Wednesday, November 27, 2013

5 Ways to Keep Your Child Focused During the Holidays

We all know that it's pretty tempting to lie around the house, munch on leftovers and watch old movies during the entire Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks.  Oh wait...those things are tempting to us adults, but probably not to our children!

For them, there are a ton of age-appropriate (and sometimes not) distractions over the holidays that can negatively impact academic performance when it's time to return to the classroom in January.  Here are 5 things that you can do to counter the distractions and help boost your child's brain power and productivity at the same time:

Make a Plan of Action
1.  Many of IST's students are assigned a winter packet from their teachers.  You can assist your child by helping to create a plan of action to work on the packet each day of the break rather than waiting until the last minute.  The beauty of having time off is that s/he can put in an hour or two of work and then do something fun later to strike a balance between daily work and play.

Keep Reading in the Mix
2.  If your child is not assigned a book (or books) to read during the break, you should create a short reading list together.  Often, it's much more enjoyable for the student if the topic is on something that s/he likes.

Finish Applications Early
3. If your child is applying to private schools or colleges with application deadlines in early January, you should plan to have everything finished before Christmas break, so ideally you're aiming for somewhere between Thanksgiving and the middle of December at the latest. 

Catch Up on Current Events
4.  Help your child understand what's happening in the world around him/her.  There are various media, of course, but we find that reading the newspaper is a great way to catch up and learn new SAT-level vocabulary words in context. 

Get a Jump on Summer Plans
5.  Make a plan now for how to make the most of your child's summer.  Many of the more popular and competitive summer programs and internships open the application process in January.  You can help your child take advantage of these opportunities by researching programs together and making a chart of important dates and application components.

Friday, January 25, 2013

What are your child's 2013 learning resolutions?

Each of our IST Learning Legends has written a practical learning resolution. Read through each resolution below and have your student(s) choose the resolution (or create a new one!) that s/he will follow for the remainder of the school year. Then, both of you should sign an "accountability agreement" and post it in a conspicuous location in your home.

"My New Year's learning resolution is to actually review my tests and quizzes after I get them back from my teachers. Usually, I'm in such a rush to stuff them in my backpack that I don't even look at what I got wrong (or right, for that matter:-)".  --Fast Eddie

"My New Year's learning resolution is to learn all of the key Latin and Greek roots that I need to know in order do well on important tests like the PSAT, SAT, ACT and more. A new vocabulary word a day will keep the low scores away!"
--Sammy Smart

"My New Year's learning resolution is to spend at least 15 minutes (per class/per day) reviewing my notes after I get home. When there's nothing to review, I plan to read ahead. Working smarter, not necessarily faster or harder definitely works for me!"  --Samantha Smart

"My New Year's learning resolution is to write EVERYTHING in my planner/agenda book. That way, there's no chance that I'll forget to do something important." --Lucky Lucy

"My New Year's learning resolution is to use my class notes, textbook notes, homework and quizzes to make my own study guides (3-4 pages) at least a week before each big test. Yup, that's me, always ready for whatever's coming my way!"  --Bea Reddie