Last year, New Canaan CARES presented the movie "Race to Nowhere" to the community in an effort to raise awareness of the dangers bestowed by the stress and over-scheduling plaguing kids. In keeping with that theme and its commitment to bettering the lives of children and parents in our community, CARES kicks off the new school year with guest speaker renowned psychologist Michael G. Thompson, Ph.D.

CARES has created a day-long event with Thompson on Sept. 21, centered around topics covered in one of his books, "The Pressured Child: Freeing Our Kids from Performance Overdrive and Helping Them Find Success in School and Life" (with Teresa Barker, Ballantine, 2004). First, he will meet with students at both the middle school and high school to discuss pressures, the achievement culture and issues facing our youth today. That afternoon, he will also conduct professional development sessions with faculty at both schools on the same issues. In the evening, a community-wide presentation for parents will be held at Saxe Middle School at 7 p.m.

Thompson is a psychologist, school consultant and author who travels the globe working with parents and educators. He received a bachelor's degree from Harvard College, a master's in education from Harvard Graduate School of Education and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. For 10 years he was a member of the faculty of the New Heads Institute run by the National Association of Independent Schools. In that role, he helped prepare more than 500 new heads of independent schools to take on the responsibilities of educational leadership and is currently a member of the faculty of the Academy of International School Heads.

Additionally, he has authored or co-authored multiple books including "It's a Boy!: Understanding Your Son's Development from Birth to Eighteen" (with Teresa Barker, Ballantine, 2008), the New York Times bestseller, "Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys" (with Dan Kinlon, Ballantine, 1999) and "Speaking of Boys: Answers to the Most-Asked Questions about Raising Sons" (Ballantine, 2000). As a dedicated speaker and traveler, Thompson has appeared on The Today Show, The Early Show, Good Morning America and Oprah. He has also been quoted in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Newsweek, Time and U.S. News and World Report and has been a guest on NPR's "Talk of the Nation."

In his book "The Pressured Child," Thompson reminds us that school occupies more waking hours than kids spend at home. Not only are kids focused on studies, but they are also engaged in a full range of human emotion -- excitement, fear, envy, love, anger, sexuality, boredom, competitiveness. "The Pressured Child" teaches one how to truly understand our children's experience and how to trust, love, and ultimately let go of a child.

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Thompson's workshop is a presentation for parents centered around the school day experience of children, and discussing how they manage their school careers and how the best educators and wisest parents can support them along the way. Thompson reminds parents that children are almost never judging themselves by grades, but rather are continually monitoring their own development and strive for three things: connection, recognition and a sense of power.

For more information about the event, contact CARES at www.newcanaancares.org. CARES extends a special thank you to generous funding by the William and Doreen Conley Family of New Canaan and the New Canaan Community Foundation, which contributions made this special event possible.