Category Archives: For Students

Is Homework a Hassle in Your Home?

Working on the ComputerYou’re not alone: it is in many homes. Wouldn’t it be great if your teens would study independently and efficiently without you having to nag and pester them all evening about homework? Studying and homework are hot buttons for teens and parents because there’s a lot at risk concerning school and power.

  • Try this: remove emotion from the homework issue. Yes, easy for me to say from here, but if you talk to your teen like you normally talk with your co-workers – reasonably, respectfully and calmly, without emotion – the drama is taken out of the interaction. I heard this often in my high school guidance office: “My parents treat me like a little kid; they don’t respect me so I don’t respect them.” Parents were often stunned by their teen saying this in the safety and comfort behind closed doors of an office.
  • If you respect them, they will respect you. The best teachers I knew were ones who respected their students by giving them enough independence to learn but still guide them if they needed help. They knew their names, shook their hands and held them to expectations and stuck with those expectations. If kids know your expectations, they know what to aim for.
  • Talk about your expectations for grades together. I knew a parent, who with all good intentions, said to her son in my office, “If you make straight A’s this semester, I’ll buy you a car.” Well… we were in my office because her son was making all D’s and F’s, so the expectation that he would earn straight A’s – something he had never done in his life – was not very realistic at all. Set realistic and attainable goals for grades together. Maybe all C’s would be realistic for him. We talked about sensible expectations, and they were negotiated nicely by mother and son.

 

Bribe Your Teen to Read this Summer

summer reading for teensWith summer vacation in full swing, your teen may look like a couch potato, letting time slip through his fingers while he meanders around the house or neighborhood with his friends. Here is one way to keep your teen engaged in learning – a fun way – during the summer: let him choose a book from a bookstore (used bookstores are great) or the library or an eBook and pay him to read it. What?? Did I say, “Pay him to read it”?? Let him choose how much; you might be surprised at his reasonable rate. On the other hand, he may want a new car for reading a book – to test you and get more information out of you. It seems that a teen tests us by pushing our buttons to see how far he can go, but it is really information-gathering.

Anyway, back to book-reading. Reading during the summer does these things:

  • increases vocabulary and spelling strength
  • provides quiet and solitude which is often lacking in teen lives
  • sends the strong message that reading is good and pleasant for its own sake
  • takes the reader to new places, people and events
  • offers intellectual stimulation to keep in practice for the school year.

You might want to have a little competition with your teen, seeing who can read the most books in the summer – it doesn’t matter what kind of book – just read! If you have several children, you can make a fun chart together and keep track of books read. Remember the Summer Reading for Teens Programs at the public libraries? Stop by and check those out; you can borrow their ideas to use with your own kids. What do you think?

 

 

Test Anxiety is Common – You Aren’t Alone!

Only a few minutes before your teacher puts a test in front of you. Are you fidgety and tense, or do you feel sick to your stomach? If that describes you before you take a test, you may have text anxiety. Even the best students have it. But if you want to do well on a test, your test anxiety must be controlled. Practicing some of the following tips can help:

  • test anxietyGet enough sleep.
  • Eat a good meal before the test. Not so much that you feel groggy but enough to give your brain the calories its needs to function well. Remember, your brain is an organ that needs to be nourished like all the other organs in your body. Coffee and donuts aren’t very nutritious even though they’re quick and easy.
  • Exercise to reduce tension and encourage thinking. It stimulates your mind and body and improves your ability to concentrate.
  • Allow enough time to get to class without hurrying. Rushing causes tension and stress because the fear of being late builds anxiety. “Hurry up and wait.”
  • Give yourself time in the classroom to relax and compose yourself. Breathe deeply. Imagine a relaxing scene and allow your muscles to relax. Then think about the test while you’re in this relaxed state.
  • Have a positive attitude. Tell yourself you studied as well as you could have for the test and believe it. Convince yourself that others have done well on this test and you can, too.
  • Make sure you can see a clock to plan your time and pace yourself. Not knowing how much time has elapsed creates anxiety. Budget your time so you can answer all of the questions.
  • Begin by filling in the answers you know. This makes you confident and relieves anxiety because you see that you do know the answers. It may also trigger recall of other answers that you had forgotten.
  • Don’t panic if others are busy writing and you’re not. By spending time thinking, you may create better quality than someone who’s writing frantically.
  • Don’t panic if you forget an answer. Move on to other questions – the answer may occur to you as you continue taking the test. Be careful of the numbering on your answer sheet if you skip a question!
  • Don’t worry if others finish before you do. Finishing first doesn’t guarantee the best grade. Usually the better papers are handed in by students who spend time thinking about and checking their answers before turning in their papers.

A Single Mom Talks About Making Connections With School

A SINGLE MOM TALKS ABOUT MAKING CONNECTIONS WITH SCHOOL

single momA dear neighbor friend and I were talking one night. “I want to call my son’s teacher. His grades are bad in her class and he insists that he does all the work. We think he needs a different teacher because my boy tells me he doesn’t like Mrs. X and she picks on him. What do I do?”

Yes, in my counseling role I’ve been on the receiving end of lots of telephone calls and conferences of this kind. They’re not fun to get, but I do respect the intentions behind them.

However, when contacting school personnel for a concern or crisis, your approach as a parent is important. The Blame Game or the Squeaky Wheel will likely turn off the very people who can help you. Here’s an example of a better approach:

“I’m not sure if you’re the right person to speak to, but can you point me in the right direction for assistance?” and “If this isn’t a good time, when is the best time to meet with you to discuss my teen? I’ll bring him along with me.”

THE REAL ISSUES

When there’s an apparent conflict between your student and a teacher, begin by reminding yourself that you are not your teen’s best friend. You are the parent. And as such, you must make difficult and adult choices for your teen. So the first issue for you is to understand both sides of the problem to arrive at a position to make a balanced decision on behalf of your child.

Second, it’s not about you, and you must never replace your child with yourself as a participant in the dispute. But you are his sounding board, so listen to him without judgment of any kind. Simply hear him out and summarize what he’s presented to you in a way that will let him know that you’re clear about what he is saying. Doing this will send the message that you’re his number one cheerleader. However, this doesn’t promise that you will defend his position at all costs because that’s not always the truth, at least not at the moment you first hear about a ‘situation.’ Nonetheless, you may be surprised at his surrender to your hug or touch when you offer it after a tough day at school.

MY SUGGESTIONS

Have a pen and paper ready to jot down information and names. Don’t call the school when you’re driving in your car or from any place where you can’t focus on the conversation and write things down. It’s best that you call from home, and at a time when there are no distractions like television or the presence of other children. “Quiet” and “private” are the words to remember as you get ready to call.

Accept as a given that teachers, coaches, office staff and administrators have lots of experience in their chosen profession. They’ve seen and heard many different situations throughout their careers and are committed to assisting parents and students. They are not automatically ‘the enemy’ regardless of how your child views them.

Before attending a parent/teacher conference, write down your questions and tell the teacher that you need to ask them before the conference is over. She’s with your teen five days a week, so use her observations objectively and try not to be defensive. Give the teacher your phone number if she has a concern, can’t answer a question without further research, or simply wishes to call you at another time (which is the case during a parent night when a number of visitors may be waiting for her attention). Before you leave, make sure that your child’s teacher knows that your teen is very important to you and that you’re willing and supportive in working with the teacher to resolve any school-related problems.

The aforementioned is one of the stories from “Parents in Highschooland: Helping Students Succeed in the Critical Years,” Karyn Rashoff’s caring and supportive account of thirty-three years of dedicated work as a high school guidance counselor. It is available as a paperback as well as an ebook, in bookstores, major book retailers and online booksellers, as well as directly from the publisher at www.BarkingDogBooks.com.

Press Release: Trying to Figure Out Your Highschooler?

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Karyn Rashoff, info@karynrashoff.com, 949–939–2549.

Trying to Figure Out Your Highschooler?
Here’s a Book You Can Use Tonight.

IRVINE, CA—September 1, 2013—Parents in Highschooland: Helping Students Succeed in the Critical Years, is Karyn Rashoff’s caring and supportive account of thirty-three years of dedicated work as a high school guidance counselor.

During her career, which began when she was only 23 years old, she documented nearly 20,000 counseling interactions with students, parents, teachers and administrators, and in this book  she identifies, analyzes and resolves the complex and usually conflict-filled interactions between students and their parents, using some fifty stories taken lovingly from ‘real life’.

Rashoff started her career as a middle and high school counselor in a rural town in Northern California, and over the years she has worked with students and families in large cities and in suburban high schools, as well, all the time realizing that parents—regardless of income, ethnicity, race or social status—just want the very best for their children’s education and lives.

“The source of many of these problems,” she observes, “is the simple lack of communication; parents and students just don’t speak the same language. In fact, all too often they just don’t speak.”

Concrete anecdotes and examples of positive things parents can do and have found successful in their homes and in their direct contact with school officials, teachers, coaches—and of course, their teens—are supplemented throughout the book by tips, interviews and true stories told by both students and parents.

To sum up, this book can be used as quick reference for ideas and approaches that parents and students may use immediately, both at home and in school.

Parents in Highschooland: Helping Students Succeed in the Critical Years ($12.95, ISBN: 978–0-9897606–1-4), a 176-page paperback published by BarkingDogBooks, is also available as an e-book, in bookstores, major book retailers and online booksellers.

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CONTACT: Karyn Rashoff, info@karynrashoff.com, 949–939–2549.