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What is your ideal future?

teen thinking

Imagine yourself ten years from now. You have accomplished everything you set out to and your dreams have come true. You are happy and successful. Think about how you did it all and how proud you are of your achievements. When you imagine your future self think about:

  • Your fashion
  • Your location what kind of place you are living in
  • What you are doing for a living
  • What a typical day looks like
  • Your favorite things to do
  • Who your friends are
  • Where is your family
  • What you value

What nickname would you give to your future self?

Answering these questions and thinking about your future self will help you realize how unique your personal aspirations are. You may also realize that your ideal future self is within your reach. Is there any action steps you are taking want to start taking to ensure your future is how you pictured? What is one goal you can set to make sure you are working towards the future you imagined?

What message does your future self have 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.“

Words of Wisdom: Walt Disney

Disney words of wisdom

Disney words of wisdom

Worry means to feel or experience concern or anxiety. Students tend to worry a lot about their grades, appearance, and much more. Parents worry about their children, job, finances, and other things. Too much worry, anxiety, or stress can affect the way you feel and live your life. Have you ever been so worried about how you will do on an exam that you can’t remember all that you have studied and end up not getting the grade you wanted? Don’t worry. Be happy!

Keep things in perspective.

Most things we worry about already happened or are temporary. Most things are solvable. Ask yourself, “How can I solve this problem?” “What can I do about this?” 

Focus on the positive.

Ask yourself: “What did I learn from this?” 

What if?

 Suppose, just for a moment, you live in a world where fear and anxiety do not exist. What could you do now?

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.“

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.

 

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.

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.

 

Motivating Students at the End of the School Year

 

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The End is Near

Don’t stress. This is an exciting time! The school year/ semester is winding down. You can see the light at the end of the tunnel. You are so much closer to achieving your goals. Think about the following when approaching 4th quarter and the end of the school year.

What have you accomplished this school year?
What challenge have come your way and how did you deal with them?
What challenges do you expect in 4th quarter and how will you address them?
What action steps do you need to take to achieve your goals?

How will you stay motivated? What will your reward be at the end of the school year?

 

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://pixabay.com/static/uploads/photo/2015/03/30/12/37/tunnel-698518_960_720.jpg

 

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

 

2016 Summer Opportunities for Teens

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

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

 

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
(MOSH) Museum of Science and History Teen Internship Program

Jobs

Summer Jobs for Teens

 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.

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.