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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.

study zone

Getting in the Study Zone

By: Farheen, Content Contributor

So, I don’t know about you, dear readers, but I had an extremely relaxing winter break. So relaxing in fact that the thought of going back to school last week was like acid melting my brain and a hot flame burning my soul. Dramatic as it might sound, it’s true. It’s difficult to get back in the school spirit and fall back into the rhythm of homework and projects, when you’ve spent two weeks lounging around in your pyjamas and staring at birds from the window as the only form of mental exercise.

Now getting back to school is bad enough just spending six hours within the confines of four walls and a few windows and listening to information that you can’t make sense of, but even worse is going back home with a huge stack of homework. Not to mention, I’m an optimist. I always make big plans of finishing all of my homework and going to bed on time – but when the couch looks so comfy and a new book is waiting for me and the pillows feel especially downy and my sweatpants have just the right amount of warmth, my plans vanish into smoke and before I know, it’s 7:00 pm and I’ve barely done any schoolwork.

Obviously, life cannot continue like this. So I devised a strategy to “get in the study zone” when doing homework. It’s not fool-proof and does require a degree of discipline but I hope it helps.

Getting in the Study Zone

First of all take a break after coming back from school. I give myself an hour, sometimes an hour and a half. Allow yourself to recuperate, rejuvenate and clear your brain.

Then get refreshed. Splash your face with water, comb out our hair, and put on some decent clothes as though you’re stepping out. But here’s the catch – you don’t actually go out. After getting ready, sit down at your desk, kitchen table, etc., and get that homework done!

I’ve found this technique puts me “in the zone” because I associate certain types of dress code with the different aspects of my lifestyle. Sweat pants, pyjamas and the ratty shirt with the stain on it is for home life and the clean jeans, fresh t-shirt and citrus lotion is for school and the outside world. I’ve observed that when I do homework in my home apparel I’m less inclined to work and more inclined to lounge. But when I put on the façade of “going out”- because I associate that attire with school, doing schoolwork, and being out in public, I’m more focused on my work and it gets done much faster. This is basically the “dress for success” ideal but for home.

I hope this technique works for you. And if not, try inventing one of your own, tailored to your way of thinking and lifestyle.

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How Trying Something New Can Help You in School

– By Farheen, Viva Learn Content Contributor

We all know that school can be a stressful period in our lives. There is a lot of stuff we have to stuff into our brains, ensure that the stuff stays stuffed and then find a way to arrange the stuff so that there is room for new stuff. Tests, grades, report cards are all causes of stress, and sometimes it becomes difficult for students to breakout of the monotony of school life, or even enjoy the learning process.

School shouldn’t be burdensome but that’s what it has become for a lot of youth. Because everything is graded and evaluated, it’s difficult to have fun when you’re is learning, especially when it comes to a subject that you dread.

I won’t claim to be an expert on the matter, but I think I’ve figured out what’s useful for this problem – trying new things. Joining and committing to something completely new can be an extremely daunting experience but the benefits are numerous. Firstly, it builds initiative – taking a shot at something that you have no experience with requires courage but once you take the first step, the worst is over. Purposefully putting yourself out there builds confidence and encourages you to be a risk-taker. Secondly, with many new things, there is less chance of “failure” when the goal is to have fun and learn something new. You can participate at your own pace and concentrate completely on self- development. There are no grades to be handed out, or any sort of statistic that will decide your future, so the reward that is reaped is pure knowledge and self–growth.

Finally, trying new things challenges your intellect differently from academics alone. Schools churn out thinkers (which is awesome) but if all you do is homework all the time, you’ll never know what else you are capable of. There is infinite potential in each of us but it’s only we, ourselves, who have the power to explore it. Ultimately, all the skills that are gleaned from joining new activities not only benefit the self, but may even change the way a student perceives school.

Taking initiative, enjoying the learning process, and challenging yourself is something that teachers encourage us to do all the time, but because of a fear of “not-doing-well,” students often hesitate to take time away from academics. Yet, trying something new outside of academics, may give you courage and skills that enhance the overall school experience including getting better grades.