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UW-Madison experts can address back-to-school topics

August 15, 2018 By Käri Knutson

As parents, students and teachers prepare for the upcoming school year, experts from the University of Wisconsin–Madison are ready to provide expertise on a variety of subjects.

What’s the right age for a child to have a smart phone? What rules work best for parents and schools to guide young people to safe and healthy use of social media? When a child goes off to college, should parents still be Facebook friends or Instagram followers? Bradford Brown, chair of the Department of Educational Psychology, can offer advice on tweens’ and teens’ use of social media. Contact:

Mitchell Nathan, professor in the department of Educational Psychology at the School of Education, can talk about effective learning and which study techniques work best, including the benefits of taking practice tests and spreading study sessions out over time instead of cramming. Contact:

As a parent, one day you’re changing diapers … and the next thing you know your little baby is ready to march off to school for that first year of formal education. It can be a bit of a scary time for kids — and their parents. Beth Graue, UW–Madison’s Sorenson Professor of Early Childhood Education, is a former kindergarten teacher and an expert on kindergarten practice, readiness and home-school relations who can offer tips on how to make this big transition go more smoothly. She directs the Center for Research on Early Childhood Education within the Wisconsin Center for Education Research. Contact:


Dr. Marcia Slattery, a child psychiatrist and director of the UW Anxiety Disorder programs, can offer tips on helping children who are anxious about the start of the school year. Contact:  Susan Lampert Smith,, or (608) 890-5643.


Dr. Ryan Herringa, a child psychiatrist who studies how trauma affects children, can offer tips on talking to children who are worried about school violence and other fears, such as bullies. Contact:  Susan Lampert Smith,, or (608) 890-5643


Stephanie Jones, Ph.D and assistant director at the UW Center for Sleep and Consciousness, can offer tips on helping children transition to an earlier sleep schedule for start of the school year. She can also talk about the relationship between children’s sleep and learning. Contact:  Susan Lampert Smith,, or (608) 890-5643


Cassie Vanderwall, a clinical nutritionist with UW Hospital and Clinics, can offer tips on how to keep your kids active and eating healthy during the school year. UW Health Chef Julie Andrews can suggest delicious ways to make meals more nutritious. Contact: Emily Kumlien at


School of Nursing Assistant Professor Traci Snedden, who researches brain injury in adolescents, can talk about what parents can do if they notice signs of potential brain injury—things like headaches, loss of appetite, irritability, going to bed early, or just the sense that kids are “off” after practice or games. She can also discuss how parents can seek proper support from teachers, school nurses, and the athletic staff once their child returns to the classroom and the playing field after injury. Finally, Snedden can talk about necessary sports physicals and other precautions parents should take to ensure that sports programs are appropriate and safe for their children. Contact:, 608-263-5246.

August is a great time to check vision and update glasses or contacts — before kids start to struggle in school. Also make sure other prescriptions are up-to-date and that all necessary forms for administering medications at school are current and on file. School of Nursing Professor Eileen Kintner is an expert on K-12 students with asthma, and Clinical Professor Lori Anderson can advise families on how to ensure their children’s health needs are met during the school day. She recommends forging a relationship with the school nurse and giving the nurse permission to communicate directly with the student’s healthcare provider. Anderson can also talk about when a student needs an individualized healthcare plan and how it is used at school. She can also discuss what kind of health information to share with the school and when for students dealing with a temporary health issue, such as a lice infestation, as well as chronic issues and conditions. Contact:, 608-263-5269;, 608-262-6932.