Taking Notes Does Not Have to be Stressful

Does note- taking stress you out? I meet students all the time who are overwhelmed with taking notes in their classes. Some try to copy down everything they see and hear while others give up and don’t write down anything. While note-taking is not fun it shouldn’t have to be stressful. In this video I offer a couple of basic tips for taking notes stress-free.

What’s your favorite color?

Your favorite color brings about a positive feeling. Take advantage of this while note-taking by writing in your favorite color.

Abbreviate to Alleviate =)

Abbreviating words, events, names, etc. like many people do while texting can alleviate some stress while note-taking.

Example: The Declaration of Independence was signed August 2nd, 1776

Abbreviated: Dec. of Ind. = 8/2/1776

Click HERE for a list of abbreviations for note=taking.

Get your attention!

What get’s your attention? Color stimulates our brains. We notice shapes and symbols before words. Use various symbols such as a star to make key words stand out. When you are reviewing your notes use various colors in the form of highlighters, pens, markers, pencils, etc. to highlight, underline, write, and draw on your notes. The more colorful your notes are the better!. Make them pop!

This week’s challenge is …

Incorporate your favorite color(s) in some way into your notes.

 

mel professional photo by kateMelanie Black is an Associate Certified Academic Life Coach and mindfulness educator. She is passionate about helping others and learning all she can in the process. With ten years of experience in the field of education, she is determined to help students succeed in school and life. “ One of my goals is to continue to be a humanitarian who helps our local community. I am passionate about my relentless pursuit of knowledge and desire to help others.“

 

 

Teens and Parents: The Power of a Book

Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pictoquotes/

Remember the days when you read bedtime stories to your child? You had a chance to cuddle and talk. Wouldn’t you love to be able to have that closeness again? Even though your teen has probably outgrown bedtime stories there is another way to get that connection.

Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/criminalintent/

Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/criminalintent/

With Audible by Amazon you can listen to books and connect with your teen. Listening to books in the car together can prompt some powerful discussions. It’s sure to improve communication with your teen and make them feel more comfortable about talking to you in the future. You will be creating some valuable memories with this special time you spend together. Obviously the books you choose are important. Below are some suggestions but you could have a lot of fun making a list together. FYI: Sometimes there are opportunities for FREE books! Yay!

Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pictoquotes/

Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pictoquotes/

Non-Fiction

7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens By Sean Covey

The 6 Most Important Decisions You’ll Ever Make By Sean Covey 

A Teen’s Guide to Success: How to Be Calm, Confident, Focused By Ben Bernstein Ph.D.

The Secret to Teen Power By Paul Harrington

If You Think You Can! for Teens: Thirteen Laws for Creating the Life of Your Dreams By TJ Hoisington

 Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life’s Greatest Lesson by Mitch Albom

Fiction

The Giver By Lois Lowry

To Kill A Mockingbird By Harper Lee

The Catcher in the Rye By J.D. Salinger

The Outsiders By S.E. Hinton

Harry Potter Series By J.K. Rowling

The Hunger Games By Suzanne Collins

 

mel professional photo by kateMelanie Black is an Associate Certified Academic Life Coach and mindfulness educator. She is passionate about helping others and learning all she can in the process. With ten years of experience in the field of education, she is determined to help students succeed in school and life. “ One of my goals is to continue to be a humanitarian who helps our local community. I am passionate about my relentless pursuit of knowledge and desire to help others.

The Ultimate Back to School Guide for 2017

back-to-school-1622789_1280

Before you go shopping do this!

  • Go through your closet and drawers in your room. Collect all the clothes you don’t wear anymore. Be realistic! Take them to Plato’s Closet to earn some cash for which you can use to go back to school shopping.
  • Where will you be doing most of your studying? Take time to plan how you want your study environment to look. Make a list of the items you need for your work space. Hobby Lobby has great options! Don’t forget your 40% off coupon!
  • When you are making your list and shopping for items consider color. What is your favorite color? Incorporate this color into your environment and school items. It will help you focus and make you happy.
  • Grab your supply list that you received from school. I f you did not receive one see my advice below.
  • Check online first! Click HERE to see how to score killer deals online with Amazon, AppleWalmartStaples, and Barnes and Noble.

The items the school doesn’t tell you that you need!

Lap Desk: For those times when you feel like writing in bed or on the couch.

Dry erase board and markers: These are great study tools! You can brainstorm ideas, work out problems, etc. Use them when you are studying with friends.

Ear buds FOR SCHOOL: Yes. I know you probably own ear buds, but have some that you only keep in your backpack. Have another pair that are only kept at home.

Water bottle: Staying hydrated means you can stay focused!

Fidget tool/ toy: No, I don’t mean a spinner. Something that doesn’t make noise but will help you focus. I mean a stress ball, a funky eraser, spiral key ring, etc.

First day outfit: This is important to every middle and high schooler’s mental well being. Having an outfit they like will give them a confidence boost.

Learning assessment: Take an online Self Portrait Learning Assessment with Student Futures and then get together with Academic Coach, Melanie Black, for a 60 minute session about how to take advantage of your strengths. Read more about the assessment HERE.

Planner: Choose wisely! Don’t just go for a pretty cover. Be realistic. Look at the structure, size, layout, etc. Read my post about planners HERE.

Essentail Oils: EO’s are all the rage right now. Rosemary has been scientifically proven to help with focus and concentration. Vetiver has been proven to help students with ADD and ADHD. Need a pick me up? Peppermint and Eucalyptus will give you a boost if needed.

Accordion file: Chances are your binders will fill up fast. In the middle of a quarter or at the end take those papers and file them. Label a section for each class. You might need them again before the end of the school year so it is wise to keep them organized and accessible.

Mints: They help you regain focus when needed.

A quick note about supply lists and shopping.

Some students don’t know the supplies needed for their classes until the first day of school. Yes. It is frustrating. Do NOT go out and buy folders, binders, and notebooks if you do not know what specifically the teacher wants your student(s) to have. This will only make you waste money and time. Get one small notebook and a pen or pencil, and use that the first day or two of school. You will have to take your student shopping for supplies. Quite possibly during the week in the evening. Grab some Chik-Fil-A or go to Panera for supper and go shopping.

The best apps for students.

While technology can be understandably distracting to students it can be useful in helping them succeed too. These days there is an app for everything. I have compiled my favorites and categorized them for students HERE. This list is meant to address the whole student, not just academics. There are apps that help students with anxiety, time management, study strategies, and life skills.  I am not advising to download all these apps. Some of them are very similar. Check them out and see which ones will work for you. Click HERE to see the list of apps.

Don’t forget to breathe. Have fun. Wishing everyone a successful stress free 2017-2018 school year. 

bus-1319360_1280

 

How to Handle a Disappointing Report Card

father and son huggingThe school year is over and by now you probably know your teen’s fourth quarter grades. It’s been a long year but now the whole family can breathe because it’s over. As you look at the last report card you might be thinking:

Grades improved but less than expected.
Grades and attitude both need improvement.
Grades greatly improved.
Grades stayed the same but attitude and effort improved.
Some grades improved but others dropped.
Your student failed even though they worked hard.

When you look at your teen’s report card and don’t see the grades you hoped for remember that grades don’t define a person. Grades do not reflect one’s intelligence. Obviously grades do matter in school because they affect GPA which matters when students apply to college or university. However, there are several other factors that determine a student’s success in school such as passion, creativity, emotions, etc., and it is important to address them when reflecting on a report card and the school year as a whole. How parents handle the results of the last report card could greatly affect the student’s next school year.

photo credit: https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/256/19751739181_ee9f90344a_b.jpg

photo credit: https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/256/19751739181_ee9f90344a_b.jpg

Intelligence is not fixed! It is important that parents get this message across to their students. Some people believe they are just never going to be good at math. You might hear them say, “I am not a math person.” You might hear those who have not had success in English say, “I am not a writer.” This is a fixed mindset and in order to help teens succeed we must teach them how to have a growth mindset and encourage them to learn from disappointments such as low report card grades. Don’t let them give up on any subject! We can all learn anything we want to but the way we learn is different and need to recognize how that affects us.

Failure is an option! Having setbacks are a good thing! I know as parents we don’t want our kids to fail. We want to protect them. However, sometimes they don’t do as well as they wanted and it’s ok because it gives parents an opportunity to teach their teen how to learn from failure. Ask them what worked and didn’t work this school year. Talk about what they want to do different or the same next year to be more successful. Make some new strategies. Focus on learning from the situation rather than concentrating on their abilities.

 

Helping a Shy Teen Come Out of Their Shell

Photo credit: https://cdn.pixabay.com/photo/2015/09/26/15/46/young-959231_960_720.jpg

Photo credit: https://cdn.pixabay.com/photo/2015/09/26/15/46/young-959231_960_720.jpg

What does it mean to be shy? Psychology today defines shyness as “the awkwardness or apprehension some people feel when approaching or being approached by other people. Unlike introverts, who feel energized by time alone, shy people often desperately want to connect with others, but don’t know how or can’t tolerate the anxiety that comes with human interaction.”

It’s important to understand the difference between shy and introverted. A common misconception is that all introverts are shy. This is not the case. Both introverts and extroverts can be shy. Shyness is the result of anxiety. It’s ok if your teen is quiet and there is no need to try to make them “liven up.” However, if their shyness hinders their communication with others, or limits them from doing things they want to do, then they might need some help in gaining some self-confidence so that they can come out of their shell.

Tips for helping teens rise above their shyness with confidence.

  • Help your teen pick a hobby or talent that they can master.
  • Give teens specific praise (a.k.a labeled praise) when they do well. Ex. You did a great job putting together that project board. OR Thank you for folding your laundry when asked.
  • Encourage them to learn from their mistakes rather than focusing on the outcome.
  • Be a positive role model for your teen. Model confidence.
  • Encourage your teen to get involved in the community like volunteering at a local organization or getting a part time job. Click HERE to read about local opportunities for teens.
  • Have a powerful discussion with your teen about something they are proud of, something they accomplished and how they did it.
  • Seek out a good role model for your teen. Click HERE for a list of mentoring programs and services in Jacksonville, FL.

 

Teaching Teens About Leadership With a Family Vacation

Photo credit: https://c2.staticflickr.com/6/5575/14611719997_230ccbd21c_b.jpg

Photo credit: https://c1.staticflickr.com/6/5668/23914361922_525eed3a21_b.jpg

Let your teen make some important decisions.

Have your teen research possible destinations and activities for the family. Let them have a say in where you are going and/ or what you will be doing. This will make your teen more responsible and they will take ownership of the family vacation. They will be more likely to enjoy the trip.

If you already know where you are going, let your teen plan out one day or set up an itinerary for the family. Give them resources to help them make decisions. The hard part for parents will be committing to do whatever your teen has chosen. Discuss the itinerary together. You may have to help them work out certain things like transportation and managing time from one place to another, etc.

These are some helpful resources:

Google Maps

Weather.com

TripAdvisor

Teach your teen responsibility by giving them their own money to spend.

Every family needs to make a vacation budget. This is the perfect time to talk to your teen about how to manage money and allow them the chance to practice on their own. When planning the trip your teen can note how they want to spend their money and how much each item on their list will cost. Have them subtract these things from their total. If they have money left over help them decide how they could spend but don’t tell them how to spend it. If they are over budget guide them on how adjust their plan so that they can stay in budget.

Make your teen responsible for his/her own personal stuff.

Guide your teen in making a packing list of everything they need and want to bring on vacation. They can write it down on paper or use their phone to make a check list. Some great apps for this are Evernote and Asana. Also, the reminders app on the iphone can do this too. Look over their list with them and suggest anything you think they should add. Discuss what kind of luggage to take and predict how long packing will take.

Set expectations and rules before you leave.

Clear communication is important before you leave so that the whole family can have fun and create wonderful memories. To make sure that your vacation goes as planned talk to your teen about your expectations of their behavior. Have a family meeting or talk about it over dinner before you go. Let everyone have input.

Is your teen allowed to go off on their own? If yes, when and where?

Does your teen have a curfew?

What time will everyone need to be ready to go each day?

Family rules such as no fighting, cursing, drinking, smoking, etc.

No one is perfect, but express that you hope everyone understands that the rules are in place to ensure that the whole family has a great vacation.

Let your teen take the wheel.

We learn a tremendous amount from our experiences. If your teen has his/ her license let them drive. This a great chance for them to practice their driving skills.

Address any conflicts.

If there is an argument between anyone, your teen and you or a sibling, discuss it right away. Get to the heart of the matter and don’t dwell on it. You are on vacation and don’t want to waste time being mad or having anyone in the family mad at each other.

Allow a friend to tag along.

This can be a great opportunity to get to know one of your teen’s friends. Talk to their friend’s parents beforehand so everyone is comfortable. Exchange contact info and give the friend’s parents an itinerary. Be clear about expectations for the trip. The two teens may want to go off on their own. Express the importance of the rules and communication.

Have fun and make some wonderful memories.

Enjoy your time together as a family. Take lots of pictures and enjoy each other’s company. Keep a joint journal of your experiences with your teen. This could be online or written. When you return your pictures and journal would make a nice keepsake. You could put it all together in a book printed through Shutterfly or some other company.

 

Promoting Digital Citizenship in Teens

Photo Credit: https://cdn.pixabay.com/photo/2012/02/23/08/36/beautiful-15704_960_720.jpg

 

Creating a blog can be an extremely exciting, fulfilling, and educational activity. A blog is simply a regular, written record of your thoughts and opinions on anything – it’s just written online. It’s pretty simple to set up. Click HERE to get great advice from a successful Jacksonville teen blogger about how to get started.

Developing a personal brand is essential to every teen’s future. Branding is an important concept for teens to think about because more and more employers are using the internet to hire people. Additionally, more and more students are applying to colleges and universities and developing a personal brand that includes a blog can make you stand out to admissions. A blog is a creative display of one’s writing and critical thinking skills. It can have a positive effect on the future. Try it! It could be a positive experience and a great summer enrichment activity.

Getting Started

  1. Choose a blogging site such as WordPress or Blogger
  2. Follow the set up process. No need for premium services.
  3. Choose a name for your blog carefully. Make it easy to spell and say.
  4. Pick a theme. Make it look the way you want.
  5. If you want your own URL without the .wordpress.com you can do it later for a small price. Don’t worry with that just yet.
  6. Blog away!

Topics for your Blog

  • sports
  • video games
  • schoolwork and studying
  • religious activities/ attending church
  • Music events or music lessons
  • Lessons of any sort
  • spending time with family
  • school activities
  • fashion
  • current events
  • travel
  • summer camp review
  • community event
  • health
  • animals
  • food
  • restaurants

Blogging Tips from Sue Scheff

  • Use your name in the URL when creating your blog. For example yourname.wordpress.com
  • Take the time to review your blog settings, including the comments moderation. Are you comfortable with open comments or would you rather moderate them before they are posted?
  • Select a template that is easy to read for potential college recruiters and future employers. Remember this is not about your friends.
  • The Internet is public and permanent – so is your blog. Publish with care.
  • Keep it positive. If you are having a bad day, simply don’t post.

2017 Summer Opportunities for Teens

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/visionsservice/

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/visionsservice/

 

Start thinking about your summer plans now. Various places in Jacksonville and surrounding areas are taking applications and they usually have to be submitted soon. There are lots of opportunities out there for teens to gain valuable experiences depending on their interests. If you don’t see something that interests you but know of an organization you would like to get involved in just call them up and ask if they have any opportunities available. Using your time wisely over the summer can greatly benefit students when applying to colleges and universities. Admissions are looking for individuals who have been active in their community.


Benefits of Community Service for Teens

Develop a sense of social responsibility

Exposure to diversity and multiculturalism.

Builds relationships and network with peers, adults, and others.

Improves communication and critical thinking skills.

Stand out among other applicants at a college or university

Discover passions and interests that lead to a career choice


Use the links below to discover local opportunities for teens 

Medical Field (volunteer)

UF Health
Nemours
Baptist Health
American Red Cross

Animals (volunteer)

Jacksonville Zoo
Jacksonville Humane Society

The Arts (camp/ course)

Florida Film Academy at Flagler College
UNF Summer Music Camp for Middle and High School Students

STEM (camp/ course/ internship)

UNF Summer Tech Camps for Kids and Teens

Jobs

Summer Jobs for Teens

 Melanie Black of Student Futures is a certified academic life coach for students and teens in Jacksonville and surrounding areas. She has a passion to help students succeed. Academic coaching helps develop life skills for students as well as gives them academic strategies, which help to decrease anxiety and stress in students. Contact Melanie Black today for a free consultation at Melanie@studentfutures.org or (904) 487-8269.

Finals: Defeating Test Anxiety

photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/anniferrr/

photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/anniferrr/

Test Anxiety: Don’t Panic!

Sometimes no matter how hard you’ve worked to prepare for a test, anxiety can prevent you from performing to your full potential. Students get test anxiety for reasons such as fear of failure, lack of preparation, and poor test history. It can affect them physically, emotionally, and cognitively. Thus, affecting their results on the exam and their overall grade in a course.

I have had test anxiety ever since I was in elementary school. It only got worse when I was in college and university. The minute I received the test I felt my heart pound harder and harder. My face felt hot and my body became extremely tense. Timed tests only made the situation more stressful.

There are several ways to deal with test anxiety. Don’t suffer! Here are some strategies to help students overcome all the stress that comes with taking tests, especially timed tests.

 

Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevendepolo/

Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevendepolo/

MOVE
Move around while studying. Stretch. Take Breaks. Walk around with your study sheets and flash cards and read them aloud.
MINDFULNESS
Breathe! “If you’re feeling nervous when you sit down to take the test, take three slow, steady breaths. Remind yourself that you’ve been getting ready for these tests all year long.” – Ted Dorsey
My favorite free mindfulness apps are MindShift and Breathe
FIDGET
Focus with fidget toys. Fat Brain Toys has the ultimate selection of fidget toys, which are searchable by age. Also, use small things such as a bracelet or necklace.
SLEEP
Get plenty of sleep. Don’t study while tired. If you are tired then stop. You will not retain anything if you are exhausted.
EAT
Always eat breakfast! During a test maintain your focus with a peppermint candy, gum, or a piece of chocolate.
PLAN AHEAD
Create a study plan two weeks in advance with a study schedule and specific strategies that will help you retain what you need to know.
MUSIC
Create a study playlist. Pick your power song and listen to it before the test for motivation.
TIME MANAGEMENT
Don’t panic when students start handing in their papers. There’s no reward for finishing first. If there’s answer you don’t know skip it and come back to it later.

 

 

Melanie Black of Student Futures is a trained academic life coach for students and teens. She has a passion to help students succeed. Academic coaching helps develop life skills for students as well as gives them academic strategies, which help to decrease anxiety and stress in students. Contact Melanie Black today for a free consultation at Melanie@studentfutures.org or (904) 487-8269.

The Best Apps to Help Students Succeed in School

Photo Credit: https://static.pexels.com/photos/7423/pexels-photo.jpg

Photo Credit: https://static.pexels.com/photos/7423/pexels-photo.jpg

Yes! There’s an App for that.

While technology can be understandably distracting to students it can be useful in helping them succeed too. These days there is an app for everything. I have compiled my favorites and categorized them for students. This list is meant to address the whole student, not just academics. There are apps that help students with anxiety, time management, study strategies, and life skills.  I am not advising to download all these apps. Some of them are very similar. Check them out and see which ones will work for you. Click on each app to learn more.

Time Management and Organization

Combating Stress and Anxiety. Get Motivated.

Productivity Apps for the Gamer

Study Tools

Group Work/ Study Buddies

Photo Credit: https://farm9.static.flickr.com/8238/8571247015_b60b0feb92.jpg

Photo Credit: https://farm9.static.flickr.com/8238/8571247015_b60b0feb92.jpg

Melanie Black of Student Futures is a trained academic life coach for students and teens. She has a passion to help students succeed. Academic coaching helps develop life skills for students as well as gives them academic strategies, which help to decrease anxiety and stress in students. Contact Melanie Black today for a free consultation at Melanie@studentfutures.org or (904) 487-8269.