Feed on
Posts
Comments

My 5-year old daughter, Illana, has been so excited about starting kindergarten, but suddenly she cries when we talk about it and insists she’s staying home with her sister. She loved preschool, so I don’t get it. How can we get her ready for her first day?

Many children, even those with preschool experience, get last-minute “kindergarten jitters,” says Shirley Harden, a retired Maryland principal who coaches parents on supporting their children’s school success. She offers these tips:

– If possible, visit Illana’s school before classes begin. “Often principals encourage kindergartners to come for a sneak peek to see their classroom, cafeteria and other rooms,” says Harden. “During your walk-through, point out bulletin boards and displays. Even show her the bathrooms, so she’s familiar with the facilities.”

– Probe her worries. Because parents make the first day a big deal, kids may develop unwarranted concerns, says Harden. “Talk through any fears and put them to rest,” she says. “Explain how her day will go and what she will do after school to allay concerns about how she gets home.” Tell her about first-day jitters in your life, such as a new job. Explain that it’s normal to have anxieties about new things.

– Read books about starting kindergarten. “There are some really funny ones,” says Blanche Warner, a library manager in Naples, New York. “Librarians have them ready in August.”

Warner suggests these time-tested titles:

– “A Place Called Kindergarten” (Puffin, 2008) by Jessica Harper. Tommy’s animal friends become alarmed when they learn Tommy has gone to a place called “kindergarten.”

– “Countdown to Kindergarten” (HMH Books for Young Readers; 2006) by Alison McGhee and Harry Bliss. Ten days before school starts, a new kindergartner can’t tie her shoes and fears the worst.

– “Jake Starts School” (Square Fish, 2010) by Michael Wright. A boy worries about staying at school without his parents.

– “Kindergarten Rocks!” (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2008) by Katie Davis. Dexter isn’t scared to start school, but his stuffed dog, Rufus, is terrified!

– “Late for School!” (Carolrhoda Books, 2013) by Stephanie Calmenson and Sachiko Yoshikawa. A teacher oversleeps and is late for the first day.

– “Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come!” (Puffin 2001) by Nancy Carlson. Henry looks forward to kindergarten, but he isn’t sure about staying once he gets there.

– “Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten” (Puffin, 2001) by Joseph Slate and Ashley Wolff. This book introduces the alphabet as Miss Bindergarten and her students get ready for kindergarten.

– “On the Way to Kindergarten” (Puffin, 2008) by Virginia Kroll and Elizabeth Schlossberg. This picture book helps parents show their kindergartner all of her accomplishments in the past five years.

Make a plan to support Illana’s learning all year. Include daily activities such as reading each night, reinforcing social and emotional skills needed in school, and talking about a range of topics to develop oral language and a strong vocabulary. Find ways to connect math and science concepts to daily life by using science and math vocabulary; for example, “Today’s weather brought rain. Let’s measure how much rain we got.” Encourage active play and limit screen time.

Introduce yourself to her teacher and offer your support, says Harden. “That way,” she says, “should a problem arise, you’ll have a working partnership from day one.”

The PTO president wants me to apply to be a parent representative on our school site council. While I’m active at school, I’m not a curriculum or budget expert. What skills do I need to be effective?

If the PTO president is encouraging you to apply, he or she sees that you have the skills, disposition and commitment to be successful.

School site councils usually consist of an administrator, teachers, parents and classified employees, such as custodians and aides. Some members are elected; others appointed. Members advocate for all parents and represent the interests of the entire student body, not just their own children.

“You don’t need to be a budget whiz or know your state’s learning standards inside out to be effective,” says Bill Jackson, founder of GreatSchools, an online academic resource for parents and teachers. “You need to be willing to listen and evaluate data before making a decision and to communicate the importance of the school’s improvement efforts to other parents.”

The job of the council is to focus on things that really matter in boosting student achievement, says Jackson.

“It’s to work with the administration to develop, review and evaluate school improvement programs and budgets,” he explains. “It isn’t to decide if the cafeteria should be painted yellow and blue or whether PTO fundraisers should disallow high-calorie treats. School site councils are most successful when their work is about overall student performance. If not, members are wasting their time.”

The most effective PTO councils focus on four areas: academic achievement, school safety, parent engagement and discipline. Jackson says council members should grapple with these issues:

Consider the goals and priorities of the school, and determine if there is data that shows how well the school is achieving those goals. Look at the progression toward goals and ask if there are groups of students not doing as well as others. If so, consider what programs and supports can be put in place to help the students as well as how those programs will be structured and funded.

Members of the PTO also look at current programs to determine if they are ineffective or unrelated to the overall goals. If so, they may look at eliminating them.

Next, consider these questions: Can you deal with group dynamics? Can you keep your eye on big goals without getting caught in the weeds? Do you have enough time for the homework required to understand and debate policies? Do you have thick enough skin to live through arguments? Can you work outside your comfort zone, communicating the school’s policies to the community?

“For example,” asks Jackson, “can you help parents who don’t see the value of benchmark testing understand why it is important to know where a student is strong or weak to adjust instruction?”

Many times, good policies get scuttled when rumors are passed along among parents. “They fail not for lack of effectiveness, but because parents don’t understand them,” says Jackson. “Council members have an important role in helping other parents understand why the school has a certain homework or testing program.”

Attend a meeting as an observer. Talk with current and former PTO members. If you think you’ll enjoy the involvement, then sign on, says Jackson: “Schools need the leadership of parents like you.”

For more information, go to greatschools.org.

We’re taking an August road trip with our 7-, 9- and 11-year-old boys. The backseat DVD player is broken. We’ll leave it that way to encourage reading. What books might make the miles fly by?

Do your children have favorite authors who have written a series? If not, go to your local library or bookstore and test-drive some for kids in this age range.

“Librarians know what’s popular and are experts in helping young readers find books that connect to their personal interests,” says Blanche Warner, head librarian at Naples (New York) Library.

Series are a good choice because “once a child is hooked on one title, he or she will plow through the rest because they know the backstory. Following a protagonist though each book is like spending time with a good friend,” says Warner. “The ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Lemony Snicket’ books are tried and true examples. Chances are your children already have an author they want more of.”

Two laugh-out-loud, perennially popular series are Lincoln Peirce’s “Big Nate” (HarperCollins and Andrews McMeel Universal) and Jeff Kinney’s “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” (Amulet Books).

Bill Doyle’s “Magic for Hire” series (Random House) is about Henry and Keats, two boys who take on kooky monsters. Titles include “Attack of the Shark-Headed Zombie,” “Stampede of the Supermarket Slugs” and “Invasion of the Junkyard Hog.” It’s great for reluctant readers. The first book in Doyle’s new series about a family that enters wacky contests, “The Prizewinners of Piedmont Place” (Random House), debuts next month.

Science writer Sandra Markle’s lushly illustrated “What If You Had?” nonfiction series (Scholastic) introduces animal characteristics by challenging kids to imagine what it would be like if their own ears, teeth and hair were replaced by those of a different animal.

In a description for “What If You Had Animal Teeth?” on Scholastic.com, it says, “this book explores how different teeth are especially adapted for an animal’s survival. … Children will discover why their own teeth are just right for them. And they’ll also get a friendly reminder to take good care of their teeth, because they’re the only teeth they’ll ever have.”

Another suggestion is to pack some “quick reads offering bite-size nuggets of awesome info that can sop up the time between putting in your order and getting the pizza,” suggests Naples Library’s Warner. Consider titles such as “The World Almanac for Kids,” “Time For Kids Almanac,” “National Geographic Kids Almanac,” “Guinness World Records” and “Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Special Edition 2016.”

Consider the flashcard-format “Fandex Family Field Guides” and “Brain Quest” series from Workman Publishing. These colorful Q-and-A cards with lots of fun facts hang together with a metal rivet, so they don’t spill out of the car when you stop for gas. Fandex topics range from “Birds” to “50 States” to “Star Wars.” The “Brain Quest America” series includes 850 Q and A’s “celebrating our history, people and culture.”

For more information, go to workman.com.

My grandkids are coming for a week and my daughter has asked me to keep them “off the grid,” except for emergencies. The kids (11 and 13) are glued to their phones and she feels their health is at risk. (She wasn’t concerned last summer when they arrived with their noses buried in tablets!) Is she overreacting?

Many experts don’t think so. Educators, athletic coaches, children’s counselors and doctors are beginning to link decreased attention spans, inability to stay focused, and irritability when devices are shelved with kids being unable to put the things down.

Ophthalmologists are concerned about increased eyestrain in young people who overuse screens. Viewing a digital screen often makes the eyes work harder.

You daughter isn’t the only parent worried. One Texas mother emailed me, “When I was a kid, I’d ask friends to come over to play. When my daughter invites friends, it’s like she’s said, ‘Come over so we can silently look at our phones together.’ It’s just crazy.”

A recent poll from Common Sense Media reveals that half of teenagers surveyed “feel addicted” to their mobile devices. Fifty-nine percent of their parents said they agree.

The results suggest that parents and kids are concerned about the impact mobile devices have on day-to-day life. Seventy-two percent of teens and 48 percent of parents feel the need to immediately respond to texts and other notifications; 69 percent of parents and 78 percent of teens check their devices at least hourly.

One-half of parents and one-third of kids polled said they very often or occasionally try to reduce the amount of time they spend on devices. Approximately one-third of both parents and teens said they argue about mobile device use daily. Sixty-six percent of parents and teens said mobile devices are not allowed at the dinner table.

“Mobile devices are fundamentally changing how families go about their day-to-day lives, be it doing homework, driving or having dinner together,” said James Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense. Usage “is causing daily conflict in homes,” while “families are concerned about the consequences. We also know that problematic media use can negatively affect children’s development and that multitasking can harm learning and performance.”

Common Sense has issued a white paper with survey results and recommendations. “Technology Addiction: Concern, Controversy and Finding Balance” discusses — among other things — how multitasking and toggling between multiple screens can impair children’s ability to lay down memories, learn, focus and work effectively.

It also addresses technology’s impact on conversations. Michael Robb, Common Sense’s director of research, said that this is “really important for social and emotional development. We need better long-term measures of how device use is impacting people’s ability to empathize.”

Instead of relying on devices, enjoy going off the grid with your grandkids. Get outside; go camping; have conversations; try a new sport; cook up a storm; engage in painting or sculpture; volunteer where you’re needed (would a preschool like a mural repainted?); visit local attractions; take the kids to lunch with interesting people. Stuck at home on a rainy day? Teach them a challenging card game or chess. Catch a movie at the multiplex. Your daughter won’t mind; the screen is big and the movie is sure to start some interesting conversations afterward!

My 10-year-old daughter, Marilee, can text up a storm, but can’t write a book report or a two-paragraph description of an event. She’s a pretty good reader, but her teacher says her writing skills need improvement. Are there fun ways to practice writing that work?

There are, and you can both enjoy them. Young writers need to learn many skills that are intuitive to most adults. They need to articulate the purpose of the writing; organize ideas, think about spelling, punctuation, grammar and word choices; then edit and revise. And do all this while staying on topic. It’s not easy!

First, do some reading on how schools teach writing. Most use “the writing process,” which has five steps: prewriting (brainstorming, deciding purpose and goals); writing (getting that first draft down); revising and editing (clarifying); rewriting (typing or writing the final draft) and publishing (reaching an audience). That audience might be her aunt receiving a letter or her Girl Scout troop that reads a report she’s written on badge completion. Learn more at ReadWriteThink, an online resource for teaching reading and writing: http://tinyurl.com/22novvv.

Write for a reason: Make Marilee the family communications director. Get her a business card and notepads with that title. Make it her job to write all family communications this summer: invitations for parties, lists and instructions for a campout, thank-you notes and birthday cards to family and friends and so on. This will help her think about purpose, message and audience.

Review what you love: It’s fun to read reviews; it’s often more fun to write them. Have Marilee review books, movies, music and games. Find good models by TIME For Kids kid reporters at timeforkids.com. Have her share her reviews with family and friends.

Connect with pen pals: Find them through Student Letter Exchange (pen-pal.com), one of the world’s largest pen pal organizations. For a deeper experience, sign up for PenPal Schools, an online interactive community that connects learners across cultures to discuss global issues while practicing language skills during six-week sessions on different topics. While designed for schools, parents can get a class code. Go to penpalschools.com.

Get writing coaching online: Students enrolled in Brain Chase, a fun online summer program, can sign up for its Creative Writing Challenge and get weekly grade-level feedback from credentialed writing instructors. Go to brainchase.com.

Learn from a best-selling writer: Newbery Honor-winner Patricia Reilly Giff, author of many popular children’s books, walks young readers through the process of writing compelling fiction using examples from her work in “Writing With Rosie” (Holiday House, 2016), arriving in bookstores later this summer.

Start a summer scrapbook: To improve storytelling and reporting skills, encourage Marilee to create a scrapbook (digital or paper) about events, neighborhood observations, vacations and so on. Add photos with descriptive captions. Many kids prefer paper. There’s something uniquely satisfying about leafing through pages of memories — ticket stubs and other regalia included — at the end of the summer.

We have a newly blended family thanks to a recent marriage. My husband and I have different views about school for our teens. I’m casual. He’s strict, causing family tension. The school counselor suggests we work over the summer to “better align” our expectations. Where should we go for help?

Blended families are filled with joy — and usually challenges. It’s confusing for kids when parents and stepparents have differing expectations.

“Generally speaking, the issues are rarely either/or black or white,” says Stephen Gray Wallace, author and founder of the nonprofit Center for Adolescent Research and Education (ecareforkids.org). “It’s not a question of whether to have expectations for each other’s children with regard to schoolwork; it’s about having the right ones.”

Make a list of your differing expectations: Do you differ on how much screen time the kids get? Whether to take them out of school for long weekends? To demand A’s or accept C’s? Talk them through with each other, then with your teens to try to strike a balance.

“It is also important to remember that doing well in school is but one metric of success we generally hope for our children,” says Wallace. “Don’t get hung up on whether this assignment was handed in, or who studies with the TV on. What matters most is daily face-to-face conversation. I call it ’serve and return’ parenting that allows teens time and space to talk with you and surface things that may be bothering them.”

To get a broader perspective, Wallace suggests three books:

– “Teach Your Children Well” by Madeleine Levine (Harper Perennial, 2013). Levine’s view is that “while we all hope that our children will do well in school, we hope with even greater fervor that they will do well in life. Our job is to help them … be resilient in the face of adversity, to approach the world with zest … and to hold a deep belief that they have something meaningful to contribute to the world.”

– “Love That Boy: What Two Presidents, Eight Road Trips, and My Son Taught Me About a Parent’s Expectations” by Ron Fournier (Harmony Books, 2016). The author identifies distinct styles of parenting: indulgent, authoritarian, authoritative and uninvolved. “Each differs in the extent to which it is ‘demanding’ and ‘responsive,’” says Wallace. “Authoritative parents tend to fare best in eliciting the types of behavior they seek because they are clear about their expectations, but also engage their children in dialogue so that they can understand the rationale behind the rules.”

– “Age of Opportunity: Lessons from the New Science of Adolescence” by Laurence Steinberg (Mariner Books, 2015). The book spells out clearly the new research on how adolescent brains work and suggests ways to instill self-control and responsibility during teenage years.

You might ask your pediatrician to direct you to a family therapist or marriage counselor who can help sort out differing expectations, says Wallace.

“A couple I know took this route with their blended family of eight,” he explains. “The parents learned techniques to steer the new ’ship.’ While it took longer for the kids to get on board, they did and are all successfully launched in their adult lives now.”

My 20-year-old niece, a college student, will take care of our girls this summer. They’re going into fifth and sixth grade. I want them to have fun and practice a few academic skills, so they don’t forget what they learned this year. Do you have any suggestions?

You’re smart to want to keep their skills sharp. Summer learning loss is real for many students. The trick is to integrate their newly learned skills into daily life, says Bill Laraway, who was recognized as the 2015 Teacher of the Year in the Evergreen Unified School District in San Jose, California.

“Don’t buy a bunch of workbooks,” he explains. “Let the girls practice in concrete ways.”

Take advantage of everyday projects such as buying a new fan during a heat spell. Have them research prices and models. Or plan something unique, such as starting a family blog.

Use four teaching principles, says Laraway:

– Demonstrate problem-solving steps. “Fifth- and sixth-grade math is full of common multiple-step problems that adults solve automatically each day,” he says. “Students need to learn them. For example, say you’re thinking of carpeting a room. Walk the girls through each step by probing and discussing: How can we figure out how much carpet we need? What is the best way to measure? How is carpet sold? Does choosing a pattern change the amount we need? And so on.

“Have them write down steps, reordering them as new information becomes available. Test their answers.”

– Let them do the work. If, for example, the girls want to go to a movie, make them responsible for the research. They’ll want to find out what’s playing and check the reviews. They’ll have to consider how long will it take to get there as well as how much the tickets, food and transportation will cost.

“Adults make these calculations quickly,” says Laraway. “Resist the temptation to figure things out for them. When asking questions, allow plenty of time to answer.”

– Reinforce the basics. By now the girls should have achieved “automaticity” with addition, subtraction, multiplication and division so that they can manipulate the numbers without paper and pencil. If you ask, “How much will it cost if we need two adult tickets at $6.50 and two under 12 at $5?” they should be able to do it in their heads. If not, find math fact games.

By the end of fifth grade, they should be fluent readers with strong comprehension skills. Reading aloud and discussing a compelling book also helps and boosts oral language.

– Document, reflect and share. “Learning sticks when kids see that they’ve made a difference,” says Laraway, “so I encourage ways to demonstrate this. For example, if the girls organize a neighborhood tag sale with proceeds going to a local animal shelter, have them keep journals. Make a scrapbook of items such as the poster promoting it, photos from the sale and taking earnings to the shelter. Before school starts, review and reflect on the fun they’ve had and the good they’ve done!”

For guidance on grade-level topics, take a look at two books: “What your Fifth Grader Needs to Know” (Delta, 2006) and “What Your Sixth Grader Needs to Know” (Delta, 2007).

Our school librarian sent home a list of books to encourage summer reading. I was surprised to see picture books on the third-grade list. She also recommended “reading to and with your children, even if they can read independently.” Isn’t that babying them?

When it comes to encouraging kids to read, use every tool at hand. This is especially true during the summer months, when kids’ skills hit the snooze button. According to the National Summer Learning Association, students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of the summer. (Go to summerlearning.org for more information.)

Of course you want to encourage independent reading, but there is nothing babyish about continuing to read to children once they’ve cracked the code. The 2015 Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report shows that 80 percent of surveyed children ages 6 to 17 say that they still like it when parents read with them, because it means spending special time with family.

A quarter-century ago, educator Jim Trelease wrote “The Read-Aloud Handbook” to encourage parents to set aside quality time each evening to read to their children. “It became a best-seller because it promoted the pleasures of families enjoying good books together,” says Carl Harvey, a school library consultant who teaches librarianship at Longwood University in Virginia.

Reading aloud with your kids offers many benefits, says Harvey. Among them:

– It’s enjoyable. When kids connect reading with pleasure, they want to read more.

– It helps stir kids’ imaginations. Unlike a movie, they have to envision the setting from the words they hear.

– It prompts family discussions — great for oral language development.

– It hones their listening skills and their ability to focus, a good thing in these days of constant digital distractions.

– It models what fluent reading sounds like.

– It builds vocabulary not by memorization, but by using new words in context. It also naturally introduces kids to words well above their reading level. For example, reading a biography of an astronaut introduces the language and acronyms of space exploration.

– It builds important background knowledge that boosts reading comprehension. This is especially true with nonfiction. For example, an article in Wired magazine about virtual reality that allows people to work together via 3-D avatars may be well beyond the reach of a newly independent reader, but it may be awe-inspiring to a third-grade listener.

And what about picture books recommended for third graders?

“Parents should know that picture books aren’t just for pre-readers,” says Harvey. “Many nonfiction picture books are appropriate for older audiences. Sure, they have great photos and illustrations, but most are also packed with valuable information in the captions and text. Some librarians buy them for high school collections because they are great ways to introduce a topic such as astronomy or ocean life.”

When school’s out, make family reading time a daily part of kids’ summer vacation. “There’s a big payoff academically, socially and emotionally for kids,” says Harvey.

A neighbor and I want to give our five kids (ages 8, 10 and 11) science experiences this summer, as we can’t afford camps at nearby colleges. How can we plan something valuable across those age ranges?

Summer is a wonderful time for family-led science activities. Schedules are more flexible; you can take a deep dive into hands-on projects, and no one has to stop and put away the materials as they would in school. Plus, you can take field trips to visit professionals who work in science-related careers.

For a summer filled with science, take three steps, says Allison Duarte, a middle school educator who designs science curriculum for New York City’s Harlem Academy.

First, choose a stack of nonfiction children’s books that match kids’ interests. “While it may sound counterintuitive, start with reading,” Duarte explains. “Nonfiction introduces key concepts through developmentally appropriate storytelling and photos or illustrations. Introduce ‘academic vocabulary’ (that) kids need to understand the topic, build background for further study and reinforce literacy skills.”

For example, do your kids want to study birds? The book “Birdology: 30 Activities and Observations for Exploring the World of Birds” (Chicago Review Press, 2015) shows them how to spot birds almost anywhere and gets them to analyze, write about and draw what they see. It teaches essential vocabulary such as “migration,” “nesting,” “territories” and “preservation.”

“Read science books with your children to check for understanding and prompt conversations that lead to questions about the book’s topic,” suggests Duarte.

Ask your kids’ teachers or a children’s librarian to recommend titles. Or choose from recommended science books for grades K-12 published annually by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and the Children’s Book Council: nsta.org/publications/ostb/.

Second, conduct experiments that help them develop the skills to carry out scientific investigations independently. “Guide them through the scientific process: question, hypothesis, materials, procedure, results and conclusion,” advises Duarte. “Have them keep a science journal to reinforce observation and recording skills. At the conclusion of each experiment, ask children to share their results and suggest a follow-up experiment.”

To find experiments, Duarte recommends two books that yield quality results, offering clear protocols with illustrations and using everyday materials: “Kitchen Science Lab for Kids: 52 Family-Friendly Experiments From Around the House” (Quarry Books, 2014) and “The Everything Kids’ Science Experiments Book” (Adams Media Corporation, 2001).

Third, plan field trips. “Exploring museums and nature centers is a valuable economical way to share science with kids,” says Duarte. “Many museums offer free classes or drop-in experiences with scientists. Check the museum’s website for suggestions on how to make the most of the experience before, during and after the visit.”

She also encourages getting kids “off the grid” and into natural settings. “This encourages environmental stewardship and scientific inquiry about the natural world,” says Duarte. For example, hike the same trail several times. Have children record close observations about trees, animals, sounds and weather. How does one habitat differ from another? What’s the same and what’s different?

By providing summer science activities, “you invest in your children’s continued growth as scientists and scholars,” says Duarte. “As a bonus, not only will kids love the special time together, you may learn something new!”

My daughter, a rising college senior, finds volunteer tutoring very satisfying. She will graduate in January and wants to apply for a two-year stint at Teach For America. I think she should start her real career upon graduation. How can I convince her?

What if her real career turns out to be teaching? Or a position inspired by her Teach For America (TFA) experience? Teaching is still an appealing career choice and a great foundation for other professions. Many of the 40,000 TFA alumni now work in related fields, many in leadership positions.

Take Eddy Hernandez Perez, for instance. His assignment was teaching fifth grade in San Antonio. Through his teaching success he got to advise then-Mayor Julian Castro on education policy and helped start Leadership SAISD, a nonprofit program that works on behalf of students in the San Antonio school district. He eventually got his master’s degree in education at Harvard and is set to graduate law school at the University of Texas next May. Hard to argue with that career path!

Laura Smith, a high school math teacher in Dayton, Ohio, is completing her two-year TFA commitment and weighing a third. “My degree is in accounting, and I love to teach math,” she says. “One day I’d like to combine those skills in a way that uses data to help narrow the opportunity gap, one of our nation’s toughest problems.”

They have some advice for your daughter: Apply to TFA because of your passion. Are you doing this for students and to learn the skill of teaching? If not, then rethink your priorities.

“Don’t use TFA as a break between college and grad school,” says Smith. “The work is hard. You’ll struggle to focus on your students if you’re only passionate about studying for the LSAT.”

Assess your adaptability. TFA doesn’t put you where you want to go. If accepted, TFA sends you where you’re needed.

Prep well to apply: While applications have dipped from the 2013 high of more than 57,000, getting in remains competitive. Prepare yourself by talking with alumni and principals in schools with TFA teachers.

“If you can’t stay excited throughout the application process, decide on a different route,” says Smith.

Expect tough challenges. If accepted, you’ll need to prove yourself to students and colleagues. You’ll get good support from TFA, but you need large stores of resilience and stamina.

And now here’s some advice for you, Mom. Some form of service to the country helps young people get to know themselves and what they’re made of. It helps define their professional personalities, and they learn what motivates them. They also develop insight and leadership skills. If your daughter decides to apply, be thrilled you’ve raised such a mature young woman.

Find TFA application deadlines at teachforamerica.org.

Older Posts »