5 Ways to Help Prepare Your Teen for High School

hallwayHeading to high school is a big step. It’s a new chapter in your teen’s life with  new teachers, new classes, new hallways, new expectations… and that can be intimidating. Too many kids are totally unprepared for what awaits them at their new school in the fall and so their first experiences can be stressful.

We suggest that you help your recent elementary grads by sprinkling in some hidden skill-building fun while basking in the summer sun!  It’ll ease the stress of September and build confidence!


Write More!Creative

Letters might be a lost art, but I’m calling for a revival. There is nothing better than the joy of finding a letter in the mailbox. Encourage your teen to write postcards and letters while on trips or when visiting Grandma and Grandpa. Note: Texting doesn’t count as a letter.

Daily writing can be therapeutic. Suggest writing in a journal nightly. Learning to express yourself clearly through writing is a valuable life skill, so the content doesn’t really matter, it’s all about the effort. Sometimes kids need a little encouragement, so here are some summer journaling ideas from Simple as That.


Get an agenda

At the beginning of the school year, most schools will either provide each student with an agenda or one will be available to purchase.  However, many kids don’t know how to use it. Getting into a routine of using a calendar or an agenda is incredibly helpful for people of all ages, and summer is the perfect time to start.  Encourage your teen to begin by adding all of the fun stuff — camp, sleepovers, birthdays, trips — and then add tasks or chores they are responsible for. Check in once a week to see how they’re doing!


Visit the school

If your teen is expressing some anxiety about not knowing where things are in a new school, take a tour! Most schools are still open a week after the last day of school, and a week before the first day of school.  Squelch worry by brainstorming ways to make new friends, and how to ask for help from teachers!


Read… Anything!8435321969_c1eea0631a_o

This just in: reading books in the summer doesn’t cause allergic reactions! Not a single hive or rash to be found. Incredible news, right? Reading is a great way to relax, and a fantastically fun way to exercise those brain muscles. It doesn’t matter if your teen is reading Shakespeare’s folio or a favourite sci-fi author — just keep reading. Lead by example by bringing a book to the beach or have dedicated reading time at night.

Need some book suggestions? Check out our blog, Throwback Summer Reads — Tween Edition for some great titles.


Hone Those Skills

If your teen had trouble last year academically in any area or lacks confidence, find a program this summer that will help build the skills needed  boost confidence. Don’t wait until the middle of the school year!  There are so many wonderful programs and academic summer camps that foster and develop foundational skills.  Of course it is hard to hit the books while on summer vacation, but spending a week learning how to organize an essay will save your teen (and you!), from a lot of unnecessary stress during the year.

Don’t forget to get outside this summer and explore. Some of the best learning comes from exploring the world around you. Remember to enjoy your vacation — it doesn’t last forever, so make every second count.

There are a plethora of fantastic programs  and one-on-one classes offered by Ruth Rumack’s Learning Space to help your teen hone skills before high school. This summer we are offering two essay coach camps where teens can build the necessary essay-writing skills to help them confidently tackle any essay a teacher throws their way! Happy learning!

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5 Strategies to Help Prepare for University

The change between high school and university is dramatic, no matter where you go to school. Many high school students feel a mix of excitement, stress, and fear in the months leading up to post-secondary.

Ease your anxiety by preparing for university with these five strategies:


Organize

Agenda
Agendas help to keep you organized!

Get a calendar or an agenda and start using it, daily. Incorporate it into your daily routine. Check your calendar when you wake up and when you hit the hay. Add appointments, dates with friends, and upcoming trips or events.  That way, when you get your syllabuses for your classes you can easily enter that information into an existing calendar.

If you don’t like using the antiquated method of paper and pen, look into calendar apps for your  smart phone. The teachers at RRLS are fond of iCal and Google Calendar.


Read 

Read with a buddy!
Read with a buddy!

Keep your thought-box in tip-top condition by reading a lot – all summer. Definitely pick books that pique your interest, but remember to challenge yourself by reading books with some unfamiliar vocabulary — it’s good exercise for that brain!

If you are taking classes in the humanities, try to find last year’s reading list. Professors usually choose a lot of the same books from year to year, so check it out and get a head start! It’ll save you a lot of time during the school year and your future self will definitely thank you.


Write 

Don’t let those writing skills of yours wane over the summer break — you will need them when September comes, no matter what your discipline of study is. We encourage you to journal about anything that interests you, blog about new movies, apps, or games, or write short annotations or opinion pieces about articles you’ve read recently. If you’re feeling really ambitious, write essays!


Goal-set

Take a day and honestly reflect on what you want to get out of your university experience. Make sure your goals are SMART (Specific, Attainable,  Relevant, Time-bound) and that you set a plan for how to achieve them. A good goal might be to improve your study habits, but unless you know how to do that, it’ll be frustratingly unattainable.


Strengthen Skills 

Tutoring
Foster the necessary skills over the summer

Taking the summer to fine-tune and foster important academic skills is smart. When you get to university, professors will expect you to already know how to research and write papers without being provided with scaffolding or graphic organizers. If you feel your skills aren’t up to snuff, or if you feel instant anxiety when you hear the phrase, 2000 word essay, find a program that will help you foster your writing skills before the school year begins!

The Essay Coach is a fantastic, online essay writing course designed to strengthen your essay-writing skills.  You work with a certified teacher one-on-one and leave with new strategies, skills, resources to use in the future, and a finished, polished essay! We are also offering group classes this summer. Contact us for more information. 

Captivating Novels for Young Adults

 

Young adults can often gain introspection into their own lives through rich works of fiction.  Books read at this critical stage of development often create lasting impressions and inspire.  The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger is often considered the quintessential coming-of-age story. Today there are number of modern novels offering huge appeal to teens with themes such as family, rebellion, love, heartbreak, adventure, and dystopian societies.

The following are some of the highest rated young adult novels on Amazon, as there’s nothing better to recommend a novel to young adults than reviews by peers. While some of these novels include controversial topics or language, these books have none-the-less made a strong impression on and connection with many teens. All book synopses are from http://www.amazon.com:

The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green: “At 16, Hazel Grace Lancaster, a three-year stage IV–cancer survivor, is clinically depressed. To help her deal with this, her doctor sends her to a weekly support group where she meets Augustus Waters, a fellow cancer survivor, and the two fall in love.”

The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak: “Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich during World War II, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids.”

The Perks of Being a Wallflower Paperback by Stephen Chbosky: “The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a story about what it’s like to travel that strange course through the uncharted territory of high school. The world of first dates, family dramas, and new friends . . . of those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.”

Divergent by Veronica Roth: “In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue. On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both.”

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell :  “The title characters are both 16-year-old misfits in their working-class Omaha neighborhood who fall in love. Park is half-Korean in a mostly-white part of town, and is into alternative music and comic books, unlike his brother and dad who are into sports. Eleanor is big (she thinks of herself as fat) and awkward and poor, the oldest of five kids with a painfully difficult home life, and defiantly flaunts her crazy red hair and weird clothes.”

Thirteen Reasons Why  by Jay Asher: “Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker – his classmate and crush – who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life.”

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs: “As a kid, Jacob formed a special bond with his grandfather over his bizarre tales and photos of levitating girls and invisible boys. Now at 16, he is reeling from the old man’s unexpected death. Then Jacob is given a mysterious letter that propels him on a journey to the remote Welsh island where his grandfather grew up. There, he finds the children from the photographs–alive and well–despite the islanders’ assertion that all were killed decades ago.”

For more information on encouraging reading in teens,  contact Ruth Rumack’s Learning Space at 416.925.1225 or visit www.ruthrumack.com.