Category Archives: Back to School

5 Success Strategies for Tackling Academic Challenges

As the school year moves along, our kids inevitably hit a few bumps along the way.  They will encounter academic challenges that will cause them to lose momentum and the cadence of the new year will shift as the scramble to find the best way forward.

Often we don’t know about these things until we’re well into the first marking period and progress reports start coming home.  We can have a heads up on the issues our kids may be facing and do our best to jump on it sooner rather than later.

5  Success Strategies for Tackling Academic Challenges include:

  1. Identify the problem – Is the problem strictly academic in nature? Has it just surfaced or is it been a recurring one?
  2. Help them decide on an action plan – What learning styles and motivation have to do with true learning.
  3. Be their compass – Goal setting and guidance and how we as parents can help our kids get there.
  4. Come up for air – More than just school and grades, how are we helping our kids discover other strengths that they can transfer to their overall education?
  5. Reward their efforts – Finding ways to motivate our kids so that they bring the best of themselves and value excellence over perfection.

If you missed our Back to School/Forward to Success Teleseminar Series- Part 2–Tackling Academic Challenges, you can:

 

Wishing you and your family all the best for a successful school year!

 

Donna and Pat

The Power of a Fresh Start

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Notebooks and new clothes, the smell of fresh paint and newly sharpened pencils, changing leaves and the crispness of the air!  Its fall and it’s time for starting over. We begin to settle back into the cadence and familiarity of routine and we can start again. I love that –it gives us another chance to finish well no matter how we started. We may have begun past years with all kinds of hopes and intentions but we didn’t quite get there.   Here we are in September– new page, a new chapter, a new season – it’s an opportunity for a fresh start.

 

This is an excellent time for us as parents to speak that promise and potential into our kids.   They may have had a rough year and fear failure again. They may be new to their school and worried they won’t find any friends. They may have decided in themselves that they want to do better this year and need to set new goals and find new friends. Even if they have been an “A” student or star athlete, the fall gives them a chance to reach higher and push farther! Whatever it is you can be sure that when your children return to school they are toting with them more than just their backpacks. So, let’s prepare ourselves for this new leg of the race so that we can help them have an amazing school year.

 

If you didn’t get a chance to join us for our  “Back to School/Forward to Success” Teleseminar Series, you can listen to the call and read the full article by clicking the links below:

 

Part 1–The Power of a Fresh Start


Listen to the call

Read the full article

 

All the best for a great school year!

 

Donna and Pat

 

 

 

 

Overcoming Organizational Overwhelm

By now the novelty of heading back to school is wearing off and we’re all settling into a routine. But inevitably, somewhere in those first few months, our kids’ organization starts to slide.

What starts out as assignments written in planners and papers in their rightful folders soon turns into a backpack full of graded tests and homework, fliers sent home from school and an interesting assortment of snacks, bits of paper and pencil dust.

Organizational overwhelm is beginning to set in and if we don’t catch it in time, it can play a major role in tripping our kids up and throwing them off course.

Does your child struggle with any of the following organizational areas?


  • “TAKING IT ALL IN” – Your child struggles with how to organize thoughts and information that are coming in.
    Read the full article…
  • “CAN’T GET IT OUT OF MY HEAD!” – Your child struggles with the ability to gather, organize, and express thoughts in a way that is comprehensible.
    Read the full article…

  • “TIME IS ON YOUR SIDE” – Your child finds keeping track of time difficult and struggles with how much time it takes to get things done.
    Read the full article…

  • “MOM, WHERE’S MY STUFF?”- Your child has a difficult time keeping track of stuff–books, papers and things.
    Read the full article…

Click here  to download the recording of Overcoming Organizational Overwhelm.

All the best for an excellent school year!

Donna and Pat

 

Three Words They Hate to Hear

“How was school?” Now I’m not sure when that happens exactly.  But one year along the way in their educational journey–we ask it and they hate it!  So what’s a mom to do?  I want to find out how their school day went.  So I think to come at it from another angle.  “What did you learn today?” They hate that even more–bad move Nancy Drew!  Ok–so let’s put our heads together.  We’re sharp, intelligent women!  How hard can it be to unearth from a child how his or her school day went?  Pretty hard–if they don’t feel like talking or telling us or both!

Here’s my attempt at cracking the code of teenage silence and getting inside the heads of my high schoolers–I confess–I use humor and I do my best to not ask questions when they first get home but confess again that I don’t always succeed.

I try to save questions like, “Do you have any homework?” till after they’ve had time to get in the front door, eat something and relax for a few minutes.  The more space I give and the more accessible I am, the greater the potential there is for them to open up and talk when they’re ready.  They’d probably prefer if I just text them instead!! Not likely! It’s just a thought–can’t wait to hear yours!  Wishing you a great school year!!

 

 

Developing Thinkers

Our children have come to look for easy answers and a quick-fix approach, not only to their school work, but life situations as well.  Helping our kids develop as thinkers is one of the greatest gifts we can give them.  If they can think and learn then they can succeed.  They will be able to not only make their way in the world but make their mark on the world.  Here are a few helpful tips to help us along in the process.

1.  Problem solve together 

2.  Think outside the box   

3.  Brainstorm and mind map the situation  

4.  Write a different ending  

5.  Foster an environment of learning and creativity  

6.  Keep it Positive  

7.  Encourage and commend their input   

Click on the link below to hear the Educational Audio Tip:

 Developing Thinkers

Graphic Organizers-3 tips to help make sense of it all

Graphic Organizers

At times the amount of school work our kids receive seems overwhelming to them.  They may have more than one subject that they find challenging and they may feel like they’re climbing Everest.  Enter graphic organizers–these wonderful charts and visuals offer assistance and help kids make sense of the mountain of work in front of them.  Here are few helpful tips you can use during homework tonight!

  1. Choose the organizer best for the job.  Are they trying to brainstorm ideas for a story, remember as many facts as possible for a report or test, generate a plan for a project?  Then you’ll want my favorite–the concept web.  To remember a list of dates and events, draw a timeline.  Do you have to compare and contrast?  Use a Venn diagram or a T-graph.
  2. Help them see the big picture first.  By putting information out in front of your child they have the benefit of an at-a-glance, aerial view which helps jog their memories and clear their heads.  They may remember things as they go and they can fill in the blanks as things come to mind.
  3. Fill in the details.  Seeing what they have already put on paper will help them remember what is still missing.  They can refer back to notes and flashcards to complete the graphic organizer and then use the graphic organizer to write essays, make an outline or complete a chronological list.

If your children are a visual or kinesthetic learners, they will appreciate using graphic organizers even more.  If they are globlal thinkers, who learn by association, then you will see that their brains already think this way and you will not only help with tonight’s homework but with a strategy for learning that they will use well beyond their school years.

 

 

The First Quarter Progress Report and a Great Start!

     Now that we’re back in the swing of things and the familiarity of the back to school routine, it becomes easier to see the direction our kids are headed with their school work.

 

     By now,  we have a feel for which teachers they love and those they’re not so fond of, which subjects are a breeze and which are grueling, and whether they’re keeping it together in time management and organization.

 

     Yep, it only takes a few short weeks–we just got started but we’re far enough in, that if we let things go that need help, before long our child will be buried and finding their equilibrium will become more challenging with each passing day.

 

      So let’s keep our eyes and ears open and by the time that first progress report comes home, get ready to step into action if need be.  The tidbits we get from our kids (especially teenagers) need to be taken through the proper grid.  It’s important for us to distinguish between the drama and the dilemma. 

 

     Soon our kids’ progress reports will arrive in the mail.  And though we may keep pretty close tabs on what they’re up to–the progress report is the indicator on the dashboard of a child’s current academic situation.  We can choose to let it blink and ignore it or we can get help.

 

So what to do if the progress report isn’t what one would hope?  Here are a couple of suggestions:

 

1.  Sit with your child and get a feel for what they’re really struggling with–is it a learning issue, personality conflict with the teacher or too much socializing friends?  Have they handed in all of their homework, completed all projects and assignments?  These can tend to nosedive a grade quicker than you can blink.  We need to help them see the importance of staying on top of things so they don’t get buried under an avalanche of back assignments.

 

2.  Visit their teachers and subjects in question.  This is a great time to become an ally with teachers so they know that you are working on the same team on behalf of your child.  Be willing to listen to the good, the bad and the ugly about your child.  That’s really the only way you’ll be able to help, if you’re willing to see what needs work and where the gaps are.

 

3.  Now it’s time to close those gaps.  Identify them and get the necessary help to build knowledge, skill and confidence into your child in those areas.  This could be a time when to have your child stay after school for extra help that teachers offer but it may also be the best time to call a private tutor.  If you wait and see how things go, the information may overload your child and he/she may be further behind as a result.  If we are forward thinking and take a proactive approach we can position our kids for confidence. The help they receive will aid them in comprehension and will help ease the stress they may have been feeling. 

 

     Getting off to a great start can make the difference for the whole school year.  When that first progress report comes home, let’s jump into action and be sure to do all that we need to do to ensure academic success for our kids.  The small effort we make now can yield great results in the weeks and months ahead.