Starting the School Year With Success

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Though we are, of course, strong advocates for self-directed democratic schools (being one ourselves) the staff at Alpine Valley School understand that this model of education is not available for everyone. And no matter what kind of educational institution your child attends, there are some tips that apply universally. For these, we turn to Janet Lahey, author of the book “The Gift of Failure”. She recently wrote a piece in the New York Times about “How to Help Your Child Succeed at School”. We wanted to share her core advice here, as we believe it is applicable to all children:

(from the article)


  • Focus on the process, not the product.

  • Encourage kids to self-advocate.

  • Keep a long-term perspective.

  • Maintain a healthy sleep schedule.

  • Love the child you have, not the child you wish you had.


  • Overschedule.

  • Worship grades.

  • Encourage helplessness.

  • Compare kids to one another.

  • Love kids based on their performance.

We wholeheartedly agree with all this advice, and encourage you to read the full article, as it goes into more depth on each point. Janet Lahey’s book is also fantastic, and on our list of resources. Wherever your child is enrolled, we hope they start the year off strong and with your full, loving support as the most important person in their life - their parent.

Marc Gallivan