Earlier this week I made an appearance on a television show called Good Things Utah. Since school is starting back up in a few weeks, they wanted to do a segment about getting ready for the new academic year. In the interview, Reagan asked me for advice about studying, test anxiety, and finding a good tutor. I felt the interview was informative given the limited time we had. In this blog article, I have included some important tips we did not discuss. You can view the full, 5-minute interview below:
Does your child struggle to stay motivated in school? This is a common issue with kids these days. Fortunately, there are many things parents do to help their children stay on track. Here are my top recommendations:
GAMIFICATION: Develop a point system that rewards good behavior. For example, your child could earn 10 points by completing their homework or 20 points for earning an A on a test. Have a clear set of guidelines for how points are earned, and how those points can be cashed in for rewards. Assign a point value to each type of reward and be sure the rewards are things your child actually wants (e.g. video game time). Display their progress in a place you will both be able to see every day (e.g. on the refrigerator). Make it a habit of checking and updating the points each day. All of this takes time and patience, but parents who use this method have reported great success.
SHORT TERM GOALS: Most students in their teens struggle to think long term. Things way off in the future seem abstract to students, and much less important than what is happening today or this week. One thing parents can do is find ways to convert long-term goals into short-term goals. For example, if the original goal is to get an A in math this semester, then break it up into daily or weekly goals. Perhaps they should work through at least three extra math problems each night related to the topic in class. Maybe they should study at least two hours in preparation for each test or quiz instead of just one. Short-term goals are more tangible and easier for students to understand. Students are much more motivated with this type of structure.
RELAXED STUDYING: Many parents assume their child is not really studying unless they are alone in a quiet environment with no distractions. While it is true that multitasking greatly reduces a person’s ability to perform well on any single task, having activity going on in the background may actually improve performance. For example, some students study more effectively while listening to music, chewing gum, or playing with a fidget spinner. Some students work better in a place with other people (e.g. coffee shop) rather than alone, outdoors instead of indoors, or with low mumbling in the background instead of complete silence. I always encourage parents to be open minded about the way their child studies. By allowing them a little freedom in this area, you may find that they focus better and become more motivated. Not every student will see the same results, so it is worthwhile to test different approaches with your child.
Improve Study Skills
A common reason students perform poorly in school is they simply do not know how to study effectively. By simply improving their study methods students will see a dramatic increase in test scores and overall academic performance. Here are my top recommendations for improving study skills.
STUDY ACTIVELY: Many students spend far too much time studying passively when they should be studying actively. If you need to learn the information in a chapter in your textbook, don’t just passively read it. You need to actively take notes while reading, underline and highlight important information, write in the margins of the book. If you need to memorize a series of facts or concepts, don’t just passively read through them. You need to actively create flash cards and use them. Write out a list of the facts or summarize the concepts in a series of diagrams that you create. If you need to prepare for a math test, don’t just look at your notes or read examples in the text book. You must practice by actively solving math problems similar to the ones you will be tested on. The majority of students learn best by doing.
RULE OF THREE: How do you know when you are finished studying? Unlike homework assignments which have a fixed number of problems, studying for a test is more ambiguous. I strongly recommend using the rule of three which says you are not finished studying until you can correctly complete a task three times in a row. For example, if you are studying for a spelling test, you are not finished studying until you can spell all the words correctly 3 times. If you are studying for a math test, you are not finished studying a specific section until you can solve three variations of a problem in a row without making any mistakes. Students should not measure studying in terms of time but rather in terms of learning outcomes. You are not finished studying after three hours, you are finished studying when you can complete the essential tasks correctly three times in a row.
We Are Different
High Performance Tutoring operates a bit differently than other tutoring companies. We work hard to provide students with a high-quality learning experience, and customers with a convenient way to schedule, pay, and stay informed. Here are some of the best features of High Performance Tutoring:
TUTOR QUALITY: Finding great tutors is hard work. At High Performance Tutoring, we interview many candidates each month and find that only 10% of them meet our high standards. They must demonstrate expertise in their subject, an ability to explain concepts clearly, a great personality, and reliability. You are guaranteed to be matched with an experienced, high-quality tutor when you work with us. All of our tutors have great reputations for improving learning, grades, and test scores.
TUTOR COORDINATION: Unlike other companies where the tutors are disconnected, independent contractors, all of our tutors are employees who share information and work together. Our friendly support staff has access to everybody’s schedule, vacation plans, service area, subject expertise, and personality profile. We will match you with an amazing tutor who will travel to you and will be available when you are. If you need help in multiple subjects, we will help you coordinate with multiple tutors. If your regular tutor is ever unavailable, we will help you schedule with a highly-qualified substitute.
NO CONTRACTS: At High Performance Tutoring, we work on a pay-as-you-go basis. Customers are not locked into long-term contracts the way they are with other companies. With us, you enjoy the convenience and flexibility of creating a plan that works for your schedule and budget. Start and stop anytime you want, and try us for the first hour risk-free.
Are you ready to get started? Give us a call (801) 508 – 4080 or visit our website at highperformancetutoring.com. We are open from 8am to 8pm 7 days a week. We look forward to hearing from you.