Dr Scott B. McCabe

It’s that time of year again.  September is coming up fast which means back to early mornings, jam-packed days and that dreaded math class.  Here are some tips to start the school year off on the right track!

  • Regulate your sleep- During the summer, many students (especially teenagers) stay up later at night and then sleep late into the day.  This can create a few very painful mornings at the start of the school year and can make it more difficult to get on the right schedule.  To help, try going to bed and waking up progressively earlier in the week prior to school beginning.  That way, your body will be tired at an appropriate time at night and be ready to wake in the morning.  Try to avoid napping and turn off the cell phone at night!
  • Get organized-  Who doesn’t love back-to-school shopping?  Make sure tools for organization are included on your list.  Using different coloured binders or folders for different subject areas can be helpful for many kids.  Also, a planner is a crucial tool for any student but it is important to get one that fits their own organizational style.  Some people prefer to view an entire month at once while others need to see each day on it’s own.  For older students- experiment with different types until you find what works best for you.  Parents- some children do not have any natural idea of how to organize and may need to be taught or shown how to do it, just like any other new skill.
  • Use your planner- A planner can be used a couple of different ways but it is especially crucial for marking down due dates and tests that are far away.  Some people block out the periods of time in each day and write what they intend to do, while others make daily or weekly to-do lists and check things off as they are accomplished.  Whatever method works best for you, remember that it is important to make goals but not come down too hard on yourself when you do not complete all you planned.  Just make sure you put it on the next day’s to-do list so you don’t forget about it!  If you find it difficult to use a traditional paper planner- smart-phones are an excellent tool as well.  Use the calendar to mark important deadlines and set reminders to go off when things need to get done.
  • Stay on Top of things- Research has shown that it is much more effective to do spaced rather than massed learning.  That means it is more effective to learn a little bit over a longer period of time than to cram a large amount of learning into a short period of time.  This is most applicable to University students- staying on top of weekly reading assignments means less to do prior to your exams.
  • Break Things Down- Finding that huge assignment overwhelming?  Try breaking it down into more manageable parts and completing them one-at-a-time over a period of a few days or weeks.  This will avoid last-minute and rushed work and will allow you to show your best work.
  • Know Yourself- People learn in different ways and you need to find the way that works best for you.  If you are an auditory learner who learns best through hearing, try recording your teacher’s lesson on a digital recorder, phone or tablet so you can listen back to it.  More of a visual learner?  Convert information into pictures, graphs and charts that are  easy to understand.  If you are not sure what type of learner you are, experiment with different methods or use a combination of study strategies to find out what is best for you.  Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, is just a waste of time.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help- many students feel embarrassed if they do not understand something and need extra help.  If you are not comfortable asking a question in front of your class, it is always alright to approach the teacher privately to ask for help.  The vast majority of them will be happy you did- that is what they’re there for!
  • Take care of yourself- School can be stressful and overwhelming at times, so make sure you also take time to do the things you love for fun.  Exercise, spending time with friends and family, and making time for hobbies can be critical to keeping you happy and doing well in school.

If you are putting forth your best effort but still struggling at school, you may have a Learning Disability or other learning problem that needs to be addressed.  Learning strengths and needs can be identified through a psychoeducational assessment at our office.  An assessment can also be useful for those who are not struggling academically but would like to know how to enhance their learning and study skills.  We also offer Fast ForWord, a literacy intervention program for children.  Call now to find out more about having an assessment or having your child participate in Fast ForWord.


By Allison Singh

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Dr. Scott B. McCabe
February 24, 2018
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