Parents of middle school-age children should help their children organize a healthy schedule with enough time for school work, social activities and rest, according to counselors at New Albany Middle School's latest "coffee and conversation" parent workshop.

Parents of middle school-age children should help their children organize a healthy schedule with enough time for school work, social activities and rest, according to counselors at New Albany Middle School's latest "coffee and conversation" parent workshop.

Parents need to determine their child's personality type so they know if their child wants to be busy and active or if their child needs more personal time, said seventh-grade counselor Lynn Tosi.

"Some children like being booked full-time and others might find they are overwhelmed," she said.

Parent Cara Iovino asked how important it is for parents to guide their children's decisions, making them choose among activities to prevent them from making too many commitments.

Tosi said sometimes parents feel they need to schedule more activities for children, especially if their child doesn't seem to be socially connected. But, she said parents need to understand what their child needs to be happy.

"Sometimes they learn from us and the rip and run that we are doing, they think that's a normal process," said eighth-grade counselor Adonis Bolden.

Tosi said parents need to make sure their own lives run smoothly and they need to remember they are role models.

Iovino said she recently asked a child to choose between one of two activities because adding both would have been too much. The child had to factor in a prior commitment that couldn't be dropped, Iovino said.

Counseling intern Kendra Stewart said the choice teaches children to fulfill their commitments and they learn it's not OK to drop a commitment so they can do something else, even if they might enjoy the new activity more.

"I think that transfers to relationships in life, as well," Bolden said.

Distractions, such as electronic games and social Internet sites like Facebook, also can be a problem for parents trying to keep their children on a schedule. Stewart said parents should set boundaries, stressing what is important and what is not, also explaining the best ways to work within social-networking parameters.

"Kids want those boundaries and they need those boundaries," she said.

The "coffee and conversation" parent workshops are scheduled quarterly by the New Albany Middle School counseling department.

Tosi said the topics are chosen with parent input and the format is more like a conversation. No counselors give presentations. Instead, parents are asked to talk to each other about the topic, asking questions and sharing what they have learned.

"The counselors in here give us a clue as to what they are dealing with," Iovino said. "It's also a place we can bring information to and ask for advice. We can sound off to each other."

Tosi said the spring workshop will be held in conjunction with an anti-bullying program.