Back-to-school articles 2021

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

Quotes About Curiosity to Inspire Kid's Life-Long Learning | Roots of Action

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

6. Learning to Be Human by Sophie Gilbert in The Atlantic. Why the humanities are in decline and why they’re more vital than ever. Twitter

7. Educating an Original Thinker by Jessica Lahey in The Atlantic. How teachers and parents can identify and cultivate children who think creatively and unconventionally. Twitter; Facebook

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

Family Well-Being

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

16. Quotes for Kids That Promote Healthy Development by Marilyn Price-Mitchell, Ph.D., at Roots of Action. Learn how quotes can inspire your kids!  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. TwitterFacebook

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? TwitterFacebook

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

Disadvantages of Social Networking: Surprising Insights from Teens

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

21. How Parent Involvement Leads to Student Success, published at What is parent engagement and why is it important? Facebook; 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

23. The Unique Power of Afterschool Learning by Leah Levy at Edudemic. Learn how afterschool programs impacts child development and what to look for in programs that “get it right.” 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

26. Social Anxiety in Children: The 3 C’s to Growth by Rick Ackerly, M.Ed., at Roots of Action. Why social anxiety is part of the human condition and how to help your kids. TwitterFacebook

27. Body Image and Girls: 8 Ways to Help Our Daughters Thrive in a Thin-is-in World by Robyn Silverman, Ph.D., at Helping girls thrive means breaking some well-established habits. Facebook; Twitter

28. How to Help Kids with Social Anxiety by Katie Hurley, LCSW, at Psycom. Effective coping strategies parents can teach their child at back-to-school time and beyond. TwitterFacebook

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. TwitterFacebook

Responding to Special Needs, Trauma, ADHD, etc.

30. Supporting Behaviorally Challenged and Neurodivergent Students in Education and Special Education, by Mona Delahooke, PhD, at 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

32. The Teaching That Works for Traumatized Students by Laura McKenna in The Atlantic. Learn how a classroom in Oklahoma designed itself to help students with negative childhood experiences. 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 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

Quotes About Curiosity to Inspire Kid’s Life-Long Learning | Roots of Action

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.

37. Team Sports May Help Children Deal With Trauma, by Perri Klass, M.D. in The New York Times. Why training, working hard, and learning to win and lose help children develop resilience. Twitter

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

44. How to Protect Kids from Cyber-Bullying by Michele Borba, Ed.D., How to keep an electronic leash on your child! Twitter; Facebook

Media & Technology

45. Gaming Disorder: Is It a Real Illness? by Eugene Beresin, M.D., M.A. at Psychology Today. It is rare, but gaming disorder can be a problem for youth. Learn how parents can help. Twitter

46. Help! My Teen is Sexting! By Sue Scheff at Family Online Safety Institute. Learn five ways parents can handle teen sexting. Twitter; Facebook

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?

48.A Secret to Digital–and Non-Digital–Parenting by Kentaro Toyama, Ph.D. at Psychology Today. A simple analogy helps understand digital technology in child rearing. Twitter


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?  TwitterFacebook

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;

55 Best Back-to-School Articles for Parents 2018 | Roots of Action

This back-to-school article is republished and updated with new articles each year at Copyright 2012-2021 by Marilyn Price-Mitchell Ph.D. Please see reprint guidelines. 

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Published: August 5, 2021

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