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Education

Parents Should Supervise Their Older Kids’ Studying

Kids of all ages need support as they gradually develop good study habits.
 
Educators call it "scaffolding," the kind of adult guidance that keeps young learners on the right path until they've internalized good practices for themselves.

Many parents assume that by the time students are in middle school, they should no longer need day-to-day homework supervision. Meanwhile, I find that even high school students do better when their parents are checking in with them regularly and specifically about their schoolwork.

This helpful checklist was created by a local middle school principal, to show parents the ways they can lend support to their adolescent students:
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Habits Protect Students Against Decision Fatigue

In my habits class, we watched my very favorite TED talk, The Paradox of Choice. Barry Schwartz explains that much of the stress, anxiety and depression in our modern world stems from “ego depletion,” also called “decision fatigue.”

[embed]http://www.ted.com/talks/barry_schwartz_on_the_paradox_of_choice?language=en[/embed]

Thanks in great part to our consumerist society (always trying to sell us yet another flavor of Cheerios), we are barraged by choices, and the human brain gets stressed every time it has to make a choice. We think of choice as a good thing, and of course to a certain extent it is! But, we live in a culture in which there is an enormous choice overload, which can be paralyzing and can lead to stress anxiety and depression.
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General

Notes From My Habits Class For Students

I just finished teaching Making and Breaking Habits, a class I designed for my local community college, targeted towards high school and college students.

We had such wonderful discussions, and at the end of each session I jotted down the notes from the board:

What are habits? Things we do a lot, without thinking, on auto-pilot.

Why do we need habits? Most of what we do is automatic. It would be a big problem if...
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Education

Is Math Acceleration A Good Idea?

Way back when I was in school, Algebra I was considered a ninth grade course, and it was only a handful of "honors" kids who took it as eighth graders.

Since then, there's been a trend towards introducing algebra material to younger and younger students, in the hopes that by getting them primed earlier for algebraic thinking and giving them more years of algebra instruction, more students...
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General

Getting a Handle on Academic Anxiety

Do math tutors ever suffer math anxiety?


Sometimes I feel anxious when I'm going to have to tutor a topic that is hard for me. (Yes, even tutors and teachers find certain topics difficult!)

Here's how I cope:


I begin reviewing well in advance. Cramming makes me even more anxious, so I start reviewing early, when the pressure is off.
I use multiple sources. I like watching the videos on Khan Academy because I can just let them roll while I passively absorb some of the material. And I can watch as many times as I want (I "get" more with every viewing). I also read my textbook. Multiple explanations of the same material helps me understand it better.
I go for understanding, not just rote learning. If I can really wrap my brain around this stuff and "own it," I'm going to feel much more confident than if I just learn to plug numbers into some formulas.
I take breaks. This allows the material I just studied to sink in, and it gives me a chance to settle down and let my anxiety level come back to normal.
I deal with my anxiety. When I feel anxiety rising, I stop studying and take some slow, deep breaths. Or I stretch, or take a walk to the mailbox.
I take care of myself. I drink plenty of water, and I eat healthy foods to fuel my brain. Skipping meals can dull thinking and produce headaches, while sugary foods can cause energy spikes and crashes that make anxiety worse.


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