Parents often dread the new school year as much as their kids, especially if their student struggles in school. A child with a history of lost school assignments, failure to complete homework, and missed project deadlines makes parents want to pull their hair out, or worse yet, explode. Parents of these students become exhausted early in the school year with the constant nagging required to get their child to start homework, do chores, and get out the door on time. Time Management Educator Marydee Sklar, author of Fifty Tips to Help Students Succeed: Develop Your Student’s Time-Management and Executive Skills for Life, explains that the best solution to change a child’s behavior is to first stop blaming the child and blame the brain instead.
In simple direct language, Sklar gives parents background information about the brain’s executive function processes that impact a child’s ability to get work done. Sklar notes, “It’s the brain’s executive functions that direct us to start tasks and stay focused to complete them, meet deadlines, plan for distant future goals, organize papers, and manage our time. These are all skills necessary for completing homework and being successful in school, and are important skills we all need to successfully function as adults. It is vital that parents teach these skills to their children.”
Struggling students often clash with their parents over homework. They assume that homework will take much more time than it actually does, so they procrastinate due to a fear of having no time left for fun and recreation. To help this type of student, Sklar says, “Have children time and record how long it actually takes to complete the homework for a specific subject. First, they should predict how long they think it will take to complete the homework, and then record the actual time it takes, from start to finish, with no multi-tasking. This data collecting helps them discover that with focused attention on homework, they actually can have time for left over for relaxation.”
Other students are assigned projects in which they have done little or no work and do not inform their parents until the due date is imminent. To prevent this scenario, Sklar advises, “Always ask your child two questions after they get home from school. First, `Do you have any homework?’ Follow that question with, `Do you have any projects to work on?’ A young person’s brain tends to live in the now, only able to focus on the immediate future like the homework due tomorrow. Their immature brain doesn’t really connect to distant future events. Getting the due dates from your children will help you help them better manage their time.”
In her book, Fifty Tips to Help Students Succeed: Develop Your Student’s Time-Management and Executive Skills for Life, Sklar, as an educator and parent, approaches the topic of struggling students from the perspective of supporting a young brain’s weaknesses. The tips provided in her book are easy-to-implement strategies that dramatically help students and the whole family change their behaviors.
Parents, as well as professionals supporting students and parents, applaud 50 Tips to Help Students Succeed. “Marydee breaks down brain functioning with such clarity that it is easy to follow. Every single one of her fifty tips is valuable,” notes Kathy Masarie, MD, author of Face to Face: Cultivating Kids’ Social Lives in Today’s Digital World.
Sklar is an educator, author, trainer, and popular speaker. For almost twenty years she has helped struggling students and families with her Seeing My TimeT course. She teaches people about the connection between their brain and time management. Understanding that connection enables people of all ages to use tools to reach goals, meet deadlines, live with purpose, and find time for fun.
For more information about Sklar, visit her website at http://www.ExecutiveFunctioningSuccess.com, where the specific tools recommended in her book can be found. All proceeds from “Cool Tool” purchases are donated to the Oregon Branch of the International Dyslexia Association.
Fifty Tips to Help Students Succeed: Develop Your Student’s Time-Management and Executive Skills for Life, is available from Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0982605978.