Five Challenges of Struggling Students

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Jeremy is a 7th grader I just started working with. He has a long list of missing and incomplete assignments. He finds directions given verbally confusing, has not been using a planner since he was forced to in 5th grade, and misses details even when work is posted to the online portal. When he can’t get started, he abandons ship altogether.

“Jeremy, when you are confused, do you ask for help?” I asked.

help hand

“Not usually,” he replied quickly. “I don’t want to bother my teachers. They are really busy and have a lot of students. It’s easier to ask other kids, but they have work to do, too.” He shook his head firmly and continued, “Nope. It’s just not fair to make teachers give you extra help when they already do so much.”

Here we are in March, and how much help has Jeremy missed out on because of his trepidation about asking for it?

Problems with communicating with teachers are rampant among my students. Many with executive skill challenges (such as lack of planning, difficulties with prioritizing) also can’t seem to write emails (or even use email) or approach their teachers 1-on-1 with questions that could easily resolve wherever they are stuck.

I’ve identified the top 5 trends among all of our students that represent the greatest challenges for teens. These trends also happen to be the ones least frequently addressed sufficiently or explicitly by schools.

1: SELF-ADVOCACY

The ability of students to compose emails and/or communicate verbally with teachers and to feel they are being appropriate when seeking help to get back on track are important self-advocacy skills few schools teach..

2. PLANNING & DECISION MAKING

Planning moves students out of operating in perpetual 9-1-1 mode. Many teens are in a constant state of stress, proceeding without a plan rom one assignment to the next. Helping teens learn the tools of planning and decision-making is critical to their future success.

3. MANAGING PROCRASTINATION

Students often describe themselves as “lazy” or lacking motivation, but that’s a misnomer for potentially more complex problems. Students may simply need assistance with how to proceed or how to manage distracting social media (try getting 500 Snapchats a day!) or help with knowing where to start and what to attend to first.

4. KNOWING HOW TO STUDY

Schools often expect that giving students the directive to “study hard” is sufficient but telling our kids to focus or “buckle down” isn’t remotely useful! We need to help students identify their action items, learn routines, and establish procedures for studying for different classes and instructors.

5. PREPARING FOR MAJOR TRANSITIONS

Successful shifts to middle school, high school, and college require a boost in executive skills at each change point and greater autonomy in managing self, routines, and time. Preparing students for the big moves through instruction in best practices in studying, time management, and handling distractions boosts student confidence and can ease the challenges of transition.

Knowing the challenges faced by students is only half the battle. Knowing where to find help is the key. 

Finals and APs are around the corner; transitions are in the offing! I’m feeling the angst myself as my daughter gets ready to start middle school. What can your student do this summer to make next year easier?

SOS4Students is here to help. Summer is the perfect time to camp in the woods, build a drone, or . . . learn how to take notes! Check out below all of SOS4Students’ signature offerings for summer.

We’ll help with the note taking.

Warmly,
Beth Samuelson

 

Sign Up Now

Signing up for an SOS4Students workshop or Summer Coaching is easy and can be done online. Our workshops tend to fill fast and start dates will be here sooner than you think, so act now.

Summer Workshops

  • All workshops are held at Lafayette Library (Oak Room) Lafayette, CA.
  • Summer coaching is available at our Walnut Creek and Montclair District offices, or online.

Middle School Workshops

Mastering Middle School empowers students entering sixth grade. Students learn invaluable skills to tackle the demands of multiple teachers and more complex assignments.

Learn More & Sign Up Today


6th - 8th GradesMake sure your child is prepared for the essay-writing challenges ahead with Write On, where we cover essay fundamentals for middle school students.

Learn More & Sign Up Today


7th & 8th GradeMiddle School Blitz gives your students the strategies they need to have control over their time and workload. Prepare your student to balance classwork, homework and outside activities.

Learn More & Sign Up Today


High School Workshops

9th GradeNailing Ninth Grade prepares your student for a successful transition to high school. Students come away with an invaluable toolbox of study strategies they will use every day.

Learn More & Sign Up Today


9th - 12th GradesWriting RX teaches students an easily replicable system for expository essay writing. Students leave confident and prepared to tackle the complex writing assignments that high school demands.

Learn More & Sign Up Today


9th - 11th GradesSecrets of Successful Note Taking demystifies the note taking process. Students learn techniques to take effective notes and use their notes to prepare for tests and papers.

Learn More & Sign Up Today


Summer Coaching

6th - 12th GradesCan't make the workshop you need? Does your student benefit from more individualized attention? All ages (even after high school) and abilities benefit from the one-on-one summer coaching sessions with our seasoned coaches.

Learn More (Registration for 2019 Summer Coaching Opens Soon!

What Are You Going to do this Summer to Maintain Your Child’s Learning Momentum?

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Summer learning loss is real, but it doesn’t have to be. The next two months, as school winds down for another year, is the perfect time to begin addressing why your child struggles in high school or middle school with difficulty understanding subject matter and/or poor study and organizational habits.

Summer learning programs, such as the group workshops and one-on-one academic coaching offered by SOS4Students, may be just what your child needs to reach his or her potential as a student.

summer time

These workshops and coaching are a great way for students to build study strategies, learn new skills, or get coached on specific challenges such as reading comprehension, note-taking, or writing. Unburdened by homework, class schedules, and other academic pressures students can work at their own pace and focus on the task at hand.

In this Q & A, SOS4Students shares insight on how summer coaching and workshops can help students realize their strengths.

Q: How would you describe the typical student helped by SOS4Students coaching and workshops?

A: We typically see students who struggle with one or more aspects of executive function. Many students have trouble organizing their thoughts, writing, and at times, physical materials. Others have difficulty planning, strategizing appropriately, advocating for themselves, etc. Each student is unique and has his or her own needs.

Q: What is the most common concern SOS4Students hears from parents, and what do you say to them?

A: Parents often express concern about follow-through by their children. According to parents, many students appear to be "lazy" or "unmotivated," but we’ve often found that not be the case. What parents can do to help with follow-through is help their students break down the assignments/tasks into manageable chunks. This gives the student less to do at a time, and in turn keeps him or her motivated to get the entire assignment/task completed.

Q: What would SOS4Students tell a parent whose teen is bright but lives in paper chaos and struggles with missing work?

A: Intelligence has nothing to do with organizational and strategic challenges in most cases, and even students with the highest IQs struggle with tasks such as turning work in. Students who are bright and have difficulty managing their work need tools to know where to look and what to look for. A good strategy could be as simple as the student making a list the night before of all the work he or she is going to turn in on a notecard, carrying the notecard around, and checking items off as they are turned in throughout the day. Another easy tool to use that works consistently is having a designated folder for work to be turned in and one for work in progress.

Q: What is SOS4Students’ favorite organizational strategy?

A: One of our favorite organizational strategies is creating a weekly plan. The school websites and gradebooks are daunting and not always accurate, but students can learn to use these systems to help identify priorities and to plan efficiently. Previewing the week is essential for time management for all students.

Q: How do you recommend students manage distractions?

A: The first step is always acknowledging the existence of the distractor. After identifying it, the next step is to find a method for limiting its use. We don't like the method of "remove it completely." We tend to recommend "everything in moderation" by setting realistic limits to the distractors and then using incentives, motivators, or rewards.

Q: What words of wisdom does SOS4Students have for students struggling to manage schoolwork?

A: Planning is important. When a student has a plan, he or she can walk in to any and every situation prepared! This is a great way to approach life and a great way to approach studies and school work. Students can avoid stress by being prepared, by taking a moment to think through what they may need to see, have, know, or experience for a particular class or assignment.

Sign Up Now

Signing up for an SOS4Students workshop or Summer Coaching is easy and can be done online (see below). Our workshops tend to fill fast and start dates will be here sooner than you think, so act now.

For More Information

Call SOS4Students for more information at (510) 531-4767 or email questions to us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Summer Workshops

  • All workshops are held at Lafayette Library (Oak Room) Lafayette, CA. However, if a workshop has less than 5 attendees, we may change the venue to accommodate a smaller class size.  
  • Summer coaching is available at our Walnut Creek and Montclair District offices, or online.
  • Space is limited in each workshop, so sign up early to ensure a spot. 

Middle School Workshops

Mastering Middle School empowers students entering sixth grade. Students learn invaluable skills to tackle the demands of multiple teachers and more complex assignments.

Learn More & Sign Up Today


6th - 8th GradesMake sure your child is prepared for the essay-writing challenges ahead with Write On, where we cover essay fundamentals for middle school students.

Learn More & Sign Up Today


7th & 8th GradeMiddle School Blitz gives your students the strategies they need to have control over their time and workload. Prepare your student to balance classwork, homework and outside activities.

Learn More & Sign Up Today


High School Workshops

9th GradeNailing Ninth Grade prepares your student for a successful transition to high school. Students come away with an invaluable toolbox of study strategies they will use every day.

Learn More & Sign Up Today


9th - 12th GradesWriting RX teaches students an easily replicable system for expository essay writing. Students leave confident and prepared to tackle the complex writing assignments that high school demands.

Learn More & Sign Up Today


9th - 11th GradesSecrets of Successful Note Taking demystifies the note taking process. Students learn techniques to take effective notes and use their notes to prepare for tests and papers.

Learn More & Sign Up Today


Summer Coaching

6th - 12th GradesCan't make the workshop you need? Does your student benefit from more individualized attention? All ages (even after high school) and abilities benefit from the one-on-one summer coaching sessions with our seasoned coaches.

Learn More (Registration for 2019 Summer Coaching Opens Soon!)

Warmly,
Beth Samuelson