In This Issue
School Mornings

The alarm rings. Once. Twice. Three times. You go into your child's room and discover he's still sleeping. You tell him to get out of bed, and he mumbles that he will in a minute. When you return 30 minutes later, he's still snoozing away but bolts up in a panic when you inform him that the bus is leaving in five minutes.
Sound familiar?
If your child is struggling to get out of bed when the alarm rings, there are several things you can do to help him feel more in control. First, establish a routine. While it's difficult to predict the amount of homework a student gets on a given night, aim to have a "light's out" time so that he knows it's time to unwind and go to sleep at a reasonable time. If your child struggles to stick to this light's out time at first, that's okay! It'll take time to adjust, so in the meantime, try to get him into bed within a half hour of the light's out time. By doing so, this will increase his chances of not only getting enough sleep, but feeling rested enough to wake up in the morning with no fuss. This routine can encompass other elements as well, such as picking out an outfit the night before and placing a packed backpack near the front door to reduce stress in the morning.
Another method your child can try is to manage his academics effectively. Part of the reason that students stay up so late is they misjudge how long an assignment will take them, or they lose focus. Have your child set a timer for 25 minutes; he must work continuously during this time, and when the 25 minutes are up, your child earns a 5-minute break. He then returns for another 25-minute block of work, and so on and so forth. By scheduling blocks of work and breaks, your child will be able to remain more focused and complete his work efficiently. It's also helpful to teach your child how to gauge how long he believes an assignment will take him so he can judge how many 25-minute blocks he should devote to it and how he should prioritize his assignments. 
School mornings have a bad rap, but they don't have to if you plan accordingly! If your child goes to sleep at about the same time every night and learns to manage his time while attending to his homework, waking up in the morning and heading off to school will be a breeze.  

November  2019
Flexible Thinking for the School Year
We are a quarter of the way through the academic year, and everything is just starting to fall back into a regular pace for kids, where they have to manage their homework while simultaneously juggling their extracurricular activities. In the midst of all the chaos, parents can use this opportunity to help their children hone their flexible thinking skills.

Flexible thinking is the ability to shift attentional focus and strategic problem-solving approaches from one aspect of a complex stimulus to another and to move freely from one situation, activity, or aspect of a problem to another as the circumstances demand. This skill is crucial to social development, as it helps children get along with others even if they have differences and makes group work more effective. 

Some children with learning and attention issues have trouble seeing other viewpoints and alternative ways of doing things, so it's important for them to practice strengthening their flexible thinking skills by incorporating them into everyday tasks and activities.  

One way to help your children practice their flexible thinking, which is essential for learning and everyday life, is to have them take an active role in creating and managing their schedule. As their daily, weekly, and monthly obligations constantly change, this is the perfect chance for students to keep an open mind as they juggle their responsibilities. 

Try having your children follow these steps so that they can be flexible about their schedules: 
  • Ask your children to identify their reoccurring appointments, such as soccer practice, piano lessons, or doctor's appointments. It's also important that your kids include fun activities on their calendar, like trips to the amusement park or movies. By taking into account all of their activities in a given week, your children can better manage their time.
  • Have your children look ahead on their academic calendar to see if they have any upcoming long-term projects.
  • Using either a planner, paper calendar, or digital calendar, direct your children to add in the information they identified in the previous two steps to their chosen calendar.
  • Encourage your children to break down academic assignments into smaller pieces (e.g., begin making flashcards for next week's test on Tuesday, start reviewing flashcards on Thursday) and add these tasks in to blocks of free time.
  • As the week goes on, your children should revise their schedules if anything new pops up or if they realize they need more/less time to complete a task.
Putting together a schedule on a weekly basis is like moving around puzzle pieces until everything falls into place. However, schedules don't always get followed completely, and we must constantly be ready to make changes in case of an unforeseen event. The ability to think flexibly will enable your children to better make these adjustments.

Involving children in the scheduling process is often hard when they are younger, so another way to develop your children's flexible thinking skills would be to have them play games where the goal is to think of as many ideas and options as possible. 

Here are some fun activities to get you started:

Monkey Word School Adventure . This app has  a variety of mini-games designed to teach children the basic skills required for proficient reading and writing. The mini-games introduce children to new words and concepts and then task them with demonstrating their newly learned knowledge. Each game introduces a new set of standards, rules, and objectives, and children must exercise flexible thinking when changing strategies for each new game type, learning new words, and adjusting for the increasing difficulty as time passes.

Versu . In  this game, players select everything from the story line and main character, to the dialogue and actions of the characters in the story. Children will exercise their flexible thinking skills while solving unique problems that arise in the story in order to meet their objectives. 

The Opposites . This is  a word game that tasks players with the challenge of matching words with their antonyms. Children will practice flexible thinking as they learn new words and their antonyms and adjust their strategy as the difficulty of each new level increases. Children must also be able to identify numerous meanings for words, as the most obvious answer is not always the correct answer.

Rebus puzzles
. In addition to these apps, rebus puzzles are a great way to practice flexible thinking skills. These puzzles are visual brain teasers that represent a word, phrase, or a popular saying, and your children must think outside the box to solve them.

Flexible thinking is a skill that is needed to problem solve both in school and in everyday life. Whether it is through the medium of scheduling, games, or mind-boggling puzzles, and whether your child plays for 10 minutes or 60 minutes a day, every effort channeled towards strengthening flexible thinking will help your children feel more prepared to tackle unexpected twists.