Three tips to keep kids focused and engaged in their learning

Study by MC Quinn
Study by MC Quinn (Learning)

Study by MC Quinn

With summer in full swing, parents have time to reflect upon the school year. As any parent of a young and exuberant child or teen will attest, keeping kids focused and engaged can be difficult, but you can use your student’s time out of the classroom to develop new activities and practices that will keep them better focused and alert with learning when the school year returns. Parents can play a large role in improving their child’s attention span at school by preparing the right kind of meals, instilling the appropriate values, and partaking in the proper activities to foster better concentration and, therefore, learning. Using these three tips can help your children stay focused, alert, and excited about school both in the classroom and at home.

Moms and internet addiction

Internet AddictionOver on the Postcards from the Mothership blog, I found a recent article about mothers’ risk of becoming addicted to the internet. Since a survey last year indicated that almost half of women would give up sex before giving up the internet, it seems clear that women are placing increasing value on their time spent online. As we wrote last week, internet addiction is being considered as a possible addition to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the diagnostic guide used by psychologists and psychiatrists.

The internet and its widespread use is a relatively new phenomenon, research-wise. Much of the work that has been done has focused on men’s addiction to videogames or online pornography. Researchers are only beginning to investigate the impact of social networks. Another relatively recent phenomenon is the increased use of laptops relative to desktops – you no longer need to remove yourself to an office in order to go online! The combination of ease of access and the proliferation of services such as Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr, along with the growth in the number of blogs, may have made the internet more appealing to busy moms.

Loneliness and depression are risk factors in the development of internet addiction. Put that together with the information in yesterday’s post about post-partum depression, and it suggests that new moms are at an increased risk to become addicted to the internet. They can connect with adults in chat rooms and on Facebook or Twitter, they can order diapers and other necessities online, and they can escape from their depression. In an article on CNN.com Health, Coleen Moore, the Resource Coordinator at the Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery in Peoria, said that she’s seeing more young women, often new parents, for the treatment of internet addiction. Moore said:

In addiction treatment, we talk about the fact that there’s a void. Whatever that void may be — whether it’s emotional, spiritual, physical — typically, we’re trying to fill it.

Depression Leads to College Dropout and Lower Achievement

Study Session by Francis (xb3)

Daniel Eisenberg, assistant professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health recently tabled research which indicates that college students with depression are two times more likely to drop out of school.

The two main symptoms of depression are sad mood and loss of interest in activities once found enjoyable. Eisenberg’s research indicates that it is the latter symptom, (ie., loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities) that accounts for the drop in grade point averages. Sad mood alone is not related to decreased academic performance. This is important to recognize as it points to the fact that not all people that experience depression will have declining grades. Those who lose interest in activities they used to enjoy are more likely to lose interest in school as well, and this accounts for their academic decline.

The research also showed that depression in combination with anxiety further exacerbated the decline in academic achievement.

Memory, Part 5: What works?

Memory strategies and examsThe school environment requires students to memorize more information than they’ll ever have to as adults. From multiplication tables to state capitals to historical dates to the formula for the area of a circle, students find themselves required to remember an increasing amount of information as they progress to high school and post-secondary settings. While there’s also an increasing role for critical thinking and (hopefully) creativity, facts, concepts and formulas still have to be learned. Parents also play an important role in helping their kids learn how to remember the material being taught at school. My son was having trouble remembering whether the “a” or the “u” came first when spelling “because.” He really enjoyed my suggestion: “Bunnies Eat Carrots And Usually See Everything.” He aced his spelling test and later taught his brother the same trick. But if a Google search for “mnemonic strategies” yields 1.5 million hits, how can students and their parents know which techniques are likely to be most helpful?