Friday, January 22, 2016

Making the Most of a Snow Day



With all these January snow days, it is so tempting, for parents and students alike, to stay in pajamas, watch TV, and be social media junkies.  While there is STUFF THAT SHOULD GET DONE, it is oh so much easier to procrastinate.


So we put together a list that could possibly get you up from the couch.

1.      Organize.  This is not fun in itself, but here are the benefits.  If you do it with at least one other person, you can have fun.  Make fun of ridiculous stuff that has made its way to the back of a drawer.  Put on entertaining music.  Dance around the house while you are putting things in their proper places.  Recycle all those papers you no longer need.  File some away in folders for later use.  Set a goal of one drawer/cabinet/backpack/binder or one hour, and celebrate afterwards.  Revel in having more space for future materials that will seem important at the time.  Think about how much faster homework will go when you don’t have to look for papers.  They will be purged, and you will know where everything is.

2.     Shovel.  Don’t wait until the snow is over, or it will be too heavy to lift.  Be aware that shoveling is a major cause of heart attacks.  Be sure to take breaks.  This is much more fun with two or more people, and think about what great exercise you will get!

3.      Study for Midterms.  Speaking of getting better grades, midterms count a lot.  Don’t just read over your notes.  Spend extra time reviewing weak areas.  Answer questions from the text book.  Practice math problems.  Study with a friend or family member who is also stuck at home.  Look at the future, how your productive preparation will result in excellent grades.

4.      Practice an SAT or ACT.  This is mainly applicable for high school juniors.  While tutoring can help up your scores, practicing actual tests helps even more.  The College Board has released practice tests online for the new SAT, and many prep books are available.  If you take a full SAT and ACT, you can find out which one you are better at.  You don’t need to take the whole test at once.  It is fine to complete a section or two a day, and be sure to reward yourself afterwards.

5.      Read for pleasure.  In my many years as an educator, there is no doubt in my mind that reading for pleasure is the best predictor of school success.  You can effortlessly improve vocabulary, reading fluency, spelling, grammar, and writing.  In addition, the best practice for the reading section of the SAT and ACT is to spend time reading different types of nonfiction –science, biography, history, etc.  During the school year, it’s hard to find the time to read for pleasure, but during a blizzard, you have the time.  Have a reading party, where everyone in your family sits around reading.  Then you can take breaks and discuss, but only for fun.  Reading for pleasure is not work.

6.      Get some fresh air.  It’s cold and windy, but challenge yourself.  If you wear the right clothes, you should be OK.  Discover unique things that can only be done with large quantities of snow.

7.      Bake.  There is nothing quite like freshly baked goodies during a snow storm.  For younger children, you can practice measurement and following instructions at the same time.

8.      Connect with friends and Family.  Face time or Skype with relatives who are also stuck at home.  Hang out with friends from the neighborhood.  Have a sleep-over.  Build a campsite indoors.

9.      Catch up on Homework.  Middle and high school students are well aware that the second quarter and semester will end within the next two weeks.  If you are behind in any homework or projects, this is obviously an ideal time to catch up.  I know it’s hard to get into homework mode on your day off, but think about going back to school all caught up and increasing your chances of getting better grades.  If possible, make this more fun by teaming up with a friend.

10.  Check in on elderly neighbors.  Maybe they need their driveway shoveled or just some companionship and cookies.

Monday, January 4, 2016