Education Matters—Sanford School's Private School Blog

Advice for Students Beginning their Freshman Year in High School

Posted by Olivia Civiletti on September 8, 2017 at 11:30 AM

While exciting and hopeful, beginnings can also be frightening and uncertain. A student’s freshman year of high school is one of those hopeful, yet undetermined beginnings. You can be anything and do anything which is as much daunting as it is exhilarating. The next four years will help prepare a student for whatever the future holds, so it is very important that it go as smoothly as possible. With awareness and foresight, all of the stress of beginning school can be replaced by the excitement and joy it deserves. To ease the transition from middle to upper school, incoming freshmen should try:


Participating in a fall sport such as volleyball, field hockey, soccer, or cross country means coming to school a few weeks early for fall preseason. This bonding through sports practices makes the transition from middle school smoother as it gives students a head start getting to know people before school gets too busy. Preseason offers a few stress-free, fun, and hard-working weeks in which to get to know some of the other high schoolers. Students also get an opportunity to form a bond with an upperclassman who can give them advice about school.

Joining a few clubs
Joining clubs is a great way for freshmen to quickly get involved in the school’s community and a great way to meet like-minded people. By participating in a club that reflects the student’s interests, he or she is more likely to meet people who have similar interests and values. Clubs are also an excellent opportunity to gain leadership experience. Students can spearhead a club’s project or become part of the leadership of the club itself. These leadership positions sometimes help a college application as it allows colleges see how students apply themselves outside of the classroom.

Going to teachers for extra help
Believe it or not, teachers actually want to help their students as much as they can and want them to achieve all that they are capable of. If the freshmen year classes quickly become harder than expected, students should absolutely approach their teachers for extra help. Whether it be explaining a concept in more depth, doing practice problems, going over a test, or discussing the possibility of dropping the class, teachers are always more willing than students think they are to help the students succeed.

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Topics: Education, Academics, Health & Wellness

List of Back-to-School Essentials

Posted by Olivia Civiletti on August 25, 2017 at 11:30 AM

It’s that time of year! Though I am not talking about the holidays, the beginning of a school year also means a lot of shopping for parents. With the impressive amount of tasks that need to be accomplished, coming up with a comprehensive list of all that needs to be purchased for the upcoming academic year is something that most parents just don’t have time for. Here is a basic list to help guide any parent and child in their search for school supplies.

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Topics: Academics, Health & Wellness, Parenting Tips

Summer Programs: the Learning and Fun Continues Beyond the School Year

Posted by Olivia Civiletti on June 19, 2017 at 5:30 PM

As the school year comes to a close and the end-of-school events fill every waking hour, it can be easy to forget what lies ahead. While the children are getting more and more excited to have three months with no obligations, the parents see the inherent danger in the situation: the kids will be joyous for the first two hours of their newfound freedom and lamenting about their boredom for the rest of the time. Rest assured, this parental dread of summer is not uncommon or unrectifiable. It is a simple matter of planning things for your children to do. To the parents who want to avoid three months of television watching for their children, fear not; here are a few programs to help keep your child engaged over the summer.

On Fridays throughout the summer, the Delaware Museum of Art offers a “Glory of Stories” event in which children ages two and older can go and be read a book, tour some art relevant to the story, then complete an art project. This is a great time for your child to explore creatively, be exposed to all kinds of professional art, then create some art of their own. This fun Friday activity is an awesome weekly opportunity to get out of the house and seek different cultures close to home.

To a child looking to try something new, Wellspring Farm holds a summer riding camp from June 12th through August 14th for all children 6-13 even remotely interested in dabbling in this craft. The children will do things such as receive basic riding instruction, work on their balance, learn about the anatomy of horses and how to care for them, play games, and do crafts. This program teaches children how to be safe with a large animal and bond with their peers and the horses. The week is concluded with a horse show for the children’s family and friends. The children do not have to have any experience riding to participate and will be mentored by the older riders who have more practice and wisdom.

From June 31st through August 4th, the Brandywine River Museum of Art has a camp which offers children ages 9-14 the opportunity to explore their interests in both nature and art. The camp emphasizes exposing the parallels between the beauty of the outdoors and the beauty of painting. They will observe patterns in nature and try to mimic them in artwork of their own. This is an opportunity for intellectual, personal, and social growth and offers opportunities to be exposed to the artwork at the museum.

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Topics: Education, Summer, Health & Wellness

Why are Sports Important to Your Middle School Student?

Posted by Shannon Helmecki on April 26, 2017 at 6:44 PM

Over the last twenty years working with Middle School athletes, I have learned the value of keeping kids active and instilling the importance of lifetime sports at a young age. Often, the lessons learned off the field are greater than the skills and strategies of the game. Many times, these life lessons are so much more impactful than just reaping the benefits of exercise.

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Topics: Athletics, Health & Wellness

Learning Outside: Connecting Children with Nature

Posted by John Bell and Patrick Martin on April 19, 2017 at 5:01 PM

Spring days inspire so many of us to get outside and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. School sports move outside, while playgrounds and parks become alive with families enjoying time together. Many studies also prove that there is a positive educational benefit of connecting young learners with nature. Author and Early Childhood educator from the Yale Child Study Center, Erika Chrstakis states, "Active learning, and especially outdoor play in nature, is essential to healthy human development."  

Connecting children to nature cultivates:
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Topics: Education, Academics, Health & Wellness

Finding Character Education Programs in Schools

Posted by Sanford Counseling Team on March 8, 2017 at 4:10 PM
What if you had to choose whether your child would learn to understand algebra or be a kind person, but not both? Fortunately, we don’t have to make those kinds of decisions because good schools teach both academic skills and interpersonal skills. Most parents have an understanding of the academic concepts taught at schools and can find more specifics in a curriculum guide or a set of grade-level standards.   But, where do you look to find out what schools are doing to help kids grow up to be kind and responsible adults? How do you get a sense of how kids treat each other at a particular school?
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Topics: Education, Academics, Health & Wellness

Service Learning: Developing Awareness and Empathy for Others

Posted by Donna Farrar and Tom Whipple on January 17, 2017 at 4:16 PM

With all the attention to global issues and STEM in education these days, we can't help but be mindful of the roles of awareness, inquiry, collaboration, and appreciation of diverse points of view when solving problems. These approaches require a degree of outer-directedness and empathy, which any healthy school culture seeks to promote in its student body, staff, and greater school community. Service learning encourages these same attributes as students develop awareness of and attend to the needs of others both locally and globally. Students who participate in service learning develop into ethical, responsible, and caring human beings. They learn the importance of working together to support their communities by giving their time to help others. 

There have been studies associated with the ill effects of self-centeredness and isolation on the health of people of all ages. It's difficult to serve others while succumbing to the restraints of a self-centered lifestyle. True education requires that you explore your world and be mindful of those around you. In a PreK through 12th-grade setting, there are numerous ways to start small and promote the benefits of sharing resources and giving of your time as you continue through life. 

To start, recognize the needs at school and throughout the local community: 

  • Perform random acts of kindness
  • Assist the grounds crew by picking up clutter
  • Organize study groups
  • Tutor at a community center's after-school program
  • Play board games with residents at retirement homes
  • Prepare and deliver meals to shut-ins
  • Volunteer to help at charity events
  • Donate to various service organizations
  • Run a food drive
  • Participate in an all-school day of service
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Topics: Education, Academics, Health & Wellness

Sleep Routine—One of the Best Gifts for Your Child This Holiday

Posted by Libbie Zimmer on December 20, 2016 at 3:20 PM

'Tis the season to be jolly!
As we plan holiday trips and travel, being mindful of children's sleep routines are equally, if not more important. As parents, the more we protect sleep routines, the happier the holiday celebrations will be. Consider the upcoming holiday hints to keep sleeping patterns a priority.

Be Realistic
Children are resilient and flexible to a point. Consider asking the host well in advance if festive evening events can be scheduled during an earlier family-friendly time. Otherwise, consider a babysitter, or simply make a plan that better suits your family.

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Topics: Health & Wellness, Parenting Tips

Encourage Risk by Taking Some

Posted by Max Schneider on November 1, 2016 at 3:58 PM

I’m bleeding down my leg, and my bike shorts are ripped, while I can barely hold onto my handlebars due to the road rash on my palms. My back wheel, untrue because of all the weight (50+ pounds) I have tied on top of it, is rubbing against the brake pads, slowing me down and making a sound like a rusty screen door. At an altitude of over seven thousand feet with a sunburnt neck, I have zero cell phone reception and am trying to stick close to the roadside shoulder as cars and RVs zip by me inches away.

When most people think of vacations, they imagine a beach, book, and sun screen, or possibly an all-inclusive resort with mini-umbrellas in drinks. I get it. That’s the point of vacation: to relax in a different setting. However, to me, the relaxation portion of vacation cannot be truly appreciated without first challenging myself with something outside my comfort zone. That is why every summer, I take a bike touring trip for a few weeks. I’ve ridden across Greece, up and down the Rhine in Germany, through New England, and then just this summer, 1400 miles down through the Rocky Mountains of North America.

 Bike touring obviously gives me time to reflect on the past school year and contemplate ideas for the upcoming year. But it also gives me a basis from which to rely upon when pushing students to the limits of their own abilities. It would be easy for me to do so if I never challenged myself, but by voluntarily putting myself through a difficult task every summer in which I have to calculate risk every step of the way, I have the ability to empathize with the students who do so every day in my class.

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Topics: Education, Academics, Health & Wellness

Talking with Your Kids About Social Media

Posted by Catherine Kaser, MA & Sandy Sutty, MA on September 27, 2016 at 5:00 PM

Whether we like it or not, social media is here to stay. As the adults in our children’s lives, it’s smart to be savvy in our quest to keep them safe while still preparing them for life in a digital world. Are you starting from scratch to comprehend the vast world of social media? You’re not alone, and there’s a lot to learn! For starters, here’s our primer on the ABCs of Social Media

Once you know what social media is, the next step is learning how kids use it. You’ll want to learn what sites your children are interested in using and find out what accounts they may already have. (Though your rules may be different, most social media platforms require users to be at least 13 years old to create an account.)

Ask your child:

  • What do you like about social media sites?
  • How do social media sites make some things more complicated?
  • Do you ever find it hard follow the rules of digital citizenship?
  • What happens when users don’t follow those rules?
  • Have you ever been cyberbullied or do you know someone who has?
  • How do you and your friends handle that?
  • How do you keep yourself safe online?
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Topics: Health & Wellness, Parenting Tips