Extra practice, plenty of rest, and good nutrition help boost grades

Did your child’s last round of grades/scores bring congratulatory high-fives? Or was the reaction more like, “Honey, I know you are trying. Let’s see how we can work on this together, OK?”

Many elementary and middle school students recently received grades for “marking period 2.” If they weren’t sky-high, help kids set their sights on new heights. While time in the classroom is a big part of that, how time is spent at home also makes a huge difference.

In a blog called The Assailed Teacher, a post  titled “First Marking Period Blues,” presumably authored by a teacher who feels “assailed,” says, “I want to tell them [parents] that their children need less television, less designer clothing, less internet access, more reading, more quiet time and more guidance. I really want to tell them that the best service they could provide is to be a guide for their children.” This blogger also describes a phenomenon in which a child’s brain is “so pickled in pop culture” he or she tunes right out when hearing information that strikes them as less than amusing.

So maybe it’s time to turn off the TV and download a learning app. Want to raise spelling test scores? Try Spelling 1-2 (for Windows, iPad, Mac, and Android), a creative app that includes over 2,000 first and second grade level words, plus personal spelling lists can be added. It sends children ages 6-8 on a magical journey under the sea with three creative games that use different spelling strategies. For added motivation, as kids successfully spell words they release trapped fish into a tropical lagoon that they also decorate, creating a virtual aquarium.

Is it math that needs work? The same age group will really get into Time, Money, & Fractions (also for Windows, iPad, Mac, and Android), an app with a kid-friendly approach that builds confidence and boosts school success. Slightly older kids can fine-tune math fundamentals with Flash Action Multiplication and Division for iPad or Mac, the perfect tool to prepare for those pesky, timed math tests. It’s quick and easy to download and packed with learning power. It's flash cards with a techno twist. Children practice problems against the clock, challenge another player to a game of fast facts or test themselves for speed and accuracy.

For optimal school performance, practice is important, but so is proper rest and nutrition. ADDitude is a magazine providing strategies and support for those with ADHD and learning disabilities. An article in the online edition by Sandy Maynard titled,  “Math Help: 12 Ways to Boost Test Scores for Children with ADHD and Learning Disabilities,”  offers tips for older kids that could be beneficial to students of any age and not just those with ADHD/LD, either. For example, it notes that “If you’re studying complex logic problems…you can lose up to 30% of what you learn if you don’t get enough sleep.” 

The article also recommends eating and drinking sensibly before a test, avoiding foods and beverages “that will lead to  a ‘sugar crash’ or cause drowsiness. It further notes that “Protein snacks and plain old water are excellent test-taking fuels. Consumption of foods rich in cholines—which stimulates the brain neurotransmitter acetylcholine and is found in fish, eggs, meat, and rice—may help improve memory.”

Creative skill practice, combined with adequate rest and good nutrition, can multiply the high-fives next marking period!