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Train Your Brain Day

This day each year gives us an incredible opportunity. October 13th is Train Your Brain Day. However, every day is full of choices to be made, whether big or small. Those tiny routine actions made such as opening your eyes upon waking up in the morning to life changing decisions like getting married or running for President all start with functions of your brain. You couldn’t do anything without the use of it. And with its power, you can do anything.

This Day’s History

This day was created to draw attention to the fact that your brain is powerful tool, one that has earth-changing potential. It was also established to motivate us to use that tool for the world’s benefit.

With your brain you can not only invent new ideas and innovations, solve world problems, and design some of the most amazing structures on the planet but you can also change the way you feel, the way you think, and the way you live your everyday life.

We also have an opportunity whether we realize it or not to train our brains continuously. We tell it how to react to certain situations, how to read feelings in ourselves and others, and we even tell it what it has the power to do, sometimes putting it in a box.

This day is made for realizing that there is no box too large for the mind. Its potential and capabilities are endless, you alone limit those. You, with your brain, have to power to feel certain ways, think in certain mindsets, and react to others and the world around you. How you do that is completely up to you. It’s a simple choice you can make. If you want to have the best day or life possible, you alone can choose to make decisions and react positively.

How it is Celebrated

Train Your Brain Day is celebrated by making choices to better yourself and your future. That could mean doing some cognitive exercises like crosswords, math problems, or puzzles of various kinds. It could be teaching yourself something new such a new language or enrolling in an art class. Or it could be as unpretentious as waking up with the mindset of succeeding and choosing to not get upset if things don’t go as planned or how you had hoped.

Train your brain to be a positive and empowering tool. Every moment offers you the opportunity to make a positive reaction or a negative one. Let’s choose to make the world better by training our brains to be the best they can be both in simple everyday actions and those earth-moving ones that defy all odds.

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Mother hepls her child in homework

Time management can be stressful for any adult, especially if you have children. Think about it. How often do you have to ask your child what is taking them so long or tell them to hurry up? If you are anything like most of us, its pretty often. However, you can help gain some of your sanity back by teaching them some basic time management skills.

Measuring VS Telling Time

This is teaching them to tell time, this showing them how to measure it. Even if they already know how to tell time, most kids struggle with measuring how much time certain tasks take. This why there is such exaggeration among youngsters when it comes to this topic. Set a timer during a math project or task they are working on. Or keep an eye on the clock and give them a countdown as they work. This helps them to get a better feel of what one hour or even one minute actually feels like. As they get better adjusted, you will be able to say things like “We are leaving in 15 minutes,” and they will understand that they don’t have time to watch TV, get a snack, and take a shower first.

Make A Calendar

This is a great way to teach children about what it takes to schedule your week and your day. While this can be family fun, art activity, it also teaches each child about what other members of the family have going on. It also gives them an idea of how they need to prioritize their time to make sure everything and everyone can work together. In addition to a calendar for the whole family, having one for each specific child or member of the family is a great idea. This allows a child to be even more creative with their schedule. Work with them to list daily activities, chores, and homework and prioritize them accordingly.

Don’t Be Too Busy

A common mistake for many households is that they feel the need to be involved in everything at once. This leads to double booking, miscommunication, and a constantly revolving door. Children quickly get worn out and frustrated if all they do is go, go, go. While this does teach them to watch the clock, it doesn’t give them the opportunity to learn time management skills the right way. Instead, make sure to not overbook your kids’ schedules. One of the best learning tools for children is free time and free play. So, make sure to schedule down time into your week and day. This enables the child to focus on more than just the ticking clock.

It Has To Be Fun

Time management for a child is not just about a clock and learning to tell time. Its learning to prioritize activities, free time, homework and much more. The best way to get them to understand it is to make it fun for them to do. Use kid friendly tools like colorful magnetic calendars, a bright and cheerful to do list that they can color and design themselves, or apps that are geared for children for those that love technology. Use stickers, make tasks a game, try to beat the clock. The more fun they have completing tasks, the more likely they are to learn the importance of time management and be able to utilize it.

For more tips and tricks click here.

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Children help parents

What’s the appropriate age to introduce chores into your children’s routine? A study from the University of Minnesota found that teaching toddlers to do chores can have surprising payoffs later in life. People who began doing chores at the age of 3 or 4 were actually more successful as adults. Doing chores from an early age was an even better predictor of success than having a high IQ.

Lots of parents are familiar with children’s instincts to help around the house. Young children are often excited to help prepare dinner or do laundry. Often though, it’s easier to decline their help and complete these tasks ourselves. We think that including them will just slow us down. And this may be true. However, it turns out that taking advantage of children’s natural inclination to help can actually teach them valuable life skills that are more difficult to learn later. In many cases, parents and teachers report that assigning chores to young children teaches them to be part of team, and to take responsibility for their environment.

Children help parents

While involving very young children in daily chores may be somewhat unusual in the U.S., it is actually quite common in other places. At elementary schools in Japan, daily chores are a normal part of many students’ education. Beginning in first grade, students are responsible for everything from cleaning floors to serving lunch. Educators in Japan believe that it helps to teach the kind of civic skills and community-mindedness that we want students to develop. Because students take part in the practice from such a young age, cleaning up after themselves becomes a normal part of everyday life, even at school.

Although it is much less common, some schools in the U.S. have also begun using chores to teach children to be responsible for their space. At Armadillo Technical Institute in Phoenix, school-age children spend 30 minutes a day helping to clean the school after lunch. Kim De Costa, the school’s executive director, says that being responsible for the school’s upkeep teaches the students to respect their environment and encourages them to think of the school as theirs.

Even if most children in the U.S. don’t learn chores at school, parents can still use simple tasks to help teach valuable life skills at home. Researchers in the University of Minnesota study stress that it’s important to provide safe, easy opportunities for children to contribute. For instance, a toddler can help set the table using plastic cups and plates. Or a young child can practice their colors while helping to sort laundry. The key is to introduce these responsibilities before children are adolescents and have their own schedules packed with activities and other responsibilities. This way, young people learn to approach school and work with a sense of discipline that continues to pay off later in life.

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Children to Tell Time

One of the most enjoyable and important milestones for young children is learning to tell time on a traditional analog clock. For parents, it often marks a proud moment when we can congratulate our children on accomplishing an important goal. For children, there’s a sense of pride in having solved a grown-up puzzle.

How to go about teaching this skill is often a mystery though. Do we teach children to count by five? Should we label every tick mark on the clock, one through sixty? Like any other skill, there’s no one best way to teach every child. By knowing your child’s strengths and having a sense of what skills you want them to learn, you can come up with lessons that make learning to tell time easy and fun.

One way to approach this lesson is to teach children to count by five. In some cases, parents teach children to look at the numbers on the clock and multiply by five. So if the child sees the second hand on the “9”, they would come up with “45.” However, for young children who lack the math skills to multiply, it can be useful to help your child memorize the appropriate numbers. You could make a paper clock labeled with minute markers to help your child memorize the positions of “5, 10, 15, 20,” and so on.

Next, you want to make sure your child is comfortable counting to sixty. It’s important to master this skill before taking on the clock so that children don’t become frustrated encountering strange numbers. Once a child knows that the “10” on the clock means “50,” they can count off the tick marks to get the exact time. This short cut can help children feel like they’ve accomplished something big before they’re able to multiply the actual numbers or count around the entire clock.

Finally, it’s important to make practicing a normal part of you and your children’s routines. Maybe there’s a clock in the kitchen where they eat breakfast before school. You could assign your child the task of telling you when it’s 7:30 or 7:35, so you know when it’s time to leave the house. This gives them an important responsibility and tells them that you believe they can do an important job. Then after school, you might ask them to tell you when it’s 6:30 so everyone knows it’s time for dinner. By providing simple but exciting opportunities to practice, you can help motivate your child to pick up an important skill that much faster.

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Note Book with Pen

Effective note-taking is one of the most important skills a student can develop. Taking great notes in class doesn’t just help a student to remember material later. Well-organized notes are the foundation for every part of the learning process. By mastering some basic note-taking skills, students can ensure that they’re getting the most out of their time in class and at home.

An effective note-taking practice can be broken down into three phases: before class, in class, and after class. When students read material before it is covered in class, it is important that they have a sense of what is most critical in the reading, and record their reactions to that material. What topics seem the most important? Often, the headings and subheadings in a reading are a good indicator of the main ideas in a text. Students should start their notes by recording any key points they encounter in the material. They can also use this time to write down any questions they have about what they’ve read. Maybe they were surprised by something in the reading. Or perhaps there was a story that didn’t make sense to them. These are all things that students can address with their teachers in class, using their own notes.

The second part of the note-taking process is listening and participating in class discussions. When the teacher talks about the material, what are the things he emphasizes? What are the questions he asks? In this part of the process, students should try to draw connections between the things they noticed and the things the teacher highlights. Are they the same? What are the things the teacher points out that the student didn’t notice? What kinds of questions are the other students asking? These are all keys that can help a student get a more well-rounded sense of the material.

The final step in the note-taking process is managing the notes after class. Once a student has recorded their own thoughts and the thoughts of their teacher and classmates, it’s time to review and make connections. Students will likely have lots of references to a few key ideas throughout their notes. This is the time to organize and re-write notes that reflect the most important parts of the material. What are the things the teacher said to focus on? Is there anything the students found confusing that the teacher explained in class? By reviewing and reorganizing notes after class, students have a chance to focus their notes on what’s really important in the class.

The goal of reviewing and revising notes is to make sure that students have a clear and efficient study guide to help them master material. If there is something they wrote that is less important, they can leave it out of their revised notes. If something they hadn’t noticed turns out to be more significant, they can give it more room in their revised notes. By approaching note-taking thoughtfully in these three areas, students give themselves a head start on performing well at homework and exam time.

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No SAT Exam

Some of America’s top colleges have begun reducing or eliminating the SAT/ACT requirements for applicants. Most of the colleges involved say that the move is intended to help first-generation and underprivileged students compete for spots at top schools. In many cases, the reduction in standardized testing requirements is accompanied by an increase in financial aid for these same students.

One of the most popular changes to the testing requirements is the elimination of subject area tests as a required part of the application. While the standard SAT includes reading, writing, and math sections, there are also optional sections like Spanish and Biology, where students can illustrate mastery in additional areas. Many colleges used these tests to place new students in the appropriate levels of college courses. By not requiring these optional tests, schools hope to lower the cost and stress associated with testing for college admission.

A number of schools have also dropped the essay requirement for standardized tests. Both the SAT and ACT include some multiple choice questions that measure students’ writing, vocabulary, and comprehension skills. However, both also offer an optional essay, where students can pay an extra fee to take a short writing test and report the score as part of their application. Columbia University and Cornell University have both eliminated the writing requirement for incoming students. Harvard University announced this spring that it too would eliminate the requirement for students entering next fall.

The University of Chicago, meanwhile, has completely eliminated standardized test scores as a requirement on its freshman application. Students may still report the scores, but they can also opt to submit other materials that they think better represent their academic skills and accomplishments. Chicago’s program is specifically intended to give lower income students, who typically do not perform as well on standardized tests, additional options to “stand out in the application process.”

While these policies may be aimed at first-generation students, they are likely good news for lots of applicants and their families. Standardized testing is one of the most stressful parts of the college application process. By giving students options in how they approach it, students and their families have more tools to put together an application that most accurately reflects their academic strengths.

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Kid doing meditation

One of the greatest challenges in any school is when and how to discipline students who exhibit poor behavior. We’re all familiar with the idea of detention, and in extreme case, suspension, as a form of punishment for disruptive students. But some schools in the U.S. are experimenting with a radical new form of discipline aimed at teaching students better coping skills to help deal with the conflicts they encounter in class.

At Robert W. Coleman Elementary School in Baltimore, students who act out aren’t sent directly to the principal’s office. Instead, they’re sent to the school’s meditation room. The Mindful Moment Room, as it’s called, is a place where students can sit quietly, not to be punished, but to think and breathe and calm themselves after a rough interaction with another student or a teacher. Carlillian Thompson, Coleman’s principal, reports students hardly get sent to her office anymore. Through meditation, most students are able to regain a sense of calm, and return to their classrooms and their work.

Coleman isn’t just using meditation for discipline. It is one of a handful of schools that have actually incorporated mindfulness into the regular school day. Every morning, an announcement over the intercom leads students in 15 minutes of guided meditation. The idea is to set the tone for a productive day.

They have a similar practice at Burton High School in San Francisco. A few years ago, Principal Bill Kappenhagen extended the school day at Burton by 30 minutes to accommodate daily meditation for the students. The program, called Quiet Time, is part of a partnership between the San Francisco Public School District and the Center for Wellness and Achievement in Education. Since the program’s inception, the school reports a 75% decrease in suspensions. Burton is one of four schools in San Francisco currently participating in the program.

Schools like Coleman and Burton aren’t simply experimenting with new forms of discipline. In the last few years, research has supported the idea that meditation and mindfulness practices can have all sorts of benefits for children. In one study, children between 9 and 13 years old had less anxiety and were better able to pay attention after participating in mindfulness-based therapy. Of course, there’s lots of research showing that meditation has physical and mental benefits for adults. The question for many researchers and educators is whether children can marshal those same benefits to improve their behavior and do better in school. At schools like Coleman and Burton, teachers are finding that mindfulness is a promising alternative to old-fashioned kinds of discipline, and may teach students skills that they can use to cope with life’s challenges beyond the classroom.

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Flash Cards

Not many people think of study aids as a source of fun and creativity. However, flash cards are one of the most effective tools students can use to remember material. And they can also be lots of fun to make and use. By encouraging your student to personalize and be creative with these study tools, you can improve their engagement with the material they are trying to master.

First, let’s think about the basic idea of a flash card. You might be thinking of an index card with a word or phrase on one side and a definition on the other side. Or you could be thinking of a card with the name of an important person or event at the top, and a few key details underneath it. If you visualize these cards in your mind, you’ll see there are lots of ways to be creative and make them a reflection of the person using them.

Student with Flash Cards

One simple way to make flash cards more fun and effective is to add color. If your student is a visual learner, adding color gives them another way to remember material. If they’re studying material that has different categories, they can use a different color for the cards in each category. For example, a student studying French vocabulary might make flash cards with feminine words in one color and masculine words in another color. This way, visualizing the card can help them remember the gender of the word. It also gives the student the opportunity to mark, color, highlight, or otherwise personalize their study aids to make them more fun.

Another option is that students who like to draw can take advantage of their skills by drawing out illustrations instead of writing out traditional details and definitions. There may be students who remember the definition of “mirth” better by drawing out a smiling face than by writing out the definition from the dictionary. For some students, an elaborate drawing, bordering on an art portrait, may be the most satisfying reference point. For these students, the time they spend creating their cards is just as important as the time they spend studying them. The experience and memory of creating something can be just as powerful a reminder as reviewing it later.

Finally, don’t think that flash cards have to be limited to writing and drawing. We’ve all heard of study aids that involve singing songs and doing physical activities to help students remember material. Flash cards can be multi-dimensional, too. Students can use paint, ribbon, decorative tape, photographs, or anything else that makes the cards more interesting and helps them engage with the material. If they need ideas, social media sites like Pinterest and Instagram are a great source of inspiration. There are lots of users who share their creative homemade study guides online.

Wherever students get their ideas, the point is to allow them to express themselves in a way that makes studying more personal. This is one way to help them stay connected to material they might otherwise find challenging.

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Extra-curricular Activities

By now we all know that participating in extra-curricular activities is an important part of children’s education. Students learn discipline, teamwork, creativity, and other important life skills in the activities they do outside the classroom. They also become well-rounded people who have interesting stories to tell when it’s time to apply to college. However, the cost of children’s extra-curricular activities can be daunting for some families. It’s important to keep costs in mind and structure children’s schedules so that they’re getting the benefits of activity without burdening the family finances.

One of the first ways you can save money on your children’s activities is by encouraging them to participate in school-based clubs and teams. Private sports leagues can be a major expense. Registration and travel fees, along with uniforms and other equipment can easily surpass $1,000 per child per season. One of the benefits of school-based activities is that many of these costs are shouldered by the school/district rather than the parents. For instance, a private baseball league will likely require each player to provide his own equipment. A school league though, may provide bats, balls, and transportation to and from games, along with other perks.

Another way to keep costs down is to limit the number of activities students try at one time. Some parents find success letting children do only one or two activities at a time. Other parents make sure that children understand that their activities are a commitment. So a student can’t give up on an expensive new activity after a just a few weeks. This encourages kids to be more thoughtful about what they take on.

It’s also important to remember that not every activity has to be organized. There are lots of fun, character-building things students can take up on their own, for much less money than group-based activities. For instance, running and cycling are highly regarded activities with measurable mental health benefits and very little up-front cost. By encouraging your student to try something on their own, you teach them not to be limited by the obvious options and to think about the kinds of things that they might personally enjoy. Maybe there’s no art club at your child’s school. But a few trips to the local arts and crafts store could take the place of expensive private lessons.

Students participating in extra-curricular activities

The key is to be flexible in thinking about the choices you and your children have in taking on activities. Be realistic about your family’s financial situation and don’t worry that your children are missing out if they’re not playing on the most expensive teams. It’s okay if they don’t do every activity their friends are doing. Sometimes the things we really love are things we find all on our own. As long as your children are thoughtful and committed to the projects they start, there is no shortage of lessons they can learn from whatever they decide to try.

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