Let’s Do It Differently - Parent & Student Collaboration for a Successful New School Year

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With school starting up again in a few weeks, it’s a good time to have a “let’s get ready” meeting with your kids. We’ll be doing that at my house, too, and I know firsthand how important it is to look at what worked and what didn’t last year. The idea is to use this time to reinvent and eliminate old habits (yours and theirs!) as well as establish new processes and ways of getting things done.

student stress edit

Here are some ideas to include on your agenda (which you should share with your family in advance to get everyone’s input):

  • How do we feel about morning routines last year? Did they work? What needs improvement?
  • Look at the time invested in sports and after school activities last year and the pressures they may have put on your child. Was there time for homework? Can anything be eliminated? Cut back? Ask for input. For example, my budding thespian daughter let me know that she didn’t want two full days of play rehearsal during her first semester until she knew how much homework she’d have. Thinking ahead is critical!

  • How much time were you personally involved in managing homework, monitoring grades, and checking assignments online? Take an honest, clear-eyed look at your role and where you need to step out. Most students in the 13 to 18 age group do NOT need homework hovering services from anxious parents. Stay in your lane when possible.
  • Did you have weekly planning meetings, or was there too much late night scrambling and last minute panic? Lack of planning on your child’s part does not constitute a 911 situation on your part—and that needs to be conveyed now before school starts. Determine what the process will be for getting supplies on time.

  • Were you doing a lot of communicating with teachers or advocacy on your child’s behalf? How much of that contact can you now turn over to your teen? 
  • How is the study space working? Are there systems for organizing supplies and hard copies? Is the desk and set up a good fit? That cute desk you bought your 5th grader probably won’t work well for your now-strapping 15 year old. What can be improved?
  • How will you communicate via a family calendar? How will your kids learn about appointments outside of school that are coming up, family events, etc.? Your high schoolers can also post on their own shared calendars to highlight things such as college trips, show dates, away tournaments, etc. Hand over as much as possible to your children to post themselves.
  • Mandate planner use in addition to the calendar. The type of planner is up to you, but one must be in place.
  • Finally, what will the after school routine be—napping and Xbox, homework immediately, or a bit of relaxation and planning time for the evening ahead?.

A little time spent planning and adopting lessons learned from what worked or didn't work in the past goes a long way toward setting your child and your family up for success and smooth sailing for the coming school year.

Don’t Miss Our Remaining Summer Workshops

Give your students an executive skill boost. Nobody does study strategies like SOS4Students:

Saturday, August 12: Mastering Middle School (some slots still open)

  • For your rising 6th grader
  • Preparation for middle school and the challenges ahead
  • Small group- personal instruction
  • Especially great for students entering middle school with executive functioning issues, and building confidence for new 6th graders with great study tools
  • Includes one follow up and a parent meeting

More info + Registration

Sunday August 13: Middle School Blitz (almost full)

  • For incoming 7th- and 8th-graders
  • Introduction of new strategies for a more demanding year and a reboot to get ready after a long summer!
  • Intensive and focused on planning, prioritizing, and organization in all ways (info, time, and “stuff”)

More info + Registration

Saturday and Sunday August 19 and 20: Nailing Ninth Grade Section B (only a couple of spots left - the final one of the summer)

  • For rising 9th graders
  • Our signature two-day program to prepare students for high school
  • Includes lunch both days, a parent meeting, and two follow ups, including a prep for final exams!
  • New this year: Staying organized online (students bring laptops!)

More info + Registration

Sunday September 17: The Secrets of Successful Note Taking

  • Grades 9-12
  • Focus on all aspects of note taking from texts and lectures
  • Inside tips on best practices and strategies to improve test grades with killer notes
  • Explicit instructions in the how tos of note taking, a critical skill for high school and college!

More info + Registration

I hope you continue to enjoy your summer!
Beth Samuelson 

Help Your Teen Take Charge of His or Her Schedule this Fall

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It's not too early for a 12-year-old to start keeping his or her own appointments on a calendar. Using planning tools such as calendars, homework agendas, and to-do lists are essential skills for students beginning in middle school at the latest!

time management

With busy after school lives, nightly homework loads, traveling sports teams, and overextended parents, students should be expected to learn to keep track of what they have to do and by when. Time management skills are essential to success in school, and parents need to expect students to acquire the skills needed for them to live independently.

With any luck, your 18-year-old will leave for college with 5 to 6 years of experience already setting goals, meeting deadlines, handling appointments, and prioritizing tasks!

Here's what you can do as the new school year approaches to foster the development of time management skills in your child::

  • Meet one day a week as a family to share information about upcoming deadlines, events and appointments. Does someone need school supplies for a project? Add it to the calendar and establish who can do this errand and when. Family reunion weekend coming up? Make sure to factor that in if a paper or test is coming up that week.

  • Share Google calendars as a family and invite each other to events.

  • Add all upcoming school holidays, half days, and extra curricular event dates to the calendars as soon as you know them. Student athletes should know when their games and practices are well in advance to both alert teachers if they'll be away and to plan effectively as to how they will work around games to complete assignments and tests on time.

  • Mandate use of planners for students and do not allow students to rely on systems like School Loop or Schoology. Students must write down their "to-dos."

  • Consider whiteboards for students who benefit from visual planning using graphics, checklists, and color.

  • Have students create a mock-up of their weekly schedule as soon as weekly practices, tutoring sessions, and rehearsal dates are clear. What time is available on the calendar to get homework done?

  • Help students identify what times of day work best for them to do school activities such as math problems, reading, writing papers, and project work.

  • Does your student take excessively long to complete work normally or procrastinate getting started? Use time this summer before school starts to discuss what worked and what didn't last year, and devise solutions to make the load more manageable━prevent meltdowns and midnight final drafts!.

Check out our SOS Summer Workshops where we teach students explicitly how to manage time and distractions and best practices for planning projects. Workshops for entering 6th graders, 7th and 8th graders, and 9th graders are coming up fast and enrollment is limited.

Only a few spots remain available for next week's Write On workshop (July 25) for middle school students, and there is just one spot left in Nailing Ninth "A" (July 29) for next weekend.

Let me know if you have any questions or please share strategies that you've used at home that have worked for you students! I'll publish them in an upcoming newsletter.

I hope you are enjoying your summer,
Beth Samuelson