Sunday | December 8, 2019

How To Successfully Manage Test Anxiety In High School

Test anxiety is essentially a state of excessive fear or worry about situations involving formal evaluations such as tests or major papers in schools or colleges.

While feeling stressed and jittery before major tests in a normal phenomenon for some, others might find it hard to cope with the pressure. According to the American Test Anxieties Association, about 16-20% of students have high test anxiety which makes it the most prevalent scholastic impairment in schools today. In fact, the majority of students report that they are more stressed by tests and schoolwork than by anything else in their lives.

 

What Causes Test Anxiety?

There are several reasons that contribute to test anxiety; it primarily stems from worrying about one’s self-worth. Students suffering from test anxiety tend to think that acceptance by peers, parents, and teachers depends only on their academic achievements.

According to Dr. Robert Pressman, director of research for the New England Center of Pediatric Psychology, test anxiety has primarily three distinct components such physiological, behavioral and psychological.

Students suffering from anxiety tend to demonstrate typical physiological symptoms such as feeling light-headed, sweaty, tensed as well as experiencing knot in stomach, nausea and rapid heartbeat. Similarly, in terms of behavior, they may either have disorganized thoughts or go completely blank as well. Some common psychological traits during test anxiety range from restlessness to feeling restless and insecure.

 

How to Manage Test Anxiety in High School

From midterms to college entrance exams to finals, high-schoolers face a slew of tests which push their nerves and make them anxious, especially when the dates of these comes approach.

Here are a few tips on how to manage your test anxiety in high school:

 

Be Prepared

Even as this sounds pretty obvious, it’s one of the best ways to avoid test anxiety. The more prepared and confident you are for the test, the less you’re likely to feel jittery. It’s that simple. Don’t start studying the day before a test. Give yourself a few days to let the material sink.

​Want to determine your preparedness for the upcoming tests? Take a look at the test prep experts at The Princeton Review and discover your test readiness.

 

Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Cramming isn’t an ideal way to prepare for the test. In fact, it makes increases the anxiety about your preparedness. Many high-school students tend to pull an all-nighter, which negatively affects their nerves and their ability to think clearly during the exam. If you want to stay cool, calm and collected, the right approach is getting at least 8 hours of sleep.

​According to the National Sleep Foundation, teens need about 8-10 hours of sleep each night to ideally function. However, a study found only 15% of the students reported sleeping for 8 ½ hours on school nights. Let your brain and body rest well before the test.

 

Fuel Up

If you want to have an optimal state of mind, it’s important to eat healthy and stay well-hydrated before the test. Many students skip their breakfast out of sheer anxiety while others indulge in crash dieting, both of which are detrimental to your body and mind. As a matter of fact, eating healthy has been found effective in improving test scores. According to a research by the University of California, Berkeley, a healthier diet positively affects students’ test scores. Make sure your foods are rich in nutrition to keep a healthy regimen.

 

Listen to Relaxing Music

It’s only natural to feel a bit nervous before the test. However, if you want to avoid letting negative thoughts cripple you, listen to relaxing music before the test. Once you let your body and mind sync with the music, your heart rate will come down its’ normal range.

 

Get to Class or the Test Early

​The feeling of being late for the test is real and it can add unneeded anxiety. To avoid feeling rushed, pack your stuff the night before the test and set your alarm clock to get up early and reach the class for your test with time to spare. If it’s an online test, make sure you browse site beforehand to get a feel of it, especially if it’s your first time.

 

Develop Positive Mental Attitude

Negative thoughts fuel test anxiety for high schoolers. Make it a practice to cultivate ways of staying motivated no matter what the situation is. Surround yourself with friends with a positive bent of mind. Read some inspiring quotes and listen to a motivational talk before the test to stay inspired.

 

Read Carefully

​It’s always a best practice to read your questions and directions carefully before providing an answer. This applies to multiple choice, long form questions and essays.

​Don’t spend too much time on a question that appears tricky right off the bat. Move on to the next question to get in a early groove.

 

Don’t Pay Attention to What Others are Doing

Students can often worry about what others in the room are up to, therefore distracting them from thinking clearly. This happens especially when you’re not self assured and feeling nervous. Rather than looking around, focus on one question (the easiest ones) to build your confidence as you progress through the test. You can even try wearing ear plugs if this helps you block out sounds and disruptions from your classmates.

 

Watch the Clock

At the beginning of the test, spare a moment to scan the questions and determine in what order you prefer to answer them. Once you have allocated time for each of those levels, stick to the plan. Getting started without any plans can leave you tense when you realize you’re out of time for the remaining questions.

 

Practice Calm Breathing with These Mobile Apps

Deep breathing is a tried-and-true method that helps you slow down your heart rate and keeping it stable. Calming exercises such as yoga and meditation are also effective ways to stave off your nerves and reduce anxiety. There are many mobile apps that can help when you know you have stressful events coming in your life. Universal Breathing, Paced Breathing, Breathe2Relax, Relax Stress, End Anxiety, and Breathing Zone are all worth trying.

 

Get Help

If you feel you need help and support to battle test anxiety, you should consult your teachers or school guidance counselors. Simply speaking to someone about your anxieties can be a good first step to help you cope with it.

Tips for Parents: How to Help Your Teens Deal with Test Anxiety

It’s very common for teens to undergo anxious moments before the tests. However, parents can play a huge role in helping their teens cope with test anxiety.  If not treated early, it can translate into a bigger issue throughout your teens life. Here are a few things that you can do to help.

 

Listen to Their Concerns

It’s natural for your teen to be unsure about a test and its outcome. However, as a parent, you need to reach out to them and be empathetic about the challenges. Speak to them honestly and be realistic about the whole issue. Telling your kids that you’re there for them regardless of the outcome of the test can be a good starting point. However, sometimes, you need to understand the underlying problems that trigger tension in your teens.

 

Help Them Balance

More often than not, teens get nervous because they are unable to strike a balance between balancing their studies and other activities. As a parent, you need to push them to scale back on other things, letting them find more time to focus on studying. You need to help him manage their time for the upcoming tests, setting up a schedule to fully prepare for  the test(s).

​​Teaching them the art of prioritization and time management will help them throughout their lives.

 

Help Them Anticipate the Test Beforehand

Many teens lose sleep over the types of questions that may be in the test, regardless of how well prepared they are. Some of them don’t really know what to expect from the test. Help your teens anticipate different types of questions that could appear. If the test is on a previous chapter in a text book then take a look at that with your teen. Look at any practice questions that may be available for that chapter. They can then prepare for them well in advance and this will help them eliminate any surprises in the test.

 

In Conclusion

Success in exams isn’t just about good study habits; they are also about learning to stay calm and being able to fight off your nervousness. With the above mentioned tips, you can manage test anxiety and optimize your academic performance.

November 1st, 2019

Posted In: Community, Education, Parenting, Technology, Uncategorised

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Finding a Great Student Job

If you’re a high school student, getting a part-time job can be a wonderful idea. In fact, according to data provided by Child Trends, almost half of all young people ages 16 to 24 in the U.S. work either full or part-time. In Canada, 56 percent of undergraduate students have jobs, with the average working student putting in approximately 18 hours a week.

Some studies show that 18 percent of high school students have jobs. This can be a great way to have extra spending money or to save for travel and post-secondary school. Tuition rates are rising and parents are not always able to help fund the hefty cost of post-secondary education. Working is a fantastic way to ensure you have money on hand to contribute to your future.

But there are even more great reasons to work as a teenager. It teaches responsibility, as well as time management and organizational skills. Working will give you a sense of independence and help you gain valuable work habits and experience. Being employed as a teen is also linked to increased rates of graduation and greater earnings in the adult years.

The key is to ensure you’re finding a balance. Studies show that students who work more than 20 hours a week have lower grades than students who work fewer hours. Working too much can conflict with class and leave less time to study and complete school work. It also might detract from participating in extra-curricular activities, such as sports, drama and music. These activities also provide important benefits, so you don’t want to give these up.

With balance in mind, there are some great job opportunities available for students interested in working part time.

The first step is to think about your interests, goals and your current schedule. For instance, do you like sports? Math? Computers? Kids? You might want to offer skating lessons or help coach a team if you’re a hockey whiz. If you excel at math, maybe you can tutor. Ask around or put up signs offering your math services. If you are great at computer coding, there are several small businesses that teach coding to kids. Why not approach them and see if they need help with an after-school program? If you like kids and tend to be free on weekends, maybe you want to babysit. There are many opportunities you might not have considered that tend to be perfect for students. For instance, you can be a lifeguard, camp counsellor, take on a student internship, caddy at a golf club or help a landscaper.

This is also the time to think about your goals. If you want to be a teacher, working with kids or tutoring can be a great entry into that field and will look great on your resume in future. If you’re more entrepreneurial and dream of having your own business one day, this might be a great time to start thinking of ways to make your first business happen.

It’s also important to consider how much time you have available. Do you tend to be busy during the week with academics and extra-curricular activities? You’ll want to look for jobs you can do during the weekends or perhaps during the summer instead of during the school year. If you have an easier semester and tend to have time in the evenings, consider a job that would enable you to work evening hours.

Go online and do some of your own research. There are many job search sites that feature jobs for students. You might find some you’d never considered before. It’s often just as helpful to find jobs you’re not at all interested in doing. This will help you narrow your search and focus in on your interests and needs.

Write down some ideas as part of a brainstorm. Get your friends, parents, a teacher or guidance counsellor involved—they are sure to have some thoughts on how you can proceed. They want to see you succeed and can be helpful in providing guidance when you need it most.

Once you’ve figured out what you want to do and how much time you have to devote to it, get your resume started. If you have one already, that’s great—you’re ahead of the game. Make sure to read it over and polish it off, updating it with a new goal or objective. Start approaching potential employers to let them know you’re interested in applying for a job. This might lead to a phone or in-person interview. Be honest about your goals and the time you have available.

And make sure you have a bank account set up because soon enough you’ll have money to deposit.

May 3rd, 2019

Posted In: Community, Education, Uncategorised

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Benefits and Ways of Keeping Teens Active Over The Winter Break

Winter is generally that time of the year when we all want to stay at home curled up in our beds. In summer, sunlight brightens our day and makes us active but the cold, snowy winter make can make us lazier. Moreover, days are shorter during the winter season, making it all the more difficult for us to step out for physical activity. 

However, just because there is snow on the ground, it does not mean that we have to stop exercising. There are several avenues for staying active during the winter and we as parents should encourage our teens to follow an exercise routine during the winter season to stay fit. For e.g., we could motivate them to participate in holiday themed races or join winter sports teams.

In this article, we will discuss the benefits of exercising for teenagers and also about ways to keep your teens active during the winter season.

 

Physical Activities Increase Energy Levels and Make You Feel Better

Exercising or taking part in physical activities like games and sports regularly is one of the best things teenagers can do for improving their health. Exercising helps you feel more energetic and alert. Physical activities lead to increased release of endorphins in our bodies. This hormone is responsible for making you feel good and refreshed after working out. As a result, physical activities make you feel happier and relaxed.

Prevents Obesity

Regular physical activities help in burning calories, preventing teenage obesity and maintaining a healthy weight. According to the World Health Organization, children and youth aged 5–17 should accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity on a daily basis. For children and teenagers, physical activity would include games, sports, recreation, planned exercise, school and community activities.

Increases Aerobic Capacity

Physical activity creates an increased need for oxygen in our bodies. When we exercise we start breathing heavily due to the increased need for oxygen. Depending on how fit we are, we may notice this need occur earlier or later compared to others. Exercising regularly leads to an increased consumption of oxygen and the capacity of our lungs increases. Over time, regular exercise builds aerobic capacity, delivering more oxygen to our brain and bloodstream, and helps us stay active easily.

Enhances Your Looks

Physical activities and exercising can also make you look good. When we exercise, we burn more calories and as a result, we look more toned than those who don’t. This can be a huge motivational factor for teenagers. Moreover, exercising also makes us sweat and release body toxins making exercise extremely important during winters. Moderate exercise also increases your body’s production of natural antioxidants and helps to protect your skin.  

Improves Sleep

Teenagers are advised to sleep eight to ten hours but with excessive use of technology, there appears to be a high sleep deficit among teens. In fact, a study showed that only 15% of teens reported sleeping 8 1/2 hours on school nights. One of the best ways to overcome sleep deficit is to exercise regularly. When you are active during the day, you typically fall asleep more easily and stay asleep longer. Making physical activities a part of your daily routine can help your teens get a more sound and restful sleep. It not only improves the quality of sleep by increasing the time spent in deep sleep, but also boosts the overall duration of your teen’s sleep.

Reduces Stress And Relieves Anxiety

Regular exercising can help in reducing the stress and anxiety levels of your teens. Just 5 minutes of moderate physical activities can trigger anti-stress responses in our bodies. Regular aerobic exercise is known to decrease overall levels of tension, stabilize mood and improve self-esteem. Teens are often stressed due to academic life, peer pressure, and several other reasons. Here are a few fitness tips from Anxiety and Depression Association of America to help your teens manage stress and stay healthy.

Disease Prevention

Beyond the well-known benefits of obesity prevention and improving bone as well as muscular strength, regular exercising also helps in reducing the risks of a wide range of chronic diseases like diabetics, cardiovascular diseases, bone and joint diseases like osteoporosis and osteoarthritis, breast cancer and colon cancer among several other. It also helps in lowering blood pressure, increasing HDL or good cholesterol.

Improves Muscle and Bone Strength

Both your bones and muscles become stronger when your muscles push and pull against your bones during physical activity. Strength training helps develop muscles while also forcing our muscles to put pressure on our bones, thereby improving our bone strength. You could read more about activities that can strengthen the bones and muscles of teens here.

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, children and teens should participate in bone-strengthening activities at least 3 days a week. Bone strengthening exercises are especially important for teens because they obtain their lifetime peak bone mass in their teenage years.

Examples of muscle-strengthening activities:

  • Sit-ups (curl-ups or crunches)
  • Rope of tree climbing
  • Modified push-ups (with knees on the floor)

Examples of bone-strengthening activities:

  • Running
  • Jumping rope
  • Hopscotch

Having understood the various benefits of physical activities for teenagers, we will now look at various avenues to motivate and keep your teens active during the winter season.

Create A Home Gym For Your Teen

Going out to workout during the winters may be a herculean task considering the various layers of clothing you are required to wear. To make things simpler, you could set up a home gym with some basic inexpensive equipment like resistance bands, dumbbells, and stability balls. You could exercise as a family to motivate your teen to stay fit.

Find An Indoor Pool

Getting drenched during the winters may not sound to be a great idea. But swimming, water aerobics and running laps in water are great forms of physical activities that may seem exciting for your teen rather than boring mundane exercises.

Explore Fun Activities

It’s winter season which is a great time to explore a new set of outdoor activities like skiing, ice skating, snowboarding, ice hockey etc. Encourage your teens to join winter sports teams in your locality and participate in weekly games.

Get Them To Sign Up For Activities At A Local Community Centre

You could get your teens to sign up for basketball, squash, badminton, aerobics or even yoga. Given the numerous options to choose from, you can be sure to find something that would interest your teen.

Motivate Them To Find An Exercise Buddy

We all find exercise boring. But with a great company, we can overcome this boredom. This is why having exercise buddies is a good idea for your teens. They could go out for jogging together or they could visit a mall and walk when it’s too cold outside. Nevertheless, exercise buddies are a great motivational factor.

Set Small Daily Goals Rather Than Weekly Goals

As a parent, set small goals for your teens like jogging, biking or dancing for 30 minutes daily. It is better to set small goals than plan for heavy workouts for a long duration during the weekend. Frequency and consistency benefit our body more than strenuous workouts intermittently. Give them rewards like a movie night, dining out with friends etc., when they reach their goals.

Final Thoughts

While most of us are already aware of the importance of physical activities, we may still shy away from exercising, given the cold weather. It would be your duty as parents to foster the importance of regular physical activities to teens irrespective of the seasons.

For teens, winter sports and games may seem more exciting than exercising; therefore, we should motivate them to partake in neighborhood winter sports teams.

December 24th, 2018

Posted In: Athletics, Community, Education, Nutrition, Parenting, Technology, Uncategorised

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Student Summer Jobs

It is problematic as a parent to know whether you’re making the right decisions for your teens. One of the things that begins to plague the minds of parents at this time of year is whether or not their teenager should have a summer job.

There are so many ways to spend a summer. After a tough academic year, your teen might want to chill out and spend time with their friends. They might want to travel, play sports or take a course. Working is a great option as well. But which will be the most beneficial experience for your child and which will universities value?

According to education experts and parenting gurus, holding a job is a great idea and teaches teenagers a variety of valuable lessons—lessons that will weigh heavily in your teen’s favour when it comes time to apply for university.

Here are a few reasons why getting a summer job is a great idea:

Interview skills: There’s no better way to prepare your teen for the road ahead than to have them experience the job application process. Not only will they have to create a winning resume, they will also gain experience looking for work, networking, applying for jobs and interviewing for positions. These skills will come in handy whether they actually get the job for which they’ve applied or they don’t. At some point they will apply for a scholarship or job and they will be that much further prepared than their peers who never experienced the process. It can definitely be nerve wracking and stressful, but the more experience they have the more natural it will become as they get older.

Rejection: Let’s face it: like all of us, our kids are bound to experience rejection at some point or another. They might apply for their first job and get it, or they might be turned down. This in itself is a great experience in building resilience and handling upsetting life lessons. It’s a skill that needs to be learned and managed. The better your teen gets at handling rejection, the easier it will be for them to bounce back and move onto other experiences and opportunities. They might even learn about themselves in the process. Maybe they are stronger, more positive or more independent than they imagined themselves to be. Maybe they will come to appreciate why they didn’t get the job—what experience they are lacking or why an interview went badly—and use it get the next job. Even rejection has its benefits.

Responsibility: When your child does get that first job and enters the workforce for the summer, there are myriad lessons they will learn. The first of which is perhaps responsibility. They will need to learn to arrive on time, to handle difficult situations or people and they will be depended upon to do their job properly. Having a job is also a great way to learn about teamwork, commitment and time management. These are all key life skills that will be required to succeed not only in their first job, but in every other job that follows.

Finances: Earning your first paycheque is a fantastic way to start learning about the value of a dollar. Your teen will quickly come to understand how hard they had to work to earn their first cheque. They might think twice before wasting money in future or be inspired to learn about how to save. Some quick calculations will help them discover how much they might need to work before they can earn the new pair of shoes they’ve been coveting. Perhaps they want to start saving for college or university or to travel after high school. This is a perfect teaching opportunity for parents. Sit down with your child and give them a lesson in managing their money. How much should they save? How much can they spend? Make sure they open a bank account and get a debit card. Teach them financial responsibility. Let them pay for certain things so they can feel proud of what they were able to buy.

Confidence: There’s nothing like being recognized for a job well done to boost a teen’s self esteem. Knowing they worked hard, did a good job and were recognized can make a teenager feel proud and accomplished. They will begin to learn about what they are good at and what skills need to be improved. By doing certain jobs, they will learn about themselves—their likes and dislikes. They will over time grow into themselves, mature and understand who they are and what they want in life.

In short, aside from having less time to lounge around on the couch during the summer, there is very little downside to encouraging your teenager to look for a job this summer. Though working might have its challenges, your teen will definitely have earned a sense of accomplishment by the time school starts again in September.

April 20th, 2018

Posted In: Community, Education, Parenting, Technology, Uncategorised

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Fun Things to Do in Toronto This April

As another winter transitions into spring, the occasional snow squall drops in to remind Torontonians they live in The Great White North. Many years have passed since the army was called in to dig out the city. Though much of Canada has mostly forgotten Toronto’s inability to survive a snow storm, Ontarians just up Highway 400 aren’t quite sure if “The 6ix” even experiences winter any more.

Winters vary in intensity, and sometimes it seems Mother Nature skips spring in Toronto, and transitions right into summer. Regardless of the weather, the Greater Toronto Area seems to wake from a long slumber in the spring, and there are many great events to see, and places to go.

If you need help shaking off the winter blahs, here are ten GTA experiences you’ll want to be a part of.

Toronto Blue Jays Home Opener

Most Torontonians would love to watch the Maple Leafs compete in the NHL playoffs each spring, yet fate hasn’t been kind to “The Buds” for many years. Catching the Blue Jays in their season debut in the Rogers Centre gives the city new hope, excitement and optimism. In April, hot dogs taste their juiciest, baseball bats sound their loudest and mini donuts smell their sweetest. OK, Blue Jays, let’s play ball!

Hot Docs Film Festival

Though it lacks the star power of the Toronto International Film Festival in the fall, the Hot Docs Film Festival brings great documentaries to Canada’s largest city. From late April, to early May, reality film makers from around the world descend on Toronto to promote their productions. The Annex region of Toronto plays host to films on topics like:

  • Culture & Creativity
  • Stories from Around the World
  • People and Perspectives
  • Ideas and Issues

These topics leave a lot to the imagination, though the films are real, the crowds are real, and rookie filmmakers are hopeful Hot Docs will launch their career skyward. Spring may have sprung, though Torontonians do like to spend time in dark theatres!

Other Toronto spring film festivals include:

  • TIFF Kids Film Festival
  • Inside Out Film Festival
  • Canadian Film Fest
  • Human Rights Watch Film Festival

Running and Climbing

For Torontonians and tourists who need to get moving in spring, there are lots of opportunities to get off the couch, and raise your heart rate:

  • Good Life Marathon – This challenging run is on May 1st, is a qualifier for the Boston Marathoners and starts in Nathan Phillips Square
  • CN Tower Climb – On April 16th, hordes of charitable Torontonians run up 1,776 steps in support of the World Wildlife Fund. Teams and individuals
  • Harry Rosen Spring Runoff – Early April brings this run in support of the fight against prostate cancer. 5k and 8k runs for all ages

Just as dogs, bears and cats shed their winter coats in the spring, many Torontonians join these events, or take to the streets to walk, jog, cycle and run right past the gym they joined in January.

A Food Festival for Every Palate

To build enough energy to participate in the fitness challenges above, you need fuel right? Toronto offers a broad spectrum of global cuisine year round, and in the spring there are food festivals including:

  • The Raw and Vegan Festival – Or stay home and have a salad
  • Curry Fest – Probably best after the CN Tower Climb, not before
  • Toronto Life’s Best Restaurants Event – 15 top restaurants, showcasing their wares
  • Feast on St. Clair – Get your eat on at multiple purveyors of food

There are a number of events showcasing adult beverages. This is a family blog, so we’ll stick to delicious eats here.

Bursting into Bloom in T-Dot

Every year’s first blooms depend on when Mother Nature is ready to bring flowers to Toronto parks, however when it’s time, you’ll find them exploding into view here:

  • Casa Loma
  • Toronto Botanical Gardens
  • High Park Hillside Gardens
  • Spadina Museum
  • High Park cherry trees
  • Hopefully, your back yard

Torontonians love their gardens, and not just when Frankie Flowers is in town. April showers, some topsoil and some hard work in mid-to late Mays should restore the grey and brown city to match the colours in the vibrant new Toronto sign.

The DVP Isn’t the Only Zoo in Toronto!

Though the Toronto Zoo is famous for its baby pandas, there are many places around the city to spot some of our fine furry friends in the spring:

  • High Park Zoo
  • Reptilia (what says spring better than lizards?)
  • Brooks Farm
  • Far Enough Farm
  • Riverdale Farm
  • Pingle’s Farm Market

If you’ve enjoyed getting out of the city for your maple syrup fix, and plan to spend some quality time in the city, here are some other events you should consider:

  • Doors Open Toronto
  • Fashion Week
  • Toronto Music Week
  • Toronto Spring Bike Show
  • Toronto Spring Fishing Show
  • The Spring Boat, RV, and Motorcycle Shows

If you’re still stuck for ideas on things to do in Toronto this spring, you just haven’t paid attention. The warm weather is on the way, so if you have some time on your hands, do some spring cleaning around your house, or stroll Toronto’s streets and enjoy the rebirth of our city!

April 9th, 2018

Posted In: Community, Education, Parenting, Uncategorised

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