Expecting Our Kids to Behave Like Adults

Expecting Our Kids to Behave Like Adults

One of the constant concerns I hear from faculty members, administrators, counselors, and parents of adolescents from all around the world is “We expect them to think and act like adults.” This expectation arises not simply because so many of today’s adolescents, for various reasons, appear physically mature; it’s also because we, adults, assume that in their school lives, adolescent students are fully capable of appropriate “executive skills” in their school work, in their social lives, and in how they cope with the multiple and competing demands we place upon them.

We assume that adolescents are able to manage their time, prioritize homework, juggle athletic practices and community service with regular sleeping and eating, manage their social lives, and their online lives – and somehow, get straight A’s.

But these so-called “executive skills” are part and parcel of a host of neurological capacities that, generally, are not fully developed until humans are 30 years old! What are we missing here?

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Are We Bold Enough to Make the Changes Needed to Help Sleep-Deprived Students?

Are We Bold Enough to Make the Changes Needed to Help Sleep-Deprived Students?

As millions of teenagers return to school after what hopefully has been a restful and restorative summer, an increasingly emphatic question is gathering strength: What time should the school day start?

Over the past few years, more school districts, as well as independent and international schools, have experimented with later start times in their deliberate efforts to “fall in line with research that looks at the biological clock of adolescents.” The results have been significant.

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We’re ALL In This Together!

We’re ALL In This Together!

If We’re All in this Together, Why Do We Expect Students to Change Culture of School Stress? Earlier this year, a high school student in suburban Chicago wrote a petition in which she criticized her school “for putting too much pressure on students to succeed academically” and called on schools to “treat students like people with dreams and not just test scores.”

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Does More ‘Free Time’ Mean More ‘Screen Time’ for our Students

Does More ‘Free Time’ Mean More ‘Screen Time’ for our Students

Consider the recent 60 Minutes episode entitled “Brain Hacking,” in which Tristan Harris, a former product manager from Google, explained that “Silicon Valley is engineering your phone, apps and social media to get you hooked.” Harris is a tech insider who “publicly acknowledges that the companies responsible for programming your phones are working hard to get you and your family to feel the need to check in constantly,” a phenomenon recently termed as “brain hacking.”

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Balancing Between High Standards and Varying Developmental Levels

Balancing Between High Standards and Varying Developmental Levels

I recently co-hosted a webinar, At What Cost? Defending Adolescent Development in Fiercely Competitive Schools, with my colleague Dr. Douglas Reeves from Creative Leadership Solutions. After the webinar, Doug and I received the following question from Dr. Catherine Smith:

What advice can you give elementary school educators who need to balance between high standards and sensitivity about children’s varying developmental levels?

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Cell Phones and Sleep Deprivation

Cell Phones and Sleep Deprivation

Having recently seen the documentary, Screenagers: Growing Up In The Digital Age, I was particularly struck by this article in JAMA Pediatrics that summarized a recent systematic review of 20 studies conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). This meta-analysis of studies of students between the ages of 6 to 19 years – that occurred over a four-year time period (between 2011 and 2015) – tried to quantify the relationship between bedtime cell phone access and use, and kids’ overall diminished sleep quality. The link below provides more detailed information, but I’ve tried to summarize it here.

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10 Year Study on Adolescent Brain Development …

Yale University announces its participation in the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study (ABCD) funded by the National Institutes of Health. The study will follow 10,000 adolescents for 10 years. Researchers will study impact of influences such as video games, social media, alcohol or drug use and sleep habits on the intellectual, social, emotional, biological and physical development of adolescents.

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At What Cost?

At What Cost?

In many high-achieving secondary schools across the US and all around the world, schools that were recently termed “epicenters of overachievement” [1] where students “hear the overriding message that only the best will do in grades, test scores, sports, art, college…in everything,” [2] too many students are being unfairly demanded of – itself, a kind of developmental indifference – and consequently, they feel overscheduled, overworked, and frequently overwhelmed. Regrettably, these conditions often lead to debilitating anxiety and depression, and to a host of dangerous manifestations of those conditions: substance abuse, eating disorders, sleep deprivation, cutting and other forms of self-injury, and too often, suicide.

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