If you’re like most parents you’re trying to strike a balance between supporting your kids and letting them figure things out on their own. Part of that is identifying what kids really need to be set up for success, and then inspiring and coaching them to achieve their best. Here are 3 things that your kids will thank you for:
1. The Right Technology
You may be considering a tablet, PC or combination tablet/PC for your student. How do you make the decision?
Start by identifying the type of activities they will perform on the PC– watching videos, editing photos, sending email, playing games, etc.
Figure out if a touch screen is important. People learn in different ways. With the availability of touch screens on laptop computers, kinaesthetic learners have another way to interact with the PC, which may lead to increased engagement in the learning process.
Consider how portable the computer has to be when selecting screen size, weight and durability of construction. www.pcmatchmaker.ca has a helpful tool which asks you a few questions, including budget, and guides you to computers currently available at retail.
2. Time Management Skills
The results of recent survey by Intel Canada of high school and post-secondary students make it clear that there needs to be a greater focus on the development of time management skills and self-discipline while still in high school:
- 87% of students polled recognize that time management and self-discipline are critical skills to ensure success
- Over 4 out of 10 students polled think they significantly lack skills in this area
- Over 1 in 4 polled would tell their younger selves to develop these skills
In my experience, time management is given cursory attention in elementary school through the issuance of agendas. Agendas are wonderful tools, but I have witnessed them being used more as note-taking devices than time management tools. Here are four time management tools to support your students:
a) Set your student up with a calendar they can access at any time. This could be a paper planner as they will already be comfortable with this concept, or a calendar application that resides on their computer and syncs with their smartphone. The calendar must be used not only to capture due dates and write down deliverables, but to schedule time to actually complete work. All your student’s activities should be noted in the calendar, with particular attention to including those in the after school and weekend hours. If activities are recorded, the child will start to have a sense of the time available to complete project work. This will go a long way to preventing last minute panic.
b) Students will want a way of capturing their tasks as well. Creating one “to do” list to refer to is very helpful. When feeling overwhelmed, getting to do’s out on paper or on pc helps reduce stress. One simple and free to get into application I use is Workflowy.
c) A reminder system is also helpful. In most cases, I encourage people to turn notifications off, but sometimes you do need a reminder to break your focus so you can attend to a commitment.
d) Kids may need coaching to build the habit of referring to their time management tools. My son was pretty adamant he didn’t need any tools to remember and meet his commitments. It didn’t take long before I had an example of this not working to reinforce the merits of a recorded system. I recently coached a high school girl who found she had been able to manage everything in her mind for years, but suddenly in grade 10, things just became too much and deadlines were slipping. It’s never to early to teach time management skills – it will serve your student for life.
3. A Comfortable Working Environment
I shout out about ergonomics any chance I get – making sure the body is comfortable in its environment when trying to work…or study. It’s important to have a supportive chair and a comfortable computer set up. It’s also important to think about avoiding injury when travelling. Student loads can be quite heavy with books, computers, phones, food and drink, exercise gear, and perhaps even a large set of headphones. When choosing a backpack, select one that
a) Fits the torso and offers well-shaped straps and back
b) Is durable and light-weight. Kids should carry no more than ten percent of their body weight.
c) Protects your technology
d) Has capacity and built in organization to store what you need
I was walking by the North Face store in Toronto’s swanky Yorkville on the weekend and this pack – the Surge II Charged that caught my eye. It was the organized compartments, ergonomic straps, adjustability, padding, sharp detailing and cool portable power pack I found compelling. The lifetime guarantee on the product may just make it worth the investment. You’d better choose a colour you like, for this bag will last a long time!
*Disclosure: I worked with Intel to develop the poll and am excited to share the results. It’s wonderful to have an opportunity to bring focus to an area students themselves recognize needs more attention.