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      “Which School is Best for My Kid?” 12 Tips for Smart School Selection     Next to picking your kid’s name, choosing your child’s school is high up on the list of stressful parenting choices. Every parent wants the best for their kid, and a child’s schooling has life-long impacts on their intellectual, social, and emotional development. What makes a school great for one kid doesn’t work for the next, and with so many options, parents can feel lost in selecting the best school for their child’s needs.    So what factors  really  matter in picking the perfect school? Ask these 11 questions when determining which school is best for your kid:     1. Is it test-obsessed?      Children learn best when they have a strong sense of autonomy, meaning they feel ownership over what they’re learning. Having opportunities to explore, take initiative, and problem-solve are important for building autonomy. While all schools aim for students to do well on standardized tests, schools that focus on “teaching to tests” can have fewer outlets for creativity and hands-on learning. Ask the faculty how they balance covering the curriculum while providing student-led activities.     2. Will it meet my kid’s needs?      If your child is gifted or has learning differences such as   ADHD  , autism, or   dyslexia  , it’s important to learn what   accommodations   are available to support their success. Do they need a highly structured environment, more individual attention, or extra time for assignments? Talk to the school’s faculty about your child’s specific needs to ensure they’re experienced and equipped in meeting them.   Need help securing accommodations for your child?       


   
     
      
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      3. Is their curriculum first-class?     The quality of your child’s curriculum can have a tremendous impact on their academic achievement. A great curriculum has a proven track record in empowering students to master core subjects. Ask your school which curriculum they use for each subject and get to googling; a quick internet search can show you a curriculum’s ratings on text quality, knowledge building, usability, and alignment to academic standards.      4. Do their scores measure up?     School ratings never tell the whole story, so try not to make snap judgements based on one overall score. However, digging deeper into a school’s score card can give you some valuable info. Look for these 3 measures:        Are there signs of improvement?   Sometimes schools have a high proportion of disadvantaged students, bringing test scores down regardless of the school’s quality. Look for the  student progress rating  to get a better idea of how well kids are learning rather than test scores alone.     How does the school perform in various subjects?   While other schools might have a higher overall rating, you may find that a school with a lower overall score has higher ratings in the subject(s) you care most about.     How do kids like yours do?  School ratings break down performance scores by race, sex, special needs, and socioeconomic status. Dig into these details to determine how kids most similar to yours are doing at the school. It’s also helpful to ask other parents and neighbors what their experiences have been to get an inside scoop of the school’s strengths and weaknesses.      5. Does it empower my kid’s passion?     Does your child have strong inclinations toward math, science, music, art, or languages? Ask the school about their approach to your child’s favorite subject. You may also want to investigate if there are any magnet or private schools in your area that focus more heavily on the subject your child is drawn to.     For more tips on supporting your child’s passions, click here      6. Is it public or private?      Whether public or private is best is a long-heated debate without a clear-cut answer. There are several pros and cons to each school type that you should research, but here are a few of the major ones:       

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      7. What resources are available?   When evaluating a potential school, pay attention to the resources the school has to stimulate your child’s learning. Desirable resources include:    An ample library    Up to date technology    Musical instruments    Art supplies    Play equipment    Accessibility for disabled students    A School Nurse on duty    A   School Psychologist   for mental health needs      8. Are there high safety standards?   You’ll feel better about sending your kids to school each day if you’re confident in the school’s safety measures. Ask the school to explain their protocols in the areas of:   Drug, alcohol, and tobacco prevention    Violence, bullying, harassment    Weapons on campus    Police presence and school lockdown procedures    Drills and emergency plans    Notification of parents in event of an emergency       9. Do they support EQ?   In addition to academic standards, keep your standards high in the type of emotional support you want your child to receive. Does the school offer workshops on character building and emotional health? Are there clubs or programs offered to help your child make friends? How do they handle discipline and reinforce good behavior? Consider whether you agree with their approach in supporting healthy emotional growth.    Not sure what an emotionally healthy classroom looks like? Click here       10. Is it a logistical nightmare?     Sometimes your dream school isn’t in your district or your budget, and it’s important to evaluate whether the pros of attending the school outweigh the sacrifices you’ll have to make. Remember that long commutes and hefty tuitions can mean sacrificing family time and other enriching activities. While there’s nothing wrong with going out of your way for a great education, make sure to choose a school that isn’t too disruptive to your family life.    11. What’s my gut telling me?   The truth is, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to where your kid should go. You may walk into a school that everyone else raves about, but just get an uneasy vibe that tells you it’s not a fit for your kid. You know your child’s personality, strengths, and challenges better than anyone, and that knowledge will guide your instincts in helping you make the best choice.    12. Should I get a second opinion?   Choosing your child’s school is tough and weighing the pros and cons of each option can feel overwhelming. Asking other parents their opinions can be helpful, but if you’d also like professional support in evaluating your child’s options, a specialist in Educational Psychology can guide you in coming to a confident decision.   Dr. Marta M. Shinn, Ph.D.,  is an expert in child and educational psychology. If you are concerned about finding a school that meets your child’s needs, Dr. Shinn can provide diagnostic testing, make academic recommendations, and support you in advocating for your child’s needs on campus.      
 
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Shinn 
       Dr. Elsa Torres, Psy.D.,  is an expert in diagnostic testing and counseling and is experienced in helping families make important life decisions such as school selection. If you are struggling to decide the best academic course for your children, Dr. Torres can support you in coming to the best decision that fits your family’s priorities.      
 
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Torres 
       Dr. Amy E. Weir, Psy.D.,  is an expert in infant and toddler development. Dr. Weir can help you understand your toddler’s educational needs and place them on a path toward healthy academic development.   Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Weir     
 
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Weir 
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              The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the highlighted topic. For a full consultation, assessment, and personalized treatment plan, schedule an appointment  with one of our specialists.   More about Variations Psychology   Variations Psychology is a group practice specializing in Child and Family Psychology.  Our specialists provide therapy to infants, children, adolescents, and adults to help them overcome the many challenges they may face throughout the lifespan of a family. We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions that may impact the family’s mental health and development (e.g. ADHD, Autism Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders, college entrance exams, graduate and professional licensing exams such as MCAT, LSAT, GRE, CBEST, NCLEX, GMAT, CA Cosmetology Exam, CA Contractors State Licensing Exam, and CA Bar Exam).  See our   Specialists   page to select the specialist that best suits your need, or simply give us a call and we will guide you..  Variations Psychology is located in Newport Beach, CA and provides counseling to residents throughout Orange County and its surrounding areas including Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Shady Canyon, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Coto de Caza, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Pelican Hill, Crystal Cove, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach, Seal Beach, and more.      
  
       References:   American Psychological Association (2019). Increasing Student Success Through Instruction in Self-Determination.  American Psychological Association . Retrieved from www.apa.org/research/action/success.aspx  American Psychological Association (2019). Transitions to School: What Helps Children Succeed?  American Psychological Association  Retrieved from   www.apa.org/advocacy/education/transition-to-school.aspx  Four Steps to Selecting a School for Your Child.  Reading Rockets , 7 Nov. 2013,   www.readingrockets.org/article/four-steps-selecting-school-your-child.  GreatSchools.org (2019). Facts (and fiction) about school test scores. Retrieved from https://www.greatschools.org/gk/videos/school-test-scores-video/  Kane, T.J., Owens, A.M., Marinell, W.H., Thal, D.R.C., Staiger, D.O. (2016). Teaching Higher: Educator’s Perspectives on Common Core Implementation.  Harvard University Center for Education Policy Research.  Retrieved from https://cepr.harvard.edu/files/cepr/files/teaching-higher-report.pdf  Mathews, Jay (2003). What to Look for in a Good School.  The Washington Post,  WP Company, Retrieved from www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/education/schoolguide/mathews.html  National Assessment of Educational Progress (2015). School Composition and the Black-White Achievement Gap.  U.S. Department of Education.  Retrieved from: https://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/subject/studies/pdf/school_composition_and_the_bw_achievement_gap_2015.pdf  Private School vs. Public School Breakdown (2016).  Niche . Retrieved from https://www.niche.com/blog/private-school-vs-public-school-breakdown/   Siegel-Hawley, G. (2012). How Non-Minority Students Also Benefit From Racially Diverse Schools. Research Brief.  The National Coalition on School Diversity.  Retrieved from https://www.school-diversity.org/pdf/DiversityResearchBriefNo8.pdf  Shinn. M.M. (2018). ADHD or Just Kids Being Kids?  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from  https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/adhd-or-just-kids-being-kids   Shinn. M.M. (2018). I Can’t Spell Dyslexia – Do I Have It?  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from  https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/i-cant-spell-dyslexia-do-i-have-it    Shinn. M.M. (2018). School’s Out – Should I Get My Kid Tested?  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from  https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/schools-out-should-i-get-my-kid-tested    Shinn. M.M. (2018). 7 Strategies for Fostering a Growth Mindset in Your Child.  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from  https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/7-strategies-for-fostering-a-growth-mindset-in-your-child    Shinn. M.M. (2018). 8 Tips to Create a Mentally Healthy Classroom.  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from  https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/8-tips-to-create-a-mentally-healthy-classroom      How to Cite This Blog Article:    Shinn. M.M. (2019). Which School is Best for My Kid? 11 Tips for Smart School Selection.  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/which-school-is-best-for-my-kid-12-tips-for-smart-school-selection

“Which School is Best for My Kid?” 12 Tips for Smart School Selection

Public schools, private schools, charters, oh my! With so many options, picking the best school for your kid can feel overwhelming. Check out this week’s blog for our top 10 tips on smart school selection.

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      Life Success – Is it about Persistence or Following Your Passion?   Listen to the podcast for this blog post here     

 
 
      “Everybody’s life is either rewarding or an example.” -Tony Robbins   Remember that person in high school who was insanely smart, but just didn’t have the drive to reach their potential? You know, that kid that always seemed bored in class, aced every test, but couldn’t be bothered to do their homework. After all, they knew all the answers, had their career plans, so why do the extra work? We’ve also known someone who wasn’t necessarily the most passionate or intelligent one in school, but worked tirelessly to accomplish anything and everything expected of them, no matter how necessary the task seemed.  So where are they now?   Einstein flunked and ended up alright   Whether passion or persistence is more important to success is a long-debated topic. Of course, there are several examples of drop-outs achieving massive success like Steve Jobs, Lady Gaga, and Bill Gates to name a few. But is passion truly enough in and of itself to help a person lead a successful, fulfilling life?      Motivation matters   There are two types of motivation that drive our behaviors: intrinsic and extrinsic. Motivation is considered intrinsic if a person is driven by the natural satisfaction that will result from their achievement. Intrinsic motivation energizes our feelings of passion and fulfillment. Motivation that is extrinsic is driven by trying to earn a tangible reward or to avoid punishment – this type of motivation is reflected in persistence and hard work, as it is not necessarily enjoyable or interesting to engage in, but is necessary to receive an end-goal.   For example…   If a child is naturally drawn to learning languages, they might study French for the mere satisfaction of knowing how to communicate common phrases. They may watch YouTube tutorials on their own time or even become a French Professor someday. This passion to master French would be intrinsically motivated. If the same child isn’t as inclined to achievement in science, their parent might offer them an extrinsic reward, such as money or a new game, if they can improve their biology grade. The student’s persistence to perform in biology may end after meeting their minimum obligation, or they may discover that they love it now that they dedicated some time to studying it.   Which one will get my kid on the Honor Roll?   Both passion and persistence are important to success, and it is difficult to reach one’s potential without combination of both. Think of the winter Olympics – you can often tell which figure skaters are the ones with the most natural talent and passion – they have a sense of effortlessness, as if that’s what they were born to do. Then you have the ones who weren’t necessarily “born with it” but for fame, financial security, or other motivations have worked themselves to the bone to get where they are – their performance resonates with determination and precision. At the end of the day, they get scored on both technique and presentation, so the ones with a strong sense of passion and persistence have the best odds.   Passion without persistence    "The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary." -Vidal Sassoon   A person with passion and poor persistence is likely to give up when challenges arise. No matter how strong a person’s passions or talents are, they will eventually come up against obstacles that threaten their upward mobility. For example, let’s say your child is a prodigy artist who dreams of having their own gallery. However, they know nothing about running a business and didn’t put much effort in school, thinking an artist really has no need for learning the Pythagorean theorem. Without the persistence and drive to learn effective practices and develop a convincing business model, they would not qualify for a loan to open their gallery, nor would their gallery be likely to succeed if it did open.   Persistence without passion    "Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do… Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it." -Steve Jobs   A person with persistence but no passion may not be quick to give up, but their performance will likely not be at the same level as someone who is passionate - nor will they feel the same sense of fulfillment, and well-being is an important element in success. What’s more, passion empowers persistence; studies show that students who are passionate about a topic are more likely to persist through challenges that arise in mastering the subject.   Synergy = Success   Cultivating both your child’s passions and persistency are the best way to equip them for success. When these two traits work together, a child is motivated by the fulfillment of the task at hand, and believes in their ability to overcome challenges that might otherwise prompt them to give up.   Got it - so how do I support them?     Here are some tips to foster persistence and passion in your child:    1. Teach active coping     "It’s not stress that kills us, it’s our reaction to it.'" – Hans Selye   At each stage of a child’s development, there are social and academic stressors that present themselves. Students that employ active coping mechanisms tend to perform better than those who use avoidant methods. Avoidant coping includes procrastination, angry outbursts, over or under eating, or blaming others for their stress. When your child is feeling stressed, encourage them to positively affirm themselves, record their thoughts in a journal, vent to a friend, and set time each day for relaxing and enjoyable activities. Emotional intelligence is strongly correlated with academic success.   2. Consider your family culture    “A man is but the product of his thoughts; what he thinks, he becomes.” -Mahatma Gandhi   For all of you Game of Thrones fans, what do you think of when you hear the name “Lannister”? Aside from power thirsty tyrants, you may recall the saying, “A Lannister always pays his debts.” Your child will internalize the identity traits that you associate with your family. Develop a mantra that you say whenever challenges arise, “We are a strong family. We don’t give up when times get tough!” Convey that persistency is a part of who you are.   3. Empower through responsibility    "Whenever you see a successful person, you only see the public glories, never the private sacrifices to reach them." -Vaibhav Shah   Giving your child age-appropriate responsibilities builds their sense of competency. Task your school-aged child with feeding or walking your pets, washing the dishes, and laying out their clothing for school. Encourage a part-time job for your teenager or young adult living at home. However, be sure that responsibilities are increased gradually and that you leave ample time for them to relax and unwind; burning them out will reduce their feelings of autonomy and passion for what they are doing.   4. Develop alternate pathways    “The only problem we really have is we think we’re not supposed to have problems! Problems call us to higher level – face & solve them now!” -Tony Robbins   When you are inspired to achieve something, you’re more likely to find ways to overcome obstacles. For example, if you’ve always dreamt of becoming a nurse but just can’t seem to pass anatomy, you’d probably spring for a tutor. If you didn’t see how that class impacted your dream, you wouldn’t be motivated to spend your time or money on extra help and might just drop the class. The same goes for your kids; when they encounter obstacles, they may not always be motivated to seek alternate pathways on their own. Discuss their challenges, collaborate to explore different approaches, and discover strategies together. Model that obstacles are not a reason to abandon a task.   5. Celebrate failure    “Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another steppingstone to greatness.” -Oprah Winfrey   Remind your child that the most successful people in the world have failed more times than most others have tried. Failure paves the way for success, and the true failure is giving up. Even if your child is engaging in something they are talented at and passionate about, they won’t always bat a thousand, and that’s a good thing. Resist rescuing them every time they get frustrated or say they can’t do something. Intervening deprives them of their opportunity to learn from trial and error.   6. Be strategic with incentives    “Without delayed gratification, there is no persistence.” -Sunday Adelaja   Don’t offer your child money or ice cream for every task you want them to accomplish. In the real world, there will be things they have to get done that won’t offer instant gratification. Incentives tend to be more effective for projects in which quantity is the goal –tasks that are repetitive and non-complex, such as writing vocabulary words 25 times. For these types of tasks, an incentive may increase your child’s motivation. For tasks where quality is the end goal, however, incentives can damper their performance. Try to avoid offering incentives for tasks requiring broad, creative thinking.   Some tips for cultivating passions:     1. Listen to their dreams    "If you don't design your own life plan, chances are you'll fall into someone else's plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much." -Jim Rohn   Self-determination theory suggests that humans have three innate needs:    A need to feel competent    A need to feel related    A need to feel autonomous    These three needs are what energize passion. If you are pressuring or guilting your child over their school performance, they will not feel competent or autonomous. Listen to their feelings about the subjects they dislike. Acknowledge their feelings, be positive about their passions, and try to help them connect the dots between their dreams and obligations. For example, if they dream of being the next big rock star, explain how math can improve their guitar skills.   2.Empower goal-setting    "The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus." -Bruce Lee   “Academic hope” refers to the process of thinking about one’s goals, the motivation to achieve those goals, and one’s plans to achieve them. Students with high academic hope tend to have increased success. Model goal-setting, planning, and achievement in everyday life. Share your past and present goals, plans, and achievements. Demonstrate that your passions and interests are important to you, and you are willing to do what it takes to pursue them. Talk to your child about their goals, ask them about their action plans, and supportively listen to their ideas. Positively reinforce them each time they make progress.      3. Help them connect    "If people like you, they're going to want to do business with you. And if they don't, you're going to have an almost insurmountable obstacle to overcome." -Barbara Corcoran   Students who actively engage with peers and faculty at their school are more likely to succeed. Encourage your child to join clubs, attend tutoring groups, and approach their teachers for extra help or just to discuss interesting concepts.     4. IQ isn’t the be-all end-all    "As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others." -Bill Gates   While you want to support your child’s intellectual growth, knowledge and reasoning are not the only factors that contribute to academic success. Put as much emphasis on character building. Traits related to leadership, responsibility, perseverance, and adaptability have all shown correlation with higher GPA’s.   5. Consult a specialist   If you are concerned about your child’s motivations, coping skills, and academic success, a specialist in education can help your child get the most out of their scholastic experience. A specialist will evaluate your child’s challenges, determine the possible presence of any learning disorders, and develop a customized plan to empower you to support their growth.   Dr. Marta M. Shinn, Ph.D. , is an expert in child and educational psychology. Dr. Shinn specializes in helping families understand the education processes conducted by schools and empowering them to become informed advocates for their children. By providing parents with a thorough understanding of academic practices, as well as understanding the psychological motivations and challenges at each stage of child development, Dr. Shinn helps parents determine the best educational path for their child.     
 
	 click here to schedule your appointment with dr. shinn 
       Cynthia Johnson, LMFT,  is a specialist in Parenting and Child Therapy at Variations Psychology. She has years of experience in supporting families and strengthening relationships between parents, teens, and children.   Subscribe to our blog for a weekly article on topics that affect your life:      

 
   
     
      
        
     

     

       

        
          

            

          

            
               

                 
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              The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the highlighted topic. For a full consultation, assessment, and personalized treatment plan, schedule an appointment with one of our specialists.   More about Variations Psychology   Variations Psychology is a group practice specializing in Child and Family Psychology.  Our specialists provide therapy to infants, children, adolescents, and adults to help them overcome the many challenges they may face throughout the lifespan of a family. We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions that may impact the family’s mental health and development (e.g. ADHD, Autism, Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders, college entrance exams). See our   Specialists   page to select the specialist that best suits your need, or simply give us a   call   and we will guide you.  Variations Psychology is located in Newport Beach, CA and provides counseling to residents throughout Orange County and its surrounding areas including Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Shady Canyon, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Coto de Caza, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Pelican Hill, Crystal Cove, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach, Seal Beach, and more.      
  
       References   Cerasoli, C., Nicklin, J., & Ford, M. (2014). Intrinsic Motivation and Extrinsic Incentives Jointly Predict Performance: A 40-Year Meta-Analysis.  Psychological Bulletin,   140 (4), 980-1008.  GreatSchools.org, Crawford, L. (2016) Teaching Young Kids Persistence. https://www.greatschools.org/gk/articles/teaching-persistence-1st-and-2nd-grade/   Hansen, Michele Joann, Trujillo, Daniel J., Boland, Donna L., & MacKinnon, Joyce L. (2014). Overcoming Obstacles and Academic Hope: An Examination of Factors Promoting Effective Academic Success Strategies.  Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice,   16 (1), 49-71.  Hen, M., & Goroshit, M. (2014). Academic Procrastination, Emotional Intelligence, Academic Self-Efficacy, and GPA.  Journal of Learning Disabilities,47 (2), 116-124.  Michigan State University, Student Work Archive https://msu.edu/~dwong/StudentWorkArchive/CEP900F01-RIP/Webber-IntrinsicMotivation.htm    Tamez, J. (2014). Assessing the values of "talent' versus "performance'. Supermarket News.      How to Cite This Blog Article:   Shinn, M.M. (2018). Life Success – Is it about Persistence or Following Your Passion?   Psychologically     Speaking.   [Variations Psychology blog post].  Retrieved from https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/life-success-is-it-about-persistence-or-following-your-passion

“Everybody’s life is either rewarding or an example.” -Tony Robbins

Remember that person in high school who was insanely smart, but just didn’t have the drive to reach their potential? You know, that kid that always seemed bored in class, aced every test, but couldn’t be bothered to do their homework. After all, they knew all the answers, had their career plans, so why do the extra work? We’ve also known someone who wasn’t necessarily the most passionate or intelligent one in school, but worked tirelessly to accomplish anything and everything expected of them, no matter how necessary the task seemed.

So where are they now?