5 Ways to Keep Your Teen Focused Without a Prescription

add, adhd, prescription drugs, concentration, study habits, focusMargo is a 16- year-old from Winnetka, Il. She loves doing improv, working for her school’s newspaper and being with her friends. Her favorite subject is English because writing is her passion.



With the increasing number of teens turning to ADD prescriptions to solve their studying problems, it is important to look into the alternatives.  Although these prescriptions can be helpful for many teens, they can also be problematic.  The selling of drugs like Adderall is becoming a big concern in schools all over the country.  Teens are trying to find easy ways to make money and looking into their own medicine cabinet for quick cash is becoming a trend among many high school students.  Here are a few simple solutions to dealing with your teen’s focus issues.

1)    The Library

For hundreds of years people of all ages have gone to the library.  Whether it’s to find a new book or study for school, the library has always been a great place to focus.  This can be an incredibly helpful facility that not enough students seem to utilize.  Because of the lack of noise, comfortable surroundings, and access to many different resources, the library can be a quick and easy fix to an unproductive study session.


2)    Study Buddy

Studying with a friend may be an opportunity for distraction, but in many cases it can be incredibly helpful.  When studying with another person, both students can work off of each other when questions or confusion occurs.  When a teen studies with a friend, classmate, or sibling, they are able to monitor each other’s focus and quiz each other in preparation for tests or quizzes.  This is a social and simple way to get your teen on track.

3)    Take a Break

Although it may look like your teen is not concentrating when they come downstairs for a snack or turn on the television for a few minutes, taking a break is a very important aspect of studying.  When a student studies for too long without any breaks in between, the information they are taking in will not withstand the test of time.  As long as the break does not last for an extended period of time, it is a very productive and important thing to do.

4)    Get Organized

The most detrimental thing a student can do to their grade is to be unorganized.  Without order, there is no hope for a teen when it comes to long term tests or final exams.  Getting organized is a relatively quick fix to a big problem that can get in the way of even the best student’s study skills.

5)    Exercise

When the brain is hard at work for long periods of time, a great way to release some stress and gain back focus is to get active.  Whether it’s going on a run, playing soccer with friends or taking a yoga class, there are endless ways to exercise your body after exercising your mind.  Although it may feel like your teen is trying to avoid their homework by partaking in physical activity, exercise is a healthy way to regain focus and improve study habits.

An important thing to remember is each student is different.  Not all of these alternatives will work for every teen.  It is important to figure out what kind of learner your child is, and in turn you will find which strategy works the best.


Photo Credit: English106 from Flickr

How To Survive The May Madness

TreNesha is a 16-year old from Goodyear, AZ. She enjoys golfing, writing and watching live plays.

May Madness

The end of the year is always a bit of a nerve-wracking time for the teens in high school. They don’t call it “May Madness” for nothing. It’s the time of the year where you suddenly have to recall everything you learned over the year. All of your finals and end of the year projects are due and you are freaking out! In order to help you survive the end of the semester, here are a couple of tips:


Check in with your teachers. About a month or two before the school year ends check in with your teachers and see where you stand grade-wise. This gives you the time to get grades up if they aren’t where you want them to be. It also saves you from any surprises when you open up the end of the year report card.


Keep a calendar. This is a simple task that will save you a lot of trouble. Keeping track of all the events and due dates will save you a lot of stress in the long run. In my personal opinion it’s better to track the dates in your cell phone’s personal calendar. You’re more likely to look at the dates on a digital calendar than on a non-digital one.


Ask for a little help. One thing we should never be afraid of as teenagers is to ask for help. If there is something you still don’t understand with your classes ask your teachers for some extra-tutoring. And if they don’t have the time, try one of your friends or even one of your parents. Someone is willing to help you.


Set aside some study time. Make sure that you study for at least thirty minutes a day. If possible, make sure to study around the same time of the day. Research shows that routine helps memory. Doing this will be ten times more helpful than cramming twenty minutes before. And remember there are lots of different ways to study. You can study alone or you can study with friends. You can study in your house or you can study outside. Find what’s best for you.


Last but not least, relax. Over- stressing is never a good thing. It can affect your mind and your body. Stressing out can cause various aches and pains, depression and sleep disturbances. If you feel like you’re over-stressing about anything, you might want to take a break from everything. Take some time to do something not school-related like hanging out with friends, watching a movie or reading a book. Remember if you’re doing the best that you can it’ll always show up on your grade.


May Madness is a time that can leave you tearing out your hair in frustration. Following these tips might make things a little less stressful. And when all the madness is over give yourself a little treat, possibly an end of the year party. You deserve it.




Parents as Study Partners: 4 Steps to Helping Students become Independent Learners

This guest post is by Alexandra Mayzler is the founder and director of Thinking Caps Tutoring a comprehensive tutoring company dedicated to developing innovative and individualized approaches to teaching. In addition to Thinking Caps Tutoring, she frequently writes and speaks on topics in education and consults with New York schools regarding curriculum. Alexandra is the author of Tutor in a Book, a hands-on study manual for students, parents, and teachers. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, Parenting, Forbes, and CBS News. Alexandra lives in New York and spends her free time thinking about how to make studying easier, more interesting, and above all, enjoyable for her students.

High school can be a stressful time for students.  Despite the intensity, it is also an exciting period of learning and the launching pad to college.  While many students are prepared because they have mastered the fundamental content, many students are unprepared in terms of the process: the how, when, and where to complete work and the understanding of the foundation skills of organization, time management, and study skills.  In order to help students become independent and confident learners, here are some strategies parents can put into practice:

  1. Communication and goal-setting.  Often times, students wait until the beginning of the school year to create personal and academic goals. However, after a summer of camp or internships it is sometimes difficult to set appropriate goals. Instead of waiting until the start of a new year, consider sitting down at the end of this school year. After the report card has arrived and the student had the necessary tools to evaluate his or her progress, have a conversation about what went well and where there is room for improvement for the next school year based on the data from the most recent performance.
  2. Making a plan. With the goals in mind, your child will be ready to start off the new school year.  However, many students don’t know what they must change and how to go about making changes in order to achieve goals.  For many students, there is little understanding of what to do beyond “doing better.” Help your child break up his or her goals into attainable pieces and discuss specific steps that will be taken to reach the goal. For example: “better in math” means meet with a teacher to go over the more difficult concepts.
  3. Time management. The area where many students struggle is managing their time and prioritizing. As students move up in grades, more responsibilities are expected to be performed independently. Help your child learn to manage time and to prioritize. Starting to think about time, extra curricular activities, and work will help your child learn to manage time. Implement paper calendars or computer calendars where your child can practice.  Encourage your child to budget time for various activities. Rather than creating scheduled, have your child plan and keep track of schedules and appointments.
  4. Understand when to get help.  In the process of learning to be an independent student, it is important to identify when and how to get help.  Students should be encouraged to set up personal check points: how things are going should be evaluated periodically. Before possible problems develop, areas where help can be attained should be identified. Students should learn where they can get help. For example, seek out a peer for review or a teacher. Students can then easily access the help for the problem areas.  As soon as an issue crops up, put the plan of action into practice.


By starting these conversations early, teens will be empowered to have ownership in the learning process. This creates a positive attitude early on so that students won’t have to learn motivational skills later in their academic careers.


Alexandra Mayzler is the founder and director of Thinking Caps Tutoring a comprehensive tutoring company dedicated to developing innovative and individualized approaches to teaching. In addition to Thinking Caps Tutoring, she frequently writes and speaks on topics in education and consults with New York schools regarding curriculum. Alexandra is the author of Tutor in a Book, a hands-on study manual for students, parents, and teachers. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, Parenting, Forbes, and CBS News. Alexandra lives in New York and spends her free time thinking about how to make studying easier, more interesting, and above all, enjoyable for her students.



How to Stay Organized in College

Katherine is an 18 year-old from Tabor City, NC. She loves reading and writing and her favorite subject is Communications because she wants to work in the Journalism field.dorm room by idoiteque.

If there is anything that I wish I had known before coming to college, it’s probably that I should learn how to organize my life a little more beforehand. I’m the type of person that refuses to clean my room because, despite the horrible mess, I know exactly where all of my belongings are. The scattered mess of clothes and books is actually the only way I know where everything is in my room! However, once I entered college I no longer had a room to myself.  Instead of telling my roomie to deal with my messy side of the room, I decided to turn over a new leaf. I can’t tell you how great it is to have a clean, organized room to do homework in, have friends over, and even be able to sleep in a bed that isn’t covered in clothes all of the time. I know I’m not the only one like this out there, so here’s a few tips on how to make your first semester at college a lot more organized!

  1. Buy Storage. The most storage you are probably going to get in your dorm room is a closet; and you may even have to share that with your roommate. My advice is to go to your nearest Wal-Mart and buy some storage boxes! This way, you can keep all of your belongings neat and organized. I purchased plastic drawers for my food and toiletries; they are easy to get to but not out in the open for the world to see!
  2. Loft your bed! Some people don’t like to do this, but lofting your bed will give you the most space possible on your side of the room. This means more room for storage space, and you will feel more organized if you have a larger space to move around in.
  3. Get a planner. The best thing I did my first semester of college was purchase a planner. You will quickly realize that your college professors are nothing like high school teachers; they don’t care for your excuses explaining why you didn’t do your homework. Getting a planner allows you to write your assignments down as they are given, making it almost impossible for you to forget to do your homework! It also allows you to plan out when you need to have things done, or when you can have free time for fun activities!
  4. Use your syllabus. Most teachers will give you a syllabus full of assignments and test dates when you first enter their classes. Some students just throw these away thinking that the teacher will remind them of tests beforehand. Once again, this is not high school anymore! You are growing up and it’s time to take responsibility. I take my syllabi for each class and tape it to the wall right behind my computer, and I highlight each important date. Like the planner, it will help you to remember each assignment and test.
  5. Don’t get behind. You may think that because your class is Monday, Wednesday, and Friday that you have plenty of time to get your work done. I mean, you have all day Tuesday to do work that’s due on Wednesday, and the whole weekend to do work for Monday! Don’t forget that you have other classes too. Putting off schoolwork is the worst thing you can do and will put you far behind (and you might even fail the class). Teachers don’t usually cut you a break in college so don’t put off any homework! Getting your work done the day it’s assigned allows you more free time to figure out what else you have to get done.

These are just a few organizational tips, but like I said, I wish I had been told these things before my first semester away. They are a sure way to help you stay more organized and on top of your game. Don’t think that college is all work and no play, but make sure to keep your priorities straight!

This Post Is Sponsored By:

Centenary College in New Jersey