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

Conquering the Second Half Slump

For many adults, the month of January represents a fresh start. Whether it is dedicating oneself to a more frequent exercise routine, cooking healthier meals at home, or completing a project at work, it is common to reflect on the year that has passed and recharge for the year ahead.
Students may look at it a bit differently. As they roll out of bed for the first day back to school after the holidays, the second half of the year looms in front of them like a dense fog on a mild winter’s morning. They might struggle to regain momentum after working so hard throughout the first half of the year and motivation can begin to wane.
All students want to be successful, but when they do not know how to achieve success or are facing what may feel like insurmountable challenges, it is hard to maintain the inner drive to keep pushing forward day after day.
Parents can help their students by reinforcing efficient and effective habits so that their children return to school feeling confident and reinvigorated to tackle the second half of the school year.

 

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Erica MechlinskiConquering the Second Half Slump
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Holiday Prep

The holidays are host to a heap of executive functioning skills. From buying gifts to creating a guest list and preparing dinner to decorating the house, you must rely on the prefrontal cortex of your brain to help plan and execute most holiday festivities.
When the whole family is gathered and in the spirit, why not treat the preparation process as an opportunity to practice executive functioning skills? Not only will each member of the family have a chance to be engaged in the fun, but also everyone will learn life lessons about one important skill in particular: managing time.
Round up the kids for a family meeting and try some of these tips to get them excited and ready for the holidays!

 

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Erica MechlinskiHoliday Prep
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Waking Up is Hard to Do

If you look outside your window, the leaves are probably vibrant shades of yellow, orange, and red. The air has become crisper and you need to grab a sweater before heading outside in the morning. The holidays are just around the corner and you may be looking forward to getting cozy in front of a fireplace soon. Many of these are feelings to which we can all relate to this November. We also know what it feels like when our days begin to feel shorter and we have to wake up in the morning without the sun’s rays coaxing us out of bed. For students of all ages, waking up in the early morning for school can be a big hurdle, especially in the fall and winter seasons.

Starting in fifth grade, children should be practicing independently waking up in the morning and getting their day started. If they don’t find a system that works for them during their school days at home, you could be making a phone call every morning to make sure your children roll out of bed to get to class on time in college! Below are some of our tips and ideas that might help your children rise and shine all on their own.

 

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Erica MechlinskiWaking Up is Hard to Do
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Long-term Planning

Time management can be defined as the methodical structure of allocating and distributing time among competing demands and priorities in order to increase efficiency and productivity.  For all of us, there are two types of planning that we engage in to make the most of our time: short term and long term. The one that poses a problem for many people is looking ahead into the long term. After all, it is much easier to think about what needs to get done now for tomorrow versus what needs to get done now for two weeks from now. Students often struggle with effective time management in the long term, in which case feelings of anxiety can take control when assignments are left until the last minute. Now that it is October, an increasing number of assignments with due dates at least a week away from the assigned date are frequenting planners.

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Erica MechlinskiLong-term Planning
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Amazing Apps

September has arrived, and the school year is in full swing. The lazy, carefree days of summer have been replaced by a flurry of assignments and schedules that require solid time management and material organization skills in order to have a successful school year.

Students with weaknesses in their executive functions can find it especially difficult to keep these foundational skills under control, so implementing technology into their daily routine to assist with these tasks can be a lifesaver.

Apps are always available to use anywhere, and they make it very easy to input information. They also go beyond the scope of human error by offering features such as automated reminders and syncing with any device, which takes some pressure off of a person’s memory.

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Erica MechlinskiAmazing Apps
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Sailing into the School Year

Think back to the time when you were a young student. No matter how much time has passed, we can all recall the last few days of summer before the first day of school. Feelings of excitement, anticipation, and anxiety, can all resurface when we look at a back-to-school advertisement and transport ourselves to an age where we had a bedtime or carried a heavy backpack full of textbooks each day. Instead of waiting until the final days before the first day, why not ease into the back-to-school transition while continuing to enjoy all that the end of summer has to offer? Taking the last one to two weeks of August to slowly merge the hustle and bustle of the upcoming school year with the relaxation of summer vacation mode can help reduce stress and the end of summer blues. There are a number of items you can check off of your to-do list in advance to help the whole family sail smoothly into the new school year.

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Erica MechlinskiSailing into the School Year
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Get the Most Out of Summer Reading

Mid-summer is upon us, and many students have spent June enjoying a welcome break from any sort of schoolwork. Now that it is July, the time has come to start delving into that summer reading assignment. While some may feel reluctant to begin, there are many ways that parents can get involved to help their children get the most out of summer reading, and enjoy it, too! Here at Thinking Organized, we organize book clubs over the summer to help students build skills and enthusiasm for reading. We introduce them to various strategies that they can keep in their toolbox to use during the upcoming school year so that they feel confident in their ability to comprehend and analyze the books they read.

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smortoGet the Most Out of Summer Reading
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Tackling Exams with Technology

It’s that time of year again, the time of year when only one thing is separating students from the final school bell and the promise of a relaxing, pleasant summer…exams. For most students, being assessed on a high volume of material across subject matters is overwhelming and stressful. When do you start? What and how do you study? How do you fit study time into a schedule already packed full of other academic and extracurricular activities? Luckily, there are some great task managers out there that are designed to streamline the planning and studying process for students at all levels.

There are many benefits of using online tools to manage study habits. One major advantage is accessibility. Students can have their study materials and schedule with them at all times so that they can use their free time wisely anywhere they go. Studying works well in short, focused bursts over an extended period of time, so having everything at the touch of a button can really maximize the quality and quantity of study time. Another plus of using technology is the advanced features that it can provide to help students visually track their progress and maintain a collection of tasks or study tools.

There are thousands of apps and websites out there to help students manage their study habits. Some are primarily geared toward task management, while others are designed more for assessing knowledge of the content. We found two newer programs that serve each of those purposes: GoConqr and My Study Life both help students stay on track and take an active role in the studying process as they look ahead toward finals.

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smortoTackling Exams with Technology
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Research Paper Rx

As the end of the school year approaches, many students find themselves inundated with research papers, projects and large-scale essays. Although these culminating assignments may be good methods for assessing progress, they can present many challenges, particularly for students who struggle with time management. A deadline that is several weeks away is an enticing invitation to procrastinate. Teenagers are especially prone to the feeling of having plenty of time ahead of them and often do not recognize the need to start early. However, long-term assignments can be time consuming, taxing and unpredictable endeavors. Often, at least one part of the process will take longer than planned, or require a different approach than originally envisioned.

 

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smortoResearch Paper Rx
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Empowering Your Student

Assertiveness and self-advocacy are not always innate. Some children are naturally shyer than others, and many people (adults included) find it difficult to speak up for themselves. However, being a good self-advocate is an important skill at all stages of life. In school, children benefit from asking and answering questions, protecting themselves against bullying and learning to negotiate everything from the bus ride to the first date. When students practice assertive behavior, they learn life-long strategies that allow them to maximize their strengths, develop healthy relationships, and become successful, independent members of society.

Unfortunately, individuals who have learning disabilities, executive functioning weaknesses, ADHD or related disorders are sometimes least likely to effectively self-advocate. The ability to recognize a need, formulate a request and ask someone of authority a question is a difficult set of tasks for these children. However, practicing methods of self-awareness, self-determination, self-confidence and self-advocacy will provide students with the strategies necessary to achieve their personal and academic goals.
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smortoEmpowering Your Student
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