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Tag Archives: Back to School

Making the Leap

The transition from high school to college or university can be a big one!
Here’s how to help your student shine.

Hot on the heels of every finish (like your kid’s high school graduation) comes a new and exciting (and sometimes terrifying) transition – like that same kid starting college or university. Get ready, because here they come – all those new freedoms and responsibilities that make post-secondary education the learning experience it truly is.

It’s such a big change: up to now, 80% of your student’s academic life has been controlled by teachers and authority figures. In college and university, 80% is controlled by the students themselves. Just think – no one will remind your son or daughter when assignments are due or tests are coming. No one will particularly care if they miss class. Timetables look much lighter than they actually are. Cramming won’t work anymore – there’s just too much to learn. It will take a new set of skills to succeed, and focus, time management and active study skills are absolutely essential.

At the same time, much to their endless delight, you won’t be as able to monitor your kid’s progress if they are living away. But even if they are close to home, you need to remember that they are entering a learning environment that makes students themselves responsible for their lives and their learning. But even though natural consequences (like zeros for late work) are built in the system, there are still things you can do to encourage the kind of growth and responsibility your fledgling college or university student will need for this new phase of life.

One place to start is to put numbers on time management. Instead of beating the “study, don’t party” drum (which is so very uncool, and invites nothing but a glazed-over expression) ask your offspring to estimate how many hours they will spend on television, computer, music, games, sports, socializing, then how many hours for homework, job, extracurriculars, volunteering. Ranking their day from most hours to least hours give a clear picture of priorities. From there, you can encourage adjustment as required.

Beyond that dose of reality, you can also pass along the following tips to help your student balance responsibilities:


  • Eat properly. Protein – eggs, cheese, meat – helps boost focus and memory.
  • Set a healthy sleep routine and stick to it.
  • Join clubs and sports and campus life.
  • Exercise is essential for energy, focus and memory.
  • Stick to routine – work Monday to Friday during the day and play in the evenings and on weekends.
  • Think beyond the moment – set goals for the semester and the year.


  • Register with the centre for disabilities – they approve the BSWD bursary, extra time for exams and note takers
  • Before the first day, map your classes so you know where to go when.
  • Post key dates (tests, papers, assignments, exams) on your brand new “semester at a glance” wall calendar (which you just hung above your desk).
  • Count on at least two hours of work for each hour of lecture time per week. Most classes include two hours of lecture and one hour of tutorial or lab work. That means
    six hours beyond class time – and that’s for just one class.
  • Sit close to the front in lectures.
  • Build rapport with professors – visit during office hours.When you need help or an extension, they will
    know you are trying hard to succeed.
  • Don’t expect to simply recite information. Be ready to apply what you have learned to new situations or
    to solve new problems.
  • Tests and exams will often be multiple choice and short answer questions – these are trickier than
    high school exams.
  • Check for previous tests and exams – often available at the library.Essential learning rarely varies
    from year to year.
    • But perhaps the best thing you can do is express your trust and confidence that your son or daughter is perfectly capable of meeting the challenges ahead and you have abundant faith in their ability to make good decisions on their own. Coming from a proud parent, what could be more reassuring… and motivating?

Back to School

Back to schoo

It’s the beginning of the school year, and time to get our children ready for reading, writing and arithmetic. But now, more than ever, larger skills are the key to academic success.

Organization, time management and study skills are important for children of all ages, and a lack of these skills is a real problem. In fact, “chronic disorganization is a real disability, just as much as a problem with reading, math or spelling might be.” (Mel Levine, Professor of Pediatrics at the University of North Carolina)

Whether your child is impacted significantly or just has trouble remembering homework from time to time, here are some helpful tips:

  • Research shows more is accomplished if homework is begun right after school and when the hardest assignment is done first. Having a set ‘homework zone’ with necessary materials out and ready alleviates the “I need to find a pencil!” problem.
  • Before homework starts, give a short break and help prioritize assignments. (What will be done first, second, third, etc.?) Check to see if there are any long-term assignments.
  • Always utilize a daily, weekly and monthly calendar.
  • For children who underestimate the amount of time it takes to complete an assignment, use a timer.
  • For those who overestimate the time remaining to complete a task, set a designated start and end time. Reward completion with a privilege.
  • Students of all ages need to have a binder system that works for them and their teachers, and “binder maintenance” should occur at least weekly. Label and file away old materials in a reserve accordion notebook that can be easily accessed in the future (i.e., for a final exam).

Remember that time spent organizing today will be time saved tomorrow! Helping your child gear up for the school year by setting up effective systems early, will help everyone in the long run.