Author Archives: Karyn Rashoff

Are You Teaching Your Teen to be a Victim?

What is a victim? A victim is powerless. Tim and his mother met with me because he was struggling in his classes. A gifted fifteen-year-old with great potential, Tim leaned comfortably against his mother as she ruffled his hair with her fingers. His father traveled extensively on business and was seldom home. Tim sunk against his mom as she spoke about his many limitations and disabilities. I turned to him to ask his opinion about what was going on in school, and his mother answered for him as if he was unable to communicate. He seemed relieved that she was answering as we tried to problem-solve. I’d never seen a mother and son sit so close to each other; she was almost propping him up – and he was shrinking before my very eyes.

As I watched this dance, I wanted to grab Tim by the shoulders and sit him up straight in his own chair away from his mother. My heart started beating faster as I heard the litany of problems – physical and emotional – that his mother listed as he mutely listened to her, but he appeared to be smiling ever so slightly. He seemed almost pleased that the conference was going this way, and I don’t think this was the first time. How many times had Tim heard his mother list his supposed shortcomings? How many times had he smiled as he listened to her? I felt sickened that she was keeping him from his great potential and independence.

Your Challenge as a Parent:

  1. Help him feel what success feels like. Let him achieve success on his own.
  2. Have realistic expectations and support both the expectations and your teen.
  3. Don’t set your own expectations so high that you set him up for failure.
  4. Talk with your teen about his passions outside of school and perhaps volunteering.
  5. Involve your teen in a self-esteem character building activity where he experiences a sense of accomplishment along with the joy of recognition.
  6. Parent involvement is very important in reinforcing and supporting your teen’s dedication.

A Wise Mom’s Valuable Advice

TIP SHEET #13:   A Wise Mom’s Valuable Advice

  1. Don’t let your children believe that your love and approval depends on their grades, athletic ability, or success.
  • They need to be successful in their own right, not because you need to validate yourself.
  • Be their biggest cheerleader, staunchest advocate and strongest support system.
  1. Love them unconditionally for who they are, not for what they accomplish.
  • Kids know the difference.
  • Make time for them to download their day to you. Having time to connect with them every day involves you in their lives and helps prevent unexpected bumps in the road.
  1. Give your kids as much trust as you can – and lead by example.
  • Be trustworthy yourself.
  • Teach your kids that everything in life doesn’t come to you naturally.
  • Inspire a sense of values, work ethic and motivation – despite the obstacles.
  1. Say what you mean and mean what you say.
  • If they come to believe that you trust them, they’re more likely to live up to your belief in them.
  • Set limits on their use of technology: the vast majority of homework doesn’t need a computer.
  • Create a quiet space for them to do their homework away from the TV and other distractions.
  1. We are what people think we are.
  • The child who is convinced that trustworthiness is a positive value is likely to be trustworthy.
  • Put them with kids who are headed for achievement, then back away a little.
  • Create time for your child to be successful without burning her out. Keep it simple, and don’t push.

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What Can You Do When Your Kids are Young to Help Them Like School?

TIP SHEET #12:   What Can You Do When Your Kids are Young to Help Them Like School?

  1. Read to your kids at bedtime.
  • Read aloud to them even after they learn to read so they can hear the vocabulary of the book
  • “Partner read” – take turns reading aloud.
  1. Check and supervise homework in elementary school.
  • If you don’t check homework, if your child is struggling in an area, you aren’t in touch
  • You are signaling to your child that school is important enough to take your time in the evening to see what she has done.
  1. Good study habits are formed in elementary and middle school.
  • Try to keep organized
  • Stress occurs when you can’t find what you need or know where you’re supposed to go.
  1. Be involved in classroom activities, even though you might work full-time.
  • As an occasional room helper, you see a special view of your own child’s life
  • You observe other children: their learning and potential friends of your child.
  1. Keep homework simple and routine.
  • Give time to unwind when they get home
  • Do homework before play.
  1. Invite kids to your house to study when you are home.
  • This “normalizes” studying and makes it social
  • This demonstrates that school is important.
  1. Let her pick out her own study materials and accessories.
  • She will take more “ownership” if she chooses supplies
  • Help her arrange her study area, removing distractions.

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By Time or By Assignment?

TIP SHEET #11: By Time or By Assignment?

Knowing how to use time wisely is a life-long set of skills that carry over to work, home life and school, of course. Homework and studying can be done two different ways: by setting aside a specific amount of uninterrupted time to study, or by completing specific assignments or tasks. The idea is to use your time wisely and not allow homework and studying to drag on all night. Teens don’t need to spend all evening doing homework unless they are in a very difficult honors curriculum.

By Time or By Assignment

Which works best for you –

  • finishing a specific job, topic or project, or
  • using a specific amount of uninterrupted time to study and do homework?

Here’s an example:

I have to clean my messy house because friends are coming over for dinner. To motivate myself, I can:

1. spend a specific period of uninterrupted time cleaning my house so I know when I’ll be done with the chores and they won’t drag on all day, or

2. I can do specific tasks (dust furniture, clean the bathroom, clean the kitchen) for that feeling of accomplishment, relief and pride. We all want to feel a sense of accomplishment in the things we do.

Think about what technique of time management would work for you best in the evenings for homework.

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How to Make a ‘Plan’ Together

TIP SHEET #10: How to Make a ‘Plan’ Together

Plan a time to brainstorm ideas about school. Don’t just spring this plan idea on your teen but make a date to talk when you’re both relaxed. Ask your teen the questions below and write down her answers together. Sit at the kitchen or dining room table where you’re both comfortable and can have a business-like conversation. Try to keep emotion out of it, and look for behaviors to start up or eliminate in order to make high school more successful.

  • What do you think are reasonable grades to earn at the quarter? At the semester?
  • What time of day or evening is your best and most productive time?
  • What time do you want to be finished with everything at night?
  • Do you have all the school supplies that you need?
  • What can I do to support you in school, as your mom/dad?
  • Do you (the student) need to talk with the teacher? If so, do it tomorrow and bring back suggestions for improvement to me tomorrow afternoon so we can work on it together.

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Study Skills Survey


Do you set aside a specific time for studying each course you are taking? ___ Yes     ___ No

Do you usually study in the same place every day? ___ Yes ___ No

When you study, do you take a break every 30 to 45 minutes? ___ Yes ___ No

Do you know your best time of day to study? ___ Yes ___ No

Do you turn class assignments in on time? ___ Yes ___ No

Do you organize all your materials before going to bed? ___ Yes ___ No

Do you keep a record of your grades? ___ Yes ___ No

Is your notebook organized by subject and kept neat? ___ Yes ___ No

If you are having academic problems, do you ask for help? ___ Yes ___ No

Do you take notes from your reading assignments using key words and phrases? (Hint: the words and phrases in BOLD in your text are important!) ___ Yes ___ No

Do you review class material on a regular basis? ___ Yes ___ No

Do you use more than one method while studying? ___ Yes ___ No

What would you like to see happen?


Have you helped your teen create a regular place to study that is free of distractions?
___ Yes ___ No

Do you keep an eye on your teen’s study schedule and daily planner? ___ Yes ___ No

Does your teen stay on task and use time efficiently? ___ Yes ___ No

Do you help your teen review for tests? ___ Yes ___ No

Do you check to see that all study and homework jobs are neat, complete and organized for school the next day?  ___ Yes     ___ No

Do you regularly discuss school progress with your teen without nagging? ___ Yes ___ No

Do you attend Back to School Nights and Open Houses to meet teachers and learn important information about class and homework? ___ Yes ___ No

Do you regularly check online grades and look at teachers’ websites? ___ Yes ___ No

Do you genuinely praise your teen when you see hard work or improvement? ___ Yes ___ No

Do you offer support or help in terms of getting a tutor? ___ Yes ___ No

What would you like to see happen?

Study Skills SurveyClick here to read, download and/or print a PDF file.

What PARENTS Need to Do for Math Success

TIP SHEET #9: What Parents Need to Do for Math Success

It’s a team effort: math homework is math practice.

  • Read the material from the teacher of each class your teen is in. At the start of each school year, a ton of information comes home in binders and backpacks. Say: “What did you bring home that I should read?” Read it carefully, even though your teen may not offer it to you.
  • Parents are instrumental for success in math – without even tackling the subject matter. Poor performance in a math class is usually not related to not understanding math. Not practicing with homework assignments or not correctly practicing for tests is more likely the problem.
  • Ask to see their work every night. If you make it policy in your house for the math book and work to come home every night, you get a good grip on the amount and quality of math work. You won’t have to deal with: “We don’t have any homework tonight,” or “I forgot my book.”
  • Don’t try to teach your teen the way you did it in school. Math teachers today are very picky about the process, the steps, and doing it their own way. Teens get frustrated and want to quit if you impose your old-school math learning on them.
  • Consider a grade book at home to keep track of grades and points. Let your teen be in charge of this, and don’t hover. Match your log with the online grades from the teacher. This is a visual tool you can both see, and a sense of accomplishment grows as grades come in.
  • If you have questions about how things are coming along, don’t hesitate to email the teacher. Phone calls are less effective, as the teacher is in front of students all day and can’t get to the phone. Email is much better.
  • Take time with your teen every evening at the beginning of the school year, and you’ll pave the way for better grades and self-confidence in the future.

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What TEENS Need to Do for Math Success

TIP SHEET #8: What Teens Need to Do for Math Success

Classroom success begins long before you walk through the classroom door!

  • Ask the teacher questions in class or at tutorial. Ask as soon as you have one, and don’t wait until you get home.
  • Take your math book and homework home every day even if you’ve finished all of your homework. Here is why:
    1. to show your parents that you’ve completed the work and have them quickly check it
    2. to do a 5-minute review (practice) of the work you already did.
  •  If you have time at the end of class, start your math homework right away – don’t just shut the book to chat with friends and wait to start at home.
    Here is why:
    1. if you’re having trouble, you can ask the teacher right away
    2. starting work in class begins the important practice of making it stick.
  • Use the teacher’s format and show all of your work.
    Here is why: if you make a mistake in the process of steps, the teacher (and you) can see where you didn’t understand. Showing all of your work isn’t about cheating; it’s about discovering a mistake and correcting it in the process of steps.
  • Look in the book for help. Get in the habit of looking backward into the section just taught if you need help. Your mind is a wonderful resource if it knows how to use a book as a teaching tool.
  • Copy down the bold words and their definitions to make flash cards. Important words and concepts in the book are bold to help you learn.
    Here is why: this will impress your parents and make them happy!
  • Every night before bed, check your backpack to make sure you have paper, your books, homework and pencils. Put all of your school stuff in front of the door you’re going to walk out of in the morning. Check your printer to make sure there’s nothing left in it.

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Help Your Teen Get Organized For School

TIP SHEET #7: Help Your Teen Get Organized For School

When parents reinforce organizational skills at home, they become habits that increase a teen’s effectiveness across the board. A home environment free of distractions and interruptions greatly boosts your teen’s efficiency. Parents play a critical role in creating this tone to help their teens.


  • Keep a neat notebook with school papers separated by class with notes, tests, handouts and homework.
  • Take paper, pens and pencils to school each day. (Use a zipper pocket.)
  • Write down homework assignments and their due dates in your planner.
  • Ask the teacher questions before leaving class.
  • Bring all books and materials home for study and homework.
  • Sit at a comfortable desk or table with good lighting, pens, pencils, paper, and other materials. (Don’t study on the bed or couch.)
  • Study with a partner, if appropriate, for languages or reviewing for tests and quizzes.
  • After studying, put all materials together to take to school the next morning.
  • Look online at grades from teachers every few days.
  • Before going to bed, put all school stuff by the door so you have to trip over it going out the door.


  • Toss papers randomly into books and notebooks.
  • Leave homework at school.
  • Try to study in a cluttered or noisy area.
  • Interrupt your study time with texts or phone calls.
  • Scribble homework on scratch paper or rely on your memory.
  • Listen to loud music or TV while studying.
  • Go to bed without organizing your school stuff for the next day.

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What Seniors Say They Wish They Knew When They Started High School

TIP SHEET #6: What Seniors Say They Wish They Knew When They Started High School


  • Freshman classes and grades count for college admission.
  • “D” grades count for high school credit but NOT for college admission.
  • A’s and B’s are generally necessary for continuation in the college prep sequence throughout high school.
  • Your freshman year is critical for success in classes the next three years.


  • All “F” grades in required subjects must be made up in order to graduate.
  • Always complete and turn in all homework. Zeros on homework will pull down “A” and “B” grades on tests.
  • Study an average of half-hour for each class every night – whether you have homework or not.
  • Your number one job as a teen is to be a student.
  • Don’t miss class or fall behind on assignments.
  • Sit near the front of the class if you’re having trouble.
  • Students involved in some type of extra curricular activity – on campus or off campus – do better in school.
  • Keep an accurate record of assignments and deadlines in your planner.
  • It’s your responsibility to check with the teacher about missed assignments if you’ve been out sick.
  • A 2.0 GPA is required to be eligible for school extra-curricular activities.
  • Once you get behind, it’s very tough to catch up.
  • Teachers generally don’t allow students to take tests over, turn assignments in late for half credit, or do extra credit work.

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