Action Today = Better Learning Tomorrow

Reading books, lots of themCalling all parents….do you want to help your child/teen complete their homework more efficiently, study more effectively for tests and ultimately improve their learning and their grades?

Time is running out. We’re in term 3. The early Spring is often the most difficult time for students to stay motivated and to keep up with their work. Keep it positive and read on for tips to put into action today for better results tomorrow.

Homework Efficiency:

        • Work together to set a homework routine. Include a specific start time.
        • Create a distraction free environment – TV off even if it is in another room. Phones on airplane mode or out of the room.
        • Do not interrupt them while they are working as they can lose their focus.
        • Do not “check” their homework accuracy, that is the teacher’s job.
        • Make sure they take short, 5-10 minute, breaks after working for 20-30 minutes. It helps the brain recharge and allows the brain to process new information.

Study Effectively:

    • Encourage students to write down upcoming test dates and then to plan backwards so that they have at least 3 opportunities to review the information before the test. Spaced repetition has been shown to be an effective study technique.
    • Foster a growth mindset, discourage negative self-talk and focus on the positives. Punishments do not encourage better grades.
    • Simply reading new information retains maybe 10% but being an active learner by asking questions, summarizing the reading, drawing a mindmap, or creating flashcards leads to more retention and better understanding of concepts.
    • Have your child “teach” you or even the dog, key concepts. They need to be able to explain them in their own words and just not verbatim from the text or study guide. Quiz them on vocabulary, including math vocabulary to be sure they understand what the words means.
    • Don’t save studying until after the homework, as it is best when the brain is fresh and energized

Improve Learning:

    • Eat together whenever you can and engage in meaningful conversations about various topics. Discussions promote communication skills, critical thinking and listening skills and develops confidence.
    • Read. Whether it is reading to your child, with your child or they are reading independently, show that reading is important by reading at the same time.
    • Make learning fun by going to museums, libraries, zoos and vacationing activities that promote learning new things.
    • Encourage their interests and provide opportunities to explore hobbies, deep dive into subjects of interest and use their skills in the “real world.” (Ex. Baking, cooking dinner, planning a vacation, or researching a topic.)
    • Praise your child’s efforts and encourage them to see challenges as opportunities to learn and not as failures. Take the emphasis off of the grades and focus it on encouraging them to become lifelong learners capable of learning anything they set their mind to.

That’s how we encourage learning and growing and can develop the habits and routines that all students need to be successful. It only takes one “bad” experience in a subject to demotivate and defeat an otherwise very capable student.

Graphic thanks to Pixabay.

Hey Students – It is OKAY to Get Help

Good grades start at home

The best kept secret these days is that going to see the teacher after school can improve your teen’s grades. Over the last several months I have asked a number of students (many of them clients whom I see because they or their parents want their grades to improve) if they go after school to get extra help. 90% of them say no. They say things like, “I can do it on my own I just have to take the time, work harder, study more,” etc. The other 10% say they have and that they found it helpful. If your teen is part of the 90%, you might want to ask your friends if their teens go after for help. Then without mentioning names of course, you can say you know of x number of other kids who do and they found it helpful maybe their grades have even gone up.

I usually suggest that for a teen’s toughest subject, they go after once or twice a week for two or three weeks and then compare their grade on the most recent quiz or test to one that they had before they started going after school. Once they see that the scores have gone up (and that some of their friends are there too) they might not be so apprehensive about going.

If that does not work then encourage them to at least ask the Internet wizards by searching for their topic/problem online. Sites like, (video and audio combo makes this site my favorite), (for flashcards and flashcard practice) and (although I don’t like the fact this site has ads) are places to start. Students can even “Google” quadratic equations for example (or whatever is stumping them at the time) and come up with over 4 million sites that can help. Sometimes students cannot understand the concept from the way it was presented in class, just getting another perspective from the Internet can make it click. Yes, I do recommend reading Sparknotes too if they struggle with reading comprehension, but they HAVE TO do the reading first and course notes for other subjects.

Winter break is a great time to take a look at some sites and do a little recon work to find help for those concepts they may not have mastered. Dare I say the midyear exams are only a week away. Whatever they have not understood up to this point, usually comes back to haunt them on the midyear or final exam.

It is okay to get help. Working harder at understanding something that you truly don’t understand is usually ineffective. As a coach I find guiding students to find their own solutions (and making it look like it was their idea) is very rewarding for all.