Helping Teens Succeed in School
Strategies to make this your child’s best academic year yet
S.L.A.N.T. Sit in the front row or middle section of the classroom. Lean slightly forward in your chair, as if you are hanging on the teacher’s every word. Ask questions to clarify anything you don’t understand. Nod your head to show you are listening and interested. Talk to your teacher after class to build rapport and establish a relationship.
Test-taking Strategies: Allow yourself enough time to get to class a few minutes early. Rushing causes tension, and you can use the few extra minutes to review your notes one last time. Before and during the test, give yourself positive messages: “I know this information and I’m going to get an A.”
If you feel yourself getting tense, close your eyes for a moment and take a few deep breaths. Imagine a relaxing scene. If you’re having trouble concentrating or are feeling overwhelmed, try drawing a mind map in the margin of your paper. It will help you remember what you studied.
Optimal Study Area: Design the optimum study area at home. It should include good lighting, a desk or table to work at, a comfortable chair, inspirational posters, and plants. Play Baroque music softly in the background. Study at the same time every day and take a short break every 30 minutes. Tackle the most difficult subjects first. When you get them out of the way, the rest will be easy.
Cultivate a Winning Attitude: Maintaining a positive attitude is your most important learning asset. You need to mentally prepare before any learning experience. Henry Ford said, “If you think you can, you can. If you think you can’t, you can’t. Either way, you are right.”
Remember the “F” Stands for Feedback: From infancy through adulthood, we learn through our mistakes. Remember to learn from the feedback you get from others, whether it is a failed test or a poor relationship. In your path to become an excellent learner, feedback is simply the information you need to succeed.
Plan Ahead: Use a calendar to mark days for tests or due dates of important papers. Studying ahead reduces stress and increases your ability to remember at test time.
Discover the Power of “This is it!” “This is it!” means making the most of every moment. It also means doing whatever it takes to make a subject interesting. Some ideas include studying with a friend or relating the topic to something you already know or like. When you know something well, you almost always find it interesting.
Overcome the Obstacle of a Blank Page with Free-writing: When faced with writer’s block, free-writing provides visible and immediate progress. Choose a subject and set the timer for a specified amount of time. Write continuously until your time is up. Don’t worry about structuring sentences, checking grammar, backtracking or crossing things out – just keep writing. Free-writing clears your mind, focuses your ideas and makes the invisible visible.
Take Breaks: Every 30 minutes it helps to take a short five-minute break. Take mini-breaks more often by standing up and stretching whenever you notice your mind wandering. Studies show that you remember best what you learned just before and just after a break – so the more breaks, the more you learn!
Bobbi DePorter is the author of more than a dozen books, including The Seven Biggest Teen Problems and how to turn them into Strengths (An Insider’s Look at What Works with Teens). Bobbi is founder of SuperCamp.com, a learning and life skills summer program with more than 53,000 graduates in the U.S., Europe, Asia and Latin America. She is also creator of Quantum Learning, an accelerated learning-based teaching and learning methodology that has helped improve thousands of schools and districts across the nation.
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