Monthly Tips

Each month, a Thinking Organized tip is emailed to our growing list of educators, parents and students who want to improve their executive functioning skills.

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smortoMonthly Tips

It’s Never Too Late to Have a Productive Summer

“Summer Slide” might sound like a fun amusement park attraction, but it’s actually scarier than the world’s most terrifying ride. Research spanning decades of years has documented the frighteningly true fact that the academic skills of most students “slide” backwards over the long summer months. When school starts in the fall, students who don’t actively use their brains over the summer don’t perform as well in class as those who have been productive.
However, the good news is that this disturbing decline is entirely preventable. Mental stimulation helps the brain grow stronger, faster and better able to complete the millions of daily tasks it is charged with, from memory to problem solving to attention. The brain forms new connections every time it is exercised. To prevent brain drain, or even improve cognition, individuals need frequent opportunities to acquire new skills and practice existing ones. As the phrase goes, “Use it or lose it!”

 

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Erica MechlinskiIt’s Never Too Late to Have a Productive Summer

SUMMER SUCCESSES

As the school year winds to a close, it can be hard to think about planning for summer amidst finals, studying and end-of-school-year events. But a little prep now can help you beat the summer slide. The summer slide happens when students do not continue to engage in reading, math, and writing over the summer months.  This can result in a loss of knowledge from the previous year and may require weeks of makeup work in the fall. We have some simple ways you can incorporate these skills into a fun and meaningful summer to avoid the summer slide. Intentional planning now will help you when that final school bell rings in June.
Here are 5 ways to prepare for summer, today!

 

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Erica MechlinskiSUMMER SUCCESSES

APPS FOR PARENTS…and your children too!

By: Jennifer Sax

If you are the parent of a disorganized child, likely you will have to go the extra mile to keep yourself and them organized! How are you supposed to remember to pack lunch, clean the house, wash the soccer uniform, and remember what is on your grocery list? Phones today have an abundance of apps to keep you organized and remind you of your “to dos.” With so many Apps out there, how do you know which one will be the best fit for you?
We have our “go-to” Apps like 30-30, Evernote, and Tomato Timer, that we have reviewed in the past. Below are two more fantastic apps to add to the list that are great for parents as well as their children!

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Erica MechlinskiAPPS FOR PARENTS…and your children too!

FIVE TIPS FOR COLLEGE WRITING

By: Kristin Backert

College writing is something that baffles and mystifies many. It’s purported to be much different than high school writing, and there are rumors that it requires hours upon hours of dedication to make it work well. As a recent graduate student, I can affirm that none of the above is hearsay; it is most undoubtedly true. College writing draws on skills you learn in high school and then asks you to amplify those skills to the highest level possible, a challenge that may initially seem difficult to reach but becomes easier with practice.

Here are some tips to help you reach that nirvana of writing.

 

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Erica MechlinskiFIVE TIPS FOR COLLEGE WRITING

EXECUTIVE FUNCTION SKILLS & MATHEMATICS

By: Colette Hapi
Have you ever wondered about the correlation between executive function skills and mathematics?
Many do not realize that there is a major correlation between executive function skills and success in mathematics. Executive function skills are especially essential when solving complex problems because they require prioritization due to the fact that operations must be solved in a specific order. They also require impulse control because the student needs to stick with these problems long enough to completely solve them.  Organization skills are also a necessity because the student needs to know which formula to apply and where to look to find the right ones. Finally, flexible thinking,  which is the skill that focuses on a student’s ability to adapt to new situations, improvise, and shift strategies to meet different types of challenges, is necessary to help the student solve multi-steps problems.
We’ve found that students with executive dysfunction often struggle with math because they find it hard to shift from one type of problem to another (flexible thinking). They often have trouble with working memory, which can make it hard to solve multi-step problems. These students usually rush through their math homework and are therefore careless about the process. They often tend to give automatic answers to math problems. It is also not uncommon for them to get lost in the middle of complex math problems, and they are often unable to catch their mistakes.

 

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Erica MechlinskiEXECUTIVE FUNCTION SKILLS & MATHEMATICS

MOTIVATION

With students back at school after their Winter Break, you’ve probably noticed a common trend: many of them lack the motivation to get back into “school mode.”
After having a week or more off from school, it can be difficult for students to return to their normal schedules and academic responsibilities. We’re here to help you find ways to boost your children’s motivation level.

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Erica MechlinskiMOTIVATION

HELPING STUDENTS REACH THEIR GOALS

As we get ready for a wonderful holiday season, we should take some time during the days off from school to talk to the children about how to stay motivated when work gets hard or when goals are not readily attainable.
First, help your child see that everyone needs to be motivated to succeed. Discuss what is hard for you and how you work through this by setting goals that are attainable. All students, no matter their age, sometimes lose sight of the fact that motivation is important not only for their academic work, but also for their personal goals.
Second, ask your student to set a few personal and academic goals for the next few months. We all know that when we make resolutions for the New Year, many of us break them after a short period of time. Therefore, we want to make sure that the children set short and reachable goals. As we know, a full year is too long a time to wait to see progress.
Third, write the goals down or put them in a document and then break down the goals into at least 5-8 small tasks. Set dates for completion of each task. Remember to check in with the student at the same time twice a week to see how he or she is progressing.  If the student is stuck, then help him or her to move past the block.  Don’t forget to praise the student for any positive results that you see; a little encouragement goes a very long way.
For younger students, a reinforcement chart can help keep them motivated. And don’t forget, the older students might not want a chart, but positive reinforcement is important for them too!
Instituting a system of behavior modification – the awarding and withholding of privileges and rewards – can encourage students to do their best.
Psychological research has proven that behavior that is reinforced tends to be repeated. Unacknowledged behavior tends to diminish or disappear. The principles of behavior modification are simply a formal method that observes behavior and seeks to shape it in positive ways.
The reward does not have to be expensive or edible in order to be effective. Here are some suggestions for helping students stay on track for academic success.

 

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Erica MechlinskiHELPING STUDENTS REACH THEIR GOALS

‘TIS THE SEASON TO PRACTICE EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONING SKILLS

It’s almost Thanksgiving, and you know what that means – lots of good food, of course! But that’s not all. Whether you have a college student heading home for a short break or a middle schooler traveling to Grandma’s, the holidays are a great time to work on executive function skills with your children.

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Erica Mechlinski‘TIS THE SEASON TO PRACTICE EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONING SKILLS

FIVE TIPS FOR EFFICIENT MORNING ROUTINES

Whether you have a child in elementary school or college, getting ready for school in the morning can often be hectic. Papers and books are both everywhere yet nowhere to be found, food is only half eaten, and teeth remain unbrushed. It’s a struggle many of us are accustomed to, but since a new school year has started, perhaps it’s time to break this pattern. Here are five tips to make yours and your children’s morning routine more stress-free and efficient.

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Erica MechlinskiFIVE TIPS FOR EFFICIENT MORNING ROUTINES

FIND YOUR BACK-TO-SCHOOL ROUTINE

Last month we shared some tips and strategies for strengthening executive functioning skills at home in a non-academic setting. Now that it is September, school is back in session and students are just returning to the normal routine. It can be tough to leave behind the carefree days of summer and wake-up on the first day of school ready to take on a busy schedule filled with classes, extracurricular activities, and homework. Just as executive functioning skills are essential for effectively and efficiently accomplishing tasks for everyday life, they are also critical for success in the academic setting. Similar to being prepared to participate in camp or complete household chores during the summer, time management and material organization are key components of transitioning smoothly back into the homework routine. Read more to find out some of our ideas for making the move as seamless as possible.

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Erica MechlinskiFIND YOUR BACK-TO-SCHOOL ROUTINE