Sunday | November 17, 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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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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How to Foster Lifelong Learning in Your Teen

The brain is rapidly developing in the teenage years.

​We all want our kids to enjoy learning and to make the most of their education. We place value in ensuring they work hard, study for their tests do their homework to the best of their abilities and appreciate the educational opportunities they’ve been giving. A good education truly is a gift.

This sense of curiosity might be even more important than parents realize. Research has shown that curiosity impacts performance as much as hard work. When you’re curious about a subject and study up on it, you tend to retain that information for longer periods. It’s also associated with positive behaviours such as tolerance for uncertainty, humour and out-of-the-box thinking.

​These are all skills associated with happiness, resilience, creativity and intellectual growth.

So how do we foster that sense of lifelong learning in kids? How do we ensure they grow up with a sense of curiosity that will motivate them to want to learn and explore throughout their entire lives? Here are a few tips:

Encourage your children to ask questions. If your child asks a question, don’t brush them off with a simple answer such as “I don’t know.” Don’t simply say “good question.” Go the extra step further and help them find the answer to the question they have asked.

Maybe it’s a matter of going to the library and finding a book that explains the topic. Maybe you can go online together and read the literature. Take them to a museum or help them interview someone who has the answer.

​There are so many methods of learning and ways to find answers. ​What is your child’s preferred method? Maybe they are more hands-on. Maybe they enjoy learning by opening a book. Let them know how much you value their curiosity and reward them by helping them discover the answer. They will enjoy the journey and not hesitate to approach you the next time they are curious.

Talk to your child’s teacher. When you communicate with your son or daughter’s teacher either casually or during more formal parent-teacher interviews, ask if they have noticed whether there is anything in particular your child is curious about. What is their favourite subject? What style of learner are they? Do they seem particularly curious about anything? If not, perhaps they have suggestions for how you can stimulate a sense of wonder. Your teacher will know things about your child that you might not have noticed and their experience in the education field will give them valuable insight into your particular child.

​Let your child’s teacher know how committed you are to being involved and in fostering an appreciation for lifelong learning in your child. You are a team dedicated to furthering your child’s education and you share the same goals. Don’t hesitate to speak openly to your child’s teachers about this topic.

Encourage your teen to do their homework well. If you step in and help your child right away, they might not have the opportunity to assess whether they understand the work. By helping, you deny giving them a chance to see how resourceful they are. You will also give them the chance to realize what questions their homework will spark. They might even discover they don’t understand the homework at all.  You’ll want to make yourself available, of course, to answer questions or suggest ways in which they might find the answers.

If you’re stuck on how to facilitate the process, here are a few suggestions:

  • If your child doesn’t understand what is being asked of them when you’re helping them with an assignment, you might want to read the question together and say, “What do you think the question is asking?”
  • If they don’t understand what they are supposed to do as they work on their homework, try asking them if they have any ideas for how to solve the problem.
  • If your child is unsure of the assignment, suggest calling a friend or reviewing their notes from class. Follow up the next day and make sure they understand or asked for help from the teacher.

Ensure learning happens outside the classroom, too. As much as we prioritize in-class learning, there is so much to be discovered outside of the class as well. The best way to foster additional opportunities is to encourage your child to participate in extra-curricular activities. Perhaps they like sports, music or want to learn a language. Sign them up for a class at the local community centre or in the neighbourhood. If they discover they aren’t interested in that particular activity, try another. Don’t give up. Extra-curricular activities are a great way to make friends, expand their skills, get exercise and figure out what they are interested in and what they aren’t.

Stimulating that sense of curiosity is very important and there are so many ways in which you can help build this sense of wonder in your child. Once you light that spark, there will be no stopping your child in their quest for lifelong learning.

December 6th, 2018

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Crestwood Gives – Providing for Families in Need

December is often a month filled with paradox ­

  • Warm spirits in cold weather
  • Extreme loneliness hidden among celebrations of love and friendship
  • Lean poverty amid bountiful generosity
  • Hunger and sorrow overshadowed by feasting and celebration

Though many of these challenges face Canadian families all year round, they usually come to the forefront of our minds around the holidays. Charitable organizations have but four to six weeks to capture the hearts, minds and wallets of those more fortunate.

Give from More than Your Wallet

It takes more than just donations to organizations like the Salvation Army, Daily Bread Food Bank or the The Hospital for Sick Kids Foundation. It takes activism, volunteering and advocacy from all Canadians. Working on a build for a local Habitat for Humanity, or spending time with seniors at a nursing home can be inspiring all year

Making a pledge to dedicate yourself to a cause at this time of year is good for the heart. Keeping that pledge will be good for your soul.

All too often, we pass a mother and her child in a grocery store, and we don’t know she could barely gather enough money for a few days worth of food.

Maybe you and your children meet someone who has just received long term disability status. They could have been denied insurance coverage, or can no longer work because of pain, or injury. Reaching out with support to people in crisis extends beyond that individual to their loved ones.

These people in need, and many others in dire circumstances, may be calling out for help, though we miss their calls. We are often distracted by stories in the media about celebrities, our own material pursuits, or we’re distracted by other trivial matters which seem important at the time.

How to Make a Difference

There are many examples of people paying their good fortune forward which we hear about every day. Small gestures from children can bring joy to an elderly person’s life. Forgiveness between loved ones or friends. Giving of your time, in circumstances like working with special needs children or adults can go just as far as financial donations, in the right spirit.

Communities like Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Canada not only helps boys and girls by providing role models. They, like all organizations that care for children, provide needed respite for mothers and fathers who need time to work, rest, or learn better ways of parenting. Volunteer as a Big Brother, Big Sister or even for a Junior Achievement class and make a difference in a young person’s life, and that of their family.

It Takes a Village

As the saying goes, it takes more than just a mother and a father to raise a child to adulthood. Providing moral guidance and support, not judgement, is in the best interest of a person growing up.

You won’t likely find many legitimate opportunities to help families on your own. Crestwood has partnered with a number of service groups and charities which cater to the well being, safety and security of the most vulnerable Ontario families among us.

Talk to your child about the benefits of being active in their community, and the role of Crestwood in it.

Encourage your children to learn about power of activism such as:

  • Volunteering for charities which focus on family
  • Donations of food, clothing, toys or other goods which would benefit their less fortunate peers
  • Befriending someone at school who has trouble fitting in, is new to the school or just needs a companion
  • Participating in groups that keep the city safe, clean and free of bullying

The opportunity to learn about helping others when a child is young can translate to a lifetime of service, support of community, and engagement in making Canada a better place to work, live and play in. Together with Crestwood, let’s help families in Toronto, and across Canada.

 

April 9th, 2018

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

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Devices and Your Teen’s Developing Brain

We all know that too much screen time is bad for little kids. This includes time spent using iPhones, iPads, video games and computers. Many studies have exposed that too much screen time for little kids can cause permanent damage to their brains. In fact, it can interfere with a child’s ability to focus, concentrate and communicate as they grow older.

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]                      “over use of social media can lead to anxiety“[/pullquote]

But do high-tech devices have the same impact on our teenager’s brains, or is more screen time okay for teenagers? It seems to all depend.

​Some screen time is important and even essential for teens. Using a computer is a great way to conduct research or type up school assignments. Phones are an important method of communication and have become increasingly important as a way of interacting with peers. Video games and time spent playing on an iPad are fun and can be a great way to unwind with friends.

But moderation is the key. This is especially important since a person’s brain isn’t fully developed until age 25. This means that too much screen time can definitely negatively affect a teenager’s developing brain. Here’s how:

Too much screen time can lead to dangerous addiction. According to one 2013 study, addiction is linked with depression, impulsiveness and traits associated with autism. It occurs when addicts turn to technology to experience a rush, which is what happens when dopamine floods the brain. The need for this pleasurable sensation fights with the brain’s ability to think rationally and use restraint.

Though you might not think getting a rush from technology is a particular problem, it can actually be deadly. What happens when a teenager is so addicted to their phone that it interferes with their ability to drive safely? They might text and drive or check their phone while behind the wheel, which is dangerous. It can also be illegal depending on where you live.

Technology is not only addictive to the teenaged brain, but over use of social media can lead to anxiety, depression and a loss of interest in socializing face-to-face. Experts have seen an alarming rise in tech-related mental health issues. Parents are being called upon to limit their teen’s time spent on social media, to enforce tech-free family time and eliminate phones from their teenager’s bedrooms at night. It’s all in an effort to ensure their teenager has a healthy balance of socializing, exercise and interaction outside of the virtual world.

Too much screen time can also affect a teen’s ability to sleep. Sleeping and dreaming are essential to developing and maintaining long-term memory. When a teenager is on their phone late into the night, they aren’t getting the sleep they need for their brains to properly function.

In addition to its impact on the brain, over use of technology can have negative physical side effects as well. Too much screen time can lead to eye strain, headaches, tendonitis of the wrist and pain in the neck, shoulders and back.

While technology can have negative impacts on the developing teenager’s brain, we must also recognize it’s an important part of life today. In fact, we can’t live without it. The key is to ensure our teens have balance in their lives. It’s important they socialize with friends, interact with real people, get enough sleep, and not let technology interfere with their physical safety and mental well being.

February 19th, 2018

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