Wednesday’s Parent: 3 simple steps to appreciation

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. ~John F. Kennedy  Photo by BK symphony of love, Original photo credit: Rene Schwietzke

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. ~John F. Kennedy
Photo by BK symphony of love, Original photo credit: Rene Schwietzke

Thanksgiving is a time for family and being grateful but the strain of holiday preparedness cuts chinks into many a parent’s seasonal spirit. Last week I wrote 6 ways for the college-bound to give thanks before Thanksgiving for

Now it’s time for parents to take a deep breath, breathe the joy back in and plug those holes of anxiety with three easy and simple steps to appreciation:

1. Recognition It’s important to stop, look and listen to show gratitude. Take the time to recognize and enjoy the good qualities of someone or something.

2. Understanding Step back to gain perspective and a full understanding that time flies. Treasure and be thankful for the precious moments.

3. Value Acknowledgment is appreciation that appreciates in value. A greater awareness of life’s blessings brings a higher level of satisfaction and contentment.

Have a very happy and thankful Thanksgiving!!!

You have my Wednesday’s Parent: 3 simple steps to appreciation and read on for Suzanne’s take on appreciation.


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 to and vice versa.

Wednesday’s Parent: Parent-Teacher relationship

Parent-Teacher Relationship. Photo by buddawiggi

Parent-Teacher Relationship. Photo by buddawiggi

Inter-personal relationships are tricky. Talk shows focus on them, books give advice about them and specialists speak about them. Not much is said about the parent-teacher relationship, though.

Maybe that’s because there is a common thread with the other pairings. BFFs, marriage partners, parent-child relationships and even business affiliations share a need for open, frequent and continual communication to maintain and grow the ties that bind them together. But parents and their child’s teacher have different parameters.

Parent-teacher relationships are unique.

  • They are not true personal bonds or business associations. The link comes with an expiration date. It can last as briefly as a school year for young children and a semester for teens and college students. Parents continue on as the teacher side of the relationship has many replacements.
  • The communication boundaries differ, too. Constant and frequent contact may have parents written off as over-bearing helicopter parents, hovering needlessly over their children. On the other hand, when teachers reach out, they don’t want to contact a head in the sand ostrich parent who is unaware or an invisible parent who is unreachable.
  • And the parent-teacher relationship is really a trio with the adult pair focusing not on their own best interests but that of a third person: the student with the backdrop of the school (policies, administrators, other parents and students).

So what are the best ways for parents to communicate with teachers to help their child?

As a parent of two children, I lived through many parent-teacher relationships from pre-school through college. I also have spoken with new teachers and old pros. Here are some suggestions:

Show up Whether it’s a primary school Meet the Teacher night, a secondary school Teacher Conference, or College Family Day, it is important for parents to show up. It demonstrates you have made your child’s education a priority to school staff and your offspring. It also gives you an opportunity to collect contact information (email, phone numbers), take a close look at school facilities, and learn more about your student’s studies. Consider the interaction as a fact finding meet and greet that can be used to gain further insight into what can be done to enhance your child’s learning experience

Head’s up Parents sometimes have advanced or special knowledge that students are unable or unwilling to share but school staff should know. So, alert educators to potential problems about something serious that may affect a student’s academic or social behavior. Depending on the child’s age, this can be anything from unusually late nights to arranging for homework/rescheduling tests from absences due to illness to a family tragedy. Teachers appreciate a head’s up about possible issues that may impact student interactions so they can be on the look out and ready to help.

Informal contact Sometimes issues arise in school that students cannot resolve by themselves-but this should be tried before parent involvement. Use the contact info (see Show up) to connect by phone or email. State the problem succinctly and your suggestion/expectations for resolution. Although privacy laws usually prevent colleges from disclosing student info to parents of college students, there are exceptions and parents can also get the student’s permission for disclosure.

Formal meeting Parents or teachers may request a face-to-face meeting for complicated or hard to resolve issues. This is also a good time to use the team approach to exchange observations, listen to feedback and brainstorm solutions including the need for other professionals, experts, and resources.

Join Parents don’t have to negotiate the education system alone. You can join a PTA (Parent Teacher Association), SEPTA (Special Education Parent Teacher Association), and PTSA (Parent Teacher Student Association often for older students). Colleges also have parent organizations. Meet other parents, teachers and students. Join a committee to work together on projects. This takes the parent-teacher relationship to a whole new level.

Email, phone, or in person meetings are most effective when both teachers and parents understand each other and work together. So take a deep breath and think objectively before communicating. It is important to keep emotions in check however parents interact with teachers.

Read on for Suzanne’s suggestions and questions for parents to ask in her great Wednesday’s Parent post Parent-teacher communication.


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 to and vice versa.

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!

2 huge ways Facebook helps college-bound


Facebook Photo by Public Domain image by Skander, Facebook | Flickr – Photo Sharing!

Parents, there is an upside to your college-bound kids using Facebook, Twitter and  microblogs. A recent study shows it’s good practice for making spontaneous and memorable remarks. This skill will come in handy when students are called on to write college essays.

It’s nice to know that a recreational activity can help prepare students for a specific part of college prep.

Turns out it’s the easy, breezy style of natural human speech that makes the difference in helping people remember. For college-bound teens, the audience that counts is college admission test graders and college admission officers. This is a group ready to find a piece that stands out from the crowd.

Using a casual voice honed from microblogging’s spontaneity, students may be able to write a memorable college essay.

Read more

Time to review safety as Hofstra mourns student slain

Hofstra skyline

Hofstra skyline. Photo by public domain by its author, Dan14641 at the wikipedia project File:Hofstra skyline.jpg – Wikimedia

It’s a parent’s worse nightmare and it happened in a suburb on Long Island. Hofstra junior Andrea Rebello was slain Friday during a home invasion in her off campus residence.

The tragedy occurred two days before a ubiquitous college joy: college graduation.

Read on for the grim facts, graduation grieving, and going forward with a 10 step review of basic safety procedures for on and off campus living.




Is college a love match or a consumer purchase?

Love Sculpture at Ursinus College, Collegeville, PA

Love Sculpture at Ursinus College, Collegeville, PA. Photo by By Montgomery County Planning Commission

There are many variables involved in choosing a college to attend. If the goal is to find the best higher education choice out of several thousand possibilities, should students look for their love match or search for a smart consumer purchase?

Parents of the college-bound know the stakes are high. College costs are steep but college grads have a better financial future. Parents want to see stars in their student’s eyes when their college choices are named. They want their child to be happy and excited to take advantage of their higher education opportunities.

Students want to feel a connection with their choice colleges. Initially it may come because the school is a name brand, friends are attending, or the student had a memorable college visit. The college-bound want to proudly wear their college T-shirts. In teen time, a four+ year commitment to earn a diploma represents a huge chunk of their young adulthood and therefor, their identity.

Although they may not be invested in a college decision based on money, the fact is most students take out loans to finance their education. Many parents dig deep in their pockets and also borrow to afford their student’s college bill. The impact of these financial choices may not be felt until after graduation.

Read on for college consumer variables and making a college love match

When to start the college process


Start the college process early
Photo by Public domain image,

Parents and their college-bound often start the college process during students’ high school years. Many advisors use calendars to assign certain key chores including studying for college admission tests, researching colleges, and completing college/financial aid applications. However, to increase chances for a successful college experience and beyond, college prep starts much earlier.

Read on

Discover your college warranty

Discover your college warranty

Discover your college warranty. Photo by
andrew_cosand, IMG_3159_crop | Flickr – Photo Sharing!

Many parents and college-bound students face a costly college dilemma: Is that dream school worth the money or will a cheaper college lead to equal success?

The question is about higher education warranties.

The answer should be easy, considering this is not the first tough consumer decision that families have had to make. Parents put on their consumer hats when buying other large ticket items like a home, car, or vacation. They weigh the pros and cons; they review the warranties and insurance policies.

When it comes to higher education, the floodgates of emotion open. Families consider going into huge debt and risk future financial security for a perceived sole chance for student success.

Is a college acceptance letter like a winning lottery ticket? All students have to do is cash in, attend college and be set for life?

For families unable to pay the 4-6 year college bill out-of-pocket without substantial borrowing, parent retirement and student future lifestyles may be in jeopardy. The bottom line is overwhelming debt doesn’t mix well with success.

What is the college warranty?

READ more:

Parents and college-bound emergency plan

Emergency call button - Public Information Symbol

Emergency call button – Public Information Symbol Photo by public domain by its author, Foundation for Personal Mobility and Ecological Transportation (

If parents need another reason to prepare for emergencies, the recent Boston bombings sure give it.

Boston is home to families and businesses. It is also a college town and major tourist city. Unfortunately, many other American towns have suffered from disasters such as school shootings, Super Storm Sandy and Hurricane Katrina, epidemics and earthquakes.

The hope is that an emergency plan will never need to be put into action. However, from terrorist and other criminal attacks to health hazards and environmental/weather tragedies, wise families have an emergency preparedness plan.

Parents with college-bound students have unique challenges. They need a plan for when they are all at home and when they are apart. The government’s website is a great resource including instructions to make a plan, build a kit and stay informed.

Here’s a five-point plan for families of college-bound students:

Read more:

It takes this village to get into college

Photo by Nina Matthews from Sydney, Australia, File:Love shadows everything.jpg - Wikimedia

Photo by Nina Matthews from Sydney, Australia, File:Love shadows everything.jpg – Wikimedia

When a student is accepted for college admission, he or she has a lot of backs to pat besides his own. It takes a community to prepare a child for a successful college career and beyond.

Every student has a different assortment of people who fill these roles:

READ more