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Off to a Great Start
       There is a lot that we as parents can do to ensure that the school year gets off to a great start for our kids and for us.  
       For starters, be sure to arrange a time for homework.  Choose a time when everyone can sit down to study so that no one in the house is on the phone or watching TV or listening to the radio.  
       The length of the study time depends on the age of the students.  Elementary age students should study 30-60 minutes each day.  Middle school students need at least 90 minutes.  High school students need an average of two hours each day.  The cry, "But I don't have any homework!" should be met with the response, "Great!  Then you'll have the entire time to review your work or get ahead!"  
       Study space is also important.  If your son or daughter prefers to study in his/her room, it should not have too many distractions.  There should be no television, stereo or phone.  If these things are in his/her room, he/she may need to unplug them.  You need to keep a close watch on what comes over the internet, too.  
       Students often argue that they can study with the TV on without any problems.  Studies show, however, that students who study with the TV on take five times longer to finish the task and make 20% more errors. 
       A desk or table is essential to good studying.  Studying on one's bed usually induces sleep.  Even reading assignments should be done sitting at a table.  Reading assignments are study assignments and should be approached as such. Reading comprehension improves dramatically when students learn to study, not just read, their textbooks (this is a learned skill).  The kitchen table can be a great place for the whole family to study.  
       Get your family off to a terrific start this school year.  Be sure your child has the study skills he/she needs and the time and space to use those skills.  Have a great year!

     --Gina Johnson, Study Smart, Inc.

Off to a Bad Start
       You may be helped by a humorous look at how guarantee you have a bad year.  
       For starters, start the year out by  rescuing your kids.  For example, if your daughter forgets her lunch, offer to bring it to school.  Whatever you do, don't tell her you understand her frustration and ask how she is going to solve her problem. If you would  do that, you may miss out on being summoned to bring lunch to school again!  (My favorite phrase in situations like this is, "Bummer!  What are you going to do about it?")  
       Never insist that your child spend time studying.  If your son says he doesn't have homework, tell him that that's wonderful and send him off to his friend's house.  If there is some homework, it's usually easy so let your kids do it on the couch in front of the TV.  The television is good to have on a lot if you want a bad year.  It ensures that your child won't talk to you very much.  So turn it on in the morning and have it on to welcome them home from school.  
       Be sure to communicate that school is a waste of time.  Not going when they don't feel like it is just fine.  They may need their rest for work or play, after all!  Emphasize that study skills are a waste of time since you never have to stay organized or read important stuff in most jobs anyway.  
       If your kid spends a lot of time studying, but doesn't get the grades to show it, don't look for help with study skills.  Just reinforce to your kids that it's all the teacher's fault anyway!  
       Remember to keep your kids really busy.  Reinforce that social times are much more important than school work or family time.  
       There is so much that we as parents can do to be sure there's a lousy school year ahead.   Don't miss any opportunities!

     --Gina Johnson, Study Smart, Inc.

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