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Setting Goals for the Coming School Year

By: Farheen Khan – Viva Learn Content Contributor

So, I woke up the other day, at 9:00 am, and thought to myself, Wow. It’s not 6:00 amAnd if truth be told, that has been my frequent, first-thought-in-the-morning since summer break started. One might muse that it is an insipid sort of occurrence and those such ones I would label as highly unsympathetic. Summertime is freedom-time and it is incumbent upon thoughts of all sorts to run wild. Moreover, summer is when one can use the respective lifestyle to mock the lifestyle of the school year.

To all those revelers, their minds heady with the summer scents and sunshine, I apologize; enjoy what is left of your vacation! August will come to a close before you realize. Therefore, I urge you to start thinking about preparing for the coming school year and endeavor to make it more successful than the last. Whilst frolicking among flowers try to target the areas in which you struggled last year, whether they be subjects or learning skills. Whilst mooning about the park try to remember where you threw all of your binders and notes, and what you have to discard for good and what you might like to keep. And then, sometime in the near future, brave the dust, and actually plunge into organizing the afore-mentioned notes and making a list of things you might have to buy, borrow or steal.

It is prudent to set the tone for the coming school year before it is actually upon you so that you will be more inclined and prepared to pursue your goals. And it is important to be set goals. As I mentioned already, try to think of areas in which you were deficient and ways in which you can improve your performance. Your goals do not necessarily have to be academically oriented; they can concern your behaviour towards others, the way in which you think about school, a club that you might want to start, etc. Whatever else they may be, your goals should be realistic ones so that you will be more inclined to pursue and accomplish them. And remember, as soon as you complete one goal you must set a new one immediately; your journey at school is as much about self-development as it is about academics: you are capable of as many things in the realm of infinity as you yourself set out to reach.

In short, good luck for the coming school year! Brace yourselves if you must but, truth be told, I think that everything is going to go just swimmingly.


End of Summer Activities to Get The Brain Churning Again!

By: Farheen Khan, Content Contributor

In the summer, we can do all the things we dreamt about doing all winter. For kids that means being able to play outside for longer; hiking, camping, boating, tag, man-hunt, jump-rope, biking, going to the park, basketball, soccer, badminton, tennis . . . the list goes on. Take this time to play with your children and spend some quality time with them; it is extremely important for their growth and development as empathetic and active individuals. But in the midst of all this family fun, we entreat you to not forget that academic goals can also be pursued in this free time. It won’t be easy, but we recommend designating about an hour in the morning for studying that which your child struggled with during the school year. Sit down with him/her and discuss the pros and cons of the last school year and glean what his or her strengths and interests are as well as insecurities and deficiencies. Whether it be reading, writing, math or science take some time out to address the issues and plan for them.

Additionally, try to encourage academic pursuits in fun ways. One idea is to make a bird feeder by coating a pinecone in peanut butter and then covering it with seeds to make a rudimentary bird feeder. Then, ask your children to observe the different kinds of birds that come and perhaps documenting them by drawing them and then using print and online resources to find out more about them. Or what about encouraging them to make a picture book for the home book collection? And if you travel somewhere then take a notebook and pencil along and show them how to write a travelogue. These are just a few ideas and you can even design a few yourself that are tailored to your child’s interests and way of learning.

In short, enjoy the rest of summer while it lasts and take advantage of all that this time offers.

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Taking Advantage of the “Early Learning Stage”

By: Farheen Khan, Content Contributor

As parents, it is pretty evident that when children are younger it is much easier to mould their minds and therefore, instill good values and habits. The same can be said for learning habits. Everybody has their strengths and weaknesses and it is important to not only recognize your child’s but also set up a system of learning which provides him/her with the resources and strategy to maximize their strengths and overcome their weaknesses.

There are many different ways to set up this “system of learning” for your child and ultimately, dear parents, you must take the initiative and create one that is fitted to your child’s learning style. In my view, the best way to do this is to encourage questioning in your children as well as showing them the ways in which they can answer their questions. For example, if your child enjoys reading then designate a time at which he/she can read to you. During this time, keep a paper and pencil handy, and jot down words that your child doesn’t understand or cannot pronounce. Then use a dictionary or google to find the definitions of those words and then try to employ those words in your everyday speech. In this way, your child’s vocabulary will develop and he/she will also know how to use the resources available to solve his/her problems.

In terms of mathematics, if your child struggles with it (as I certainly did), urge him/her to do math homework first, before homework from any other subject. Becoming good at math depends largely on doing lots and lots of problems therefore, tackling it first, when one’s mind is still fresh, will ensure that an adequate amount of time is devoted to solving all of the problems and perhaps even a few extra. With all of the work done, your child will come to terms with what he/she understands and doesn’t understand, and hence, will be able to ask you and the teacher more focused questions as opposed to the vague, “I don’t get it”.

Concerning science, find examples in the “real world” of the matter that your child is studying in order to generate an interest and as a result, inquiry. For example, if your child is learning about the water cycle then ask him/her to explain it to you; and the next time it precipitates ask your child  what the mechanisms behind it are and even urge him/her to collect samples, study them, and even collect research from print and online sources.

In conclusion, good luck parents! Your task is by no means easy; learning is a process both for the teacher and student. What is interesting is that often the line separating those two demographics is a blurry one.

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