Wednesday’s Parent: Tips for a new school/year

Back to School

Back to School

Raising college-bound children is challenging, costly and stressful. Whether you are the parent of a preschooler or a college freshman, there are parenting tips and strategies to help your student achieve success. Wednesday’s Parent is a new parent series shared by your very own POCSmom Wendy David-Gaines and college prep expert Suzanne Shaffer.

Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne 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 to and vice versa.

The first installment in the Wednesday’s Parent series is about ways to help your student attend a new school and have a successful new school year:

Wednesday’s Parent: Tips for a new school year

Whether the phrase, “Back to school” makes you smile or grimace, it signals change. Change can be especially difficult for kids attending a new school.

From preschoolers to college freshmen, there are universal parenting strategies that can help reduce the stress of adjustment so families can enjoy and be prepared for the start of a new school year.

1. New time schedule Usually a new school has different start and end times. That means new waking up and going to bed routines may have to be established. Make small adjustments each day to ease the transition.

2. New location It is natural to fear the unknown. Take the mystery out by visiting the new school. Many schools have visiting days but if they don’t, ask for a tour of the building and its surroundings to learn the layout

3. New transportation How students get to and from school may be changing, too. Do a dry run together to estimate how long it takes and to get familiar with the route. Discuss safety hazards. Also explore other to and from travel options should it be necessary.

4. New social status Entering a new school means the student is now on the low rung of the academic and social status ladder. At the same time, the student may have increased privileges and responsibilities at home and at school. This is a good time to chat about expectations.

 5. New peers Encourage your student to make new friends and keep the old but don’t be surprised if the mix changes as the student’s interests become more defined. Talk about how to make friends and how to deal with bullying.

6. New teachers Make sure your student understands her most important job is school and her boss is the teacher. She should follow the teacher’s instructions, go to work prepared, and complete assignments on time. Let her know that if she has questions or problems, she can always talk to you.

7. New school work It can be difficult to adjust to a new homework load. Make it easier by creating a quiet study space filled with good lighting and necessary school supplies. Add study time to a calendar listing activities (see #9). Investigate free homework help and tutoring options offered by the school and encourage your student to attend when necessary.

8. New issues Hopefully your student will like his new teacher(s), school, and classmates but be prepared to address the issue if there are problems. Let your student know you have his back and will be there to support him. Get the phone numbers of relevant school personnel should it be necessary to perform your role as parent advocate and schedule a meeting. (See Suzanne’s list with warnings about being a hovering helicopter parent).

9. New opportunities If there are student and parent email or text alerts, sign up. Keep on top of school events, clubs and activities to avoid missed opportunities. A calendar can help keep everyone up to date and regular planning conversations can keep the family on track.

10. New parent involvement New schools mean new opportunities for parent involvement. Join a parent organization and network to learn more about the school, student body and other parents.

Read on for Suzanne Shaffer’s tips for a new school (year). Enjoy your fresh start and have a great school year!

New method for paying teachers causes concerns

Pi pie by pauladamsmith,,_January_2008.jpg

A school district in Colorado has hooked teacher pay to supply and demand. That means harder to hire high school math teachers are paid more than easier to find elementary art teachers, according to a Yahoo! News report released yesterday.

Education has never been more important in this age of information and technology. Meanwhile, school districts across the country are wrestling with shrinking revenue and budgetary concerns.

Equal pay for equal work has been a rallying cry for minorities and women. Will teachers be the next to use it?

Read on

4 ways colleges can prep you for Valentine’s Day

Cliché: A labor of love.    
POCS Reality: College can help you prep for a lovely Valentine’s Day.     

Every Feb 14 is a celebration of love. Whether you are a born romantic or don’t know where to begin, college can help you prepare for a lovely Valentine’s Day.

According to

The roots of Valentine’s Day goes back to ancient times, when people paid honor to the Roman God of Fertility. This was known as the Feast of Lupercalia, and was celebrated even then on February 14th.

Here are four ways college can prep you for Feb 14:

  1. Look good, feel good One reason colleges are so costly is their amenities-especially the sports kind. If you are not on a team but want to stay fit, check out a college gym or pool for Intramural sports, exercise classes and personal exercise equipment use. Memberships and day passes may be available for both students and the public.
  2. Let your inner poet out Take a college poetry course and commit a couple of romantic poems to memory to recite at the appropriate time. Take a creative writing class so you can make your own thoughtful cards and letters.
  3. Dine fine on a budget Many colleges have a wide choice of fast food eateries along with a cafeteria. Why not order take-out and plate it yourself for a romantic meal at home.
  4. Do something special Colleges host a wide variety of entertainment options including art exhibitions, plays, movies and concerts. Check out the campus events calendar and attend your favorite with your beau.

Some activities and facilities are only for enrolled students and others are open to the public. Check prices because many events are free, low cost or have reduced rates for students, senior citizens, alumni, staff/faculty.

POCSmom’s College Prep DIY Insight: Who said studying the humanities wasn’t practical? Have a Happy Valentine’s Day!

College scandals and success stories

Cliché: Ups and downs.    
POCS Reality: The college-bound should stay current because education news is constantly changing.


Scandal, success story, scandal, success story. Welcome to extreme college news 2012 for the good, the bad and the ugly: 

False data and college rankings Claremont McKenna College submitted false SAT scores used in computing college rankings to publications including U.S. News & World Report. The responsible administrator has reportedly resigned. Claremont McKenna is ranked #9 for National Liberal Arts Colleges by U.S. News & World Report.

According to The New York Times, “Iona College in New Rochelle, north of New York City, acknowledged last fall that its employees had lied for years not only about test scores, but also about graduation rates, freshman retention, student-faculty ratio, acceptance rates and alumni giving.” Iona College is ranked #30 Regional Universities by U.S. News & World Report.

College endowment returns swell The Wall Street Journal Market Watch reports 2011 NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments found “College endowments returned an average of 19.2% (after fees) for the year ended June 30, 2011.” Harvard University heads the list of its The 25 largest college endowments.

Mistaken college admission offers Vassar College, ranked #14 for National Liberal Arts Colleges by U.S. News & World Report, accepted then rejected 76 early admission applicants. Similar errors have occurred at other colleges, too.

Recent college grad wins $25,000 Adelphi University grad who studied film entered and won Chevrolet’s Route 66 ad contest. The commercial is slated to air during Super Bowl XLVI. Adelphi is ranked #152 National Universities by U.S. News & World Report.

SAT cheating scandal There have been at least 20 arrests of SAT test takers and test hirers on Long Island, New York and the NY Senate Higher Education Committee is holding hearings to address test security and cheating penalties. Because of the large amount of fees involved in the scam ($1,500-$3,500), new legislation may provide penalties for parent involvement as accomplices.

Intel competition awards scholarships Among this year’s winners for their science research projects is a homeless college-bound high school senior from Long Island, New York. In addition to being an Intel Science Talent Search semifinalist, she is awarded a $50,000 scholarship from AT&T Aspire program on the Ellen DeGeneres show.  

POCSmom’s College Prep DIY Insight: Whoa – we are only 34 days into 2012. Education news is a wild ride for the college-bound. Take a deep breath and stay focused on your part in the college process.