Why making time visible for students is so important

Making time visible for students is so important for their success at school and into the future.  For most students having time visible can make them feel less anxious, take away the worry about making sure they remember to complete everything and ensure they hand their work in on time.

Students often think that they don’t have much to do and that they can remember it all in their heads.  Yes this can be true for some but invariably they don’t have all their tasks as clearly in their head as they think they do.

Most students also live in the “now” and homework/assignments are seen as a future thing (“the not now“) that needs to be Image of a brain done.  The areas of the brain that are responsible for time management are not often developed fully in students until their mid 20’s.  Unfortunately this means that many students don’t often utilise their time very well and it is not until the last minute, sometimes a few days before or the day before, when they realise they actually have work to do and hand in.  When this happens it is often rushed and not necessarily their best work either.

I have come across this issue nearly everyday in the past few years when working with students and from discussions with parents.  Believe me it can take some convincing to get students to use planners, diaries, Apps, a notebook or even a simple weekly study chart but for those that do the difference is amazing.

It really doesn’t matter what a student chooses to use in order to make time visible – it is the fact that they make time visible that is important.  When a student actually uses a planner to plan out homework, an assignment or study/revision then they actually make the time visible to them.  This is much better to assist them than their heads and gives a clear indication of how much time is or isn’t available to complete a required task.

A student should map everything out – activities, homework due, finding the time to complete the work, time for study/revision (but more detailed than just using these words), their chores they need to complete.  When a student does this they usually feel much better, less overwhelmed and it reduces the chance of anxiety or stress taking over.  The struggle to remember anymore is also removed and if they see what they need to do the chances are they are more likely to do it as well.

Seeing and tracking time really help students and for many it is an important skill that will assist them to succeed at both school and in life.

Why not speak to them and see if they will give it a go – what have you got to lose!

If you are a student or you have a child that struggles with this please do get in touch to find out more about how I can support you or them.

For more information on the importance of time management and what it is click here.

Executive function and its importance for students

Executive function are a bit like buzz words that these days you often hear being discussed or mentioned when it comes to students.   In the work I do with students I regularly get asked about executive function and in particular what does it actually mean?

Understanding executive function and its importance for studentsimage of the brain - executive function and importance for students

A simple way of explaining executive functioning is that it is the parts of thinking, feeling and reasoning that help us to:

  • analyse situations,
  • plan,
  • take action,
  • focus & maintain attention, and
  • manage by ourselves to get things done.

Executive functions are controlled by the frontal lobe of the brain.  In those people who do not have executive functioning issues, the brain performs these tasks quickly and they are often done so in one’s subconscious and therefore people are usually unaware of them happening. 

One important point to note is that executive functions are not fully developed until an individual is in their mid 20s or later.  Sometimes students can be thought of as being lazy, unmotivated or even defiant when in fact often they don’t have the skills yet to do what it is they are required to do.  It is really important to know that it not because they don’t want to do something it is because their brains are’t there yet developmentally.

Unfortunately children with ADHD or Autism can typically have a 30% or 3-5 year delay or more in some or all of their executive function development which makes it even harder for these students to manage their academic lives as they get older and are expected to be able to manage them by themselves.  

Having said this executive functioning isn’t just something we grow into they are skill sets and ways of thinking that need to be taught and modelled to students by parents, teachers and other key influences in their lives.  Ultimately you want to encourage and support your child so you can empower and champion them to become independent and undertake the necessary skills and steps to manage by themselves.

For all students, whether they have ADHD or Autism or not, it is important to have executive functioning skills as it assists with learning independently at school and in life.

Key challenges

Some of the key challenges for many students today and in particular for those students who have executive function issues are that:

  1. it can be hard to perform even a simple task or behaviour – they can struggle to know the steps needed in order to complete a task.

  2.  they have a lack of future thinking – students tend to only focus on the now and this day only and no more than a few days ahead.

  3. seeing time can be a struggle for students – you can’t expect students to manage time if they can’t actually see it.  Students these days are surrounded by digital clocks and therefore only tend to see the present time rather than time having a beginning, middle and an end.

  4. they can easily become overwhelmed – students can become overwhelmed and frustrated by the enormity of a task or project that they will shut down completely and refuse to accomplish anything at all.

  5. some students focus too much on perfection – by doing this, and with a lack of executive function skills for some, this can be a real challenge for students to actually complete work and hand it in on time.  They are always waiting for it to be perfect and unfortunately perfect never comes.

  6. they struggle to prioritise – many students are not able to know what what to do first or in other words not be able to give something a level of importance.
  7. they procrastinate – this is typical of many students, often the figure suggested for students is that 70% procrastinate however this can be even higher for those with executive function issues.

  8. they can struggle to get started or launch – this can be a struggle for many students and therefore they never start something or if they do it is at the 11th hour with a deadline hanging over their heads which naturally creates more stress and pressure for them.

  9. they have trouble with focus – this can be a challenge in that not only do some students struggle to focus or give attention to what they are doing but can find it difficult to move focus easily to another task or activity as well.

  10. they lack organisational, planning and time management skills – these are often the ones that we see students struggle with ie the messy locker, always being late, not able to plan out homework and therefore can really affect their day to day academic lives.

The good news is that for each of these challenges there are tips and strategies that students can learn to implement and allow them to succeed both academically and in life.

For further information or to find out how I can assist you or your child and your challenges please get in touch.

15 common mistakes students make with exams

That time of year is fast approaching (in the Southern hemisphere anyway) when it will be time for exams.  Some students will be more prepared than others for what they are about to face.  It is however worth knowing what the 15 common mistakes students make with exams are so they can try to avoid making them.  I have split this BLOG up into those mistakes students make in the planning and preparation stage as well as those they make in exams themselves.

15 common mistakes students make with exams

In the planning and preparation stagestudent studying

  1. not starting early enough – many students think they have lots of time to prepare and study for exams. Unfortunately this can be a trap and students convince themselves that it will be okay to not start today only to find that they end up running out of time and cramming.  Studying for exams often takes more time than students anticipate, so make sure you get started early!
  2. reviewing information that you already know – students often spend time on studying or reviewing information that they already know.  The best use of their time is to identify what they don’t know and work on strategies to ensure they learn this information.
  3. studying passively and not actively – you ask what does this actually mean?  Studying passively is usually when students spend time just reading over their notes and textbooks until it is familiar.  Where as actively studying is when you actually incorporate the passive study as well as spend time testing and quizzing yourself to see what you actually do or don’t know.  Unfortunately most students actually spend more time studying passively than actively which really is not the best strategy.
  4. not actually studying or preparing in the way you are testedclick here to learn more about this in a recent blog that I wrote just on this point.

In examschairs in an exam room

  1. not writing your name on the exam or test paper – I have seen this time and time again when working with students and this should be the first thing they do when they can actually start writing!
  2. not reading and understanding the question – this is vital and students need to ensure they use their reading time wisely to ensure they understand what the questions is actually asking them to do.  When doing this students really need to take notice in particular of the key/command/prompt words in the question ie analyse, compare, describe….  Basically those words that tell you how you need to respond.
  3. starting to answer questions without any planning – It is important, particularly for any writing tasks, to plan the structure of your response/essay first. This will then assist you to know what you are going to say and in the right order and keeps you on track.
  4. running out of time – some students can find themselves running out of time and in many cases this links back to lack of preparation and planning when they should have spent time practising this with past exam papers.  Ideally you want to have a plan of attack and strategy as to how you are going to break up and use your time before you enter an exam.  Spending time on this prior to exams is a really useful strategy.
  5. Ignoring the clock – when in an exam another trap for students is not keeping an eye on the clock or following any such plan so they run out of time in general.
  6. leaving questions blank – where possible students should avoid this and always try to ensure they gain some marks rather than just giving up and leaving a response blank.
  7. not matching up questions and answers with multiple choice – this is a common mistake and really one that should be avoided.  Students need to take care when responding to multiple choice questions.
  8. answering a question twice – this is common when answering multiple choice – make sure you have only selected one answer per question.
  9. ignoring a question because you don’t like it – when this happens and it does, students ignore the real question and write or respond with something else that often is unrelated to what is actually being asked of them.
  10. having enough supplies with you – students need to make sure they have additional pens or pencils with them as the last thing they want to happen is for the ink to run out and not have anything to write with.  This seems so logical but not always on a students mind when going to an exam.
  11. leaving the exam room early – even if you think you are finished use the extra time to read through your answers and make sure that you’ve answered them to the best of your abilities. You may find during this time that you’d like to include additional information or points.  You might also check over your spelling and grammar as well.

image of students in an exam

 

For more information to assist with exams the following blogs might also be of use:

  • how to create an exam study plan click here or
  • why being organised is the key to exams click here

 

If you would like further information about how I can support students please do get in touch.

 

 

 

Students need to practise the way they are tested

This is such a simple concept – ‘students need to practise the way they are tested’ yet in my experience it’s something that many students actually struggle with.

I regularly see and speak to students who don’t revise and study on a regular basis and often only do it prior to an upcoming test or exam.   The other issue I see is that when students do actually revise and study they are often not using the best methods.   Both of these are entwined and students need to practise the way they are to be tested.  It is vital that they learn how to do this in order to give tests and exams their best shot and in turn get the best marks they possibily can.

As I say to my students in my workshops or when working 1:1 with them that it is about ‘studying smarter not harder”!  You can often hear a bit of a sigh of relief when they think about what I am actually saying.quote learning to study smarter not harder

Regular Revision

Most students actually understand the importance of revision however seem to struggle to know how to know what steps to take and how often they should take them.  Research shows that students definitely benefit from revising on a more regular basis rather than only doing it only when preparing for upcoming tests or exams.  

Many students will also work hard at revising, however they don’t always work well at it.   As with any other aspect of their studies, they need to organise their time, plan their revision well in advance and know what strategies work best for them.

It is important that students do many regular reviews of their information and notes as this is more effective and likely to be retained in their memory over an extended period of time rather than doing just a few long cram sessions.   Ideally students should be reviewing their information and notes on the day they have written them to ensure they have understood the topic at the time and seek further assistance at that stage if they don’t.  It is much better for memory to do it at the time than weeks or months down the track.  From there they should then find a regular pattern of reviewing their notes and testing themselves.

Revision doesn’t have to be hard

Revision doesn’t have to be too hard and students need to put the effort into planning.  It is important to know the best way to revise for all their subjects and have a plan in place for each one.  If students are not sure about this they should seek assistance and guidance from their teachers who are more than willing to assist.  Sometimes this in itself can be hard step for students to do.

Unfortunately many students today are still of the belief that reading over notes or highlighting key text are good revision strategies.   However both of these are actually not the most effective as they don’t force students to think deeply or critically about the topics and they end up being done without much thought at all.  Reading and highlighting creates a sense of familiarity to students however in an exam situation they don’t get marks for things being familiar, they get marks for recalling relevant information and using it to answer the question.

Having said that students shouldn’t abandon these strategies completely as they still can have a role to play and be used alongside other effective revision methods and techniques.

Testing yourself and its importance

There is a lot of research on memory where they say that testing yourself is one of the most effective ways to improve your ability to recall information.  By testing themselves students also can easily identify any gaps in their knowledge.  Practise papers provide a good starting point, as well as quizzing themselves at the end of a revision session.  Another useful technique is to teach the material to someone else.  They could do this with a study partner and take turns and/or to someone who knows nothing about the topic.  This technique assists students to really think about the subject in a clear and structured way.   Another method could be for students to put all the information they know in a mind map or on paper before reviewing their notes to see where the gaps in their knowledge are.

image of a multiple choice exam paper

This then leads us to the next stage of revision where it is important for students to focus on the information that they don’t know rather than what they do know.  Naturally it is more satisfying to revise what they do know rather than focus on their weaknesses.  Revision isn’t about reassuring oneself on what they do know it needs to be all about identifying what they don’t.  Once they figure this out then they need to find the best revision strategies to learn that knowledge.

On top of this students need to really understand the format of the tests and exams so they can actually practise under test or exam like conditions.  By doing this they can work out the best strategies for them when it comes to reading time, working out which questions to tackle first and so on.  It is important that during the reading time they actually read and understand the questions before they begin and really know what is being asked of them.  For some students they like to focus on the hardest or most time consuming working down to the easiest where as for other students they like to get the easy marks out of the way first and do the harder ones later.  There is no right strategy and is very much up to individual students to find what suits their style the best.  Practise tests or exams are a great opportunity for students to really know what works best for them and to fine tune these prior to the important test or exam.

Most teachers are also more than happy to mark practise tests and exams which then also allows the students to work on the areas that they don’t know as well to keep learning and improving before the final exams arrive.

There is research that finds students who do practise tests after a period of revision do better on the final exam than those students who didn’t do the practise exams and had just spent the whole time revising.  At the end of the day its better for students who don’t do well in practise exams to have the time to do more work, change revision strategies and develop the right skills to perform well under pressure than it all falling apart and not working for them in the final exam!

If you’d like to know more or hear how I can assist you or your child further please get in touch.

 

 

 

The power of YET for students

I believe the power of YET for students is one of the most important words for them to meet their potential as learners.  It is a word that educators and parents should also be using on a regular basis as well!

One’s mindset determines how they behave, their outlook on life and attitude towards everything they do.  Mindset is a simple idea discovered by Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck following years of research on achievement and success.  Her research found that brains and talent don’t bring success and sometimes even stand in the way of it.  On top of this, praising ones brains and talent doesn’t foster self-esteem and accomplishment and can actually even jeopardize them.  Where as teaching students about mindset and this simple idea can actually increase marks as well as their productivity.

Fixed v Growth Mindset

Carol Dweck’s research has found the following:

  • Fixed mindset – having a fixed mindset about yourself and your abilities means you think you are the way you are and that you can’t change anything.  Sometimes students with a fixed mindset believe that their talent alone can create success without putting in any effort which unfortunately is not true.
  • Growth mindset – means you believe your skills are not static and that you have the ability to change and learn.  This type of mindset can really assist one to succeed as this allows them to believe by working hard they can improve. With a growth mindset a student can know that whilst they may not be good at something it could either mean they haven’t learnt or practiced it YET.

At the end of the day all the tips and strategies given to students to assist them to study and improve their marks won’t work if they don’t have the right mindset in the first place – a growth mindset.

For further information about fixed v growth mindset you can click here to read another blog I have written about the importance of a growth mindset for students.

Use the word YET

Image of the word YET - The power of YET for students

By using the word YET it can really alter and improve a students’ motivation.  It can create the idea of learning over time.

So when they say “I can’t do this“, “I don’t have the skills needed” or “I’m not smart enough” by adding the word YET it can really change their motivation levels. With guidance and regular reminding and using the word YET it changes their fixed mindset statement they have made into a growth mindset one.

And it means that with your guidance they will continue on their learning trajectory and get there eventually. It puts their fixed mindset statement into a growth mindset context of learning overtime.

To begin the process of fostering a growth mindset, we need to catch ourselves when we are thinking with a fixed mindset and then revise those thinking patterns toward that of a growth mindset.  When we find ourselves thinking “I’m just not wired that way”, we need to make a mental note of the thought and revise our thinking patterns toward something along the lines of “I haven’t figured it out yet, but I’ll keep trying to learn.”  Doing this will not only assist us in being more resilient, but it will also help to keep us more motivated.

So the next time you hear your child saying they CAN’T do something remember to add the word YET to the end of the sentence.  It is amazing how powerful this change in the way you acknowledge can make a difference to their beliefs about themselves and their abilities.  You might even like to give it a go yourself if you find yourself ever saying I CAN’T too.

For further assistance on mindset or other areas on how I can assist you and your child please do get in touch.

8 tips for parents to avoid homework battles

Whether you agree with homework or not it seems to be part of most school’s current programs.  So how do parents avoid homework battles?

Homework is generally set to give children the opportunity to:

teenage boy doing homework

  • practice and consolidate skills;
  • practice creative thinking or problem solving; and
  • carry out long term projects.

Completing homework should not be about acquiring new skills.

The one thing I hear from many parents is that homework battles are very common and that they can be very painful to deal with.

As I outlined in another recent BLOG – ‘Who’s responsibility is it to ensure homework is completed?” – it is the child’s.  It is also an arrangement they have with their teacher and school and this needs to be kept front of mind too.  Having said that I do agree that parents also still play a role in monitoring, supporting, guiding, teaching and ensuring that children complete their homework themselves.

8 tips to try and avoid homework battles include:

  1. Send clear messages about homework – including that it is an important part of school; you will give your child support if they need it and that you will not be doing their homework for them.
  2. Have a plan – this really is key for students of all ages in tackling their homework. Depending upon what it boy not enjoying doing homeworkis they need to do a plan can be detailed or just written down on a scrap piece of paper.  The plan should include a rough outline of what they need to do and a guide as to how much time they need to spend on each aspect.  Then it is useful to work out what subject to start with first – for some children it could be the easiest or for others they like to tackle the hardest.  Ask them what they would like to start with.  By having a plan they are more likely to make a start as well as to get their homework done.One important point for parents is not to assume they know how to do this and you may need to teach them how to put a basic plan together first then be their to support until they can do it by themselves.
  3. Breaking into chunks – sometimes it is the homework task itself that can be overwhelming so it is useful to assist your child to know how to break tasks down into chunks that can be dealt with during the same homework session or on different days.  It is common to assume they have been taught how to do this and therefore we often just expect them to be able to know how to do this when the reality is they don’t necessarily understand.  If this is the case it is useful to work with them and explain how.
  4. Develop set homework times/routines – work with your child to develop times when they can get their homework done around their other activities.  Having set times tends to work for younger children where as older children might like more flexibility around taking responsibility for when to complete theirs.  One thing to be aware of is to determine the best times around children’s energy levels.  Often the best time can be after they get home from school and have had something to eat – usually within 30 minutes to an hour at most.
  5. Find the best place for them – have a discussion with your child, particularly older children, as to where they feel they work best and then help them to create the right space and environment ie does it need to be quiet, do they want to have music playing or maybe they work best in amongst it all in the kitchen space?  Be aware that they might also like different spaces depending upon what homework it is they are doing at the time.  I recently found out, by asking, that one of my students hated the desk space she worked in as she found it really dark so she avoided using it.  After speaking to her parents and with a coat of paint and more lighting she actually was happy to start working in there again.
  6. Minimise distractions – I could write a whole BLOG on this alone however I would like to highlight that girl using iphone when she should be doing homeworkparents can help children become aware of distractions and work with them to come up with the best solution that will work ie help them to turn notifications from social media off on devices they are working on or remove phones to another room whilst they are working.  Where possible get them to come up with the decisions on what to do rather than dictate them as they are more likely to stick to them then too.
  7. Help them to get started – often this can be the hardest part.  As we know many children like to procrastinate and never seem to have any trouble finding other things to do.  One way to help get them started is to set a time for 20 minutes and then allow them a 5 minute break before setting again.  Sometimes this is enough to anchor them to their desk to complete homework.  For some children using incentives can also assist them to get their homework done ie give them something they look forward to doing as soon as they finish homework.
  8. Make sure they have all the supplies – often this can be an issue as children complain they don’t havewhat they need.  Therefore parents can assist to make sure they have a variety of supplies at hand and close by to where the children complete their homework so there really are no excuses.  It might even be worth checking in with them from time to time on upcoming homework they need to complete if you need to make any specific purchases like poster paper or other supplies.

Homework battles can be very draining on everyone involved so the more planning and educating you can do to assist your children the easier they should become. Why not give some of these tips a go to see if you can avoid homework battles in your home making it much better for everyone!

If you would like to discuss the regular challenges you have or to know more about how I can assist you and your family please get in touch.

Who’s responsibility is it to ensure homework is completed?

So just who’s responsibility is it to ensure homework is completed?  This is an interesting question and one that many people, including educators, will tell you that the answer should be that of the student.  The parent’s role should be one of support and guidance if required (if required being the key words – naturally it will be age dependant to a degree too)!

In my work with both upper primary and secondary students this is often an area of discussion I have with both students and parents.  These days many schools have web based school management platforms that allow both students and parents so see what homework and assignments students need to complete.  I have even heard of some schools that actually emailimage of daughter at a desk being watched by her mum at the door the parents the homework that students need to do.  This is where I believe some of the problems around who’s responsibility to ensure homework is completed stem from.

Whilst the communication is a great thing, parents tend to then take on the responsibility as we fear that our children will fall behind, won’t succeed or get the most out of life if they don’t do their homework.  Whilst these are real fears this is where parents become unstuck as a result of knowing what needs to be done and when it is due they often start to nag and put pressure on children to get homework done.  The unfortunate part is that children, particular those in early teen years, don’t react well to this and it can have a negative impact where they will often do the exact opposite of what you are trying to get them to do.

Factors to consider

Consider these 4 important factors as to why the responsibility to ensure homework is completed should be that of the students:

  • key life skills development – research shows that doing homework can help children develop “self directed learning skills” like initiative, independence and confidence.  When completing homework it is important that students ensure they understand what it is they are to do, how much time they should allocate for completing it and then using their time wisely to do so.  These are all great skills for students to learn that will continue to assist them throughout their education and lives.
  • developing independence and feeling in control – as children grow in age and become teenagers it is only natural for them to want to be able to make their own decisions including when to do their homework.  They need to feel like they are in control, can do things by themselves and work to their own timetable.  This can be sometimes hard for parents to deal with though it is important to know when to take a step back rather than following up with your child too often.  I usually recommend to parents to continue to take an interest, be supportive and let your child know you are available to assist if required.
  • being responsible for their own actions – this is another important life skill for children to develop.   They need to learn for themselves, be conscious of making their own decisions and following their own actions.  It is then up to them to deal with any consequences as a result of their actions or inaction as it may be.  For instance if they leave their homework at home I tell parents not to go running it up to the school or if your child doesn’t complete something and gets a detention then that is something they need to do and learn.   If they don’t experience the consequences of their work, whether that means a good grade or a failing one, they are less likely to change the behaviour that’s been making things difficult in the first place.  It can sound harsh but children usually will learn more as a result of dealing with the consequences than if they have everything solved and smoothed over.
  • developing problem solving skills – ideally as parents we’d love our children to be able to solve their own problems, with support that is age appropriate as required.   In order for them to develop these skills parents need to move away from being direction givers all the time.  It is sometimes easier for parents to always step in and solve problems by telling our children what they need to do, where they need to be and what they need to have with them.  Unfortunately though this is only teaching them to follow directions and not being responsible themselves.  Questions to ask instead are what do you need to do; where do you need to be and what do you need?  Let them tell you!  In order to develop good time management skills, which are essential for completing homework and study, it is important to let them both problem solve an to make their own decisions.

image of teenage boy studying or completing homeworkIn essence as a parent if you take on the responsibility for a child’s homework it often doesn’t always allow them the ability to develop these core life skills.  So do you think you can make any necessary changes and support your child to do the same?  It will take away some of the battles you may be having over homework too.

For tips on how to focus and get homework done you might like to read this BLOG for some ideas – click here

If you or your child need any further support please don’t hesitate to get in touch as I can work with them and or you 1:1 – amanda@organisingstudents.com.au or 0409 967 166.

Please note that this blog has been written in a general context and I appreciate that many students may still struggle with what I have suggested above as there are often many different factors at play.  Therefore it is important perhaps for these students that these factors be considered and the necessary support provided to them as required.

6 homework tips – how to focus and get homework done

Parents often think to themselves why don’t they just do their homework and get it out of the way – for some students it isn’t that easy.  Sometimes getting started can be the hard part.

Here are 6 homework tips that will assist students to stay focused and assist them to get their homework done:Image of a student working at her desk - get homework tips to get it done

  • Start homework sooner than later – students tend to waste time from 3-6pm most days.  To be more productive it is useful to start homework within 1 hour of finishing school where possible.  They are still alert at this time, particularly after having a good snack too.  This is much easier to do it or at least make a start than having to sit down and start after dinner.  This might not always be possible with after school activities and sport but worth putting into place on days when it can be.
  • Have a plan – having a plan means students are more likely to take action, know what they need to do and make a start.  It’s important that the plan is manageable and actionable.  It doesn’t have to be very detailed and can just be written down on a scrap piece of paper or even a post it note as to what they’d like to achieve today and allocate an estimated time they think it will take.  Through the action of breaking down activities into smaller time segments students develop a clearer sense of how to prioritise, focus, initiate, transition and complete their daily responsibilities.
  • Have a reward or treat in mind – for some students this can really motivate them to get their homework done.  One way is for students to challenge themselves to do their homework before a certain time.   Another is to just work and get it done (without rushing through and making sure it is their best work).  Following the completion of homework they then get time to do something they like – ie catch up with friends, play video games, spend time on social media.
  • Eliminate distractions – students, like most of us, do better if they only focus on one thing at a time.  Many students though when doing homework are constantly interrupted and distracted often by their phones, device they might be using and social media.  It is best if students can recognise that this happens and remove the distractions where possible or otherwise seek assistance from parents to assist them.  If students do get distracted it can take quite a bit of effort to get back to where they were with their focus and attention and therefore it increases the time it takes to complete homework.  Also a students learning is not going to be as great in terms of what they remember if they keep getting distracted.
  • Use a timer – sometimes students can struggle to get started and using a timer can help.  One technique that often assists students is to work for 20 minutes and then have a on 5 minute break.  I often refer to this as the 20 minute/5 minute techninque and others may know it as the Pomodoro technique.  Some students may need to continue using this technique and others may just need it to get started.  Another option is to get them to challenge themselves to compete their homework before the timer goes off – naturally they have planned out first before they started as to how long a piece of work should take.
  • Get enough sleep – this is such an important thing for students and their brain needs it.  This can be challenging as many students, particularly teens don’t recognise they actually need this and that is good for them.  They should try to set themselves a ‘bed time’ and follow a regular routine of going to bed and waking up at the same time each day.  By getting enough sleep students are more likely to cope with all their academic and extra curricula activities.

By following all or some of these tips students are more likely to take control of their homework rather than it taking control of them and leading to an increase in stress and anxiety.

For further assistance in assisting you and your child with their studies, their organisation or time management (or lack of these skills) please get in touch.  

There are answers!

Future of education in Australia

image of an old school house and statement of school system designed in 1893 and how the future of education needs to changeWhat is the future of education in Australia?  Towards the end of 2016 I had the opportunity to see the educational film – Most Likely to Succeed by Greg Whitely.  This film has in recent times created quite a lot of interest and discussion on the future of education in America, Australia and around the world.

Personally I believe it to be very thought provoking in that it makes sense that one of the main themes of this film suggests that a review of our education system is needed considering the last major change was way back in the Industrial Revolution in 1893! Don’t you think it is hard to fathom that students today are still learning what was put in place over a century ago?

Shortcomings of the current system

Some of the key areas highlighted as shortcomings of current school models were:

  • Technology, the economy, and our understanding of children and learning have all evolved far more than our schools, and it’s time for that to change.
  • How it is becoming harder to find jobs at the end of our education system and how the shift în technology is partly to blame where many jobs have or will cease to exist. Entry level jobs used to be plentiful and college was an affordable path to a fulfilling career.
  • The current system appears to reflect that of a factory culture particularly with the ongoing use of bells and timetables.
  • Standardised testing is out of date – the goal of the current curriculum system is to pass tests whether students are interested or not – it doesn’t teach students about learning, preparing and succeeding later in life.

Key messages

For me the key takeaways were:

  • An education system needs to keep students interested and engaged.
  • We need to be looking at what technological skills we will need in the future.
  • Students need to be excited about a particular topic or subject and then they are more likely to be interested to learn and remember the information.
  • When students study they should have a choice how they do it and what works for them – they shouldn’t have to do it a certain way as they are all different.
  • The learning way suggested was a focus more on student centred learning and what they are interested in as opposed to saying they must learn a particular subject.
  • Students are more likely to gain a real sense of purpose which is suggested with a new education model.
  • The idea is that students learn best by doing, and what they do should be complex, challenging, self-directed (with support), and purposeful.
  • It can be really powerful for students to make something during their learning that wasn’t there before or that is new.
  • A problem/project-based learning approach that features flexibility and autonomy for both teachers and students, will provide students with skills and mindsets that are more valuable and more effective than are typically fostered in schools today.
  • No situation in real life is similar to how one takes a test!  So why is the education system using this?  We grind out learning in our system and students memorise things that they then forget a short time later.
  • It’s a big change for parents to get their heads around though they need to remember that education is and should be different to what they experienced.

Image of school children

A must see

This film is really a must see for anyone with an interest in educations place in society today and our children’s futures.  If you get the opportunity I encourage you to take a look for yourself and see what you think!

For a preview of the film click here

The film suggests that teachers, education leaders and policy makers must look at creating new visions of what schools are and what they do.  A move towards it being more specialised and more personalised for students can only be a step in the right direction!

So what do you think?  What do you think the future of education in Australia should be?  Please get in touch and let me know.

The importance of a growth mindset for students

Growth Mindset quote and why growth mindset is important for studentsThe importance of a growth mindset for students cannot be underestimated.  Students are more likely to succeed with their studies if they develop a growth mindset compared to having that of a fixed mindset.

So what is mindset?

Mindset is the established set of ideas and attitudes held by someone.  Someone’s mindset will determine the way they behave, their attitude and outlook on life and what’s going on around them.

The kind of mindset a student has can really alter the way they approach everyday life and study.  The good news is that ones mindset is not set in stone and there are things you can do or change to shift your mindset to ensure you get the most out of study and life.

Different mindsets – fixed v growth

There are two different mindsets often discussed and outlined below are the basic differences between them when it comes to students and their learning.

Fixed mindset

Those students with a fixed mindset often process a belief that their talent and intelligence is fixed and incapable of being changed or improved.  With a fixed mindset they often:

  • ignore constructive criticism
  • have a negative internal dialogue with themselves
  • they don’t like to ask questions in case it makes them look stupid
  • use the words ‘I can’t’ a lot
  • give up quickly and particularly if something is hard or challenging
  • avoid challenges
  • they don’t want to look like failures.

Growth mindset

Students with a growth mindset typically believe they can grow their intelligence, are motivated and keen to learn.  Those with a growth mindset usually:

  • see mistakes and feedback as an opportunity to learn
  • actively pursue difficult things
  • seek new challenges
  • use the phrase ‘I can’t yet’
  • have a positive internal dialogue with themselves
  • if something is challenging they persevere.

So which mindset would your rather your child have?

I’m sure you can now see why developing a growth mindset for students is the way to go and how it is important for not only their studies but life as well.

To begin the process of fostering a growth mindset with our children (no matter what age) we need to catch them when they are thinking or speaking with a fixed mindset and assist to revise those patterns more towards a growth mindset.

If you need assistance to assist your child with their mindset and ensuring it is a growth one please get in touch as this is something I regularly work with individual or groups of students on – get in touch amanda@organisingstudents.com.au