Top 5 New Year’s Resolutions to Build Family Success



The New Year begins with a blank slate on which we  can set new goals and challenges to make the coming year even better than the last. As a family coach and learning specialist I always think about building family relations and student success.With the onset of free time granted by Winter School Break take advantage, set up new spaces, organize materials, and challenge yourselves to something new.


  1. Purchase a new monthly family calendar and hang it where it is most visible to all, probably in the kitchen. Record everyone’s activities, academic20calendarappointments and special events. Use a different color for each family member, and attach the colorful pens to the calendar.
  2. Set up individual work spaces for students, a place where they can keep their homework tool box and be assured it won’t be disturbed.pykebero
  3. Set at least one night per week as family dinner night. Mark it on the calendar to avoid conflicts. This is a time to share. Need some topics to discuss? Try giving each person a chance to share their peeks and valleys of the week. Have everyone bring a news event they want to share with the family or a new book they’ve read.32487331
  4. Create family chores that can be rotated from week to week. Need some suggestions?  Dinner set-up and clean-up, plant care, pet care, trash and recycle cans to street and returned.
  5. Challenge yourselves intellectually, physically, spiritually, academically. Reach out, try something new.  speed-skier-descends-mountain-great-53234132This success is measured by your effort to try, not by mastery. Read something new, learn to bake, sew, knit, skateboard, ride a two wheeler, swim, attend a meditation seminar or yoga retreat. The options are bound only by your willingness to explore.

My best to all my readers

for a safe, healthy, happy and successful New Year.



The Best Holiday Gift


Christmas is growing near and  gift ideas may be growing slim.


My most recommended gift this year is the Kindle Paperwhite.


Many students struggle with maintaining focus while reading. The Kindle Paperwhite is easy to use and distraction free— no pop ups, emails, IM’s, or shared photos. It allows the reader to sit back, sip a cup of tea and enjoy almost all literature whether reading on the beach or in an unlit room. It also provides an easy access dictionary, and note taking tools. It is my reader of choice for all my students.

Merry Christmas and a happy, safe New Year to all!






It’s that time of year when teachers are handing out review packets of materials students need to know for exams. The mere weight of the review material is enough to send students into panic.



Follow these few steps to make exam preparation easy and successful.

  1. Face that review packet with confidence. There are many items you already know. So go through the list and check off all the ones you know. (The test is you must be able to summarize or define the item in 1-2 sentences to knock it off the list.)
  2. Go back through the list and count the number of items you need to review.
  3. Divide that number by the number of days to prepare. Be sure to leave at least one extra day to review the complete list.
  4. Once you have completed your study right up to the night before the exam, it is time to put all your study materials away. DO NOT LOOK AT THEM AGAIN! You are as prepared as you are going to be. Last minute study only adds angst and frustration.
  5. A good night’s sleep after you have completed your final review is the best way to let the material solidify in your brain.



Often teachers will give you an idea of the essay questions they might ask.

  1. Review these topics thoroughly.
  2. Make a list of the key words; elements, dates, people associated with the topic. (If you have been using the Cornell Note Taking Method I advised in The Best & Easiest Note Taking Method blog post, you will already have the key words listed on the right hand side of each page of notes.)
  3. To remember the  key words for your essay, it often helps to make up a silly sentence . (i.e. When I go to the grocery store with a list in my head, a silly sentence helps me to remember what I need to buy. For example: Milk, bread, potatoes, chicken, water, tomatoes. I might say to myself: My brother plays catch with Tom. Studies show that a silly sentence is easier to recall than just a list of words.)
  4. When you are given your exam booklet, first jot down your silly sentence at the top of the page, so you won’t have to carry the burden of remembering it for later when you are ready to write the essay.
  5. Some students like to practice writing their essays in advance. There really is no need as long as you have the key words put to memory.

Hint: Teachers have too many essays to read each one thoroughly. They generally scan to see that the key words have been included to prove your understanding of the topic. 


Good Luck!  

Please let me know how this works for you and of any topics you would like me to address in future blog posts.

Relax this winter holiday with a virtual adventure in the South Pacific. 41avyd4pwjl-_uy250_Get your copy of PANDU and be swept away.


The 3 Essential Tools for Student Success

  1. Large month at a glance calendar
  2.  7 pocket accordion pleated file
  3.  5×7 weekly planner aptitude_test

By this time in the school year, you may have replaced your student’s binder at least one. The rings fail to close correctly and that unnecessary zipper, if there was one, is broken. Papers are loose and many have been lost. I am often called to the rescue about this time of year. Parents complain their student is disorganized. Papers are lost, assignments are late, and work on longterm projects is falling behind. What can be done to rescue this student?

Years ago, when my own children faced these same issues, a wise guidance counselor shared these immortalized words, “Organization is the key to success.” No matter how innately wise, or how high one scores on SAT tests, without organizational skills, the road to success may be impeded by hurdles of disorganization. Students who learn to use these three simple tools are no longer plagued by lost papers, incomplete assignments and long term project anxiety.

Essential Tools:

academic20calendarA large month at a glance desk calendar should be placed in an easy to  view student work space. Record all activities,
assignments and appointments as soon as they are known.

43be5fcf-26da-41e7-8b89-1f1d66443d8b-_cb320242288_A 7 pocket accordion file should replace the three ring binder. It is a fast and easy storage method for those who struggle with unzipping binders, turning to the correct section divider and working around broken binder rings.


Use a 5×7 weekly planbook showing one week at a time in a 2 page spread.
This design  leaves enough room to write daily 158882assignments and fits nicely into the accordion file.

Of course purchasing these simple tools is only the first step. Once they are in place, they must be used consistently. Sometimes this takes some practice and follow-up support, but success breeds success and results have assured me this works.

Please let me know how this works for you.

Best of luck!

Don’t  forget to purchase the perfect holiday gift, Pandu41avyd4pwjl-_uy250_The stay-cassion novel that takes you on an exciting  South Pacific adventure right from your home. You’re guaranteed to feel the heat and smell the flowers while being magically transported through the pages of a dangerous bond between strangers.