Category Archives: Study Skills

Organization–Mom, where’s my stuff?

“Mom, where’s my…?”  If I (Donna) had just one dollar for every time my three kids have asked me this question, I’d been set!  They think that I’m their personal GPS for all of their stuff and too often I actually know where things are–not because I put them there but because as a mom with eyes in the back of my head, I just know where they are!! I have a funny feeling that I’m among friends!


ENOUGH!!! I’m not doing them any favors. They need to keep track of their own stuff.  Sadly, I’ve been an enabler as I assist them in depending on me to snuff out their stuff!!


My favorite book on this subject is perfect for kids!  It’s called “Where’s My Stuff?” And can be found with the other great Organizational Books for Students in our bookstore by just clicking the link!


Here are a few things I’m learning about keeping track of my own stuff as I help them learn to keep track of theirs:

1.  Do you love it?  When my family was preparing to move back from the Middle East eight years ago, I was slightly overwhelmed by the thought of having to pack up 18 years worth of stuff.  My mother gave me great advice.  She told me to look at each thing I was sure of and ask myself if I loved it.  If the answer was yes, pack it.  If no, let it go!  That’s the best advice I’ve heard to help me jettison the junk!


Help your kids decide what they really love and what is just cluttering their environment and taking up space.


2.  Where does it live? While we’re tapping the sage advice of my mother, Rita, let me tell you that we had six kids in our house and you wouldn’t have known it.  Go to put down a book, a backpack, your shoes, whatever and you’d hear, “That doesn’t live there!”  Now I’ll admit I don’t run my ship as tightly as my mom did but the fact still remains that when you know where something lives and you put it back there EVERY time, then guess what happens?  You got it! Its right there when you need it next time.


Help your kids find the best place for things to live; where they’re sure to find what they’re looking for next time.


3.  Corral it?  As a right brained person, I have never been one to neatly organize my paper into files, to only touch paper once, to alphabetize and organize things immediately.  No!  I am a pile person not a file person.  And there are probably more people out there like me than I realize.  But I know where everything is because it’s corralled in bins or baskets and I can put my hand on things readily by knowing which bin they live in.


Help your kids to keep things corralled and it can help them when they have to retrieve important papers, assignments, forms and permission slips. Having an in/out system may be useful so that they will always know where to find what they’re looking for.


4.  Categories–such as…  School stuff: things like books, backpack, locker, lunch money, and homework, projects, and gym/sports clothes.  Personal stuff: clothes, toys and toiletries depending on the age and the gender.  Computer stuff: files, assignments, games, email. The list goes on and on.


Breaking areas of our lives into categories or domains helps a ton when trying to keep things organized.  Think of your home and the various categories you have to keep track of.  Now imagine your child trying to keep track of their categories/domains.  What are they?  


Help your kids get their stuff organized into domains and it will help streamline thinking and save time. 


5.  POST-ITS!  I am notorious for using sticky notes upside-down across the top of my papers. And the brighter the sticky note the better. Then when I’m routing through papers, I can see the post-it sticking out from the top of the paper and find what I’m looking for in a flash!  I just use the same wording per subject on each note and then I can corral all of the papers together under that subject or domain.


Help your kids use color to identify papers that will help them as they learn to think in categories and domains.  They will be able to find things more quickly as they develop a system for how they organize their own stuff.


Kids need to learn how to keep track of their own belongings and to organize them into manageable categories.  This is a life skill that will help your child for years to come.


You might want to get a copy of “Where’s My Stuff?”  Just click on the link to see that and other Organizational Books for Students  And give us a call if we can help to get your child organized!!

Organization–Time is on your side!

Time management–is there really such a thing?  Can we manage time or do we need to manage ourselves with the time that we have? 

Understanding time and our ability to make the most of our best hours is still something we struggle with as adults.  It should comes as no surprise to us then that kids might find it challenging as well.

Check out these great Organizational Books for Students! They are packed with excellent strategies and ideas for helping kids get organized.

In the meantime, here are a just few tips to help your kids make better use of their time:  

1.  Have a plan and routine that works for them not just you.

  • Understanding your child’s learning style and best hours of the day will help you as you think through a plan and make the most of the hours between afterschool and bedtime.   

2.  Help them see the big picture and then break things down into manageable chunks.

  • Whether doing homework, working on a project or cleaning their rooms, kids can feel overwhelmed by the size of the project and the time left on the clock to complete it.
  • Breaking it down into smaller, more manageable tasks makes it seem like something it’s something they can accomplish.   

3.  Encourage them to make a checklist and cross things off as they go so they can see the progress being made.

  • Teaching kids to make lists is an essential tool they’ll use throughout life.  
  •  Teaching them to prioritize the list is even better so that they can get the tough stuff out of the way first!  

4.  Use a timer. 

  • I have to admit that I find this to be one of my most helpful little tools.  I set the timer for 30 minutes and then do my best to beat the clock!  
  • I have found this to be so helpful for kids to see that they can actually get things done before the timer goes off.

 5.  Make them a part of a solution.

  • Even young children love when their opinion counts.  “What do you think?”  It’s a great question to ask kids because then they can come up with the how and the why and learn to decide on a plan of action and a strategy.


They say that time stand still for no one.  I think that’s fairly accurate, at least the last time I checked my watch.  Teaching our kids the value of time–their time–and how they use it will help them to make the most of it while at school and later when they have to make those choices on their own–time.

Remember to take a look at these Organizational Books for Students?  And don’t hesitate to give us a call if we can be of assistance.

Organization–Can’t get it out of my head!

  • Does your child study for hours and then go blank and forgot everything needed for the test?
  • Does your child stare at a blank piece of paper not knowing where to start or what to write?
  • Does your child hear the teacher tell the class the assignment during the day but then forgets what the homework is for tonight?
  • Does your child take homework to school (you saw it go into the backpack!) but somehow it disappears into a black hole between the house, the bus and the classroom?
  • Does your child sit and seemingly absorb what’s being said or read but when asked for the recap finds it difficult to tell you what was just heard or read?


Did you answer yes to one, some or all of these questions above?  Then your child may be having trouble with organizing thoughts when it’s time to repeat and recount what should have been learned.


Here are a few ideas that can help keep kids on track as they need to organize their thoughts for homework, tests, projects, oral reports and presentations—


  • Take notes—Jotting down thoughts will act as place holders to jog your child’s memory later.
  • Use a day planner or agenda–Everything in the same place everyday makes sure assignments aren’t lost in space.
  • Use a central calendar—Helps you keep track of what’s coming up so you can remind your child of upcoming deadlines and due dates.
  • Chunk out what needs to be done— How do you eat and elephant?  One bite at a time!
  • Use graphic organizers, checklists and to-do lists–These tools are invaluable for helping keep thoughts and ideas in their rightful place.
  • Use colorful sticky notes and folders to keep track of assignments—Color can help identify subjects and assignments as well as urgency and importance.
  • Let them tell you their organizational strategy—Let your child show you the best way for them to keep track of what they need to remember and if they can’t do it, help them figure out a strategy and approach that fits their learning style and preference.
  • Cut the clutter—Help them streamline things by clearing out the clutter that may be taking up residence in their backpack, folders or head.
  • Get moving–Sometimes it helps for students to walk around while they’re thinking and memorizing.
  • Say it out loud–It also can be helpful for them to talk out what they’re thinking.  A tape recorder or voice recorder may also be helpful to capture their thoughts and then they hit rewind and write them down. 

The same sense of overwhelm when taking information IN can happen when students need to get information OUT.  It may be garbled up in their heads and they have a hard time deciding which thing they need to do first, how to keep track of everything and still stay connected to their friends while getting good grades.  The word PRESSURE comes to mind and it’s not hard to imagine why sometimes kids just can’t pull it all together.

Need a hand helping get your child organized?  Check out these great Organizational Books for Students that are packed with excellent ideas and strategies to help get your child on track.

Organization–Taking it all in!

Organization–sometimes just the sound of it can make our heads spin!  If that’s how we react then how do our kids feel?  Overwhelmed–just like we do!


When I think of kids and all that comes into their heads in a single day, it’s no surprise that they feel completely buried by the onslaught of homework, projects, assignments and tests.  If they don’t have a system that helps them take their information in, then how can they expect to remember it?


There may be barriers that inhibit the uptake of information.  Distractions like noise, activity and their surroundings can be extrinsic hurdles that have to be overcome.  Thoughts, concerns, worries, fears and just too much brain clutter can be intrinsic inhibitors that block the way kids absorb information. 


Even if they take it in, how effective are they at remembering what they heard or saw.  Is true learning taking place if info is going in but not staying there?  I think that is a question and challenge for us all.


Here are a few ideas to help your kids organize the information they are meant to take IN

  1. Write it down–master calendar, agenda, post-it notes
  2. Develop a system and routine–time, color, highlighters
  3. Teach them to say it out loud–even is they have to say it to themselves 
  4. Gather organizational tools and supplies that  they like and will use 


Helping our kids organize the information they take it is essential for true learning to take place.  Too often they read it (homework), repeat it (tests) and forget it (what they heard or should have learned).


Donna Goldberg, author of the Organized Student, reminds us that school focuses on helping kids with reading and math more than with organization.


As parents, we have to help our kids bridge those organizational gaps.  Sometimes we can do that ourselves, sometimes we need help with that.  Either way, we need to be mindful that our kids will not automatically be organized anymore than we are. It takes effort and follow-up.


As you think about how your child processes information that is being taken it, look for the possible inhibitors.  Talk to your child about what might be getting in the way of organization and help set up systems that will help clear the pathway so that true learning can take place.


Need help getting your child organized?  We have several books that we have found very helpful as we meet with students.  Follow the link to check out our recommended Organizational Books for Students


If you’d like us to help, we’re happy to meet with your child and get things organized.  We all know that this is a skill that goes beyond the classroom.  Helping your child get organized is a skill that will be invaluable for a lifetime.  Give us a call and we will help get your child on track.

In the Homestretch

If you’re kids are like mine, they reluctantly pulled themselves back to reality as they headed back to school after Spring Break.  Now they only have several weeks left and yet another school year will be behind them.  How will they wrap up the year?  As the weather changes and our kids find it harder to sit tight and ride out the remainder of the year,  we have to do all we can to help them finish well.  A few suggestions…

  • Ask–if they have assignments on the deck, tests coming up or projects that may be due.
  • Encourage–them to do their best and hang in there since the finish line is just up ahead.
  • Assist–them with what they may need to complete their tasks and stay on track.
  • Engage–them in conversation about how they are doing and help them stay motivated.
  • Allow–some break time so that they are refreshed and can focus on the tasks at hand.
  • Enjoy–the rest of the school year–summer will be here soon enough.
  • REMEMBER–what is was like to be their age and to hear the warm weather and outdoors calling your name.

Helping our kids finish well and keep their priorities straight will benefit them as they close out the school year and as they prepare for the real world just up ahead.  With you in the homestretch!



Mind Mapping-Best Practices for Taking Notes (Part 2)

Here is part two of Terry Mazzer’s mind mapping strategies for taking notes and staying organized.  I trust you will get as much out of it as I have.  Since I always use mind maps for organizing thoughts and ideas, I find Terry’s insights to be very helpful especially as he talks about the use of color–which I just love!  We’d enjoy getting your feedback and want to learn how you are using mind maps in school and business. 



How would you like it if your children became more creative, studied faster and more effectively, remembered better, saved time and saw the ‘whole picture’? Well, you can have this happen, can’t you? After you have read this article, you will know how a Mind Map can achieve this.  A Mind Map will accelerate your kid’s learning and gets them to use their whole brain. It works in accord with your brain by using color, images, symbols, curved lines, words, space, associations and connections to have your thought processes flow.



How to Make & Take Effective Notes With the Ultimate, Organizational Thinking Tool – A Mind Map – P2
By []Terry Mazzer



When your children use Mind Maps, they become more creative, study faster and more effectively, remember better, save time and see the ‘whole picture’.   Surely you would agree that these reasons are absolutely huge benefits for them.

A Mind Map will accelerate your kid’s learning and gets them to use their whole brain. It works in accord with your brain by using color, images, symbols, curved lines, words, space, associations and connections to have your thought processes flow.

Originated in 1970 by Tony Buzan, Mind Maps are now used by millions of people around the world – from the very young to the very old, in business, for personal reasons…hey, for any reason at all.

OK, so what do you need to get started with a Mind Map?


Blank unlined paper

Colored pens and pencils

Your imagination

Rules to follow, and lastly…

A subject you want to make and take effective notes on.


Here Are Some Mind-Mapping Rules To Follow:


1) Create a unique and memorable central figure (with no box round it ); use at least 3 colors; if you feel that you are not an artist,

then photocopy or cut and paste

2) Use a piece of blank A3 paper – turn it landscape ways so you have more room for branching out.

3) Start the order of your important facts close to the central figure; less important details towards the edges. Begin at the 2 o’clock  position.

4) Use key words – which tend to be nouns; printed (upper and lower case); one per line.

5) Lines – length of each line = the length of key word or image; connect each line to end of previous line; radiate from centre;  decrease in size; centre = thick like branches of a tree; have 7 ± 2 main branches; make the branches wavy/ curved and taper off; use only one color for each branch

6) Make use of color, arrows, codes, senses, symbols, 3D images, humor, jokes, cartoons, different pens ( fat, thin, glitter, scented, highlighters)

7) Review -Date your mind map and add these review codes: 10, D,W,M,3M at the bottom right hand corner (10 = 10 minutes, D= day, W= week, M= month, 3M = 3 months) Cross out after you have done each review.


OK, It’s Time for Some Action. Here’s What I invite you to do NOW:


Search for Tony Buzan and discover how magical Mind mapping is.

Begin by brainstorming a topic and then grouping the sections into categories.( This was shown in a previous article.)


Using Buzan’s mind map examples, get started creating your own mind map and follow the rules mentioned above.


Model a mind mapping activity to your children and have them actively involved.


Have FUN learning and remembering.


Here’s What I Want You To Do Now- Claim your instant FREE access to a MP3 recording of one of my teleseminars by going to  – you’ll get practical tips and valuable information about this critical topic and you can ask me your most burning question about ‘Raising a Smart Rich Kid’.


AND….You will also get access to my FREE ‘Raising Smart Rich Kids Mentor’ Tele-seminars


P.S. By the way, do you know someone else who would benefit from this article? Please send them the link to it……and you can, can you not?


From Terry Mazzer – The Raising Smart Rich Kids’ Mentor – “Work SMARTER, not harder”

Article Source:,-Organizational-Thinking-Tool—A-Mind-Map—P2&id=1621326


Mind Mapping–Brainstorming Best Practices

I thought this would be a great article to share with you since Terry Mazzer is using Mind Maps for brainstorming!  This is one of my all-time favorite graphic organizers and is great for global, right-brained thinkers–like me!  Enjoy!  Donna


Brainstorm & Group Before Using the Ultimate, Organizational Thinking Tool – A Mind Map! (Part 1)
By []Terry Mazzer


How many of you have been asked to brainstorm a certain topic? If you’re like me, then you’ve probably said to yourself, or out loud, “Not another exercise like this! What a waste of my time!”


How many of you knew that brainstorming is actually the beginning of such an activity? That there is a more important reason for doing so?


Brainstorming is one way to express and freely link in ideas that you associate with a particular topic. What happens is that we write down whatever comes to our mind and most importantly, we do not judge these ideas.


By the way, I encourage you and your children to  draw a picture  (or photocopy or cut and paste an appropriate image) that they associate with that idea in the centre of their paper. I strongly suggest that they use a  blank sheet of paper . This does not restrict the flowing nature of the presented ideas.


I also encourage them  not to put a frame  around it as this helps them associate more freely.


Curvy lines  are then drawn from the image and they  radiate  outwards.


Next, have your children  write words  or even  draw pictures  on these lines. Obviously, you and your kids will have an idea that then  triggers  some related ideas. Great!


These ideas are then written on smaller lines off the main lines which are radiating from the image.


Does this make sense? Yes or Yes?


So, we’ve completed the  brainstorming  section of this simple note-taking activity. Now it’s time to  group  your ideas together into categories.This will get you and your children more focused.


For example, if you were planning a family vacation, and you had brainstormed these ideas – Australia (Gold Coast), China, Disneyland, then the grouped related ideas would be “Places. Highlight or color code the connected ideas.


When you look through your list of ideas, you will notice how they are naturally connected.


Once this has been completed, the various categories then become the  main branches  of a  Mind Map . This strategy will be shown to you in Part 2 of this article.


I invite you to get started using these techniques – brainstorming and grouping. Then look out for Part 2 of this article which will show you how to use the ultimate, simple, organizational thinking tool – a Mind Map- for making and taking effective notes.


Here’s What I Want You To Do Now- Claim your instant FREE access to a MP3 recording of one of my teleseminars by going to – you’ll get practical tips and valuable information about this critical topic and you can ask me your most burning question about ‘Raising a Smart Rich Kid’.

AND….You will also get access to my FREE ‘Raising Smart Rich Kids Mentor’ Tele-seminars


P.S. By the way, do you know someone else who would benefit from this article? Please send them the link to it……and you can, can you not?


From Terry Mazzer – The Raising Smart Rich Kids’ Mentor – “Work SMARTER, not harder”


Article Source: [,-Organizational-Thinking-Tool—A-Mind-Map!-(Part-1)&id=1618900 ],-Organizational-Thinking-Tool—A-Mind-Map!-(Part-1)&id=1618900

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.