Motherhood, Marriage and Other Wild Rides

Health, Happiness and the Pursuit of Mommyhood

Parents Guide to Helping Kids Study, Get Better Grades September 6, 2012

Filed under: motherhood,school — rjlacko @ 12:24 pm
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After completing a full day at school, commitment to after-school activities and sitting down to dinner, the inevitable must be procured from the backpack… homework.

Can we all agree on a few things here? Homework should not only complement the classroom work, but it should fulfill a specific function, from Day One/Grade One; homework should instill the classroom lessons in the memory of the child, effectively and efficiently as possible.

At home at the kitchen table or established study area, your child has the rare opportunity to review the presented materials using his or her own learning style–auditory, kinesthetic or reverse osmosis, however your unique little person operates. It’s up to us “post-scholars” to give our children something not every classroom has the luxury of providing–lessons on HOW to learn, HOW to study, HOW to get the information of the day to stay between the ears, at least until test time. But how?

Teacher and school administrator Gary Howard has been helping children get better grades for over 35 years.  What he’s proven to parents, students, and teachers, year after year, is that very little improvement is possible unless you can teach the children HOW TO LEARN in the first place.

His new book, Help Your Kids Get Better Grades is designed so that parents can simply, quickly and effectively mentor children and guide them to do the right things at home and at school, so that they learn how to study better, listen and take notes, and take tests with less stress.

“Parents can have a tremendous impact on how a child handles school and test-taking,” he says. “But it is the child who is taking the test.”

Howard’s book identifies what is needed for children to discover and grow the talents they are born with.  Education success however, is in the hands of the student who has to practice by studying.  Howard focuses on how to make studying fun.

Here are just some of Howard’s suggestions on how parents can help children improve their study habits and effectiveness:

Shop and let the student select the perfect pen. The right pen makes all the difference when taking notes or writing long essay answers on an exam.  Parents may be surprised, but printing is easier for many students than writing script cursive.

Schedule Study Time and Stick with It. Set up a weekly schedule for study time with two forty-minute study times each day with a 20 minute break between. Pick the times and stick to the times.

Buy Study Guides for Your Student.  For high school and college, these 5 to $9 guides of key subjects are the easiest and fastest way to get the bottom line necessary building blocks of information on a topic. In no way are they to be considered cheating. They are a wonderful way to get the outline and vital subjects identified.

Encourage Participation in Study Groups.  After school, join a group, discuss ideas, ask each other questions and research the answers together. But focus on work, this is not a social gathering.

Get a Tutor.  In sports you have a coach, at the health club there’s a trainer, so in classes, don’t hesitate, get a tutor.  Use the Internet and search. It’s not as expensive as you may imagine. The help over the tough spots can be invaluable – the difference between getting it, and losing it. (Note from Rebecca: I’ve had several parents tell me how hiring a tutor for a semester to help with a difficult subject significantly improved the student’s abilities and attitude for the remainder of high school. Awesome investment? I think so!)

Get a Good Backpack. The essential items include: notebooks, two favorite pens, two pencils, text books (for the day only), Kleenex, energy bars, medications, two dollars in change, and clothes for the weather. Parents – inspect weekly or anytime.  Write your name address and phone number in indelible ink on the pack in case it gets lost.

Have Reading Skills Tested. Make sure your child is at the appropriate level for his or her age and does not have eye problems.  See an eye doctor if you have any doubts or concerns.

Home Study Location, Chair and Lighting.  Sufficient lighting, comfortable desk and chair, with little or no distractions!  No TV, radio, music, or games during study time.

Getting Proper Note-Taking Down. Taking good notes is a learned skill. Use clean paper and favorite pens, three-ring binder with paper and separators, outline with notes and major points.  Re-reading good notes is where learning really takes place.  (Note from R: I wrote down everything my teachers said in college. Really! I would simply read my (albeit) cryptic shorthand every evening to solidify my memory of the lecture, then again at test time. Straight A’s, anyone? Yes, please!)

Develop Your Memory with Mnemonics. Using rhymes, telling stories or jokes, and memorizing four to five letter acronyms is a great way to remember lists of details or essential rules.  Writing these 20 times engraves them on your brain.

What are your tips for helping children to learn better study skills?

 

Batman The Dark Knight, and Helping Kids Achieving Goals

Filed under: Uncategorized — rjlacko @ 11:45 am
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“They started so young,” thwarted competitors lament, when a young phenom bursts on the scene and quickly claims the highest rewards. We’ve all been awe-inspired by at least one, maybe a fresh-faced 17-year-old swimmer from Colorado earning a gold medal at the Olympiad, or a university student building a the world’s most popular social networking platform, perhaps.

Unsurprisingly, there is a nervous, hopeful energy among parents on the sidelines. Where I live in Southern California, there is, quite literally, no limit of opportunity. Should my child whisper a curiosity about culinary arts, ballet, soccer, rock climbing or outrigger canoeing, there are several programs in each discipline vying for my registeration form and tuition payment. Will animation become my child’s lifelong passion? Acting? Software design? Will he become a great gymnast, baseball player, taekwondo expert? Do we have the best coach for the job?
 
My boys are ages five and seven. They have run the gamut of activities–dabblers in much, experts in little. My husband and I are, paradoxically, on a frantic search to help them find their bliss–because we love them, and because we would deny them little outside our resources. This Summer my older boy was invited to join seasoned. pre-teen fencing competitors under the tutelage of a visiting Italian champion. I actively hid how much pride this brings me, while the ongoing spectacle of the 2012 Summer Games only spurred my secret satisfaction.
Who knows if he will continue his path in the sport of fencing? In the meantime, I am pondering the mysterious; I wonder whether high achievers are simply inevitable, merely realizing what they are “born” to become by inherent character, predisposition and good genes, regardless of the odds or obstacles. Or do we really have a hand in our child’s future?
 
Sometimes inspiration comes where we least expect it. When Michael Uslan (Originator and Executive Producer of the Batman franchise of motion pictures) was a boy during the 1950s and ‘60s, he was so obsessed with comic books that he collected thousands and didn’t hesitate to send corrections to editors when he spotted a mistake in a story line.

“My origin story – what formed my character – is entrenched in comic books,” he shares in The Boy Who Loved Batman: A Memoir (www.theboywholovedbatman.com). “When I was 8 years old, I wanted to see if I could get my name in print, next to Bruce Wayne and the rest of Gotham’s characters.”It wasn’t luck, fortune or an accident that Uslan grew up to produce the most successful comic book-based movie franchise of all time, he says.

 
Now, his goal, like many parents, is to inspire kids and young adults to pursue their own dreams with focus and dedication, “because you can make them come true.” Here’s how:
 
• Know your passion: Uslan wasn’t the only kid on his block who loved comics – but most of the others probably never dared to dream that they could have a hand in influencing their favorite character, he says. It’s important to ask yourself, “What do I really, really care about?” The answer to this question will be the seed from which dreams sprout.
 
• Don’t be a passive bystander – participate: His passion for comics blossomed through several steps, including a general interest in reading and writing and active participation with the world’s first ComicCon in New York City in 1964, when he befriended comic writing legend Otto Binder. These days, there are plenty of opportunities for kids to be proactive, he says, citing blogs, websites and social networking. “A teen raised with today’s technology can create a video, for example, that rivals those created by professionals,” he says.
 
• Identify objectives that will take you to your goal: In high school, Uslan became essential to the yearbook staff, developing media skills that would benefit him later. In 1972, as a junior at Indiana University, he created and taught the first college level course on comic books. After graduating law school, he had the legal knowledge and Hollywood credentials necessary to purchase the film rights to Batman and start repairing the super hero’s image. He wanted to get away from the campy sitcom version of the crusader and reintroduce the Dark Knight to his roots for a movie-going audience.
 
“You don’t have to bend to the expectations of everyone else,” Michael Uslan says. “If you love something enough and are willing to create favorable circumstances, others will bend to you.”
 
• Learn from problems instead of allowing them to distract: Most people never realize their dreams because life gets in the way. Problems and new priorities arise and detract you from your course. The trick is to figure out how to respond to these in ways that help you reach your goal. For instance, learning how to negotiate, how to efficiently manage your time or how to become very self-disciplined are skills you can apply in pursuing your dream.In his 36 years in the film and television industry, Michael Uslan (www.theuslancompany.com) has been involved with such projects as “National Treasure,” “Constantine,” and countless animated projects. His projects have won Oscars, Golden Globes and Emmy Awards. He is the author of his autobiography, The Boy Who Loved Batman: A Memoir.
What was YOUR childhood dream?