7 Critical Needs for Making the Transition to Middle School, High School, or College

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We assume that our schools are properly preparing students for middle school, high school, and the daunting move to college, but study strategies instruction and support are not the primary focus of schools—even though academic success is largely the result of excellent executive functioning and well-honed study skills.

working skills

SOS Poll: What’s on Your Mind?

With each issue of the newsletter, we poll parents and other caregivers on a trending topic, following up with results in a future issue.

Current Topic: Planner Use

questionDo you believe students would benefit from having planner use mandated at least through 8th grade?

check markTell Us Your Opinion 

The focus of our educational system is primarily to teach content, such as algebraic equations and interpreting Shakespeare, not study skills.

Since the job of all students is to “do school” successfully, including completing homework and taking tests, shouldn’t somebody be teaching them how to study and to do their homework?

In sports, student athletes aren’t just taught the rules of a particular sport, they are coached in the requisite skills to succeed at it. Why should it be any different when it comes to academics?

Making the Transition Easier

Transition to middle school, high school, and college can be difficult and it often requires new study skills, strategies, and routines. At SOS4Students, we believe knowledge is power.

Here’s what all students need to be successful in making these major transitions:

  1. The ability to organize and prioritize time and workload, including using a planning system
  2. Experience and practice in breaking down instructions and creating a plan of action for all school assignments
  3. Increased responsibilities and autonomy in the year prior to the transition
  4. Explicit instruction in how and when to take notes in a form that promotes easy recall
  5. Strategies to study for different kinds of tests and an understanding of what it actually means to study
  6. Tools to navigate digital platforms at school, with employers, and socially—includuing being able to deal with the lure of digital distractions
  7. The ability to advocate for themselves with instructors, including knowing when and how to ask for help

I’ve seen firsthand how students benefit from coaching and focused instruction on how to change strategies and create new and more productive habits, all of which prepares them better to successfully handle transitions in school . . . and beyond.

We're Here to Help

Where can parents turn if they are concerned about their child’s ability to make a successful transition?

Our summer workshops can help address the specific academic challenges or skill development needs of your student, and/or working one-on-one with a coach this summer might be all your teen needs to focus and succeed at school.

Signing up for an SOS4Students Workshop or Summer Coaching is easy and can be done online. Our workshops tend to fill fast and start dates will be here sooner than you think, so act now.

summer workshop menu

  • All workshops are held at Lafayette Library (Oak Room) Lafayette, CA.
  • Summer coaching is available at our Walnut Creek and Montclair District offices, or online.

Middle School Workshops

6thgrade bluebulletMastering Middle School empowers students entering sixth grade. Students learn invaluable skills to tackle the demands of multiple teachers and more complex assignments.

Learn More & Sign Up Today


6th - 8th GradesWrite On esnures your child is prepared for the essay-writing challenges ahead by covering essay fundamentals for middle school students.

Learn More & Sign Up Today


7th & 8th GradeMiddle School Blitz gives your students the strategies they need to have control over their time and workload. Prepare your student to balance classwork, homework and outside activities.

Learn More & Sign Up Today


High School Workshops

9th GradeNailing Ninth Grade prepares your student for a successful transition to high school. Students come away with an invaluable toolbox of study strategies they will use every day.

Learn More & Sign Up Today


9th - 11th GradesWriting RX teaches students an easily replicable system for expository essay writing. Students leave confident and prepared to tackle the complex writing assignments that high school demands.

Learn More & Sign Up Today


9th - 12th GradesSecrets of Successful Note Taking demystifies the note taking process. Students learn techniques to take effective notes and use their notes to prepare for tests and papers.

Learn More & Sign Up Today


summer coaching banner

6th - 12th Grades

COACHING REGISTRATION OPENING SOON FOR 2019!

Can't make the workshop you need? Does your student benefit from more individualized attention? All ages and abilities benefit from the one-on-one summer coaching sessions with our seasoned coaches.

Learn More

6 Parenting Styles That May Fuel A Failure to Launch

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I see parents rescuing their students practically every day. Books have been written about this problem, but parents clearly aren’t reading them. Parents insist they want their teens to take responsibility and handle their school workloads, only to step in and handle everything for them anyway.

mom knows best

Weekly Poll: What’s on Your Mind?

With each issue of the newsletter, we’ll poll parents and other caregivers on a trending topic, following up with results in a future next issue.

This Week's Topic: Planner Use

questionDo you believe students would benefit from having planner use mandated at least through 8th grade?

check markTell Us Your Opinion 

I have identified six parenting styles that may fuel a student’s failure to launch. Do any of these sound like you?

  1. Alarm Clock Parent: This parent wakes the child up in the morning to remind him or her to get ready for school. He or she comes in at frequent intervals pointing at the alarm clock and threatening to leave without the child, who is unmoved.
  2. Personal Assistant Parent: This parent maintains a calendar of dates and deadlines, telling the child where to be and when. Often, the child is only half listening or staring at a smartphone. The child may later claim no one told him or her about that orthodontist appointment at 4 pm!
  3. Grade Police Parent: Parents who favor this style incessantly, anxiously, and fruitlessly check online grades and panic at every low score or missing assignment—even when it’s evident the last time the student’s teacher entered any grades was two months ago.
  4. Project Planner Parent: This parent insists on helping the student get started on planning and executing papers and projects, even when that student is in college!
  5. Frustrated Professor Parent: This parent style expresses frustration that the student won’t take advantage of the parent’s expertise and allow him or her to help with nightly homework. The parent might even announce credentials in frustration, “I’m a biochemist, you know . . . I can do calculus!”
  6. Unwitting Enabler Parent: This type of parent frets about not wanting to upset his or her teen by prohibiting tablet or phone “screen time,” only to then worry that work is not being turned in because of too much tablet or phone screen time. What a conundrum! (I can attest to the validity of concerns about screen time, having worked with high school clients who receive 200-500 Snapchats a day!)

Do one or more of these scenarios sound all-too-familiar? Here are my top tips for how you can escape each of these dead-end parenting styles and begin to empower your teens to handle school challenges more effectively and efficiently.

  1. Alarm Clock Parent: Minimize morning decision-making with drowsy kids by having your teen experiment with different approaches to prevent delays. Have your teen plan when he or she needs to be up and out the door to be on time. Soon, he or she may discover an earlier bed time is needed or that setting the alarm clock earlier will help. Students can also better manage their morning time by showering and getting their clothes out the night before, as well as setting their backpack by the door. Interestingly, for some reason, many students in my practice have been successful having Echo Dot or Google Home wake them up.
  2. Personal Assistant Parent: Frontload your student with appointments and family events through invitations via Google Calendar or Outlook so that all events involving the student, including sports and rehearsal schedules, family trips, camps, tutors, and doctor appointments are on the student's own planner or calendar. Once that’s done, the student has no excuse for missing an appointment.
  3. Grade Police Parent: Teachers often take a long time to update their online grade books. The “0” you see may not reflect that the student has made up the assignment or already spoken to his or her teacher about retaking a test or quiz. Stay out of “grill and accuse” mode. Don't assume there is a crisis or a complete downslide every time a concerning grade pops up. Instead, ask questions and keep your student in control of his or her grades and self-advocacy. Suggest checking with the teacher and avoid “why” questions, such as “Why is your test grade so low?” It sounds like an accusation. Rephrase to show empathy and support.
  4. Project Planner Parent: If your teen has a project coming up, instead of insisting on helping ask, "Do you need my help on any part of this?” If the child declines, give him or her alternatives for seeking and getting help by making supportive suggestions such as, “If you don't want me to help, but you could use some assistance, perhaps a teacher meeting is the first action to take” or “Maybe there’s another adult (an SOS coach, friend of family, trusted tutor) who can help instead.” Don't impose.
  5. Frustrated Professor Parent: Regardless of parental expertise in a subject, it can be hard for teenagers to sit down and have a parent tutor them. Find someone else (hired tutor, family friend, neighbor) for this job who doesn't also wake them up in the morning and take their phones away.
  6. Unwitting Enabler Parent: For the most part, students simply don't need smartphones to do their homework. Self-regulation is a late blooming executive brain skill and not typical of the average 12-year-old. Middle school students and phones are not a great combination. By high school, the distractions are still there, but students are maturing in their ability to recognize the issues and manage them. That said, not all students handle smartphone and computer distractions well. Restrictions on smartphone use at home during homework and family time is not unfair. It's essential. Smartphone use is a privilege for students, not an obligation on your end. 

We're Here to Help

If you’re still uncertain about the challenges you face with your middle school or high school student, SOS4Students is here to help. Our summer workshops can help address the specific academic challenges or skill development needs of your student, and/or working one-on-one with a coach this summer might be all your teen needs to focus and succeed at school. Signing up for an SOS4Students Workshop or Summer Coaching is easy and can be done online. Our workshops tend to fill fast and start dates will be here sooner than you think, so act now.

summer workshop menu

  • All workshops are held at Lafayette Library (Oak Room) Lafayette, CA.
  • Summer coaching is available at our Walnut Creek and Montclair District offices, or online.

Middle School Workshops

6thgrade bluebulletMastering Middle School empowers students entering sixth grade. Students learn invaluable skills to tackle the demands of multiple teachers and more complex assignments.

Learn More & Sign Up Today


6th - 8th GradesWrite On esnures your child is prepared for the essay-writing challenges ahead by covering essay fundamentals for middle school students.

Learn More & Sign Up Today


7th & 8th GradeMiddle School Blitz gives your students the strategies they need to have control over their time and workload. Prepare your student to balance classwork, homework and outside activities.

Learn More & Sign Up Today


High School Workshops

9th GradeNailing Ninth Grade prepares your student for a successful transition to high school. Students come away with an invaluable toolbox of study strategies they will use every day.

Learn More & Sign Up Today


9th - 11th GradesWriting RX teaches students an easily replicable system for expository essay writing. Students leave confident and prepared to tackle the complex writing assignments that high school demands.

Learn More & Sign Up Today


9th - 12th GradesSecrets of Successful Note Taking demystifies the note taking process. Students learn techniques to take effective notes and use their notes to prepare for tests and papers.

Learn More & Sign Up Today


summer coaching banner

6th - 12th Grades

COACHING REGISTRATION OPENING SOON FOR 2019!

Can't make the workshop you need? Does your student benefit from more individualized attention? All ages and abilities benefit from the one-on-one summer coaching sessions with our seasoned coaches.

Learn More