College prep over the holidays

Mixing Happy Holidays with college prep. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

Mixing Happy Holidays with college prep. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

The school holiday break is approaching fast raising the dilemma of where college prep fits in. Should it be dropped giving students a chance to relax and have fun jeopardizing momentum or should it keep going full speed ahead risking burnout? Is there a satisfying middle where the college-bound won’t lose any ground?

Join Smart College Visit’s Twitter chat #CampusChat on Wednesday, December 17 at 9 pm ET to participate in the discussion about college prep over the holidays. It’s open mic night with me, Wendy David-Gaines of #WednesdaysParent, guest hosting. 

Read Wednesday’s Parent Night on #CampusChat! to learn how to join a twitter chat.

Bring your tips, comments and questions about college prep stocking stuffers, what should/not be on the college prep to do list, and more. See you there!

RECAP: Don’t worry if you missed any great tips from our College prep over the holidays #CampusChat on 12/17/14. Read our transcript

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Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne Shaffer and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

Suzanne and I host Twitter chat #CampusChat at 9pm ET/6pm PT on the fourth Wednesday of each month. Except this month, we are hosting an open mic night on Wednesday, December 17. Bring your questions and comments about college prep over the holidays!

Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from www.pocsmom.com to http://www.parentscountdowntocollegecoach.com/ and vice versa.

Wednesday’s Parent: 6 ways to prevent college-bound burnout

Prevent college-bound burnout. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

Prevent college-bound burnout. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

All work and no play can do a lot more than make college-bound Jack a dull boy. It can result in “a mountain of mental and physical health problems,” according to Psychology Today. Cynicism, depression and lethargy lead the list of symptoms that cause exhaustion and stress in mind and body.

Families can take advantage of school breaks but what about daily routines? Here are six ways to incorporate downtime into busy schedules that parents can use to prevent burnout for their teens:

1. Address the issue with your parent-student team. Have short and regularly scheduled formal meetings with the goal of helping your college-bound achieve college and career dreams. Together, complete a calendar with deadlines, due dates and tasks. Include breaks because this is the first to be omitted unless scheduled.

2. Breaks come in different time sizes. Help your teen brainstorm a list of fun things to do based on various time slots. Some activities can be with family or friends and others can simply be quality alone time.

3. Make “mixing business with pleasure” a mantra. Fun is a great stress reliever so add some before, during or after a must-do on the to-do list.

4. Find a balance between work/study and extracurriculars. This is a skill that will be used throughout life. The activities can include a hobby, sport or club that brings joy and another dimension to routine work loads.

5. Make rest and exercise family priorities. They both help energize and invigorate. A good night’s sleep and being in good physical shape help form a positive mental attitude.

6. Celebrate accomplishments. Don’t let them pass without recognition of the hard work it took to pull off. Appropriate praise rewarding downtime can boost self-esteem.

Read Suzanne’s post: Enjoying a Break When There is No Break

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Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne Shaffer and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from www.pocsmom.com to http://www.parentscountdowntocollegecoach.com/ and vice versa.

Suzanne and I host Twitter chat #CampusChat at 9pm ET/6pm PT on the fourth Wednesday of each month. Except this month, since this is the night before Thanksgiving, we wish you all a very  

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Wednesday’s Parent: 3 ways to prep middle schoolers for college prep

3 ways to prep middle schoolers for college. Photo by Wendy-David-Gaines

3 ways to prep middle schoolers for college. Photo by Wendy-David-Gaines

If your teeny bopper is anything like mine were, college is an unformed dream without tangible reality. It may be taken for granted as a future educational goal, but high school has more allure and meaning to a middle schooler. Parents can grab this as an opportunity to prep for college prep.

Work load increases and studies go more in depth as students switch from one classroom with a sole teacher to many classes taught by experts in each subject. How young teens handle the transition can lay the groundwork for higher education.

It’s human nature to do one’s best when vested in the process. Failure to do this can be extremely costly in time and money during the college process. So here are three ways parents can prep their middle schoolers for college prep:

Establish a work ethic: All the business attributes apply to the job of “student” including being conscientious, meeting deadlines, and having pride in doing quality work. Families can agree on and set reasonable expectations, rewards and consequences so everyone is on the same page.

Use intrinsic self-motivators: Sleep is a huge motivator for thinking clearly and creatively. Electronic media, caffeine consumption, and early wake-up disrupt natural sleep patterns of adolescents putting them at risk for depression, obesity, delinquent behaviors, depression, impaired judgment, and psychological stress according to a report released in August by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Adequate sleep and rest must be a family priority.

Form a parent/student team: Parents and students can form an organized and routine way to communicate, work toward and accomplish what is needed. The object is to formally focus on students achieving their educational and career goals. Creating regular meeting times and ground rules like listening and respecting everyone’s opinion goes a long way to reducing emotion and nagging. Don’t forget to make celebrating accomplishments part of the deal!

The next step is planning academics. Read Suzanne’s post for important details:  College Prep in Middle School

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Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne Shaffer and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

The bonus is on the fourth Wednesday of each month when Suzanne and I will host Twitter chat #CampusChat at 9pm ET/6pm PT. We will feature an expert on a topic of interest for parents of the college-bound.

Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from www.pocsmom.com to http://www.parentscountdowntocollegecoach.com/ and vice versa.

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READ more: 

Wednesday’s Parent: Using irony and a proverb as self-motivation for your teen

Wednesday’s Parent: Emotion management 101 

Wednesday’s Parent: 5 rule-breaking ways to encourage 

When tech helps/hurts college prep

Wednesday’s Parent: Hobbies can lead college prep

Hobbies can lead college prep. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines.

Hobbies can lead college prep. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines.

There are many reasons people have hobbies but for the college-bound, these interests may drive the college process right to admission, through graduation and into a job. That’s because hobbies are fueled by passion and passion can make work feel like a hobby – - something your student can’t wait to do.

“It makes hard days easier, and your efforts and successes will be a hundred times more satisfying,” Alex Mooradian, CEO of Readyforce, says in the Mashable article, Career Considerations for College Seniors: Resume-Building Begins Now.

Majors and minors,” is what Steve Stoute, founder and CEO of ad agency Translation,  describes the difference between a day job and a passion. He goes on to say, “Allowing your employees to be able to use their talents and passions to move the business forward is an incredible thing. It gets everybody to feel like they have the opportunity to help be a part of the problem-solving for our clients.”

The same reasoning can be applied to higher education. I have written about the reasons for Adding the extras and now it’s time to focus on the extracurricular activity of a hobby. Parents can share theirs, help their children discover an enjoyable hobby or develop an existing one to start the following benefits flowing:

Benefit #1  Hobbies can lead to self-motivation by inspiring students to want to learn more.

Benefit #2  Skills are developed from exploring an interest. The expertise and knowledge from hobbies can be listed on a resume for college and a job.

Benefit #3  Hobbies can show off leadership qualities that colleges are looking for.

Benefit #4  There may be a market for goods made or talents perfected by hobbies. They can be turned into a lucrative business that can help pay college bills.

Benefit #5  Hobbies may be shared with others, delved into alone or divided between the two and easily fitted into busy schedules. It can complement both introvert and extrovert personalities as well as personal timetables.

Benefit #6  Both academic and life skills can be learned via hobbies. “Hobbies can be one of the best avenues to help kids practice what they learn in school and continue learning outside of the classroom,” according to http://houndahobby.com.

Benefit #7  Hobbies can supply a natural connection and conversation starter among family members at home or extend outside between the college-bound and college/employer interviewers.

Whether a life-long interest or a passing fancy, hobbies are leisure activities that bring richness as an avocation that can also lead to college preparation and beyond.

Read Suzanne’s post: Turning a Hobby Into a Resume Rave

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Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne Shaffer and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

The bonus is on the fourth Wednesday of each month when Suzanne and I will host Twitter chat #CampusChat at 9pm ET/6pm PT. We will feature an expert on a topic of interest for parents of the college-bound.

Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from www.pocsmom.com to http://www.parentscountdowntocollegecoach.com/ and vice versa.

Wednesday’s Parent: Emotion management 101

Emotion management 101. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

Emotion management 101. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

Emotions can drive action forward or into the ground. This one insight defines how I described the parent role in the parent-student team approach to college prep. Surveys and scientists explained how emotions can help or hinder students to achieve their college and career dreams.

Parents cannot expect their students to do their best if they are not vested in the college process, I have said and written many times. “The best educators know that for students to achieve meaningful, lasting success in the classroom and beyond, they must be emotionally engaged in the educational experience,” Gallup notes.

Negative emotions can lead to huge setbacks like burnout. A developmental psychologist and research affiliate of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and a psychoanalyst and associate director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence joined together to write an interesting article in OpEd Project’s Yale Public Voices Fellowship program, reported The Washington Post.

They found, “many college students are struggling, even suffering.” High school students and their parents can be so focused on doing what is necessary to get into college that they don’t ready themselves for the emotional challenges of adjusting to a new job as college student, moving to a new place, and meeting/living with new people. That’s a lot of change to deal with.

Good-bye comfort zone and hello loss of security. Educators may step in to help. However, parents can start now to assist their students in developing skills of emotional intelligence to reason with and about emotions to achieve goals and thrive. Here are five ways to begin:

  1. Offer encouragement. There is a big difference between being supportive and taking over.
  2. Provide expectations. Clear understanding enables students to rise to the occasion and recognize limits.
  3. Give freedom to fail in a safe way. Slowly turning over the college prep leadership role enables students to learn from their own mistakes and gain confidence from making good decisions.
  4. Self-check. Parents can put aside their own anxiety so they don’t transfer their own feelings of worry, disappointment and anger.
  5. Listen carefully. Establish an open and regular communication policy. Look for the cues when your child is anxious and pressured. Does he or she know what to do to lower their own anxiety? Do you both know where to go for more help?

Read Suzanne’s post: 6 Emotional College Prep Tasks

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Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne Shaffer and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

The bonus is on the fourth Wednesday of each month when Suzanne and I will host Twitter chat #CampusChat at 9pm ET/6pm PT. We will feature an expert on a topic of interest for parents of the college-bound.

Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from www.pocsmom.com to http://www.parentscountdowntocollegecoach.com/ and vice versa.

Wednesday’s Parent: Pick a club but not any club

College-bound: Pick a club but not any club. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

College-bound: Pick a club but not any club. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

When it comes to college admission, extracurricular activities matter. Colleges want students who have focused on a particular area or two to achieve higher competency, show leadership, and display maturity and commitment. Students may not know what they want to major in but they can demonstrate focal points of pursuits. Selecting the right one is like finding a friend.

A year ago, I explained the importance of Adding the extras because, “Colleges want interesting, motivated students who show commitment to their passions and will not just fit in but will contribute to their campus.” I provided ways parents can help their college-bound develop interests, talents, hobbies, volunteer and job experience.

Not all activities and not all levels of participation will help the college-bound. To help your child pick a club, use these five lessons learned from choosing a friend:

1. You have something in common. Teens are often drawn to a particular club either because of an interest in participating in the activity or because they want to join other club members. They stay in it and get the most out of it when the two combine. Give it a good try when mixing new or old passions with new or old friends because student interests can change.

2. You want to spend time together. It can be challenging or comfortable but the activity chosen should make the student smile. Students should enjoy participating and look forward to spending their free time there.

3. You want to give as much as take. It is better to be an active club member of one or two activities than a passive brief contributor to many. Use the opportunity to grow in the organization, hone skills and polish leadership abilities.

4. You can count on it. To be most rewarding, the club and its members have to be reliable. Even if it is a seasonal activity, students have to be able to count on certain events and other club members for doing their part. When students put in their time and dedication, they should expect reciprocal support.

5. They bring out the best in you. The goal is to grow, thrive and mature in the chosen environment. Like hanging with a bad crowd, a club that doesn’t suit the student should be ditched. The best clubs and activities can help the student reach new heights and accomplish more than he could on his own.

Don’t worry if your teen is not a joiner. There are plenty of solo activities and sports that fill the role of a club. Students can use the above lessons to help them choose.

Read Suzanne’s post: Wednesday’s Parent: An Extracurricular Match Made in Heaven

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Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne Shaffer and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

The bonus is on the fourth Wednesday of each month when Suzanne and I will host Twitter chat #CampusChat at 9pm ET/6pm PT. We will feature an expert on a topic of interest for parents of the college-bound.

Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from www.pocsmom.com to http://www.parentscountdowntocollegecoach.com/ and vice versa.

Wednesday’s Parent: 3 sure-fire words to adjust to new routines

New routines disrupt patterns. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

New routines disrupt patterns. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

There is comfort in knowing the pattern. It makes meeting expectations easier. Alterations mess with predictability and wipe out the ease of habit. Fortunately, there are tips to smooth the adjustment to new routines.

A new school year represents big change for students and their parents. Students must adapt to new schedules, classrooms, activities, teachers and classmates. Parents have to merge their child’s schedule with their own. Time pressed, added responsibilities and increased workload can stress families to the max. Perhaps the hardest part is getting to know new people or reacquainting with those one hasn’t seen for a while. Or maybe it’s adding all the extra things to do for college prep.

As students and parents get familiar with the new rules, it’s is helpful to review my 5 rule-breaking ways to encourage. To this I add my three easy to remember S-words to spark the adjustment to new routines:

Sleep Never underestimate the power of getting enough rest. Sleep improves mental and physical abilities. It is a biological necessity that is often not respected. Without adequate rest, it’s more difficult to think and act clearly and efficiently in the best of times let alone dealing with new situations and people. A nap may help but make getting sufficient zzz’s each night a priority.

Study This is two tips in one word. First, get full value out of an education by learning the material and not for the sake of a test. Plan for study time and create a quiet place to do it. Tap available resources in or out of school when additional help is needed. Second, refine observation skills. Notice and remember details about people, places and things. Making studying a priority will help navigate the school’s halls as well as remembering facts like a new friend’s name (see also first reason).

Smile Don’t be afraid to say hi first and smile when you do it. Smiles are a two-way street with double benefits. Most times they are automatically reciprocated. Simply turning the corners of one’s mouth upward can become an ice-breaker while reducing stress. Smiling can be a mood lifter. Just think about a happy memory or future event and gain confidence by making smiling a priority.

Read Suzanne’s post: Establishing a Back to School Routine

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Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne Shaffer and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

The bonus is on the fourth Wednesday of each month when Suzanne and I will host Twitter chat #CampusChat at 9pm ET/6pm PT. We will feature an expert on a topic of interest for parents of the college-bound.

Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from www.pocsmom.com to http://www.parentscountdowntocollegecoach.com/ and vice versa.

Wednesday’s Parent: School counselors and the parent/student team

Meet with your school counselor. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

Meet with your school counselor. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

School counselors are often the first professional who introduces the college process to students and parents. They may bring outside speakers in to supplement their own in-house programs about admission and financial aid. With cutbacks in education funding, there is even more pressure on high school counselors, college-bound students and their parents to find expert info to navigate the complicated college process.

When I speak at high schools, middle schools, public libraries and private groups, my favorite part is the Q&A session. The comments reflect parent and student consistent concerns. They are worried about the coming changes, stressed about the increased to-do list, and scared about the financial and emotional costs.

When the parent/student team partners with a school counselor, they have access to a valuable resource. The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) explains the credentials of professional school counselors, formerly referred to as guidance counselors, as state certified/licensed educators with a minimum of a master’s degree in school counseling. As vital members of the education team, they can help students in the areas of academic achievement, personal/social development and career development.

School counselors may meet with students alone and/or with their parents to form a plan of classes, programs and services to satisfy student immediate needs and future goals. For the college-bound, school counselors play an important part. They are often responsible for submitting school transcripts, general school information and specifics about class ranking, and teacher and school recommendation letters to the colleges students indicate they are submitting admission applications.

When going to any professional for advice, it is helpful to prepare. Use the parent-student team meeting to brainstorm questions and think about different scenarios. School counselors have limited time to spend on an individual student so maximize the chance to pick their brain.

Here are ten questions and topics for the college-bound to ask and explore when meeting with their school counselor. The last one is a biggie:

  1. How can I improve my academic standing, extracurricular choices, and college admission chances?
  2. I don’t know what to study in college. Please help me match my interests and skills to career possibilities and colleges with the best programs for me.
  3. What websites and other resources should I use to help form a college list?
  4. I prepared this resume of my skills and accomplishments in addition to what is in my school records. Please look it over and ask me any questions before writing the school letter of recommendation about me. What are your suggestions for teacher recommendations?
  5. What local and other scholarships do you recommend I apply to and have a good chance of winning? Any tips?
  6. Please proofread my college and scholarships essays.
  7. I am so stressed and pressed for time. Can you offer any guidance on study strategies, stress management and test preparation?
  8. When attending school sponsored college fairs and information sessions, what questions should I ask?
  9. What else should I do to prepare for college?
  10. How can my parents and family best help me?

After the meeting, the parent-student team may discuss the school counselor’s suggestions and form their own plan of action. As the college process moves forward, students can assume increasing responsibilities and leadership. They can keep the counselor updated on their progress and continue to ask questions.

Read Suzanne’s post: Cultivate the Counselor Relationship

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Tonight is Wednesday’s Parent night (the fourth Wednesday of each month) on #CampusChat, Wednesday, August 27, 9pm ET/6pm PT. We will talk with Shelley Kraus @butwait about the role of school counselors in the college process. Shelley served as director of admissions at @PreviewingPenn,  associate director of admissions at @TCNJ_Admissions and is in her tenth year as a member of the college counseling team at @RutgersPrep, New Jersey’s first independent school. She is the lead curator of collegelistswiki.com, a counselor ­curated collection of over 250 college lists. Please join us and bring your questions and comments.

UPDATE: RECAP (For those who missed the chat or want to review the important tips shared). 

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Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne Shaffer and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

 Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from www.pocsmom.com to http://www.parentscountdowntocollegecoach.com/ and vice versa.

Wednesday’s Parent: Best question for parents to ask to help with college essays

Parents can help students crack college essay writer's block

Parents can help students crack college essay writer’s block

The single best question parents can ask themselves to best help their teens write a college or scholarship application essay is:

Who’s going to that college?

The answer puts into perspective two vital points in composing a killer essay:

  • It’s all about the college-bound
  • And how the college-bound will be an asset to a particular campus

It comes down to what the student offers and wants. To find out, he/she has to do a lot of thinking about his strengths, weaknesses, talents, abilities, interests and desires. Then he has to figure out which colleges will best help him achieve his short and long term goals. Finally, she has to write essays that along with her application convince the schools they want her to attend and/or provide financial awards.

College is a huge investment that pays off big time. For grads it means a better life style via more money earned over a career. Read this to find out how much more. Parents get an unexpected bonus, too. They live longer with healthier lives. Read this to find out how much longer.

Parents can’t expect their child to do their best if he or she is not vested in the college process from application through graduation. So it makes sense for parents to focus their energy on helping their college-bound student get motivated. For general tips read this and this.

To motivate to compose essays often means cracking the hard shell covering known as writer’s block. Writing doesn’t always come easy and many drafts are typical. That’s why it is best to start early when the clock isn’t ticking moments away before deadlines.

The essay is an opportunity to show student strength, maturity and growth and is best written from a position of leadership. Staring at a blank page isn’t fun for anyone so here are six ways for parents to help their college-bound write a super essay:

  1. Creativity is stifled by stress. Give your child time and space to think without pressure.
  2. Distractions impede focus. Provide an organized and quiet place for your child to write.
  3. Unsolicited and unappreciated advice isn’t helpful. Let your child know you are ready to listen and brainstorm should he suffer from writer’s block.
  4. Self-esteem is lowered from being overshadowed. Don’t make it a competition by over-relating your own past history of accomplishments, mistakes or desires.
  5. Over-confidence doesn’t help either. Constant reminders of past glories are more like bragging than inspiring compliments.
  6. A good support team can provide confidence. Let your child know you are available to help but so are teachers, guidance counselors and other admission counselors.

Then sit back, keep repeating the above question, and wait for your child to take the lead when she is ready to own the college process and do what it takes to get in and earn a diploma. He may even let you read his finished essay.

Read Suzanne’s Top 5 Essay Posts for Parents

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Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne Shaffer and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

The bonus is on the fourth Wednesday of each month when Suzanne and I will host Twitter chat #CampusChat at 9pm ET/6pm PT. We will feature an expert on a topic of interest for parents of the college-bound. 

Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from www.pocsmom.com to http://www.parentscountdowntocollegecoach.com/ and vice versa.

Wednesday’s Parent: 6 unexpected bonuses from summer reading

Fill your plate with reading. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

Fill your plate with reading. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

Childhood is not what it used to be. Our kids are over scheduled and technologically driven. Even summers are no longer filled with cloud watching, daydreaming and nothing to do. Downtime has been replaced with videos, gaming and social media. However, parents may share some good old fashioned reading habits that lead to some surprising results.

In a busy life, reading slows the pace. It is an introspective solitary experience that prepares children with knowledge, provokes thought, and inspires learning. The casual summer reader sharpens decision-making abilities by choosing the subject matter. He manages time by carving out a daily piece to read. She organizes her space for reading comfort. All of these are necessary skills for the college-bound.

Your child may be holding an e-reader instead of paper as the reading material but that’s not the point. Once the words are consumed, the plate they are served from doesn’t matter. It’s still food for thought.

Based on your child’s personality and interest, here are six ways parents may encourage summer reading and find these unexpected bonuses:

For those who resist sitting still, read to create. How-to books are perfect for active would be scientists, engineers and artists. Teens may select an area of interest and try it out with a special project or experiment. If the subject will be studied in school, students may have a leg up on the work load. If it is purely an extracurricular activity, teens may have something special to add to their college application activities and honors list.

For the go-getter, get a jump start on college essay writing. With more schools going standardized test optional, essays grow in importance during the admission process. Reading the work of great writers exposes teens to clear examples of how to craft an audience-grabbing opening line and an audience-retaining gripping paragraph. It also shows writing styles vary and it is up to the author how to best express her point.

For the quiet one, form a family book club. Libraries and social groups have them so why not a family? It gives parents and children a chance to calmly converse on a higher level as a team. Depending on the topic, it may become a broader opportunity for teens to share their developing opinions on social, political and financial issues as they grow toward their own independence. It’s a great way for families to prepare for the shift from a parent-child relationship to a parent-adult child relationship.

For the inner chef, read to cook. Many cookbooks offer more than recipes. Some provide interesting details about ingredients and fun facts about the origin of dishes. The whole family will benefit from a meal while the teen learns life skills about nutrition and meal preparation. This is good practice to avoid the dreaded Freshmen !5 weight gain that plague many new college students.

For the history buff, read about the past. Go beyond textbooks and find books authored by historical figures or about a specific era. Or delve into the pages of an historical novel. Both fiction and nonfiction book lovers can find love and war stories, inventions, poetry, thought processes and bygone life styles. When classes resume, teens may have a keener insight into the subject matter.

For the adventurous, read for travel. If your family is planning a vacation or collegecation (college visit + family vacay), why not have your interested teen help plan by learning about the attractions, events and must see and do sights. Teens curious about going away to college may also learn about what makes a particular school and their surrounding community special, different and worth further research on a college list. If a teen is thinking about enrolling in a study abroad program, reading about another country will help make this decision.

There is a physical or virtual book, periodical, newspaper or article to suit every genre and some will cross over. For example, readers of  a mystery novel set in 19th century London may be challenged to figure out the puzzle while picking up some historical tidbits about a foreign country. Something from the craft section may spur entrepreneurial talents leading to creation of a new business.

Reading may also change moods with laughter and attitudes with empathy. Parents may help their children experience the joys of summer reading today for a lifetime of learning in school and beyond.

Read Suzanne’s post: Encourage Summer Reading.

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Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne Shaffer and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

The bonus is on the fourth Wednesday of each month when Suzanne and I will host Twitter chat #CampusChat at 9pm ET/6pm PT. We will feature an expert on a topic of interest for parents of the college-bound.

Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from www.pocsmom.com to http://www.parentscountdowntocollegecoach.com/ and vice versa.