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time management

Tips for a Successful Transition Back to In-Person Learning

Blog Type:  Learning Date Posted:  Monday, August 16, 2021

By Elizabeth Lutsky '93, MA, BCET 

organized, neat workspace

Back-to-school is an exciting time of year, but can also be a stressful one, especially now! After a year of online and hybrid learning, transitioning back to in-person school may seem overwhelming for some students and their parents. Here are a few helpful strategies to ease the transition. 

Time management

Time management is an essential executive function (EF) skill that plays an important role in a student’s overall academic success. After a year of non-traditional school filled with late starts, rolling out of bed just before Zoom class, and maybe even wearing pajamas to class, developing a routine is more essential than ever. 

  • Chores/Responsibilities: Implementing chores and responsibilities around the house provides an opportunity to practice the essential skills of follow through,  accountability, and time management. Simple tasks, such as making one’s bed each morning, loading and unloading the dishwasher, sorting the dirty laundry, or tidying up one’s bedroom, all require executive function skills.  
  • Sleep Schedule: Reinstate reasonable bedtime and wake-up times. Identify what time your student needs to leave the house in the morning in order to get to school on time. Work backward from there to determine the best wake-up time by subtracting the amount of time needed to eat a healthy protein-filled breakfast, get dressed, and pack up with time to spare. Keep in mind that students should have an average of 8–10 hours of sleep a night. Ideally, all technology should be turned off and stored outside of the bedroom an hour before your student plans to fall asleep in order to promote good sleep habits.  

Workspace

Setting up a well-stocked, functional workspace before the school year begins is another great way to hit the ground running. Buy-in is essential, so get your student involved in the process.  

  • Find the right spot: A desk in a quiet, well-lit area, such as a bedroom or den, is the  ideal space. Think about choosing a space that will adequately accommodate books, a computer, and an assignment notebook with enough space leftover to work comfortably. A comfortable chair, good lighting, and drawers for files and supplies are also important to consider. If your student’s bedroom is not an ideal space for a desk, setting up a portable workspace is always an option. Remember that whatever space you choose, couches and beds are off limits. Research suggests that  studying in an environment similar to the one you will be asked to recall information in optimizes retrieval. Research also suggests that in order to promote good sleep habits, it is important to keep our bed as a place for relaxation. When we hop into bed, our brain knows it is time to rest and unwind, while sitting at a desk sends a  signal to our brain that it is time to be alert. Besides, who likes sleeping in eraser shavings anyway? 
  • Declutter the space: Start by getting rid of unnecessary or potentially distracting  items. It is best if the workspace does not double as an arts-and-craft nook or a slime-making station.  
  • Stock Up: Avoid wasted energy or valuable time searching for a pair of scissors or a stapler by creating a well-stocked workspace. If you have chosen to work in the kitchen or  dining room, it is important to use a portable caddy. Poppin and Like-It are two great  choices. Here is a complete list of supplies with many items to consider.  
  • Weekly Desk Clean-Out: In order to maintain an effective workspace, a weekly clean-out should be scheduled and put in the calendar as a recurring event. Sunday afternoon is often a great time for this activity so that you are set and ready for the week ahead. Work together with your student to make sure that all of their supplies are fully stocked and back in their designated places. Even though it may seem easier in the moment to do this exercise for your student, try to let them lead the way and guide them without judgement. This is a great opportunity for students to flex those EF muscles.

liz lutsky headshotElizabeth Lutsky '93 received her undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and went on to earn her master's degree in learning disabilities from Northwestern University. Since 2002, Elizabeth has worked in private practice as an educational therapist, helping children with language-based learning disabilities develop the skills and strategies needed to overcome their learning challenges. Elizabeth is past president of the Los Angeles Branch of the International Dyslexia Association and is currently serving as an advisory board member. Throughout her career, Elizabeth has worked in various educational settings as a special education teacher, learning specialist, and reading coach. Elizabeth enjoys helping her clients understand their strengths and challenges as they strive to become confident, independent, life- long learners.

Tags:  Back-to-school in-person learning time management workspace

Asking for Help

Blog Type:  Learning Date Posted:  Tuesday, March 25, 2014

By Nicole Subik

Why is it that many of us view asking for help as a sign of failure?

If you are traveling from Point A to Point B and stop to ask for directions along the way, does that mean that you failed? Didn’t you make it to Point B? I call that success.

College students often struggle with seeking out help, and when they do reach out, they are frequently in what I call a failure mindset. They see signing up for a tutoring session as a last resort. And sometimes, quite frankly, students ask for assistance too late in the semester for it to salvage rotten grades. In those cases, to keep with the journey metaphor, they are too far off the course to make it to Point B without a major detour. Honestly, that is a frustrating situation for everyone—students, parents, and college personnel.

I would like to suggest a paradigm shift. Tutoring—probably the most popular and widely available support at the college level—should be seen as a place to stop along your journey, a place to replenish, get direction, and gain knowledge. Tutoring should be something you seek to help you get to your destination, not a refuge for when you are already broken down and out of fuel.

In order for college students to make the most of their tutoring sessions and other academic supports, they must buy into this paradigm shift. Arriving to a session with a failure mindset shuts you off from the interactive process that is so vital to this proven one-on-one interaction. The same goes for academic coaching, an increasingly popular support for college students who want help with time management and study skills.

Parents, teachers, and college personnel can help students seek out help early and consistently by not only making sure students are aware of resources, but by framing those resources as positive and natural parts of the educational journey.  Before they even go to college, start talking about supports available. The more we can lead our students away from asking for help only when they are in serious trouble, the better off they will be. Successful college students are proactive, not reactive about seeking out academic support.

About the Author

nicole subik headshot

Nicole Subik is a Learning Specialist at Villanova University's Learning Support Services

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Tags:  academic coaching educational journey failure mindset Nicole Subik study skills time management tutoring Villanova University’s Learning Support Center

Tips for Coping with Anxiety

Blog Type:  Social and Emotional Issues Date Posted:  Tuesday, May 8, 2018 Byline:  By Kaleigh Mangiarelli

 

Whether diagnosed or not, anxiety is something many people deal with on a daily basis.

The word "anxiety" gets tossed around a lot in millennial culture, but those of us who have or feel anxiety know the great weight of the word, of the disorder.

Anxiety is an elephant sitting on your chest, shortening your breath, egging your sternum to break.
Anxiety is the sweat before seeing someone you’re nervous around or have feelings for or just need to talk to.
Anxiety bites your nails, picks at your cuticles or eyebrow hairs, grinds your teeth.
Anxiety never responds to text messages, or tells people “I don’t feel well.”
Anxiety is procrastinating all afternoon until suddenly it’s 11 p.m. and there's an entire assignment to complete.

I’ve had anxiety for my entire life, but I wasn’t diagnosed until three years ago. Through therapy I learned coping strategies for dealing with my anxiety as both a graduate student and as a teacher. I also came to realize that the cause of my anxiety was the constant feeling of “stuff.” There’s always so much “stuff” to do and never enough time to do it all. I felt like I was never in control of what was happening in my life.

Here are five tips I’ve learned to cope with anxiety that have helped me turn my life around and feel like I am in control.

1. Keep an agenda/planner that keeps track of everything.

Keeping an old-school agenda where you write down everything that needs to get done helps you see it all in one place. As students, we focus all day on writing down our homework, which often leads us to forget about other things we need to get done, making it harder to manage our time. It’s important to write down homework (or to-do lists for work), but also note when you’ll do each task. It will be easier to plan your day if you keep track of your tasks in one place; you can see when you'll be free to spend time with friends or relax, for example.

2. Make yourself to-do lists when you’re stressed.

You can maintain a to-do list on most phones, but having a physical list you can cross out or check off as you complete tasks can help you find a sense of accomplishment, even for the most menial tasks.  I make a to-do list each and every day my in agenda, and when I’m really stressed, I make a separate one for each different area of my life. For me, that means I usually have three to-do lists: work, school, and play. For a student, this might look like school, extracurricular, and friends.

3. Wake up early to practice self-care.

This is probably one tip that a lot of people will scroll right past or roll their eyes at. When I say wake up early, this doesn’t mean you need to get up at the crack of dawn. However, if you’re someone who barely has enough time to get up, shower, get dressed, and run out the door to school or work, you’re starting your day in a frenzy. The morning is the time when we could be our calmest if we let ourselves.

Try waking up 30 minutes earlier than usual—and don't hit snooze—and give yourself some time to drink a cup of coffee or tea, eat a healthy breakfast, and enjoy the silence before the day begins.

4. Eat healthy.

Eating healthy doesn’t always necessarily mean avoiding ice cream and candy. While this is a huge part of it, eating healthy also means eating regularly.  A lot of times, anxiety can cause us to have a loss of appetite or nausea. If you’ve followed steps 1–3, you’ll allow yourself time to have a healthy, revitalizing breakfast in the morning.  Make sure you eat lunch when given lunch break, rather than cramming in more work.  When you eat good, you feel good.

5. Put the phone down.

Phones have become a huge part of our lives.  Most people wake up to the alarm on their phone, and immediately start scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc., without even thinking about it.  Similarly, many of us fall asleep scrolling through social media as well.  Instead, save your scrolling until your morning cup of coffee and breakfast. This way, you can get into the routine of getting up and out of bed and taking care of you, before you even think about your connections to everyone else.

Remember, anxiety isn’t something you can just make go away.  It takes hard work to develop a routine and coping strategies that work for you. It's even harder work to stick with these routines and strategies. But you are important. Your mental health is something that you need to be mindful of, and take care of yourself.

About the Author

kaleigh

Kaleigh Mangiarelli is a Language Arts and Tutorial Teacher and the girls varsity soccer coach at Landmark School.

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Tags:  anxiety coping strategies health stress time management

Executive Function 101: Time

Blog Type:  Teaching Date Posted:  Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Executive Function time management clock

This is the first post in a five-part series about Executive Function. Each post includes downloadable templates to use at home and in the classroom. The second article is about managing materials. The third addresses managing information, the fourth achieving independence, and the fifth finding balance between school and extra-curricular activities.

Developing a sense of time is an essential ingredient to managing executive function.

Experts agree that time management is a challenge for many people. Students with executive function deficits should learn to adopt tactics, including:

homework log
Download this Homework Log template.
  • defining the task
  • creating a vision
  • maintaining an agenda
  • predicting time
  • using a timer to account for the passing of time
  • prioritizing tasks
  • making a plan
  • noting and revisiting deadlines
  • initiating an activity
  • regulating attention and focus
  • setting up systems to avoid distractions
  • revising the plan
  • reflecting on the progress

These skills draw on tools and a mindset that must be developed over time—with plenty of reinforcement and practice—to build new and productive habits. As students become more proficient in managing time, they can adapt their methods to suit their style and the challenge at hand.

“When we can implement effective time-management strategies in our day-to-day routines, we greatly reduce our stress- and anxiety-levels, leading to a healthier and calmer state of mind. Similarly, when we are less stressed and anxious we are able to utilize better time management strategies.” —Melody O'Neil, Associate Director of Admissions

Tips

  • Use visuals—like hands on a clock, to plan and predict time.
  • Use a timer to measure manageable chunks of time.
  • Estimate time before starting work and revisit this upon completion.
  • Set long- and short-term goals.

Strategies to Avoid Distractions

  • Clear clutter from work area.
  • Turn off phone.
  • Close web browser.
  • Use noise-cancelling headphones.
  • Set a timer.​
     

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Executive Function 101

Blog Type:  Teaching Date Posted:  Monday, February 26, 2018

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Executive function deficits are very common among young people, especially those with ADHD, dyslexia, and other learning differences. These challenges show up as weaknesses in getting and staying organized, managing time, planning and prioritizing, and initiating tasks. Sound familiar? It should because many of us, whether we’ve been diagnosed with a learning difference or not, experience these challenges on a daily basis. Landmark School offers an effective model that delivers skills and strategies across the curriculum to improve executive function deficits. We're sharing some of their lessons in this series for parents, teachers, and students to implement at home, school, and beyond. The result of effective executive function skills leads to healthy, productive habits—life skills.

What Is Executive Function?

According to Patricia W. Newhall in her text, Language-Based Learning Series: Executive Function: Foundations for Learning and Teaching, “Executive Function is the brain’s ability to coordinate the cognitive and psychological processes needed to initiate, sustain, monitor and adapt the behaviors and attitudes required to achieve a goal” (2012, p.2).

Skills for School. Skills for Life.

Students with executive function deficits need to be taught skills to get and stay organized. These skills include managing time, materials, and information. Mastery of these skills leads to independence and ultimately provides balance for life inside and outside of school. Primary among the “what” and “how” of executive function strategies is to help students understand themselves as learners. This is called metacognition, and it’s what makes  students successful—it’s a key ingredient to the secret sauce. Because the recipe is slightly different for each student, it's important to expose them to a variety of skills so they can determine which ones work best for them. We hope this series and the tools and strategies included for download help your student succeed in school and beyond. The series is posted in the following installments:

The following members of the Landmark School faculty contributed to this series, sharing tips, templates, and years of experience that parents, teachers, and students alike can use to help boost executive function.

Suzanne Crossman, director of Transition and Guidance
Robin Day-Laporte, director of the Landmark High School Study Skills Department
Andrea Meade, assistant dean of students, Landmark High School
Deirdre Mulligan, Elementary Science/Social Studies Department Head/Elementary•Middle School Training Coordinator
Melody O'Neil, associate director of Admissions

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Tags:  attention deficit hyperactivity disorder executive function strategies Executive Functioning time management
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