MIAMI (CBS4) – Back to school isn’t just about the kids, it’s a lot of pressure for parents too, especially their child his hitting a school milestone like entering kindergarten, middle school or high school.
What parents need to know as their kids hit these milestones is one thing. It’s all about the brain!
Your kids are in need of serious attention especially at these ‘milestone’s’ in school depending on their brain development.
“The brain develops from back to front so from the occipital to pre frontal cortex,” said psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Bober.
That front part of the brain is the seed of judgment. It’s what’s called executive function. The part of the brain that allows you to work out planning, organizing, and impulse control. It’s that part of the brain that makes you put brakes on and say, ‘Wait, stop. I need to think about this a minute.’
However, here’s the catch, it’s not developed until your child is in their 20s.
So what’s a parent to do?
Know how to handle each school milestone for their child. First, for those with children entering kindergarten there are three major focuses.
First off, separation anxiety.
“It’s something that needs to be taken seriously because it can lead to problems down the road,” said Dr. Bober.
Parent of kindergartners also need to focus on attention problems.
“We know children with ADHD who become adults with ADHD have higher rates of divorce and higher rates of car accidents,” said Dr. Bober.
They also drop out of high school at a higher rate.
The third focus for this age group is the ability to work and play with others. Transition to letting your little one enter kindergarten is difficult but the hardest transition according to child experts is the transition into middle school.
This is no surprise to mom Lorraine Flarity who has a daughter in middle school.
“They’re transitioning from elementary to becoming a person,” said Flarity.
The startling fact for middle school students is, according to Dr. Bober, “kids are having sex starting at age 12.”
You read that right! If your kids are entering middle school you need to focus on sex, alcohol and drugs; specifically prescription drugs that they may take from medicine cabinets in their home and share with others at school.
Dr. Bober says,”if they use drugs at that age they are much more likely to become addicted to drugs than if they started as an adult.”
Flarity’s daughter Kaitlyn said it’s not an issue for her and her friends.
“Our school doesn’t have any of that,” she said.
Flarity also has teen in high school.
“As they get older the struggles become bigger,” said Flarity.
Dr. Bober said the three major focuses for kids entering high school are safety issues, especially now that they’re driving. There are also peer relationships and academic performance considering it’s time to get ready for college. With straight A’s so far, Flarity’s son Robert said he’s on track “college’s pick the best students to go there.”
That’s easy to understand but the difficult reality is that students are only capable of so much depending the development of their pre-frontal cortex.
So for parents, Dr. Bober says focus on the main areas for those main milestones and learn to practice patience, a lot of it, for about 20 years.