I tell kids all the time that parents were not born knowing how to be a parent. Parenting doesn’t even come with one standard manual, like driving does. So, it’s no surprise that teachers are asked when certain events should begin with their children all the time. I thought we might address some of the most frequent.
When should I begin to worry about letter reversals?
Have you ever noticed how similar the letters “d,” “p,” and “b” are? It’s the same symbol just spun on an axis or flipped horizontally. Then you add a hook on the tail, and, depending upon which way the hook goes, it becomes “g” or “q.” (And the fact that Times New Roman doesn’t put the tail on my “q” makes it even more confusing!) When your child begins to grasp that the letter is more than a squiggle he is forced to repeatedly write, he should quit reversing. The checking into possible problems begins in late first grade or early second grade when the problem persists.
When should I seek help for my child’s bed-wetting?
This one is close to my heart because I was a bed-wetter. Thank heavens, my parents knew it wasn’t a discipline issue. I get so angry at the ads that make parents believe this is a problem they must tolerate (Pull-ups, for instance). Sometimes bed-wetting is due to a medical reason. But sometimes, bed-wetting occurs because a child is running, running, running all the way to bed time. The kidneys never receive the message from the body that says, “Hey, it’s time to empty for the night.” When the child finally goes to bed, he just crashes, falling instantly into a deep sleep. The kidneys say, “Ope! There’s the signal!” and they empty. Parents, doctors have a pill that will help your child slow down in the evenings so that kidneys will get the message before he goes to bed. It’s a mild antidepressant. I cannot remember the name; I just called it my “magic pill” because it allowed me to go to sleepovers! It took about six months, but it worked.
When should I begin prepping my teen for college entrance exams?
This is a tricky one because the ACT and SAT have been changing quite a bit lately. For years and years, they were the standard. They became too easy to master, though, because of the plethora of material for studying. Colleges got false reads on intelligence (a.k.a. kids who could study and pass the test, but who couldn’t think their way out of a box), and schools howled for the curriculum tested to match the curriculum taught. Because some universities have waived the need for the testing now, the SAT and ACT have become one of those “institutions” that is dying. In an act of desperation, they are matching tests to the Common Core (ugh!) and are giving the highly paid for “secrets to excelling on the test” away for free to all. So… your child could prepare for one type, and it could totally change. I’d say, concentrate on teaching them concepts and to think.
When should my teen beginning pursuing admission to a college?
My sophomores all must have a college entrance exam on file with us by the end of the sophomore year. This lets the teen know which schools are likely to accept him and which are out of the question. By the end of the junior year, my students must have narrowed the list of desired schools to three, which they should visit by the end of the summer. I very strongly encourage my seniors to seek early admission to the college of choice. Early admission (application submission in October; acceptance attained by December) means opportunities for merit-based scholarships, opportunities for earlier enrollment in classes, and the chance to just enjoy the last half of the senior year.
Scholarship opportunities become available as early as the sophomore year of high school. Taking the PSAT/NMSQT should begin in 9th grade. That way, the teen has two years to
practice before “the money” year: the year they might become a National Merit Finalist, which inherently comes with scholarship opportunities.
When should I let my child have a cell phone?
This is somewhat based upon your child’s maturity and responsibility. I would say that middle and high schoolers need to be able to contact parents when on a school activity trip. The teen and I might need comms, as well. There’s a huge difference, though, between a phone and an entertainment center! I wish I could afford some of the phones my students have!
The big thing to remember is that your teen will do or receive things on the phone that you will not like. You, as the parent, should be vigilant about accountability. Some parents do this by setting up the child’s email so that they can see all the child does. Others check the phone’s history at the end of each day. Do not feel guilty for monitoring use, but also do it in a way that lets your teen know his rights are respected.
When should I begin looking for a different school for my child?
Believe it or not, I have this conversation often. Our school is not for everyone. As the years progress, the difficulty rises exponentially. Some kids suffer because they want to stay with their friends, but the school is just too tough. Chances are, we will have already been talking to you. Keeping a kid here when it’s actually too tough can really do some damage. Notice I say “actually.” If your child is just lazy, we will work with you to help “motivate” him or her. But, if nothing is working, we will begin to encourage you to consider another school. Over the years, there have been kids who were doing poorly at our school because it was too hard, and then have become very successful at a public school. All the good habits were ingrained, and the student was able to proceed successfully. There are plenty of reasons to like our school, but don’t forget that it is a niche school, specifically aimed at educating gifted and talented kids.
These are the most common questions I get. Feel free to ask if you have something I did not address.