Social Emotional Learning

Identifying and Treating Anxiety

During my time as a high school counselor, I worked with hundreds of students in a wide-range of capacities.  For some, I was simply another adult on campus.  But for others, I provided much-needed social and emotional support. One of the most prevalent challenges I witnessed for the high schoolers was anxiety.  Even the most well-adjusted teens seemed susceptible to anxiety from time to time.  Although I no longer work directly in schools, I continue to see the effects of anxiety on children, adolescents, and adults.  Anxiety is one of the more common conditions I diagnose.  In fact, the Institute [...]

What are Executive Function Skills?

When I formed EdPsyched in 2008, my main area of focus was providing executive function support to students diagnosed with learning differences.  Although the concept of “executive function” has been around since the 1970s, it was still a relatively unfamiliar idea to most families (and clinicians) as recently as the 2000s. Today, the term “executive function” is well-known and, in all honesty, somewhat of a catchy buzzword or phrase when discussing child development.  But what exactly is executive functioning, and how does one obtain it? The History In 1973, Karl Pribram coined the term “executive function” to refer to frontal [...]

How to Transition Successfully to High School

In my last post, I discussed the many obstacles that middle schoolers face, particularly when transitioning from elementary school.  This transition is arguably the most difficult of the schooling phases, as so many developmental changes are occurring in a relatively short period of time. The good news is that by the time kids finish 8th grade, many of them have developed sufficient executive function skills that allow them to manage their own academic, emotional, and behavioral functioning.  Nevertheless, as we consider how to successfully transition to high school, further challenges remain. Today I want to examine the main hurdles to [...]

How to Transition Successfully to Middle School

teenage student giving thumb up while using laptop In my last post, we looked at a theoretical framework for child and adolescent development.  The big takeaway was the importance and necessity of transitions.  No matter the theoretical framework, all children advance through numerous stages.  Those who are able to transition smoothly are usually the ones who experience the most successful (and least stressful) journeys. As noted in the last post, the transition to middle school occurs right around the age of 11 or 12, depending on the student’s birthday.  The confounding part of this process is that this [...]

Understanding Childhood Transitions

Recently I was asked to do a presentation with a large corporation, with the focus on how to raise children successfully during the middle and high school years.  As a former high school counselor and middle school principal, I was excited for this opportunity; I know firsthand how difficult it is to navigate these years, both for parents and for students. When considering the successful navigation of the middle and high school years, we must first understand the inherent obstacles children and adolescents experience during these times.  While there are countless theories that breakdown the development of children and adolescents, [...]

Returning to School in the Age of COVID-19

With the 2019-2020 school year firmly behind us, it’s now time to figure out what’s in store for 2020-2021.  As of today, there are now over 3 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States alone.  And that has many parents asking, “What is the plan for school this fall?” I can assure you that schools all over the world are still asking this same question even as we approach the looming start of the school year.  The Texas Education Agency released guidelines about 10 days ago that have already been changed and updated as of yesterday.  Just when [...]

The Transition to Online Learning

Like just about everyone else in the United States (and most parts of the world), I’m currently on lockdown in my house.  I’m hopeful we can get back to normal in the not-too-distant future, but until then, I’m learning to adapt to this new reality.  The outbreak of COVID-19 has presented some unique challenges for all of us, and I’m hopeful that you and your family are doing ok during this time. On March 23 our school made the transition to online learning for at least 2 weeks.  That 2-week period was eventually extended to 3 weeks, and recently we [...]

How to Handle Stress in a New Year

Happy New Year everyone! It’s been a couple of months since my last post. I apologize for that…my wife and I recently had our second child, so I’ve been playing both middle school principal and dad to a newborn. Talk about the need for time management! Which brings me to my post for today and to kick off the new year. During the latter stages of my wife’s pregnancy, our doctor detected something on a routine ultrasound that looked fishy. Without going into detail, it really had the potential to affect our new baby’s life forever. Needless to say, both [...]

This is the Biggest Challenge in Middle School

As I mentioned in a previous post, I recently was name principal of our middle school.  This was a big transition for me, both into administration and working with a younger group of students, but one that I was excited for. It’s been about two full months now since I’ve taken over as middle school principal, and I’m finally starting to get a handle on the scope of the job.  I’ve worked with middle school students for a good part of my life (mostly as a coach), and I had a pretty good idea of what to expect going into [...]

How to Handle Transition

I hope you are all enjoying your summers!  It’s been a great one for me and my family so far; we enjoyed a week on the coast in Connecticut and are preparing to head off to San Diego for another week on the beach.  How can I complain? But in the midst of my summer break, I am dealing with a huge transition in my life.  This past spring I was promoted from high school counselor to head of our middle school.  My last post talked about this new role, and it is a great opportunity for me to continue [...]

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