With the summer in full swing, we hope you are relaxing and reflecting. In case you were busy working and parenting the last ten months, you might have missed some of the year’s most important K12 education trends.

We identified our favorite reads by topic. We suggest printing them out now and putting them in your bag. Pull them out when you have some free time while sipping your morning coffee, relaxing on the beach, or enjoying an after-dinner glass of wine.

K12 education trends

1. Focus, Organization & Planning, Oh My!

Teachers and parents are realizing the need to become resident experts on the key executive functions of focusing, organizing and planning. A lack of these skills often explains why bright students underperform. Problems with these skills might explain why many capable students are starting, but not finishing, college.

Why It’s ‘Self-Reg,’ Not Self-Control, That Matters Most For Kids. An NPR interview explores the importance of teaching kids self-regulation or “identifying the causes and reducing the intensity of impulses and, when necessary, having the energy to resist.” In other words, adults need to accept that every child will experience the world differently. It is the adult’s job to give students the coping skills they need to keep calm and focus on what is important.

ADHD Goes to College. This Huffington Post blog from a pediatrician provides succinct advice for parents whose ADHD students are preparing for college. Students with ADHD can be very successful, but they might need additional supports for organization and time management.

How Anxiety Leads to Disruptive Behavior. Experts from Child Mind Institute explain why anxiety is often confused with ADHD, behavior problems, and OCD. They advocate for treating anxiety first, even if there is another condition.

Why Impulse Control Is Harder Than Ever. Scholastic provides insight into impulsivity. The article includes age-appropriate suggestions for parents to help their children manage this important life skill.

More articles on ADHD and Executive Functions.

2. Managing Social Media

It was just a few years ago that the conversation was whether or not we should allow social media. Now we only ask, “How do we effectively monitor it?” Social media has its benefits. On the downside it is a major source of bullying and social insecurity.

How Social is Social Media? Why do people develop “Facebook envy”? This is a real phenomenon that can lead to depression. It is an important concern worth actively managing say researchers in this blog from The Learning Scientists.

Teaching Teenagers to Cope With Social Stress. The NY Times explores a new intervention to combat the growing social stress levels among high school and college students. Help them understand that people can change. The initial research is promising albeit limited.

Girls and Their Frenemies. A well-written blog explaining the “mean girl” social dynamics. Most girls get caught up in this behavior, but there are ways to minimize it.

What Teens Need Most From Their Parents. The Wall Street Journal discusses the neurological changes experienced through adolescence. It explains the changing social and emotional behaviors parents should anticipate in tweens and teens.

More articles on teens and social media.

3. Stop the Stress

Judging by the statistics, it’s increasingly challenging for teens to balance grades, extra-curriculars and their social lives. Reported stress is on the rise and with that comes anxiety, depression, eating disorders and health problems. The blame is being cast around on over-demanding parents, unrealistic college admissions, and un-stimulating classrooms that reflect a pre-connected world.

Parents should avoid pressuring young children over grades, ASU study says.  Research on 6th graders from affluent families shows that parents who emphasize achievement over kindness have children with higher levels of anxiety and depression and lower self-esteem. Importantly, these children did not have higher achievement than peers whose parents emphasized kindness.

The myth of the straight-A student, and 6 ways to debunk it. A school counselor addresses the excessive stress of students in affluent communities. Parents can help their students develop perspective and coping mechanisms.

How To Ensure Students Are Actively Engaged and Not Just Compliant. Mind/Shift identifies eight criteria that lead to truly authentic student engagement, not just compliance. It places an emphasis on emotions, social skills and critical thinking.

The Emotional Weight of Being Graded, for Better or Worse. Mind/Shift explores how grades alters students’ motivation from intrinsic to extrinsic. Some teachers are changing their evaluation approaches to keep students wanting to learn rather than just wanting to succeed.

More articles on teens and stress.

4. Other K12 Education Trends

Mindset in the Classroom. EdWeek’s national survey of teachers provides a detailed study of growth mindset in the classroom. It shows that almost all teachers believe in the power of growth mindset, but only one in five is confident using growth mindset in the classroom.

How Educators Can Foster Student Motivation. Digital Promise provides three essential elements for teachers to increase student motivation: autonomy, relatedness, and competence. It provides the research backing and clear explanations.

Why Grit Can’t Be Taught Like Math. Paul Tough, author of How Children Succeed, explains why schools should not teach non-cognitive skills. Instead, he wants schools to embed and reinforce these skills through daily habits and environment.

More articles on K12 education trends.

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