Saturday, December 19, 2015

WINTER BREAK - Expert Tips to Re-Energize Students & Inspire a Strong Second Semester

By Barbara Dianis, author of Grade Transformer for the Modern Student
Winter break is upon us, and for students it can either serve as a time to let what they’ve learned during the first half of the school year slip away, or it can be a time to re-energize them for the spring semester. Here are a few of the most common hurdles parents face, and some ideas for what they can do to successfully get over them with their child.

Hurdle: Making class material review and prep enjoyable for kids

Parents are often stumped about how to make homework and study time more enjoyable for their kids. One solution is to turn it into a game! Children and teens can morph review and drill time into a game show format using flash cards. First, they can make the flash cards from their study material. Then parents (or another study partner) can present the review material in a game show format, keeping students engaged throughout the process.
Another idea is for parents to host a study review session for their student with several other students in their class. Students of all grade levels generally enjoy the review process more when they are in the company of friends. Make sure that the study group reviews the class material in both written and oral form. Writing out the answer or part of the answer on a white board can help students retain and access key information during quizzes and tests. The brain responds positively when both types of review are integrated in the child or teen’s review sessions – whether group or individual.
Learning apps and online games can also help to make review and prep more enjoyable.Middle and high-school aged students may benefit from the app meStudying. This particular app is designed to help students with test preparation by offering a self-study and quiz program that gives the student detailed feedback about what they know versus information they need further work learning.

Hurdle: Learning from the 1st semester in order to create a strong 2nd semester

The data collected during the first semester of the school year can be a telltale sign of a student’s true level of academic mastery of core curriculum concepts. It can also be an indicator of potential scholastic challenges that should be addressed to help ensure success during the second semester. Parents can help their students take a scholastic inventory of their educational strengths and weaknesses. The areas of weaknesses should be listed while strategies are implemented to help improve challenges regarding curriculum concepts. Ignored gaps in learning core concepts can result in the development of academic difficulties in future grade levels. Addressing curriculum learning concepts can help ensure ongoing scholastic success.
Hurdle: Creating smart new habits in a short amount of time

The second semester will bring an increased rate, volume and complexity of material at every grade level. Therefore, when students return from their much needed winter break, they can anticipate a greater need to implement smart new study and learning habits. Initially, students can benefit from increasing their current homework and study time by about 5 to 10 minutes more in the class or classes that are more challenging for them. Though it doesn’t seem like a big commitment, the additional time can help students keep pace with the accelerating curriculums.
Another way parents can help their child develop an interest in learning is to ask their teen to tell them three concepts they learned in their classes each day. Asking the student to do this can help improve a student’s ability to focus in class, since they know they’ll be asked to report back about what they learned! Discussing your child’s school generally demonstrates to both the student and the student’s teachers that parents are actively involved in their child’s educational journey.
Hurdle: Motivating children to want to succeed

Parents play such an important role in motivating their child to succeed in school. The value of education generally begins with the parents’ attitude toward learning. A student whose parents encouraged him or her to do their best scholastically is less likely to drop out of school. Engagement and communication is key!
Parents can stay involved and motivate their child by checking their student’s grades online with them several times a week. Another effective way to show academic support is to offer weekly help reviewing class material. Parents who help motivate their children or teens to succeed in school are helping them find value in their own abilities.
Hurdle: Avoiding learning regression during breaks from school

Lastly, as we know, holiday breaks bring great joy and much needed relaxation to both students and parents. However, during the precious days away from the demands of school a student can still keep themselves from experiencing learning regression by dedicating a half hour to an hour a day to keeping their skills sharpened.
Use this time to review class handouts, textbook chapters or go over graded assignments to help improve mastery and retention. The student who returns to school after a break that has had dedicated time for review is set to succeed academically in the New Year and semester. As an Education Specialist, I have consistently noted the significant edge of students who continued learning during breaks over those who took a complete break from school. Even if the break was only a week or two long, the students who kept learning and reviewing appeared to experience higher levels of academic success throughout the remaining weeks of the school year – something we can all agree is something to strive for!
Barbara Dianis, MA ED overcame dyslexia in her own life using self-taught strategies and techniques. She went on to earn a BA Degree in Education and a BA in Special Education, as well as a Master’s Degree in Education, Special Education Pre-K-12th, and Language Learning Disabilities, as well as a Master’s Degree in Psychometry. As CEO and Founder of Dianis Educational Systems, LLC, Dianis has influenced society to view students with various learning issues as capable students who can overcome their issues if taught properly. She has counseled parents for 21 years, teaching them to assist students in implementing effective learning techniques during homework and study time, and has also run an educational tutoring business for the past 20 years, helping thousands of students with Dyslexia, ADD, ADHD, Learning Differences, and Struggling Students achieve enormous scholastic and professional successes. In 2010, Dianis was awarded The Biltmore Who’s Who VIP in Education and the Executive of the Year award, as well as the Remington Registry of Outstanding Professionals in 2011, for her continued leadership and achievement in the field of education. 
Barbara is the author of: Grade Transformer for the Modern Student 
Grade Transformer for the Modern Student can be purchased from, and 
Twitter: @DianisEdSystems 

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