• Week of December 9th

    College application essays take time and honest effort

    For many high school seniors, the toughest part of applying for college is writing the essay. Your teen will have an easier time if she allows plenty of time before the application is due and writes more than one draft. Her essay should be honest and convey a sense of who she really is. It's OK for your teen to ask others' opinions and make edits, but in the end, her essay should say what your teen wants to say.

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    Encourage your teen to read, learn and use new words

    Students with large vocabularies have an easier time understanding and learning new material. Reading is the best way for your teen to build his vocabulary. The more he reads, the more new words he'll encounter. Encourage your teen to try to learn five new words a day. He can write them on index cards, but the most effective way to learn them is to use them in speaking and writing.

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    Help your teen put college entrance exams into perspective

    If the thought of college entrance exams makes your teen nervous, help her overcome anxiety by having her collect information about how colleges use them. Have her list the colleges she might like to attend, then research how important test scores are to acceptance to those schools. Your teen should also check with her school counselor to find out about classes that prepare students for the SAT and ACT.

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    Offer healthy ways to explore independence

    Teens are eager to become independent; their families worry about keeping them safe. While you must discourage dangerous behavior, you can also promote healthy ways for your teen to explore. Encourage him to learn a new sport, take a new class, master a skill or volunteer in the community. Give your teen chances to earn independence by taking on responsibility. And continue to enforce safety rules.

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    Teachers want students to communicate

    If your student wants to do better in school, encourage her to participate actively in class. She can also show her interest by talking to the teacher outside of class. Your teen might ask the teacher to recommend resources to help her understand the subject. She could also ask for guidelines on how to study for a test, or even suggest an idea she has for an extra credit project.

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    Teach your teen a sports tip for beating stress

    Participation in sports has lots of benefits for teens. One is a lesson in how to deal with high-stress situations. Professional athletes know how to use self-talk to calm themselves down. Encourage your teen to take some deep breaths and say things like, "I've practiced this hundreds of times. I know how to do it." These techniques don't just help on the field. Suggest that he use them in the classroom, too.

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    Respond to a poor report card with action, not anger

    You may feel angry if your teen's report card is poor. But losing your temper with your teen can make the situation worse. Instead, look for her strengths as well as her weaknesses. Then, talk with your teen and her teachers to find out why she is earning bad grades. Together, consider next steps: Does she need to be moved to another class? Does she need a tutor? Be sure to ask what you can do to help your teen.

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  • Week of November 25th

    Share strategies that prevent procrastination

    Most teens put things off at one time or another. But some are regular procrastinators…and their grades show it. To overcome procrastination, encourage your teen to prioritize tasks. Then she can start with the most important one and work down her list. Help her cope with overwhelming tasks by breaking them down into smaller steps. You can also teach her some positive self-talk: "There's no time like the present!"

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    Discipline solutions start with listening

    What should you do if you learn your teen has a discipline problem at school? Listen. Instead of getting angry, listen to both your teen and the school staff. Then work together to address the problem. If your student has been suspended, ask if you can pick up his assignments. Enforce consequences at home, then help him make amends. Teens need to learn that they must try to correct their mistakes.

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    You are an expert on the subject of your teen

    You have a place at school that no one on the staff can take. You are the expert on your teen. Get involved and share your expertise. Give your teen's teachers your contact information. Tell them about her. Get to know your teen's counselor or coach. And whenever possible, participate in family events, meetings and workshops at school.

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    Volunteer for a learning experience

    When you volunteer as a family, you make the community better and your family stronger. And you help your teen learn many important lessons. Volunteering teaches teens tolerance. It gives teens the confidence that they can make a difference. It promotes responsibility. Look online for local organizations working on issues that matter to your family. Then ask how your family can help!

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    Attendance is essential for school success

    Classwork and participation are key to your teen's success in school. Regular attendance matters! Your teen must be in school unless he is sick or has an emergency. To promote attendance, schedule medical appointments after school hours. Don't ask your teen to babysit when he should be in school. And if he skips school without permission, make it clear that he has broken an important rule at school and at home.

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    For smoother mornings, adjust the rest of the day

    If your teen has trouble getting up in the morning, help her make changes to other parts of her day. Have her study in the afternoon, for example, so she won't have to stay up late. Make sure she gets plenty of exercise so she'll sleep well at night. Encourage her to organize things each evening for the next day. Then make your teen responsible for waking herself up and getting herself ready.

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