As summer comes to an end and the school year draws near, many parents find themselves considering how to best prepare their students for the upcoming school year. Perhaps you are asking yourself this question.
Here are seven strategies that we recommend to help your child have a successful 2015-2016 school campaign:
1. Read ahead. Stay ahead.
Imagine a track race in which your child is always given a head start of twenty minutes. There is an easy strategy that provides your child the same advantage: Read one chapter ahead. In every class. Every time. Reading ahead can help your child understand the organization of a lecture, take better notes, and differentiate between important material and less-important details. It will also undoubtedly give your child additional confidence to speak up in class, which is a critical grading factor.
2. Understand your child’s “study zone.”
A study zone is the time at which your child’s brain is most actively open to receiving, sharing, and processing new information. Is your child an early bird or a midnight owl? Understanding your child’s study zone can help her make the best use most of her time.
3. Watch your child’s diet.
Did you know that a child’s diet affects how effectively she can learn? A 2012 UCLA study showed that a high-fructose diet can harm your child’s ability to learn and remember. The damage can be done by eating large quantities of sugar in as little as six weeks. The average American consumes 35 pounds of high-fructose corn syrup per year. Is your child’s diet sabotaging her future success? The good news is that eating more omega-3 fatty acids can actual help acquisition and retention of information.
4. Make a commitment to physical and mental exercise.
According to the New York Times, a decade of scientific research has shown that exercise can improve your child’s ability to learn and remember. Even just a few minutes of exercise prior to studying can make study time more fruitful. Better yet, a new study shows that light exercise while learning new material can facilitate its retention through to the next day and beyond!
5. Encourage your child to be curious, to read widely and broadly, and to follow her interests.
It is a common adage that a child’s mind is like a sponge. Instead, we encourage you to think of your child’s mind as an oven. You can bake a mouth-watering blueberry pie in an oven. But you can’t do it without using quality ingredients in the right proportions. Feed your child’s mind with the right ingredients—whether it’s an engaging summer novel appropriate to her reading level, a fascinating opinion piece in the New York Times on a controversial (albeit age-appropriate) issue, or a couple pages from a science or nature magazine explaining a commonly misunderstood phenomena. A varied diet of high-quality reading materials will uncage your child’s creativity. You’ll thank us in September when she sits in front of his MacBook Pro to write the semester’s first essay.
6. Teach your child self-regulation now.
So your child had a productive summer of standardized test practice, team sports, and a family vacation full of sunshine. Congratulations, your child is on his way to commencing his college application process. But what happens when your child goes off to the college of his dreams, thousands of miles away? Thousands of miles away from YOU. That’s right, you will not be there to encourage him to attend all his classes, do all his homework, say no to drugs, and avoid eating that extra serving of soft serve at the university cafeteria. Whether your child is in elementary school or high school, now is the time to teach him to self-regulate. But…
7. Do not micro-manage.
Evidence abounds that restricting a child’s freedom can have negative effects on your child’s mental health later in life. Specifically, micro-managing children can lead to anxiety. How can a parent funnel a child’s creativity without compromising her budding self-regulation skills? Striking the right balance may be a challenge.
Accomplishing your child’s back-to-school educational goals can be difficult when going at it alone. Fortunately, our seasoned tutors, college counselors, and academic advisors can help.
For more information from the study experts on these or other school related issues, call your local Chyten Center, or call 800-428-TEST (8378) to be connected.