News Herald – Juliann Talkington
Do high standardized test scores assure success?
Many highly-accomplished people had far from perfect scores on the SAT test. Some struggled to get through college and others dropped out. With these results, there must be more to success than academic brilliance.
Granted, technological advances have made academic knowledge, especially in math and the sciences, more important. However, common sense is just as vital as it was fifty years ago. Sadly, many parents have become so focused on academic knowledge and fame that common sense has fallen by the wayside.
Common sense is something most of us understand intuitively, but is difficult to define. It is a combination of wisdom and self-discipline.
According to Wordnik wisdom is, “The ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting.” Wisdom is not something that can be found in a textbook, taught in a classroom, or downloaded from the Internet. It is not tested through standardized tests like the SAT, MCAT, or GRE. Instead it is something that comes with exposure and experience.
The same dictionary defines self-discipline as, “Training and control of one’s conduct.” Self-discipline is generally modeled and taught at home through structure, responsibility, consequences, and praise.
Before the age of helicopter parents, most kids developed common sense as part of everyday life. Children were given considerable responsibility. Parents set expectations and there were consequences for poor choices. Only the winners received trophies. Through the school of hard knocks kids gradually learned how to present ideas, communicate with others, and alert people of delays. They came to understand the importance of punctuality and how to diplomatically address problems.
Now many parents are so worried about the “perfect” D1 sports program, landing a lead movie role, etc. that they do too much of their kids. It is often better to set general extra-curricular involvement requirements and establish minimum effort expectations rather than micromanage.
Finally, it is important for children to take responsibility for their actions. If a child is going to be late, he/she should notify the adult in charge. When a child damages property, he/she needs to earn money for the repair. And when a child performs poorly on a test, he/she needs to get a poor grade rather than have his/her parent negotiate with the principal.
Stepping out of the micromanagement role is challenging. However, it is easier once we realize our children need an environment that fosters common sense to become truly brilliant.
News Herald – Juliann Talkington
“Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” – Benjamin Franklin
While there may be some debate about the “wealthy” claim, recent research suggests Franklin was correct about the “healthy and wise” assertions.
Lack of sleep can lead to problems like heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. In addition, researchers now believe that the quantity and quality of sleep impacts memory and learning. It is well known that a sleep-deprived person cannot focus well and therefore cannot absorb and process information efficiently. The new finding is that information must be consolidated into a memory during sleep.
Scientists break learning and memory into three basic components: acquisition, consolidation, and recall. Acquisition is the introduction of new information into the brain. Consolidation is the process of making a memory stable and recall is the ability to access the information later. Acquisition and recall occur during waking hours and memory consolidation takes place during periods of sleep.
Although we do not know for sure how sleep makes consolidation possible, researchers believe that the brainwaves of different types that occur during sleep are what form lasting memories.
Since consolidation is imperative for memory, one of the most important things a parent can do for his/her child is make sure he/she gets adequate sleep.
Here are a few things that can be done to increase the odds your child is getting adequate sleep:
- Reduce screen time – Some research suggests that the light emitted from electronic devices increases alertness and keeps children from sleeping well. Establish a device free period before bed.
- Offer the right food – Whole foods that combine protein and complex carbohydrates are the best before bed snacks.
- Encourage exercise – At least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise each week improves sleep.
- Control the environment – Consistent temperature and a clean environment support high quality sleep.
- Unplug electronic devices – Electrical fields given off by appliances (TVs, cellphones, etc.) can interfere with melatonin secretion. Even if devices are off they emit electrical fields, so it is best to unplug them.
- Eliminate light – Light can affect immune system function and sleep, so it is best to reduce light in the bedroom.
- Establish a routine – Establish a pre-bed routine so your child is in bed on time.
Perhaps a few extra hours of sleep each night is a better way to ensure amazing childhood memories than a camera.
News Herald – Juliann Talkington
“Learning to read, write, solve mathematics problems, apply scientific principles to real world situations, and speak a foreign language are not the only skills children need to acquire before they leave home.” ~Confucius
Many experts argue that time management abilities are equally important. Academically gifted people cannot survive in modern society if they are not able to deliver a high quality product, on time.
Most K-12 schools are struggling to teach time management skills, because parents are constantly pressuring them about grades. Many teachers are under so much pressure to issue high marks that they create extra opportunities for students to improve their final course grade.
Although “second chances” give the parents what they want, they have the unintended consequence of teaching kids that planning is irrelevant because there are always other opportunities to change the result.
When young people get to college and/or enter the workforce “second chances” are rare. Most college professors do not offer extra papers or problem sets at the end of the semester and employers take a dim view of late arrivals, shoddy work, and missed deadlines.
Since it has become impossible for most K-12 teachers to teach time management, parents must handle the task at home.
As a first step, kids need to learn how to plan ahead. There are many free computer-based scheduling applications that help in this area. Kids generally find it easy to enter homework day by day, but often need coaching on how to break future activities, like preparing for a test that is two weeks away, into daily tasks.
Then children need to learn how to make productive use of time. For example, it takes “forever” to finish math homework when kids chat online between problems. Learning to stay off social media during homework time can go a long way to improving efficiency.
Sleep is also important for time management. It takes less time to learn material and complete homework tasks when the brain is rested, so it is important to make sure your kids get enough sleep each night.
Multi-taking is not efficient. Teach your childred to finish one task before they begins another one.
Procrastination never pays. If something is due today, make sure it is finished. Otherwise, the next day will be overwhelming.
Prioritize homework first. This prevents late nights and productivity problems.
Learning to manage time is challenging. Start teaching your child early and reward progress often!
Montgomery Advertiser – Jenni Stahlmann and Jody Hagaman
“The new year is a clean slate for your family to write a new story. One way to plot the course to a victorious year is to anticipate potential roadblocks. Here are ten things that could thwart your child’s success in 2016, and now is a perfect time to strategize ways to avoid them.”(more)
The Huffington Post – Jill Di Donato
“So how to deal with school anxiety? Do homework! The very root of school anxiety can be solved by taking a proactive stance in the most simple way. By turning homework into an exercise to actively fight anxiety, students can not only find academic success, but also personal growth and self-determination.”(more)