As the back-to-school season approaches, students across the nation will enter new stages in their academic careers. Transitioning from one grade to another comes with new responsibilities and expectations.
How can parents help ease the culture shock for toddlers leaving the comfort and safety of their homes as they begin pre-school? How will the cool kids from middle school cope if they find themselves at the core of ridicule in high school? How can first-year college students adjust when they find their high school study habits inadequately prepare them for college exams?
According to Maurice Elias, psychology professor and director of the Social and Emotional Learning Laboratory at Rutgers, there are three key steps any parent or student can take to ease the growing pains of academic transitions:
Find out the details of new routines and prepare for them, emphasizing the positive.
Try to find a peer buddy with whom students can experience the transition.
Listen attentively and empathically to the stories children bring home.
The key to reducing the stress of grade-level transitions is to understand the common developmental tasks students at any level experience, said Mark Forest, associate director of Counseling and Psychological Services at Rutgers. According to Forest, the top five growth areas students experience are:
Taking steps to become independent from ones family (to the extent it is expected and accepted within the students family and culture)
Handling the demands of school and life independently
Demonstrating a willingness to step up to the higher levels of performance expected and establish themselves academically
Creating connections with a variety of students, while attempting to identify a core or niche with whom to affiliate
Understanding ones role within the context of their immediate and general surroundings.
Contact: Nicole Pride
732-932-7084, Ext. 610
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