Back to School Prep, Easy Action Items, Executive Functions Training, Great for All Ages, The Happy Student Podcast

#33 Back to School On Time

Teaching your kids to make good decisions can be really hard. Developing a family motto can make that a lot easier. Family mottos, such as “We are kind” or “We are inclusive” help kids develop a sense of self. Then, they naturally want to behave in ways that confirm that they are indeed kind or inclusive. When faced with a tough decision, parents can refer their kids to the family motto to then help them make a good decision.

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Without the ability to manage our time, we may spend all afternoon playing and not have enough time to do our homework because we saved all of our homework for later. Without time management skills, we get to school late and then, even if our backpack is organized, we are not able to pay attention to the teacher as she starts her lesson because we are just running into class. 

Here are a few good ideas on how to learn to manage our time. 

Start a morning music routine. 

  • Use a morning music playlist to get up and get ready for school.
  • Start with slower music just to get out of bed. By a certain song, your child knows he needs to be out of bed and brushing his teeth. By a more energetic song, he knows he needs to be out of the shower and getting dressed. By a faster song, he knows he should be eating breakfast. As the morning goes on, the music gets faster. By a certain fast song, your child knows it’s time to be gathering materials. And by the final, very exciting song, the message is to drop everything and run to the car! 
  • Play the same playlist every morning so that your child gets used to it.
  • It also gives your child some freedom from parents yelling at him to wake up. It is 100% up to them if they want to have to rush later. 

Have a seperate music playlist for studying. 

  • Have a 30 minute (or shorter for younger kids) playlist of just classical music. When your child is studying, it should be in 30 minute increments. 
  • Play the same playlist so that your child gets used to it. 
  • Creating this music habit will help your child start working when the music comes on as well as when there is just 5 minutes left, but his mind is drifting, it will be easier for them to come back on task knowing the playlist is almost done. 

Buy an analog clock. 

  •  Analog clocks are really good at teaching children about the passage of time – way better than digital clocks. Kids need to be able to estimate how long their tasks will take them in order to plan when to start their work so that they can finish it before bedtime.
  • Start teaching your children about how long it takes them to do work with the analog clock. Put a sticker on the clock when your kid starts work. Then when 5 problems are done, see what time it is and put on a new sticker to see how long it took to do 5 math problems. The same thing can be done when your child reads a 10 pages of a book. 
  • Another thing you can do with your analog clock is to have “time robber” stickers. This idea comes from Executive Functions expert Sara Ward. Time robbers are anything that take you away from the task you are supposed to be working on. So if you go to the bathroom, get a drink, sharpen your pencil, start daydreaming, or play on your phone, your time has been robbed. Whenever that happens during your work, put a time robber sticker on the clock. This helps your kids remind themselves to do their assignment. Once it’s all done, the two of you can talk nonjudgmentally about ways to avoid the time robbers next time, such as going to the bathroom before work starts.
  • Use analog clocks is to plan out an entire hour. Use a dry erase marker to draw your plan out on the clock so that you see when you should be doing each task. You can put stickers at the halfway marks so you can look at the clock and see if you are over half way done with your time or if you are moving more quickly than expected. 
  • If your child starts late, show on the analog clock how that affects the rest of the hour. Again, nonjudgmentally, just matter of factly. If your child senses any judgment, they won’t let you help them with the analog clock anymore.
  • If your child finishes early, yay! However, they can’t go to the break because that would encourage them to finish their work as quickly as possible and not as well as possible. So instead, they can start the next task or another part of homework for the remaining minutes.
  • Finally, if the work takes more than the time allotted they can 
    • keep working if they are on a roll and you two will re-plan the hour after the work is completed or 
    • they can take a break and go back to work and find time for the other work later or 
    • take a break and go on to the other work and find time to finish later. It’s up to your child. 
  • If you don’t love the analog clock, lots of people like timers. There are some that have a red face that as time passes, the face becomes white, so you can see how much time you have left based on how much red is on the face. 

Another good idea is the octopus watch for younger children. Every time they are supposed to do something, the watch vibrates and shows you what you should be doing.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this episode! Comment below or send us an email!

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Definitions, Executive Functions Training, Great for All Ages, Parent Tips, The Happy Student Podcast

#107 Learning to Think About What You’re Doing

Metacognition: a useful skill that can help you study better because you know what you’re good at and what you need to improve. It can help you make better decisions, like when you just want to yell at someone because that would feel good but you realize that’s not actually the best course of action – which is helpful as a student, in the workforce on a team, as well as as a partner, parent, and friend. But it’s a really difficult thing to teach. Fireborn’s got 6 tips to make it easier!

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Metacognition is defined as “an awareness or understanding of one’s own thought process.” It’s  thinking about thinking.

The executive skills specialists, Peg Dawson and Richard Guare, describe good metacognition as…

  • You can routinely evaluate your performance and devise methods for personal improvement,
  • You can step back from a situation in order to make objective decisions,
  • You can ‘read’ situations well and adjust your behavior based on the reactions of others.

Metacognition is a useful skill that can help you study better because you know what you’re good at and what you need to improve, so you can practice that deliberate studying from episode 95. It can help you make better decisions to choose the best course of action. 

Ways to help your child develop metacognition

Make some goals.

  • It’s really helpful if your kid comes up with these goals for themselves because then the goals are something they really care about. 
  • You need a goal so that you can practice thinking about evaluating your performance and coming up with ways to improve.

Strategize.

  • Strategizing and spending time planning helps us think about what we actually want to accomplish, come up with a way to do it, and then we can actually do it. Practicing going through this thought process helps develop metacognition because it helps us evaluate what we are doing and adjust our behavior

Ask questions.

The following questions are super helpful and come from a blog called Inner Drive. So the questions to be asking are:

  • What do I want to achieve?
  • What should I do first?
  • Am I on the right track?
  • What can I do differently?
  • Who can I ask for help? 

And then there are questions to ask yourself at the end:

  • What worked well?
  • What could I have done better?
  • Can I apply this to other situations?
  • Ask these questions in a collaborative tone as your child works on accomplishing their goals. It would also be a great idea for you to set your own goals and ask yourself these questions to model all of this for your kid.

Stop and take stock.

  • With those goals that you have, make plans to check-in later. Maybe that means you set a calendar reminder for a week from today to see how you’re doing. Or maybe it means once you’ve done 1 hour of work, you take a break and reflect on the work you’ve done.

Review behavior and tell stories.

  • Once you have worked towards achieving your goal, or you have achieved your goal, review what you did well and what needs improvement. 
  • One way to do that is to tell a simple story – the story of what you did. Taking the time to say out loud what you did slows down your thought process and gives you time to pause and reflect.

Meditate.

  • So much of the trouble with executive functions comes from stress and/or an inability to slow down and make intentional choices. Meditation helps with that. It’s a stress reducer and it slows us down so that we are responsive instead of reflexive, so that we make intentional choices instead of being driven by habit. 
  • For help with meditation, there are apps like Calm and 10% Happier, and the book Sitting Still Like a Frog is a good one too.

Resources:

Inner Drive Questions

Teaching Metacognition

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this episode! Comment below or send us an email!

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Difficult Topics, Executive Functions Training, Great for All Ages, Motivating the Unmotivated, School Advice, The Happy Student Podcast, The Procrastination Problem, Use Your Summer Wisely

#106 3! 2! 1! Blastoff! How To Get to Work

If your kid doesn’t believe in getting started on homework as soon as possible; if procrastination is a problem; and if tasks are often left to the last minute, your child most likely struggles with the executive function skill called task initiation. Fireborn’s here to help with 8 tips for building task initiation skills this summer!

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It’s hard to get started working. Most of us have to use at least some willpower to stop doing something fun in order to start doing something not fun, but necessary. 

Another problem that can lead to procrastination is anxiety. If you are scared you don’t know how to do the homework, you may want to avoid it. And then you avoid it for so long that there is no possible way to finish it in time and you’ve done two things: 1. You’ve reinforced this belief that you didn’t know how to do the work, so now you are scared for tomorrow night’s homework. Or 2. You don’t really have to blame yourself because you didn’t have enough time to finish and if you had, then you might be able to tell yourself that you could have done it. Therefore keeping your pride intact. 

The summer is the perfect time to practice building those task initiation skills because the stakes are lower. Once you’ve got some task initiation skills and you go back to school when there is more pressure, you’ll already have some skills developed.

Today we are going to talk about finding ways to practice this executive function skill over the summer. 

  • Your child can practice with any reading lists, math packets, or stuff like that from school. 
  • If your child is going to camp and there is homework or practice for something like a play. 
  • Or maybe your child is taking swim lessons or tennis lessons – practicing at home like juggling a tennis ball on the racket could be seen as “homework”. 

You can set some goals at the beginning of the summer with your child. These goals should be child-generated. Having fun this summer is definitely an important goal. And then you can figure out what your child plans on doing to have fun. From there, talk with your child about some other goals. Just because these are things your kid wants to do, doesn’t mean they will actually be good at leaving video games behind to do it. So it will require practicing task initiation, at least at some point.

You can teach your child these 8 task initiation tips.

1. Use a “Rocketship Countdown”. 

  • Simply countdown like they do with rocketships, “3, 2, 1, blastoff!” and on “blastoff” you “blastoff” and go do whatever it is you need to get done. 
  • Being enthusiastic can be really helpful. 
  • Modeling it for your kid can encourage them to just do it too.

2. Create a music playlist for work time

  • Build a music playlist that does not have any words. Words in the music can take away brain power from reading and other verbal skills you need during homework time. 
  • Every time they are working on something, play the playlist. The playlist will eventually become a habit – it will cue that it is time for work and will help your child get into the working mindset. 

3. Develop routines. 

  • The nice thing about routines is that we don’t have to think about them – we just do them. So, if you can start making some work routines this summer, and the cues are the same in the school year, it can help them just work when they are cued.
  • Cues can be things like… 
    • the time of day, 
    • a sound, 
    • or a set of activities.

4. Work in short bursts with breaks

  • The thought of working for an unknown quantity of time can be intimidating. If your child just has to work until “it’s finished” – that can really dissuade them from wanting to get down to business because who knows how long that could take. 
  • They are also more likely to realize that the work is not as bad as they thought and they might get on a roll and keep going for longer, but maybe not and that’s okay too.

5. Preview the work and then take a break

  • By suggesting that your child just preview the work and not actually do any of it, you remove a lot of potential stress about how difficult the work will actually be. 
  • While they are having fun taking a break, their brain is still thinking about how to approach the work. So then when it’s time to get back to work, they already have some ideas on what to do, making it easier to just get started again.

6. Start using “Brain Breaks”

  • As Stacy Vernon from the Center for Brain Health writes, you need to “take frequent brain breaks to ‘recharge’ your mental energy.” Pushing yourself beyond the point of mental exhaustion stresses the brain. 
  • Building in brain down-time every day helps alleviate the stress that builds up throughout the day and can result in a feeling of mental exhaustion and low-level anxiety. 
  • Consider the 5 x 5 method, “taking 5 minutes of down time 5 times throughout the day.” Spend these times doing something that is relaxing to you! These brain breaks are meant to be times of zero effort thought – not zero thought at all.”

7. Use explicit instructions. 

  • When you have clear goals and steps to achieve the goals, it’s much easier to get started on the first step. 
  • You can help your child by giving them explicit instructions when you ask them to do stuff and by going through any assignments, cooking instructions, engineering project instructions (like Legos) with them ahead of time and answering any questions they have about what they mean, or showing them what those instructions mean. That will give them practice understanding what it looks like to follow instructions or to figure out the steps based on what is assigned. 

8. Figure out if you should do the hard stuff or the easy stuff first.

  • Talk to your child about what you prefer to do and point out opportunities that they have to figure it out for themselves. 

Resources:

Brain Breaks

Center for BrainHealth

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this episode! Comment below or send us an email!

HERE’S HOW TO SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW

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Podcast reviews are important to iTunes and the more reviews we can receive, the more likely we will be able to get our podcast and important messages in front of more parents! I would greatly appreciate if you clicked here and left a review letting me know your thoughts on this episode!

Definitions, Difficult Topics, Easy Action Items, Executive Functions Training, Parent Tips, The Happy Student Podcast

#105 Emotional Games with Alison Smith

We so often value logic and discount the value of emotions – well not today! Today, parent coach Alison Smith tells us about the importance of emotions and gives us ideas on how to help our kids develop their emotional intelligence.

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The importance of emotional intelligence is beyond just knowing that we have emotions and your children have emotions, so we need to deal with them.

Emotional Quotient (EQ) is our emotional intelligence. Our EQ is a better predictor of our future success than IQ.

When we are unable to identify within ourselves a particular emotion that we are feeling, it stays stuck inside. So, we don’t deal with it in a proactive and healthy manner. 

When we can pinpoint the exact emotion that we are experiencing, we can physically feel a change. It feels lighter and less intimidating. We can grow in our confidence, take a deep breath, and feel more ready to take on what we are faced with. 

In the English language there are about 30,000 words related to emotions. But, we typically only use about twelve words. Until we can state the emotion that is very specific to what we are feeling, we are still stuck. The emotion will then grow until we explode, leak, or both. 

By growing our emotional vocabulary development and recognizing it within ourselves and others we grow our empathy towards what it is others are experiencing. If we can pinpoint the emotions others are feeling (or take our best guess), then we can almost immediately feel more compassion towards them. Our interactions and communication will then be very different once we get a sense of where they are coming from. This can change relationships at home between parents with their children, couples, and parents with grandparents.  

Alison recommends a card game called You EQ that can help build one’s EQ.

  • There are cards called Conversational EQ because we are using conversation to develop our intelligence and also using conversation in the real world after the game.
  • Each card has an emotion on it. The simplest way to play is to identify the feeling that you have on your card and then say something about your thinking in relation to the emotion.  
  • There is no big conversation about it. There isn’t any feedback for each other, besides saying, “Thanks for sharing.”
  • This game should ideally be played several times a week for approximately ten minutes. It can be played with your kids, colleagues, work team, etc.
  • This game will help retrain your brain and improve conversation. 
  • There are about five different ways to play with each deck and each deck has a different focus. So, there is always something new. 

Other recommendations:

  • Today I Feel…: An Alphabet of Feelings
    • This book helps grow your child’s emotional vocabulary, which is an important starting place for emotional intelligence. 
  • The Ungame 
    • This is a non-competitive board game that works on improving your social and communication skills.  

References & Resources:

Alison Smith Parent Coach

You EQ Games

The Ungame

Today I Feel…: An Alphabet of Feelings

Michele Borba’s book: UnSelfie: How Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All About Me World

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this episode! Comment below or send us an email!

HERE’S HOW TO SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW

Want to be the first to know when a new episode is released? Click here to subscribe to The Happy Student on iTunes!

Podcast reviews are important to iTunes and the more reviews we can receive, the more likely we will be able to get our podcast and important messages in front of more parents! I would greatly appreciate if you clicked here and left a review letting me know your thoughts on this episode!

Difficult Topics, Executive Functions Training, Great for All Ages, Stress Management, The Happy Student Podcast

#101 Emotional Control

It can be really difficult for kids to focus on school work when they’re having social troubles and yet sometimes we have to sit through class or study for a test even though we are going through tough times. We have to be able to control our emotions in order to get stuff done. Learning to control our emotions when it’s hard requires learning how to do that when our emotions aren’t out of control. Fireborn’s got 6 tips to help you help your kid control their emotions when times are easy so that they are easier to control when times are hard.

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Peg Dawson and Richard Guare state that you have good emotional control if you agree with the following three statements:

1.     My emotions seldom get in the way when performing on the job.

2.     Little things do not affect me emotionally or distract me from the task at hand.

3.     I can defer my personal feelings until after the task has been completed.

It can be really difficult for kids to focus on school work when they’re having social troubles, maybe they just had a fight with their friend or maybe they didn’t do well on a test and they feel anxious about it. Those anxious or sad emotions can get in the way of focusing in the current class. It can be distressing to have to wait until recess to talk to your friend to repair the relationship. It’s okay to have those distressed, anxious, sad emotions. It’s normal. It’s natural.

So, emotional control is not about not feeling emotions. It’s about recognizing that you have that emotion, but not letting it get in the way of you doing what you need to do. We do not want our emotions to control us.

Your child is feeling sad because their friend hurt their feelings. But he/she can’t always mend the relationship right away. He/she has to be able to get stuff done even though he/she is dealing with a lot of emotions. So how do he/she do that?

We need to calm down – but I would NEVER recommend saying that to anyone. Saying “Calm down” to someone invalidates their feelings, making them feel like you don’t understand, and so they get further enraged. So instead of saying, “Calm down”, we work on techniques for calming down, like meditation.

  • Practicing 10 minutes of meditation a day when we are already calm helps us to realize when we are getting agitated and need to meditate in other situations.
  • Finding an app like Calm or a CD or activity book for meditation like Sitting Still Like a Frog can help teach your child to notice when their emotions are overwhelming them and can give them strategies to calm themselves down.

Another technique you can teach your kid for calming down is to teach them how to realize when they are flipping their lid. Flipping your lid is one way experts use to describe what’s happening in your brain when your emotions take charge.

  • To describe flipping your lid goes like this…
  • Use your hand closed as a fist to represent your brain. Your palm is the “downstairs” brain – the emotional part of your brain. The downstairs emotional part of your brain quickly determines threats and reacts.
  • The upstairs part of your brain are your fingers covering that palm when your hand is in a fist. The upstairs part of your brain is the logical, problem solving part of your brain. So it works with the downstairs brain to figure out if there is really a threat and what to do about it.
  • When you are calm, your upstairs and downstairs brain are working together nicely to sort through your emotions and problem solve anything that pops up.
  • But when we get overwhelmed, we “flip our lid” – when that happens the fingers rise up and your upstairs brain is no longer connected to your downstairs brain. Your downstairs brain, your emotions, have taken control. And you can no longer think clearly and problem solve.

Then you teach them the trick to getting back to that brain that looks like a fist where the downstairs and upstairs are working well together – and the trick is to BREATHE.

  • Breathing out slowly cools off your downstairs brain and allows your upstairs brain to come back and work with your emotions. So each time you flip your lid, count how many breaths you need to take until your lid has come back down.

Exercise is also always a good option for getting your emotions back in check. There is something about using up all that anxious or angry energy that helps us to re-center ourselves.

Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg recommends that you “Blank it out” which means that you fill in the blank and write it out, dance it out, sing it out, draw it out, or whatever you want to blank it out.

Finally, to prepare for times when you know your emotions could get out of control, role play the scenario at home first.

  • Problem solve ahead of time so that when they get to the scary situation they are equipped with strategies to deal with their anxiety.

To summarize… to help your child develop emotional control:

1.     Meditate

2.     Teach your kids about flipping their lid

3.     Teach your kids the solution to flipping their lid: breathing

4.     Exercise

5.     Blank it out

6.     Role play

Resources:

Calm

Flipping Your Lid

Sitting Still Like a Frog

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this episode! Comment below or send us an email!

HERE’S HOW TO SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW

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Podcast reviews are important to iTunes and the more reviews we can receive, the more likely we will be able to get our podcast and important messages in front of more parents! I would greatly appreciate if you clicked here and left a review letting me know your thoughts on this episode!

Definitions, Easy Action Items, Executive Functions Training, School Advice, The Happy Student Podcast

#100 : Work that Memory

Working memory is basically your short-term memory. If you struggle with working memory, you just don’t have the space in your short-term memory to remember what you just read. It can be hard for note taking because maybe you want to respond to your teacher’s question, but the person next to you is making a good point – how do you write down what they are saying while remembering what you want to say? It’s super hard and frustrating! So we’ve got some tips to help you improve your kids’ working memory!

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Working memory is basically your short-term memory. It’s all the information you are storing and using now.

If you disagree with the following statements, it means that working memory is not one of your strengths:

  • I have a good memory for facts, dates, and details.
  • I am very good at remembering the things I have committed to do.
  • I seldom need reminders to complete tasks.

Here are some other things to look out for if you are worried your kid might have weak working memory skills (these are provided by Attitude Magazine):

  • You want to join in a conversation, but, by the time the other person stops talking, you forget what you wanted to say.
  • You consistently lose your keys, cell phone, wallet, or homework.
  • You get lost easily, even when you were just given directions.
  • You have trouble following a conversation because you forget what the other person has just said.
  • You have many unfinished projects because you become distracted and forget about the first project.
  • You plan to do some work at home, but you forget to bring needed items with you.
  • You have to reread a paragraph several times to retain the information.
  • You miss deadlines at work because of your disorganization and inability to follow through on projects.

Tips on improving working memory:

Write it all down

Write down everything. If your kid really wants to use an app for things like a planner, that’s fine, but there is something about actually writing it down on paper that can help improve memory as well.

Break down overwhelming projects into simple, targeted tasks

Write down all of the things you have to do to study – like redo all the old tests and quizzes, redo the old homework problems, and so on. Then do one task at a time.

Reduce multitasking

Multitasking is really taxing on your brain’s resources. It’s much easier for your brain to do one thing and then move on to the next.

Develop routines

Routines make it so you don’t have to think about what you are doing – you just do it automatically. That reduces the amount of resources your brain has to use, freeing it up to spend those resources on other things.

Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness and meditation help to reduce distractions and improve focus, both of which are very important to improving your working memory.

Play games

Games like Memory, the card game, Uno, Go Fish, Crazy Eights, and Sudoku help you to stretch and grow those working memory muscles. You can also check out CogMed, Play Attention, and Lumosity for some working memory games.

Work on visualization

Have your kid draw pictures of what they just heard.

Have your child teach you the skill that they are working on

This gets them engaging with the information in a more active way than passively listening to the teacher and trying to remember it later.

One big overarching theme is reduce distractions.

Another theme is to help your kid interact with the information by visualizing it or teaching it to you or making it interesting or unique in another way that we didn’t talk about like turning it into a song or something like that.

References & Resources:

Attitude Mag

CogMed

Lumosity

Play Attention

Understood.org

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this episode! Comment below or send us an email!

HERE’S HOW TO SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW

Want to be the first to know when a new episode is released? Click here to subscribe to The Happy Student on iTunes!

Podcast reviews are important to iTunes and the more reviews we can receive, the more likely we will be able to get our podcast and important messages in front of more parents! I would greatly appreciate if you clicked here and left a review letting me know your thoughts on this episode!

Executive Functions Training, Great for All Ages, Motivating the Unmotivated, School Advice, The Happy Student Podcast

#94: Just Get Started

It can be really hard for kids to start writing a paper or to work on math problems because “They just don’t know how”. But one of the best ways, is to just get started! That is a surprisingly tough lesson to teach. Fireborn’s got a few tips to make it a little easier!

CHECK OUT THE EPISODE BELOW: 

This episode focuses on the executive function skill called initiation, which involves  just getting started.

I struggled with writing when I was young. I didn’t understand the usefulness of outlines and I would often get overwhelmed because there was so much stuff that needed to go into a paper. I wouldn’t know where to start. I’d look at a blank screen and that certainly wouldn’t help. But that thought process – that “I don’t know where to start” thinking is the problem. Because you just have to get started anywhere so that your brain starts thinking about the problem and without knowing it, you’ll finally realize that you’ve been writing your paper. Or at least getting some productive thoughts out.

So how can you help your kid just get started writing? I…

  • read the instructions and as I read them, on my blank page, I made a to do list of things that the paper needed.
  • wrote a simple thesis on the page: “This is a paper about ________”.
  • wrote an outline.
  • talked or wrote down my first thoughts that maybe don’t mean much, but that just got my brain started thinking about what I needed to write about. Often, you may think that these thoughts aren’t useful, but you can usually use them somewhere in your paper – intro, conclusion, as part of an argument or evidence. Or maybe you can’t, but it at least gets you started thinking about what you want to say and that’s the goal.

When you give these suggestions, make sure they come across as suggestions. Kids prefer to have the ability to choose how they go about doing things. They don’t like to be told what to do – they get enough of that. So it can really be helpful if you just give options. They may not take those options right away, but they will always be there in the back of their minds and eventually you will get through to them!

So I had a hard time in general with standardized testing especially with math problems. I would read the word problem and if I didn’t know exactly how I was going to figure it out, I would just kind of stare at it for a little bit, not write anything down, and look at my tutor and say, “I don’t know.” It was very similar to how I handled chemistry problems that I didn’t understand. I wouldn’t write anything down and I’d move on to the next question.

I was advised to just start doing some math – whatever math you think is right. Try it out. Even if it doesn’t get you to the right place, it will get you somewhere and that will give you information about where you went wrong. And so despite my protestations and because of my tutor’s patient insistence, I would start trying the math that I knew was going to be wrong.

Just getting started by writing the problems down helped me figure out the right answer eventually. By thinking about the problem only, I was denying myself the opportunity to think more deeply about the problem and figure out where my thinking was off track. But by writing down my first thoughts and reviewing my work and just giving my brain time to think more about the problem, I was able to figure out the answers. Just getting started, even if you start in a place that isn’t right, gets your brain thinking about the problem and helps you solve it.

The best way you can help your kid get started is to sit with them (if they are happy to have you sit with them) and to just gently encourage them to try anything and review their work. By patiently sitting with them, you also show them that it’s okay if it takes time to figure out a problem. By patiently sitting with them, you free them up from that need for speed.  You’re essentially giving them the gift of time to really work on a problem. You are showing them that sometimes it takes time and that’s okay. You can also try telling them about how their brain works.

References:

Executive Functions Overview

The Happy Student #15: It’s Paper Time!


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