This year, back-to-school occurs in the midst of the Covid-19 Delta variant. This will likely mean continued adaptations for parents, children, and schools. But regardless of whether learning will take place in-person or remotely, this is a time when parents and teachers most often revisit what is important for children and how to best support their positive development.
This popular list of back-to-school articles was updated for the 2021-2022 school year. Some articles focus on the challenges of schooling during a continuing pandemic, but most bring you the latest thinking and research on learning, achievement, family well-being, parent engagement, special needs children, youth sports, media, technology, discipline, bullying —topics parents think about at back-to-school time. This year, a section was added on child and adolescent mental health, a topic that challenges more and more children and families.
The articles in this list are selected because they support the development of core abilities every child needs — curiosity, sociability, resilience, self-awareness, integrity, resourcefulness, creativity, and empathy. (The Compass Advantage) For big picture thinking about child development at back-to-school time, check out the series for parents: Successful Kids Need 8 Core Abilities: How to Parent with Purpose. Also download our free popular Parenting Promise at Roots of Action [in English and Spanish] and a handout on the Compass Advantage framework, showing how parents and schools impact these eight core abilities in youth.
New resources at Roots of Action include our online Compass Surveys for youth and adults. These surveys help you and your children self-assess your eight core abilities and guides adults on how to nurture them in children and teens. Group surveys are also available for schools and classrooms. Read our new article, Human Development is Fundamental to Thriving, for the research on these core abilities.
Browse back-to-school articles below that pique your interest and bookmark others for later. The newer articles are always at the beginning of each section. Many remain on this list for several years because they are true gems. If you like the authors, be sure to follow them on social media. We have included links to Twitter and Facebook accounts to make following your favorites easier.
I guarantee you will find some meaningful food for thought here – whether it is back-to-school time or anytime! You will also meet some great people who support children’s positive development and well-being. Happy reading!
Back-to-School Basics: Learning & Achievement
1. Pandemic Parenting by clinical psychologist Cara Goodwin, PhD, at Psychology Today. Parenting during a pandemic has been stressful for many. Recent research found that parents who gave their children more autonomy showed improved family well-being.
2. Practical Assessment Tips for Tutoring Struggling Readers by J. Richard Gentry, PhD. at Psychology Today. Learn how adults can use five quick assessments to survey foundational reading skills that children may be missing. Facebook; Twitter
3. Optimal Child Development: 20 Tips for Parents by Joanne Foster, EdD at at The Creativity Post. Back to school or working remotely, these guidelines are paramount to children’s learning and success. Twitter; Facebook
4. Curiosity: The Meta-Skill to Thrive in the 21st Century, by Gustavo Razzetti at Psychology Today. Your child’s ability to learn is key to today’s success. How do you develop a learning mindset? Twitter; Facebook
5. Why We Still Need to Study the Humanities in a STEM World by Valerie Strauss at The Washington Post. How humanities make us examine the entirety of the human condition and the complex moral issues of our time. Twitter
8. Teaching Beyond the Transmission of Knowledge by Miguel Angel Escotet, Ph.D., A call to action for teachers at back-to-school time and beyond: Why teaching to the test inflicts a cost on students. Twitter
9. The Coddling of the American Mind by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt in The Atlantic. Will your children become good critical thinkers? A look at the trend to protect children from feeling uncomfortable. Gregg’s Twitter; Jonathan’s Twitter
10. Have you Mastered the Tricky Art of Parental Pressure? by Susan Newman Ph.D., at Psychology Today. Parents who want the best for their kids may unintentionally pressure them in the wrong places, in the wrong ways, and at the wrong times. Twitter; Facebook
11. We Treat Others as We Have Been Treated by Jessie Stern, PhD and Rachel Samson at Psychology Today. Learn why a parent’s interpersonal strengths, such as kindness, love, and social intelligence, matter most for nurturing these same strengths in children. Twitter; Facebook
12. Perfectionism Can Become a Vicious Cycle in Families by Gail Cornwall at The Atlantic. Parents risk passing down their perfectionistic tendencies to the next generation, creating a pattern of dissatisfaction. Twitter
13. The Unspoken Wedge Between Parents and Grandparents by Robin Marantz Henig at The Atlantic. Each generation has its own norms for parenting. Arguing over the differences can be an emotional minefield. Twitter
14. What Happened to American Childhood? By Kate Julian at The Atlantic. Children are experiencing anxiety at much younger ages. How can parents launch healthy kids at back-to-school time and beyond? Twitter
15. Developing Emotional Intelligence Through Children’s Songs by Nancy Kopman at Roots of Action. Singing songs about feelings can expand children’s emotional awareness. Twitter; Facebook
17. When You Don’t Like Your Child’s Friend, by Eileen Kennedy-Moore, Ph.D., at Psychology Today. Why forbidding a child’s friendship with a peer probably won’t work. What to do instead. Twitter; Facebook
18. The Key to Success in Within Your Child’s Developing Mind by Michele Borba, Ed.D., at Roots of Action. What is the “special sauce” for raising kids? Twitter; Facebook
19. Family Meetings Can Be Fun, Productive, and Meaningful, by Marilyn Price-Mitchell PhD., at Roots of Action. Back-to-school is a great time to start having family meetings! Learn why meetings are beneficial and how to run them. Twitter; Facebook
Back-to-School Parent Engagement
20. Positive Parenting During a Pandemic by Kirsten Bradbury, Ph.D., at Psychology Today. How to meet children’s developmental needs for positivity during this challenging back-to-school year. Twitter
22. Twenty Ways You Can Help Your Children Succeed at School by Colorin Colorado. An excellent list in English and Spanish for successful parent engagement. Facebook; Twitter
Child Anxiety | Body Image
24. How to Help When Your Child Is Anxious About Going Back-to-School, by Leah Campbell, at PsychCentral. School anxiety is not at all uncommon. How can parents help? Facebook; Twitter
25. Keeping Kids Curious About Their Bodies Without Shame by Jenny Marder at New York Times. Learn how to help kids explore while setting boundaries. Twitter
27. Body Image and Girls: 8 Ways to Help Our Daughters Thrive in a Thin-is-in World by Robyn Silverman, Ph.D., at DrRobynSilverman.com. Helping girls thrive means breaking some well-established habits. Facebook; Twitter
29. Answers to FAQ’s About Anxiety in Children and Adolescents by Signe Whitson, L.S.W., at Psychology Today. How to recognize the symptoms and teach kids skills for calming their brains. Twitter; Facebook
Responding to Special Needs, Trauma, ADHD, etc.
30. Supporting Behaviorally Challenged and Neurodivergent Students in Education and Special Education, by Mona Delahooke, PhD, at monadelahooke.com. When disruptive behaviors increase, learn why we should first ask if we are meeting and supporting the child’s emotional and/or physical needs. Facebook; Twitter
31. How Do I Parent My Adolescent with Special Needs? by Liz Mathels PhD, at Psychology Today. Parents may be tempted to make life as easy as possible for a child, but some amount of struggle will help them. Communication is key. Facebook; Twitter
33. Underachievers, Part 2: One More Key Reason Kids Who Could Do Well In School Don’t by Valerie Strauss in The Washington Post. Do you have a gifted child with learning disabilities? Learn why bright students often struggle in school. Twitter
34. When Trauma Underlies Challenging Behaviors: New Answers for Vulnerable Children by Mona Delahooke, Ph.D., at MonaDelahooke.com. Sometimes aggressive behaviors are signs of early trauma. Learn why it is important to understand the roots of challenging behaviors. Facebook; Twitter
35. Stress Relief for Families with ADHD: The Value of Mindfulness by Mark Bertin, M.D., at Roots of Action. Parenting a child with ADHD is demanding. Learn how to relieve stress. Twitter; Facebook
Youth Sports: Back-to-School and Beyond
36. The Psychology of Coaching Your Own Child in Sports, by Frank L. Smoll PhD, at Psychology Today. Coaching your own child can be a great opportunity to spend time together but also presents some unique challenges for parent and child.
38. What’s Right About Youth Sports in America by Jim Taylor, Ph.D. at Psychology Today. While many criticize the evolution of sports and a focus on winning at all costs, this article takes a peak at the upside of sports for kids. Twitter; Facebook
39. The Downsides of America’s Hyper-Competitive Youth-Soccer Industry by Linda Flanagan at The Atlantic. How youth soccer is organized around the goal of producing a tiny group of elite players, at the expense of kids’ and parents’ well-being.
40. How to be a Positive and Winning Youth Sports Coach by Jennifer Fraser, Ph.D., at Roots of Action. 8 ways a sports coach can positively influence athletes. Facebook; Twitter
41. Three Things Parents Should Do If a Child is Being Cyberbullied by Tristan Gorrindo, M.D. at The Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds. Twitter
42. Why Shaming Teens or Kids Shouldn’t Be Part of Parenting, by Sue Scheff at Psychology Today. New evidence suggests that adolescent bullying may have origins in the home. Parents who are hostile and punitive may be at risk of raising teens who bully others. Twitter; Facebook
43. Mean Girls: Why Teenage Girls Can Be So Cruel by Chris Hudson at Understanding Teenagers. Learn how gender influences adolescent behavior in friendship groups and why girls have a natural tendency toward social aggression. Twitter; Facebook
Media & Technology
47. Singing the Digital Blues by Dr. Judith Schlesinger at The Creativity Post. The author suggests that the polar opposite of creativity is digital passivity. How does this affect you and your children?
49.Four Boundaries Children Need to Understand by Sara Au at Psychology Today. Discipline involves many areas of parenting, including personal boundaries, interactions with others, and sexual consent. Learn how to have these conversations with your children. Twitter; Facebook
50. The Spanking Debate is Over by Noam Shpancer, Ph.D. at Psychology Today. The scientific debate on spanking children has been resolved. Learn what the research says.
51. 10 Steps to Guide Children Without Punishment by Laura Markham, Ph.D., at Aha Parenting. Research shows that punishing kids creates more misbehavior. What can you do to guide your children without punishment? Twitter; Facebook
Child & Adolescent Mental Health
52. The Top 13 Reasons Why Kids Have Mental Health Problems by Marilyn Wedge, PhD, at Psychology Today. Learn why parents arguing in front of kids is the number one cause of children’s psychological problems. Facebook; Twitter
53. How Parental Substance Abuse Affects Children, by David J. Bredehoft PhD, at Psychology Today. A high percentage of children living with an addicted parent will experience mental health issues. Learn why.
54. Preventing Teen Substance Abuse, by clinical psychologist Joseph Nowinski PhD at Psychology Today. Is there a connection between boredom and teen substance abuse? Where does parenting fit in?
55. Mental Health Lessons We Can Learn from Simone Biles, by Shainna All PhD, at Psychology Today. An excellent lesson for children, Bile’s actions at the Summer Olympics show that pressure affects everyone and that you can be successful and have a mental health diagnosis. Facebook;
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Published: August 5, 2021Tags: back-to-school, bullying, character strengths, critical thinking, cyberbullying, discipline, education, empathy, Family-School Partnerships, gratitude, happiness, homework, internal rewards, learning, media, mentoring, moral development, neuroscience, parent engagement, parent involvement, parenting, positive values, positive youth development, praise, Sports, stress, teachers, technology