Monday, December 30, 2013

A Necessary Struggle: Deep Thinking

As the new year approaches, I am thinking about a New Year resolution for my students. Yes, I am making a resolution for them:) Aren't I sweet? After much thought, ironically, I want them to think more deeply. The one common trait among almost all my students is that they don't engage in their work, in that they want to just get it done and over with. While this is understandable (because let's face it, nobody wants to spend hours upon hours doing homework), the long term effects of this approach can be devastating. If students don't learn how to slow down, face challenges and figure out how to overcome struggles, they won't be prepared for their adult lives. Kids today want the easy way out and instant gratification, but unfortunately, they are in for a harsh reality later in life. It's our job as adults to encourage mindfulness, support their struggles when they face challenges and teach the importance of patience and practice. For more on this topic, click here to read from A necessary struggle: Deep practice and skill mastery from

12 Things High School Students with ADHD 
Want Teachers to Know

As some of my students are mentally and emotionally flourishing this year, a few others are still struggling. One of my greatest hopes in working with teenage students is to increase their self-esteem and confidence. It breaks my heart when students feel down because of their ADHD and/or learning disabilities. I want to just shout to the world that life isn't about scoring an A on a multiple choice test or following the streamlined ways of our schools. Now, that doesn't mean they still shouldn't make an effort to do well in the system they are in, but they also shouldn't base their self-worth off of it. Our world is amazing, not because we are all the same, but because each and every one of us offers something unique. Just because a child doesn't excel in school, doesn't mean he/she won't be successful later in life. I actually think kids with ADHD and/or learning disabilities, with the right foundation, often become the movers and shakers of this world. Beyond helping them academically, we need to make a more concerted effort to support them mentally and emotionally. By doing so, they will feel less discouraged and more capable, automatically resulting in greater academic success. Here is a quick slide show about what kids with ADHD would like their teachers to know. These ideas also apply to parents, family, and friends. Please pass the info along to anyone involved in supporting a child with ADHD.

There Are No Mistakes, Only Lessons

Let's face it. The first progress reports of the school year can be downright scary. Some even Halloween scary! Every year I receive a flurry of calls from parents panicking over their kids' poor progress reports. But, let's put a positive spin on the kiddos' poor performances. Every mistake made is progress if parents and students take time to calmly discuss what behaviors lead to their poor grades and what actions they can take to improve their performance. I love the quote above and have it hanging in my office because mistakes are learning moments and many parents don't see it this way. Because I am an academic coach to my students and not their parents, it's much easier for me to abide by the quote. Instead of getting upset at my students, I discuss the situation and ask the students what they learned from their experiences. So, instead of feeling bad and beating themselves up, they make a mental note to not repeat their blunders. I am always hopeful that my students will make better choices the next time around, resulting in greater school success, happier parents and a proud tutor!

Meshuga Wednesday?

It's the first official day of school and therefore it's Meshuga Wednesday! I feel like a chicken with my head cut off, especially after spending an amazing weekend with my cousins in LA. Transitioning into the school year can be tough, but spending time in a new place with family was just what I needed to start the new school year off on the right foot. It was so fun to let loose and live by the trip motto "YOLO". Every once in a while I would just shout it out and it felt so freeing! The other motto I came back with was from a piece of artwork I saw in Santa Monica that said, "Change Your Life". So simple, but so powerful! I reminded myself of this saying this morning and had a productive and positive start to my day. We also had a theme song that played on the radio pretty much every time we were in the car, which was Katy Perry's "Roar". Let us
 all be champions this school year and I wanna hear my students roar! Here's how the chorus goes and you can check out her live performance on the 2013 MTV VMA Awards here: Roar

I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter, dancing through the fire
Cause I am a champion and you're gonna hear my roar
Louder, louder than a lion
Cause I am a champion and you're gonna hear me roar
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
You're gonna hear me roar

Here are some pics my cuz put together of our trip! Thanks Allison. I love you. You can check out her awesome blog here: She's quite the amazing woman.

Parenting Practices: Communicating with your Teen

Parents and teens often express the difficultly of communicating with one another. From the teens perspective, they often feel a lack of trust from parents and are worried that sharing certain things will create a greater distrust. Therefore, teens often hold their thoughts and feelings in instead because they don't feel safe sharing them.  Parents are often reactionary to what their teens say, but it is important to really listen and think about what they are saying through their perspective. Try setting aside regular one-on-one times with your teen where you can solely focus on issues they may need to talk about. By following the guidelines below, teens will be more willing to open up and talk (Communicating with Your Teen).

In order to solve family problems, it is important to be able to discuss them openly. Effective communication involves both listening and speaking. Good listeners show an interest in what the other person is saying. Consider the following guidelines, and how you might use them to improve your family communication skills. 

1. Draw a mental picture of what the other person is saying.

Ask questions to help you complete the picture in your mind. This will let the other person know 
that you are taking an interest in his or her topic. 

2. Withhold advice unless you are asked to give it. 

Hear the other person out. Do not interrupt or add your opinions until the speaker has finished. Your job is to listen with understanding, not make judgment calls. During this difficult transition of 
your teen, it’s important that you do not try to “overparent.”

3. Be an active listener. 

An active listener summarizes the speaker’s statements to check for understanding. Ask questions to keep the conversation moving. By asking for more details, you will help to stay focused on the 

4. Learn something new from the speaker. 

Take the role of the student, so that your adolescent becomes the teacher. 

5. Stay focused on the other person.

Do not use this time to interrupt with one of your own stories. 

6. Match the speaker’s emotional state, unless it is hostile. 

You will help the speaker feel accepted if you match his or her mood. This also shows empathy, or 
reassurance that you understand and can identify 
with the speaker. 

7. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. 

Try to understand your adolescent’s perspective. This shows that you respect his or her point of 
view, even though you may not agree with it. 

8. Think before you speak. 

You may want to count to ten before you respond. This will create an opportunity for you to compose 
yourself and avoid a heated discussion. 

9. Encourage the other person. 

Even when discussing sensitive or emotionally charged topics, let your adolescent know that you 
still care about him or her. Think of something you like about him or her. 

10. Be pleasant. 

Keep the conversation positive by talking about how you might want to solve the problem. Don’t 
get entangled in past mistakes. Look for the positive side of the message. Staying positive will help keep the conversation productive and constructive. Try using these active listening skills with your 
adolescent. After some practice, introduce your family to the idea of using effective communication skills. 

Meshuga Monday: Preventing the Monday blues

So, this Monday post is two days late, but it's summer vacation, so can you blame me? As school year quickly approaches, I am reminded what a huge shift it always is to transition from very few, if any students, to a full schedule overnight. Although I have been working some on the business end of things, my summer is like a super long weekend. The anxiety I feel about returning to work reminds me of an extreme version of the Monday blues. However, I am super excited to get back to work and see all my students! So, I shouldn't be blue, right? This prompted me to research a little about the psychology behind the Monday blues that so many of us share. 

I found out that Mondays actually aren't much different mood wise than Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Researchers found that it's the shift from the weekend to Monday that is difficult, not that Monday is especially annoying. In addition, we tend to remember the extremes, so transitioning into the monotony of the work week may seem even worse after a fun-filled weekend. I came up with a few tips to help transition into Mondays or whatever your "Monday" is. I'm going to attempt almost all of these things before my first day back at work and I can't wait! It's gonna be a good Monday!

  • Rewire your thinking! Mondays really aren't that bad:) Research can back that up!
  • Plan out Monday’s workload the Friday before
  • Relax Sunday night (candles, read, bake, etc.)
  • Leave yourself enough down time on the weekends/days off
  • Pack your work bag night before
  • Make a to do list
  • Play music in the morning
  • Give yourself some extra time in the morning
  • Aromatherapy shower 
  • Eat a good breakfast 
  • Plan something special on Monday after work so you have something to look forward to
  • Take frequent small breaks
  • Dress especially nice on Mondays

Meshuga Monday: Get crackin'....literally!

Well, it's 5:00 pm and I'm just getting to my Meshuga Monday blog post. I had a little bit of a late start to my Monday, which isn't a surprise to those who know this sleeping beauty:) By 2:30 I was sluggishly out the door, but happily on my way to see Dr. Justin at Elevation Chiro and Rehab

I started seeing Justin about 4 weeks ago for my chronic neck and back pain. Compared to the handful of chiropractors I've seen throughout the years, I am most impressed with Dr. J's approach. I instantly feel better after an adjustment, but as Justin says, I can get cracked all day long, but unless I do rehab exercises, I won't stay better. Justin believes in a more holistic approach to chiropractic treatment, so along with the usual snap crackle pop, I was assigned daily rehabilitation exercises and last week I even got to sport neon green Kinesio Tape. I think I have started a new fashion trend because I got a lot of comments! Justin has also done soft tissue massage on my brick-like muscles, as well as electrostim and heat treatments. 

If you are hesitant about seeing a chiropractor, you can feel at ease with Dr. Justin. He just might make your meshuga Monday a little easier to deal with. Check out the video below for more information.

Meshuga Monday: The 10 minute rule
Coming back from the long holiday weekend has been rough. After taking four days off, I am feeling anxious and overwhelmed about what I need to get done.  In other words, I definitely am feeling meshuga this Monday. Besides making a to do list, one thing that helps ease my mind is committing 10 minutes to a tedious and dreadful task. Set your timer and get to work! You will be surprised how fast that 10 minutes goes by and will most likely continue working (unless you are one of my high school students-then, you will most likely do the minimum and be done precisely in 10 minutes:) Love you guys!). My 10 minute task is usually anything accounting or paperwork related. I am happy to say I got both accounting and paperwork related tasks done already. Go me! Now it's your turn.

Dog Days: Keeping our doggy companions calm on the 4th

Happy 4th of July! I came across an article last night about a comfort dog who walked at a high school graduation (Comfort dog graduates) and had his photo featured in the yearbook along with his other "classmates". Dogs, and pets in general, are an important part of our lives and well-beings. For students who are differently abled, have anxiety/depression disorders or are just having a hormonal teenage day, pets can be a great comfort. Above is my "son" Bruce. A handful of my students have met Bruce and their eyes just light up with excitement and joy when they see him bounding toward them with wagging tail in tow. Bruce would be a great comfort dog if he himself didn't suffer from anxiety! Alone with his mommy he is a cuddler and very calm, but as soon as outsiders are added in, he just can't contain himself. So, for now, Bruce will serve as my personal companion dog and since he's a mommas boy, I think he's okay with that too. Let's give back to our beloved doggies this 4th by helping them deal with the firework stress. Here are a few quick tips: Keeping your dog calm on the 4th

Welcome to another Meshuga (and hot) Monday! Everything seems a bit more tedious when it is sweltering out, so I'm in my air conditioned office hoping to get some work done this afternoon. Since I can't make it to the coffee shop today because of time constraints due to appointments, I am listening to and simultaneously. These science based websites increase creativity and focus. Coffitivity makes me feel like I'm out at a coffee shop with the ambient noise and Focus@will's acoustic accompaniment zens me out. These websites are particularly helpful for students and adults with ADHD. Check them out and let me know your thoughts. Happy productivity:)

Parenting Practices: Teens really do want to spend time with their parents

In a recent discussion with a friend, I realized just how little quality time parents spend with their teens in high school and college. As kids get older, I think it is a common misconception that they need less parenting or that they don't want to spend time with their parents. In turn, parents tend to give in to their kids' wishes for independence, but that quickly leads to a disconnected and unhappy family. Teens do need some independence and freedom, but that doesn't mean family time needs to go out the door. Here is an interesting article that I thought could serve as a reminder that even if they don't act like it, teens do want their parents undivided attention and time.

Meshuga Monday: To do list

Welcome to the first Meshuga Monday post! For those of you who don't know, the word "Meshuga" is Yiddish for crazy. Since my students are on summer vacay, my Mondays probably won't be meshuga until we get closer to the school year. However, lots of people get the Sunday blues thinking about how crazy Monday will be, but taking some time to organize yourself can make Mondays a bit more tolerable.

The picture above is my Monday to do list and planner. When I'm feeling overwhelmed, I like to make a separate to do list from my planner because I can write in detail what I need to do in order of priority. There is no "right" way to make a to do list. I like the good old fashioned hand written list, but there are lots of apps and tools for techy people as well. By taking time to plan, you will waste less time throughout the day and feel less stressed too! This follows my philosophy of taking time to save time. As you can see, I have gotten through #s 1-5 and am now on #6, my blog! (Well, I did skip a little accounting in #5, but I promise it will get done!). As soon as I post this I can cross another line off my to do list, while feeling more productive and positive about a not so meshuga Monday.

SW News: SW gets a facelift!

Welcome to the StudyWise Tutoring blog! In my week "off" since school ended I have launched my new website and have been dabbling in starting this blog. Thanks, Jeff at Menzel Design for helping make my new website a reality. Jeff does an awesome job branding any type of business and as a foodie, he specializes in food package design. This is great for me as his office mate because the food companies often bring in samples of their products. Yum yum! As for the blog, I decided to wait until this summer to launch it because computer mumbo jumbo is a bit out of my comfort zone. But, now that my students are on summer vacay, I have more freedom to do my own homework. I am hoping to expand StudyWise next year and while I am a bit overwhelmed, I am ready to take on the challenge. I just have to remind myself that with brave wings, I can fly.

Thanks again Jeff!