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Quick and easy ways to get kids ready for back to school
Going back to school can be a stressful time for parents and children alike, but particularly the children. They are going into a new grade and are understandably anxious! Will the classes be hard? Will their classmates be nice? How about their new teachers? Do they have enough notebooks? It is up to the parents to help them prepare! There are things that can easily be ticked off a to-do list, but there are also things parents should note regarding their children’s emotional and mental readiness for school. Here are some quick and easy ways to get your child ready for back to school! Do the Paperwork and Prepping For the tangible tasks, parents should foremost fill out all necessary forms with information like emergency contacts and immunizations. They should also think of breakfasts and lunches that could be easily prepped in advance for the whole week. Make sure your children will get the nutrition they need to be healthy and focused! One meal could be the difference between paying rapt attention in class and falling prey to the afternoon slump. Now, for the children, parents can help them with their own choices. Be there as they decide on their outfits for the week, chirping in with suggestions and weather predictions. Parents can also help children prepare a study spot for homework--get them excited about having their own space for work! Get Back in the Groove Perhaps most importantly, get children back in the groove by gradually fixing their sleeping habits and establishing a morning routine in advance. Naturally, during the summer, the sun sets later and schedules are freer, so children go to bed and wake up later. It will be hard for them to suddenly return to a rigid, early schedule once school starts. Make sure to slowly move up their bedtime and wake time so they will not be too exhausted on the first day. Ease Back-to-School Anxieties For children’s emotional and mental readiness, parents need to make sure they are in the appropriate headspace for returning to school. According to a report by CNN, a survey indicated that 53% of the 400 participating parents pinpointed homework and schoolwork as the biggest stress inducers for their children. Alleviate their apprehension beforehand by providing a refresher to last year’s curriculum. Pull out old notes and go over them with your children. Then, reflect on everything from last year, such as what worked and what didn’t work. Did it help to get homework done right after school? Did they get better sleep by turning off all technology an hour before bed? Did that help them perform better? What were some weaknesses and strengths seen last year? Plan to Excel Based on these reflections, you can help your children set goals, make resolutions for the school year, and manage their time, so they have better direction throughout the year. Do they want to focus on the essay writing portion of English classes? Then they could decide to get at least one A+ on an essay this year. This could prompt them to start the assignments earlier than they usually do. You could also lookup further education, such as JEI programs, to help children who might fall behind or want to master a topic. Schools tend to go with a general pace for all and teachers cannot give equal attention to every student in their classroom. On the other hand, JEI calibrates pacing for each individual and pairs one teacher to five students at most. We advise that you speak with your children’s teachers in advance about their curriculum. If you see fractions will be covered and know your children feel uneasy in this area, you could enroll them in JEI’s State Standard-aligned math program. Create Excitement! Lastly, during the whole preparation process, be excited and positive, so that the infectious attitude will leave your child eager to get a start already! If they still seem reluctant about the upcoming school year, you should make sure to talk to them to figure out the base problem. Chuck Norris said, “Asking your children about their fears or worries about going back to school will help them share their burden.” Once they share their burden, they will release it and hopefully feel as ready to tackle it as Chuck Norris! ----- Going back-to-school shopping, figuring out who will pick up the children, preparing lunches, and all of that are definitely important but do not forget the emotional toll on children. If you read through this guide and communicate with your child, they will surely feel more comfortable about heading back. We at JEI Learning Center hope that you and your child have a great new school year! We are always here to lend a hand, so find the nearest center and drop in anytime!
Must-have skill for children #4: preventing procrastination
According to data collected on studying habits, students who started studying two weeks before an exam scored an average of 95%. Students who started studying one week before scored an average of 81%. Students who started studying mere days before the exam scored an average of 71%. What does this tell us? It tells us how important a firm understanding of time management is for students. Parents believe procrastination is the root problem, but it is actually one of the side effects of poor time management and it is becoming increasingly pervasive. The American Psychological Association revealed that 80 to 95% of college students procrastinate. On top of that, the number of people who consider themselves procrastinators has increased from 4-5% in the ‘70s to 20-30% today! To protect your children from this epidemic, you need to teach them at a young age the importance of time management. If they manage their time better, it is less likely they will procrastinate on tackling important tasks for school. This will also improve many other areas of their lives, such as… Perfectionism Contrary to belief, many people put things off because they have high expectations for themselves that they do not think they can actually meet. This is a sign of a debilitating characteristic known as perfectionism. However, good time management skills will make the task at hand more achievable. In particular, putting a task into a calendar and assigning it a time frame (such as 30 minutes) will get children moving just to get the task done. Less emphasis will be placed on the outcome. Prioritization Children will have to prioritize certain tasks depending on the importance and amount of time available. This is an important skill. Many procrastinators check off the easiest things on their to-do list, then call it a day with a false sense of productivity while the important things fester in the background. Children have to realize that if they do not get a start on that big project looming in the background that is worth half the semester grade, the little assignments they do along the way will not even matter. On the other hand, if they only have 30 minutes between school and soccer practice, that would be the perfect time to schedule in that math worksheet they got for homework. Take advantage of whatever time they can find! Plan accordingly! Self-Care Having said that, it is important that children also know when to prioritize self-care. Time management is not only for productivity but also for making sure there is still fun in their lives. They will realize that when they have time to themselves, instead of wasting that time idly by scrolling on social media, they could take full advantage of it to unwind. You know the saying “work hard, play hard”? Sadly, many children do not let themselves fully immerse in the fun part of their day; as a result, they do not immerse in the working part of their day, either. The whole time throughout, they are distracted, unfocused, and restless. Nothing gets done. They waste a lot of time this way by thinking or wishing they were at another point in time. When playing, they think they should be working. When working, they wish they were playing. Let them pencil in some time to fully play with no concerns and to socialize with friends. Managing time the right way will help them have fun when they can and to get things done when they need to. Timeliness Time is extremely valuable, even more so for how irrecoverable it is. Many people do not understand how much time a task will take, so instead of starting early, they put it off until they are overwhelmed by the task. They cannot get all that precious time back. Help children learn that certain things require more time than others, such as reading a book or writing an essay. By managing their own times for tasks like these, children will learn how to better estimate and manage time for other big undertakings. It will also teach them to be reliable when it comes to meeting deadlines or people on time. Goals As previously mentioned in the Must-Have Skill for Children #3: Goal Setting, children need to take responsibility for whatever goal they want to reach--and they can do that by setting clear timelines. If they do not do this, they will never reach that goal because there will be no time constraints pushing them forward. It is not only about deadlines but also about getting something--even a little bit--done everyday that will get them that much closer to what they want. Setting aside portions of their schedule for a specific purpose, particularly long-term goals, is a huge part of time management. Self-Esteem Dr. Ferrari, a professor of psychology, once told American Psychological Association, “Non-procrastinators focus on the task that needs to be done. They have a stronger personal identity and are less concerned about what psychologists call ‘social esteem’—how others like us—as opposed to self-esteem which is how we feel about ourselves.” Managing time provides your children with better self-esteem in just this way. They feel more responsible for themselves and in better control of their lives, both of which result in confidence! == One tip for parents is to not take over children’s schedules but to trust them to build their own. Of course, children cannot be given full autonomy--especially from the beginning--but you could start to loosen up the reigns. You could set aside a certain period of time everyday for children to decide on their own schedules, as well as ask for their opinions. Another tip is to reward rather than punish children if they fail to meet a goal or deadline. Punishing will actually breed more procrastination and reluctance to use time wisely in the future. Highlight how much they did manage to accomplish and help them to adjust accordingly in the future to complete the same task. They need the experience to learn how much time they need for various activities; and therefore, they should not be punished for the learning process. Now that you know the importance of time management and how to go about helping children learn this must-have skill, your children are already one step closer toward mastering the JEI Self-Learning Method®. Looking for more fun and helpful activities to pencil into your children’s schedule? Check out our JEI programs here!
3 Ways to prepare for the stress of middle school
The transition from elementary school to middle school is a period of significant changes. In elementary school, their school schedule is managed for them. Now your child will have to maintain their own schedule, going from class to class and visiting their locker when they can. In addition to these changes, your child’s body is undergoing changes as well. With the onset of puberty, the hormones pumping through your child’s system brings about not only physical changes but emotional changes as well. Dealing with these sudden surges of strong emotion can be quite challenging. It’s even more challenging because this is a point in your child’s life when they begin to question authority. Failure to learn emotional management strategies can lead your child into trouble. Developing your child’s emotional maturity is the key to a smooth transition to middle school. Here are three skills you can teach your child to help them manage their emotions. These skills will serve them in middle school and beyond. 1. Recognizing Emotions The ability to name emotions your child is feeling will help them deal with their stress and emotions in a productive way. It is typical for many parents to focus on behavior over emotion; for example, they will react to their child’s slamming the door, or rolling their eyes, instead of what led to that action. A focus on behavior alone teaches your child to continue to redirect their feelings towards certain behaviors. Naming emotions is the first step for your child to recognize the conditions leading to a behavior or misbehavior. Once your child has identified the emotion, they can better think about and understand the behavior. We all have signs that our body uses to tell us that we have a strong emotion happening. Perhaps our shoulders get tense when we’re angry. Maybe our hands shake when we’re nervous. Learning to recognize these telltale signs of their emotions will teach your child to stay in control of their emotions. If your child has difficulty putting names to their emotions, this diagram can help them. Additionally, modeling this for your child could help them better understand the act of naming emotions. When you feel yourself having strong emotions, don’t shy away from talking about them with your child. Letting them know you are grieving, or apprehensive, or ecstatic, or stressed shows them that all people go through these emotions, and that is okay. 2. Meditating Mindfulness meditation is a skill that develops focus and thought management skills. Meditation helps you clear your mind by having you focus on the breath. Meditation will train your child to let go of distracting or stressful thoughts and help them get through some of these tougher moments. Meditation will train your child to recognize when they’re having distracting or stressful thoughts before they interfere with being present in the moment. In doing this, this will also help them maintain the focus needed for middle school. There are many apps like Calm and Headspace for guided meditation. These apps have pre-recorded meditation sessions aimed at clearing distracting thoughts and is easy to introduce to your preteen who is probably well-versed in technology. Meditation is a skill that takes practice; start with a short meditation, and have your child work their way up to longer sessions. This can is also a great activity to do together, as both you and your child will benefit. 3. Reflecting Once the emotion has passed, it’s important for them to come back to that moment and reflect on their emotional outburst and the emotions or stresses causing it. This means sitting with your child and asking them how they felt when they were overwhelmed with emotion. Punishment for emotional outbursts without reflection teaches your child to suppress their emotions and not address the actual issue. This will only lead to more emotional outbursts. Sometimes we can know in advance that an unavoidable situation will cause stress. Teaching your child to mentally prepare for these situations is a crucial part of developing their emotional maturity. Asking themselves questions such as “What should I do when I’m angry?” or “What behavior should I avoid?” will help your child to avoid bad behavior well before the moment when a stressful situation arises. Reflection is a skill that will develop self-awareness and emotional intelligence. -- As your children approach middle school or commence to a new grade, the teachers and staff will expect more maturity from your child. With these three skills, a little time, and attention, you can help teach your middle schooler to manage their emotions which is the first step in helping your child manage their behavior. At JEI, our intimate class sizes provide a setting to practice these emotional-management skills while getting a valuable supplementary education. To get started with JEI, find a center near you!