Tuesday, August 29, 2017

How will school be different this year?

“Most people lead lives of quiet desperation.” Henry David Thoreau

To avoid a school year of quiet desperation, why not make this your student’s most successful year ever?  To accomplish that, some change – maybe a little, maybe a lot – is necessary:  
·        What will be different about school this year for your teenager?
·        Will they study more?
·        Will they manage their time better?
·        Does your student have a vision for success that motivates them every day?

If you answered no to any of the above, there are several ways you can help your teenager make this year their best year. 

Homework does not have to be a daily battle, but you should enforce a few rules.
·        Turn off the TV, but music is fine.  Background music may help keep your child more focused.
·        Texting and homework do not mix.  Push alerts on your child’s cell phone will pull their focus away, so have them put their phone out of ear shot during homework hours.
·        Define a study space that works for your child and the rest of the family.  Maybe it’s your teenagers’ room, or the kitchen table.

Good study habits are created, not born.
·        Maintaining a regular schedule serves all family members best.   It helps to build good study and lifelong successful habits.
·        Study in intervals.  It’s hard to focus on any one thing for hours at a time.  Depending on your teen, a 5-minute break every half hour will increase performance.
·        Avoid cramming.  Most students know well in advance when tests are scheduled.  Reading chapters, taking notes, or rewriting notes taken during class, over a few days, will help with retention. 

How do you handle a student who constantly avoids doing school work?  There’s a reason they avoid it –and it’s valuable for you to explore and discuss that with them.  Could be a bad past experience – either with the subject or a teacher. Could be that’s it just hard for them! Could be distraction by the need/desire to talk with friends, get on line, etc.  Address and resolve these issues, amicably and consensually. 

A word of caution: DO NOT LECTURE or “TELL” them what to do or how they should see things.  Be assured – this will ‘shut them down’ attitudinally.  Discuss issues and help enlighten them.  Use QUESTIONS and questioning, and a few dramatic pauses.  [in other words, when you ask a question and receive a negative, even hostile response – or no response or “I don’t know” – sit quietly with no facial expression.

One popular teen response is “I don’t know.”  Don’t let them get away with it.  Remain on the subject and or target.  Wait for an answer.  If none is coming, ask another question. 
One of the best questions, asked in various forms, is “what did you learn from that?”  Every defeat or failure or setback has a learning lesson inside it.  Ask, explore and identify it!    

While I’m not a huge fan of his, one of Dr. Phil’s best questions is “how’s that working for you?”  HOWEVER – that’s actually somewhat sarcastic – so AVOID it.  Ask gentler questions like “what results have you gotten in the past?” – or similar.
Finally – maintain regular follow-up – weekly, may every other day – and strive to support and maintain that regular schedule referenced above.