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Making the Right Decisions for Your Education

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

This is the time of year when everyone is trying to make so many decisions about their education. It’s incredibly overwhelming for students and parents.

Where should I go for high school?

What program is right for me?

Should I apply for AP classes, the AICE program, or the Early College Program?

The deadline is coming and I don’t know what to choose!

What is the best choice for my future?

What do colleges and universities want to see?

What do you do to ensure that the best decision is made and you don’t lose your mind?

Personally, I am a huge fan of using Excel for these types of things. You can also get a blank piece of paper and pencil and start writing. Either way the point is to get your thoughts and options out of your head and onto a visual platform where you can see everything as a whole. This makes it easier to analyze everything. Click HERE for a free helpful spreadsheet to make your decisions. If you are trying to make decisions for college click HERE for a helpful worksheet.

List the schools and programs that interest you. If possible schedule tours of schools so you can see for yourself  where you want to go. When I was younger my dad would tell me to list the pros and cons related to a decision. I am not going to lie. When I was a teenager this sounded tedious, but it is great advice! I highly recommend doing it. What are the pros and cons of taking AP classes versus the Early College program? When you are listing pros and cons take into consideration your mental well being. There is a stress epidemic amongst teenagers. There is so much pressure to succeed. Don’t take on more than you can handle. Consider everything you want to do while going to school. What extracurricular activities do you want to do? Do you want to work or have an internship? Be realistic when analyzing your options and making decisions. Finally, write down any questions you have and take them to your guidance counselor for review. 

Slow Down!

While I know these decisions are overwhelming they are not something to take lightly. I understand your best friend may be going to one school, but that may not be the best suited place for you. It sounds annoying to have to make a list, visit schools, etc., but it’s WORTH IT! These decisions affect a huge part of your life so it’s important to analyze all your options carefully. Be mindful of deadlines and if you have major questions make an appointment with your guidance counselor. Please take the time to do what’s right for you.

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.“

Finals: Defeating Test Anxiety

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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.

Final Exam Preparation Tips for Students

 

cat finalsStart preparing now!

Finals are a time when you get to show off. Whether it’s an exam or presentation this is your chance to display how far you’ve come in a particular subject, how much you’ve learned.  Show your teachers and professors how awesome you are. What do you want to do with what you’ve learned this year or semester? What will your reward be after final exams are completed? How will you celebrate? The reward is super important to have in mind while studying and completing final exams.

 

 

 Students:

Create a study schedule at least 2 weeks or more in advance for finals. Your plan should state what subjects you are studying when and for how long, as well as noting specific study strategies you will use. Just saying you will study or review a chapter is not specific enough. The best way to retain info is to actively study the information, not just read over it. For help read my post on studying and the brain.

When you are making your plan  think about how much time you want to put aside each night for studying? For example, if it is 2 hours then, you need to decide what you want to study in those two hours each night. It could be 1 hour of math and then 1 hour of English.  Depending on how many subjects you have to study for the next night you may spend your two hours studying science and history. The first week you will probably study each subject more than once for about an hour at a time. At the beginning of the second week those hour-long segments should be shortened to 30-45 minutes. Towards the end of the second week the 30-45 min. should be shortened again. When you are a couple of days away from finals there should be NO CRAMMING because you have utilized what’s called the “Curve of Forgetting,” where you study a little bit at a time on a consistent basis. This is the BEST STUDY METHOD!  Write out your plan and post it where you can see it everyday. You might even want to utilize your smart phone to set reminders. Also, see my post about Test Taking: Tips, Strategies, & How to Reduce Anxiety. Lots of helpful stuff!

Parents:

Here’s how you can help your student with the stresses and anxiety brought about by final exams. Be positive and a good listener. Sometimes students don’t need you to tell them what to do. They just need someone to listen and empathize. Purchase one of our Finals Survival Kits or put together your own. They will be so grateful to you for caring.

Photo Credit: https://vulcanvillage.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/final-exams-yes1.png

Melanie Black of Student Futures is a certified 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.

 

Photo Credit: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/e6/75/69/e675697a7d99100ee7f1e7c6e2b6551b.jpg

Photo Credit: https://vulcanvillage.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/final-exams-yes1.png

 

Brain Food to Help Students Study

FullSizeRender (10)

I am currently working on another big project for Student Futures. For lunch I decided I needed some brain food to help me stay focused. I had a craving for nut butter and strawberries so I made myself a delicious sandwich with whole grain bread, freshly sliced strawberries, almond butter, and honey. I should add that this sandwich is just as yummy if you switch the berries for apple slices. Of course there was dessert! I had a piece of Dove almond dark chocolate. Choosing the right foods for your meals and snacks is super important when studying and working.

 

 

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You are what you eat. What you eat affects how you think and feel.

University of Rochester Department of Chemistry researcher Joshua Geiger says that fruit provides the best energy for evening study periods between 7:45 and 9:45 p.m. However, while your brain requires glucose to function, sugary foods, processed carbohydrates and soft drinks can lead to blood sugar spikes followed by drops that can cause fatigue and food cravings and leave you unable to focus. In particular, avoid eating sweets and sugary foods at night, or when you haven’t eaten regularly, because these foods are digested more rapidly on an empty stomach.

 

Top Brain Foods to Help Students StudyIMG_4046

Whole Grains: Eating whole grain foods can enhance memory function and enable you to get better grades. Give yourself an energy boost while studying by chowing down on whole grain breads, crackers, and pasta.

Dark Chocolate: According to WebMD “Dark chocolate has powerful antioxidant properties, contains several natural stimulants, including caffeine, which enhance focus and concentration, and stimulates the production of endorphins, which helps improve mood.” However, this is one brain food where less is better for you. A small piece of dark chocolate is all you need.

Berries: Next time you are studying for a test or exam eat a handful of berries. The have significant health effects directly related to brain function. Not only do these colorful and flavorful snacks act as antioxidants, but they also reduce levels of toxins in your bloodstream, improving blood flow to the brain, and enhancing brain activity.

IMG_4049Nuts: Go nuts! Nuts like walnuts, almonds, and pistachios contain vitamin E and fatty acids that help your brain perform at its best. Nuts are also a good source of iron which provides oxygen to the brain, increasing making you more mentally alert and able to retain information. They make for a great energy boost when needed too.

 

 

Fish: Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids which are essential for brain development. The fatty acids in fish help us focus more and study better.

Apples: The peel of the apple is made up of an antioxidant called quercetin that heightens memory function, which makes an apple a great study snack.

Beans: The brain needs glucose for to keep going. Beans stabilize blood sugar levels. Beans give you the energy you need to keep going while studying for those final exams. Personally, I love carrots and hummus. Hummus is made of garbanzo beans. Beans also contain folic acid which helps with retention.

BON APPETIT! 

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 Melanie Black of Student Futures is a certified 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.

Creating a Study Environment for Succcess

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

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

A primary goal in educating youth is to make them lifelong learners. Students’ future success depends on how motivated they are to learn and develop new knowledge and ideas on their own. The foundation for these skills starts with study habits in and out of school. So much of our learning takes place outside of school.
The study environment needs to promote positive habits. We want students to think about the concepts they are learning, but we don’t want the environment to cause distractions from studying.

My study/work environment

When I was studying in college and university I rarely studied at home or the library. My go to place was Starbucks. I was able to sit there for 2-3 hours with my white mocha and study. It was a relaxing study environment for me, which also helped me be productive. However, if I was working on a midterm/ final paper or presentation I usually stayed home and worked on the computer. For some reason I felt more comfortable working at home when trying to do the bigger projects and papers.

Now, my home office is where I like to be productive. I have a craft desk with a drafting chair, which may sound odd considering I am not an architect, but that chair helps me keep good posture while working. All my office supplies are strategically placed for easy access. On my corkboard I have pictures of family, my running medals, as well as some cards I received with encouraging and loving words. All of which are reminders of how far I have come and great motivation to move forward.

Tips and Ideas for Creating a Study Environment Conducive to Productivity and Success

Location

Students have to think about where the best place is to study. It could be their room, outside on the porch with natural sunlight, at a public place, library, etc. Some students may prefer to study a certain subject in one place but study for another in a different place. When choosing a location consider how background noise affects studying. If studying in public, opt either for a quiet table in the corner or a spot right in the middle of it all, where there’s so much noise and buzz that you won’t get distracted by one conversation. And if all else fails, pick up and move away from distracting people when necessary.

Many students, especially those who are easily distracted or who have trouble keeping their attention focused, will find that it doesn’t take much noise to pull them away from their studying. Do you do better in silence, or are you the kind of student who thrives amid the buzz of background noise? Try a few settings, and pay attention to how each study session goes. Give the library a go one day, and see how that hushed environment works out. The next day, try a coffee shop or the park. Find a spot that’s comfortable, but not too comfortable, and make it your go-to study location.

Minimize Distractions

Students tend to be attached to smart phones constantly texting, and using social media. Students have developed the habit of checking these sources several times hourly. Those habits break into a their concentration during study, shifting their attention, and taking time and focus away from studying. This affects retention and the amount of time it takes to get work done.

To create a more effective work environment, create a distraction-free zone during work time. Clear off your desk so only the necessary study supplies are within reach. Keep the smart phones out of arm’s reach. Remove instant messaging from the computer and ban Facebook during study time. Self Control is a great app to block social media. Click HERE to read about six more apps for your PC or mobile device that will block social media distractions.

The Work Space

A student’s workspace should be set up so that they do not need to search each day for the supplies they need. If using a desk it should be set up the same way each day. If a student is studying at a communal table at home then they should have a nearby bin or tray with supplies where they can regularly find what they need without having to spend a lot of time thinking about how to prepare for studying.

Posture for Studying

It is common to see students writing briefly at a desk, then working from a laptop computer on the floor, and then lying down on the couch to read a book.

“It is hard to maintain the same level of concentration when lying on the floor or propped up in bed as when sitting at a desk. The body’s habit when lying down is to relax and sleep. It is not helpful for students to have to fight that tendency when studying. In addition, lying down promotes passive reading. It is hard to take notes or type while lying down. So students who are lying down are playing a less active role in their learning than those who are sitting up.” Edutopia

Click HERE to read my post about how posture affects students and simple techniques for keeping good posture.

Music

A lot of us listen to music while we read, write, and research. But does music help or hurt studying? The answer depends on the individual. Personally, I am a huge advocate for using music while studying. Music is rhythm and rhythm is structure. Our brain can use that structure to get things done. When the music comes on it tells you it’s time to go. Eventually after listening to the playlist often one can develop a sense of time. For example, if I hear Taylor Swift I might realize I am 15 min. into my work. Then, when I hear the Beatles I know I am close to the end of my 30 min work session and it’s almost time for a break. The playlist strategy can help students gain a sense of time and motivate them as well.

The Clock

When studying, the clock can be your best friend or your worst enemy. Keeping an eye on the time can give you a sense of urgency, or it can be that thing you keep glancing at, distracting you from your work.

Use the clock to your advantage. Set time-related goals: Before you start an assignment or task, decide what time you plan to finish. Use the clock to keep you moving forward. The pomodoro app is a great way to help students stay on task as well as take much needed breaks in between.

Other People

Study groups or buddies can be very helpful, or very frustrating. If you like to study in groups, come prepared. Show up with a clear agenda of what you want to accomplish, questions you want to discuss, help you might need. Avoid wasting time with chatting or without a clear direction for your study group.

Feng Shui and Motivation

Take some time to create a clean, organized, neat workspace for studying, and then make every effort to keep it that way. Remember that a cluttered learning environment clutters the mind.

When organizing your study area consider your motivators for success. If you have an award/ medal you have earned or certificate you are proud of hang it up and make it visible. Past successes motivate us to do well. If you have a college or university in mind post a picture or brochure related to that school to remind you of your long term goal, your why.

Melanie Black of Student Futures is a certified 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.

Studying and The Brain

Photo Credit: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/B2hRq1JnBGk/maxresdefault.jpg

Photo Credit: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/B2hRq1JnBGk/maxresdefault.jpg

What do teachers and students mean when they say review or study?

In my conversations with students they say they are going to study or review for a test. What does that mean though? Teachers will tell students to study or review a particular chapter or section before a test. However, students are not taught how to study or review material. Most students read over the textbook or their notes again and don’t interact with the material. In order for our brains to truly learn and retain the material we need to do something with what we have read.

First, we encode information by reading. The information goes into our brains and we become familiar with the material. Then, we need to retrieve the information to use it.  We have to get it out. In psychology this is referred to as the “retrieval effect.” “The more things you have it (information) connected to, the easier it is to pull it out, because you have lots of different ideas that can lead you to that particular material,” Mark McDaniel, a Professor of Psychology at Washington University. “And the things you retrieve get more accessible later on, and the things you don’t retrieve get pushed into the background and become harder to retrieve next time.” Hence, the reason why students need various strategies and quizzable tools when preparing for tests. Students need to quiz themselves before the teacher does to see how much they know and reflect on how to retrieve the information in the future.

Tips to help students successfully “retrieve” information for tests:

  1. Stop using the words, study and review. Be specific! How will you study or review for a test? For example, I am going to make flashcards for Spanish class, or I am going to quiz myself for my math test by completing practice questions.
  2. Form or join a study group where you can quiz your friend(s). Two heads are better than one! In your group you could each make up 5 test questions and exchange and discuss them.
  3. Take notes in a format where you can quiz yourself later. Cornell Notesare great or write the term on one line and then below it write the definition. This way you can fold your paper up and slowly bring it down as you quiz yourself.
  4. Read your notes out loud. It might even be helpful to record yourself.
  5. Use mnemonic devices to help make the information stick. It can be a song, rhyme, acronym, image, or a phrase that helps you remember the material.
  6. Create and answer your own quiz using helpful websites like Quizlet orGoConqr.
  7. Use your senses: smell, touch, hear, see.  The more senses you use when learning material the more likely you are to remember it.
  8. Have a whiteboard at home? They are great to use when quizzing yourself or getting information “out.” Mind maps are fun to draw and help with the retrieval process.
  9. Relate the information to something you already know, something in real life.
  10. Self-questioning is a helpful habit to form! It will increase your comprehension. The following questions are great to ask yourself when checking for understanding.

How were ___ and ___ the same?  Different?
What do you think would happen if___?
What do you think caused ___ to happen?
What other solution can you think of for the problem of ___?
What might have prevented the problem of ____ from happening?
What is important about ______?  

**For more tips on how to ace tests read my post, Test Taking Tips: Strategies on How to Reduce Test Anxiety

Melanie Black of Student Futures is a certified 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.

Study Strategies to Help Students Over the Holidays

photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/spree2010/

photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/spree2010/

While the holidays are a time for fun and relaxing with family and friends it can also be stressful for students. It can be hard to manage social obligations with friends and family as well as find time to study. Even when there is a good plan in place there can be distractions or activities that will conflict with their study schedule, causing anxiety.  It is important to cherish and enjoy the special time with family and friends, but it’s important to manage to balance a schedule between fun and studying.

Tips to help students stay focused and stress-free over the break

Plan ahead. – One of the best things you can do is let family and friends know that you’re going to be busy studying and might not be available. Additionally, before you create your study plan, anticipate the distractions that may occur or the obligations you might have. Then, choose what you can realistically do and not do. If you are going out of town be sure and bring all your school stuff with you such as textbooks, laptop, etc. You never know when you will find time to do something.

It’s ok to say NO. – It’s ok to decline an invitation to a party, or outing, and focus on academics. This may mean you may miss out on some fun activities, but the ones you do take part in will be enjoyed guilt-free, knowing that your studies are on the right track.

Manage your time. – Fill out a calendar, starting with the days you know you will be spending with family and friends. Then, decide what days and times will be suitable for studying. Next, fill in what subject you will study on which day. Also, next to the subject write the amount of time you will spend studying that subject.  It might be a good idea to study early in the morning before family wakes up.  It is the quietist time of the day and you may be able to get a lot accomplished and then have the rest of your day to hang out with friends and family.

Study space – With all that is going on it might be hard to find the right study environment. Decide on a good place to study. Make it somewhere where you won’t be distracted and can get your work done.

Accountability and rewards – Share your schedule with a friend or family member or tell them what you need to accomplish by the end of the day. Get them to ask you about it so you can demonstrate that you did what you said you’d do.  Don’t forget to reward yourself! Tell your accountability person about your reward.

Don’t go at it alone! – If you are staying in town and so are some of your classmates then, invite them to study with you. Two heads are better than one! Form a study group to make things les stressful. If you are going out of town then use your family and friends as a resource. Ask them questions! They may be able to help you a lot with your studies.

Breath and remember your goals – It will be hard to focus at times and you may start to feel your blood pressure rise, but remember your why. Remember your goals. Remember your values. Remember why it is important to you to succeed. Take a few deep breaths and move forward.

What if it doesn’t work out? – It’s important to be optimistic, but don’t be surprised if you are not able to follow your schedule. Just do the best you can and enjoy spending time with family and friends. Sometimes it’s best to just join in the fun. Genuine breaks are necessary after all and if you think you need one, take it. It is better to have a refreshed mind.

Melanie Black of Student Futures is a certified 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.

 

How to Talk to Teachers: 10 Tips for Student Success

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Photo Credit: https://farm8.static.flickr.com/7253/7497637986_7121b45c5b.jpg

Have you ever had a teacher who you felt was unfair? In my experience with students I hear the following phrases:

  • My teacher doesn’t like me.
  • My teacher treats the other students different than me.
  • My teacher doesn’t answer my questions.
  • My teacher is mean.

It is no secret that communication is key. I believe it is vital that we teach students communication skills in order to help them build healthy relationships and gain conflict-resolution skills. When students have these skills they feel more connected to their classroom, their teacher, and their school, because they have a voice.

Just about every student, at one time or another has struggled to maintain or improve their grades. For students to succeed here, it’s important to communicate with and build relationships with their teachers. However, many students tend to avoid their teachers for reasons like they think their teachers will judge them, they think the teacher will tell them information they already know, they don’t like their teacher or think their teacher doesn’t like them, or they believe they will be judged by their peers as “not cool” for talking to their teacher.

Tips for How to Talk to Teachers

1. Make an appointment. Teachers are very busy so schedule a time to talk rather than trying to discuss something in the middle of class or right after class.

2. Talk to your teacher with a fellow classmate. If you know other students who are having the same issue(s) as you then go to the teacher together.

3. Plan ahead. Write down what you want to say beforehand. Write down any questions you have and if it is regarding a particular assignment or test, make sure you have the necessary paperwork.

4. Use your words.  Don’t say negative words like “boring” or “I don’t like writing.” Ask questions that are not insulting, such as “Can you suggest a good way to get started?” Let your teacher know that you want to do well and how important it is for you to be able to succeed. When you ask questions about an assignment instead of saying “I don’t get it.” Be specific and explain what part of the assignment you don’t understand.

5. Be a problem solver.  Don’t expect your teacher to solve an issue for you. Propose a solution to your teacher.

6. Be empathetic. Try to look at the situation from your teacher’s point of view. Be respectful. Teachers have feelings too. Don’t ever go to a teacher with an angry tone. It will not solve anything.

7. Listen! It is important to listen respectfully to your teacher. The teacher may tell you something you don’t know, which could be of great help.

8. If you think it is “uncool” to talk to your teachers, then revisit your values. How important is it to you, to succeed? Communication with your teacher, the person you see everyday, is key to your success. Take advantage!

9. Don’t make assumptions. You don’t know what your teacher is thinking. Don’t assume they don’t like you. Talk to them! You may be surprised what comes out of the conversation. The reality is your teacher may not like you. Remember, if you have the right not to like them then, they have the right not to like you. We are all human. You can’t control the actions of others, but you can choose how you react to them.

10. Learn from the experience. Even if the conversation with your teacher doesn’t go the way you hoped at least now you have a clearer picture of your teacher’s expectations. Now, you know what to do in the future. Hopefully, your teacher learned from the experience as well. Don’t forget to SAY THANK YOU.

Melanie Black of Student Futures is a certified 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.

 

12 Tips for Helping Students Focus In and Out of the Classroom

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

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

Stay Focused: Feel, Think, Act

With so many things going on and so many things to do it is hard for students to focus on one thing such as homework or a test. Below are some helpful tips for staying on track.

1. Know your learning style. Understand your weaknesses and strengths.

2. Fidget! Use fidget toys or another item you like to help you focus.

3. When you “hit a wall” while studying switch to a different subject. Come back to the other task later.

4. Breathe! Before you start your homework or a test. Take 3 deep breaths and visualize yourself successfully completing the task. If you lose focus in the middle of a task stop and take 3 deep breaths as well.

5. Stand up and stretch when you lose focus. Stretch your arms up in the air while standing straight and tall. Then, stretch fold your arms down and touch your toes. Do this a few times. This helps blood circulate to the brain. Afterwards, you will be ready to sit, focus, and begin again.

6. Eat, drink, sleep! All three are vital to your well-being and affect your ability to focus.

7. Get off the phone! If you need to put it in a different room or in a bag where it is not in your vision. This way it won’t distract you.

8. Examine your environment. Where are you studying? Is it conducive to studying? Do you need to change something?

9. Choose your study buddies wisely! You know who will help you focus and who won’t. Sometimes your best friend is not the best person to study with.

10. Handwritten notes will keep you focused and help you retain more information than notes you take on the computer or tablet. They help you create visuals, stay engaged, and promote self-questioning.

11. Create routines. Prioritize. Use a planner system.

12. Schedule distractions. Use the pomodoro app to schedule breaks. Breaks are essential to staying focused.

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

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

How parents can support students

1. Ask your student to describe a time when they were able to focus well. Ask: What helped you stay focused?

2. When it comes to your learning style what strategies do you use to leverage your strengths? What strategies do you use to develop your weaknesses?

3. If there was one thing you could change about the environment in which you study what would it be?

4. How can I help you focus?

5. What study strategies are you currently using that work?  What is not working? What new things to you want to do to help you increase your focus and be successful?

Melanie Black of Student Futures is a certified 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.

 

 

Academic Coaching vs. Tutoring: Helping Students Succeed

photo credit: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/25/Ashs-teacher-and-students.jpg

photo credit: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/25/Ashs-teacher-and-students.jpg

This topic comes up a lot. Not many people are familiar with the concept of academic coaching. When I tell people what I do they say, ‘So you’re like a tutor?’

Well, not really. I am not a tutor. An academic coach is different from a tutor and helps students become independent learners who use various strategies when challenges arise.

So what’s the difference?

Generally, students and parents seek out a tutor for help with a specific subject because the student’s grades are poor in that subject. However, an academic coach helps a student with their overall approach to academics and the learning process. The student does not receive help with one subject, but guidance on how to approach school with various tools so that they can be successful and tackle challenges when they arise. A student does not have to have unsatisfactory grades to receive help from an academic coach. In fact, many A and B students have academic coaches to help them with time management and organization so as to reduce stress and anxiety, and improve their overall approach to their school work. In fact, many students choose to utilize both a tutor and academic coach depending on their needs. I know some great tutors that I love recommending to families.

These Examples Should Help Clear Up Misconceptions

Tutor: Helps student with math by teaching them more in depth about solving linear equations.

Academic Coach: Works with student to develop strategies that help the student focus and concentrate in class when the teacher is explaining how to solve linear equations.

Tutor: Helps student improve their punctuation, grammar, and writing though practice activities.

Academic Coach: Works with student to develop their thinking and writing process so they can complete research papers more efficiently.

Melanie Black of Student Futures is a certified 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.