still make the difference! Websites can motivate teens to read more

still make the difference! Websites can motivate teens to read more
December 2013
Vol. 21, No. 4
Channelview Independent School District
Parents Make the Difference
still make the difference!
Websites can
motivate teens
to read more
Maximize learning with five
memory-boosting strategies
emory skills, especially longterm memory skills, are critical
for learning. Long-term memory is
what builds the “store of knowledge”
we draw on all our lives.
To help your teen boost her
memory power, share these pointers:
1. Look at the big picture. If she
knows an upcoming test is only
on Chapter Four, she will want to
spend most of her time on that
chapter. However, she should
also take a few moments to look
at summaries of other chapters.
This tells her how Chapter Four
relates to the whole unit. Memory
improves when this relationship is
2. Put information on index cards
and review the cards frequently.
Copyright © 2013, The Parent Institute®
This tried-and-true method really
does make remembering small
chunks of information easier.
3. Focus hardest on the middle part
of reading material. Our brains
remember the beginning and end
parts best.
4. Use mnemonics or acronyms.
Techniques like the poem, “Thirty
days hath September,” can help a
teen remember.
5. Study and then rest or sleep.
The brain is never asleep. While
your teen’s body is getting much
needed rest, her brain will still
be working on sorting out and
retaining the material she fed it
just before going to bed.
Source: E. Jensen, Student Success Secrets, Barron’s
Educational Series.
There are many
websites designed
exclusively to
encourage reading.
Here are a few to
share with your teen:
• Bookloons (www.bookloons.
com) has a section just for
teens with contests, book
reviews, excerpts from
upcoming books, articles
and interviews with authors.
• Teen Reads (www.teenreads.
com) has contests, book
clubs, podcasts and videos, book reviews, links to
the newest books and the
“Ultimate Teen Reading
List”—a list of over 250
books that are sure to keep
your teen interested.
• TeensPoint (www. is a great
site where teens can read
reviews or post their own
opinions for others to see.
• Goodreads (www.goodreads.
com) is a book lovers social
networking site, similar to
Facebook, where teens can
see what their friends are
reading, keep track of what
they’ve read and get book
Practical ideas for parents to help their children
Copyright © 2013, The Parent Institute®
Motivate your teen with a time
capsule linking school to future
A time capsule can help
your high schooler think
about her future. Tell her
to write a letter to herself,
to be opened the day
after she graduates from high school.
The letter should spell out her goals
and dreams.
It might start like this: “Dear
[name of teen]: I am writing this
letter to myself in the [grade level]
grade.” In the letter, your teen
should complete the following
• When I graduate from high
school, I want to be known
as the student who ... .
• After high school, I hope to ... .
• In high school, I’ll have to do well
in ... .
Put the letter in a safe place. Just the
act of writing it will help your teen
think about why she needs to study
and focus on school.
Source: E. Wissner-Gross, What High Schools Don’t Tell You,
Hudson Street Group.
“Education’s purpose is
to replace an empty mind
with an open one.”
—Malcolm Forbes
Coaching can help your high
schooler make better decisions
Ever watch how a coach
teaches an athlete a
new skill? Generally, the
coach breaks the skill
down into smaller parts,
then lets the athlete practice them
until the skill is mastered.
This same approach works for
teaching teens how to make better
decisions. Here’s how:
1. Discuss the issue. What is it your
teen needs to do or decide? What
does he already know about this
2. Gather information. If your
teen is facing a decision about a
situation he’s never faced before,
encourage him to avoid making
a choice until he has as much
information as possible.
3. List the alternatives. Encourage
your teen not to think of all
decisions as either-or choices.
There may be several alternatives.
4. Think about consequences.
Draw a line down a piece of
paper. Write one alternative at the
top. On the left side of the paper,
write the positive consequences
from the decision. Write negative
consequences on the right side.
5. Consider feelings and values.
Sometimes, the best decision on
paper may not feel right. Teens
need to consider their family’s
values as they make a choice.
6. Choose the best possible course
of action. Although it’s hard for a
parent to let go of this part of the
decision-making process, it’s the
most important step to turn over
to your teen. If your teen makes a
wise choice, be sure to praise him.
If he makes a poor choice, help
him see how he can avoid that
mistake another time.
Source: “Helping Youth Say No,” National Association of
State Boards of Education, Parent Education Project.
2 • High School • Parents still make the difference! • December 2013
Are you helping
your teen handle
after-school time?
Teens spend twice as
much time out of the
classroom as in it.
And studies show that
teens who use those
after-school hours wisely tend to
do better in school.
Are you helping your teen make
the most of after-school hours?
Answer yes or no to each question
below to find out:
___1. Do you know where your teen
goes after school?
___2. Do you ask your teen to check
in with you when he gets home from
school if you are at work?
___3. Have you encouraged your
teen to join a school club or sport he
enjoys? Research shows that teens
who do more than just study are
more successful after high school.
___4. Do you limit the time your
teen can watch TV after school?
___5. Does your teen have a regular
study time and do you check to see
that homework is finished?
How well are you doing?
Each yes means you’re helping your
teen use after-school hours wisely.
For no answers, try those ideas.
still make the difference!
Practical Ideas for Parents to Help
Their Children. ISSN: 1523-2395
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The Parent Institute®, 1-800-756-5525,
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Published monthly September through May by
The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc., an
independent, private agency.
Equal opportunity employer.
Copyright © 2013 NIS, Inc.
Publisher: John H. Wherry, Ed.D.
Editor: Rebecca Miyares.
Illustrator: Joe Mignella.
Copyright © 2013, The Parent Institute®
Reduce your teen’s stress to
improve attendance, learning
Research has found that
teens who experience
stress at home are likely
to have attendance
problems and difficulty
learning at school for up to two
days following the stress. The study
found that sources of stress for teens
• Conflict with parents.
• Family demands.
• Problems with homework.
• Time management issues.
It makes sense—if your teen is
spending her time in science class
thinking about something that
happened at home the night before,
she is less likely to pay attention—
and therefore less likely to learn.
If your teen is experiencing stress,
suggest that she:
• Take a deep breath. It sounds
simple, but works surprisingly
well. Taking time to stop and
think about the issue at hand may
help your teen see a solution to
the problem.
• Exercise. Twenty to 30 minutes of
exercise can relieve tension and
clear your teen’s head. If she’s
feeling stressed, encourage her
to go for a run or try some yoga.
Eating right will also keep your
teen feeling her best.
• Keep a journal. Some teens find
that it’s easier to write down their
feelings. This is a great way to
relieve stress—and your teen will
be strengthening her writing skills
at the same time.
Source: J. Warner, “Teen Stress at Home Lingers in School,”
WebMD Health News,
Give your teen three test-taking
strategies that lead to success
Whether it’s that allimportant driver’s test
or a short quiz in math
class, testing is a fact of
life for today’s teens.
To help your teen succeed on any
test, suggest that he:
1. Read the directions carefully.
This will keep your teen from
making simple and avoidable mistakes. The directions could say,
“Answer two of these four questions.” Or they could say that some
questions have more than one
correct answer. On a math test,
the directions may ask your teen
to show his work.
2. Use time wisely. Have your teen
read through the entire test before
answering any questions. Then
budget his time. If the essay
question is worth 50 points, he
will know how much time to
allow. He’ll also know when he’s
spending too much time on a
single question. Using time wisely
also means using all the time
available. Some teens treat tests
like a NASCAR race—they want
to be first across the finish line.
Teach your teen to use any extra
time to check his work.
3. Answer the easy questions first.
Getting off to a strong start can
give your teen the confidence
to tackle tougher questions.
Answering the easier questions
first may also remind your teen
of a fact or two that he’ll need in
order to answer the more difficult
Source: J. Thompson, The First-Year Teacher’s Survival Guide,
Jossey-Bass Publishers.
Q: My son’s grades have never
been very good, and this year
(his first year in high school) is
no exception. He wants to try
out for a school team. Should
I make him sit out this sports
season until his grades improve
or should I let him try out?
Questions & Answers
A: There are two ways to look at
after-school activities. For some
students, these activities take up
study time. But for others, the
sports may actually help students
do better in school.
The key, as always, is balance.
Most teens who spend fewer
than 20 hours on an activity or
sport can also be good students.
Playing a sport can help teens:
• Learn time management.
Many teens get their best
grades during their sports
season. They spend less time
watching TV or goofing around
with their friends.
• Set higher goals for themselves.
Athletes often set their sights
on going to college. If your
son spends time with students
who are aiming high, perhaps
he’ll set his own sights a bit
To make the right decision:
• Talk to your son’s coach and
share your concerns about
his grades. Find out what the
rules are about athletes’ grades
and ask his opinion.
• Ask the coach to talk with
your son. Have him tell your
son about the grades and test
scores he’ll need if he wants
to keep playing sports in high
school and into college.
• Set clear expectations for
success. Most teen athletes
will rise to the challenge.
December 2013 • High School • Parents still make the difference! • 3
Copyright © 2013, The Parent Institute®
It Matters: Building Character
builds character
and experience
Volunteering is a
great way to help
teens build character.
Community service can
teach important lessons
in responsibility, discipline and
When your teen participates
in community service, she is not
only contributing to society—she
is contributing to her own future.
Volunteer work can help her
identify career interests and
build workplace skills. It can also
enhance her college application,
as many colleges view community
service as a valuable learning
Studies show that teens who
volunteer just two hours a week
are 50 percent less likely to smoke,
drink or do drugs. In addition, teens
who volunteer earn better grades
and develop leadership skills that
will help them throughout life.
The holiday season offers many
opportunities for community
service. Your teen can:
• Volunteer at a soup kitchen.
• Work at a food pantry, sorting
donated goods.
• Visit a nursing home.
• Help with a food or clothing
• Collect items for a toy drive.
• Wrap gifts at a local mall.
Check at your local library or
community center for volunteer
opportunities in your area.
Source: R. Grimm, Jr. and others, Youth Helping
America, Corporation for National & Community Service,
Does your teen understand
the value of academic honesty?
oday, many teens think that
cheating is normal. The results
of several studies show that
between 80 and 95 percent of teens
admitted to cheating at least once
in the past year. And 75 percent
admitted to cheating four or more
times in the past year.
To discourage your teen from
• Talk about it. Let him know that
copying answers from a friend
is cheating. So is plagiarizing—
trying to pass off information
from a book or the Internet as
your own original effort.
• Don’t do his work for him. This
sends the message that turning
in another’s work is okay. It also
says that you don’t think he can
do the work on his own.
• Encourage your teen to be proud
of himself when he accomplishes
things on his own. This tells him
he can do it—without cheating.
Source: T. Walker, “What Can Be Done About Student
Cheating? ” National Education Association, http://
A positive attitude is vital to
your teen’s success, happiness
A positive attitude is
the cornerstone of
character. Many key
elements of character,
including kindness,
empathy and leadership, are
impossible to achieve if you only
look at the dark side of life.
To encourage positivity, help
your teen:
• Be hopeful. On most days, some
things will go well and others
won’t. Don’t dwell on what went
wrong. Focus more on what
went well. Make it your starting
point for beginning the next day.
4 • High School • Parents still make the difference! • December 2013
• Move on. Your teen didn’t get
picked for a certain team. The
next chance to try out isn’t until
next year and no changes will
be made to this year’s roster.
After some disappointment,
encourage her to put it behind
her for now. Look in a new
• Avoid comparing herself to
others. There will always be
someone who seems smarter,
more popular or more fortunate.
Focusing on feelings of “not
quite measuring up” can squash
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