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Pre school transition

Transition Tips for Pre-K-, K, 1st graders!

Now that school has started families are in the early stages of watching their children transition from pre-school to Kindergarten or from Kindergarten to first-grade.  Our young ones are experiencing highs and lows as some used to a half-day pre-school or kindergarten setting now are experiencing full-day in kindergartens and certainly in first-grade.

Although most children can play all day and deny being tired and needing rest or naps, it is not the case when young children enter a learning situation where structure, time constraints, and choices are not necessarily theirs.  The beginning of anything “new” may cause anxiety, defiance, or simply just confusion and sadness related to a routine that has now changed. Regardless of how a child reacts, there are a few tips if practiced daily or as needed which may assist in transitioning to length of day, lack of choice, and structured time segments.

Tips on Transitions to Time, Structure, Choice

  1. Reflect on any summer camp activity the child may have attended where structure was used: Bible camps, Art schools, Swim teams….. how did the child respond initially and then over time.
  2. Celebrate the daily school happenings with your child – allow them to vent, give their opinion of what’s going on, and how they could make things better or more fun.
  3. Review any information the school or teacher has provided and ask what questions your child has regarding the information
  4. Invite an older sibling, cousin, friend to describe their first few weeks of school and how they adapted to the things they liked and to the things they didn’t like – don’t mislead the child into thinking that everything is perfect

There are no crystal balls to show what each child will face in the first few weeks of school, however, setting up talk time where a child can work through feelings of anxiety, resentment, confusion, or elation and anticipation may be the secret key to a smooth transition.

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Grade School Transition

Grade School Transitions can be Sunny, Cloudy,

Stormy or Mostly Sunny!

September rolls around and young children are either sad that their play, beach, or friend time just got sliced in half or they may be happy that their learning, new friend, or structured time has increased.  Naturally there are those children who fall in between, yet the reality of school being the bulk of a child’s day is a critical time where many stakeholders’ actions as well as the child’s reactions and actions will create either a sunny or cloudy path to grade school transition.

The Sunny Side

Elementary learners, those between the ages of 7-11, have at least one year of schooling under their belt and have been oriented to a classroom setting and the structures that surround school life.  Some of these structures include, how to speak with an inside voice, taking turns, raising your hand, knowing how to get out of the room for a bathroom break……and the list goes on. 

For these young veterans, their eyes open wider as new privileges, opportunities, and learning challenges greet them with their new grade level. Second graders are no longer the little ones, third graders will actually break out of their dependency mode and become more independent as the year goes on, fourth graders arrive independent and begin to explore learning at a deeper level, and many fifth graders if not already in a transition 4/5 school are yearning for the year to fly by so they are anointed with that middle school title to signify their tween status and that they soon will be even cooler than they already are as the oldest grade in school.  Let the good times roll!

The Cloudy Side

For many children, the sun does not shine. Grade school transitioning is not a leap into learning, structure, or a status of independency.  The reality of finding, maintaining, or walking away from “summer friendships” is a challenge, as is becoming comfortable with structure in environment and in learning and discovery.  Children who feel these clouds are more likely to miss out on intellectual development, and certainly will need support to grow socially and emotionally. These second graders still are the little ones who may be shy, may have no siblings, have not had the chance to flourish in language, peer interaction, or have not broken away from a parent/guardian/caregiver. 

The soon to be independent third grader may have been held back a year and has not adjusted to being older than the other classmates.  Our independent fourth graders may have a learning challenge which hinders the ability to read on grade level, or is a second language learner forced to learn everything in a foreign language known as English. Our eldest in the school, the beloved fifth grader, is a reluctant learner who is creative by nature, misunderstood by the teacher, and is intellectually gifted beyond his peers. 

Let it rain while finding ways to dry the tears, meet frustrations with little success steps, and be watchful for emotional roller coaster feelings until the child gets his/her footing.

The Stormy Side

Regardless of how a child arrives at school with a sunny or cloudy disposition, there are always situations that young people face through no fault of their own. The stormy side is when children try to learn while parents are going through a divorce, there is sickness within the family, an unexpected death, financial hardship, or when a child becomes a victim of a prejudice at the hands of a bully who is not stopped by the educators in the system.  Make it Stop and Lend a Heart!


The Mostly Sunny Side:

The reality is every child in grade school will walk and grow through all kinds of weather; some days begin with sunshine and end up raining, while other days begin cloudy, hit a few storms, and end up with a rainbow bonus before the end of the day.  Every moment has its potential to be something positive or negative, and how a child, teacher, and classmates interact will determine the conditions.

Grade school transitions work when every parent/guardian, and child take an active role in describing the weather conditions of their environment on a daily or weekly basis. 

  • What does a cloudy day look like and how can those clouds get chased away – maybe it’s a conversation with a teacher, or a parent of another child who may be related to some friction that is occurring, or an understanding of the child on how he or she is internalizing the environment. 
  •  What does a sunny day look like, what is working and happening that can be sustained and who needs to know that something is working in a great way – tell that teacher, or friend, or understand the positive actions the child is taking and talk about those strengths.  Keep the sun shining!
  • Finally, storms do come but as has been translated from Lao-Tzu’s Tao Te Ching –

“In all of nature; no storm lasts forever.”

Grade school children can grasp the understanding of a storm not lasting forever and if they are communicated with and taught the skills and strategies on how to minimize the storm damage their transition to any grade or life situation will bring them more Sunshine than clouds.

Enjoy the new school year – may it be Bright!

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Middle School Transition

Middle School /Junior High Transitions 

Does one cry, laugh, or hold one’s breath when a child is approaching that age of puberty? 

What can be done when hormones, changes in attitude, and physical development are all on a collision course within a 12 – 15 yr old body? The answers are dependent on who the child is, 

what roles adults have in that child’s life, and possibly how much of a sense of humor, compassion, or understanding the adult has while dealing with the child going through a middle school or junior high transition.

Beginning middle school or junior high can be a bittersweet event for the tween who has been waiting to leave the younger grade schoolers behind and become part of the big leagues. Unlike the grade school transition this one may be met with outside bravado to parents, friends, and family and internal fear when the tween walks along the big hallways or forgets a locker number, or can’t figure out how to get to the science wing ending up in the 8th or 9th grade hallway.

What parents can do!

Reflect on the last school year of the tween and answer the following questions?

  • Did the child have an opportunity to see the middle or jr high during a typical school day and what was his/her reaction at that time?
  • How did the school district orient the tween to the next level of education (carnivals, young ambassadors visit elementary school, 5th or 6th graders visit upper level for a day, virtual on-line tours, or parent information nights)?
  • How have conversations in June related to getting to the next level of middle school or jr high changed now that school is ready to begin?

If the answers to the reflections were that nothing was done to orient the child – then both parent and child must be proactive in finding a comfortable and trusting way of sharing the concerns of being the new kid on the block and discuss the possible pleasures and pitfalls that may lie ahead.  District resources would include the guidance counselor, principal, school nurse, homeroom teacher, and the many other subject area teachers within the school.  Although the baton may have been dropped before the beginning of school, there are many pathways to ensure smooth sailing as the year progresses.

If the answers to the reflections were all positive and the tween is experiencing mood swings or a reluctance to attend – more probing is necessary as an outlying event may have occurred such as bullying, a cut-off friendship, or a hidden fear has lessened self-esteem. It is important to pay attention to these young tweens, as social pressures, and the longing to fit in and not knowing how, may lead to some depressive behavior that must be addressed.  It is especially important to have children at this age meet with their family doctor to track social/emotional and physical development during these early teen years.

Creating the Best Fit!

Tween years require personal patience and perseverance in tolerating ambiguity, changes in body structure, voice, unwelcome acne, and the internal fight of not wanting to listen to adult advice when constructive advice is needed more than ever.  These young people have not lived enough days to have mastered the strategies of hormonal control, or requesting to their superiors (teachers) that their desks be larger or chair unattached from the desk due to their 8″ growth spurt over the summer, or how to master learning from approximately 7 teachers in various content areas as opposed to the one or three that they had in grade school.  Tweens need help!

Transitions do not happen overnight and tweens, like anyone, benefit when they are reminded that change which may seem uncomfortable may be an indicator of growth and clear skies ahead.  Not that reminders of past growth make the current discomfort any easier, however, those previous successful turning points in a child’s life may be what they need to reflect on while facing the current cloudy situation.

Be Mindful, Sensitive, Supportive, and Communicate or Defer to Others!

Some parents forget what it was like growing up and believe if they tell their child to snap out of it and grow up it will magically happen.  The tween may view this as the nagging parent role when their basic need is to have a guide, mentor, or just someone to listen without judging.  Certainly some parents instinctually want to solve problems for their child and make everything pain-free and easy – however, there is much research to support that young people who have not learned how to struggle academically or socially may develop a fixed mindset which restricts their views and beliefs in self versus a growth mindset.

If communication is not a strong point in the parent/tween relationship, the parent must defer to someone who the tween respects and can talk to, be it sibling, favorite relative, life coach … or trusted teacher.  The key is for the tween to feel heard, valued, and know that he or she is being supported. Once the tween has built a support network and has downloaded concerns and beliefs, it is up to the tween to work with his or her support partner and create an action plan to move forward.

Transitioning may or may not be easy for some tweens, however, it is a critical time in their young lives to become accountable in accepting challenges, and understand that with choices there are consequences.  Middle school and junior high years are precious to everyone, one just never realizes it until he/she is probably 30 or 40 years old.

Enjoy the craziness, tweens have many gifts to share!

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HS hallway

High School Transitions

High School Transitions

Arrival to high school can erupt many emotions for a young teenager: an apprehension at being the new kid on the block; exhilaration on achieving that long awaited destination; or just basic confusion on how it all fits together.  High school transitions prompt a quick reflection on those previous grade school and middle or jr high transitions and demand a new plan of attack.

For many teens the high school landscape may seem too vast to take hold of initially, the first few weeks of exploration include getting accustomed to hallway traffic and detours, personally contrasting educational philosophies of different teachers, understanding locker combination dilemmas, lunchroom inclusion or exclusion, and just trying to fit in can make high school an exhausting task - not to mention the early AM start.

Parent's Guidance

It is important for a parent to hang in there with the teen during this transition period and be a guide by asking what other opportunities exist at school.  Although the teen may have put up a wall of "I can figure it out." or "You don't understand what HS is you are too old," those comments are frustration speaking.  The reality is that many first year "quiet and/or belligerent" high schoolers are afraid and instead of reaching out they close up and miss hearing announcements or reading emails that indicate days and times to sign up for cheerleading, band, sports, arts, debate clubs and the like.  This self-imposed fear may set a teen off on a lonely track and may make the first experience of HS an unsuccessful one.

Parents certainly hope their children become independent, ask questions, seek out help, and get involved to share personal gifts and talents yet, some children need that extra boost to make it happen.  High school goes by very quickly and it is important in the social/emotional and academic development of your child that a positive experience happen early, teens are going through so many changes it is best to help them create a HS environment where they feel safe and energized to thrive.

5 Tips for Parents of High Schoolers

  1. Most school districts post school calendars and activities on-line for the general public while other districts email and post things on student and parent portals.  Stay aware of what is available to your child - and communicate options.
  2. If you know that the child has mentioned an interest in something. Ask when tryouts are and together work out a plan of transportation to make it happen.
  3. Follow-up with the teen on their interests, successes or challenges at school and offer assistance; schedule a weekend breakfast together, discuss options to get involved, create an action plan with the child.
  4. Some teens decide to get involved in everything while others struggle to join one organization. Show Up and support your child if your schedule permits - if it doesn't then make time to talk about what your child is up to.
  5. High school transitions can be both difficult and non-eventful it depends on the variables in the HS environment, the self-esteem and self-efficacy the child has acquired, and the support the teen has and is able to accept.  Pay attention and Do not give up on your child.

Education is a life long journey and can help a person achieve dreams, realize potential, and develop strategies to live a life filled with meaning and purpose.  The happiness parents wish for their children is not elusive, it is internal and if young people feel supported, learn how to meet challenges with perseverance, and understand that difficult times are merely steps of growth - well the rest will take care of itself eventually.

It's the first month of HS do you know what positive opportunities are awaiting your child at school?  Find out together!

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College Transitions

One of the biggest “rites of passage” may be a college transition; when a “child” enters into pseudo adulthood surrounded by thousands of others in the same boat or becomes part of the “blind leading the blind.”  Jokes and puns aside, transitioning into college takes work and requires skills related to organization, good decision making, ignoring or standing up to peer pressure, wellness, and resilience strategies to keep self-esteem high during times of confusion and despair.

Many young adults have little to no practice structuring their new life which requires setting a schedule to eat, do wash, study, socialize, go to class, exercise, join clubs or sports, pay bills, and sleep.  Their prior school years followed a schedule that repeated for 12 years, and their parents or guardians took care of the rest.

College Fit or Not

Although there are many college students who are motivated and have been independent for both basic needs and survival before they arrived at college, many of their friends need help. Some problems students face are those of fit, belonging, and opportunity.

Fitness of the environment:

A college visit and a few reviews of the catalogue does not a fit make once the student has unpacked the clothes, plugged in the computer, and purchased a meal plan. Young adults who may have thought they wanted a large big time football, 300 student lecture hall, stand in line and walk a mile for a meal campus may think differently once the semester has begun especially if isolation occurs (same holds true for students who picked a small school with very little going on). Some students may try to stick out the semester and figure where to go next while others will have to leave immediately to keep both their sanity and desire to learn.  Do not write this emotion off as home-sickness, for some it may be, but for others a constant noise has erupted inside that has left the young person off-center and in need to find level ground.

Students who want to leave can speak with a career counselor at the college or university to assist them with; determining if there is a refund, if semester courses can be completed on-line, and how to transfer to another school.  Fit is very important and like shoes that may look nice, it is not until you walk around in them to know how they feel – if they don’t feel right you get another pair – so it can be with a college or university.

Belonging with others:

Some students love the idea of what college life can offer, academics, athletics, arts, activities, freedom, and much more.  However, all of those offerings are mainly done with other people – some students come from very privileged backgrounds and have traveled the world, and others may be the first generation to attend college – sometimes these prior lifestyle identities clash and the disconnect pushes a student away from a desired group.

Every college is a community and has a cultural identity – some are accepting of many cultures and ways of life and others are selective, biased, and unwelcoming.  Beyond cultural bias are those schools that demand one to learn in a prescribed way and are not creative, design, or problem-based in their educational approach and creative thinkers begin to shut down.  Just as an environment needs to fit the student, so does the student need to feel belongingness as a resident of the college community.

Often times when a student does not feel he or she belongs, it is best to seek out colleges that have similar offerings with a demographic that best suits the personality of the student – there will always be time to broaden a lifestyle, making the college experience meaningful is the first step in growth.

Opportunities: College

College is to prepare students for the “real world” and assist them in contributing to society in a field they are interested in by utilizing newly learned skills and talents. As the millennium grows massively in technology, global communication, and cultural stewardship, the future graduates need to be innovative, entrepreneurial, compassionate, and critical thinkers. Some colleges and universities are not ready for this growth challenge and their traditional learning delivery can stifle creative and entrepreneurial thinking.  Students who choose these traditional institutions will have to self-advocate, challenge professors, and any wrote method of instruction, and seek out learning and professional opportunities to set him or herself apart from college mates.

Opportunities: Home

College students no longer have to live or commute to a campus in order to learn core subjects as on-line learning is available to anyone who wants to learn and grow. On-line learning is affordable, flexible, and at times free especially from many MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses) offered from top level universities and colleges across the country.  Students who may have taken the “throw caution to the wind, have fun, social road” while beginning college, have an opportunity to close skill gaps by adding a few MOOCs to the resume and establishing an on-line community of like-minded peers.

PARENTS Pay Attention: 

Many college students have no issues, adapt well, and share their new energies and celebrate their new freedoms, however other students don’t have it as easy.

As mentioned earlier, parents need to pay attention to college transitions when fit, belonging, and opportunity don’t happen for the young person.  Often times it is chalked up as “Homesickness” and comments are made to “Suck it up,” “try harder,” or “You are not allowed to come home this weekend,” these comments may be the jolt to get the child back on track or may be the dagger that depresses the child more.  Use caution with words when transition is not going smoothly, the child may actually need a divorce from the new relationship and parents can assist by welcoming the young person’s decision with favor, support, and love.

Students Seeking Counseling Increases:

Current statistics indicate that college students seeking help at on-campus counseling centers has increased 30% between 2010 and 2015 and that 61% of those students seeking help are reporting anxiety, depression 49%, stress 45%, family issues 31%, academic 28%, and relationships 27%.

These numbers suggest many young people are not transitioning smoothly and need help that is hard to get. Nationally, the mean student to counseling staff ratio is 1,737:1 (institutions less than 1500 students ratio is 705:1 and larger institutions of 35,000+ the ratio is 2,624:1) so unless the student self-advocates and takes action in seeking help he or she may not get it.  (Center for Mental Health 2016 Annual Report and The Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors Annual Survey, 2016)

Stress is real with roots that are tangled in many areas of wellness; sleep, relationships, nutrition, exercise, change, mindset, goal setting, resilience and more.  Transitions at any age are tough and college age students feel social, family, and internal pressure to get it right the first time, some will and some will not and it is vital that we assist those who don’t get it right the first time ASAP.  College and university students are young adults with a different mailing address for their next 4-5 years – let’s keep in touch with their lives – it will make the difference and hopefully lessen the counseling centers’ numbers.

Resources on Fit, Belonging, MOOCs:

Check out the College Board’s comments related to dorm living from current and former college students. If your first pick doesn’t work then seek out new options by utilizing The ((”>United States Department of Education ((( to understand steps that are being taken to protect college students from ineffective career college programs and become aware of federal programs available for MOOCs Directory.

 **Note: Ineffective career college program protection and Public loan forgiveness were part of the Obama Administration and may no longer be funded as of 2018 depending on the education budget – so stay current on options for protection and federal loan repayment.






One of the biggest "rites of passage" may be college transition; lack of wellness strategies and how to cope have escalated anxiety & depression and statistics indicate 30% more students are seeking assistance while the ratio of student to counselor is 1,737:1 what can a parent do...

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High School

High School requires an immediate embrace of change and for some young people, speed is not their strongest suit. 5 tips for parents are listed to assist the young child transitioning.

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Middle School

Puberty with its hormones and development may take a middle schooler for a wild ride in grades 6-9, however, parents can assist children with reflection and communication and seeking out role models to smooth the transition.

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Elementary School

Stormy, cloudy, mostly sunny or bright are the many options for our young grade schoolers. Like the weather, a word, action, or missed social cue can set the day into a tailspin and transitions can be volatile, it is critical for parents/guardians to touch base with the child and provide support.

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Pre-school, Kindergarten, and First-grade are those roller-coaster transitions where children are filled with excitement, confusion, trying to catch on to routines, some not being able to take naps, and for others it's literally exhausting.

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Coach your Child on Transitions

Labels, lack of challenge, and misunderstandings can take a toll on creativity

Find Out How to Coach Your Child

Coaching a child allows for labels to have no power while strengths and positive habits flourish.

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Share a Little Love

Call or Email To setup a free consultation


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Workplace Health Promotion Programs

Since the beginning of time – Workplaces have been contributing to Illness – stressors on deadlines, product delivery, desk job physical inactivity, factory noise levels, and other job related activities that tax the body’s mental and physical abilities.

Current research suggests that when done right, Workplaces that implement both health promotion and disease prevention programs can improve employee health while reducing health care costs and increasing productivity and engagement.

One major issue facing all employers is preventable chronic disease (e.g diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity) where most of the health care costs are paid out.  By implementing health promotion programs which address prevention, high-risk individuals, and disease management employers can have a positive influence on health behaviors.

The three tiers for a successful program include:

Primary Prevention – preventing illness or disease from occurring(stress mgmt, anti-smoking campaigns, physical challenges)

Secondary Prevention – directed to high-risk individuals (smoking cessation, weight mgmt, easy access to medication)

Tertiary Prevention – disease management for existing conditions (access to diabetes medication, counseling/therapy)

Workplace Wellness programs, according to the CDC’s Community Preventive Services Task Force work by influencing positive health behaviors, improving biometric measures – blood pressure & cholesterol, and financial outlay.  A recent meta-analysis indicated that people who participated in an employer’s well-defined health promotion program had 25% lower medical and absentee expenditures than did their non-participant colleagues.

The key for any health & wellness promotion program is that they are designed with best practice principles, implemented across the organization, have support from all levels, and utilize evaluation methods while the program is running.

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