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Helping Your Teen Succeed This School Year

While we often focus on gradeschool children returning to school, Kids First Pediatrics wanted to shed some light on how to help teens succeed this school year.

This article has some helpful tips:

Creature Comforts

Feeling groggy lessens our ability to absorb and retain information. Contrary to what many parents believe, older adolescents need more sleep than younger teens, not less. But even a full night’s slumber may not prevent a boy or girl from nodding off during first or second period.

As with so many other idiosyncrasies of adolescence, biology is to blame. Sleep researchers at the E. P. Bradley Hospital Sleep Research Laboratory in Providence, Rhode Island, discovered that older teenagers’ brains secrete the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin an hour later than when they were in their early teens. Not only does this forestall the onset of sleep, it robs them of an hour or so of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, the final and most restful phase of the sleep cycle.

If your child is well organized and willing to prepare for school the night before, consider allowing some extra sleep in the A.M.

Developing Good Homework and Study Habits

The children who endure the rockiest adjustment from elementary school to middle school tend to believe that basic intelligence is unalterable: Either you’re born with smarts or you’re not. Success or failure is seen as being all but predestined, not a product of hard work.

Teenagers who appreciate the importance of applying themselves have a far easier time, even if they’re low on self-confidence. They’re more willing to tackle the subjects that give them the most trouble. Parents can help in this regard by pointing out how a diligent effort often spells the difference between success and failure. “An eighty-nine on your geometry test? Way to go! See what you’re capable of when you put your mind to it? We’re really proud of you.”

Create An Environment That Is Conducive To Doing Homework

Youngsters need a permanent work space in their bedroom or another part of the home that offers privacy. Think mini-office. Buy a desk with drawers for storage and enough space for spreading out homework materials comfortably. Be sure that the entire room is well lit, not just the workstation, that your youngster has a comfortable chair and that all the supplies he or she needs are right there—a dictionary, thesaurus, and any other essential reference books should also be within reach.

When the lure of the TV keeps overpowering the will to work, establish a household rule that the set stays off during homework time. (At least one study has found that the sound of a television, even from another room, interferes with retention of information and skills.) If a member of the family has a particular program she wants to watch, it can always be videotaped for viewing later. There are youngsters who claim they can study to music without losing their concentration. The quality of the work will tell you whether or not to let this practice continue. Although a private area for homework is best for your teen, make sure that any work that needs to be done on a computer is done in a common area of your home. This way, you can monitor their internet usage.

Set Aside Ample Time For Homework

In high school, the late-afternoon hours often fill up with extracurricular activities, sports, part-time jobs, and so on. Most days, homework now takes place after dinner. Usually this works out fine since the older teen’s changing sleep rhythm allows him or her to stay alert relatively late at night. But if there aren’t enough hours in the night for homework, then you might want to ask the school to include a study hall in your child’s day, or, failing that, suggest that he or she cut back on extracurricular activities or hours spent on a job.

Be Available To Answer Questions and offer Assistance. But Never Do A Child’s Homework For Them.

Asking for help isn’t a sign of laziness, it’s one of the ways that adolescents learn. They have a broad range of subjects to master—a fact that adults don’t always appreciate. Dr. Lia Gaggino, a pediatrician from Kalamazoo, Michigan, says sympathetically, “We expect kids to be good at everything: reading, language, composition, math, spelling, memorization. It’s comforting for them to know that they’re not totally on their own and that parents are there to assist them. Let’s face it: Very few adults get through their day without somebody helping them.”

How Much Homework Is Too Much?

It’s one thing when a child’s procrastinating stretches one hour of homework into three. But if a teenager is burning the midnight oil night after night, the workload being assigned may be excessive. Homework aids comprehension by reinforcing concepts learned in school and imprinting information in the brain. One guideline sometimes used is ten minutes of homework per day per grade level: an hour for sixth graders, an hour and a half for ninth graders, two hours for high-school seniors and so on. A ten-year study found that anything more than that does not result in significantly higher test scores.

Show That You Value Learning

From an early age, children receive a stream of negative messages about school. How many movies, TV shows, and commercials geared toward young people depict classrooms as penitentiaries run by sadistic teachers who delight in tormenting their terminally bored students?

We need to impart to youngsters a love of knowledge. Learning shouldn’t be a chore, but an adventure that enriches our lives. Mothers and fathers are in the best position to seize everyday opportunities for opening children’s minds to new ideas and experiences. To hear a teenager speak excitedly about something he’s just learned or had never considered before is one of the pleasures of parenting.

Let’s also instill in our youngsters an appreciation of the value of hard work and the pride that comes with a job well done, whether it’s pulling an A on a chemistry test or stocking the shelves at the local minimart. One recurrent complaint of employers and managers is that too many young people feel it’s “degrading” to start at the bottom and work their way up. Adolescents need to hear that every job, no matter how menial, benefits society in some way and deserves a full effort. A diligent work ethic coupled with the right skills will make your teenager an attractive applicant when it comes time for him or her to enter the job market.

Get Involved In Your Teenager’s School

When children leave the security of elementary school, parents may assume that their involvement is no longer needed. But it is more important than ever to attend parent-teacher conferences and to contact individual instructors, even if there are no apparent problems. Youngsters perform better in school when their families are kept apprised of their progress. In addition, parents can gain information about their teens’ strengths, which can be important in encouraging their adolescents.

Read the full article from HERE.

Need support making the 2023/24 school year successful for your teen? The Kids First Pediatrics providers can help. Reach out today: Raleigh- 919-250-3478, Clayton- 919-267-1499

*This article is informational but is not a substitute for medical attention or information from your provider.


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