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Planning for Success

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Every student who participates in the Study Smart workshops hears that at least once! Well, school is about to start. Are you planning to succeed or failing to plan?

It's time to make some serious plans. Don't just get busy and then wonder how you got that way. Parents and students need to make some decisions together. Decide how busy you want to be. Ask your child a few questions: What sports do you want to participate in? What music do you want to pursue? What about theater, clubs, and other activities? How much free time will you need so you won't feel stressed? What time of day will be your study time? What TV shows do you want to watch? When are you going to have time with friends?

How do you make these important decisions? First, parents, realize that these are important decisions for your child and your child needs to participate in the decision-making process. Just because Dad played football doesn't automatically mean Junior wants to. Don't take these things lightly. Your child's participation on the debate team, for instance, may shape a future career in law, politics, or public speaking. Don't think that your kid can sign up for something and then back out. That teaches irresponsibility. When commitments are made, they need to be kept if at all possible. Don't make commitments lightly. Consider the big picture of life and remember to keep life balanced when deciding where to spend your time.

It's important that our kids stay in shape. Exercise is a great way to reduce stress. Some sports, however, increase stress rather than relieve it. Talk about the pressure and the expectations coaches or maybe even the parents have. Are they unreasonable? If so, consider intramurals or community teams instead of school teams, or go for school teams instead of traveling teams.

What about clubs and other activities? Students need to learn how to work and plan with others, to take other people's opinions seriously, and to learn how to deal with different people. Participating in teams or clubs puts them into situations where they can practice and learn these skills.

Of course it's important to plan study time. Most middle school students need to study for an hour and a half a day. Most highs school students need to study for two hours a day. Some students who have learned how to make the best use of homework time can decrease the total amount of time they spend doing homework., but it's important to remember that study time is not just homework time. It's time to review, work ahead on major projects, and prepare for tests and quizzes. Students who Study Smart know that there are two kinds of homework: assigned and assumed. They must do both to succeed! Homework time needs to be profitable, however. Be sure your child has the necessary organizational and study skills to succeed, either by teaching them yourself, or by signing up for a Study Smart course.

And what about sleep? If school starts at 7:30 AM, and it takes an hour to get ready and get there, an 11:00 bedtime is not early enough! Many studies have shown that lack of sleep reduces the brain's ability to retain and recall information. Students can't learn if they're tired! It may sound childish, but having a regular bedtime is important. Responsible adults know when they need to go to bed to function effectively the next day. Talk with your child about that responsibility and the need for a regular, early bedtime. Here's a good rule of thumb: if it's hard to wake up in the morning, you're not getting enough sleep!

Television is a time robber. If you turn it on, it usually stays on, robbing you of precious time. Decide before the school-year begins if there are shows worth your time. Stick to your TV watching schedule. And of course, NO TV until ALL homework is finished! Get the homework done FIRST; Then reward yourself with something pleasurable for a job well done.

Make these and other decisions wisely. Talk about them together. Plan to succeed!

     --Gina Johnson, Study Smart, Inc. ©2001

© 2000 -2005, Study Smart, Inc.

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