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Academics

End of School Year Checklist

The calendar just turned to May, and that means school is in the homestretch.  However, before we start planning long days by the pool or days spent at fun summer camps, there is still a lot of work to do. Many of us still have quite a bit of school work and assignments left.  With final exams coming up for many students, there are still many points left out there to boost your grades.  So as we count down the days to that very last one, here is a checklist to keep you on the right track for academic success. [...]

How a Concussion Affects School

As a high school counselor I see all kinds of issues students deal with, from social and emotional health to students with attention difficulties.  One issue that is particularly troubling is concussions.  While concussions in football have garnered attention-grabbing headlines in recent years and even led to a multi-billion dollar settlement between the NFL and its players, it’s a much wider problem than most parents realize.  In fact, according to the Brain Injury Research Institute, it’s estimated that there are 1.6-3.8 million sports-related concussion each year!  I want to focus on what a concussion is and how it adversely impacts [...]

Effective Strategies for All 9th Graders

  Now that school is officially underway and we have a couple of weeks of classes under our belts, it’s time for reality to set it. The thrill of coming back to school has likely faded. Now the work begins! As a high school counselor, one of my primary roles is to help students navigate their four years of high school and set them up for success afterwards. For freshmen just starting this journey it is important to get off to a good start. Time goes by incredibly fast, and the choices freshmen make definitely have an impact of their [...]

Why Grades Aren’t as Important as You Think

I was flying home from San Diego yesterday morning, and I decided to buy a copy of USA Today to keep me occupied for the flight. As I was flipping through I came across an interesting headline: A's on the rise in U.S. report cards, but SAT scores founder The article centers around research conducted by Michael Hurwitz of College Board and Jason Lee, a graduate student at the University of Georgia. In an extensive study they found that the percentage of students graduating with an “A” average has risen to 47% from 38.9% since 1998. That’s nearly a 10% [...]

Do Private Schools Offer 504 Programs?

  I meet with countless families who are looking for guidance on which schools offer the best support for their students with diagnosed learning differences or ADHD. At public schools, students with diagnosed learning differences qualify for either 504 or Special Education, depending on their needs. Private schools, however, are not beholden to the same regulations and are therefore allowed to do whatever they want. I am fortunate to work at a private school that provides, in my opinion, the best support program in Austin. One of my colleagues and good friends Renee Blanchard has run it for the past [...]

The Benefits of a Private School Education

A question I get asked quite often is, “Is tuition at a private school worth it for my child?” I have attended both public and private schools as a child, and I have also worked with numerous students from both public and private. Additionally, as a counselor at a private school in Austin I know firsthand the benefits a private school can provide, particularly for students with diagnosed learning differences or ADHD. For the purpose of this post, I’m going to define “private school” as any non-charter or non-public school and assume that they charge some type of tuition. Below are [...]

The Most Important Skill for Academic Success Is…

Many of us are familiar with various learning differences such as dyslexia and dysgraphia and how they can make school very difficult for students. And even more of us are aware of the challenge ADHD presents for students in every-day life, particularly with paying attention and sustaining effort. Despite the amount of attention these diagnoses receive, there is an even more important cognitive process that can impact your child’s life: Executive Function. Let’s take a look at what this process is and how it affects your student’s performance both in and out of school. What is Executive Function? Executive function [...]

What I’ve Learned from My 6-Month Old

Today is our baby boy’s 6-month birthday. It’s amazing how fast those months went by and how much he has changed! Just like all of us Smith faces challenges every single day. Watching him try to grab a book and manipulate the pages is so fun to watch. I can see the determination on his face as he tries to put the whole thing in his mouth only to realize it doesn’t fit. Eventually he loses interest and wants to grab something else to taste. While your students have certainly developed beyond trying to eat every object in sight, there [...]

Back to School Tips for Parents

Wow, how is it already the end of July?! Summer sure does fly by fast. Hopefully your child has kept busy with some good summer activities that let him enjoy some time off but also keep his mind and body sharp. For those of us living in Texas, the school year seems to start much earlier than other places. Usually by mid-August students are preparing for their first day back. Today I want to talk to you, parents, about what you can do now to help ensure a smooth first day back for your student and set him up for [...]

Why You Should Take AP Classes Next Year

Advanced Placement, or “AP”, courses have been around for many years. Originally introduced in the 1950s to offer high school students a chance to earn college credit, College Board, which runs the AP exams, now offers 35 courses at the AP level, with a few more in development for the coming years. AP courses are intended to prepare student to take the AP exam at the end of the year. These courses hold students to the same academic standards they would find in courses at colleges and universities. In fact, College Board has published their own research indicating that students [...]

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