Category: Parenting

Homework and the Mommy Meltdown

For kids with learning struggles, the burden of understanding geometry or studying for spelling tests is as much our pain as theirs. If daily homework battles are driving you crazy, check out tips to improve the experience:

  1. Prepare mentally. Decide ahead of time what kind of attitude you’re going to embrace, and how you’re going to respond if things get tense or difficult.
  2. Do a quick self-check. Before helping your child with his or her homework, take a quick self-check. Are you tired? Hungry? Frustrated about something that happened earlier in your day? If so, take a few minutes to eat a snack, catch a power nap, or do whatever you need to do to decompress.
  3. Have what you need on hand. Homework takes a significant time commitment as it is. Don’t add to that time by having to spend an hour looking for the slide rule, or having to drop everything and run to the store for poster board.
  4. Practice familiar cues. Some kids thrive on routine, and you can create fun habits that can help your child’s brain take familiar paths to settling down and being productive.
  5. Try a new setting. Routine is good, but sometimes it can also help to shake things up a bit, either as a reward for a productive week, or to see if your child actually studies better in a different setting.
  6. Exercise physically before studying. See what happens if you insist he or she plays outside for an hour before starting homework. Studies show that physical exercise improves thinking and concentration, in the long run and immediately as well.
  7. Eat brain-healthy snacks. Think good fats, lean protein, and complex carbs. Good fats can be found in omega-3 oils from fish, nuts, seeds, and dark leafy greens. Lean protein can be found in raw almonds, baked chicken, and organic plain yogurt with fresh fruit. Complex carbs can be found in whole grain tortillas, brown rice, and sweet potatoes.

LearningRx Reviews “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens”

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What it is: In his book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens,” Sean Covey provides teens (and their parents J) with a step-by-step guide on how to improve their self-image, make good decisions, set and achieve goals, talk to their parents, and much more. The audio version, available at audible.com, includes commentary from teens and their real-life applications of these principles.

Brain Benefitsplanning, logic & reasoning, communication

What I love: I always look forward to our road trips and car time so that as a family we can listen to books. In the past we have listened to some classics, as well as books that were required reading for their school. Every once in a while, I like to sneak in a little inspirational, self-improvement-type book.

My husband and four kids listened to this book last summer on the drive to Yellowstone.  Although only two of my kids are teenagers, my younger two kids also took away some gems. After each chapter we would stop the recording and discuss their thoughts on each habit and how his ideas might be helpful in their life. Our discussions were lively and helped us to talk our kids about difficult and sometimes painful situations and gave us great insight into their thought processes. It was also fun to hear my 5-year-old tell my other kids, who were complaining at the time, that they needed to be more proactive!

What I would change: Since we listed to the audio version of the book, there were times that the narrator’s voice was a little nasaly (and to my kids, sometimes annoying).

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Buy it here.

To read more LearningRx reviews of brain-building games, toys, apps and books, visit www.learningrxreviews.com.

 

New Research Indicates Cinnamon Can Improve Your Memory and Ability to Learn

New research published in “Neuroimmune Pharmacology” indicates that in mice, poor learners improved their memory and learning ability after eating cinnamon, and they think the results will transfer to humans. How does it work?

According to the study, the cinnamon alters the proteins associated with poor learning. Metabolizing cinnamon turns it into sodium benzoate, which increases a good protein (CREB) and decreases the bad proteins (GABRA5) that affect the brain.

One caveat: Not all cinnamon is created equal. In the U.S., you can get Chinese cinnamon, which has a molecule associated with liver damage, or the Ceylon cinnamon, which is purer and better for you.

Ready to add the versatile spice to your cuisine? Check out these “25 Ways to Use Cinnamon” on the Cooking Channel.

To read more about the research on cinnamon, click here.

If you’re looking for a more intensive boost to learning, consider enrolling your child in LearningRx one-on-one brain training.

 

About LearningRx
LearningRx, headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado, is the largest one-on-one brain training organization in the world. With 80 Centers in the U.S., and locations in 40 countries around the globe, LearningRx has helped more than 95,000 individuals and families sharpen their cognitive skills to help them think faster, learn easier, and perform better. Their on-site programs partner every client with a personal brain trainer to keep clients engaged, accountable, and on-task—a key advantage over online-only brain exercises. Their pioneering methods have been used in clinical settings for 35 years and have been verified as beneficial in peer-reviewed research papers and journals. To learn more about LearningRx research results, programs, and their 9.6 out of 10 client satisfaction rating visit http://www.learningrx.com/. To read testimonials from real clients visit www.learningrx-reviews.com.

Helping Your Teen Excel in High School

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It’s time to head back to school, and if you have a teen (or two) in high school, you’re probably already thinking about ways to help him or her survive mentally, emotionally and academically. Even if it’s not your teen’s first year, high school can be scary, stressful and dramatic.

In addition to the physical changes (and raging hormones!) associated with puberty, for most teens, high school is the start of dating, building deep friendships, planning for college and figuring out where they fit into the world. It’s a perfect storm of social chaos (e.g., gossip, hurt feelings, peer pressure and popularity contests), academic challenges and a quest for independence while still living at home.

To help you help be a supportive parent, we’ve put together some tips to help your teen excel. Remember, if they think high school is hard, just wait until they get to college! The better you can prepare your high schooler now—in terms of independence, academic excellence, accountability, confidence and resiliency, the better.

  1. Get them a padlock to practice on. If this is your teen’s first time user a locker with a padlock, they may be feeling worried about not being able to open it fast enough—or at all. It’s a small gesture, but one that can go a long way to build their confidence.
  2. Encourage them to sign up for a club or sport. Feeling like you’re part of a team or group with common interests is a great way to build confidence, make friends and boost your academics and/or fitness levels.
  3. Host sleepovers or parties. The girl who throws the sleepover is rarely the one to be left out of things. For older kids, you may be willing to host a coed movie night or pool party. Just be sure everyone understands the rules in advance!
  4. Remind them that they’re not alone. Teens of both genders can be very dramatic and think they’re the only one experiencing something. Help ease their feelings of loneliness or sadness by reminding them that other teens are going through the same thing.
  5. Enroll them in personal brain training. If your teen struggles academically, take them to a one-on-one brain training center for a cognitive skills assessment. The assessment will tell you which cognitive skills—like attention, logic & reasoning, memory, processing speed, and visual and auditory processing—are weak. Once these skills are identified, a customized brain training program is created to help target those skills. The results can be life-changing!
  6. Get involved at the school. Too often, teens suffer because their parents aren’t involved in their education. Volunteer at the school when you can, even if it’s only working the concession stand at football games or helping to raise money for new band uniforms.
  7. Encourage them to take leadership roles. Being involved in a lot of clubs and sports looks good on college applications, but leadership roles are even more impressive. Encourage your daughter to run for Student Council president or your son to offer to be team captain in Mathletes. Leadership roles build confidence, help them get to know more people and earns them respect among their peers and teachers.
  8. Review their school-related papers, assignments and homework each night. Even seniors miss assignments, forget to do homework and wait until the last minute to write papers that count for a quarter of their grade. By staying involved and asking questions, you’ll help your teen stay on top of things and plan their schedules accordingly.
  9. Download apps to help with time management and organization.
    With so much going on—tests, assignment deadlines, college applications, after-school activities—teens can always use a little help with organization and time management. Forget the “Trapper Keepers” of your generation and consider instead free or low-cost apps. You can read recommendations and reviews online or ask the most organized people you know (adults included!) how they stay so organized.
  10. Talk about personal responsibility. No one likes it when they mess up, but constantly blaming others for your mistakes doesn’t add to your character or credibility. Talk to your teen about peer pressure, risk-taking and taking responsibility for their actions. Help them understand why you or the coach or the school has consequences and that the rules are for everyone.

 

About LearningRx
LearningRx specializes in one-on-one brain training. We train cognitive skills through game-like exercises that are both fun and challenging—and we do it with a unique personal trainer approach. LearningRx’s customer satisfaction speaks for itself with an average rating of 9.5 out of 10. With 80 centers across the country, LearningRx is a pioneer in the one-on-one brain training industry. Learn more at www.learningrx.com and find testimonials from past clients at www.learningrx-reviews.com.

 

LearningRx Brain Training Reviews 10 Ways Parents Can Partner With Teachers

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At LearningRx, we’re big fans of teachers. In fact, we’ve had teachers serve on our executive board and scientific advisory board, work as personal brain trainers, and even purchase LearningRx franchises. (Our founder, Dr. Ken Gibson, actually started his own preschool!) We also offer a FREE online continuing education course from the Professional Learning Board and regular recognitions for teachers, like the Crystal Apple Award.

In addition, because almost all of us are parents, we’re constantly creating articles to help parents and teachers better communicate (check out our piece on “Red Flag Phrases for Parent-Teacher Conferences”) and work together (see “Individualized Education Programs (IEPs): The Basics”), for everyone’s benefit.

There’s no doubt that teachers and parents can make an incredibly strong pairing when everyone works toward realistic goals with mutual respect. So we’ve gathered some ideas from teachers and our staff mommies and are sharing their tips on some of the best ways make teachers feel supported. If you’ve got other ideas, please share them in the comments below!

  1. Offer to help at home.

    Not everyone can volunteer in the classroom. Parents work, stay home with younger children, take care of sick or elderly family members, or live too far away to make multiple trips to school. But many teachers have things that can be done at home instead. “I have sorted and stapled piles of papers, cut out materials, done online research and sorted art materials into plastic baggies for a craft project,” says one mother of two. “I was surprised at how much I could help from home, and found it to be incredibly relaxing! There’s just something about cutting colored construction paper that takes you back to simpler times.” If you can spare even an hour a week, ask your child’s teachers what you can do at home to help with materials for the classroom.

  1. Share good deals.

    Even if you can’t afford to buy a ton of extra school supplies for the classroom, you can share extra-special deals that you run across. “I make a list of businesses that are offering freebies during Teacher Appreciation Week and give them to my kids’ teachers,” says one mom. “It doesn’t cost me anything and they love knowing about places like Chipotle and Chick-fil-A that offer freebies or BOGO deals.” Sites like Donors Choose and Fund My Classroom let teachers in high-needs communities post requests for financial assistance for specific projects, equipment, field trips and events. “I couldn’t always afford to donate a lot of money, but I would donate $25 and then use a promo code I’d find online to get a matching the donation from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, so the teacher would instead get $50 toward her project,” says another mom. “Then I’d share the code with the teacher and other parents, so any parent in the class who donated funds could double their money.”

  1. Volunteer as a chaperone.

    Most schools have at least one outing, a field day or school dance that needs chaperones. If you plan in advance, you should be able to help out at least once. “We did a field trip to Rock Ledge Ranch, a living-history farm and museum which is spread out over 24 acres,” one fourth-grade teacher recalls. “We hardly had any parent volunteers, so we had to watch close to 20 kids each. It was a very long day. They lost our lunches, one of the kids got sick and, of course, no one had to go to the bathroom at the same time.” Even if you can only go for part of the day, offer to help out at off-campus events. Every set of chaperone eyes helps keep things under control and more enjoyable for everyone.

  1. Offer your services.

    You don’t have to wait for career day to share your professional talents. If you’re a copywriter, offer to help with the class newsletter. Web designer? Offer to create a free page for the teacher to keep parents updated on everything. Dietician? Ask if the teacher would like you to give a short talk on nutrition during health class. Ask your spouse if they’d be willing to offer their time. “I’m an electric lineman, so I volunteered to do a presentation on electricity for my son’s first-grade class,” says one dad. “I was so worried it would be too boring for young kids, but they loved it! The school invited me back the following year.”

  1. Keep your kids’ learning skills strong.

    Cognitive skills are the core skills our brains use to think, read, learn, remember, reason and pay attention. When even one of these skills is weak, learning can be a real struggle and even the best teacher can’t make new information “stick.” Enrolling your child in one-on-one brain training to target weak brain skills can create lasting improvements in your child’s ability to learn anything, which makes your teacher’s job easier and more rewarding. “When a child, teen or adult comes to LearningRx, we administer a cognitive skills assessment,” says mother of four and LearningRx Vice President of Research & Development Tanya Mitchell. “The test takes about an hour and allows us to identify which cognitive skills are weak. Once we know which skills to target, we can create a customized program for the student that uses intense but fun training to work on those brain skills that need the most improvement. We’ve had program graduates tell us that their teachers couldn’t believe the results, and what strong, confident learners their students became thanks to personal brain training.”

  1. Head up a party.

    Teachers sometimes throw parties for holidays, big achievements or the end of a semester. In addition to needing help providing food and drinks, it’s nice for teachers to have a party organizer—someone that coordinates who will bring plates, drinks, food and do set up and clean up. You can also organize a teacher appreciation week. “At our school, the parents host a week-long teacher appreciation luncheon,” says one elementary school teacher. “Each grade provides the meal for a day and they do themes. So first-grade parents provide a buffet of Mexican on Monday, second-grade parents provide a soup and salad day on Tuesday, third-grade parents provide Italian food on Wednesday, and so on. It makes us feel really appreciated and we all agree that it’s one of our favorite weeks of the schoolyear.”

  1. Donate supplies.

    Time magazine reports that teachers spent, on average, $500 of their own money on classroom supplies. If you have contacts at stores or large companies, ask if they can donate supplies. (Some schools will even supply you with their tax ID number in order for the company to get a write-off.) You can also check yard sales and thrift shops to pick up cheap deals, or ask the teacher to create a list of classroom “needs” and “wants” that you can offer to copy and share with other parents.

  1. Review your kids’ papers nightly.

    Your kids’ teachers don’t send home papers to waste trees. Read their notes, sign and return papers promptly, and mark your calendar for important dates. Teachers need to focus their attention on educating kids, not making calls to parents who ignore requests for permission form signatures or parent-teacher meetings. “Sometimes, the classes get rewarded for getting all their forms in by a certain day,” explains one teacher. “If there are a couple stragglers who don’t turn in their signed papers, the whole class loses out.”

  1. Show your appreciation.

    A tiny box of chocolates, a tall mochaccino, a $5 Starbucks gift card for the drive home‑it’s the little things
    (accompanied by a note of appreciation) that show you care and value your teachers. “We had one mom who would bring us little gifts throughout the year,” says one assistant teacher. “A bottle of our favorite Snapple peach iced tea, some homemade soup or a container of raspberries with a nice note of encouragement. We get quite a few gifts around the holidays, but this mom would just bring us little tokens of appreciation randomly. She was so thoughtful that we actually gave HER flowers on the last day of school!” All of the teachers we spoke to said that gifts aren’t necessary, but even a nice note (from the child or parent) can make their day.

  1. Keep teachers in the loop.

    If your cat died, your ex is getting remarried or your child is having a hard time coping with a new school, let the teachers know. In addition to being able to involve a school counselor, if needed, it allows teachers to consider the role of situational sadness, anger or anxiety on the child’s performance. “When my husband deployed, I spoke to my daughter’s teacher in private to fill her in,” says the mother of an 8-year-old. “When my husband came back on his two-week leave, the teacher gave my daughter a much lighter homework load in order to maximize the time she could spend with her father.”

If you’re not sure how you can best support your teachers, just ask! Also, be sure to check out “6 Things Teachers Wish You Would Do” to get direct insight from surveyed teachers.

 

About LearningRx
LearningRx, headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado, is the largest one-on-one brain training organization in the world. With 80 Centers in the U.S., and locations in 40 countries around the globe, LearningRx has helped more than 95,000 individuals and families sharpen their cognitive skills to help them think faster, learn easier, and perform better. Their on-site programs partner every client with a personal brain trainer to keep clients engaged, accountable, and on-task—a key advantage over online-only brain exercises. Their pioneering methods have been used in clinical settings for 35 years and have been verified as beneficial in peer-reviewed research papers and journals. To learn more about LearningRx research results, programs, and their 9.6 out of 10 client satisfaction rating visit http://www.learningrx.com/