8 SIMPLE ACTIONS THAT WILL ENSURE ACADEMIC SUCCESS
(Community Builder) Steven Greene Created: 14 February 2021
No matter what the school semester brings, students are going to have to prepare for the beginning of a new academic year. In order for them to start strong, they need the right mindset to go in with a positive attitude. Here are eight simple actions your child can take to ensure academic success this school year, at any grade level.
1. Remain Active
Whether your student is in elementary, middle or high school, physical activity is key to helping them maintain focus and motivation. Try to make sure that they exercise a little bit each day. Walking, running, riding a bicycle or swimming will all help your student refresh their mind and boost their mood. Physical activity after class and before studying or homework staves off fatigue and mental exhaustion by giving them a break in between tasks.
Taking a break after each subject is also vital to make the most of their academic time. Have them get up to stretch or walk around every half an hour. This action relieves nervous energy and allows them to return to their work with fresh eyes and new focus. Likewise, if they are feeling frustrated by a confusing math problem or word they struggle to remember, encourage them to stand and move around briefly. Besides stretching, they can do jumping jacks, pushups, situps or jog in place to increase blood flow and stimulate their mind.
2. Manage Time Effectively
Have your student create a study plan and make specific goals. Help them create goals that are clear and easily attainable in the short term. Instead of a goal to “study for Biology 1,” choose to study notes from specific class days or chapters in the textbook. Making a word or page count goal for an essay will also be more effective than trying to finish the whole thing at once. If your student enjoys to-do lists, have them create a physical list or digital note. Actually checking the item off will bring them satisfaction, and the little victories add up to huge academic success.
Encourage your student to put their phone away during homework time and avoid multitasking. Pausing to check social media can lead to a larger and longer distraction than originally intended; one Tiktok may turn into 12, and 10 minutes of scrolling Twitter can easily become 30. Taking mental breaks is healthy and encouraged, but they should take care to ensure that a break does not become a distraction from the goals they want to achieve for the day.
Large goals are still encouraged; smaller daily goals can stack into these bigger tasks. For example, if your student is studying for the ACT with a practice book, their smaller goal could be to work on a practice test every other day with the ultimate intent of finishing the entire book. Crossing off the big goals will show your student the results of their hard work and daily diligence.
3. Ask for Help When Needed
There should be no shame in asking for help when your student is confused by a problem, assignment or concept. Encourage them to come to you with questions; if you are unsure of the answer, do not be afraid to acknowledge this fact. Being open and honest develops trust, and you have the opportunity to learn alongside your student as you work with them to answer their question.
College professors maintain office hours for the express purpose of working with students who have questions or otherwise require assistance, so the earlier your student gets in the habit of reaching out, the better. Reinforce the concept that asking for help is beneficial and does not reflect badly on the confused person; instead, it shows the student cares about the material and has a willingness to learn.
Discussing difficult concepts from a course with their peers will also help them, as it improves their communication and analytical skills. Creating small study groups may help your student, so long as the members of the group practice good time management and take care to avoid major distractions like a prolonged conversation on other topics. Such gatherings also improve your student’s ability to work as a team with others. Once the overall task is complete, a fun break with friends can prove a wonderful reward.
4. Hold Yourself Accountable
Accountability goes hand in hand with time management. Losing track of time or dropping focus every so often is normal, but your student can choose how they react to being distracted or experiencing setbacks. If they realize they have started daydreaming, they should take stock of what has been accomplished so far and their progress towards their goal for the day. Your student should then prioritize: What needs to happen most urgently? Do they need to rework their plans for the day to make those goals a reality? Would it be best for them to get up and refocus before returning to work? Maintaining a positive mindset is key to academic success, so if they appear frustrated, encourage them to take a small break and return to their task after a brief period of time, ideally 15 to 20 minutes.
5. Take Breaks
Working in large chunks is an easy way to lose focus. If your student sits down to write an eight-page paper in one sitting, they may find themselves struggling to maintain motivation after about 45 minutes. Every hour or so, or half an hour for younger students, they should take a break to refresh their minds with a different activity. This may easily be achieved with exercise, with the added benefit of engaging their muscles and improving their mood, but other activities well-suited to the individual student can also help. They might read a few chapters of a book, go outside for a little while, practice art or spend some time with family, friends or pets.
Remember that your student should hold themself accountable for returning to work when they need to, and they should keep an eye on their social media use during study time. Make sure they take time to have fun when the studying is over! Without downtime and an opportunity for their mind to relax, your student will have trouble focusing and feeling rested for the next day. Your student needs ample time to pursue recreational activities they love and take time for themselves to truly ensure academic success.
6. Write Things Down
Although it may seem counterproductive at first, your student should rewrite their notes after each class. The physical act of writing the notes again reinforces their memory of the content, especially for any diagrams or charts they may have created. They should star, highlight or otherwise denote material that confuses them during their rewriting process, so they can ask questions at their next opportunity.
Your student should also write down each assignment or important date they receive, even if they are confident that they will remember without reference. It is far better to have the information saved and never need it than to realize two days later that they are unsure whether their exam will be this or next Friday.
7. Organize Work Space
If your student’s workspace is cluttered, they will be less likely to focus. Make sure that the space they are working in provides them with enough room for all of their materials, and that they can sit comfortably without slouching. If your student has to lean over constantly, they will become unsettled and will probably experience neck or back pain after sitting.
Encourage your student to avoid sitting on their bed to do homework or studying if they are using their room as a workplace. They need a designated place to work so that their brain can focus and compartmentalize better. Sometimes, a change of scenery may also work wonders. If they feel stagnant after a while of working in one area, try moving them to a new spot, such as a coffee shop or table in the backyard. To subconsciously promote a positive mood, look for an environment that affords some form of natural light, like a large window.
8. Challenge and Test Outside of Class
In order to grow and learn, your student needs to challenge themself. If their homework is completed, they should try self-quizzing with flash cards to ensure they thoroughly understand the material. Especially when preparing for a test like the ACT or SAT, they should take advantage of outside study materials like online practice modules and mock tests. Flexing their mental muscles beyond the classroom will help them excel, but they should make sure to take time for fun, too! Leisure activities can also challenge your student’s mind and outlook: games like chess and checkers stimulate a student’s sense of logic, as do puzzles.
Ensure Academic Success with mAke the grAde
No matter what age your student is, following these eight actions will set them on the path towards academic success in their endeavors. Should you need further guidance, contact mAke the grAde. Remember that they should never be afraid to ask questions and request help. Their continued learning and improvement is the overall goal of education. More info http://www.makethegrade.net or email@example.com.
About the author. Dr Steven Greene Ed.D. is the lead educator at mAke the grAde, a full time, full service, academic support and tutoring service based in Philadephia, PA. mAke the grAde has supported students and their familes for over 25 years.
Poor Planning, Big Problems: The Tale of Tom Poor
(Financial Advisor) John Strohman Created: 20 March 2021
"All those years of work are thrown away. To ease your mind is that all you can say? But what about that grandson on your knee? Them railroad songs, Tom would sing to me." –Robert Plant
Many business owners dedicate decades to making their businesses successful. Far fewer owners plan for how they and their businesses will maintain success once they leave them (by choice, death, or otherwise). Without a complete, robust plan, you may not get the outcomes you want or deserve once you inevitably exit your business. Consider the example of Tom Poor, a fictional but representative business owner whose failure to plan led to poor consequences.
The Tale of Tom Poor
Tom Poor always vowed to never live up to his namesake. The seventh son of an ironworker, Tom spent years building his successful steel manufacturing company. His success allowed him to provide a lifestyle for his wife and two children that no one in the Poor family had ever had. His company employed 135 people, and his two children were taking on more responsibilities at the company as Tom got older.
Just before Tom’s 70th birthday, he made a startling announcement to his family and company. A large steel conglomerate had offered him $15 million for his company, and he verbally accepted the offer. He assured his employees and children that their jobs were safe based on a handshake agreement he’d made with the buyer. He assumed that $15 million was more than enough to allow him a comfortable lifestyle since his $500,000 salary and benefits package had provided so much for his family to that point.
Before the deal went through, Tom’s children told him that they had expected to run the company once he left. They’d been training hard to prepare, and so the sale to an outside party shocked and upset them.
“I built this business into what it is today,” Tom told them. “I’ve earned the right to make this decision because my decision-making got us here. Besides, I want to see the grandkids more.” As the sale date approached, both of Tom’s children quit to start their own venture together in a related business. When the buyer learned that two key employees were leaving, they told Tom that he would either have to replace them or accept a lower offer. Tom refused to accept a lower offer, but the employees he promoted to fill his children’s roles were incapable of running the business.
As Tom tried to renegotiate, his employees began leaving the company one by one, citing low morale and a lack of commitment from Tom.
The original buyer pulled the offer. Though Tom managed to keep some employees from leaving, the exodus caused company production and value to plummet. His children refused to talk to him or let him see his grandchildren. His wife—heartbroken by what had happened—took their side.
Tom ended up selling the business at age 75 for $3 million. After taxes, he took home just over $1 million. With his family refusing to talk to him and barely enough to survive on his own after a year of poor health, Tom was forced to re-enter the workforce at the company he had sold just a year earlier.
Despite his promises to himself, Tom Poor ended his life living up to his namesake.
Strong Exit Planning Can Help Owners Avoid This Fate
Planning a successful business exit requires different skills than running a successful business. While Tom was a great business owner, he failed to think about what drove business value and what he needed to pursue a successful post-exit life. Consider some of the things Tom neglected to think about:
What he needed for financial security:
Tom simply assumed that $15 million would be enough for him and his family once he left. He was so committed to this assumption that he neglected to see what a big role his children played in achieving financial success and security. Proper planning could have shone light on what the business was worth, the factors that made the business more valuable, and the amount he actually needed to continue being comfortable and protect what he had built.
The fallout of his family’s reaction:
Tom completely disregarded his children’s commitment and desire to run the company. That not only led to the company’s downfall but also prevented Tom from his goal of seeing his grandchildren more often. Comprehensive planning could have helped Tom understand his children’s contributions and how to leverage them, which could have prevented the fallout caused by his lack of consideration.
What kind of legacy he’d leave:
Tom assumed that everyone would welcome his decision to sell the company. Obviously, that wasn’t true. By working through his planning, starting with setting specific and objective goals, Tom could have better considered his legacy and involved his family and employees in the plan differently.
The consequences of a failed sale:
Adding salt to the wound, Tom’s failure to sell the first time was a black mark on the company. When he finally found another buyer, they were only willing to pay a fraction of the original offer price. Because Tom wasn’t prepared for a third-party sale, he suffered financially.
Without a clear, comprehensive, written plan, business owners have little control over their future. Had Tom properly prioritized his goals and planned for all aspects of his company’s future, it’s less likely he would have lost everything that mattered to him. We strive to help business owners identify and prioritize their objectives with respect to their business, their employees, and their family. If you are ready to talk about your goals for the future and get insights into how you might achieve those goals, we’d be happy to sit down and talk with you. Please feel free to contact us at your convenience.
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The information contained in this article is general in nature and is not legal, tax or financial advice. For information regarding your particular situation, contact an attorney or a tax or financial professional. The information in this newsletter is provided with the understanding that it does not render legal, accounting, tax or financial advice. In specific cases, clients should consult their legal, accounting, tax or financial professional. This article is not intended to give advice or to represent our firm as being qualified to give advice in all areas of professional services. Exit Planning is a discipline that typically requires the collaboration of multiple professional advisors. To the extent that our firm does not have the expertise required on a particular matter, we will always work closely with you to help you gain access to the resources and professional advice that you need.
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Any examples provided are hypothetical and for illustrative purposes only. Examples include fictitious names and do not represent any particular person or entity.
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