Finding Focus: How to Find a Distraction-Free Learning Area for Your Children

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by Susan Good retirededucator.org

Learning how to focus on the task at hand can take years to perfect, and for many kids across the US, it can be difficult to find a good balance between school work and homework. Moving from the classroom to all the distractions that home offers can be jarring, leading to a decline in grades and poor self-esteem. That’s why it’s so important to help your child find a distraction-free zone to do schoolwork in, whether it’s in a room that is isolated from the rest of the house or just a desk where they have room for all the tools they need to learn.

You can also make other areas of your home more conducive to learning, such as adding a reading nook that has good lighting and comfy chairs to sit in. This is especially helpful for kids who aren’t automatically drawn to books, and it can help them find a love of literature that will help boost their experience in school.

Keep reading for the best tips on how to create a distraction-free zone for your kids at home.

Find a Quiet Space

Whether the learning area you create is in a room by itself or is simply an organized desk for homework, it should be a quiet space that won’t allow for interruptions. This is especially important if you have more than one child. Look for an area that is away from the main part of the house, or one that can be closed off easily for privacy and quiet.

Create a Reading Nook

Even kids who don’t necessarily love to read will enjoy having a space of their own to sit and look through the books that interest them, so creating a reading nook could benefit your child greatly. Add a comfy chair or pillows, strong lighting, and storage for books, and make sure it’s in a spot that will give your child a little privacy, as it’s difficult to become engaged in a book when there’s a lot going on around us. Make sure you look for books that are both educational and fun, on topics that interest your child. If you’re unsure of how to get started, you might consider hiring a professional to come in and remodel the area; click here for more information.

Set a Schedule

Now that you have the space, it’s a good idea to set a schedule for your child to do his homework or to study. It can be hard to get into a rhythm when there are so many other things going on, such as soccer practice and afterschool activities, so help your child find a routine that will benefit him on a daily basis. Once he gets into the habit of starting homework at a certain time, he’ll be more likely to stick with it throughout the school year.

Turn Off the Devices

Whether your child loves the TV, computer, tablet, game system, or smartphone, it’s important to set rules about when he can use them when school is in session, as they can be a pretty big distraction. The area where he studies and does homework should be device-free, although some studies have shown that classical music played at a low volume can be beneficial for kids who are trying to focus on tasks.

Creating a distraction-free zone for your child can have multiple benefits, especially if he has a learning disability or finds it difficult to concentrate at home, where there are so many opportunities to do anything other than learn. It’s also important to make sure your child isn’t hungry, thirsty, or tired when he sits down to do homework, as being uncomfortable can be a distraction in itself.

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Help Your Child Ease Into the School Year with Confidence

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by Emily Graham, Mighty Moms

Almost one-third of teenagers feel sad or depressed due to stress. School has become more and more nerve-wracking, even for younger children, as the pressure builds from all directions. There are classes, homework, tests, extracurricular activities, and sports, as well as the constant need to be cool and hang out with the right crowd.

Now the first day of school is coming, and that can be downright intimidating, especially if your child already suffers from anxiety. It’s going to take some extra effort on your part to ensure they get through it with as little stress as possible. Here are some tips.

Adopt the Right Attitude

Your goal is to calm them, not deliver lectures when discussing school. In fact, Chris Palmer, the author of Raising Your Kids to Succeed: What Every Parent Should Know, urges you to be caring, empathetic and supportive. Listen to their problems and worries while letting your children find their own solutions. Above all, be sure to show your unconditional love.

Make Sure They Stay Fit

Healthy habits relieve stress, says a wellness coach writing for Verywell Mind. There’s not much time left before summer ends, so get them exercising and eating well so it becomes a routine. Encourage them to work a physical activity they enjoy into their schedule while you plan meals packed with vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. The last piece of the puzzle is a bedtime routine so they get enough sleep and wake up refreshed.

Get on Track Early

The first hour of the day sets the tone, so establish a morning routine that flows effortlessly from waking up to arriving at school with no hang-ups in between. Preparation starts the night before with packing lunches, laying out clothes, and even making breakfast. That will have the kids well-fed and looking good with no morning rush to set off their nerves.

Buy the Supplies They Need

They’ll struggle with work if they don’t have the right gear to get their homework done easily, and that leads to frustration. Start with the basics like a book bag, paper, pens, and binders before moving on to high-tech items like calculators. Among older students, more and more are carrying laptops to class, which are invaluable when researching and writing papers.

Stay Organized

It’s easy to fall behind with so many projects and papers to finish unless you have a system in place to keep your child up to date. A filing cabinet and labeled bins work wonders, along with Post-It notes to remind them what needs doing and when.

Learn Calming Strategies

Even if your child is prepared for the day, something is likely to get on their nerves, such as a classmate or a tough assignment. There are strategies to cope with this frustration, and using them properly could save a lot of trouble down the road. A writer at The Mighty recommends deep breathing, listening to music, and imagining a calm place to settle their nerves.

Talk to Them About Risks

Dangers lurk in between classes, especially for teens who may encounter classmates who smoke, drink, or use drugs. Your child may be tempted to do the same, either to deal with the pressures of school or just to be cool. Explain how this is never the right way to cope with anxiety, as it could lead to an addiction that ruins their health and their life.

Take It Easy

Classes start easy and get more difficult as the year progresses. This gives your child the opportunity to ease into their studies rather than take off at full throttle. Use this time to your advantage by encouraging good work habits and keeping to a schedule with enough breaks so they don’t get overwhelmed.

Healthy, organized, and informed, your child is ready to tackle the year with gusto. Any lingering anxiety should be manageable by staying positive and sticking to your routine. With a little effort, their school days will be as exciting as they are productive.

Image via Pixabay

Help Your Child Manage Homework

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The “looming threat” of another year of homework assignments—and potential battles—may overshadow the anticipation of a new school year. But homework routines don’t have to be a painful process, if you and your kids discuss and set the ground rules and expectations early on. Involving your children encourages them to take ownership of their success, too.

With the plethora of distractions to pull a kid’s attention in a million directions once she’s home from school, is it any wonder that — especially after a long day of learning — the last thing she wants to do when she walks in the door is homework? Instead of letting your temper get the better of you, try these suggestions for helping your child tackle homework.

Set the stage

Your children’s ages may determine the best place for them to work. You can easily supervise younger kids when they’re in the kitchen or dining room as you’re prepping dinner. Older kids might prefer to work in their rooms or the den. Decide what works for everyone.

Fill a well-stocked station with typical school supplies. When your kids need a computer, keep it in a central location where you can oversee their work.

Some kids work well listening to music. Others prefer silence. Either works, but keep the homework zone free from other distractions including the television, video games and smartphones or tablets.

Create a routine

You and the kids should decide whether homework’s top priority immediately after school or dinner. Some children need 30 minutes to decompress with a snack. Others want to jump in and finish everything immediately. Your kids’ homework schedules might change depending on the day, if they’re involved in afterschool or evening activities. Just continue to reinforce that homework is a priority.

Strategize

It’s never too soon to teach kids how to plan and strategize. Some kids tackle the hard stuff first. Others prefer to save it for last. Use a calendar to track long-term assignments and decide, with your kiddo, how to chunk projects so they’re not spending six hours working on it the night before it’s due.

Motivating reluctant students

Don’t nag! Creating a negative environment from the outset often backfires. Instead, cultivate a “We’re in this together” approach where you’re available to assist. Be positive. Buy into the assigned work and explain the value of each task.

Teach them to prioritize. Encourage older students with a heavier workload to take regular breaks. Set a timer for 15 – 20 minutes. It’s also never too early to teach your kids how to organize.

Link success to effort. It’s easy to cheer someone on with an “I know you can do it!” attitude, but if you remind her about that ‘A’ she earned after a week of practice, you’ll reinforce a very healthy message that effort and perseverance lead to success.

Know when to call the cavalry. If your child spends what you think is an exorbitant amount of time on homework, or is confused by an assignment, contact her teacher. You also might consider hiring a tutor. Both professionals are trained to handle multiple questions and explain the classwork.

Reaching the finish line

Sometimes, the best way to motivate a child to complete his or her homework is to offer a fun incentive. While some people may worry that offering rewards conditions children to do what’s required or requested only when there’s something in it for them, research disagrees. Using a reward system is not a bribe — and there are a variety of systems to try until you find one that works for your family.

When the weather’s nice, why not incorporate the outdoors into that reward, especially since your kiddo’s probably been sitting inside for most of the day, and studies show that outdoor time is critical to a young person’s development.

Take the whole family on a nature scavenger hunt or go bird watching. Pile onto the bikes and ride to the park to play. Or, if your kids love to learn, check out these fun outdoor learning activities.

Homework is meant to provide reinforcement and extra practice. Set a good example, too, by curling up to read or do your own paperwork during homework time.

Photo Credit: pexels.com

About the Author:

Emily Graham is the creator of mightymoms.net. She believes being a mom is one of the hardest jobs around and wanted to create a support system for moms from all walks of life. On her site, she offers a wide range of info tailored for busy moms — from how to reduce stress to creative ways to spend time together as a family.

How Do I Learn Best?

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by Dr. Charice Hayes, Founder

Have you or your child(ren) said, “I study, but I just can’t get it” or “I just can’t get what the teacher/professor is saying in the class?”

Perhaps your study habits or class attentiveness is not align with how you absorb certain information. Yes, learning styles can be good. However, a number of techniques maybe better, such as the use of mnemonics. This is can be very complex to teachers. Yes you want to be inclusive of every student. However, every student absorbs information differently. This is the main reason All 4 One Tutoring customizes each clients’ one-on-one tutoring plan, and our tutors are trained on research-based techniques. Feel free to leave a comment.

The State of Charter Schools

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by Dr. Charice Hayes, CEO All 4 One Tutoring

About a month ago, I read a report about how NAACP delegates and the National Board called for a decision to delay the expansion of charter schools. A task force was assembled called the Task Force for Quality Education. The Task Force gathered nationwide data on the state of charter schools and traditional public schools. Here is what the Task Force found:

  • From a Stanford University report, 37% of charter schools performed worse than traditional public schools.
  • Predominate white schools in predominate black communities discipline black students out of the schools.
  • Funds are drained from public schools. The money does not follow the student.
  • A lot of charter schools follow the franchise business model. A board operates the schools under contract, and the teachers are considered at-will employees.

As an organization, All 4 One Tutoring LLC we have tapped into providing services to charter schools. We run a very successful after-school program at the Empowerment Academy in Baltimore, Maryland. We help fill in educational gaps and do activities and projects that help prepare students for college along with helping them have a smooth transition into high school. My take on the report is that I agree that the charter school sector needs to align financial transparency with consistent accountability.

What Are You Going to Do Winter Break?

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by Dr. Charice Hayes, CEO

I’d thought that I should contribute/write the last couple of blog posts of 2017. It’s been an exciting and yet another progressive year for All 4 One Tutoring. I will write about that in our last post of 2017 next week.

Right now, a lot of students (whether college or school-aged) are on winter break. Parents, I’m sure that you have some wonderful activities planned for your child(ren). 🙂 College students, I’m certain that you’re excited about starting the next semester on your journey of earning your college degree in addition to getting a little rest after taking finals. 😌 I’d like to give you some ideas and things you can do over the winter break that will be fun but still incorporate learning.

Well, I think that one of the most important things you can do over the winter break is visit your local public library.

Yes, you can read books there and check audios, books, and DVDs out. However, most public libraries have scheduled engaging activities each month. Some libraries have activities for specific age groups.

I know it’s the holiday season and the malls and stores will have GREAT after Christmas sales. However, use your mall and store trips as a real-life learning experience. Parents of school-aged children, you can create math/story problems in your shopping experience. College students you can create/do something as well. Here are a few examples:

1. Macy’s has a Ralph Lauren shirt on sale for $19.99. You look at the price tag and the shirt was originally $49.99. What is the percent of decrease in the cost of the shirt? (This problem is typically geared toward middle-schoolers.)

2. Macy’s has a Ralph Lauren shirt on sale for $19.99. You look at the price tag and the shirt was originally $49.99. How much money will you save? (This problem is typically geared toward elementary students.)

3. Macy’s is one of your favorite stores, and you want to know why customers buy the things they do. You can research shopping behaviors and understand how products are priced. (This is typically geared toward college students who are majoring in business administration, marketing, fashion merchandising.)

Now, you’ve received all of these nice things for Christmas, and you have to make room for them. You may be getting ready to bring in the new year and want to clean your closet and drawers out. Winter break may be the perfect time to do so. While you’re cleaning out your closets and drawers, think about donating your unwanted items to a charity.

Usually around the holidays and winter break, I see a lot of people at the movie theater. Well why not use this activity as a learning experience? Parents of school-aged children, you can have your child(ren) discuss/write about the setting, the plot, the characters, and what he/she enjoyed the most about the movie.

I know a lot of you have, will receive, or give video game consoles for Christmas. Yes, some of the games are educational and engaging (e.g. Minecraft). However, why not spark some interest in creating your own video game and/or app? This would be an awesome thing to start to think about and begin the planning stages on winter break.

I hope that I’ve really sparked your interest in doing some, if not all, of these activities. You can even take the ideas I’ve given you and cater them to your liking.

This is How to Find the Right Tutor If Your Student Has ADHD

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by Laura Pearson

@laurapearson1

If your student has ADHD, you want to be sure that he is getting the most he can from his education. Sometimes, school is a distracting environment and kids with ADHD benefit from having a tutor. But, it takes just the right tutor to connect with your child, understand his learning needs, and his learning style, and motivate him to learn. You also want a tutor who will celebrate your child’s achievement and support his strengths while developing his weaknesses. It’s a tall order to find the right tutor for your student, but you can find the perfect match for him with a few of our tips.

1. Meet with Your Child’s Teacher

Your child’s teacher will help you identify his strengths and weaknesses. She will review his assessments with you, demonstrate the skills that he needs help in mastering, and explain the accommodations she has been making to help him learn in the classroom. The more information you have from a trained educator about your child’s academic abilities and achievement, the better your chances of finding just the right tutor for him.

Your child’s teacher also may have some resources for you in finding a tutor for your student. Many schools offer free tutoring before and after school, as do many public libraries and colleges and universities. She also may be able to recommend a local learning center or private tutor.

2. Do Your Homework

Many parents know the process for finding a qualified babysitter for their children; get some recommendations from fellow parents, conduct a phone interview, meet with the babysitter and watch her interact with your child, get references, and have a trial run.

The same process applies to finding a tutor for your student. Get recommendations from other parents or teachers in your area. Then, call the tutors on your short list and ask them questions about their experience with kids with ADHD and their qualifications. Interview those that impress you on the phone and arrange a meeting with your child and observe the first session to decide whether the tutor is a good match.

Another option is to find an online tutor. Sometimes, kids with ADHD prefer to use technology to complete their assignments and enhance their learning, and they enjoy having online tutoring sessions as a result. Online tutors often have more flexible schedules and can connect automatically with your student when he is having trouble with homework or studying. Many online tutoring services provide credentials and references for their tutors, so you will be able to choose one that has experience tutoring kids with ADHD. Another benefit of online tutoring is the services typically are more affordable than face-to-face tutors.

3. Consider the Tutor’s Other Credentials

Any time you choose a person to work with your child, you look for someone who serves as a mentor or a role model.  That’s why you should look beyond her academic credentials when choosing the right tutor for your student. Look for a tutor who is patient, kind, and empathetic. Ask the tutor’s references about her personality, demeanor, and values.

You may need to observe more than one tutoring session to know that you have chosen a tutor who will help your child make healthy decisions and who will instill in him the need to learn life skills for making good choices in addition to the specific academic skills they work on during their sessions. Listen to how the tutor encourages and praises your child. Pay close attention to the things they talk about at the beginning and end of the session. When you feel comfortable that the tutor will serve as a healthy addition to your student’s support network, hire her for the long term.

When searching for a tutor for your student with ADHD, use the resources you have available. Start with meeting your child’s teacher and getting as much information as you can about his learning style and her recommendations. Then, ask her and other parents about local tutoring services and private tutors while also searching for a good match online. Observe your student with your top tutoring choice and make sure she will support him academically as well as emotionally and socially.

Image via Pixabay by nrjfalcon1