new years resolutions

New Year, New (Smarter) You: this one's for the parents!

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Okay okay, so in 2015 you yelled, you cried, you threatened – and it didn’t REALLY work – did it? You vow that 2016 will be the year that your child takes ownership over school, but you need to make sure that happens without losing your sanity! I get it, and I've got ideas! I was on Global Television's morning show last week with my top three tips on how to help your child while helping yourself. I wanted to share those tips in written form, and add a few more to the list - so here I go!

1. Give your child the independence they crave. This isn’t as scary as it sounds – I promise! Your teenager wants to feel as though you trust them, and as though they’re independent – they crave it. Cut them a deal: if they can show you a study schedule (make them SHOW you) and stick to it, you’ll stop bugging them to study. Simple – you get to stop stressing, they get to do all the work – just like you always wanted! Make sure you come up with a concrete plan with timelines. They get to try their plan for two weeks, or until their next test or assignment is due. Once you see how they've done on that evaluation, you can decide whether the schedule is working or not! Oh, and make sure you check in with their teacher to see if their homework is being done - if their schedule is as tight as they profess, they should be getting everything done on time, and it should show in class!

2. Get connected.  As a parent, it’s important to use your resources (aka precious, precious TIME!) wisely. Stressing over your kid’s homework is a futile way to spend time – but using that time to connect with your child’s teachers = useful! Get to know each and every one of them and ask the following:

  1. How is my child currently doing?
  2. How can they improve (specifically)?
  3. How can I help you help them?

We're all busy, so if you can't find time to actually hit the classroom, send them an email. Teachers want to help, and they want your child to do well. Taking a few minutes to make the connection and to find out what their expectations are will let them know that you - and your child - really care!

3. Go Feng Shui.  Okay you don't have to like, totally go Feng Shui, but you should definitely consider creating a chill study zone in your home. Often kids find it hard to get in the groove because they don't have a designated space that triggers that study-vibe lurking within. Create a designated space to be used for schoolwork ONLY - and keep it that way!

4. Emphasize effort instead of grades.  Sometimes it feels like the only purpose of doing homework, doing well on tests, and spending countless hours studying, is to achieve some sort of benchmark. A student once asked me what the point was of putting in the amount of effort she did, if she didn't ultimately get the grade she wanted. I was totally shocked - and sort of really sad! Working hard in school not only builds character and work ethic - it turns your mind into a kaleidoscope of information that never existed before! Learning is amazing and learning HOW to learn is amazing. Just because your child's marks aren't skyrocketing, that doesn't mean that they aren't working hard and gaining something from the experience. Make sure you place importance on the process so that they feel confident and productive always!

5. Help your child set and achieve THEIR goals.  We spend so much time emphasizing our goals that we forget that our kids are little humans with dreams and aspirations of their own. It's not really that inspiring trying to reach goals set by someone ELSE. And that's why this is the best idea ever.

Think about it: it’s hard for kids to get motivated when it seems as though their life is an endless pile of work. School has a purpose, and that purpose is to ultimately place your child in a position to achieve their dreams. This is the perfect time to sit down with your child and have a heart to heart – get them to write down a list of goals, short and long term. Without pressure, talk to them about how they might achieve those goals. Getting focused in a casual way can be not only anxiety-reducing, but really inspiring! Plus, you can finally stop asking them WHAT THE HECK THEY PLAN TO DO WITH THEIR LIVES!

Got a tip on how to make 2016 the year your child does academically better without driving you nuts? Let us know - comment below!

 

New Year, New (Smarter) You!

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It’s THAT time of the year again – the time when hope springs eternal and the chance to reinvent yourself into a new (smarter) you seems more possible than ever. But let’s be honest: it’s also that time when many of us feel that we’re screwed, that with half of the school year behind us, there’s no chance of catching up to where we wish we were. Well, I’m here to help you see that educational glass as half full and to help you take 2016 by storm! Here are ten ways in which YOU can turn your academic frown UPSIDE DOWN - Let’s do this!

1. Go tech free. Okay relax - I don't mean forEVER! But seriously, turning off your phone, laptop, whatever, for even an HOUR, can make a huge difference to your productivity - and to your state of mind in general. Okay I get it, your phone’s on silent – DOESN’T MATTER! Just KNOWING that your phone is potentially buzzing with messages is enough to distract you from focusing 100% on what's in front of you. Set aside one hour each night, and vow to dedicate it to just you and your textbook – no technology allowed.

2. Set tangible goals. It's easy to say that you want to be a 'better' student, do 'more' homework, or get 'higher' grades - but what do those things actually mean? Setting goals you can actually measure doesn't only mean that you have something to strive for, but that you'll have something to celebrate. Try "I want my math mark to increase by 5% this semester" instead of "I want my math mark to increase," or "I want to start studying for my tests 1 week in advance" instead of "I want to stop cramming last minute."

3. Get an agenda that you love - and use it. Ahhhh the crux of every students' educational success: time management! Okay listen - time management is hard for most of the population, but the key is mastering it as soon as humanly possible so that you never have to struggle with it again. Trust me.The first step is realizing that everyone finds organization overwhelming and that that's totally fine. So chill. The second step is embracing it as a challenge, and being determined to JUST DO IT. The third step is getting the tools you need to make it happen.

I always loved the physical agenda - a beautiful, new-smelling book with fresh pages waiting for a smooth pen to mark them up with dates and plans and promises. I always found that the agendas my school gave me were wayyyy too small and it seriously stressed me out having to cram all that info into each tiny space, so I always made a point of getting a giant agenda from a pretty bookstore. BUT even I will admit that now, I'm totally tech - I like to have everything on my phone so that I can access my plans super easily, and change things without having to white them out. There are a TON of apps to help keep you organized, such as My Homework App - this thing is genius, and guaranteed to kickstart your time management process! My absolute fave, and the one I use, is good ol' Google Calendar - can't go wrong with that. The key to all of these tools though - is to use them! Become addicted to entering, refining and re-checking when you're supposed to be doing everything - soon that in itself will become therapeutic instead of overwhelming!

4. Stop procrastinating. Like you haven’t vowed to do this a million times before, right? But seriously, make this time different. Be mindful of when you’re procrastinating, what you’re even DOING when you’re procrastinating, and why you’re procrastinating. These three things alone will make a HUGE difference. Just starting to identify moments of procrastination instead of pleading ignorance, is the first step in making yourself stop!

5. Make mornings matter. Mornings are like this secret treasure trove that often goes overlooked. Hitting snooze a billion times, eventually dragging yourself out of bed, missing breakfast, and throwing yourself into your period 1 class just in time for the bell to ring – well, that sucks! Morning is my favourite time. Nothing has happened yet, the whole day lies ahead, it’s like bonus time. Try waking up 30 minutes earlier than usual, making a cup of tea, lighting a candle, and writing down three goals for your day. Or three things that are going to make today awesome. Or simply writing your morning thoughts. I know it sounds cheesy – but systematically starting your mornings this way could be the biggest game changer ever! For more magical morning game changers, check out Forbes' 10 Morning Habits Successful People Swear By!

6. Tell yourself you're awesome. Okay so you’ve set your goals, you’ve obtained a shiny new agenda, you’re waking up bright and early every morning, and you’re waiting for magic to happen. It’s easy to get discouraged – that’s the whole thing with resolutions – people go hard the first week, and then start slacking when they don’t see immediate results. But you’re not going to be one of those people – RIGHT?! The key is to remember that good things come to those who wait – and to those who persevere. You need to legit tell yourself, every day, that you are AWESOME for sticking to your resolutions, and even MORE awesome for doing so EVEN THOUGH you haven’t seen results yet. Look in that mirror, and tell yourself that you ROCK. EVERY DAY.

7. Pick ONE bad habit to get rid of. If you can actually get rid of ONE bad habit this year – how incredible would that be?! Pick something, anything. Maybe you ALWAYS wait until the last minute to study; maybe you always go to bed later than you should; maybe you always stuff your worksheets into your bag instead of putting them into your binder; maybe you never check your answers when you do your homework; maybe you NEVER DO YOUR HOMEWORK! Whatever it is, write it down, and vow to obliterate it THIS YEAR!

8. Get to know your teacher. Half the year has gone by and what do you REALLY know about your teacher? I’m not saying you need to become full-on BFF, but start getting to know what they look for when grading your tests and assignments, when they’re around for extra help, and what resources they can provide to help you gain higher grades and a better understanding of course material. Most of your teachers WANT to help you – they’re just waiting for you to ask. You will be shocked at how much you’ve been missing!

9. Be realistic. Guys, remember - Rome wasn’t built in a day. You’re not going to go full on “She’s all that” makeover overnight, and you really don’t need to. Even though you’re setting goals to change a number of things, there are a BUNCH of things you don’t NEED to change! That’s because there are a ton of things that you’re doing RIGHT – remember that. It’s easy to focus on everything you’re doing wrong, but don’t succumb to that trap – remember that you rock – and that setting resolutions is just a way to fine-tune your already well-oiled machine!

10. If at first you don’t succeed…CHILL OUT. So you sleep in late one morning, get a crappy test mark, forget to do your homework – that doesn’t mean you throw the entire plan out the window! It means you re-set your alarm, re-jig your agenda, and get back on track tomorrow morning. There’s always a new month, a new week, a new day, a new minute – a new chance for a new - smarter - YOU!

Got any advice on how to make – and keep – educational resolutions?! Share your words of wisdom in the comments section below, would love to hear from you!