Posts Tagged ‘Study Skills’

Judi M. (Medford, MA)

Our 6th grade daughter struggles with executive function and organizational skills. Alexis and I engaged in a lengthy detailed discussion of my daughter’s strengths and challenges, and he reviewed data I provided with extreme care and understanding of what our goals were as a family. In short, I wanted to enable my daughter to be more in charge of her homework planning and execution, which required a strategy that spoke to time management skills.

Alexis found a terrific tutor match for us. Allison has been instrumental in teaching our daughter time management skills in a way that speaks to her, and has taught her habits that work for her. It has been a blessing to have P&P in our corner and we look forward to a long-standing relationship with Alexis and Allison.

If your child is struggling with organization and time management, now is the time to teach them to get a handle on it, and P&P is the source to help you get there.

December 11th, 2014
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Executive Function Coaching: Improving Your Prospective Memory

Prospective Memory

 

Adam S. talks on Executive Function Coaching. Tutor of Prepped & Polished, LLC in South Natick, Massachusetts Adam S. teaches you valuable strategies on how to overcome your prospective memory issues.

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Prepped & Polished, LLC is a premier educational services company founded by educators in 1999. Our mission is to provide you with the highest-quality customized learning experience available. We will help you achieve top grades, higher test scores, and meet your academic and professional-related goals. Whether you are looking for in-person or online Tutoring and Test Preparation, we are here to help you succeed. Our caring, dynamic educators graduated from some of the most elite schools in the nation, including University of Michigan, Harvard, Brown, and MIT. They are ready to provide you with the strategies, tools and guidance necessary to ensure academic and professional success. Prepped & Polished proudly serves Boston and its surrounding areas including: Weston, Wellesley, Wayland, Sudbury, Dover, Needham, Belmont, Lexington, Concord, Lincoln, Newton, Brookline, Sherborn, Carlisle, Boston

February 13th, 2014
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Executive Function Building Blocks: Three Ways to Improve Your Sense of Time

Improve Time Management

 

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How to Improve Time Management Skills

Adam S. Executive Function Coach and Tutor of Prepped & Polished, LLC in South Natick, Massachusetts teaches you three strategies to improve your sense of time.

1. Use external reminders, such as clocks, watches, and signs
2. Use alarms liberally
3. Use a schedule to plan your time
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About Prepped & Polished:
Prepped & Polished, LLC is a premier educational services company founded by educators in 1999. Our mission is to provide you with the highest-quality customized learning experience available. We will help you achieve top grades, higher test scores, and meet your academic and professional-related goals. Whether you are looking for in-person or online Tutoring and Test Preparation, we are here to help you succeed. Our caring, dynamic educators graduated from some of the most elite schools in the nation, including University of Michigan, Harvard, Brown, and MIT. They are ready to provide you with the strategies, tools and guidance necessary to ensure academic and professional success. Prepped & Polished proudly serves Boston and its surrounding areas including: Weston, Wellesley, Wayland, Sudbury, Dover, Needham, Belmont, Lexington, Concord, Lincoln, Newton, Brookline, Sherborn, Carlisle, Boston

January 25th, 2014
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Executive Function Building Blocks: 3 Tips for Improving Working Memory

3 Tips for Improving Working Memory

Adam S. Executive Function Coach and Tutor of Prepped & Polished, LLC in South Natick, Massachusetts teaches you ways for improving working memory.

1. Make important tasks stand out

2. Reduce distractions

3. Write out complicated problems and step by step instructions

SAT Prep

Do you have a hard time memorizing things? Which tip did you find most useful for improving working memory?

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January 17th, 2014
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The Night Before Your Exam: How NOT to Stress Out

Executive Function and Study Skills Tutor suggest about test prepBy Jordana F., Study Skills and Executive Function Tutor, Prepped & Polished, LLC

It’s Thursday night, you’ve just finished dinner and all you want to do is go upstairs and watch some T.V. But you can’t. You have a huge exam tomorrow! You know deep down that you know the material and that you’ve studied as much as humanly possible, but still have a pit in your stomach saying “I should study more!” What do you do in these situations? Is it better to over study? Or is watching your favorite show the way to go?

If you’ve given it your best shot, the answer is…Go watch your favorite show! Over studying can create anxiety and be counterproductive to your test preparation. Walking into an exam feeling jittery, nervous and anxious is never a good idea. These feelings can get in the way of your success on the exam. Another idea that will help you with those pre-test jitters is to avoid talking with your friends about the test. Facebook yes. Sharing instagram posts Ok. “What did you get for number 3?” No! From personal experience, it is a bad idea to get together with friends, the night before an exam; it fosters an environment filled with anxiety and fear.

It’s also very important to recognize when you’re feeling nervous or anxious. When you start getting that “pit” in your stomach, or your thoughts start racing, it’s important to take a breath and realize that you are feeling this way. Once you are able to recognize the feeling, you are better able to control it moving forward.

Don’t get me wrong, it is Ok to review the night before. However, you should set a time limit. One hour? Half hour? Whatever the limit is, stick to it! After you are done, close your book and place it in your bag so that it is out of sight. Out of sight, out of mind, right? Here are five tips that I have found most helpful when trying to stay calm the night before an exam. Good luck! (You don’t need it though ☺ )

5 Helpful Hints for Keeping Calm the Night before an Exam:

1. Deep breathing: Breathe in, breathe out, repeat.
2. Place your books in your bag so you are not tempted to reach for them.
3. Create a studying time limit- When you’re done, be done!
4. Watch your favorite mindless T.V. show, or read a fun magazine or book or put your headphones in and play some of your favorite songs on iTunes
5. Exercise reduces stress: Go for a walk with your dog, or go for a run

Jordana holds a B.A. in psychology from NYU, where she graduated magna cum laude in 2006. She went on to receive a master’s degree in school counseling from the University of Southern California in 2010 and continued on, receiving her second masters degree in mental health counseling from Yeshiva University’s Ferkauf School of Psychology in 2013. Jordana worked as a guidance counselor at Beverly Hills High School, helping students with their college essays. Jordana’s interests include study and organizational skills, time management, and executive functioning coaching.

Are you stressing out before your exam? Which of Jordana’s five tips do you need to practice the most?

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January 9th, 2014
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Executive Function Building Blocks: How to Study for an Exam

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Adam S. Executive Function Coach and Tutor of Prepped & Polished, LLC in South Natick, Massachusetts teaches you how to study for an exam.

General Tips:
1. go to class
2. take good notes

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3. do your homework
4. review those notes

Specific Tips:
1. Backwards plan. Figure out how much time you have from now until test date and divide your study material wisely so you don’t cram.
2. Study groups can be helpful to take turns teaching each other the material.
3. Ask for help. Give yourself time before the test to ask your teacher for clarification on difficult subject matter.
4. Take care of your body. Make sure you get a good night sleep the day before the test, don’t cram, and eat a good, healthy breakfast the day of the exam. Good Luck!

Are you preparing for your exams? Which of exam tips did you find most helpful?

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November 29th, 2013
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Executive Functioning Building Blocks: How to Write an Essay

How to Write an Essay

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Adam S. Executive Functioning Coach and Study Skills Tutor of Prepped & Polished, LLC in South Natick, Massachusetts teaches you how to write an essay. He also teaches you how to write an outline and lists steps to writing a good paper.

Five keys to a good paper:
1. Break the paper down into its component pieces, title, intro, body, conclusion, and works cited
2. In the intro, set the scene, give us a hook, state your argument, and forecast your main claims
3. Create your body by introducing your claims, explain how these claims support your argument, and create a smooth transition
4. Write your conclusion, remind us of your best points and restate your thesis. Then discuss what’s the next step in this discussion.
5. List all the sources that you used in the course of writing this paper.

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Transcript (PDF)

Full Word-for-Word Transcription

Hey, guys. Adam S. here; Prepped and Polished, South Natick, Massachusetts.
Last time we talked about backwards planning, big picture; how to look at a
big project and think about how to break it down and plan it backwards over
time. Today we’re going to really dive into a pretty common assignment that
a lot of kids struggle with: How to write an essay. For a lot of us when we
first get assigned a paper, we just have these memories of sitting and
looking at a blank piece of paper and a lot of frustrated hours spent
sitting in front of a computer just staring at an empty page. It doesn’t
have to be that way. The trick is to realize that, in a way, every paper
you’re ever going to write is the same but different. Let’s head over to
the whiteboard and I’ll show you what I mean.

Here we are, a scene that’s pretty familiar for most of us, just staring at
a blank piece of paper; no idea what to do, where to begin. How do we even
get started? The lesson that we learned last time is that sometimes it
helps if you can start at the end. What does the finished product look
like? You know a finished paper is going to have a few elements that every
paper you write is going to have. Let’s talk about what those are. First,
you’re going to have a title; every paper has a title, then there’s an
intro, a body, we have a conclusion, and then some works cited or
bibliography. Let’s break these component pieces down a little bit and talk
about what each one of them means.

This basic skeleton is going to hold true for pretty much every academic
paper that you’re ever going to write. Of course, the content will change
based on the topic, but the structure is going to pretty . . . relatively
constant. Let’s talk about what these pieces mean. First is your title;
that could be a page, it could be a header at the top of your paper. It’s
pretty simple. It gives the title of your paper, your name, date, maybe the
class title, and other pertinent information like that. The next thing that
your paper’s going to lead into is your introduction. Your introduction,
regardless of the topic, is always going to serve a similar function. There
are a few main points you always need to hit. The first thing you want your
intro to do is to set the scene. Tell me what you’re going to talk about.
Tell me where I am. Give me some context. Then you’re going to give us a
hook. Why should we read this paper? Why do I care? What’s interesting
about your take on this situation? Then you’re going to state your
argument; this is your thesis. Give me your topic. Then you’re going to
finish your intro by forecasting your main claims.

Every paper that you write is going to have maybe anywhere between 3 and 5,
depending on the length of the paper, main claims to really back up your
argument. Forecast what those are going to be. Remember, you want this to
be pretty concise and to the point. Any good paper is going to start strong
and finish strong, because people remember the first thing and the last
thing that they see.

After your introduction, you’re going to transition into your body
paragraphs. The body of your paper is where you’re going to discuss your
main claims. Each claim is generally going to get at least a paragraph,
maybe a couple of paragraphs, even a couple of pages depending on how long
the paper’s going to be. Each body paragraph should have a few things in
common. They should all start with a topic sentence; that’s where you
introduce the claim that you’re going to talk about. Then you want to
explain why that claim is important to this paper. How does it relate to
your thesis? How does it strengthen your argument? Then you want to give
support; this is where you would include quotations from sources that you
had read. If you’re writing about a specific book, this would be quotes
from the book. If it’s a research paper, these could be journal articles,
even websites. Then at the end you want to transition; you want to set the
stage for moving into your next body paragraph, a smooth transition for
introducing your next claim.

At the end of your body comes your conclusion. This is your chance to wrap
it all up. What do you want to do? Remember, you want to start strong, you
want to finish strong, so you got to make sure you have a strong
conclusion. First, you want to remind us of your best points. Hopefully,
your paper was structured such that you started with your smallest points
and closed with your biggest. You want to go small too big, and then remind
us of the best ones. Then restate your refined thesis. You gave us an
argument at the beginning of the paper. Did your opinion change? Did you
learn anything over the course of this discussion? Then tell us the next
step. What would a future paper about this topic be about? Are there any
unanswered questions? That’s how you want to close out your paper.

Then after your conclusion, your paper’s going to finish with some kind of
works-cited page or bibliography. Your teacher might have different
preferences about what format they want you to use, so make sure you check
about the rules regarding citations. There’s also a lot of great web
resources that make citing works really easy.

Now I want to take a second to talk about the importance of outlining.
Outlining is really important; it’s actually a huge time saver. It might
sound like more work up front, but if you outline well, writing the paper’s
the easy part. All you have to do is connect the dots. Now you know that
this is the basic skeleton of, really, any paper you’re ever going to have
to write. They’re all going to be different, but they’re also all going to
be kind of the same.

For example, let’s say we had to write a paper about our best vacation
ever. We’d have an intro. What’s the scene? My vacation. Where’d you go? I
went to Hawaii. Set the scene; tell me what Hawaii’s like. What’s the hook?
What happened in Hawaii? What’s really exciting? What’s your argument? My
argument is that this was the best vacation ever because . . . then
forecast your main claims. It was the best vacation ever because I surfed,
I learned something, I made a new friend. Then you go and talk about your
claims. Claim 1: I surfed. Claim 2L learned something. Fill in what you’re
going to talk about with details about each point. Then you have your
conclusion. Main points: Great vacation for these reasons. Refined thesis:
I learned that although this was a great vacation, it wasn’t as great for
the reasons that I thought it was. I learned something. My opinion changed.
Then give me the next step, what’s the next discussion about this argument?
Maybe next time this is the vacation I’d like to take in the future. You
plunk those points into this skeleton, and now all you have to do is sit
down and connect the dots and you have a paper.

How do you plan for a paper? What are the basic steps? We talked about the
skeleton and what goes into a paper. How do you break that up over the
course of a week or 2, or 3? There’s some important steps to writing a
paper. The first thing you have to do is research, if necessary, if you
need to research your topic before you write about it. Then you want to
write your outline. Then you want to write your first draft. Don’t hand in
your first draft. It’s really important that you take the time to
proofread, revise, and make edits. You want to give yourself enough time
before the paper’s due to be able to do that. You’ll have a much better
paper in the end. After the first draft, you want to make edits and revise
it as necessary. Then you have your final draft, including your works
cited.

All of this is going to take time. That’s 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 items. If we had 2
weeks to get this paper done, we’d want to backwards plan. Start at the due
date and count backwards. Say you have 10 days between now and then; that
means you can assign 2 days to each of these points. You have 2 days to
research, another couple of days to outline it, a couple of days to work on
your first draft, a couple of days of editing and revising, and then your
final draft is done, no sweat.

Those are the basic steps of writing a paper, a road map of how to get
there. Hopefully, now you can see how every paper is the same but
different. You never have to write your first paper again. If you can
remember this road map, you’ll always know where to begin, where you’re
going, and how you’re going to get there. See you next time.

What is your current process for writing an essay? Which of our essay tips did you find most useful?

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October 8th, 2013
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Executive Functioning Building Blocks: Backwards Planning

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Adam S. Executive Functioning Coach and Study Skills Tutor of Prepped & Polished, LLC in South Natick, Massachusetts teaches you how to avoid procrastination and work methodically toward your goal by planning backwards.

1. Start at the end
2. Break down the final product into its component pieces.
3. Break up the work of each component over a two-week period.
4. Once you’ve plugged it all into your schedule, all you have to do is follow the steps that you’ve laid for yourself.

For more EF building blocks, check out our video about Creating a Weekly Schedule

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Transcript (PDF)

Full Word-for-Word Transcription

Hi guys, Adam S. here, Prepped and Polished., South Natick, Massachusetts.
Today we’re going to talk about another important building block in
executive functioning backward planning.

So what is backwards planning? Well, for example, if I asked you to draw an
image of a dog it would be pretty easy. Working backwards from the image in
your head you would do your best to reproduce that image of a dog on a
piece of paper.

But what if I asked you to draw a picture of an ibis? Not so easy, right?
What the heck is an ibis? You wouldn’t even know where to begin. So when
you don’t have a finished product or a picture in mind, the task can seems
pretty overwhelming. An ibis is a kind of bird, by the way. It’s a cross
between a turkey and a vulture.

The same principles can apply to academic work. When you’re first assigned
a big paper or a project, sometimes you can’t see the finish line. And the
task can feel pretty overwhelming. In fact, it can feel so overwhelming
that we never even start it. We just keep putting it off and putting it off
and putting it off until finally it’s due tomorrow. And we scramble around
frantically the night before with usually a lot of help from mom and dad.

You go through all this anxiety and frustration that’s completely
avoidable. It’s not a great way to go through school, and what’s worse is
you’re building associative memories. So next time you are assigned a big
project or a big paper all you’re going to think about is all of that
anxiety and frustration and the frantic scramble you went through last
time.

What if I told you there’s a better way? What if instead of starting at the
beginning we decided to start at the end. Let’s go over to the white board,
and I’ll show you what I’m talking about. Say you were given an assignment
where you have to give a presentation on a leader that you admire. There’s
a speech, a paper, maybe a PowerPoint. Sounds like a lot of work, right?
It’s a pretty big project.

So where do we begin? Well, let’s start at the end. What did the end look
like? So what do we have? We have a paper. We have maybe some index cards
for your speech. There’s a PowerPoint going on in the background and
[inaudible 2:01]. Not so overwhelming, right? The question is how do we get
there?

So that’s still a pretty big project. So let’s break it down into some
component pieces, right? So we have a paper. There’s a speech, and there’s
a PowerPoint, right? Three things. So how do we break these three things
down?

Well, the next part is going to involve some really simple math. First, you
have to figure out how much time between now and the due date? Say it’s six
weeks, right? Six weeks between now and when this presentation is due, and
how many things do we have? Three, right? One, two, three. Six divided by
three equals two.

That means we can assign about two weeks to each one of these tasks. So
let’s go back to the schedule we talked about the last time. Now what
you’re going to want to do is take each of these guys and plug them into
spots in your schedule.

Now I know this is still pretty complicated. Don’t worry; we’re going to
have another video. I thought I’d break these guys down a little more so
you know how to write a great paper. Something that I really like to do is
to put your daily task items on sticky notes.

Say what I am going to do is research on Monday, write a rough draft on
Tuesday. That way if you get home Monday night and you really don’t feel
like doing research, that’s okay. You’re going to have to move it to
Tuesday. Now there are two things to do on Tuesday. What if you don’t feel
like doing any work on Tuesday? Well, now you have to move it all back to
Wednesday, and you can see how the work really starts to pile up.

It’s a great visual to kind of show you the cost of procrastination which I
think is great. So once you’ve plugged these guys into your schedule all
you have to do is follow the day by day stats that you’ve laid out for
yourself. Watch out for the procrastination, and you’ll reach that finish
line, no problem. You will avoid all the anxiety, stress, frustration you
may have experienced in the past.

So those are the basics of backward planning. Start at the end. Which does
the finished product look like and once you see what it looks like, ask
yourself how many pieces does it have? Then figure out how much time do you
have between now and when the project is due. Divide that time by the
number of pieces. That’s how much time to assign to each piece.

Then all you have to do is follow the schedule that you lay out for
yourself. Remember procrastination has its price. If you do these things
and reach that finish line, no problem, and pretty soon big projects will
be no big deal.

All right, guys. See you next time.

How do you currently plan for projects and papers? Which of Adam’s tips did you find most useful?

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October 2nd, 2013
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Executive Functioning Building Blocks: Creating a Weekly Schedule

Time Management: How to Make a Weekly Schedule

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Adam S. Executive Functioning Coach and Study Skills Tutor of Prepped & Polished, LLC in South Natick, Massachusetts teaches you how to build a weekly schedule and manage your time more efficiently.

1. Start with your obligations
2. Then fill in Homework Time
3. Make sure you include time for fun

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Transcript (PDF)

Full Word-for-Word Transcription

Hi, guys. Adam S. here, with Prepped & Polished in [inaudible: 00:03],
Mass. Today, we are going to talk about how to build a schedule. It’s
really tough to keep everything in your head when you get into high school,
college. Organizational tools can be really valuable, if you use them:
Daily planners, log calendars; really valuable tools. You really want to
get yourself a good planner to start, planners and assignment notebooks.
You want to try and find a planner that has a 30-day view and a 7-day view.
Then you want to plug your big events coming up into the 30-day view, and
then look at those a week at a time and line them up in your 7-day view.
We’re going to talk a little bit about what that looks like. Let’s take it
over to the whiteboard.When it comes time to make your weekly schedule, you want to start by
filling in the stuff that you have no control over; they’re your
obligations. The time’s fixed, you have to be there. Basically, your job is
just to show up. That’ll be stuff like class, your history class, 9:00 to
10:00, math class, or practices for soccer; extracurricular activities,
appointments. That’s the skeleton of your schedule, and then you’re going
to plug the rest of your time in around that.Since school is your Number 1 priority, the next thing you want to think
about is homework. How do you think about how much homework time? A good
rule of thumb is you want 1 to 3 hours of homework time per hour of class
time. Say you’re taking 4 classes, and they each meet for 1 hour, 3 times a
week. You’re looking at 12 hours in total class time. That means you want
to budget for anywhere from 12 to 36 hours of homework time. That might
sound like a lot upfront, and you’re probably not always going to need that
much time, but you want to budget that much time so you know it’s there if
you need it.How are we going to use that time? Say I decided that this is going to be a
2-hour homework block. What I want to do is look at all my syllabuses for
my classes and make a list of all the homework I have to do for each class
that week. Say that I have math numbers 1 through 20; history, read pages
70 to 85. Keep going on down the list. Then you want to get a rough idea of
how much time each of these assignments is going to take. This is something
you’ll get a better sense for as time goes on. A good trick is to do a
small portion of it. Say you have to read 15 pages for history: Set a
timer, read 5 pages, stop the timer; see how long it took you, and then
divide that by 5. Say it took you 20 minutes; 20 / 5 = 4 minutes a page.
You have to read 15 pages; it’s going to be about an hour. You want to
budget for an hour of history reading, and then plug that into your
schedule in that homework time.How do we decide which homework to do when? You really want to prioritize
by a due date. If history is not due until Friday and math is due on
Tuesday, you want to plug math first; make sure you get math done Monday
night so it’s done in time for Tuesday, because you know you’ll have later
in the week to do that history homework. Another important point is to
think about breaking up larger projects into smaller projects. We can talk
about that more in a later video. If you have a big paper coming up, you
want to break that down into 1, 2 . . . maybe even 3 separate pieces, where
you do an outline, a draft, edits. It’s really overwhelming to try and do
any big project all at once, but if you can break it down into its
component pieces, and then take each piece and put that into a day in your
schedule, it’s much more manageable.It’s also really important to schedule fun stuff, too. When you think about
your schedule, if you know that playing Xbox is really important, make sure
you make time for Xbox. It gives you something to look forward to, it makes
the schedule more fun, and if you don’t make time for it, you’re just going
to take it out of other time when you’re supposed to be doing homework.
It’s really important to know yourself. Give yourself time for your
obligations: History, math, soccer, time for homework, and then time for
fun. It’s going to take you a little bit longer the first couple times you
do it, but it gets a lot easier, and in time, it becomes second nature. By
the second half of the semester, you won’t even think about it, and your
life is going to be a lot easier.

Those are the basics of building a schedule. Remember, you want to start
with your skeleton; your obligations. That’s your class time, your
extracurriculars, activities you have to go to. Then fill in your homework
time. Prioritize your subjects by due date, and try to assign realistic
time blocks to each assignment. Then make sure you include time for fun
because that’s important too. All right, guys. We’ll talk to you next time.

How do you currently manage your weekly schedule? Which of Adam’s tips did you find most useful?

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September 18th, 2013
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Executive Function, Featured, Tutoring
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Sheira M. (Needham, MA)

“We have hired Alexis on multiple occasions this year with excellent results! He worked with our 13 year old daughter who needed help with focus and organizing homework. Our son is in his junior year of high school and the SAT prep work that Alexis did with him was fantastic. We plan to have him work with Ben for round 2 of SATs and his college essay. I can’t say enough positive things about Alexis and his team – if you have kids in need of a great coach, he’s your guy!”

April 20th, 2011
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Testimonials
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