitted and what is intolerable. If we can’t count on our national leaders to counteract bigotry, then we have to redouble our efforts to do so ourselves. Words are a start and deeds must follow, in small moments of kindness and larger acts of standing for justice.

High School

CreditJing Wei

As information spread and birth control became increasingly available, unwanted pregnancies dropped and rates of S.T.D.s plummeted. In this case, knowledge really is power. This is true of death, too. We need to learn how to make a place for death in our lives, and we also need to learn how to plan for it.

When students witness their classmates being shown the door for trivial offenses, they worry that they may be next. Studies show they grow anxious and do worse on some high-stakes tests. So, what’s to be done? Enter empathy. Sharing what teachers and students have in common, such as a passion for music, a wry sense of humor or even similar values, allows teachers and students to connect and communicate better. Establishing this common ground might seem minor, but it may keep a great many students out of trouble and doing better academically.

Freshman year of college is a year away, but the admissions process can get stressful and you might already be swimming in numbers: SAT scores; the percentage of applicants admitted; how much money graduates tend to make …. And before you know it, you’ll be hearing back from schools. When the time comes, try to remember…

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