Sunday, April 9, 2017

Proudest Moment of the Year

Let me introduce you to Donnie, who came into my life about seven years ago. Last month, we finally celebrated his college graduation from Portland State University!

Through his journey, Donnie learned how to work hard, be proactive and responsible, and communicate with his peers and professors. Despite his Asperger's, he persevered academically, but more importantly, personally. He has grown so much and I couldn't be more proud.

The road to becoming a college grad was sometimes rocky, but we finally made it to the end. As our last session came to a close, tears welled up in my eyes and I expressed (or more so blubbered) to Donnie just how proud I was of him and surprisingly, when I looked back, Donnie had tears in his eyes too. I can't tell you how amazing his showing of emotion made me feel. He said, "Amy, I wouldn't be here without you." My heart melted. I love you, Donnie! Friends forever:)

Friday, March 10, 2017

A New Perspective

As you may have noticed, I've been away from the blog for quite some time and there is a good reason why. Three and a half months ago I earned a new title: Mom! Yep, that's right. I finally made my dreams a reality and am the mommy of a baby girl. As an older mom this wasn't an easy journey and still isn't, but she is the most amazing thing to ever happen to me and as a result, I have a newfound respect for all the parents I work with.

I am learning why the work StudyWise tutors and I do with our students is such an invaluable resource for parents. Parenting, in addition to daily life demands and work, is quite challenging to say the least. School has become very complicated and knowing the ins and outs has taken me years to learn, so I can see how stressful it would be for busy parents to figure out the system. I'm just having trouble keeping my eyes open and the house clean at this point, so I can only imagine adding in figuring out my daughter's classes and teachers each year, new technology, websites and grading systems, daily assignments and due dates, etc. I find my work even more rewarding now because I know I'm making parents' jobs a little easier. Thank you StudyWise families for your dedication in raising such amazing kiddos!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

"Um, like, I actually came to class with a pencil."

The above is an actual quote from one of my fabulous students in response to the question, "How were you more prepared for class this past semester?" After first semester, we take time to reflect on what the students did well and what areas still need improvement. This student made honor roll for the first time and said one of the things he did well was being more prepared for class. What came to my mind was all the weekly reviewing, consistent meetings with teachers, working ahead, etc. But, as a coach, I like to ask questions and have the kiddos come up with the answers. I loved that he thought of the question in a different way than I intended and it seems like to make honor roll, all you need to do is bring a pencil to class! Awesome! 

I got a good chuckle out of his answer, but it also showed me that he has finally understood the importance of being organized and ready to learn. Something as simple as having a pencil shows responsibility and ownership of his learning, which we have spent years working on. Obviously this kiddo did a lot more than bring a pencil to class everyday, but it's a symbol for all the greater lessons he has learned. I am so proud of him and I hope all my other students get to the point of remembering their pencils, too:).

Saturday, October 10, 2015

ADHD and Lying

     All of us have lied at some point in our lives, but for children with ADHD, lying can become a huge behavioral problem. However, it's a misconception that lying is a character flaw because it's really just a coping mechanism. Children with ADHD often feel out of control of their behavior and struggle with low self-esteem, making them more prone to poor choices. When they realize what they have done, they often feel ashamed and guilty, so try to find ways to cover up. They almost always end up getting caught, but oddly keep repeating this behavior, furthering their feelings of guilt and low self-worth.

     We want children with ADHD to feel responsible and empowered, so it is important to learn how to work with them to understand the importance of being honest. Our reactions as adults make a huge impact on their feelings of self-worth and how they handle similar situations in the future. Here are some super helpful tips from an article on Strategies to Help Your ADHD Child Fib Less that will give you a good start in better understanding your child in these situations and how to respond in a more positive manner. Before you judge your child for lying, think about why they are doing it and work with them in a way that will encourage honesty in the future.


Thursday, October 1, 2015

Finding a balanced routine

Now that students are settled into school, they should have a good idea of time expectations, both in academics and extracurricular activities. However, many students are still flying by the seat of their pants, not knowing which direction they are going. Now is the perfect time to sit down with your student and write out a schedule in order to make a daily routine.

Most students are super busy, but there needs to be a balance in how they spend their time. Scheduling in friends, family and alone time are important in keeping kids happy. By creating a schedule, they may realize they have more time than they previously thought and that they just aren't using their time effectively. Try highlighting their free time so they can visually see how much time they have during the week for homework, sports, friends, family, and downtime. If they have more time on one night versus another, encourage them to work ahead on those nights to make the rest of the week easier. Budgeting time isn't something that comes easily to most students, so continually working on refining their routine can improve their time-management.

Lastly, creating routine can help your student be more confident, less-anxious and avoid any last minute blunders. That being said, schedules change and need to be somewhat flexible. However, sticking to a routine within changing schedules is imperative in creating a happy student. Let the planning begin!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Time Flies, But Are You Having Fun?

Back to school ads tell it all. Really? Back to school? Already? Technically we have four to five weeks until school starts, but that time is going to fly by and before you know it, the excitement and anxiety of a new school year will be upon us.

As I look back at the last six weeks, it seems like I haven't done many "summery" things or spent enough time with my friends. My motto of "When you fail to plan, you plan to fail" was proven true this lazy summer. As a result, I kind of fizzled in the fun zone so far. So, take this as a nudge to get out there and take advantage of your final month of summer. Schedule away in your planner or calendar. In four weeks you will be glad you did!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Starbucks "Studying" Gone Awry

     The dreaded finals week is upon us. Many of my angelic students have been preparing for the last few weeks. On the other hand, naturally, most teenagers just cram the weekend before. Last week my brother was visiting during "cram weekend" and before he left, we stopped into my neighborhood Starbucks. I strolled into a sea of studying teenagers and my heart instantly warmed. I excitedly said to my brother, "Oh, look at all the kids studying. How cute!" 

     Well, five minutes after ordering our much needed coffees, the truth was revealed. Very little studying was actually being accomplished. In between snapchat checks, selfies, texts, convos with friends, sips of frappuccinos and instagramming those cute pics with the hashtag "studying", a wee little bit of algebraic formulas, chemical equations, and essay outlines were being studied and prepared. This scene was horrifying to my brother, while I replied, "Welcome to my world," because none of this surprised me. See, my brother was valedictorian of our high school, graduated from Stanford with a bachelors and masters in computer science, and later completed his MBA at the prestigious University of Michigan Ross School of Business. Like many of my students, my brother, although wildly successful, struggles with time management and organization. He often says if he had a cell phone in high school he wouldn't have been as successful of a student. In fact, as a teenager, my mom used to ground him from the phone (land line) for talking on it too much! A smart phone or computer would have been a disaster! Business school in his early 30s was a completely different experience than his earlier college years. Focusing and getting work done became much more difficult with a smart phone and laptop, which resulted in a much more stressful experience.

     So, it doesn't matter how smart or talented someone is when it comes to technology distractions. When presented with this conundrum, I'm not sure what the answer is. It's obvious our brains are being rewired as technology advances, but our ways of teaching and learning have not caught up with these cultural shifts. How can the next generation be successful if they can't focus for more than 2 minutes at a time? I am a firm believer that rules need to be set around technology use. Students studying with their phones is never a good idea. The constant buzzing, chirping, and dinging are not conducive to focused production. Let this coffee excursion be a lesson to parents that all isn't what it appears to be. Your student may say they were studying for the four hours they were away or in their rooms, but the likelihood is that probably a half hour of work was accomplished. So, set ground rules, be consistent, ask good questions, and ask for proof of completed work. 

     Good luck to all my kiddos! I am so proud of you.