Wednesday, August 19, 2015

How to Raise an Adult--new book vital for parents of teens. . .and younger

Check out this new book by former Freshman Dean at Stanford, Julie Lythcott-Haims:
How to Raise and Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare your Kid for Success

The first two sections of the book examine the phenomenon of helicopter parenting (over-parenting) and the third charts “another way,” in which I found many thoughtful ideas and suggestions.

After her 10 years experience working with Stanford students, extensive research, and considerable reflection, Lythcott-Haims proposes an alternative parenting method.  Here are her main points, each of which is developed in a separate chapter:

Give them unstructured time--this, of course, needs to start early, before elementary school.)

Teach life skills--Lythcott-Haims lists and explains skills important for different developmental stages.)

Teach them how to think--she gives possible scripts for initiating conversations at dinner and other situations.

Prepare them for hard work--this very valuable chapter details the benefits of assigning chores.)

Let them chart their own path--how to remove the “scaffolding” to empower kids to become independent young adults.

Normalize struggle--Let your children fail—and learn from it.

Have a wider mind-set about colleges--Lythcott-Haims discusses how to look beyond brand new schools to find an excellent education.

Listen to them--this goes without saying. . .

*Also, on the same topic, see my earlier blog post on “life skills” essential for college (College Readiness: Beyond the high school transcript).

This book may be the start of a critical conversation about how parents (myself included) can learn to empower rather than enable our kids.  Happy reading!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Transition to college--advice from a former freshman

I'm thinking about this year's incoming freshman this August as they prepare to leave home in the upcoming weeks.  I wish you all well and hope that your first year in college is both exciting and successful.

This week's New York Times Education Life Section focuses on the first year of college--making friends, adapting to dorm life, choosing a major and so on.  I think the article "Making Friends in New Places," gives particularly helpful advice.

I also asked my daughter, Lily, who completed her freshman year at Tufts in May, for advice she would offer incoming college students.  Here are her tips for adapting and thriving in the first year of college:

1) Know and follow your daily rhythms.  Are you a morning or late night person?  When do you study best?  Plan your class schedule as much as possible around times when you will be alert and ready to focus.

2) Balance your course load, especially the first term.  Don't take an overload freshman year no matter how tempting the courses look in the catalogue.  As you gain more experience with a college workload and schedule, you will be better able to take on a heavier course load.

3) Establish a eat, study, sleep routine.  You might have heavy class days M W F and more time to study on T Th or vice versa, but try to keep your weekly schedule consistent and you will use time more wisely and study more effectively.

4) Don't be afraid to drop a class.

5) Ask for help sooner rather than later.  Deal with both academic and residential life conflict as it happens.  It won't go away on its own.  Know where to seek help whether from tutors, RAs or other faculty/staff members.

6) Learn how to spend time alone--studying or resting.

7) Avoid the FOMO syndrome (fear of missing out) your first few weeks. You don't have to pursue every opportunity or new relationship right away.  There will be more chances later.

8) Step out of your comfort zone and try at least one new extra-curricular activity.

9) Keep your social options open during the first term. Don't be exclusive either with a romantic relationship or friendship group; rather seek out and meet new people.

10) Explore the neighborhood or community where your school is located.  Leave the campus "bubble" to gain perspective and enjoy new experiences.

11) Find a way to give back to your campus and/or community  Helping others will boost your self-confidence and your sense of belonging.