By Beverly Stewart, M.Ed. – Published January 2014

It’s Spring! In addition to finally shedding our heavy winter coats and planning much-needed vacation trips to tropical locals, one other ritual of Spring is now occurring… college acceptances!

This is an incredibly exciting time for any high school senior. Scholarship packages are being evaluated. Last minute campus tours are being made. And finally — the big decision.

But, amidst all of the anticipation, some parents wonder… is my child really ready for college?

It’s a fact of life in today’s society that many parents are guilty of “helicopter parenting.” Cell phones make instant communication at any time of day or night a reality. It’s become oh-so-simple to firmly tether kids to our apron strings. Plus, many high school seniors have minimal responsibilities at home or have never held a job. Working parents, often driven by guilt, allow kids freedom from chores and duties that were a standard even 20 years ago.

It may feel good to do everything for your child, but keeping our kids “young” doesn’t teach them the independence they need to survive — and thrive – in college.

If your senior will leave for college this summer, there’s still time to prepare. Ask yourself these questions:

Would he know what to do in case of emergency? From the proper use of a fire extinguisher to knowing where dorm exits are located, safety is a huge concern on college campuses across the country. Go over basic safety guidelines (never throw water on a grease fire, for example). Even though he will roll his eyes, these little lessons could make all the difference in case of emergency.

Will she share? If your child has never shared a room before, dorm living may come a huge shock. Roommates – even ones who have elected to live together – often underestimate how difficult it can be to share tight quarters. Lack of privacy, limited space, and homesickness can combine into the perfect storm of tension between friends. Make sure your child has another space to retreat to when emotions run high – be it the library, a dorm lounge, or sorority house.

Can he balance a checkbook? It’s surprising how many teens can’t! If your student didn’t have a “life skills” class in school, or if they’ve never had to learn about money, right now is the time to teach them. In addition to basic account maintenance, learning to budget is crucial. Hopefully, this will eliminate panicked calls regarding accounts that are already overdrawn before Thanksgiving!

Will she be able to defend herself? College officials don’t want to admit it, but campus attacks are not singular events. As safe as a school feels, the prevalence of the “blue light” system throughout most college campus is proof that attacks do happen. If you child was attacked, would she know what to do? A simple self-defense course at your local YMCA will give both of you peace of mind.

Can he do the laundry/make coffee/boil an egg? One of the funniest things I’ve ever seen was a 15-year-old try to figure out a manual can opener. Even computer geniuses can be flummoxed by what parents consider everyday tasks. So, make sure to work in a few lessons on the basics.

Although bittersweet for parents, this is a thrilling time in your child’s life and his first major step towards independence. When he was a baby, you taught him how to walk. Now, teach him how to fly!

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Beverly Stewart, M.Ed.

Beverly Stewart, M.Ed. is President and Director of Back to Basics Learning Dynamics, Inc., an area leader in 1-on-1 tutoring and test prep for children and adults, and translating/interpreting since 1985. In addition, Back to Basics is a Department of Education approved 1-on-1 Private School for K-12, as well as a Business and Trade School for ages 16+.
Email Beverly at beverly@backtobasicslearning.com, call her at (302)594-0754 or visit on the web at www.backtobasicslearning.com or www.backtobasicsprivateschool.com.

Back to Basics Learning Dynamics, Inc. is located on 6 Stone Hill Road, Wilmington.

Beverly Stewart inducted to Hall of Fame of Delaware Women