Student Tip of the Week
12/11/2017 - 12/15/2017
Achievement Scores Explained
Achievement test scores tell how well you're learning the things taught in school. The tests measure your progress in math, reading, science, social studies and other school subjects. Your scores will probably be a little different in each area, because most GTs aren't equally good at everything. But if you're chosen for a GT program, it's likely that your are tops in more than one subject. In fact, many GTs' achievement test scores show them them working in many subjects, at least two years beyond where most kids their age are working.
The Gifted Kids Survival Guide
12/04/2017 - 12/08/2017
What Is a GT Program?
Programs or classes for gifted kids have lots of different names. No matter what the name, the basic goals are the same:
1. To provide you with challenges you aren't likely to get in your regular classroom, so you can learn at a higher level and stretch your mind.
2. To give you support and encouragement to do and be your best.
3. To place you in the company of other advanced learners, so you can support and challenge one another, and feel free to be yourself.
The Gifted Kids Survival Guide
11/27/2017 - 12/01/2017
What If I Don't Want to Be GT- Can I Change?
Sure, you can change. But do you really want to?
Imagine you had a dog, Buddy, who loved to play fetch. The more challenging you made it for Buddy to fetch, the harder he ran to find whatever you threw. If it sometimes to Buddy a while to fetch, would you want him to give up? If Buddy wasn't always successful at finding the object you threw, would stop playing fetch with him? Or if Buddy did fetch like a super-dog, and everyone at the dog park clapped and cheerer . . . would you pull him away and put him back in his kennel? I bet you wouldn't. I bet you'd cheer on Buddy, too, and stick with him. So, why wouldn't you treat yourself as well as you'd treat Buddy? Why would you want to stop being all you're capable of being and stop striving at things you're interested in?
If you're really thinking you don't want to be gifted, things are probably happening around you that don't feel so good. Maybe some people in your life aren't treating you with understanding or respect. They may have unrealistic expectations of you that feel unfair. Or, they may think they always know what's best for you all the time instead of listening to what you want. Maybe what you really need is some help and encouragement. Lot's of programs, classes, books, activities, and ideas have helped other GT's who, like you, were "sick of it all." Being GT can- and should- be an awesome experience, not a drag.
The Gifted Kids Survival Guide
11/13/2017 - 11/17/2017
Will I Always Be GT?
The "roots" of your giftedness will always be present, deep in your genetic code. But a lot depends on how others (like your dad or mom, teachers, and even friends) help or do not help you, and also on how you help or hinder yourself. For example, if you think to yourself, "I'm not that smart . . . I can't do this . . . I give up!" your much less likely to build new neural "highways" and enhance the way your brain works. You'll be far more successful if you say, "I can handle this . . . I'm smart . . . I'll persist."
You'll also ensure your smarts stay intact by simply using them-a lot. In one experiment, scientist put volunteers through a brain "boot camp". They first gave them an intelligence test. Then, they gave the people a bunch of harder memory tasks to do, such as solving puzzles. When the volunteers were retested, every single person increased their ability to reason, solve problems, and think more quickly. So, in some ways your brain is pretty simple: You either use it or you lose it. And if you use it enough, there may be no limit to how smart you can get.
The Gifted Kids Survival Guide
11/06/2017 - 11/10/2017
Nature and Nurture
So certain brain features you've inherited are part of why you're gifted- but that's definitely not the whole story. Where you live, what you do, and everything and everyone around you also play a very important role. From the day you were born, your surroundings, your life style, and your choices either build on or take away from your natural abilities.
You can think of your genes as forming roots of a tree. As a GT, you likely have some very sturdy, healthy roots. But how big an healthy the branches and leaves grow depends on how well the tree (you) is cared for and nurtured. Do you live in a home where people value learning? Do you eat healthy food and get enough sleep? Do you exercise? Do you try new things? Are you loved and supported? Just like a tree, you need nurturing from your environment in order to build on your roots.
The Gifted Kids Survival Guide
10/30/2017 - 11/03/2017
Better Blood Flow and Communication
In addition to all the electrical "juice", your GT brain also gets blood pumped to into it-a lot. Your brain contains roughly 100,00 miles of blood vessels (enough to stretch almost halfway to the moon!) and recent MRI scans of kids highly gifted in math, for example, show seven times the normal blood flow to all parts of their brains active during math work. And finailly, as if that weren't enough, the two halves of your brain (the right and left hemisphers) are likely best buds and communicate far better than the average brain halves do. For this reason, many GTs tend to be at least somewhat ambidextrous.
Using the latest technologies, neuroscientists, (brain researchers) are constantly discovering fascinating new things about how people think, feel, and learn. In fact, it's possible that in the future a person's intelligence will not be measured by IQ tests or college-enterance exams, but by a simple scan of his or her brain.
The Gifted Kids Survival Guide
10/23/2017 - 10/27/2017
Loaded with Memory
If you think of your GT brain like a computer, you've now learned that it has a larger hard drive and faster procssor than most. Well, as it turns out, it also comes loaded with extra memory. When your working on a complex problem-solving task, like a crossword puzzle or math problem, your brain needs to store and retrieve lots of pieces of information from its memory bank.
In most people, this memory bank is only in the frontal lobe. But experiments show that in gifted people, the occipital lobe in the
rear of the brain is also active during complex tasks, providing you with lots of space and power to quickly solve problems. This extra storage area allows you to make more and faster connectons between new things you learn.
The Gifted Kids Survial Guide
10/16/2017 - 10/20/2017
Faster is Brighter, Too
In adittion to possibly inheriting a larger brain, you may have also inherited a faster brain. Genetics are a strong predictor of how fast a person developes nueral connections. Evidence exists that your environment and your habits (like studying and practiceing) can also help speed up these connections. Whatever the reason, your GT brain takes less time than average to turn new knowledge into routine knowledge-in other words, to learn. ... Chances are that as a young child, even as a baby, you were already showing signs of this fastr learning speed.
The Gifted Kids Survial Guide
10/09/2017 - 10/13/2017
Bigger Is Brighter (... or Is Brighter Bigger?)
There is a clear link between how intelligent you are (based on test scores) and how big your brain is. As a GT, you likely have more [white] brain matter in your brain, especially in your frontal lobe, which process most general intellectual tasks. Of course, it's hard to know which came first: your big brain or your big IQ. In otherwords, did your big brain make you smart? Or, did your smarts cause your brain to grow bigger over time?
One thing is certain: GT's brains are wired differently from other people's brains. A brain is basically a jumble of about 100 billion electrical wires, called neurons, which "talk" to one another and make connections. And the more neural connections you have in a given area of your brain, the bigger that area will be.
For example, Albert Einstein's parietal lobe, which is resposible for recieving and poccessing math facts, was 15 percent larger than normal. Likewise, if you are gifted in music like, the young opera star Charlotte Church, then your left temporal lobe is probably bigger than average. What if you're a gifted writer like Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling? Then both your frontal lobe and left temporal lobe might be enlarged, because you've got tons of neurons chatting away in the two main language-processing centers located in those areas.
However, some areas of GTs' brains have also been found to have less brain activity and fewer neural connections than normal, a fact that has long confused scientist. The current theory is that gifted people's brains might simply build more efficient circiuts in certain areas, so they are able to fuction better using less energy. Who knew that even your brain could be "energy efficiant"?
The Gifted Kids Survial Guide
Too Many Labels
Chances are you've always known that you think and learn differently from many kids. Your friends know it, too; that's why they say things like "Your so smart" or "You always get good grades." But that's not enough. You want to know more. Being labeled "gifted", "talened", or "high potential" is a start. Labels are a pain, but they are part of life. They help us understand and communicate concepts and ideas. The problem is, when people can't agree on what the labels mean and which ones to use, kids (like you) may get stuck with too many labels.
If this happens to you, don't worry. Simply keep the labels that you like and that make you feel good, ignore the labels you don't like, and ask questions about the ones you don't understand.
The Gifted Kids Survial Guide
8 Big Benefits of Being GT
1. Our schoolwork in GT classes is more challenging and we learn more.
2. We get to do special things-activities, field trips, experiments, and projects.
3. Our regular school work is easy for us to understand.
4. When we are in special programs and classes, we meet new people and get to be with friends who understand us.
5. We can help others with their work.
6. Our friends and other kids look up to us.
7. We look forward to a bright future.
8. Our GT classes are usually smaller than regular classes so we get extra attention.
The Gifted Kids Survial Guide
5 Things GTs Need To Succed
Gifted kids like to be challenged. In fact many say that it is harder for them to do simple things than it is to tackle difficult work. That means you need people, schoolwork, classes, activities, and oppertunities that will S-T-R-E-T-C-H your mind.
You need to feel pleased and proud of the person you are-just the way you are. This doesn't mean you can't or shouldn't try to be even better. But you need to believe in your own basic worth.
3. Talk Time.
You need oppertunities to talk with people who respect and understand you. These people might be friends, family, or people at school or in the community. Let them know what your thinking and how you're feeling. Ask questions when you are confused, ask them for advice when you want it, and listen closley to their feedback. The key is to find a few people you trust and talk to them regularly.
You need to know yourself. What are your strengths and weaknesses? Your hopes and dreams? Who are you, anyway? If you are unsure, how can you learn more about yourseslf? One way to develope self-awareness is by asking yourself questions like: What kind of person do I want to be? What do I think and feel, and why?
You need trustworthy people in your life who are willin to help you. People you can turn towhen the going gets tough. People who want the best for you. Make a list of people you can count on for help.
The Gifted Kids Survial Guide
08/28/2017 - 09/01/2017
Celebs You DIdn't Know Were Geeks
Will Smith (actor, singer, producer)
Offered full scholarship to the engineering program at
MIT, IQ 132
Matt Damon (actor)
Straight A student, studied English at Harvard, IQ 135.
Natalie Portman (actress)
Graduated high school with 4.0 GPA, degree in psycology
from Harvard, speaks fluent Hebrew, French, and
Japanese, IQ 140.
Wrote her first poem when she was 4, composed first song
at 8, won a grammy, IQ 140
Alicia Keyes (singer)
High school valedictorian (at age 16!), briefly attended
Columbia University before pursuing music, Grammy
award winner, IQ 154
Ashton Kutcher (actor)
Fenture capitalist; a product engineer for Chinese
computer giant Lenovo; part of the management team of
tech startup Ooma, successful restauranteur and human
rights activist, IQ 160
Reggie Jackson (baseball Hall of Famer)
five world championships, 14 All-Star appearances, 563
home runs, .357 batting average, IQ 160
Conan O'Brian (talk show host)
Head writer for The Simpsons and Saturday Night Live,
attended Harvard, IQ 160
Mayim Bialik (actress)
accepted to both Harvard and Yale but chose to attend
UCLA where she earned her Bachelor’s degree and her
PhD in neuroscience, IQ 163
James Woods (actor)
Golden Globe and Emmy Award winning actor attended
MIT. He has the highest recorded IQ of anyone on this list.
At 184, it is so high that there are less than 100 people in
the U.S. can make that claim.
The Gifted Kids Survial Guide
08/21/2017 - 08/25/2017
When You're Gifted You Have High Potential
At some point in your life, your teachers or parent might have said, "You're not working to your potential." But, what if you are doing all of your schoolwork, even finish early? And you're getting good grades? And you're not goofing off in class?
The answer is: They know you are capable of more. Much more. You can go far beyond the regular school work-or even the GT program-if you try. It's up to adults to give you opportunities, but it's up to you to take them, and to ask for them.
Maybe you've heard the old saying "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink." If your teachers challenge you or your parent encourages you to explore new things-say "Yes!" (Unless you're already too busy to even take a drink of water, but that's another topic.)
You could be the smartest person in the world, but if you don't choose to use your high potential, you might as well have a brain the size of a toad (not that I have anything against toads).
The Gifted Kids Survial Guide
08/14/2017 - 08/18/2017
8 Back To School Tips Every
Student Should Know
It’s that time of year again and we can hear the school bells ringing! It can be hard to adjust from the dog days of summer to the busy and fast pace of the school year. Here are eight tips to get back into the school mode and start this year off right!
Tip #1: Have the Proper School Supplies that you need for your classes!
I highly suggest getting folders and binder with patterns and designs to make note taking more fun. During the first day of class most teachers will tell you everything they require for their courses. Make sure that you get the specified supplies so that you are able to keep up with the class work and stay organized.
Tip #2: Get an Agenda!
During the school year is such a busy time! Between taking test, doing home work, attending activities, and school events it can be really hard to keep track of everything. By keeping an updated agenda you can better manage your time and know what you have to accomplish. Having a agenda will definitely help you with time management. Time management is key to being successful and staying on top of everything you need to do!
Tip #3: Know your Course Syllabus
Knowing your class schedule is so important for being successful in the course your taking. Teachers will typical hand out your syllabus in class or post it online. I highly suggest keeping it in a safe and convenient place so you can frequently view. Knowing when you have papers and projects due is so important for passing the course and keeping up your grades. Having the syllabus will allow you to plan ahead and give yourself proper time to complete every assignment and get great grades!
Tip #4: Do Not Procrastinate
This is something that we have all been guilty of in the past and have learned the stressful repercussions. A habit is created in three weeks so if you study for every course your taking daily in 21 days that will be a new habit for you. Dedicating a little bit of time everyday to the courses you are taking is definitely going to positively impact your grades and make you a better student!
Tip #5: Know What is Expected of You
rIt is very important to know what your teachers are expecting from you. Pay attention to what the teacher is saying about the workload of the class and what they are hoping for you to get out of it. Teacher are supposed to want you to succeed so most likely they will provide you with what you need to do to thrive. Knowing their expectations and achieving them will help your year start smoothly. Always remember that communicating with your teachers is key for understanding their expectations.
Tip #6: Get Involved
Getting involved with your school community is great because you can pursue your interest and meet peers who have the same and similar interest as you. Many studies have shown that students who are involved in sports and school activities are able to achieve higher GPA’s. If you enjoy playing sports try out for the school team. If you are a musician or actor then join your school band or theatre company and share your talent with your fellow peers. Join clubs that you are interested in and attend all the meetings. If your school doesn’t have the sports you play, a club you want to join, or a musical or theatre program then talk to your school administrators and see if you are able to start your own! It is amazing to have something that you are passionate about and enjoy doing so never be afraid to pursue your interests.
Tip #7: Learn What Type of Learner You Are
Everyone is individual and so is the way you learn ! There are three main types of learning styles which are auditory, visual, and kinesthetic. Knowing what type of learner you are is going to help you be a better student and have better studying habits.When you are able to determine the type of learning style that is best for you, you will find better results when you are studying and it will result in higher test scores! I highly encourage you to do some research and determine the type of learner you are so you can personalize your studying.
Tip #8: List of academic goals
Write out a list of goals that you want to achieve for the upcoming school year! Do you want to make the lead role in the play, get that varsity spot on the basket ball team, improve your grades, You can reach all the goals you set for this year! When you write down every goal you are able to plan and realize what you need to do to prepare for them. Having that list can be a driving and motivating force to help you work to achieve those goals.
Every new school year is a opportunity for a fresh start, new friends, and to make it count. You have the potential to make this year one of the best ones yet!
If you spend a lot of time on sites like Facebook and Twitter, you have probably made one common mistake: sharing an article without actually reading it.
You definitely are not alone. According to a study released in June by a team of French and American computer scientists, almost 3 out of every 5 links shared on social media have never actually been clicked. People share these articles after only reading the headline.
This is how "fake news" spreads. The best way to stop it is to actually read articles before sharing them. Pay attention to the following warning signs. There are both pro-Democrat and pro-Republican fake news websites. The same rules apply to both.
Determine Whether The Article Is From A Trustworthy Website
ABC News, the television network, has a website at abcnews.go.com. ABC News, the fake news site, can be found at abcnews.com.co.
Both look very similar. But the use of ".co" at the end is a clue that you are looking at fake news. There are other signs as well.
Check The "Contact Us" Page
Some fake news sites do not have any contact information. Real newspapers and news sites have email addresses, phone numbers and even street addresses. The fake "ABC News" does have a "contact us" page. All it shows is a picture of a house somewhere in the country. The real ABC television network is in a 13-story building in New York City.
Examine The Byline Of The Reporter And Ask Questions
An article on the fake ABC News site says a protester was paid $3,500 to protest Donald Trump. It appears to have been written by someone named Dr. Jimmy Rustling. The site says he has won many awards for his work, "including fourteen Peabody awards and a handful of Pulitzer Prizes."
Peabody awards and Pulitzer Prizes are the highest honors in journalism. They are very difficult to win. Doesn't it seem strange that he would win so many? This is a sign that "Dr. Rustling" is not a real person.
Read The Article Closely
Many fake articles have made-up quotes that are hard to read without laughing. In the article on the protest, there is a quote from the creator of Snopes. Snopes is a website that proves when stories on the Internet are not real. The article claims that he approves of it, even though the article describes Snopes as unfair and inaccurate. That should raise red flags. It is not true.
Study The Sources
Sometimes fake articles are started with nothing but a tweet. For example, one fake news story said anti-Trump people were being driven by bus to protest at events. That would have been shocking because it could make the protests seem bigger or more popular than they actually were. It was not true, though. As The New York Times found, this story started with a single bad tweet. The man who tweeted it had just 40 followers.
Few real news stories begin with a single tweet. Most real stories have plenty of other sources of information, too. If the article has no links to sources, it might be fake.
Look At The Ads
Too many pop-up ads on a news site mean you should be careful. Another bad sign is a bunch of ads or links designed to make you want to click on them. Fake news sites often have links to stories about strange rumors or famous people doing wild things. You usually do not find stories like that on real news sites.
Use Search Engines To Double-Check
A Google search often will tell you if a site is no good. Snopes has compiled a guide to fake news sites, which lets you check articles. A website called RealorSatire.com is another way to see if an article is truthful. If you type in an article's URL, it will quickly tell you if the story comes from a fake or unfair news website.
Stopping the spread of fake news begins with you. If it seems too crazy to be true, it probably is. Please think before you share.
Tips for Keeping Motivated Throughout the School Year
- Set both short- and long-term academic goals focusing on accomplishments that are meaningful.
- Talk long term. Understand the long-term benefits of school and the daily responsibilities it requires. While one particular assignment or project may not seem all that important now, it will help you to be successful in school now—leading to things that they may value in the future, such as acceptance at the college or university of your choice, scholarships and more.
- Follow your passions. Find the things that you are naturally excited about and explore those interests.
- Track your progress throughout the year, either by charting/listing important milestones or making videos of performing certain tasks. It's rewarding for gifted students to see how they have developed and mastered different skills throughout the year.
A goal is something you want to achieve. A short-term goal is something you want to achieve soon. Examples of short-term goals are finishing your homework and doing well on tomorrow's test. A long-term goal is something you want to achieve at some later date. Examples of long-term goals are writing a paper and passing a class.
To set appropriate goals, you must know what is important for you to accomplish. Then you must set specific and clearly stated goals. If you do not have clearly stated goals, your effort will lack direction and focus. Write your goals to have a record of them.
THE THREE W'S OF GOALS
Each goal you set should state WHAT you will do and WHEN you will accomplish it. Implied in each goal you set is your WILL (determination) to do it. For example, a goal for a research paper might be stated as follows: I will (your determination) finish gathering information for my research paper (what you will do) by November 20 (when you will accomplish it).
CHARACTERISTICS OF APPROPRIATE GOALS
Your goals should be:
- within your skills and abilities. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses will help you set goals you can accomplish.
- realistic. Setting a goal to learn the spelling of three new words a day is realistic. Trying to learn the spelling of fifty new words a day is not realistic.
- flexible. Sometimes things will not go the way you anticipate and you may need to change your goal. Stay flexible so when you realize a change is necessary, you will be ready to make the change.
- measurable. It is important to be able to measure your progress toward a goal. It is especially important to recognize when you have accomplished your goal and need to go no further. Failure to measure your progress toward a goal and recognize its accomplishment will result in effort that is misdirected and wasted.
- within your control. Other than when working as part of a group, accomplishment of your goal should not depend on other students. You can control what you do, but you have little or no control over what others do. You may do what you have to do, but if others don't, you will not accomplish your go
Many times your parents, teachers, and counselors will set goals for you. Be accepting when they do. These are people who know what is important for you and are very concerned with your success. They can also help you accomplish the goals they set.
SET GOALS IN SCHOOL THAT PROVIDE YOU WITH DIRECTION AND LEAD TO SUCCESS.
Strategies for Dealing with Overexcitabilities
By Regina Hellinger
Recently I wrote an article for the SENGvine, “The Gift of Emotional Overexcitabilities.” The article received a lot of attention on Facebook and other social media sources. Many expressed their relief at being seen and understood. Others were concerned about what this reality would look like for children; would highly sensitive children be perceived as mentally unstable or would they be bullied for their sensitivities?
The intention of this follow-up is to provide strategies to embrace the gift of being highly sensitive.
I have devised a strategy called the BERRY Approach, which is a combination of strategies that work together to authenticate and empower. The BERRY Approach is an acronym for the following strategies:
The description of these strategies is as follows:
Being With IT: The first strategy is to be with the experience of an emotion without judging it or thinking of it as a problem.
A coaching tool that I use with clients who want to be with their emotions can be explained in five steps:
Notice the emotion: recognize that the feeling is there
Drop the resistance and let it be without judgment
Treat it with compassion
Notice what happens once you allow yourself to be with it
This acceptance allows for the next step to occur.
Experience E-Motion: Emotion is a form of energy. If we allow ourselves to fully experience that emotion we can allow it to be as it is meant to be: energy in motion. We get into trouble when we bottle up this energy or internalize it. Emotion is a sensation that is meant to pass through us, like weather passes through the atmosphere. Knowing emotion is meant to flow through us, both in and OUT is very empowering. The only way we can allow it to flow out is to let it run its course. When we suppress our emotion we are stopping it midstream.
Two misconceptions often cause us to suppress the natural flow of this energy.
The first misconception is that we think we are better off fighting against the emotion than allowing ourselves to experience it. Being afraid of feeling the intensity of the emotion can lead us to bury it and avoid it. However, it is still there, and we are using a lot of our energy keeping it contained within us. The fear of facing the emotion is worse than the act of being with it.
The second misconception is that we confuse our identity of being highly sensitive to emotional experiences with needing to hold onto that emotion to be a compassionate or empathetic person. While being a sensitive person may be something that defines a core part of our being, the feelings themselves are not owned by us. Hanging on to these emotions does not make us more empathetic or compassionate. It only stops the motion of a process that is meant to stay in flow and actually takes us away from being fully present to others because we are confusing our identity of being a sensitive person with being consumed with a particular emotion.
By allowing our emotions to be in flow we experience more spaciousness within us, literally more room within our physical beings to breathe and to experience other emotions like the deep experiences of joy, love, gratitude, and connection.
Recognize the Saboteur: Saboteurs are our inner voices that prevent us from living our most fulfilled lives. Emotions are natural experiences, but our personal interpretation of what they say about us can turn these emotions into negative experiences and cause us to feel bad about ourselves as people. Messages that we send ourselves, such as, “I am weak, Why can’t I stop myself from feeling this way?” or “No one gets me, so there must be something wrong with me” are examples of the voice of the saboteur. These messages do not reflect reality or the truth but represent our fears in the form of statements that keep us small and insecure. When we buy into the saboteur we feel bad about ourselves as a person, and we may hold ourselves back from doing or feeling what comes naturally to us. Listening to the saboteur makes us feel that we need to live as an impostor rather than love who we are. Getting to know our personal saboteurs (everyone has them) empowers us to distinguish this voice from the voice of reason and authenticity. Once we are able to recognize our saboteur voice we can choose to listen to it or not. When we choose to listen to it we make ourselves smaller, and when we choose to dismiss it we empower ourselves to live authentically and happily, with self-compassion and peace of mind.
Resonant Choices: When we experience resonance, we feel fully alive. Resonant experiences can make our skin tingle, and sometimes make our heart feel like it is so full it could burst (in a good way). We experience
resonance most when we honor our personal values, the things that mean the most to us. Resonance leads to peace of mind, confidence, joy, connection, and love. This is the positive side of having emotional overexcitabilities because all of these emotions are felt even more deeply by those that are highly sensitive and impact us that much more powerfully. Many times we tend to take the safe, proven, well-trodden route to navigating through life at the cost of experiencing resonance. No matter how safe or productive a path may be, if it does not honor our personal values and create resonant experiences for us then we experience the opposite: dissonance. Dissonance is the experience of being disconnected from our own life events and often leads to depression. While we do not have the ability to control the depth to which we experience our emotions, we can support environments that are resonant to us and limit our experiences that lead to dissonance.
The ability to do this requires us to pay attention to the things that “light us up” as opposed to those that make us shrink and shrivel. Applying this to working with children may mean that a child does not become the baseball player that his parents dreamed he would be, but actually becomes an amazing Lego builder who spends the majority of his spare time in his room building things that no one else ever would have envisioned. The more resonance we experience, the more we will experience the intensity of emotions that are satisfying and fulfilling, capitalizing on the gift of emotional overexcitabilities!
Your Compelling Purpose: Building on Resonant Choice, finding a way to have a positive impact in areas that are important to us gives us opportunities to experience meaningful connection to our values, our world, and others in it. Finding our compelling purpose, the “what I am called to do in the world” provides meaning and fulfillment in our lives. This is important for all human beings and especially crucial for gifted individuals who crave meaningful existence. When connected to our compelling purpose and being free to experience all of the intensity of our deep emotions though this connection, we are also able to access our greatest forms of creativity, genius, and innovation. It is from this place that our giftedness is most powerfully manifested in the world.
In summary, there are ways for living with our emotional intensities that actually help us thrive in the world and celebrate our essence. There are also several strategies that can be used to help individuals cope with the actual experience of these emotions. The key is in using these strategies together in ways that continue to honor and celebrate the sensitivities that are at the core of each individual.
Tips to Writing a Better Research Paper
To help students get up to speed on basic research skills, here’s 10 tips to help you find, organize, and use the information you need to put together a decent research paper.
- Schedule! I tell my students that the first step in writing a research paper is to admit you have a research paper. Write up a schedule with a series of milestones to accomplish by a specific date (e.g. find 10 sources by September 20, finish preliminary research by October 15), and keep to it. You will need time to get an overview of what material is out there, find out what’s in your library, select relevant material, read it, take notes, and start putting it together — and to do a second wave of research to clear up points raised in the writing of your first draft.
- Start, don’t end, with Wikipedia. Wikipedia is a great place to start your research — spend some time searching for keywords related to your topic, browsing the links you find on each page, and following their suggested resources. Take notes, especially of any good sources they recommend. The goal here is to get a good overview of the subject you’re writing about, and Wikipedia is far better for that than most print sources, because of its hyperlink ed nature. By the time you get ready to write, though, you should have much better sources at your command than Wikipedia, so avoid citing it in your paper.
- Mine bibliographies. Once you’ve found a good, solid academic book or essay on your topic, you’re golden — at the end there will be a list of dozens or hundreds of sources for you to look up. You can usually skim through the bibliography and note down anything whose title sounds relevant to your research. Academic authors aren’t very creative with their titles, so it is usually pretty easy to tell what their work is about from just the title or subtitle. Go back through and see if you recognize any of the authors’ names — these too might be worth following up. once you start finding the work the first book referenced, do the same thing with their bibliographies — soon you’ll have a list of far more sources than you need (but you need them, because your library may not have all the books and journals referred to, and inter-library loan is so slow as to be useless for students who need to finish by the end of the semester).
- Have a research question in mind. Technically, your thesis should emerge from your research, when you have data in front of you. But you need a kind of “working thesis” while doing your research — a question you want to answer. As you come across new material, ask yourself if it looks like it will help you answer your question. Anything that looks relevant but doesn’t help answer your question you can put back. It’s tempting to gather a lot of background material, and some is necessary, but too much will waste your time without contributing to your research. Get one or two good sources for background (your initial Wikipedia searching should be adequate in most cases) and then keep focused by working towards an answer to your research question.
- Deal with one piece at a time. Don’t try to tackle your subject all at once. Get enough of a sense of the topic that you can create an outline of the things you need to understand, and then deal with each piece on its own. You’ll find the connections between the pieces when you write your first draft.
- Use a system. Start your research with an idea of how you plan to collect and organize your notes and data. Although I’ve written papers using index cards before, my favorite system is to use a one-subject notebook. At the top of a fresh page, I write the full bibliographic reference for a book or paper, then copy quotes and write notes — both tagged with the page numbers they came from — interspersed with thoughts and ideas that occur to me as I’m reading. I’d love to use a computer more efficiently when doing research, and have built databases and tried wikis and outliners and other kinds of software, but I’ve never found a system that worked well — I spent more time fiddling with the software than getting work done. Whatever system you decide on, make sure that every quote, fact, and thought is tied in some way to its source so that you can easily insert references while you’re writing.
- Know your resources. Spend some time getting to know what resources, both online and offline, your library to offer. Most libraries offer tours to students, or talk to a research librarian — or at the least, walk through the library to get a feel for what is where, paying special attention to the microfilm repository and periodicals, which you’ll use a lot in the course of most research projects. Most university libraries also subscribe to a number of academic databases, and most are now accessible online — get to know the research material you can access from home. J-Stor, for instance, holds full-text photographic copies of hundreds of journals, all easily searchable. There’s nothing quite like thinking of something in the middle of the night, logging on, and printing out two or three relevant journal articles to review in the morning.
- Ask for help. Use the human resources available to you as well as the material resources. Most professors spend their office hours waiting in disappointment for a student to drop in and give them something to justify the time they’re required to keep an open hour — be that student! Ask for help in finding and evaluating sources, or for help in figuring out what to do with the material you’ve collected so far. Another often-overlooked resource is your friendly neighborhood librarian. Librarians are, in my estimation, the best people on Earth — they know the material in their charge forwards and backwards, they are deeply concerned with seeing it used, and they have committed their lives to making information more available. Most librarians will be happy to help you find relevant material for your project, and some will even locate specific pieces of hard-to-find information for you. Don’t forget to ask your fellow student for help, too — some of the might have come across work directly relevant to your topic.
- Carry an idea book. As you start really getting into your project, your mind will start churning through what you’re reading, even when you’re not consciously working on it. If you’re like me, you’ll be struck by sudden revelations at the least convenient times — in the bathroom, in the shower, at the supermarket. or while getting ready for bed. Keep a small notebook and a pen with you everywhere (well, maybe not in the shower — although I do keep dry erase markers by the sink so I can write down quick thoughts on the bathroom mirror when I get out of the shower); jot down notes whenever an idea crosses your mind, and transfer these notes into your research log (or software, or whatever) as soon as you can.
- Bring it up to date. Pay attention to the publication date of your material — while it’s ok to use older material, ideally you’d like the bulk of your references to come from the last 10 years or so. If research in your topic seems to dry up a decade or so back, it might be because the field moved on, but it also might be because funding opportunities disappeared, a major researcher died, or any number of accidental reasons. One trick is to Google the major researchers whose work you’ve found and see if you can find their homepages — most will list recent publications and their current research activities — it could be that someone has a book about to come out, or reports published in obscure or foreign journals. If so, you might try inter-library loan, or in some cases, try contacting the researcher herself and ask if they can send you a draft or reprint. Be courteous, explain what you’re working on and what you’re trying to find out, where your research has taken you so far, and what light you hope their work can shed on your topic. Do not ask for a list of references or what your thesis should be — nobody wants to do a student’s work for them.
These tips will help put a decent bibliography and a body of notes and data at your fingertips when you sit down to write up your paper. Although evaluating sources is also a necessary part of doing good research, it will have to wait for its own post, as it’s too big a topic to reduce to a bullet point here. A librarian or your professor can help, especially if you restrict yourself to books and journals available in your university library. Internet sources are trickier, as it takes no effort at all these days to put up a professional-looking website saying whatever you want; until you’re comfortable with the material in your chosen field, it’s best to stick to known sources like Wikipedia and sites endorsed by your library or department, if you use the Internet at all. Remember, though, that until a few years ago, most of us managed to do research with no Internet at all! With typewriters! Walking uphill! In the snow! Barefoot!
Reading a Math Textbook
Reading a math textbook is different than reading other textbooks. Math textbooks alternate passages of explanation with mathematical formulas and example problems. Here are suggestions to help you gain the most understanding and mastery from your math textbooks.
- Slow your reading pace. Skimming does not work when reading a math textbook. You need to read the text word by word and sentence by sentence.
- Study any diagrams and other illustrations that are provided.
- Don't try to memorize everything. Read for understanding.
- Math has its own vocabulary. Keep a section in your notebook in which you write math terms and their meanings.
- Go back to an earlier part of the text when you don't understand something. Math is cumulative. If you come to something you don't understand, it may be because you didn't understand what came before it.
- When sample problems are presented, carefully read any explanations that are provided about to how to solve the problems.
- If you are unsure about the explanation that is provided for a problem, look for that type of problem and its solution in another math textbook. You can also use the Internet and YouTube videos for this purpose.
- When working out practice problems, start with the problems you find easiest and work your way up to the problems you find most difficult.
- After reading a problem and its solution, close the book and try to solve the problem on your own. Be sure to go through all the steps.
- Do not skip any steps when working on solutions to problems that are provided.
- Do practice problems using a pencil, not a pen. This will make it easier for you to make corrections.
- When you learn a new concept, think of how that concept can be applied in real life. Doing this will make it easier for you to understand and remember the concept.
- Create review cards with formulas, properties, and facts. Go over these frequently.
Remember that the best way to learn math is by doing.
12/05/2016 - 12/09/2016
Tips for Remembering
Remembering is a tricky business. We can remember some things easily yet cannot seem to remember other things. We remember some things throughout our lives, while others things seem to come in one door in our mind and go out the other.
There is no "magic pill" for remembering. But here are some tips that can help.
- Try to understand the information you must remember. Understanding the information will allow you to relate the information you must remember to what you already know.
- Try to form an association between the information you must remember and a person, place, object, situation, or emotion.
- Frequently recite the information you must remember or write it several times.
- If you must remember a large body of information, try to break the information into smaller, more manageable categories. Then work on remembering the information in each category separately.
- Create a graphic organizer for the information you must remember. It is easier to remember information that is organized than to remember information that seems to be all over the place.
- Try to bring a personal touch to the information you must remember. Relating the information to something about you will make it easier to remember.
- Try to form a picture in your mind of the information you must remember. Visual imagery is a powerful tool for remembering.
- Try to apply what you must remember. For example, if you are trying to remember the meanings of some new vocabulary words, use the words in your speaking and writing.
- Test yourself. A good way to do this is to write a question about the information you must remember on the front side of an index card and the answer to the question on the back. Use as many cards as you need. Look at the questions, try to answer them, and then check to see how you did.
- Try to make remembering a fun activity by creating games using the information you must remember.
Remembering is not just something you must do in school. It is something you must do in all aspects of your life.
11/28/2016 - 12/02/2016
The Ten Study Habits of Successful Students
Successful students have good study habits. They apply these habits to all of their classes. Read about each study habit. Work to develop any study habit you do not have.
- Try not to do too much studying at one time.
If you try to do too much studying at one time, you will tire and your studying will not be very effective. Space the work you have to do over shorter periods of time. Taking short breaks will restore your mental energy.
- Plan specific times for studying.
Study time is any time you are doing something related to schoolwork. It can be completing assigned reading, working on a paper or project, or studying for a test. Schedule specific times throughout the week for your study time.
- Try to study at the same times each day.
Studying at the same times each day establishes a routine that becomes a regular part of your life, just like sleeping and eating. When a scheduled study time comes up during the day, you will be mentally prepared to begin studying.
- Set specific goals for their study times.
Goals will help you stay focused and monitor your progress. Simply sitting down to study has little value. You must be very clear about what you want to accomplish during your study times.
- Start studying when planned.
You may delay starting your studying because you don't like an assignment or think it is too hard. A delay in studying is called "procrastination." If you procrastinate for any reason, you will find it difficult to get everything done when you need to. You may rush to make up the time you wasted getting started, resulting in careless work and errors.
- Work on the assignment they find most difficult first.
Your most difficult assignment will require the most effort. Start with your most difficult assignment since this is when you have the most mental energy.
- Review their notes before beginning an assignment.
Reviewing your notes can help you make sure you are doing an assignment correctly. Also, your notes may include information that will help you complete an assignment.
- Tell their friends not to call them during their study times.
Two study problems can occur if your friends call you during your study times. First, your work is interrupted. It is not that easy to get back to what you were doing. Second, your friends may talk about things that will distract you from what you need to do. Here's a simple idea - turn off your cell phone during your study times.
- Call another student when they have difficulty with an assignment.
This is a case where "two heads may be better than one."
- Review their schoolwork over the weekend.
Yes, weekends should be fun time. But there is also time to do some review. This will help you be ready to go on Monday morning when another school week begins.
11/14/2016 - 11/18/2016
1. Go to class prepared.
“Always have a plan and believe in it. Nothing good happens by accident.” — Chuck Knox, NFL football coach
- Use a three-ring binder instead of a spiral or bound book. Pages can be easily removed for reviewing. Handouts can be inserted into your notes for cross-referencing. You can insert your own out-of-class notes in the correct order (Ellis).
- Bring highlighters to class. Instructors will frequently make comments like, “This is an important concept.” Or, “Make sure you understand this.” These are direct clues that this will more than likely be on an exam. Highlighting these notes will help remind you later that this is definitely something you need to know.
- Read assigned material and previous class notes before class. Make notations about material or concepts you don’t understand. Look up vocabulary words that are unfamiliar to you. You will have a better understanding about what the instructor is lecturing about and that will allow you to better decipher the more important points of the lecture.
2. Improve your listening skills.
“Learn how to listen and you will prosper even from those who talk badly.” — Plutarch (A.D. 46 – 120). Greek biographer and philosopher
- Start by entering the classroom with a positive attitude. Going to class thinking, “This is the last place I want to be today” only sets the stage for inattentive listening. Approaching lectures with a positive attitude allows one to be open-minded and enables you to get the most out of the information presented.
- Make a conscious effort to pay attention. Concentrate on concentrating. “Without concentration there is no focus, and without focus there is no learning” (Pauk 190).
- Adapt to whatever direction a lecture takes. When a lecture takes an unexpected detour, say a student asks a question you aren’t particularly interested in, students have a tendency to “zone out.” Before you know it, the lecture got back on track five minutes ago, and you missed crucial information that should have been noted.
3. Develop a notetaking method that works for you.
“Learn, compare, collect the facts.” – Ivan Petrovic Pavlov (1849 – 1936), Russian physiologist.
Fine-tune the structure and organization of your notes to increase your notetaking speed and comprehension later.
- Start each new lecture on a new page, and date and number each page. The sequence of material is important.
- Write on one side of the paper only. You can set them out side-by-side for easier reviewing when studying for an exam.
- Leave blank spaces. This allows you to add comments or note questions later.
- Make your notes as brief as possible. “Never use a sentence when you can use a phrase, or a phrase when you can use a word” (Berkeley).
- Develop a system of abbreviations and symbols you can use wherever possible.
- Note all unfamiliar vocabulary or concepts you don’t understand. This reminds you to look them up later.
4. Pay close attention to content.
“There is a great difference between knowing a thing and understanding it.” – Charles Kettering (1876 – 1958), American electrical engineer and inventor
Knowing what and how much to write down is sometimes difficult. Rely on some of the following tips for what to include in your notes.
- Details, facts, or explanations that expand or explain the main points that are mentioned. Don’t forget examples.
- Definitions, word for word.
- Enumerations or lists of things that are discussed.
- Material written on the chalkboard or on a transparency, including drawings or charts.
- Information that is repeated or spelled out. (University of Texas at Austin)
5. Review and edit your notes.
“Ideas won’t keep; something must be done about them.” – Alfred North Whitehead (1861 – 1947), English mathematician and philosopher
Academic skills centers and other authorities on effective study skills consider reviewing and editing class notes to be the most important part of notetaking and essential to increasing learning capacity.
- It is extremely important to review your notes within 24 hours.
- Edit for words and phrases that are illegible or don’t make sense. Write out abbreviated words that might be unclear later.
- Edit with a different colored pen to distinguish between what you wrote in class and what you filled in later.
- Fill in key words and questions in the left-hand column.
- Note anything you don’t understand by underlining or highlighting to remind you to ask the instructor.
- Compare your notes with the textbook reading and fill in important details in the blank spaces you left.
- Consider rewriting or typing up your notes. (Ellis).
10/31/2016 - 11/04/2016
How to Develop Your Full Potential
Remember your youth. As children we are full of excellent ideas, they never stop flowing because we have an open mind and belief in ourselves that we can accomplish just about anything. However, as we grow up fear of if we are doing the right thing and of speaking out and being ridiculed takes over and we stem the flow of our imagination and ideas. We hold back our thoughts and this can stop us from developing our full potential.
Remember that there is no right and wrong way of thinking and many times the reason why others try to make you feel inferior when you voice opinions and ideas is because they wish they had had the idea and courage to speak up. So focus on your skills and abilities and let your thoughts run free, put them to use and truly excel in life.
In order to be successful you should realize that you will sometimes make mistakes, no one is perfect and mistakes are ok providing you acknowledge them and learn from them. Characteristics that you can nurture and that will lead to developing your true and full potential include:
- Working hard – putting your all into everything you do when working towards what you want in life
- Having patience – things don’t happen overnight so have patience and you will be rewarded
- Determination – stick to your guns and never give in when things don’t go your way or you come across hurdles
- Commitment – be committed towards your goals and what you want to achieve, set goals in mind and don’t let anything or anyone stand in your way of reaching them
- Organizational skills – the more organized you are the easier the road to success will be, plan out your ideas to their fullest before putting them into action
- Learn from mistakes – you will make mistakes along the way but you can learn valuable lessons from these and move on
- Confidence in yourself – you have to be self-confident and believe in yourself and your ideas, there is no room for doubt
- Stay realistic – don’t set yourself goals that you cannot realistically achieve in a set amount of time, by setting yourself unrealistic goals you are setting yourself up for failure again and again.
When developing your full potential the two most important things to remember are, what you want out of life and what you can realistically do to make that possible. Once you have these facts clear then you can go full steam ahead towards achieving what you want.
10/24/2016 - 10/28/2016
In the book Mindset, Carol Dweck explains that the most successful and happy people have what she calls a “growth mindset” compared to a “fixed mindset.” A fixed mindset seeks success as affirmation of intelligence or worth; a growth mindset thrives on challenge and sees failure not as evidence of unintelligence or unworthiness but as a catalyst for growth and stretching beyond existing abilities.
After twenty years of research, Dweck concluded that those with a growth mindset had happier relationships, achieved more success in the classroom, and were much more persistent through challenges.
10/17/2016 - 10/21/2016
Remember To Enjoy Life And Take Breaks
Remember that taking it easy now and then is one of the best ways to increase your intelligence! We are emotional, pleasure-driven creatures at the end of the day. We can’t work optimally unless we are able to balance work with rest. Hundreds of studies already illustrate how upholding sleep and rest is essential for your body to work properly. Enjoy the breaks you take, because it’s what allows you to focus that much more intensely when you are working!
10/10/2016 - 10/14/2016
Hone Your Emotional Intelligence
As a particularly prominent buzzphrase of the past decade, “emotional intelligence” really does matter. Despite it only being a recent label for a set of characteristics that’s been around for much longer, EI, or EQ, is often the sole make-or-break factor in whether or not someone will become successful.
Fostering and growing emotional intelligence is typically grueling, but essential. Being aware of and managing your own emotions requires great focus and a boatload of patience, but it does pay off. Practicing delayed gratification is perhaps the single greatest method for increasing your emotional intelligence.
9/26/2016 - 9/30/2016
Increase The Agility Of Your Unconscious Thought
Every day we spend time in conscious thought. Yet what most don’t realize is the vast majority of your thoughts are unconscious! Your body works efficiently on your habits so as to minimize effort in all scenarios.
This means that in order to maximize one’s intelligence, you should apply effort towards increasing the agility of your unconscious thought. How is this done? Don’t block emotionally challenging thoughts, and don’t run away from obstacles in general. Overcoming a problem with your conscious thought is a sign you’ll be able to do it more effectively in the future.
9/19/2016 - 9/23/2016
Seek Out The Opposite Of What Most Others Do
This is another observation that may sound rather ridiculous on the surface, but holds incredible wisdom at second glance. It’s no secret that many of the greatest names in personal development and financial success often preach unorthodox methods. Tony Robbins, Jim Rohn, Robert Kiyosaki, Zig Ziglar, Dale Carnegie, Napoleon Hill, Gary Vaynerchuck, Og Mandino and hundreds of others have all spoken on this point at one time or another: Master the art of non-conformity.
The reason nearly half of Americans cannot come up with a few hundred dollars for an emergency expense shows one thing for sure: Doing what most people do is a surefire way to end up in mediocrity. Such a sad truth can act as fuel for victory when used in the proper context.
From now on, every time you’re presented with a common problem, ask yourself: “What would most people do in this situation?” Then, consider the opposite. For example, many people find themselves in the doctor’s office year after year because their weight problems have slowly caused other problems. Americans especially seem to still have fairly high reliance on doctors, and with current food consumption patterns, this will not be going away any time soon.
Instead of merely going to your doctor and following the same path as everyone else, what if you took a few minutes a day to do your own research? Life is rarely chunked into disparate boxes, meaning the cause of one problem might be related to another. Taking the time to examine the cause of a specific problem, rather than simply going through the motions that everyone else does, can yield incredible problem-solving rewards you may have never experienced before.
9/12/2016 - 9/16/2016
Use Your Existing Leadership Skills
As most children go through primary school and possibly higher education, the number of people who gradually influence them reaches the tens of thousands. Parents, teachers and peers alike often ask questions about what an individual will pursue after education; what kind of life they hope to live; what their financial goals are and even more. What few people afford attention to early on, however, is the art and science of becoming a leader.
Leadership is a paramount objective throughout the entire world. Leaders help solve problems faster, more efficiently, produce better results and assign people more fluidly to their ideal roles. Sometimes people work towards leadership-oriented titles; other times people find themselves chosen to run a group. No matter what situation you’ve found yourself in, one fact is sure: High quality leadership training materials still aren’t widely distributed enough.
In order to become the best leader you can be, it requires learning from the greats at some point. However, what most people continually overlook is the fact that every day, individuals already exhibit leadership actions. Leadership is defined as anyone who holds influence. So yes, it’s true: Not everyone is a fantastic leader (at least not today), but everyone can sharpen leadership skills with the right mindset.
Leadership forces you to be better at solving problems because you’re required to take responsibility. Leadership invariably means you’ll be on the front lines, calling the shots for the betterment of your group. Leadership – often synonymous with sacrifice – builds a more intelligent person from the inside out.
9/05/2016 - 9/09/2016
Yes, yes, I know; this can sound like a way to start a fight rather than how to become more intelligent. But what we rarely give attention to is the fact that picking a side on an issue forces us to think critically about a situation.
As one example, while picking a political movement to side with is often the cause of many arguments, this exercise can truly help you think in the bigger picture about an issue. Should recreational drugs be decriminalized or generally remain as they are? It can seem like a fairly innocuous question, but when picking a side and defending it, you force yourself to research information that will either support or detract from your stance.
In other words, picking a side on a topic requires that you increase your level of knowledge about the topic in the first place. Life is too short to live it with purely uneducated opinions, so discovering new info on a passionate topic can literally alter your knowledge – and intelligence – about the subject.
8/29/2016 - 9/02/2016
How does it feel to be in "the flow"?
Completely involved, focused, concentrating - with this either due to innate curiosity or as the result of training
Sense of ecstasy - of being outside everyday reality
Great inner clarity - knowing what needs to be done and how well it is going
Knowing the activity is doable - that the skills are adequate, and neither anxious or bored
Sense of serenity - no worries about self, feeling of growing beyond the boundaries of ego - afterwards feeling of transcending ego in ways not thought possible
Timeliness - thoroughly focused on present, don't notice time passing
Intrinsic motivation - whatever produces "flow" becomes its own reward
8/22/2016 - 8/26/2016
How to Approach a Teacher
1. Think over your concern. Make sure you know what you want before you go in and talk with your teacher. It does not do any good to try and ask for something if you do not know what you are asking for. By outlining your game plan before you reach a critical stage you are setting yourself up for success.
2. Set an appointment. By arranging ahead of time with your teacher, you can assure that they will not be preoccupied and that you will receive their full attention on your ideas. It also shows them that you are serious about your ideas and that it is not something that you are going to give up on or do half-heartedly. Also if other students have similar thoughts or grievances, consider approaching your teacher together. This is a way to insure a stronger message. As the saying goes, there is safety in numbers.
3. Do not offend the teacher. This may seem like a no brainier, but by choosing your words carefully you can make sure that your full message is heard. Words such as “boring” and “easy” are words that will switch off your teacher. Speak with force but do not yell, make sure that you are confident in your words and that you show that you have ginuine interest in trying to help make your idea work. Try to keep your teacher from feeling defensive as this will cause them to be less likely to help you. Remember, sometimes teachers are afraid or feel threatened by gifted students. Try and show them that you are not scary!
4. Listen to the teacher. It does no good to try and garner the attention of someone and then not listen to what they have to say. This does not mean that you have to agree with what your teacher is saying, but rather it means that you need to acknowledge their ideas, but not back down from your views. If you passively accept whatever the teacher is saying then you are not helping your cause.
5. Restate your convictions. When you feel the discussion coming to a close, restate what you have agreed upon as the solution, also make sure that you and your teacher are on the same page so there is no confusion later on. By eliminating this aspect of confusion, you can make sure that your views are know to your teacher, and they cannot go back on the agreement later.
6. Say Thank You. This shows that you appreciated the time the teacher took and also demonstrates a level of maturity, especially if the meeting did you go as planned.
7. Follow up. If something was decided upon during the discussion make sure that it gets implemented during the class. If an idea was put forth that you liked, but nothing is happening during class time, then the whole process was for naught.
Sometimes your teachers will not be responsive to your plight. When this occurs the best course of action is to seek out the next level of the school system. Go talk with a principal or a counselor. They may be able to help you more than your teacher.
8/08/2016 - 8/12/2016
How to Counteract the Brain Freeze and Gain back your IQ Points?
1. Give your brain a recess. Think of young kids in school, when the bell rings for recess. They yell and scream with free time. Your mind needs a recess to wander in an unstructured a manner. Often in this recess an idea or solution may emerge to an issue you have been dealing with.
2. Turn off the TV or radio if you aren't consciously wanting to get news or entertainment. This is so you don't burn critical brain resources by stimulating a fear response without knowing it.
3. Seed your Unconscious. Give your unconscious instructions to work on an issue in the background as you focus on something else.
4. Clear the deck. Focus on something else for awhile or talk to a friend who is positive to change your sense of overwhelm. Allow the prefrontal cortex and your working memory to recharge.
5. Practice a mindfulness exercise. Focus on your breathing or really stay focused on what you are doing in the moment. Feel your
body in space as you sit or move. Meditation, yoga, walking or a massage are ways to allow the prefrontal cortex to recharge gain your IQ points back.
Going away to Camp
Friends, Fun, Learning, Independence
Going to sleepaway camp is a summertime tradition for many kids. It's called sleepaway camp because you stay overnight there. Kids typically stay at sleepaway camp for a week or longer.
You might go to a traditional camp, where kids swim, do crafts, put on plays, and sit around the campfire at night. Or maybe you're going to a special-interest camp, where you'll work on your sports skills, or learn more about computers, outer space, or art. There are even camps that serve kids who have the same health problem, such as asthma or diabetes.
No matter which kind of sleepaway camp you're going to, you're probably excited — and maybe a little nervous if it's your first time. Be proud of yourself for being grown-up enough to go to camp. It's a chance to try new things, like horseback riding, canoeing, playing tennis, or dancing in a dance contest!
But camp is even more than just friends and fun. It's also an opportunity to learn a little more about being independent. Read on to learn how to get prepared for a memorable camp experience.
Different From Day Camp
Many kids go to day camps during the summer. They can be a lot of fun, but the schedule is familiar. You start camp in the morning and go home in the afternoon. Sometimes, a bus takes you or you might get a ride from one of your parents or someone else's parents. Like anything, it might take you a little while to get adjusted to the place, the camp counselors, and the kids. But you come home every night, just like you do during the school year.
Sleepaway camp offers some additional excitement because you'll be there all day and night, eating your meals there and sleeping over. It's a kind of vacation, but without your parents. You'll probably sleep in a cabin or dorm with other kids attending the camp. You'll probably eat together in a large cafeteria and you'll have to share the bathroom with the other kids.
Some sleepaway camps are coed, which means that there are both boys and girls at the camp. (They have separate cabins for sleeping, though.) Other camps are just for girls or just for boys, but often these all-girl and all-boy camps meet up for dances and parties.
Usually, the camp mails out information to your family before you go, so you'll know what to bring. You'll also probably need to have your doctor fill out a health assessment for you, so the camp can be sure your shots are up to date and camp counselors know about any health problems you have.
Just like any vacation, you'll need to pack a bag (or two) full of the clothes and other stuff you'll need while you're there. Food is generally provided, but you might need some extra money for snacks or other small expenses.
Who Takes Care of You at Camp?
Camp counselors (who are usually grown-ups and older teens) will be on hand to lead activities and keep you safe, just like your parents would at home. For instance, if you scrape your knee, a camp counselor can help you get it cleaned up and bandaged. And if you get sick, a counselor could call a doctor and your parents.
But best of all, camp counselors help kids have fun at camp. They organize the camp activities and set the schedule for days and evenings.
Counselors and other grown-ups at camp are responsible for taking care of you, but campers can do a lot to take care of themselves. This means following the safety rules when it comes to activities, such as swimming and boating. You'll want to take it seriously when a counselor tells you not to wander away from the group when you're on a hike in the woods.
Campers can do other smart things, such as remembering to put on sunscreen and bug spray. And camp counselors will be delighted if you make an effort to keep your cabin neat and throw trash in the trash can.
What you need to pack for camp depends on the type of camp and how long you'll be there. But remember that you won't need 30 pairs of underwear, even if you'll be there 30 days. If you're going to have a long stay, your camp counselor will let you know how to handle laundry.
Some of the typical items that everyone needs for camp are:
- sweatshirts and T-shirts
- shorts, jeans, and long pants
- walking boots
- socks and underwear
- sheets and towels
- toothbrush and toothpaste
- shampoo, soap, and any other toiletries you may use
- sunscreen (at least SPF 15)
- bug spray (especially for mosquitoes)
- paper and pen to write to family and friends
- sports equipment (tennis racquet, swimming cap, goggles, etc.)
- any medications you regularly take
- quarters (for calling home on a pay phone, laundry, and snacks)
It's wise to label all your clothes and belongings because it's easy to lose things at camp. If you leave something behind, it can be returned to you when your name is on it. And if you and your friend own the same beach towel, you'll be able to tell which one is yours.
It's also nice to pack a small reminder of home, such as a photo of your family or your favorite pet. These will come in handy if you start to miss them.
Who Knew You'd Miss Home?
With so much to do, it's tough to be bored at camp. But you might find that you feel a little homesick. Homesickness is the feeling of missing your everyday familiar life, like your parents, your dog, your room, and maybe even your brother or sister. The good news is that you might be able to call home to talk with your family. There also may be a special day or weekend at camp when family members come to visit.
In the meantime, email or write letters to your family and friends. If you're feeling down, it can help to talk with other campers or your counselors about your feelings. But it's also OK if you don't feel lonely because you're too busy having fun. That's the idea, after all.
Have a great time at camp!
5/9/16 - 5/13/16
Test Taking Tips
If you’re taking a standardized test soon, whether it’s the SAT, ACT, MCAT, GRE or one of the other tests, there are a few tips that can help you prepare. Find out how to make the most of your prep time by following our advice.
1. Practice, practice, practice. The more you practice, the more familiar you will be with the test format, and the less likely you are to panic when you take the test for real. Practice also gives you an opportunity to get rid of all the bad habits that lead to careless errors. The more you practice, the more likely you are to recognize careless errors. Try to practice with practice tests under realistic testing conditions.
2. Studying for the test over an extended period is much more effective and lasting than cramming for the test at the last minute.
One of the best ways to build your vocabulary and understanding of current events is to ready a daily newspaper. It is best to start doing this as a high school freshman. But even a few months of close reading can help, probably more so than memorizing vocabulary lists. It is important to understand the meaning of a word in a real context. Word-a-day drills are only effective to the extent that they provide memorable examples of the word’s use in context.
3. Bring two sharpened, soft-lead number two pencils with you to the test. Make sure they have good erasers. Bring a sharpener with you.
4. Eat a good breakfast the morning of the test. Avoid eating sugary foods. High-protein foods like scrambled eggs are often best for aiding concentration and minimizing fatigue.
5. Visit the bathroom 15-30 minutes before the test. Do not drink water or other beverages for an hour before the test, as a full bladder will affect your concentration.
6. Get a full night’s sleep before the test. Do not pull an all-nighter cramming before the test. A lack of sleep will affect your performance.
7. Wear comfortable clothing.
8. Don’t panic. If you start getting anxious, take slow deep breaths. Don’t worry about other people finishing early. Smart people know to use all available time to double-check their work.
9. Pace yourself. Calculate the amount of time you have to answer each question and avoid getting bogged down on any one question. A watch with a countdown timer can be very helpful for budgeting your time. You might also take a minute at the start of the test to scan through the questions, so you can know what to expect.
10. Answer the easiest questions first. Most tests arrange the questions in order of difficulty, but sometimes you’ll find that later questions are easier for you. If you’re stuck on a question, move on to the next question (but be sure you skip it on the answer sheet). You can always return to the question later. Sometimes returning to a question after answering other questions can give you a fresh perspective.
11. If you have time left over at the end of the test, review your answers. Don’t second-guess an answer unless you are certain that you misread or misinterpreted the question. Watch out for careless errors. Also double-check that you wrote all of the answers in the correct locations. (If you skipped a question, make sure you didn’t misalign the answer to the next question.)
For math questions, sometimes it can help to calculate the answer in two different ways. Also use estimation techniques to ballpark the answer as a sanity check. For example, instead of multiplying 412 by 24 to arrive at 9,888, multiply the most significant digits (400 by 20) to arrive at 8,000. You know that the answer is a little more than 8,000; this helps you recognize smaller answers as errors.
12. Read the question in full before trying to answer it. At least some of the answer choices will be designed to trap students who don’t read the question fully. Also identify the answer first before looking at the answer choices, since some of the choices will be designed to prime you into misinterpreting the question. Don’t jump to conclusions.
13. Eliminate any answers that you know are incorrect, especially on questions where you are having trouble arriving at the answer. Eliminating a few wrong answers can increase the chances of a random guess being correct. The ACT does not have a penalty for wrong answers, so there’s no harm in guessing. The SAT assesses a 1/4 point penalty for each wrong answer, so a purely random guess will not improve your score on average. However, if you can eliminate one or more of the answers, making an educated guess among the remaining answers is worthwhile.
14. Consider all the answer choices before writing down your final answer. If one of the answers is an all-of-the-above choice, make sure there isn’t more than one correct answer. If you’ve identified at least two correct answers, choose the all-of-the-above response.
Answers that are positive are more likely to be correct than answers that are negative. Answers that are more informative are more likely to be correct.
5/02/16 - 5/06/16
The Real Deal on Repeating a Grade
Some kids need to repeat a grade in school. This means that a kid who's in third grade would have to do third grade again next year, instead of moving on to fourth grade.
No one wants to repeat a grade, but if this happens to you, you're not the only one. Repeating a grade can be the right thing, though, because you get another chance to complete the work and learn what you need to know to do well when you do move up to the next grade.
Why Some Kids Have to Repeat
Most kids need to repeat a grade because they are having trouble with the work or other stuff they need to do in that grade. Some kids might have learning disabilities. For instance, a kid might have trouble reading. Other kids might have been ill or absent for a long time, so they didn't get a chance to learn everything they needed to learn.
Who decides if you should repeat a grade? It's often a team, including your parents, your teacher, counselor, and principal. Teachers and parents aren't trying to be mean when they decide a kid should repeat a grade. Everyone is trying to do the right thing so that the kid will learn what he or she needs to know before moving on.
You probably know that the stuff you learn is like building blocks. First, you learn your numbers. Then you learn how to add, then subtract. Later, you'll learn how to multiply and divide. If you didn't learn your numbers, how could you do other math?
Sometimes a kid might understand the schoolwork, but is having trouble with other stuff, like behaving in class and sitting still while the teacher is teaching. Sometimes, an extra year gives the kid and his or her family a chance to work through problems like that. If a kid is just refusing to do the work, that problem needs to be solved.
If You Have to Repeat
If you have to repeat a grade, you might be thinking: "Is everyone really moving on without me?" Repeating a grade might make you sad, angry, or both. It can be stressful. You might be upset because you won't be in class with all of your friends.
Try talking with your mom or dad, a teacher, or a school counselor if you're having these feelings. If you are worried about missing your friends, try to set up playdates or other times when you can play together. Ask for a parent's help with this.
You might feel embarrassed or ashamed about repeating a grade. You may think that people are talking about you or making fun of you. These feelings are normal. It can really hurt if someone teases you about repeating a grade.
You might want to think about what you could say to someone who teases you. Maybe you could say, "I needed to get better at some stuff. It's not a big deal." If you are teased, be sure to tell a parent, teacher, or counselor. Find a grownup who can help you figure out what to do.
If Your Friend Has to Repeat
Try to be kind if a friend needs to repeat a grade. Let him or her know you will still be friends. Try to get together after school, on the weekends, and during vacations. Support your friend and never tease him or her. Sticking by him or her in this tough time might make you even better friends.
Can You Avoid Repeating?
Sometimes, there's no way to avoid having to repeat a grade. If you have learning trouble or you missed a lot of school, there may be no way around it. But you might be able to make up work during summer school or with a tutor who comes to your house.
If you're struggling with school, be sure to tell a parent. Work with your teacher and the school counselor to figure out what the problems are and how to solve them. Try to handle problems right away, instead of just hoping things will get better. It's easier to catch up if you get help quickly.
School can be hard work — there's no denying it. But you can learn some strategies to help it go a little better for you. For instance, if you study a little bit each night, that can make it easier — and less scary — than having to learn everything the night before a test.
With school, set a goal for yourself and keep working toward it bit by bit. Ask for help if you need it, and you'll get there!
4/25/16 - 4/29/16
Just as Mrs. Waldman hands out the spelling test, you see Jeff pull out a small piece of paper with a lot of little scribbling on it. Jeff tucks the note into his closed fist but soon takes it out again. While he's taking the test, you see him looking back and forth between the teacher and his paper. There's no mistaking it — he's cheating.
What Exactly Is Cheating?
Cheating is when a person misleads, deceives, or acts dishonestly on purpose. For kids, cheating may happen at school, at home, or while playing a sport. If a baseball team is for kids who are 8 or younger, it's cheating for a 9-year-old to play on the team and hit home run after home run.
At school, in addition to cheating on a test, a kid might cheat by stealing someone else's idea for a science project or by copying a book report off the Internet and turning it in as if it's his or her original work. Copying someone else's words or work and saying they're yours is a type of cheating called plagiarism (say: PLAY-juh-rih-zem).
How Do People Cheat?
Cheating can happen in a lot of different ways. Jeff is doing it by sneaking answers to a test, but it's also cheating to break the rules of a game or contest or to pretend something is yours when it isn't. When people cheat, it's not fair to other people, like the kids who studied for the test or who were the true winners of a game or contest.
It's tempting to cheat because it makes difficult things seem easy, like getting all the right answers on the test. But it doesn't solve the problem of not knowing the material and it won't help on the next test — unless the person cheats again.
Sometimes it may seem like cheaters have it all figured out. They can watch TV instead of studying for the spelling test. But other people lose respect for cheaters and think less of them. The cheaters themselves may feel bad because they know they are not really earning that good grade. And, if they get caught cheating, they will be in trouble at school, and maybe at home, too.
Why Kids Cheat
Some kids cheat because they're busy or lazy and they want to get good grades without spending the time studying. Other kids might feel like they can't pass the test without cheating. Even when there seems to be a "good reason" for cheating, cheating isn't a good idea.
If you were sick or upset about something the night before and couldn't study, it would be better to talk with the teacher about this. And if you don't have enough time to study for a test because of swim practice, you need to talk with your parents about how to balance swimming and school.
A kid who thinks cheating is the only way to pass a test needs to talk with the teacher and his or her parents so they can find some solutions together. Talking about these problems and working them out will feel better than cheating.
Truth and Consequences
Many kids feel tempted to cheat once in a while. Most resist and do the work instead. Some kids cheat once and feel so bad that they never do it again. Others get caught and decide it isn't worth it. Unfortunately, some kids start cheating and feel like they can't stop.
Kids who cheat may feel worried about getting caught. Whether they are caught or not, these kids may feel guilty, or embarrassed, or ashamed — or all three. Even if the cheater feels fine or doesn't get caught, that doesn't mean it's OK. If you see someone cheating, or if someone asks to copy your work, you can tell a teacher or another grown-up.
Kids who get caught cheating might be given a "zero" score on the assignment, be sent to the principal's office, and have their parents contacted. Worse than the bad grade may be the feeling of having disappointed other people, like parents and teachers. A parent may worry that you are not an honest person and a teacher might watch you more closely the next time you're taking a test.
Cheaters cheat themselves in a way because they don't make an honest attempt to learn as much as they can. For instance, if you cheat your way through spelling tests, you won't learn how to spell. That can katch — I mean catch — up with you when you get older! And adults who cheat — at work, sports, or in their relationships — get into serious trouble, far more serious than a bad grade on a spelling test.
Making a Comeback
There are plenty of reasons why a kid shouldn't cheat, but some kids have already cheated. If that's you, it's never too late to stop cheating. Cheating can become a habit, but like other bad habits, a kid can always decide to act better and make better choices. It might help to talk the problem over with a parent, teacher, or counselor. Choosing to play fair and be honest again can help a kid feel relieved and proud.
There's an old saying that cheaters never win and winners never cheat. This may sound confusing because sometimes it seems like cheaters do win — at least for the moment. But kids who don't cheat are true winners because, when they win, they do it fair and square.
4/18/16 - 4/22/16
Learning at college goes well beyond coursework. New students have to deal with greater responsibility, more independence, managing a demanding course load — and, of course, the social scene. When a roommate is thrown into the mix, it may feel like you're juggling all that stuff while living in a 10' x 10' box with a virtual stranger.
But having a roommate doesn't need to be one more thing to worry about. When students go into their living situations with realistic expectations and a willingness to compromise, things can work out just fine.
For many people heading off to college, movies and fiction are their only reference for the whole roommate experience. So they might think a roommate will be either (a) a complete freak who makes living at the library seem attractive, or (b) a BFF who will be by their side every step of the way as they traverse the world of parties, finals, and crowded laundry rooms.
The truth is, roommates tend to fall somewhere in the middle of those two extremes. Keep your expectations realistic with a little advance planning:
- Before you meet, do your research. If your school gives you information about who your roommate (or roommates) will be, look your future roomie(s) up online to get a sense of their personality and interests.
- Set a time to talk (or, if possible, meet) before move-in day. This gives you a chance to paint a picture of what living together will be like. Talk about the practical stuff — like who's bringing what so you don't show up on move-in day with two microwaves and two refrigerators. Try to get a feel for what your roomie's goals and lifestyle are — ask what he or she did in high school and talk about what you both expect from college.
Talk Early, Talk Well
When you first meet your roommate, chances are you'll both be on your best behavior. You want to get along, since this is the person who's going to be sharing your living space for the next year. But try to think ahead to potential problem scenarios, too.
For example, imagine it's 11 p.m. and you're working on a paper that's due in the morning. Your roommate comes in with friends who want to hang out in your room. Talking ahead of time about how to handle situations like this can help you respect each other's wishes when the time comes.
Talk about your likes, dislikes, and habits. Encourage your roommate to do the same. For instance, does it drive you nuts when people take things without asking first? Does perfume trigger your asthma? Let your roommate know these things from the start.
Think about additional questions to ask. A sibling or friend who knows you well may be able to help out if you're looking for ideas. Here are a few:
- Are you a morning or night person?
- Can you sleep if music is playing or the lights are on?
- Are you a neat freak or is the floor your laundry basket?
- How do you feel about sharing food, clothes, or school supplies?
- How do you feel about overnight guests of the same sex? Of the opposite sex? How long can they stay?
Be honest, and realize that you'll both have to compromise on some things. Let's say you usually don't go to sleep until 2 a.m., but your roommate is counting sheep by 11 p.m. Respect that — have a lights-out at midnight rule, and use a focused-beam desk light and headphones if you really have to study or listen to tunes.
When you have these conversations about your expectations, consider writing down what you both decide so that it's clear later on if you need something to refer to.
In the beginning, many roommates tend to stay close. Neither knows a lot of other people, and so they stick together — eating, signing up for classes or activities, and going to parties together.
As the semester continues, things may change. After a while, you may feel comfortable enough with each other to drop the best behavior you maintained early on. You may not enjoy each other's constant company. As your circle of friends widens, you or your roommate might start hanging out with classmates or join a sorority or fraternity. It is perfectly normal to drift apart as you both learn to stand on your own two feet.
Whatever ups and downs your relationship goes through, maintaining respect for each other is vital. Stick to your roommate agreement. Respect your roommate's space and needs, and chances are your roommate will respect yours.
Even the most respectful roommates have spats sometimes. Anytime you can't resolve things on your own, ask your resident advisor to help you work out the conflict.
Big Problems in a Little Room
Sometimes there are problems above and beyond your roommate eating your last pack of noodles. If your roomie starts getting into trouble and brings it back to the dorm, it can affect you negatively.
Here are issues that some students deal with, and tips on how to get through them.
Your Roommate Breaks Dorm Rules
If a roommate does drugs or drinks alcohol in the room, you're at risk of getting in trouble, too. You don't have to make your roommate stop — you often can't. But you can encourage him or her not to do it in your room. If your roommate blows you off, it's a good idea to go to your RA.
Your Roommate Has Unhealthy Habits
Living in close quarters often means getting to know more about each other than you might want. Some people bring bad habits to school; others develop them once they're there. Students who can't handle the extra pressures of college may start smoking, develop eating disorders, self-harm, abuse drugs, binge drink, or become depressed.
Get help or advice from an RA if you notice signs that a roommate is struggling with unhealthy or harmful behaviors. You don't have to be the one to get a roommate to stop or go to the student health center. But you can tell your RA, who'll take it from there.
You and Your roommate Are Too Different
College campuses are pretty diverse places. Your roommate may be very different in terms of religion, economic background, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, values, or other things.
Some people are uneasy when faced with new situations and people. You may feel uncomfortable at first with a roommate who is very different from you — and your roommate might feel the same way.
Give yourself some time to get to know each other. Keep an open mind and you'll probably find you have some common ground.
Getting to know people who are different from you is one of the opportunities you get from going to college. After you graduate, you may work with lots of different people from a variety of backgrounds. Interacting with new types of people in college can prepare you for the real world.
You Just Can't Live Together Anymore
Sometimes, people are just incompatible. Depending on your school, you may be able to change roommates, but it can be hard. You'll probably have to meet with an RA and/or a dean before you can move. Then you'll have to relive move-in day all over again — but this time in the middle of classes, activities, deadlines, and the bustle of daily life.
Think about changing roommates as a last resort. It might not be easy to get a new roommate. You may be encouraged to work things out as best you can until the semester is over.
Roommates Teach Life Skills
Life with a roomie can be a challenge at times — even when your roomie is your BFF. You may have moments when you're glad to have someone to procrastinate with. On other days, you might wish you could lock your roommate in the closet with his or her semester's worth of ripe laundry.
People who grew up sharing a room with a sibling may have an easier time adjusting to roommate life than someone who's never had to share a space. But if you've never shared a room before, don't worry. You can learn how to be a roommate just like you can learn anything else in college.
Three skills help people live together comfortably: compromise, maturity, and respect. Building these skills now can help you get along well with coworkers, bosses, and other people later in life.
4/11/16 - 4/15/16
5 Ways to Ace a Job Interview
You've probably heard your parents talk about the importance of making a good first impression on a job interview. They may have suggested you "dress for success," and they're right.
Here are 5 strategies to help you ace your job interview:
- Dress the part. Even if the job you're applying for involves wearing a uniform or working behind the scenes, the way you dress for an interview tells your potential employer that you take the job seriously. If you're a guy, wear a nice pair of pants and a shirt. A tie usually isn't necessary for a summer job, although it doesn't hurt to wear one! Sneakers, sandals, flip-flops, shorts, t-shirts, sweatshirts, and jeans don't work. The same goes for girls: Wear something simple and avoid short skirts or skimpy tops.
- Appear confident. Look your potential employer in the eye and shake his or her hand. Good manners go a long way to helping you land a job. Be friendly and don't make jokes.
- Be prepared. Appearing confident is easiest when you know what you're talking about. Find out what you can about the position or company in advance and show your knowledge during the interview. Researching the company shows the interviewer that you're smart and eager to learn. Doing your research also lets you learn what inspires you about the company so you can share your enthusiasm with the interviewer.
If you can, find out more about the position itself. Looking on the company's website or talking to someone who has worked there allows you to think in advance about which skills you have that fit well with the job.
- Answer (and ask!) questions. You'll no doubt be asked typical interview questions, such as why you're interested in the position, what types of skills you offer, and the hours you're available to work. Prepare your answers before the interview.
Don't be afraid to ask questions. Questions don't make you look stupid. Asking good questions shows the interviewer you're thoughtful and that you're not afraid to interact with other people — a particularly good interview strategy if the position involves dealing with people, such as sales. If you can, practice being interviewed by an adult in business. When the real time comes, you'll be more prepared and comfortable.
- Follow up. Send the interviewer a brief email or letter thanking him or her for spending time with you. Say how much you are interested in the position. You might be surprised at what a good strategy follow-up notes are, especially if you're interviewing for an internship or office position. Check all your spelling and grammar before you send your note.
- Parents or older siblings can offer good advice about job hunting and interviewing. So don't hesitate to ask for help on everything from putting together your résumé to choosing an interview outfit. Chances are, you'll be interviewing with and working for people their age anyway so a little insight can't hurt.
3/28/16 - 4/01/16
5 Reasons to Look for a Summer Job
You may have heard all kinds of negative stuff — again! — about this summer's job market. It's true that jobs for teens can be tough to find. But they are out there. So go for it. If you don't land the job you want (or even any job), you'll still gain something from the process.
- You'll develop your interview skills. The more jobs you apply for, the better you'll get at interviewing. Learning how to come across well in an interview is a skill you'll use forever. It helps with everything from getting into college to landing a full-time job when the time comes.
- You'll get better at coping with rejection. It's unlikely you'll get the first job you interview for. Rejection is a fact of life, and there's no denying it can be hard to handle. The good news is, the more we face rejection and learn to deal with the feelings that go with it, the easier it becomes to get past the hurt and bounce back.
- You'll learn something about yourself. Did you take a job that wasn't your first choice? You might discover a new skill or interest you never knew you had. Get offered the perfect job? Feel your self-esteem soar! Even if you don't really love your job but need to save for a new car or college, you'll learn that you can stick with something you don't particularly like to reach a goal that's important to you. And if nothing works out? You may decide to start your own business.
- You'll push the limits of your comfort zone. Yes, it's a lot easier to sit home doing the same stuff you always do. But going out job-hunting can push you out of that comfort zone into a whole new experience. And you never know what you might find. Did you pass by a great new store on your way to submit an application? Did your interviewer do something totally wacky, like take off his shoes and put his feet on the desk? Even if all you come home with are some crazy stories, it's worth it.
- You'll face less competition. The word's out that summer jobs are hard to find. So lots of teens will give up without even trying. If potential applicants remove themselves from the process, it ups your odds of landing a job. And, if you don't get the job you want, volunteer. It's a great way to gain experience and add something to your résumé, whether for college applications or future jobs.
The bottom line with summer jobs is to just go for it. Try something new. You have nothing to lose and lots to gain.
3/21/16 - 3/25/16
5 Ways to Avoid Sports Injuries
Playing sports is a lot of fun. Getting hurt is not. Take these five steps to prevent injuries so you can stay in the game:
- Wear protective gear, such as helmets, protective pads, and other gear.
- Warm up and cool down.
- Know the rules of the game.
- Watch out for others.
- Don't play when you're injured.
Let's find out more about each of these.
Wear Protective Gear
Protective gear is anything you wear that helps keep you from getting hurt. The gear you wear depends on the sport you play.
Helmets are the most common protective gear. They protect your all-important head while you're playing football, hockey, baseball, softball, biking, skateboarding, and inline skating, just to name a few!
Make sure you're wearing the right helmet for your sport. For instance, don't wear your baseball batting helmet when you're playing football! Your helmet should fit snugly but comfortably, and if it has a strap — like a bike helmet does — you need to fasten it. Otherwise, it will fall off when you need it most.
Other sports require eye protection, mouthguards, pads, wrist, elbow, and knee guards, and a protective cup (for boys only). And don't forget your feet. Cleats are worn in football, baseball, softball, and soccer. These shoes have special rubber or plastic points on the soles to help your feet grip the ground when you run around.
Talk with your parents or your coach to know what gear you need. Then wear that gear whenever you're practicing or playing.
It's not a good idea to just bolt on to the field and start playing. You shouldn't even start stretching until you're a little warmed up. So take a light jog to get loosened up and ready to play.
Know the Rules of the Game
Traffic lights at intersections help prevent crashes between the many cars and trucks that drive on the roads together. This works because drivers know the rules and follow them — at least most of the time. It's the same way with sports.
When players know the rules of the game — what's legal and what's not — fewer injuries happen. You and the other players know what to expect from each other. For instance, you know that in soccer you can't come from behind, crash into a player's legs, and steal the ball. It's legal — and safer — to go after the ball rather than the player.
With sports that use plays, it helps to understand the plays and what your role is in each one. Being where you're supposed to be can help you stay out of harm's way, too.
Watch Out for Others
Some rules don't have anything to do with scoring points or penalties. Some rules are just about protecting other people and being courteous. For instance, in baseball or softball, the batter can't fling the bat after hitting the ball and heading for first base. He or she must drop it so that it doesn't hit anyone. Likewise, a diver would make sure that the pool was clear before diving in. Otherwise, he or she might land on someone else.
One way you can watch out for others is to communicate on the field. For instance, a baseball player in the outfield might yell "I got it" to avoid a collision with another outfielder.
Listening to your coach during a game also can help keep you safe. It's also good to just be courteous, like telling someone his or her shoe is untied. Check your shoes, too!
Don't Play When You're Injured
This is a really important one. If you love sports, it's tempting to get right back in the game, even after an injury. But playing when you're hurt — or before an injury has had a chance to fully heal — is a bad idea. It can lead to an even worse injury, one that might sideline you for a long time.
Be honest with parents and coaches if you've been hurt. See a doctor for your injuries, when necessary, and follow his or her advice about how and when to return to practice and play.
Now you know what kids need to know about staying safe. Hopefully, if you follow rules 1, 2, 3, and 4, you won't need number 5. Or at least not quite as often!
3/14/16 - 3/18/16
5 Facts About Goal Setting
These practical tips on goal setting can help make it easier to set and reach goals:
- Specific, realistic goals work best. When it comes to making a change, the people who succeed are those who set realistic, specific goals. "I'm going to recycle all my plastic bottles, soda cans, and magazines" is a much more doable goal than "I'm going to do more for the environment." And that makes it easier to stick with.
- It takes time for a change to become an established habit. It will probably take a couple of months before any changes — like getting up half an hour early to exercise — become a routine part of your life. That's because your brain needs time to get used to the idea that this new thing you're doing is part of your regular routine.
- Repeating a goal makes it stick. Say your goal out loud each morning to remind yourself of what you want and what you're working for. (Writing it down works too.) Every time you remind yourself of your goal, you're training your brain to make it happen.
- Pleasing other people doesn't work. The key to making any change is to find the desire within yourself — you have to do it because you want it, not because a girlfriend, boyfriend, coach, parent, or someone else wants you to. It will be harder to stay on track and motivated if you're doing something out of obligation to another person.
- Roadblocks don't mean failure. Slip-ups are actually part of the learning process as you retrain your brain into a new way of thinking. It may take a few tries to reach a goal. But that's OK — it's normal to mess up or give up a few times when trying to make a change. So remember that everyone slips up and don't beat yourself up about it. Just remind yourself to get back on track.
3/07/16 - 3/11/16
How To Make Homework Less Work
Do algebra problems 15 through 25. Conjugate the verbs on page 50 of your French workbook. Read pages 12 through 20 of the Shakespeare play, and when you're finished with that, don't forget to fill in the missing chemical symbols on the Periodic Table of Elements worksheet.
Sound like a roster of your homework for the next few nights — or maybe even just for tonight? Homework is a major part of going to school: It's your teachers' way of evaluating how much you understand of what's going on in class, and it helps reinforce important concepts.
Create a Homework Plan
Luckily, you can do a few things to make homework less work.
First, be sure you understand the assignment. Write it down in your notebook or day planner if you need to, and don't be afraid to ask questions about what's expected. It's much easier to take a minute to ask the teacher during or after class than to struggle to remember later that night! If you want, you can also ask how long the particular homework assignment should take to complete so you can budget your time.
Second, use any extra time you have in school to work on your homework. Many schools have study halls that are specifically designed to allow students to study or get homework done. It's tempting to hang out with friends during study periods or unstructured time, but the more work you can get done in school, the less you'll have to do that night.
Third, pace yourself. If you don't finish your homework during school, think about how much you have left and what else is going on that day, and then budget your time. Most high-school students have between 1 and 3 hours of homework a night. If it's a heavy homework day and it seems like you've got an assignment in every subject but gym and lunch, you'll need to devote more time to homework. It's a good idea to come up with some kind of homework schedule, especially if you are involved in sports or activities or have an after-school job.
Watch Where You Work
When you settle down to do homework or to study, where do you do it? Parked in front of the TV? In the kitchen, with the sound of dishes being cleared and your brothers and sisters fighting?
These places may have worked when you were younger and your assignments didn't require as much skill and concentration. But now that you're older, a bedroom, study, or any other room where you can get away from noise and distractions is the best place to get homework done. But don't study on your comfy bed — opt for a desk or table that you can set your computer on and is comfortable to work at. It doesn't need to be large, just big enough to spread out your stuff.
Get to Work
When you start your homework, tackle the hardest assignments first. It's tempting to start with the easy stuff to get it out of the way, but you'll have the most energy and focus when you begin, so it's best to use this mental power on the subjects that are most challenging. Later, when you're more tired, you can focus on the simpler things.
If you get stuck on a problem, try to figure it out as best you can — but don't obsess and spend too much time on it because this can mess up your homework schedule for the rest of the night. If you need to, ask an adult or older sibling for help or call or email a classmate for advice. But don't pick someone you'll be up all night chatting with or you'll never get it done!
Take a Break
Most people's attention spans aren't very long, so take some breaks while doing your homework. Sitting for too long without stretching or relaxing will make you less productive than if you stop every so often. Taking a 15-minute break every hour is a good idea for most people. (But if you're really concentrating, wait until it's a good time to stop.)
Once your homework is done, you can check over it if you have extra time. Be sure to put it safely away in your backpack — there's nothing worse than having a completed assignment that you can't find the next morning or that gets ruined by a careless brother or sister. (And no teacher still believes that "chewed by the dog" line — even when it's true!) Now you're free to hang out.
Get Help When You Need It
Sometimes even though you're paying attention in class, studying for tests, and doing your homework, certain classes seem too hard. Although you may hope that things will get easier or that the explanation to the geometry theorems will magically appear in your dreams, most of the time this doesn't happen.
What does happen for many people is that they work harder and harder as they fall further and further behind. Naturally, this makes them hate a class and everything to do with it. If you need extra help, the most important thing to know is that there's nothing weird or embarrassing about it. No one is expected to understand everything, and people have very different learning styles.
The first place to turn for help is your teacher. He or she may be able to work with you before or after school and explain things more clearly. But what if you don't feel comfortable with your teacher? If you're in a big enough school, there may be other teachers who teach the same subject. Speak to a guidance counselor or to the other teacher directly and you may be in luck. Sometimes it just helps to have someone new explain something in a different way.
You might also be able to get some help from another student. If there's someone you like who's a good student, think about asking that person if you can study together. This might help because you'll be hearing the information from the perspective of one of your peers. However, keep in mind that this might not get you the results you need. Lots of people understand something perfectly without being able to explain it.
Another option for extra help is a tutor, either after school, on weekends, or in the evening. You'll need to talk to an adult about this because it costs money to hire a tutor. Tutors sometimes come to your home, but there are also tutoring centers across the country. A tutor may have broad knowledge of many things or may be trained in just one subject. Tutors work with you one-on-one, helping review and further explain things taught in the classroom. The advantage of having a tutor is that it gives you the opportunity to ask questions directly and work at your own pace.
If you're interested in a tutor, check the Internet or the yellow pages of your phone book, or get a referral from a teacher, a friend, or classmate who has a tutor. And if you live in or near a town with a college or university, you may find tutors there. Often college students will tutor high school students in their areas of study to help cover the costs of school.
2/29/16 - 3/04/16
More Than One Kind of Intelligence
You may have heard people mention "IQ" when talking about intellect and how smart someone is. (For example, "My brother doesn't need to study as much as I do because he has a really high IQ.") IQ stands for "intellectual quotient." It can help predict how well someone may do academically.
IQ is just one measure of our abilities, though. There are many other kinds of intelligence in addition to intellect. For example, spatial intelligence is the ability to think in 3D. Musical intelligence is the ability to recognize rhythm, cadence, and tone. Athletic, artistic, and mechanical abilities are other types of intelligence.
One important type of intelligence is emotional intelligence.
What Is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand, use, and manage our emotions. Emotional intelligence is sometimes called EQ (or EI) for short. Just as a high IQ can predict top test scores, a high EQ can predict success in social and emotional situations. EQ helps us build strong relationships, make good decisions, and deal with difficult situations.
One way to think about EQ is that it's part of being people-smart. Understanding and getting along with people helps us be successful in almost any area of life. In fact, some studies show that EQ is more important than IQ when it comes to doing well in school or being successful at work.
Some people have naturally good EQ skills. Others need to work on them. The good news is that everyone can get better. Unlike IQ, people can actually improve their emotional intelligence — if they know what to do.
Improving Your EQ
Emotional intelligence is a combination of several different skills:
Being Aware of Your Emotions
Most people feel many different emotions throughout the day. Some feelings (like surprise) last just a few seconds. Others may stay longer, creating a mood like happiness or sadness. Being able to notice and accurately label these everyday feelings is the most basic of all the EQ skills.
Being aware of emotions — simply noticing them as we feel them — helps us manage our own emotions. It also helps us understand how other people feel. But some people might go through the entire day without really noticing their emotions. Practice recognizing emotions as you feel them. Label them in your mind (for example, by saying to yourself "I feel grateful," "I feel frustrated," etc.). Make it a daily habit to be aware of your emotions.
Understanding How Others Feel and Why
People are naturally designed to try to understand others. Part of EQ is being able to imagine how other people might feel in certain situations. It is also about understanding why they feel the way they do.
Being able to imagine what emotions a person is likely to be feeling (even when you don't actually know) is called empathy. Empathy helps us care about others and build good friendships and relationships. It guides us on what to say and how to behave around someone who is feeling strong emotions.
Managing Emotional Reactions
We all get angry. We all have disappointments. Often it's important to express how you feel. But managing your reaction means knowing when, where, and how to express yourself.
When you understand your emotions and know how to manage them, you can use self-control to hold a reaction if now is not the right time or place to express it. Someone who has good EQ knows it can damage relationships to react to emotions in a way that's disrespectful, too intense, too impulsive, or harmful.
Choosing Your Mood
Part of managing emotions is choosing our moods. Moods are emotional states that last a bit. We have the power to decide what mood is right for a situation, and then to get into that mood. Choosing the right mood can help someone get motivated, concentrate on a task, or try again instead of giving up.
People with good EQ know that moods aren't just things that happen to us. We can control them by knowing which mood is best for a particular situation and how to get into that mood.
EQ: Under Construction
Emotional intelligence is something that develops as we get older. If it didn't, all adults would act like little kids, expressing their emotions physically through stomping, crying, hitting, yelling, and losing control!
Some of the skills that make up emotional intelligence develop earlier. They may seem easier: For example, recognizing emotions seems easy once we know what to pay attention to. But the EQ skill of managing emotional reactions and choosing a mood might seem harder to master. That's because the part of the brain that's responsible for self-management continues to mature beyond our teen years. But practice helps those brain pathways develop.
We can all work to build even stronger emotional intelligence skills just by recognizing what we feel, understanding how we got there, understanding how others feel and why, and putting our emotions into heartfelt words when we need to.
2/22/16 - 2/26/16
You've participated in class, done all of your homework, studied hard, and you think you have a grip on the material. But then the day of the test comes. Suddenly, you blank out, freeze up, zone out, or feel so nervous that you can't get it together to respond to those questions you knew the answers to just last night.
If this sounds like you, you may have a case of test anxiety — that nervous feeling that people sometimes get when they're about to take a test.
It's pretty normal to feel a little nervous and stressed before a test. Just about everyone does. And a touch of nervous anticipation can actually help you get revved and keep you at peak performance while you're taking the test. But for some people, this normal anxiety is more intense. The nervousness they feel before a test can be so strong that it interferes with their concentration or performance.
What Is Test Anxiety?
Test anxiety is actually a type of performance anxiety — a feeling someone might have in a situation where performance really counts or when the pressure's on to do well. For example, a person might experience performance anxiety when he or she is about to try out for the school play, sing a solo on stage, get into position at the pitcher's mound, step onto the platform in a diving meet, or go into an important interview.
Like other situations in which a person might feel performance anxiety, test anxiety can bring on "butterflies," a stomachache, or a tension headache. Some people might feel shaky, sweaty, or feel their heart beating quickly as they wait for the test to be given out. A student with really strong test anxiety may even feel like he or she might pass out or throw up.
Test anxiety is not the same as doing poorly on a certain test because your mind is on something else. Most people know that having other things on their minds — such as a breakup or the death of someone close — can also interfere with their concentration and prevent them from doing their best on a test.
What Causes It?
All anxiety is a reaction to anticipating something stressful. Like other anxiety reactions, test anxiety affects the body and the mind. When you're under stress, your body releases the hormone adrenaline, which prepares it for danger (you may hear this referred to as the "fight or flight" reaction). That's what causes the physical symptoms, such as sweating, a pounding heart, and rapid breathing. These sensations might be mild or intense.
Focusing on the bad things that could happen also fuels test anxiety. For example, someone worrying about doing poorly might think thoughts like, "What if I forget everything I know?" or "What if the test is too hard?" Too many thoughts like these leave no mental space for thinking about the test questions. People with test anxiety can also feel stressed out by their physical reaction and think things like "What if I throw up?" or "Oh no, my hands are shaking."
Just like other types of anxiety, test anxiety can create a vicious circle: The more a person focuses on the bad things that could happen, the stronger the feeling of anxiety becomes. This makes the person feel worse and, because his or her head is full of distracting thoughts and fears, it can increase the possibility that the person will do worse on the test.
Who's Likely to Have Test Anxiety?
People who worry a lot or who are perfectionists are more likely to have trouble with test anxiety. People with these traits sometimes find it hard to accept mistakes they might make or to get anything less than a perfect score. In this way, even without meaning to, they might really pressure themselves. Test anxiety is bound to thrive in a situation like this.
Students who aren't prepared for tests but who care about doing well are also likely to experience test anxiety. If you know you're not prepared, it's a no-brainer to realize that you'll be worried about doing poorly. People can feel unprepared for tests for several reasons: They may not have studied enough, they may find the material difficult, or perhaps they feel tired because didn't get enough sleep the night before.
What Can You Do?
Test anxiety can be a real problem if you're so stressed out over a test that you can't get past the nervousness to focus on the test questions and do your best work. Feeling ready to meet the challenge, though, can keep test anxiety at a manageable level.
Use a little stress to your advantage. Stress is your body's warning mechanism — it's a signal that helps you prepare for something important that's about to happen. So use it to your advantage. Instead of reacting to the stress by dreading, complaining, or fretting about the test with friends, take an active approach. Let stress remind you to study well in advance of a test. Chances are, you'll keep your stress from spinning out of control. After all, nobody ever feels stressed out by thoughts that they might do well on a test.
Ask for help. Although a little test anxiety can be a good thing, an overdose of it is another story entirely. If sitting for a test gets you so stressed out that your mind goes blank and causes you to miss answers that you know, then your level of test anxiety probably needs some attention. Your teacher, your school guidance counselor, or a tutor can be useful resources to talk to if you always get extreme test anxiety.
Be prepared. Some students think that going to class is all it should take to learn and do well on tests. But there's much more to learning than just hoping to soak everything up in class. That's why good study habits and skills are so important — and why no amount of cramming or studying the night before a test can take the place of the deeper level of learning that happens over time with regular study.
Many students find that their test anxiety is reduced when they start to study better or more regularly. It makes sense — the more you know the material, the more confident you'll feel. Having confidence going into a test means you expect to do well. When you expect to do well, you'll be able to relax into a test after the normal first-moment jitters pass.
Watch what you're thinking. If expecting to do well on a test can help you relax, what about when people expect they won't do well? Watch out for any negative messages you might be sending yourself about the test. They can contribute to your anxiety.
If you find yourself thinking negative thoughts ("I'm never any good at taking tests" or "It's going to be terrible if I do badly on this test"), replace them with positive messages. Not unrealistic positive messages, of course, but ones that are practical and true, such as "I've studied hard and I know the material, so I'm ready to do the best I can." (Of course, if you haven't studied, this message won't help!)
Accept mistakes. Another thing you can do is to learn to keep mistakes in perspective — especially if you're a perfectionist or you tend to be hard on yourself. Everyone makes mistakes, and you may have even heard teachers or coaches refer to mistakes as "learning opportunities." Learning to tolerate small failures and mistakes — like that one problem you got wrong in the math pop quiz — is a valuable skill.
Take care of yourself. It can help to learn ways to calm yourself down and get centered when you're tense or anxious. For some people, this might mean learning a simple breathing exercise. Practicing breathing exercises regularly (when you're not stressed out) helps your body see these exercises as a signal to relax.
And, of course, taking care of your health — such as getting enough sleep, exercise, and healthy eats before a test — can help keep your mind working at its best.
Everything takes time and practice, and learning to beat test anxiety is no different. Although it won't go away overnight, facing and dealing with test anxiety will help you learn stress management, which can prove to be a valuable skill in many situations besides taking tests.
2/15/16 - 2/19/16
I Hurt My Friends' Feelings. What Should I Do?
No one's perfect. We all mess up now and then and wish we could hit some magical "undo" key. It can help a little bit to remember that most people have been in the situation you're in.
What makes the difference is what you do next.
Use the power of a sincere apology. Apologies can go a long way toward healing hurt or angry feelings. It takes courage to step up and admit what you did was wrong.
Try saying: "What I said the other day was really insensitive of me. I shouldn't have said that. It wasn't fair. I was being judgmental and gossipy — and I don't feel proud of that. I just want to say I'm sorry. I messed up."
The important thing about an apology is sincerity. When we apologize, we need to do so because we feel genuinely sorry about how hurt another person may be. An apology shouldn't be a way to protect our own image or be liked. If an apology is more about ourselves and how we can benefit, it might not seem true.
Another element of a sincere apology is the intention to change. Let the person know you're not going to let it happen again. You could tell your friends, "I'm going to be more aware of what I think and say about people in the future. I'll make an effort to be kinder and more positive about people, and not to talk behind their backs — especially when it's my friends."
Apologizing in person is best. But if you can't bring yourself to have a conversation in person, write a note. Whichever way you decide to communicate, be sure that you'd feel comfortable if anything you say is shared with other friends, too.
Hopefully, your friends can accept your apology. But don't be discouraged if it doesn't happen instantly. Some people are quick to forgive. Others may have to think about what you said and need time to get over hurt feelings or anger, or to rebuild trust. Do your best with the part that's up to you. The rest is up to them.
Forgive yourself, too. We can learn from mistakes. Focus on mending the situation, not replaying it in your head. Being too self-critical can't help you. Neither can wishing the situation away, thinking about what you said over and over, or dwelling on what you could have said instead. Move forward. Focus your energies on trying to make things right and working on your good intentions!
2/08/16 - 2/12/16
Good Reasons to Smile
When we feel great, a smile comes naturally. It's an outward sign of joy, happiness, appreciation, amusement, excitement, or contentment.
It's not natural to smile when we're sad or upset. But it turns out that smiling might be the best thing to do when you're ready to shift into a brighter mood.
Smiling Can Lift a Bad Mood
Scientists have found that smiling on purpose can help people feel better. Just the simple act of putting a smile on your face can lead you to feel actual happiness, joy, or amusement.
Smiling on purpose changes brain chemistry. So it can be a big help to people who are dealing with depression and anxiety. But how do you smile if you're not feeling it?
Fake It Till You Make It
Our body language can influence our emotions. In one study, researchers discovered that people who stood in a confident way actually felt more confident. In another study, people who intentionally put on a facial expression (like a smile or a frown) ended up feeling the emotion that went with it.
Here's the best part: A smile helps you feel happier — and being happier helps you keep the smile going in a genuine way. Your fake smile is now a real one!
Smile Like You Mean It
There's just one trick to making smiling work for you: You need to do it right. A true, genuine smile is called a Duchenne smile. It uses all the muscles in the face, including the "laugh lines" around your eyes. Engaging all these muscles is important, even in a fake smile.
If you're smiling on purpose to help your mood, you want to smile until your cheeks lift and you feel your laugh lines crinkle. You can see how it feels by holding a pencil horizontally between your teeth as you smile.
Smiling and Laughing Reduce Stress
Since body language and mood are so linked, it makes sense that laughing on purpose helps us too.
Smiling relaxes the facial muscles and calms the nervous system. Laughing sends more oxygen to the brain. That triggers the release of brain chemicals called endorphins. These chemicals help us feel positive. Laughing can lower blood pressure, relieve stress, and boost mood.
Here's a simple exercise from Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh to help you tap into the benefits of smiling:
As you breathe in, say to yourself:
Breathing in, I calm body and mind.
Then, as you breathe out, think:
Breathing out, I smile.
By repeating this simple breathing exercise several times, you're relaxing your nervous system and countering stress.
Smiling Helps Us Bond With Others
Just like "fake" smiling, "fake" laughing turns into spontaneous real laughter, and it's contagious. Try this: Get a group together. It can be your family, classmates, or teammates. Have everyone do some fake laughing. Now see if you can keep a straight face!
Some people tap into the relaxing power of laughing in a group setting by doing a kind of yoga called laughter yoga.
Because smiling and laughing are contagious, they help people bond. Smiling sends a friendly signal that usually results in the other person smiling back. One important purpose of smiling might be that it creates social bonds. Scientists have even found that we connect in a physical way when we share a smile or a positive emotion. Our breathing and heart rates sync up, bringing powerful benefits to our health and well-being.
So, the next time someone tells you to "cheer up" when you're in a low mood, own it. Your shared happiness might end up making that person feel happier too.
2/01/16 - 2/05/16
5 Ways to (Respectfully) Disagree
It's easier to agree than disagree. But we can learn a lot from conversations where we don't see eye to eye — if we can listen and talk rationally, that is.
Unfortunately, many us either shy away completely from disagreements or lose it when things don't go our way. These 5 tips can help keep disagreements constructive — whether you're talking to a parent, friend, or anyone else:
- Don't make it personal. If you get upset, it can help to remember you're mad at the idea or concept your parent (or friend, coach, coworker, etc.) is raising, not the person.
- Avoid putting down the other person's ideas and beliefs. If you've ever been on the receiving end of someone's tirade or put-downs, you know how valuable using respectful language and behavior can be. So instead of saying what you might be thinking ("That's a stupid idea!"), try: "I don't agree, and here's why." Resist the temptation to yell, use sarcasm, or make derogatory comments and you'll have a much better chance of getting your point across.
- Use "I" statements to communicate how you feel, what you think, and what you want or need. Using "you" statements can sound argumentative. For example, telling your mom or dad, "You always remind me about my chores on Wednesdays when you know I have a lot of homework" has a very different tone from "I'm feeling pressured because I have a lot of homework tonight. Can I do those chores tomorrow?"
- Listen to the other point of view. Being a good listener is a way of showing that you respect and understand the other person's perspective. That makes it more likely he or she will do the same for you. When the other person is talking, try to stop yourself from thinking about why you disagree or what you'll say next. Instead, focus on what's being said. When it's your turn to talk, repeat any key points the other person made to show you listened and heard what was said. Then calmly present your case and why you disagree.
- Stay calm. This is the most important thing you can do to keep a conversation on track. Of course, it's a huge challenge to stay calm and rational when you feel angry or passionate about something — especially if the person you're talking to gets heated. You may need to be the mature one who manages the conversation, even if the other person is a parent or someone who should know better.
Respect goes beyond difficult conversations, of course. Being helpful and considerate toward family members, teachers, or coaches in our everyday actions helps all of us (again, parents included!) establish a foundation for those times when we might disagree.
1/18/16 - 1/22/16
How to Pick a Great Book
Reading is a good way to discover the next big thing and to learn a little more about yourself while you're at it. But while you may know how to find the best app for your phone, do you know how to pick a book you'll really like? Here are some tips.
Start With Your Interests
Reading on your own isn't like reading for school (even though you'll probably end up loving some of the books you read for school and want to read more by those authors). You can pick something that's all about your interests, whether it's ancient martial arts, computers, or fashion design. You name it, there are bound to be books about it.
What's Your "Type"?
Do you prefer fiction or nonfiction (or both)?
Fiction books like novels or short-story collections can transport you to another world or help you imagine something beyond your own experience. Not all fiction is the same — maybe you like the classics, fantasy or sci-fi, mystery novels, or ghost stories. Maybe historical fiction is more your thing. Try a range of types of fiction and see what you prefer.
Nonfiction books give you the who, what, when, and why of something. They tell stories using facts —but that doesn't mean they're dull. Nonfiction books can bring to life the eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington or help you see inside a Chinese dynasty. Many of them read like novels from start to finish.
Take a Hybrid out for a Spin
Maybe you want to try a "graphic book," which can be either fact or fiction, and is written with text and images, similar to a comic. There are a lot of great graphic novels, from Maus to Persepolis.
Read the "Blurbs"
The reviews and quotes on the back and inside covers of many books are called "blurbs." They give you an idea of what the book is about, but can also help you pick future books too. If you find a book you really like, take a minute to read the quotes (if there are any) and see which authors praised the book. Often, they'll have similar styles and you might find you like books by those authors too.
Do you have an ereader? You can download free samples (usually the first chapter) of ebooks that look interesting before you buy or borrow one.
Find a Family Favorite
What was your mother's favorite book when she was your age or your dad's? How about a sibling's? Find out and give it a read — then you can share your thoughts about the book. After all, what better way to connect with that cousin you only see in the summer than trading reading recommendations and discussing your reactions?
Join the Club — Online or In Person
Get your friends together and swap recommendations of authors, prose styles, and story types. Most social networking sites also have book-club sections. Join a group with your friends and people you trust (avoiding sharing personal information with people you don't know, of course).
Ask an Expert
Your local library can hook you up with a whole lot of great book ideas. Explain your interests — rock stars, sports teams, historical events, humor, whatever you're into — and any writers you like, and your librarian can point you toward books that you'll love.
Finally, you'll probably enjoy what you're reading a lot more if you find a quiet place and make time for the book. We all multitask, but most reading is best enjoyed when you can concentrate and focus on it. You can put on some good music (ideally without lyrics), get yourself some tea and a comfy spot, and let yourself be carried away by the book.
You'll see that time does fly when you're reading something you love!
1/11/16 - 1/15/16
You probably don't give much thought to your backpack. It gets used, it gets abused, and it gets shoved in the bottom of your locker or the corner of your room.
But can your backpack abuse you? The answer is yes. When a backpack isn't used properly, it can cause back problems or even injury.
Backpacks Are Best
Backpacks can't be beat for helping you to stay organized. Multiple compartments keep all your supplies and notes close at hand.
Backpacks are a better option than shoulder or messenger bags for carrying books and supplies. That's because the weight of the pack is evenly distributed across your body. The strongest muscles in the body — the back and the abdominal muscles — support the pack.
But backpacks that are overloaded or not used properly can make for some heavy health problems.
How Can Backpacks Cause Problems?
Your spine is made of 33 bones called vertebrae. Between the vertebrae are disks that act as natural shock absorbers. When you put a heavy weight on your shoulders in the wrong way, the weight's force can pull you backward. To compensate, you may bend forward at the hips or arch your back. This can cause your spine to compress unnaturally.
People who carry heavy backpacks sometimes lean forward. Over time this can cause the shoulders to become rounded and the upper back to become curved. Because of the heavy weight, there's a chance of developing shoulder, neck, and back pain.
If you wear your backpack over just one shoulder, or carry your books in a messenger bag, you may end up leaning to one side to offset the extra weight. You might develop lower and upper back pain and strain your shoulders and neck. Not using a backpack properly can lead to poor posture.
Is your backpack getting on your nerves? It might be. Tight, narrow straps that dig into your shoulders can pinch nerves and interfere with circulation, and you might develop tingling, numbness, and weakness in your arms and hands.
Carrying a heavy pack increases the risk of falling, particularly on stairs or other places where the backpack puts the wearer off balance.
People who carry large packs often aren't aware of how much space the packs take up and can hit others with their packs when turning around or moving through tight spaces, such as the aisles of the school bus. Students also are injured when they trip over large packs or the packs fall on them.
Is My Backpack a Problem?
You may need to put less in your pack or carry it differently if:
- you have to struggle to get your backpack on or off
- you have to lean forward to carry your pack
- you have back pain
If you adjust the weight or the way you carry your pack but still have back pain or numbness or weakness in your arms or legs, talk to your doctor.
Tips for Choosing and Using Backpacks
Here are a few tips that will help make your backpack work for you, not against you:
- Consider the construction. Before you grab that new bag off the rack, make sure it's got two padded straps that go over your shoulders. The wider the straps, the better. A backpack with a metal frame like the ones hikers use may give you more support (although many lockers aren't big enough to hold this kind of pack). Make use of another hiking tip: Look for a backpack with a waist belt, which helps to distribute the weight more evenly across the body. Backpacks with multiple compartments can also help distribute the weight more evenly.
- Carry it well. Before you load your backpack, adjust the straps so the pack sits close to your back. If the pack bumps against your lower back or your butt when you walk, the straps are probably too long. Always pack your backpack with the heaviest items closest to your back. Don't drop all your stuff in the main compartment (using the side pockets will distribute the weight more evenly). Wear both straps over your shoulders. If your pack is really heavy and you can't get around the number of books you need, take some of the books out of your pack and carry them in your hands.
- Try a pack with wheels. Lots of kids use these as an alternative to backpacks, but there are guidelines and considerations to keep in mind with this kind of pack, too. Many schools don't allow rolling packs because people can trip over them in the halls.
- Use your locker. Try not to load up on the textbooks for a full day's classes. Make frequent locker trips to drop off heavy textbooks or extra stuff, like gym clothes or project materials. An added benefit is that you'll get more exercise going back and forth to your locker. Figure out the nonessentials, too. If you don't need an item until the afternoon, why carry it around all morning?
- Plan your homework. Plan ahead and spread your homework out over the course of the week so you won't have to tote all your books home on the weekend.
- Get two sets of books. If your school has extra copies of some of your books, ask if you can borrow them so you can keep a set at home.
- Limit your load. Doctors and physical therapists recommend that people carry no more than 10% to 15% of their body weight in their packs. This means that if you weigh 120 pounds, your backpack should weigh no more than 12 to 18 pounds. Choosing a lightweight backpack can get you off to a good start. Use your bathroom scale to weigh your backpack and get an idea of what the proper weight for you feels like.
- Pick it up properly. As with any heavy weight, you should bend at the knees when lifting a backpack to your shoulders.
- Strengthen your core. A great way to prevent back injury is to strengthen the stabilizing muscles of your torso, including your lower back and abdominal muscles. Weight training, pilates, and yoga are all activities that can be effective in strengthening these core muscles.
Following these tips is the best way to avoid back pain and other problems.
1/4/16 - 1/8/16
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
What is SAD??
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that appears at the same time each year. With SAD, a person typically has symptoms of depression and unexplained fatigue as winter approaches and daylight hours become shorter. When spring returns and days become longer again, people with SAD experience relief from their symptoms, returning to their usual mood and energy level.
What Causes SAD?
Experts believe that, with SAD, depression is somehow triggered by the brain's response to decreased daylight exposure. No one really understands how and why this happens. Current theories about what causes SAD focus on the role that sunlight might play in the brain's production of key chemicals.
Experts think that two specific chemicals in the brain, melatonin
may be involved in SAD. These two chemicals help regulate a person's sleep-wake cycles, energy, and mood. Shorter days and longer hours of darkness in fall and winter may cause increased levels of melatonin and decreased levels of serotonin, creating the biological conditions for depression.
Melatonin is linked to sleep. The body produces it in greater quantities when it's dark or when days are shorter. This increased production of melatonin can cause a person to feel sleepy and lethargic.
With serotonin, it's the reverse — serotonin production goes up when a person is exposed to sunlight, so it's likely that a person will have lower levels of serotonin during the winter when the days are shorter. Low levels of serotonin are associated with depression, whereas increasing the availability of serotonin helps to combat depression.
What Are the Symptoms of SAD?
Someone with SAD will show several particular changes from the way he or she normally feels and acts. These changes occur in a predictable seasonal pattern. The symptoms of SAD are the same as symptoms of depression, and a person with SAD may notice several or all of these symptoms:
- Changes in mood. A person may feel sad or be in an irritable mood most of the time for at least 2 weeks during a specific time of year. During that time, a guy or girl may feel a sense of hopelessness or worthlessness. As part of the mood change that goes with SAD, people can be self-critical; they may also be more sensitive than usual to criticism and cry or get upset more often or more easily.
- Lack of enjoyment. Someone with SAD may lose interest in things he or she normally likes to do and may seem unable to enjoy things as before. People with SAD can also feel like they no longer do certain tasks as well as they used to, and they may have feelings of dissatisfaction or guilt. A person with SAD may seem to lose interest in friends and may stop participating in social activities.
- Low energy. Unusual tiredness or unexplained fatigue is also part of SAD and can cause people to feel low on energy.
- Changes in sleep. A person may sleep much more than usual. Excessive sleeping can make it impossible for a student to get up and get ready for school in the morning.
- Changes in eating. Changes in eating and appetite related to SAD may include cravings for simple carbohydrates (think comfort foods and sugary foods) and the tendency to overeat. Because of this change in eating, SAD can result in weight gain during the winter months.
- Difficulty concentrating. SAD can affect concentration, too, interfering with a person's school performance and grades. A student may have more trouble than usual completing assignments on time or seem to lack his or her usual motivation. Someone with SAD may notice that his or her grades may drop, and teachers may comment that the student seems less motivated or is making less effort in school.
- Less time socializing. People with SAD may spend less time with friends, in social activities, or in extracurricular activities.
The problems caused by SAD, such as lower-than-usual grades or less energy for socializing with friends, can affect self-esteem and leave a person feeling disappointed, isolated, and lonely — especially if he or she doesn't realize what's causing the changes in energy, mood, and motivation.
Like other forms of depression, the symptoms of SAD can be mild, severe, or anywhere in between. Milder symptoms interfere less with someone's ability to participate in everyday activities, but stronger symptoms can interfere much more. It's the seasonal pattern of SAD — the fact that symptoms occur only for a few months each winter (for at least 2 years in a row) but not during other seasons — that distinguishes SAD from other forms of depression.
Who Gets SAD?
SAD can affect adults, teens, and children. It's estimated that about 6 in every 100 people (6%) experience SAD.
The number of people with SAD varies from region to region. One study of SAD in the United States found the rates of SAD were seven times higher among people in New Hampshire than in Florida, suggesting that the farther people live from the equator, the more likely they are to develop SAD.
Interestingly, when people who get SAD travel to areas far south of the equator that have longer daylight hours during winter months, they do not get their seasonal symptoms. This supports the theory that SAD is related to light exposure.
Most people don't get seasonal depression, even if they live in areas where days are shorter during winter months. Experts don't fully understand why certain people are more likely to experience SAD than others. It may be that they're more sensitive than others to variations in light, and therefore may experience more dramatic shifts in hormone production according to their exposure to light.
Like other forms of depression, females are about four times more likely than males to develop SAD. People with relatives who have experienced depression are also more likely to develop it. Individual biology, brain chemistry, family history, environment, and life experiences may also make certain individuals more prone to SAD and other forms of depression.
Researchers are continuing to investigate what leads to SAD, as well as why some people are more likely than others to experience it.
How Is SAD Diagnosed and Treated?
Doctors and mental health professionals make a diagnosis of SAD after a careful evaluation. A medical checkup is also important to make sure that symptoms aren't due to a medical condition that needs treatment. Tiredness, fatigue, and low energy could be a sign of another medical condition such as hypothyroidism, hypoglycemia, or mononucleosis. Other medical conditions can cause appetite changes, sleep changes, or extreme fatigue.
Once a person's been diagnosed with SAD, doctors may recommend one of several treatments:
Increased Light Exposure
Because the symptoms of SAD are triggered by lack of exposure to light, and they tend to go away on their own when available light increases, treatment for SAD often involves increased exposure to light during winter months. For someone with mild symptoms, it may be enough to spend more time outside during the daylight hours, perhaps by exercising outdoors or taking a daily walk. Full spectrum (daylight) lightbulbs that fit in regular lamps can help bring a bit more daylight into your home in winter months and might help with mild symptoms.
Stronger symptoms of SAD may be treated with light therapy (also called phototherapy). Light therapy involves the use of a special light that simulates daylight. A special light box or panel is placed on a tabletop or desk, and the person sits in front of the light for a short period of time every day (45 minutes a day or so, usually in the morning). The person should occasionally glance at the light (the light has to be absorbed through the retinas in order to work), but not stare into it for long periods. Symptoms tend to improve within a few days in some cases or within a few weeks in others. Generally, doctors recommend the use of light therapy until enough sunlight is available outdoors.
Like any medical treatment, light treatment should only be used under the supervision of a doctor. People who have another type of depressive disorder, skin that's sensitive to light, or medical conditions that may make the eyes vulnerable to light damage should use light therapy with caution. The lights that are used for SAD phototherapy must filter out harmful UV rays. Tanning beds or booths should not be used to alleviate symptoms of SAD. Some mild side effects of phototherapy might include headache or eyestrain.
Talk therapy (psychotherapy) is also used to treat people with SAD. Talk therapy focuses on revising the negative thoughts and feelings associated with depression and helps ease the sense of isolation or loneliness that people with depression often feel. The support and guidance of a professional therapist can be helpful for someone experiencing SAD. Talk therapy can also help someone to learn about and understand their condition as well as learn what to do to prevent or minimize future bouts of seasonal depression.
Doctors may also prescribe medications for teens with SAD. Antidepressant medications help to regulate the balance of serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain that affect mood and energy. Medications need to be prescribed and monitored by a doctor. If your doctor prescribes medication for SAD or another form of depression, be sure to let him or her know about any other medications or remedies you may be taking, including over-the-counter or herbal medicines. These can interfere with prescription medications.
Dealing With SAD
When symptoms of SAD first develop, it can be confusing, both for the person with SAD and family and friends. Some parents or teachers may mistakenly think that teens with SAD are slacking off or not trying their best. If you think you're experiencing some of the symptoms of SAD, talk to a parent, guidance counselor, or other trusted adult about what you're feeling.
If you've been diagnosed with SAD, there are a few things you can do to help:
- Follow your doctor's recommendations for treatment.
- Learn all you can about SAD and explain the condition to others so they can work with you.
- Get plenty of exercise, especially outdoors. Exercise can be a mood lifter.
- Spend time with friends and loved ones who understand what you're going through — they can help provide you with personal contact and a sense of connection.
- Be patient. Don't expect your symptoms to go away immediately.
- Ask for help with homework and other assignments if you need it. If you feel you can't concentrate on things, remember that it's part of the disorder and that things will get better again. Talk to your teachers and work out a plan to get your assignments done.
- Eat right. It may be hard, but avoiding simple carbohydrates and sugary snacks and concentrating on plenty of whole grains, vegetables, and fruits can help you feel better in the long term.
- Develop a sleep routine. Regular bedtimes can help you reap the mental health benefits of daytime light.
Depression in any form can be serious. If you think you have symptoms of any type of depression, talk to someone who can help you get treatment.
12/14/15 - 12/18/15
5 Ways to Prevent Stress Buildup
There's no avoiding the stress of everyday life. Schoolwork, responsibilities at home, busy schedules, other people's expectations, disappointments, deadlines, social drama: all of these can create tension.
Everyday stressors have a way of piling up if we don't keep them in check. Adding these 5 simple actions to your regular routine can help you avoid that "bogged down by stress" feeling. The key word is "routine." You need to make sure you keep doing these to enjoy the benefits:
1. Balance responsibilities (like schoolwork) with activities you enjoy (like relaxing or spending time with friends). It's all about balance: all work and no play is bad. But if your schedule is so crammed with activities that there's no time for homework, that'll stress you out too.
2. Manage responsibilities. Use a calendar or planning app to keep track of assignments, chores, practices, and other obligations. Of course, planning is no good if you don't actually do what you plan: Managing stress also means regular studying, keeping on top of assignments, and overcoming procrastination. Take time to reflect a bit every day and think about how things are going. What do you need to work on? Do? Make time for?
3. Eat healthy foods. What you eat affects your mood, energy, and stress level. Eating healthy doesn't mean avoiding all treats — it goes back to that balance thing again. It's OK to treat yourself to ice cream occasionally if you ate a salad or turkey on whole wheat for lunch. But if ice cream and sweets are your main source of fuel, you're likely to crash or feel cranky — and stressed!
4. Get proper sleep. This may seem like a no-brainer. After all, who doesn't love to sleep? But getting the right amount of sleep is actually something we need to focus on because it's easy to let homework, talking to friends, or binge watching get in the way of sleep — no matter how much we want to catch those ZZZs.
5. Make time to exercise every day. It's hard to feel anxious when you're taking deep breaths on a run, feeling the rush of a downhill bike ride, or playing a pickup game with friends. Exercise doesn't just take our mind off of stress; it releases chemicals in our brains that make us feel better.
Learning to manage stress means building coping skills that allow you to take everyday challenges in stride. It's about keeping problems in perspective instead of ignoring them, and learning what to work on and what to let go of.
12/07/15 - 12/11/15
What Is Assertiveness?
Assertiveness is a healthy way of communicating. It's the ability to speak up for ourselves in a way that is honest and respectful. Every day, we're in situations where being assertive can help us — like asking someone on a date, approaching a teacher with a question, or doing well on a job or college interview.
Being assertive doesn't come naturally to everyone. Some people communicate in a way that is too passive. Other people have a style that is too aggressive. An assertive style is the happy medium between these two.
Here's what it means to be assertive:
- You can give an opinion or say how you feel.
- You can ask for what you want or need.
- You can disagree respectfully.
- You can offer your ideas and suggestions.
- You can say no without feeling guilty.
- You can speak up for someone else.
Why Does It Matter?
An assertive communication style can help us do the things we want to do. But it goes further than that: Being assertive shows we respect ourselves and other people.
People who speak assertively send the message that they believe in themselves. They're not too timid and they're not too pushy. They know that their feelings and ideas matter. They're confident.
People who are assertive tend to make friends more easily. They communicate in a way that respects other people's needs as well as their own. They tend to be better at working out conflicts and disagreements. People who give respect get respect in return.
Too Passive? Too Aggressive? Or Just Right?
How do you know where you fall on the assertiveness scale? Here are some examples:
Paula has a style that's too passive. If you ask Paula what movie she wants to see, she's most likely to say, "I don't know — what do you want to see?" She usually lets others decide things, but later she regrets not saying what she wanted. It bothers her that her friends do most of the talking. But when Paula tries to break into the conversation, she speaks so softly that others talk over her without realizing.
Janine has a style that's too aggressive. Janine has no trouble speaking her mind. But when she does, she comes across as loud and opinionated. Janine dominates the conversation, often interrupts, and rarely listens. If she disagrees with you, she lets you know — usually with sarcasm or a putdown. She has a reputation for being bossy and insensitive.
Ben has an assertive style. When you ask for Ben's opinion, he gives it honestly. If he disagrees with you, he'll say so — but in a way that doesn't put you down or make you feel wrong. Ben is interested in your opinion, too. He listens to what you have to say. Even when Ben disagrees with you, you still feel he respects your point of view.
The Problems of Being Too Passive
People who act too passively often end up feeling taken advantage of. They may begin to feel hurt, angry, or resentful.
When you hold back what you think and feel, others don't get to know or understand you as well as they could. The group doesn't benefit from your input or ideas.
If you start to feel like your opinions or feelings don't count, it can lower your confidence and rob you of the chance to get recognition and positive feedback for your good ideas. This can even lead to feeling depressed.
The Trouble With Being Too Aggressive
People who come across as too aggressive can find it difficult to keep friends. They may dominate conversations or give their opinions too boldly and forcefully, leaving others feeling put off or disrespected.
People with an aggressive style may get other people to do things their way, but many times they end up being rejected or disliked. They often lose the respect of others.
Why Isn't Everyone Assertive?
Why do some people have assertive communication styles when others are more passive or aggressive? Part of it's just personality. The habits we develop or the experiences we have are another part. But we also learn to be assertive, passive, or aggressive from watching how others act — especially the people who raise us.
Here are some things that can influence people to act too passively:
- a lack of confidence in themselves or the value of their opinions
- worrying too much about pleasing others or being liked
- worrying whether others will disagree with or reject their ideas and opinions
- feeling sensitive to criticism or hurt by past experiences when their ideas were ignored or rejected
- not developing the skills of being assertive
Things that can influence people to act too aggressively are:
- being overconfident
- focusing too much on getting their needs met and their opinions across
- not learning to respect or consider other people's views or needs
- not learning listening skills or how to ask for input from others
Things that can lead people to act assertively ("just right") are:
- believing their opinions count, their ideas and feelings matter, and they have the right to express themselves
- being resilient (able to deal with criticism, rejection, and setbacks)
- respecting the preferences and needs of others
- having role models for assertiveness
- knowing their ideas were welcomed or assertiveness rewarded in the past
How to Be More Assertive
Being assertive is a matter of practicing certain communication skills and having the right inner attitude.
Some people are naturally more skillful when it comes to being assertive. Others need more practice. But everyone can improve.
Start by considering which communication style (assertive, passive, or aggressive) comes closest to yours. Then decide whether you need to work on being less passive, less aggressive, or simply need to build on your naturally assertive style.
To work on being less passive and more assertive:
- Pay attention to what you think, feel, want, and prefer. You need to be aware of these things before you can communicate them to others.
- Notice if you say "I don't know," "I don't care," or "it doesn't matter" when someone asks what you want. Stop yourself. Practice saying what you'd prefer, especially on things that hardly matter. For example, if someone asks, "Would you like green or red?" you can say, "I'd prefer the green one — thanks."
- Practice asking for things. For example: "Can you please pass me a spoon?" "I need a pen — does anyone have an extra?" "Can you save me a seat?" This builds your skills and confidence for when you need to ask for something more important.
- Give your opinion. Say whether or not you liked a movie you saw and why.
- Practice using "I" statements such as: "I'd like..." "I prefer..." or "I feel..."
- Find a role model who's good at being assertive — not too passive and not too aggressive. See if you can imitate that person's best qualities.
- Remind yourself that your ideas and opinions are as important as everyone else's. Knowing this helps you be assertive. Assertiveness starts with an inner attitude of valuing yourself as much as you value others.
To work on being less aggressive and more assertive:
- Try letting others speak first.
- Notice if you interrupt. Catch yourself, and say: "Oh, sorry — go ahead!" and let the other person finish.
- Ask someone else's opinion, then listen to the answer.
- When you disagree, try to say so without putting down the other person's point of view. For example, instead of saying: "That's a stupid idea," try: "I don't really like that idea." Or instead of saying: "He's such a jerk," try: "I think he's insensitive."
- Find a role model who's good at being assertive — not too passive and not too aggressive. See if you can imitate that person's best qualities.
Even naturally assertive people can build and expand their skills. To work on improving a naturally assertive style:
- Find role models who are good at being assertive — not too passive and not too aggressive. See if you can imitate their best qualities. (You'll notice this is the same tip we give for helping with a style that's too passive or too aggressive. That's because we never stop learning!)
- Notice where you're best at being assertive. People behave differently in different situations. Many people find that it's easy to be assertive in certain situations (like with friends) but more challenging in others (like with teachers or when meeting new people). In tougher situations, try thinking, "What would I say to my close friends?"
When you speak assertively, it shows you believe in yourself. Building assertiveness is one step to becoming your best self, the person you want to be!
11/30/15 - 12/04/15
Asking for Help: Getting Past the Obstacles
When we're struggling with something, it's natural to turn to others for help. Helping each other is all part of the giving and receiving that makes up good relationships.
Getting help sounds simple. But it's not always easy to do. Sometimes we stand in our own way without realizing it.
Certain beliefs or ways of thinking can make it hard to see opportunities for help. Here are some examples of the kinds of attitudes that can stand in the way — and ideas on how to get past them.
Obstacle 1: Believing That Needing Help Is a Sign of Weakness
Asking for help shows maturity and confidence. It's a sign of strength, not weakness. You know what you need and you're not afraid to reach out for it.
Obstacle 2: Thinking You Don't Deserve Help or Support
Everyone needs help now and then. No one can — or should — handle everything alone. Accepting help can strengthen friendships and relationships. Everyone feels good when they can support a friend.
Be choosy about who you ask to help, though. Share your feelings or a problem with someone who listens and cares — not someone who judges, criticizes, or blames you. Most of the time we can guess which way people might react. But on rare occasions, they catch us off guard. If you do get rejected, it's not because of anything you did. It's what's going on with the other person.
Obstacle 3: Not Speaking Up to Ask for Help
Sometimes you're lucky enough to have people in your life who see what you need and offer to help before you ask. Usually it's a parent or a close friend. But sometimes when we need help, we have to ask. The best approach is to be clear and direct, like saying, "I'm having trouble with this. Can you help me?"
Obstacle 4: Waiting for Someone Else to Make the First Move
It's not always easy for other people to see when we need help. Maybe we're putting on a cheerful face to mask the problem or giving off a vibe that we don't want to talk. Don't wait for someone to read your mind or notice what you need. Ask.
Obstacle 5: Giving Up Too Easily
If help doesn't get us what we expect right away, it's tempting to give up. But getting help takes ongoing effort. It might take multiple attempts.
Why Asking for Help Is Important
None of us can go it alone. The people who believe in us remind us that we have what it takes, that we matter, and that we're loved. But sometimes we just have to reach out and ask for that help. Our friends and family love us, but they can't always know what we want, especially if we are putting a brave face on things.
Because it can be hard to reach out for help, don't hesitate to reach out and offer support to another person if you think he or she needs it. Giving and receiving help are great life skills to learn. They help us learn character qualities like empathy and generosity, as well as understand other people better.
11/16/15 - 11/20/15
Positive emotions don't just feel good — they're good for you. Research shows that people feel and do their best when they experience at least three times as many positive emotions as negative ones.
Ready to boost your positivity ratio? Here are 3 ways to increase positive emotions in everyday life:
- Identify and track your positive emotions.
- Focus on a specific positive emotion and act to increase it.
- Use a positivity treasure chest to give yourself a boost.
Track Your Positive Emotions
Name the positive emotions you're already familiar with, the ones you've experienced in your daily life. Make a list. Add new emotions as you notice them.
Now look at your list. Think about (and write down) which activities, situations, or people are involved when you tend to feel each emotion.
You also can look over your list of emotions at the end of the day and write down when you felt different positive emotions. Did you feel proud after playing well on the soccer field? Happy when your friends remembered your birthday? Amused when your history teacher channeled his inner comedian during that day's lesson?
Tracking positive emotions helps us be more aware of the positive feelings we already experience, and the situations or activities that bring them.
Increase a Specific Positive Emotion
Identify a positive emotion you want to increase. Let's say you want to feel more joy. Think of situations or activities you've experienced that made you aware of your joy. Write down as many as you can.
Focus on small, simple things, like a song that makes you feel joyful whenever you hear it. Any time you notice you're feeling joy, consider adding that situation or activity to your list.
After you know what prompts the emotion you want to increase, decide how to fit those activities or others like them into your everyday life. Pick things that are realistic enough to do every day. You may not be able to walk on the beach, but you could still feel joy by listening to a song that reminds you of vacation.
Commit to one or more daily actions that will increase the feeling you want more of in your life. Make time for these experiences. Think of them as the emotional equivalent of your "5 a day" fruits and vegetables — they're good for your emotional health!
Create a Positivity Treasure Chest
Sometimes we forget the way back to feeling positive. We might need a reminder that can lead us back to a happier emotional place. That's when a positivity box (or folder) is really helpful.
A positivity box is a collection of reminders of positive experiences we've had. These reminders bring back the feelings associated with the good moments in our lives, our strengths, joys, and accomplishments, the fun we've had, the books or music that have meaning for us, the people who are important to us. It's a positivity "treasure chest."
Collect things that remind you of positive emotional moments in your life. For example:
- photos or other souvenirs of great times
- awards that remind you of an accomplishment
- cards or notes from special people in your life
- favorite inspirational quotes or song lyrics
- childhood mementos
- something you made or drew
- a gift someone gave you
- a photo of someone you look up to
Put everything in a folder, binder, or special box where you can easily find it. Or make a collage, poster, or mobile of the items. The most important thing is to choose only items that trigger a positive emotion for you. You can add, subtract, and rearrange them any time.
When you feel low or discouraged, take a few minutes to look through your treasure box to boost your positive emotions. Browse through it any time to give yourself a daily serving of positivity.
As you work on increasing your positive emotions, you might notice that you feel happier, more accomplished, and more energetic. A small daily investment of focusing on the positive pays off with big lifetime rewards.
11/09/15 - 11/13/15
5 Tips for Teen Entrepreneurs
It's harder to find jobs in today's tough economy. If you need to earn money over the summer or after school, why not become your own boss?
Here are 5 tips on starting your own business:
- Identify a need. Think about the kinds of services that might do well in your area. If you live in a suburb and your neighbors commute long distances to work, they may need dog walking help. Pet sitting is another good line of business during the summer or over the holidays when people travel. If there are lots of senior citizens in your area, a computer help business might do well.
Keep your ears open for opportunities. If you have your license and you hear your mom's friend talking about how her kids need to be picked up at the same time from different places, suggest she hire you to help. You also can offer to pick up anything from groceries to dry cleaning, or clean anything from windows to cars.
- Set a price for services. Once you know what you want to do, figure out how much to charge. Search online to see what others charge for the service you plan to provide. Teens often have an advantage: Less experience means you may be able to charge less, making your business more competitive.
- Advertise. Print flyers describing the services your business offers. List your rates and your phone number or email address. (Check with your parents before you do this, of course!) Drop off a flyer at every house in your neighborhood. Give some to parents to take to work. Ask local stores or coffee shops if you can post a flyer on their community notice board (if you do this, make a bunch of tabs along the bottom with the service you offer and a phone number, so people can tear one off instead of taking the entire flyer).
You also might be able to use sites like CraigsList to advertise your services — as well as look for customers who might need you. If you do look for opportunities online, though, keep a parent involved in what you're doing.
- Organize your work. Once you have clients, you'll need to keep track of them. You don't want to forget to walk someone's dog because you were feeding someone else's fish. Buy a calendar and write down every job you do each day and the time you'll do it. Keeping a calendar also reminds you of how many times you provided a service so you can bill your clients. A parent, teacher, or school counselor can help you get started on business planning. Who knows, your business may grow so fast that you'll have to hire friends to help!
- CYB: Cover Your Business. If you drive for work, you'll want to be sure you have insurance — especially if you'll be driving other people's cars or transporting their kids. You'll also need to look into any coverage you might need for taking care of other people's property or pets. Ask a parent, school counselor, or teacher for advice. If you're lucky (and skillful!) and your business brings in a lot of money, talk to your parents about whether you might need to pay taxes.
With a little preparation, running your own business can bring great rewards, in both money and experience.
11/04/15 - 11/06/15
Learning how to focus and get something done is about more than just good grades — it's the foundation for success in life. Mastering the skills of getting organized, staying focused, and seeing work through to the end will help in just about everything you do.
You probably know the basics by now, but here's a helpful refresher.
Keep your assignments and class information together in binders, notebooks, or folders that are organized by subject. You might want to set up a file drawer at home to keep track of research, returned assignments, and other things you want to hold on to.
If you find yourself stuffing loose papers in your bag or grabbing different notebooks for the same class just because they're close at hand, it's time to stop and regroup. Take an evening to get things organized again.
Maybe you can't carry different spiral-bounds for every class. One solution is to carry a binder that has separate sections. Another idea is to take notes in one notebook and at the end of each day rewrite them in a separate binder. This takes more time, but it is a great study skill because it allows you to read, write, and hopefully summarize all that was important during the schoolday. The more you review material, the more likely you are to remember it.
Whatever you choose, your system has to work for you. If it doesn't, change it until you find what does. It's a great way to learn about yourself and what works for your unique needs.
10/26/15 - 10/30/15
How to Fail an Exam
If you don’t care about your college career or passing your exams, feel free to follow these steps, so you can develop poor test-taking habits and start to fail all of your quizzes, midterms and final exams. From there, you can be sure to fail pretty much all of your classes.
We’re not really sure why that would be your goal but, at any rate, here’s how.
If your goal is the inverse (which it should be and likely is) these aspects are what you should be avoiding at all costs.
Here are some surefire ways to fail an exam:
Lack of Motivation
If you don’t want to achieve a good grade, you won’t. If you don’t care about getting a good score, you won’t work for it.
Inversely, if it matters to you, you will make the effort to study, pay attention and focus on instructions and the work.
Consider what’s important to you and why. Think about your goals and the potential outcomes.
It’s likely that considering the outcome of a better grade will have a positive impact and you’ll work harder to achieve that outcome as a result.
Okay, you’re always going to be somewhat nervous – that’s a given. But, don’t let yourself get so nervous that you psych yourself out to the point that you can think or focus.
Relax, take a deep breath and focus on the task at hand so that you can do your best. Choking is no longer an option!
Have you ever been the type of student who analyzes the question to death during a test to the point that you turn non-trick questions into trick questions, ultimately getting the answer incorrect as a result?
Sometimes, things are just as simple as they seem at first glance. You just need to relax a little, taking the material at face value and go with your gut responses.
Your new mantra: Reviewing answers, good. Dwelling on questions, bad.
It is often said that there is power in what is put out into the world. If you think you will fail, you will.
While it’s not always true, there is power in positivity.
To be fair, you do need to back this up with studying and preparation, however, thinking positively will give you more confidence.
Never underestimate the power of believing in yourself!
Being Overly Confident
Inversely, if you’re too confident that you’re prepared for an exam, you’re likely to study less, which can cost you.
It’s always best to over study than under study, which sounds like it should be common sense but, unfortunately, isn’t always the case.
Not Reading Directions Carefully
Students often go into exams fully prepared, however, fail to read simple instructions carefully!
In doing so, the question can be misread completely and answered incorrectly altogether, costing the student one – or many – correct answers.
One of the easiest ways students can improve their exam scores is by properly reading instructions for each question.
Failure to Prepare
Students fail to prepare for tests is all sorts of ways, the most common being not studying all together (which you should, clearly, NOT do).
However, there are a variety of other ways that students fail to prepare which are less commonly recognized.
Showing up late, for example, leaves you frazzled, frantic, and anxious from start to finish – even if you’re only a few minutes behind.
Taking the exam on an empty stomach is another no-no. You know how it feels when your stomach starts growling during the exam and everyone can hear? Yep, it’s the worst and it’s a guaranteed way to lose focus on the task at hand – the exam – because you’re too busy thinking about your hunger pains, your stomach grumbles, what others are thinking – pretty much everything but what you should be thinking about.
Pulling an all-nighter and taking the test as a zombie-esque-creature-posing-as-a-student. Seriously, what’s the point? Come on, you know you can’t possibly be prepared or focused in that state of mind
Elizabeth Hoyt October 02, 2015
10/19/15 - 10/24/15
How to Get a Teacher to Like You
Be positive and help others and soon your teacher will like you. Being positive will show your teacher you respect everyone and are willing to give a helping hand when needed. If your fellow student does not understand something, you could offer to explain it to them if the teacher is tired or busy. This will show that you have character as a student wishing to learn and share. Teachers adore this kind of attitude.
Always have a positive attitude. Praise others' work and even make positive suggestions. Being supportive and understanding will show your are compassionate and dedicated to help others. Most teachers enjoy seeing this.
Don't be a so-called "teacher's pet" and constantly be trying to help. This way you are asking for trouble (and you could annoy your classmates). The next thing is that you will be thrown into helping after school without a doubt. Volunteer to help or participate in an after school project periodically but not for every activity. This will demonstrate that you are interested and responsible without spreading yourself too thin or taking all of the glory.
Be quiet in class. Avoid entering conversations as this will make your teacher think you were involved in the whole thing. Try only to speak when asked or doing group work. Talking back to your teacher will probably just embarrass you and make your teacher angry.
Always be prepared. Always complete any assigned homework. Always respect your teacher, your classmates, the rules, school and etc. This attitude helps you be prepared for anything.
Keep your class notes. Write things down: when, where, what, who. Don't repeatedly ask the teacher for basic facts that were already given. For example: do not ask your teacher what chapter you are supposed to read. You should always have a way to take notes when in class and pay attention. Show that you do care and wish to learn.
Be creative. A good way to get a teacher to like you go beyond the expectations on projects. Have a little fun with their assignments!
Find a common interest. Maybe you both love that sports team, or maybe you both obsess over animated movies. This can be something to talk about when you finish your work early and your teacher is not busy. If they know you know they have real interests like you and your classmates, they will like you more.
Talk to them like regular people. Get to know them better, ask about them. Asking if they had a nice weekend it shows that you like and are interested in them. Commenting on their appearance, or simply just talking to them will create a friendly bond. They are also regular people like you and your friends. But there are some teachers who do not speak much about personal life. Hence, you must rely on their reactions about who entertains friendly conversations.
Do work ahead. When you can, complete and hand your homework in advance. It suggests that you care about the class. There's also not a chance of forgetting it at home the day it's due.
If you don't do your homework, don't fake it. Offer to do extra credit to make up the missed assignment. Be honest about it and apologize. Most, if not all teachers, appreciate honesty over white lies.
Don't forget your homework at home. Come up with a system for keeping it with you, e.g., while you are doing your homework keep your binder and bag next to you and when you are finished put it in there.
Know what your teacher likes. Some teachers like for students to be quiet, and ask questions only when it is necessary, while others will want you to always report back to them to show interest in the lesson. Learn what your teacher likes by watching reactions to other students. Once you know what they like, do it as much as possible.
Participate. As well as looking attentive during the lesson, you should be acting engaged. Teachers appreciate students who nod when they understand something. Ask questions if you don't understand something, and the teacher will be happy to answer it for you. If a teacher asks the class questions, answer questions that you know the answers to. It shows that you can learn and retain information, which is really what teachers want to see. Especially give an answer like a 'yes' or a 'no' when asked a question. Keeping mum when questioned makes the teacher feel that no one is alert or attentive. Speak up in the class without wondering what your classmates will think of you and the teachers will respect you for participating and paying attention. It would also show that you are making an effort to learn the material. If something doesn't make sense to you, ask it. If you disagree with something the teacher said, say it, but don't be rude and if they defend their point, retract yours.
Be friendly. Take it a step further by making casual conversation with them, either after or before class. If they mentioned something specific about their family, ask how it is going, especially if it was something stressful or difficult. The teacher feels like you have enough respect to care about them as a person, and not just see them as the evil figure. Also, if the teacher has a good sense of humor, joke with them occasionally.
Be respectful. At the very least this means that you don't back-talk, insult or antagonize the teacher. This might be difficult, especially with teachers who are just plain mean. But if you are polite to them, they will seem dumb being rude to you. Also, do whatever the teacher says as soon as possible. Just following directions can go a long way. It is always a good idea to greet your teachers when you see him/her. Find out their birthday and congratulate them. Respect your teacher. Make sure that you are always on time.
Pay attention. Don't talk to your friends during a lecture. Don't send text messages, or constantly stare at the clock, or otherwise you will show that teacher that you couldn't care less about what he or she is saying. Be respectful and appear motivated — even if the topic is very boring. There's nothing more that a teacher doesn't like than a student who is ignoring him/her. Try looking at the teachers in the eyes when possible, and smile when they look at you. Don't laugh or giggle. Laugh at your teacher's "jokes".
Do outside research. This doesn't mean you have to write an essay or anything. It just means that you take what you've learned in class a step further. Ask your teacher a question that may not be related to the specific topic you're learning, but is related to their field. This may be especially useful if it is a thought-provoking question or a question you've had for awhile. It also can mean that you found out more about something you're learning that the teacher didn't mention or a new perspective. Teachers like seeing this because it shows that you care enough about the topic to do a little something extra.
Do extra credit assignments. This will help boost your grade and get the teacher to like you even more. Try doing two or three extra credit assignments, and try to pick the semi-hard ones, not any too hard that you don't understand how to do, but also not so ridiculously easy that the teacher will think that you are not capable of doing work harder than that.
Don't talk out of turn. If you talk out of turn while the teacher or another student is talking they will think you are rude and disrespectful.
Think before you talk. If you ask a dumb question or ask something that she/he has already said, it shows that you weren't paying attention!
Turn in your work on time. If you don't, you may have to do it again and then you will be one step behind the rest of your class.
Don't interrupt your teacher. When your teacher is explaining something, wait for him or her to finish. If you still don't understand, you can ask your question, but if you wait it out, there's a good chance your teacher will answer your question without you asking it. Teachers don't like to be interrupted because it's a sign of disrespect and can also get in the way of their plans.
10/12/15 - 10/16/15
Friendship Making Guidelines
- Like yourself – Think positively about yourself and have confidence you can be a good friend to yourself.
- Let others know you want to be their friend – Let others know that you are interested in them. Find out about their interests and preferences. Don’t just talk about yourself or be self centered.
- Reach out to people – Make an effort to get to know others. Initiate a greeting, a first move, or a conversation. You can be direct or subtle to start a potential relationship.
- Share yourself with others – Be ready to confide about personal, intimate thoughts and feelings at the right time so others will see and understand you as you are. Others will want to know your talents and interests when it feels right.
- Take part in activities – Join organizations, clubs, or classes in and out of school. Be a part of activities that interest you, including giving service to others.
- Expect to work at a relationship – Be ready to do your part to make contacts and plan get togethers. Don’t depend on your friends to make all the plans or decide on activities.
- Be pleasant – Act in a pleasing way by giving praise, being polite, smiling, showing tolerance and respect, and being accepting.
- Communicate well – Minimize confusion by expressing your ideas, thoughts, and feelings clearly. Listen to others actively and clarify anything that could be confusing. Also, pay attention to what they say verbally and nonverbally and give direct eye contact. Avoid blaming, teasing and negative comments.
- Get along with others – Learn how to problem solve and resolve conflicts. Allow others to vent or talk out issues and understand their perspectives. You can still be assertive and stand up for your rights.
- Balance give and take – Include friends in good times as well as bad. Listen to them rather than only using them as a sounding board for your concerns. Don’t be aloof, selfish or overly dependent when you or your friend needs help or support.
- Don’t be manipulated – When feeling lonely, don’t put up with others who do not have your best interests in mind. Avoid so-called friends you don’t really need who may be harmful or negative.
- Be fun to be with – Look for humor in your life and be able to laugh at yourself. Share fun experiences with others and play and laugh together.
- Learn and practice core standards – Emphasize qualities such as trustworthiness, responsibility, caring, encouraging, loyalty, approval, forgiveness, accountability, honesty, respect, equality, appreciation, and cooperation.
Psychologist Stuart Dansinger
09/28/15 - 10/03/15
Some healthy ways of handling stress include the following:
- Change the source of the stress. Do something else for a while. Put down those study notes and jog for an hour.
- Confront the source of the stress. If it is a person, persuade him or her to remove the stress. Ask the teacher for an extension on a project. Sit down with the person driving you crazy and talk about ways you might better work together.
- Talk about the source of stress. Rid yourself of frustration. Find a good listener and complain. Talk through possible solutions.
- Shift your perspective. Tell yourself that each new situation or problem is a new challenge, and that there is something to be learned from every experience. Try to see the humorous side of the situation.
- Learn skills and attitudes that make tasks easier and more successful. Practice effective organization and time-management skills. For example, large projects are easier and less overwhelming when broken down into manageable steps. Learn to type and revise assignments on a word processor. Learn about yourself and your priorities, and use the information to make decisions. Learn how to say "no" gracefully when someone offers you another attractive (or unpleasant) task about which you have a choice. Tell yourself that this unpleasantness will be over soon and that the whole process will bring you closer to reaching your goal. Mark the days that are left on the calendar, and enjoy crossing out each one as you near the finish.
- Take time out for enjoyable activities. Everyone needs a support system. Find friends, teachers, or relatives with whom you have fun. Spend time with these people when you can be yourself and set aside the pressures of school, work, or difficult relationships. As a reward for your efforts, give yourself work breaks. Listen to your favorite music, shoot baskets, or participate in some other brief activity that is mentally restful or fun.
- Ignore the source of the stress. Practice a little healthy procrastination and put a pleasant activity ahead of the stressful one. This, is, of course, only a short-term solution.
- Get regular physical exercise and practice sound nutrition. Physical activity not only provides time out, but also changes your body chemistry as you burn off muscle tension built up from accommodating stress. Exercise also increases resistance to illness. Nutritious food and regular meals help regulate your body chemistry and keep you functioning at your sharpest. Eating healthy and attractively prepared food can be an enjoyable activity on its own.
09/21/15 - 09/25/15
Change your perspective
You cannot form a foundation for your future knowledge and skills without doing homework, no matter how pointless it seems. Even topics that don’t awaken a single spark of interest are important for your general knowledge and development as a person.
If you don’t like algebra, you may understand its importance when you realize that it’s the foundation for economics, business, science, and many other fields of study. When it comes to English homework, you need to understand that paper writing is an essential skill to gain if you want to be a successful student at college and university.
09/14/15 - 09/18/15
While math assignments are constructed and graded rather narrowly, language arts assignments are regularly assessed for creativity and style in addition to technical proficiency. But did you know that professional mathematicians also place a high value on creativity and style when it comes to reviewing each other’s work? Clever and elegant proofs are admired far more because they unveil and illuminate the inherent beauty in mathematics in ways that technically correct but unwieldy proofs cannot.
09/07/15 - 09/11/15
As a GT, it's important to accept that grown-ups are human. Just like you, they make mistakes and don't always make the best decisions. They may say no to your ideas. But they're far more likely to say yes if you are coopertive, respectful, positive, and persistant. So keep trying! The truth is, if you never ask you'll never know what could have happened, and you'll never get to: yes!, great idea!, thanks for the suggestion, let's do it.