How to Help Your Teen Succeed …in and out of school
Ten Top Tips for Academic Success (modified from The University of Western Ontario website)
1. Location, location, location... • If you're serious about getting work done, find a place that's relatively free of distractions. Establish guidelines with family for quiet times or use the library, or study hall.
2. Make It a Habit: Work Every Day • Avoid all-night cram sessions in which you (unsuccessfully) try to understand and retain large amounts of information. Spend time on your studies each day, and you can stay on top of your courses and still have time for fun.
3. Help Exists! Seek It Out and Improve Your Grades • Whether you're an 'A' student or a 'D' student, you can strengthen your learning skills. Check out Highland’s website for tips. Get to know your teachers. It's your academic career - make the most of it.
4. Write It Down • Remember important dates. It's up to you to remember due dates for assignments and test dates. A planner is great for organizing your life. A wall calendar of important dates is also a good idea.
5. Get Energized - Eat, Exercise, Sleep • Not understanding? Trouble remembering? Comprehension and memory are affected by stress and fatigue. When you're hungry, tense, or tired your brain can't function at its full potential. It's especially crucial to eat well, exercise, and get adequate sleep. • Studies show teens need 91/2 hours of sleep nightly!
6. Be a Keener: Go to Class Prepared and Take Good Notes • Don't fall into the habit of missing class. Someone else's notes aren't going to be as good as taking your own. In class, listen for emphasis and examples. Take a thorough set of notes; you'll be thankful at test time. • Questions after the lesson? Go to your teacher or study partner. It's better to learn as you go rather than to find yourself not prepared the night before an exam.
7. Lessons and Textbooks: What's the BIG Picture? • Many unsuccessful students see a course as "a lot of stuff to memorize." Learning requires understanding how pieces of information fit together to form a "BIG picture." • Use course outlines, tables of content, headings and subheadings to organize the information in each of your courses. • Routinely ask yourself, "What's the purpose of this detail?" and "Where does it fit in the big picture?"
8. Do Something (Anything!) to Remember Key Information • Capture your understanding of course material in an active way: generate examples, create mnemonics, make summary notes, identify key words, create post-it notes to put in your textbooks, re-type your notes and add your thoughts • Check out related information online. • Be creative and interested, and you're more likely to be awesome at test time (again see Highland’s website for tips).
9. Think You'll Remember Key Points? Prove It. • No matter how well you understand something, without practice some forgetting will occur. Before a test, make sure that you can recall important information from memory. Self-test by recalling information without looking at notes or textbooks and by doing practice exams if available.
10. Be Test Smart • Don't lose marks because of test-writing errors such as misreading a question or running out of time. Think through specific strategies to tackle different types of tests (e.g., multiple-choice). Also, carefully read instructions, budget time to marks, and do less difficult questions first to build confidence.
Study Skills Tutorial • for more study tips, go to www.hwdsb.on.ca/highland Our Study Skills Tutorial can be found under Departments → Student Services
Online Help • for grade 9 math help – OnMath www.breeze.hwdsb.on.ca www.homeworkhelp.ilc.org (students need to register with their 9-digit Ontario Education Number “OEN”)
Student Success • Student Success is the government’s response to the demand to improve public education. • Three core priorities are: • High levels of student achievement • Reduced gaps in student achievement • Increased public confidence in publicly funded education
Student Success at Highland Highland has three teachers who are dedicated to Student Success. Here’s what we do: • Assist them with transitions • Call them to our office if they are having difficulties in a course • Can counsel students about reasons for their lack of success • Make plans for success (ie: time management, social/emotional support, academic support…) • Link students and families to outside supports
A Parent’s Role in Student Success • If you need assistance, contact the school’s Student Success Teachers. • We will work with you to find ways to help your child succeed. • Go with your gut. • Make a deliberate plan for success.
What Can Parents Do? a lot
Balance Independence and Discipline • Teens push parents away to become independent This is a good and necessary process, but… • Teens still need boundaries - they are still developing their inner discipline …and… • Conflict gets more difficult
Limit video game and MSN time • they are addictive and take up valuable PGO (Personal Growth Opportunity) time • true story
Keep regular sleep patterns • send them to bed with a book, not the t.v. • don’t let the media hype about teen sleep patterns convince you it is normal for kids to have problems sleeping – there are plenty of kids who are functioning just fine on early to bed, early to rise patterns • Regular exercise and healthy eating help sleep
Communicate • show them that you think school is important by asking them about it • If you ask “What did you learn today?”, they reply with… • Instead, ask for 5 things that they learned that day • Studies show that eating dinner together increases success – you are each others’ captive audiences: "Students who regularly ate dinner with their families 4 or more times a week scored better than those who ate family dinners 3 or fewer times a week. These results crossed racial lines and were a greater indicator than whether the child was in a one or two-parent family."
Help them to study • listen to them explain – pretend you don’t know something and if they can teach it to you, they know it • have them create quiz questions and you can quiz them • look at their notes and ask them questions they might not have thought of to give them the opportunity to think and solve on the spot
Make them read, read, read • magazines, trashy novels, good novels, newspapers, online articles, anything but MSN • they built comprehension, speed and fluidity and absorb how to use punctuation from reading – it is a skill to be practiced
Encourage them to be involved at school and in the community • athletics, arts, altruistic clubs, academic competitions, student council, library helper • Studies show that kids with a variety of peer groups give them opportunities for wise choices • See our website for extra-curricular activities at Highland - under the “Students” heading
Encourage positive thinking • model and teach them to find the positive in their academics, their teachers, their activities and their friends • Build resiliency by teaching them how to overcome the obstacles and negatives in life
Monitor their friends and their social activities • they are teens and their impulse control centre of the brain isn’t fully formed until into their 20’s – our children are still our responsibility even though they may act like adults and push us away • Barbara Coloroso … Kids Are Worth It! • trust your gut – if something seems off, pursue it – this is your child
“I have spent far too much time, money and love on you to let someone else ruin my investment.” - a successful parent’s humourous and effective line
Teach Right from Wrong • teens are very influenced by their peers – don’t let their peers raise them • keep your influence prominent by discussing moral issues so when they are in a difficult situation, they will have had practice figuring out what to do • teens can be very crafty at hiding their poor behaviour – it is important to teach them right from wrong so they can make good decisions independently • Use “teachable moments” to generate discussion
Help them to research options and set goals • Use Career Studies (1/2 credit in grade 10) to launch your family research into post-secondary plans • Visit campuses and workplaces • Expose your child to the outside world • Help them to set short-term and long-term goals
Recommended Reading • Coloroso, Barbara Kids are Worth it! Giving Your Child the Gift of Inner Discipline How to Talk so Kids Can Learn • Adel Faber and Elaine Mazlish How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and So Kids will Talk - also a “Teen” version • Covey, Sean The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens The 6 Most Important Decisions You'll Ever Make