The Surprising Power of Stress

stress

“You look stressed.” Take note, those are words you should NEVER say to Jody Hagaman! Someone telling me to “calm down” or “don’t stress” are words that can push me over the edge.

I understand that most people don’t like stress, but a little bit of stress pulls out my best work.  Now, I’m not talking about chronic stress or stress that is the result of death, divorce, finances or relationship woes. I’m referring to the stress that comes from hosting an event, a hard deadline or running a program of some sort. That type of stress causes me to dig deep within myself and really discover what I’m made of.

Jody Hagaman

Jody Hagaman and her husband Tony have three kids, ages 16 to 27. Jody’s story of how her son asked to be homeschooled has inspired tens of thousands of families around the nation. A true homeschooling success story, that son is now an attorney in New Hampshire and is the New England Regional Director of The Concord Coalition, a bipartisan organization dedicated to advocating responsible fiscal policy. As a community leader, Jody has served on the board of directors of many local non-profit organizations. Her work experience as a corrections officer on a crisis intervention team inspired her to make a difference in the lives of the next generation. She and Jenni co-host a weekly radio show, write a syndicated weekly column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about living on purpose with excellence and raising kids with the end result in mind.

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A Tale of Two Kids — Which One Is Yours?

A tale of two kids, wisdom and foolishness, sibling rivalry, opposites, girls, teens, bored

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…we had everything before us, we had nothing before us.”

Sounds like Dickens was writing about the teen years.

Our kids do not always realize that they have their entire lives ahead of them. They can choose to have EVERYTHING before them or they can choose to have NOTHING before them. The question is – which will they choose? Will it be an age of wisdom or an age of foolishness? Depending on their choice, what at first appears to be the “worst of times” may turn out to be the “best of times” for them.

Here is a tale of two kids wanting the same end result. For the sake of clarity, we will call the first child “A” and the second child “B.”

Jody Hagaman

Jody Hagaman and her husband Tony have three kids, ages 16 to 27. Jody’s story of how her son asked to be homeschooled has inspired tens of thousands of families around the nation. A true homeschooling success story, that son is now an attorney in New Hampshire and is the New England Regional Director of The Concord Coalition, a bipartisan organization dedicated to advocating responsible fiscal policy. As a community leader, Jody has served on the board of directors of many local non-profit organizations. Her work experience as a corrections officer on a crisis intervention team inspired her to make a difference in the lives of the next generation. She and Jenni co-host a weekly radio show, write a syndicated weekly column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about living on purpose with excellence and raising kids with the end result in mind.

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Irregular Bedtimes May be Harming Your Kids

irregular bedtimes

Did you know that irregular bedtimes can cause jet lag like symptoms? A survey of 10,000 children showed irregular bedtimes are connected to hyperactivity, acting out and emotional withdrawal.

In an interview with Michelle Trudeau on National Public Radio, researcher Yvonne Kelly from University College in London said, “Children with late bedtimes and non-regular bedtimes were more likely to have behavioral difficulties…[including] hyperactivity and conduct problems. So hitting people and acting out, and not getting on with peers, and being emotionally withdrawn.”

Kelly has been studying numerous details surrounding bedtime in thousands of homes in the U.K.

After taking into account a wide range of factors including family size, income level, the amount of television watched, dietary habits and more, the research has found that bedtime patterns have the greatest impact on children’s behavior.

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody are Christian, homeschooling moms with nine kids between them (ages 3 to 27). Together they host a weekly parenting radio show, write a syndicated weekly column, freelance for a variety of publications, teach parenting and homeschooling workshops and seminars, speak at conventions and conferences and coach individual families. They are passionate about encouraging and equipping families to live on purpose with excellence, and to raise kids with the end result in mind.

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The Plans I Have For You Devotional

the plans I have for you

When Jody and I saw this devotional from ZonderKidz, we knew we had to check it out. The whole idea that God has a unique plan for every person and that kids should seek Him and dream about their future is music to our ears.

The Plans I Have For You includes a devotional and journal and seems to be geared toward kids ages 8 to 11-ish. I had my 9 year old daughter go through it, and she really enjoyed it. The devotional is beautifully illustrated and engaging. She had a hard time pacing herself and just wanted to keep reading the devotional. But she was slightly less enthusiastic about the journal. Not because it isn’t good, but because she’s not a big fan of writing. She liked copying in the Bible verses and she enjoyed the parts where they asked her to draw pictures, but when the journal asked her to think deeply and write about her thoughts, she seemed less than enthusiastic. I was a kid always loved to journal (still do), so I would have been thrilled with that part of it.

The devotional is an illustrated 90-day devotional written by bestselling children’s author Amy Parker and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, teaching and inspiring kids to dream about their future, to focus on faith, love and joy and to recognize that God has a plan and a purpose for each and every one of us.

The journal prompts creative thinking and exploration of the talents and personalities that make us special and then helps kids explore how God may use our unique traits to spread love and joy and make the world a better place.

Leave us a comment below or leave a comment on our Facebook page, and you could win a free set of The Plans I Have For You Devotional and Journal.


Disclosure

(In accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.) Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 3 to 17), including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly radio show, write a syndicated weekly column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about living on purpose with excellence and raising kids with the end result in mind.

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Don’t Judge a Kid By His Piercings

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Last year, two of my teens wanted piercings for their birthdays. My 16 year old wanted her nose pierced, and my 13 year old wanted his lip pierced. It was the first time my husband and I had to figure out where we stand on this.

We are a Bible-believing, Christian family, and we make decisions based on what we believe the word of God and the Holy Spirit are saying. But the issue of piercing is not a clear one for us. We have read the Biblical arguments both for and against it, and we don’t believe there is a mandate against it, which is why many of us have our ears pierced.

So the next consideration was more practical than spiritual. Both of these teens live in an artistic world. Sky (the 16 year old) is a musician. She sings at the opera house, does musical theatre and writes, records and performs her own music. Although she would have to remove a nose piercing to perform in an opera or for a theatre performance, having the piercing is not going to limit her choices in the music industry.

Seth is an aspiring filmmaker. He interns at a creative complex where there are animators, web designers, videographers and all sorts of innovators and entrepreneurs who collaborate on diverse projects. The place is buzzing with young hipsters, zipping around on hover boards, none of whom would be the slightest bit tweaked by a lip piercing.

But we also knew that in the homeschool community and to some degree, in the church community, holes anywhere other than earlobes might not be so welcome. We suspected that they might face some judgement and that we might too.

So ultimately, my husband and I knew that we had to be entirely convinced of whatever decision we made. If we rejected piercings, we would need for our kids to understand why. And if we approved it, we would need to feel confident that we could defend our decision. We know a lot of parents believe that they should not have to justify their choices to their children. They believe that what they say goes, and that their kids to accept their authority without question or comment.

We do believe that parental authority is vital. Jody and I have done radio shows about it, written blogs and articles, taught workshops and given countless talks about establishing a solid foundation of authority. But we also firmly believe that rules without relationship breed rebellion.

Our kids have to know that we value them as individuals. Our children are not extensions of us. They are not ours. They are unique individuals who belong to their Creator. We are just stewards for a short period of time. And while it is absolutely our job to train them and guide them and mentor them to adulthood, we must respect them and value their ideas and interests and desires because they have all been hard wired differently, each for unique purposes that are different than our own.

So if we were going to tell our children that they could not get the piercings they wanted, we had to be fully convinced that it was for their best. Ultimately, we want our children to believe with all their hearts that we have their best in mind.

So here’s what we decided…

After thought and prayer and conversation, we decided that our kids could express themselves in clothing, hair and ornamentation in whatever way they wanted as long as

  1. It did not compromise their modesty or purity
  2. It was not permanent (more on that in a moment)
  3. It would not jeopardize important opportunities in the present or for their future

If either of these two teens had jobs (or wanted jobs) that would be compromised by their piercings, we would not have given our permission. But they’re both entrepreneurs. She has a henna business, and he does videography and video editing. One of my other kids is an aspiring lobbyist. He wants to excel at debate, work on political campaigns, page for the senate and ultimately be taken seriously in the realm of government. A nose or lip piercing would not be a good move for him (not that he would even want one). But for my two artists, it doesn’t present a professional stumbling block.

We also don’t believe it compromises their modesty or purity. And lip or nose or even eyebrow piercings are not permanent. Neither is blue hair, which the 13 year old also wanted to try.

Tattoos are permanent. Gauges in ear lobes can also cause permanent changes to the ears. And we have decided that for anything permanent, our kids must wait until marriage. 1 Corinthians 7:4 says, “The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife.” So anything permanent must be approved by their future spouses. Once we explained this to our kids and demonstrated it in the Scriptures, they agreed.

Be Careful With Criticism

Jody and I have seen too many young adults turn away from their parents because they feel rejected by their criticism. When our kids believe that we are forcing them to live by our standards in order to make ourselves look good or to avoid potential judgement at church or in our own peer groups, they will eventually reject our standards and may even reject us when they have reached the age of independence.

We have to let our kids be their own people, and we have to deeply value the people they are, even if it is profoundly different from ourselves. Yes, we want them to be wise and pure, and if their choices could hurt themselves or others, we have to assert our authority but also come along side them and coach them toward better choices. Perhaps your family will have a different conviction about piercings than ours did. That’s okay too. Just be willing to sit with your children and discuss your beliefs. Let them know that you deeply value them and you want them to make right choices. Explain your convictions, and stand by your choice. But do it out of love and not fear.

And be careful not judge other families who have made different choices. Remember, every family and every individual has a different calling.

kid piercings, nose ring, teen

Sky

Sky knows that she is called reach the lost. She is not called to reach the church. So she is going to look different than a girl her age who is called to minister primarily to the church body. The apostle Paul said, “To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:21, 22).

Let’s be careful not to make quick judgements about what is acceptable or unacceptable. Some have argued that our kids shouldn’t look like the world – they are set apart. Being set apart goes deeper than outward appearance. Our kids can be both relevant and pure. They can dress modestly and still be creative and relevant. The choices they make as ambassadors of God will set them apart.

When they choose peace and prayer during a crisis, they will be set apart, and their peers will notice. When they avoid profanity while the people around them don’t, they will be set apart. When they focus on growing their skills and becoming their own best at whatever gifts and passions they’ve been given, instead of focusing on growing their social life and winning favor with the opposite sex, they will be set apart.

One Pesky Problem

Our kids are to be IN the world but not OF the world. Jesus said, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” (John 17:15) Therein lies our challenge.

Last year when we were key note speakers in British Columbia, one of the conference coordinators gave an excellent talk, and in it he said that in many ways it seems the Amish got it right. We must protect our children from the evil one, so we are tempted to shelter them from the world and cause them to live in the safety of isolation. But there’s one pesky problem with this plan — the Great Commission.

God is going to use every one of our kids in a unique way to fulfill His plan. Some will be called the mountain of government, where piercings and blue hair will not make them effective witnesses. Others will be called to the mountain of arts and entertainment, where piercings and mohawks are not at all strange. Let’s be sensitive to the passions and purposes of each our kids and each other’s kids, and let the Holy Spirit (not biases or prejudices) do the leading.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 3 to 17), including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly radio show, write a syndicated weekly column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about living on purpose with excellence and raising kids with the end result in mind.

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Reinventing the Habit Loop

reinventing the habit loop, reinventing the habit loop, habit, resolutions, changing habits, trigger, cue, reward, habitual, decision making, decisions, neurological routines, behavior patterns, craving

Do you ever get completely annoyed or frustrated because you can’t get your kids to turn a light off when they leave a room or put their homework away after they finish studying or pick up the remnants of their food-fest after making a snack? These are all examples of habits. And guess what – you can change them by reinventing the habit loop (I’ll explain the habit loop in a moment).         

Habits can be developed either outside our consciousness or by deliberate design. Some are extremely useful, such as the habits of brushing your teeth or putting on your shoes without having to think about what you’re doing. Others are not so useful, such as biting your fingernails or picking open scabs (yuck! right?).

Habits often occur without our permission, but the good news is that a bad one can be changed by fiddling with its parts. According to Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit, at the core of every habitual pattern is a habit loop.

The habit loop can be broken down into three basic steps.

Step One

First, there is a cue, which is a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode. The cue can be internal (a feeling or a thought) or external (such as a time of day, the company of certain people or the sight of the Golden Arches).

Step Two

The second part of the habit loop is the routine, which is the behavior that leads to a reward. The routine can be physical (pulling into the drive thru), cognitive (remembering information for a test), or emotional (feeling anxious about speaking in public).

Step Three

The third part is the reward. Not surprisingly, the reward can also be physical (the taste of your favorite burger), cognitive (interesting information), or emotional (feeling relaxed when reading a good book). The reward is what determines if a particular habit loop is worth remembering.

Cue – Routine – Reward

The Birth of a Habit

Duhigg explains it like this: the basal ganglia, a small region of the brain situated at the base of the forebrain, play an important role in stored habits. Interestingly, scientists have discovered that mental activity in this part of the brain actually decreases as a behavior becomes more habitual. When a habit emerges, the brain becomes more efficient (and needs fewer resources) because automatic patterns take over.

Eventually, a habit is born. When a habit emerges, the brain stops fully participating in decision making. It stops working so hard or diverts focus to other tasks.

So without deliberately fighting a habit (which means finding new routines), the pattern will unfold automatically. But, if we take control of the habit loop, we can override the unwanted behavior. And once you create a new pattern (by creating new neurological routines), you can force the bad tendencies into the background and create a new habit.

Understanding the habit loop makes habits easier to control. By changing the cue or the reward in a habit loop, you can change the pattern of behavior. Thus, reinventing the habit loop.

Again, habits emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort. The pattern starts with a cue (this is the trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use), is then followed by an almost automatic action or routine (physical, mental or emotional), and is reinforced by a reward (helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future) and the cycle is ready to begin again.

Over time, this loop becomes more and more automatic. The cue and reward become intertwined until a powerful sense of anticipation and then craving emerges.

Cue – Routine – Reward

habit loop

The Important Role of Cravings

By learning to observe the cues and rewards, we can change the routines. But first, we have to understand the role of cravings. The craving powers the habit loop.

As we associate cues with certain rewards, a subconscious craving emerges in our brain that starts the habit loop spinning. If we can find a new way of satisfying the craving, we can change a habit.

For example, let’s say you have developed a habit of craving something sweet after dinner. The last of the dishes are put away, the tables are wiped down and a clean kitchen has become a cue that inspires a craving for something sweet. In the past, you have plopped on the couch with a bowl of ice cream, but it has taken a toll on your waistline, and you want to change the habit. The cue isn’t going to change. A clean kitchen will still prompt a craving for something sweet. And the reward has to satisfy your sweet tooth or you are not likely to be successful. So what else could satisfy your craving for something sweet? Maybe instead of ice cream you could pop a frozen banana in the food processor with a ¼ cup of almond milk and a teaspoon of cocoa powder. This is an example of changing the routine to get the reward and satisfy the craving.

What if you want to develop a new habit that you don’t already have. Let’s say you want to exercise regularly? The habit loop can help, especially when you understand the role of developing a craving. Your brain must start craving a reward in order for the habit to take root — like your body craving the endorphins it gets from jogging.

Using Habits With Our Kids

Make a plan for a new habit you would like to develop for yourself. Identify what you can use as a cue (maybe leaving exercise clothes out the night before), the steps involved in creating a routine and the reward this new habit will deliver. Once you figure it out for yourself, sit with your kids and talk about how you can create a new habit loop for some of the habits they would like to change.

Let’s say you want your kids to develop the habit of unpacking their backpacks when they get home. First you need a cue. Perhaps you could post a reminder by the front door so they see it as soon as they walk in. Then you need a reward. Maybe they can have a snack after their bag is unpacked. The routine is to clean out their backpack

  • put their books on their desk in preparation for homework
  • put any important notices or forms in your inbox
  • throw out any garbage
  • drop their gym clothes in the laundry room
  • clean out their lunch bag
  • hang up the backpack so they repack it at the end of the day

Once they have completed the routine, you can tell them that they get to enjoy a delicious snack in peace and with a clear conscience because they have completed this important routine. Over time, if they are consistent, the front door will become the cue (you won’t need the reminder), and a craving will develop for that sense of peace and clear conscious as they relax with a well deserved snack. The craving for that state of mind and the snack are vital to the success of the habit.

 

Have any new habits you want your kids to develop or old ones you want them to break? Tell us about it in the comments below or on Facebook.

 

Jody Hagaman

Jody Hagaman and her husband Tony have three kids, ages 16 to 27. Jody’s story of how her son asked to be homeschooled has inspired tens of thousands of families around the nation. A true homeschooling success story, that son is now an attorney in New Hampshire and is the New England Regional Director of The Concord Coalition, a bipartisan organization dedicated to advocating responsible fiscal policy. As a community leader, Jody has served on the board of directors of many local non-profit organizations. Her work experience as a corrections officer on a crisis intervention team inspired her to make a difference in the lives of the next generation. She and Jenni co-host a weekly radio show, write a syndicated weekly column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about living on purpose with excellence and raising kids with the end result in mind.

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The Congressional Award

A Secret Weapon for Rising Stars

congressional award, amazing kids, secret weapon

Most of us have heard of the Eagle Scout Award through the Boy Scouts. But what about the Congressional Award? If that one is unfamiliar to you, you’re not alone. Keep reading because this prestigious award is not only a bright gold star on any student’s resume, but the activities they do to earn it are life changing.

The Congressional Award was established by the United States Congress in 1979 to recognize initiative, service and achievement in young people. It is a non-competitive program open to all 14-23 year olds (kids can register at 13 ½ and start working on it at 14).

I first learned about the Congressional Award when my son was about to graduate from high school. By then, Chase had so much on his plate that it didn’t seem possible to add one more thing – or so I thought at that time. Looking back, that was really foolish on my part.

Jody Hagaman

Jody Hagaman and her husband Tony have three kids, ages 16 to 27. Jody’s story of how her son asked to be homeschooled has inspired tens of thousands of families around the nation. A true homeschooling success story, that son is now an attorney in New Hampshire and is the New England Regional Director of The Concord Coalition, a bipartisan organization dedicated to advocating responsible fiscal policy. As a community leader, Jody has served on the board of directors of many local non-profit organizations. Her work experience as a corrections officer on a crisis intervention team inspired her to make a difference in the lives of the next generation. She and Jenni co-host a weekly radio show, write a syndicated weekly column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about living on purpose with excellence and raising kids with the end result in mind.

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10 Tips to Help Your Kids Get Organized

help your kids get organized

 

Disorganization derails success. That’s true for adults and kids too. So as we embark on a new year, here are 10 tips to help your kids get organized.

1. Adopt a Mentorship Mindset

mother_daughter_moment

Punishment, frustration and anger don’t help kids learn to be organized. We, the parents, are their teachers and mentors. A messy room or a disorganized backpack is just a red flag telling us they need new or better tools and consistent training to help them learn how to stay neat and organized.

Today I’m going to share some tips for organizing their rooms, clothes, toys, school supplies and arts and crafts, but with Google and Pinterest by our side, we can easily search ideas at any time to help our kids overcome any organizational problem. The key is our willingness to teach them, follow up and tweak the system until we have a winner.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 3 to 17), including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly radio show, write a syndicated weekly column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about living on purpose with excellence and raising kids with the end result in mind.

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The Secret to Raising an Accomplished Kid

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What will your child accomplish this year? A year can hold a multitude of achievements, but there is a secret to raising an accomplished kid that many people overlook. 

Recently I was talking to an admissions officer at one of my daughter’s top choice colleges, and after discussing some of the highlights of her resume, the admissions officer asked, “Are we talking about one student?” She was amazed that one student could have “so many” accomplishments. But to be perfectly honest, I was amazed at her amazement.

My 16 year old is focused, and she works hard at pursuing her passion. But she has not done anything truly extraordinary. She has not done anything that any motivated 16 year old couldn’t do.

She wasn’t a semifinalist in the prestigious Intel Science Competition while living in a homeless shelter like Long Island high school student Samantha Garvey. She didn’t receive a $1 million celebrity investment in an app she had written like 17 year old tech wizard Nick D’Aliosio did. She didn’t gather over 170,000 signatures on a petition to insist that a woman should moderate one of the presidential debates like three girls her age from New Jersey did. And she is certainly not a Nobel Prize laureate like young Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai.

The way I see it, this admissions officer’s statement was not actually a commentary on my child’s “exceptional achievements” but rather an indictment of society’s woefully low expectations.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 3 to 17), including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly radio show, write a syndicated weekly column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about living on purpose with excellence and raising kids with the end result in mind.

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4 Ways To Choose The Best Math Curriculum

Student girl writing formulas on transparent wall

I always have parents telling me that they have tried it all…and they feel resigned and a little hopeless. I hate when that happens.

If math curriculums have been a sore spot in your homeschooling experience, here is the “Mr. D” List for choosing the right math curriculum for your family.

1. Stick with it

I have travelled across North America, stationed myself in Hawaii and questioned select educators in Europe to research a broad range of math programs. I wanted to learn how they are constructed, how inclusive they are and how the concepts are delivered. What I have discovered however, is there really aren’t major differences between curriculums content, only in how they’re structured. What I did learn, is that the schools with the highest performance percentages remained consistent with their curriculum. The school system used the same textbook series middle school to high school to create consistency and promote higher comprehension.

When students first begin a new program, it can be difficult to adjust. But if they tough it out long enough, something wonderful happens. Our brains begin to adjust to the new learning style, making it easier to comprehend. So if you feel like your textbook isn’t working for you, ask yourself “have I given it enough time?” You’d be surprised how much you grow and develop in the course of a school year.

2. Compare your high school textbooks against entry-level college textbooks

It is critical to have a solid mathematical foundation before entering college. College professors spend little time reviewing concepts with the hopes that you already have a strong grasp on what was covered in high school. When choosing a high school curriculum, it might be helpful to browse through the table of contents of your current math book and compare the topics to an entry-level college textbook. If there are some concepts missing, it might be best to invest in a different textbook.

3. Don’t make a decision based on the price

When finding the right curriculum, money should not be the main consideration. Obviously it plays a role, but if you are either looking to get a bargain or spend as much as possible for the “top of the line” curriculum, you might be disappointed in the results. Always keep in mind that price does not entirely reflect quality. Be sure to collect your research and don’t make the mistake of letting price be the deciding factor.

4. Decide what your end goal is for your education

Whether you plan to attend college, vocational school or complete high school and go right to work, it’s important to align your education with your future goals. If you are still unsure, then assume you’ll attend college, and study with that mindset. By choosing the highest and broadest level of math, it will leave your options open and help you cultivate a deeper understanding for the concepts you’re learning.

Knowing what you want to do is key to deciding what curriculum to use. That may also mean completing a little homework on the vocation you’re eying to learn what kind of math skills or education levels are required. Of course, there is nothing wrong with changing your mind, but it’s important to actively look towards the future and plan accordingly.

In my own life, I would have never thought I would become a math curriculum creator. I did however want to be in business for myself and play music. But when the time came, I had to decide what would be my profession and what would be my hobby.

Finally, if you make a curriculum switch, be sure you didn’t miss anything.

Math is important, and colleges need to know you’re on par with the nation’s average. Their only uniform measure of knowing you didn’t fall asleep during most your high school math classes is how well you perform on the SAT and ACT. As of March 2016, the SAT is changing to include a higher level of math expectancy. If a student has a solid comprehension of Algebra I and Geometry, they could score well on the old SAT. But the new SAT requires students to be proficient in Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II.

By moving to a new curriculum, there’s a chance important concepts could be overlooked if the new curriculum assumes the content was already covered in a previous course. For example, in my Algebra II course, we cover logarithms and matrices. If a student comes to my Pre-Calculus course without covering these concepts, it can serve as a challenge for the student. While this isn’t a deal breaker, the start of the semester can be a little rocky. Fortunately, I provide plenty of review videos and extra practice for anyone in need of a refresher crash course.

 

For more information on the Mr. D Math options or to connect with Mr. D, visit him at MrDMath.com.

Dennis DiNoia

Dennis DiNoia has been immersed in education for over 25 years. He holds a M.A. in Education from the University of South Florida and has been a Florida State Certified Secondary Mathematics Teacher since 1988. 10 years ago, Mr. D left the public school system to develop an online curriculum for all levels of high-school math, from pre-algebra to pre-calculus. His unique and effective approach teaches students to understand math as a language, and he infuses problem-solving skills that transfer to everyday life. Mr. D has had great success in assisting students to raise their test scores on SAT/ACT/FCAT and other standardized tests. Due to the need for assistance in this area, he created specialized test preparation seminars and online videos based upon his years of experience in the school system and private tutoring industry.

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