Flummoxed by Failure — Or Focused?

I’ve always been fascinated by what motivates students.  As a teacher, my most challenging students weren’t those who had a hard time learning the concepts; they were the kids that gave up too easily.  And often times, when students give up they lose focus and motivation.  Many of these students think they’re simply not smart and that no matter what they do, they won’t be an A or B student.  They often have an “I don’t care” or “Why bother?” attitude.

As parents, seeing this struggle in our children is hard to take.  If you have a child who has a low frustration tolerance or is easy to give up, check out this article on learning, the brain, and intelligence.  I ran across it yesterday while reading the Wall Street Journal and immediately knew I wanted to share it with you!

But don’t stop there, share the article “You Can Grow Your Intelligence” with your child.  Psychologists at Stanford and Columbia found that when they used this article to teach a growth mind-set to 7th graders struggling in math, the students showed greater motivation in math class.  Have a comment?  Post it below or send an email.

Ann Dolin – [email protected]

If Our Kids Are More Distracted Than Ever, How Can We As Parents Help?

More than half of American students consistently do homework using some sort of technology such as a laptop or smartphone.  Sometimes they are using these tools to complete their work, but often times, these gadgets are merely a distraction and cause homework to take even longer.  In my last blog, I mentioned the myth of multi-tasking.  In reality, there is no such thing.  The brain is actually task switching because it cannot accurately focus on more than one thing at once.  If Facebook, surfing the internet, trying out the newest apps and texting are getting in the way of your child’s productivity, there’s help.

Studies show that when students are more aware of how they study best, they have higher GPAs.  When they are able to craft an environment that is comfortable for them, they can become much more efficient at their school work. This ideal study environment will be different for every student, but here are some questions that can help make your child more self aware and give you an idea of how much technology should be involved.  Have your kids ask themselves:

  • In what environment do I get the most work done?
  • Where do I tend to focus best?
  • What time of the day am I most productive?
  • How do I best eliminate distractions?
  • What kind of music can I listen to while studying? (By the way, research has shown that music with lyrics makes it harder to focus, but if it’s a song that your student listens to all the time, their brain will be used to blocking it off and it may actually help with studying.)

Research also shows that when students take breaks from technology, they can improve their focus. There are lots of activities that can relax a student’s mind and improve cognitive processes.  These include:

  • Exercising (playing a sport, taking a walk, or yoga)
  • Playing a musical instrument
  • Looking at beautiful art work
  • Listening to music

All of these activities have been shown to relieve stress and enhance study time. 9VZPKXCBHAZQ

But sometimes, even the most diligent students don’t want to hear how they can use technology wisely when the ideas are coming from their parents.  As a parent of a 14 year old, I’m very well aware of this!

This summer, we’re rolling out our new educational coaching program.  It’s a ten-session, in-home tutoring program designed to help students tackle ways they work best.  We’re also incorporating other strategies for reading comprehension (how to focus and retain when the text isn’t too exciting), note-taking, organization, time management and goal setting.  In addition, we’re offering this unique study skills program to rising middle and high school students in a group setting in Vienna, VA.  Let me know if you have any questions about this blog or our summer classes.

Ann Dolin, M.Ed. [email protected]

President ~ EC Tutoring

Brain Change: Why Our Kids Are More Inattentive Than Ever (View this video!)

Today, I appeared on News Channel 8’s Let’s Talk Live discussing how technology is impacting this generation of students.  Scientists are just beginning to study brain changes by looking at MRIs to determine if constant texting, facebooking, tweeting (you name it!) is changing brains.  Don’t panic; the news is mostly good.  Take a look at this short video for some highlights.

During the segment, Melanie Hastings and I also talked about the lure of technology.  Because of so many distractions, this generation of kids is more distracted than ever, and it’s not by school work.  The class of 2011 had the lowest SAT critical reading score (497)ever recorded.  Some say it’s because of diversity with more and more kids from all backgrounds taking the test, but I wonder if it’s not more than that.  If only the reading portion dropped to it’s lowest levels ever, wouldn’t that point to the fact that our kids aren’t reading for pleasure?  Studies show that only about half read for pleasure.

More on how we can help our kids focus in my next blog post…

Ann Dolin