Tag Archives: homework

Laura Kirschenbaum

January 13, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Laura Kirshenbaum is a straight-A student, but it is not good grades that her mother talks about first when describing her daughter’s scholarly accomplishments.

“It’s comments that teachers make. It’s wonderful hearing about how she treats others and how she is respectful to teachers. They say that she’s an active listener in class, that she’s kind and courteous. That’s what I’m proud about,” Jennifer Tompkins Kirshenbaum says. “You may have it in your DNA that these things are easier than for other people, or you learn at a faster pace. That may be a gift with you, but what do you do with it? Some people may have an ego with it, but Laura doesn’t. She’s grateful for what she has and is highly motivated.”

Kirshenbaum, an eighth-grader at Alice Buffett Magnet Middle School in the Omaha Public School District, admits to being a fast learner but says her excellent grades in her honors classes don’t come effortlessly. “I work hard for that,” she says.

And she definitely prefers some subjects over others. “My top subject would definitely be math,” she says. “But I love science, too: chemistry, physics, and astronomy.”

Kirshenbaum has no shortcuts to academic success to share, she says. Being a good student means being diligent: finishing the assignments, completing the reading, following directions. It also helps to have good organizational skills that ensure she’s always prepared. “I turn homework in on time and I try to stay on top of things,” she explains. “I’m proud of that.”

She even enjoys learning outside of the classroom, watching informational YouTube channels in her spare time, and competing in multiple academic events like Quiz Bowl, Science Bowl, Math Counts, Academic Pentathlon, and Book Blasters. She has an artistic side, too, that brings some balance to student life—Kirshenbaum is active in dance (ballet, modern, and jazz) and plays the violin, even performing in the orchestra pit for Omaha Public Schools’ summer musical Peter Pan in 2016.

“I also do a lot of acting,” she adds. “I’ve been in a lot of the school plays, and I’ve done some community theater as well.”

She’s even managed to make time for volleyball and local volunteering at a food bank and a homeless shelter. Two summers ago, she was a classroom helper at Jackson Elementary School. Because she’s an honors student, she is also eligible to tutor fellow students. “I like being able to help others,” she says.

Kirshenbaum says her future plans absolutely include college, which her mother and father (Matt Kirshenbaum) like to hear. It may be a little early to start choosing a particular institution, but judging by the scholarly aptitude she’s demonstrated so far, it’s clear that she’s going to be able to take her pick of schools—and programs of study—upon graduation four years from now.

“I see myself becoming a chemist,” she says. “Or a college professor in math or science.”

This article was printed in the Winter 2017 edition of Family Guide.

The Five W’s

September 18, 2014 by

Good study habits are just that…habits. Using a structured approach to homework builds strong study habits, ones that set the stage for your child’s academic success. Let’s look at The Five W’s of homework—the Who, What, When, Where, and Why of how to have your kids start the school year with a solid plan for learning.

Who

  • Good homework strategies start in the classroom. Know your children’s teachers and their expectations.
  • Having your child study with a friend runs the risk of turning book time into social time, but quizzing each other in a “study buddy” environment can be particularly effective in the days leading up to tests.

What

  • Help your kids understand how to sort homework tasks by level of difficulty and have them tackle tougher assignments first.
  • If fatigue becomes an issue later in a study session, the remaining, easier work will seem like a breeze by comparison.  

When

  • Establish a set time for homework. This is perhaps the single most important benchmark of good study habits.
  • Don’t expect kids to be able to do homework the minute they walk in the door after school. This is a time of day when they need to decompress, and there is nothing like a little much-needed physical activity at this time of day to recharge young minds.

Where

  • Set up a designated study area other than your child’s bedroom that has good lighting and comfortable furniture.
  • Make sure the study area is stocked with whatever materials are required for the task at hand…pencils, paper, laptop, scissors, etc.

Why

  • When parents take a supportive, active role in homework, kids are more successful in their academic efforts.

Read the point above three more times. Then clip it and tape it on your vanity mirror. After that, visit a tattoo parlor and have those same words executed in ink on your…oh, never mind. You get the idea…   

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Create the Perfect Study Room

August 16, 2013 by

It’s already hard enough to get kids to study when they’re at home. After all, they’ve just spent several hours at school, and all they want to do now is relax in front of the TV or play outside with their friends. But homework always comes first.

Most kids do their homework in their bedrooms, on the living room couch, or at the kitchen table. Yeah, that’s a bad idea. Their beds remind them of sleep; the couch reminds of them of watching TV (if they’re not already); and the kitchen table reminds them of eating. These locations are recipes for distraction. What they need is a designated study space in their home.

Have an extra room in the basement or a guest room that hasn’t been used in months? Turn it into a study room for your kids! A place where they can go that can help them focus on doing a good job on their homework, as well as finishing it before the next day’s bell, can help them bring home better report cards.

Here are some great tips for creating the perfect study room in your home:

  • Only use furniture that applies to what kids will need for studying—desks, supply bins, bookcases, lamps, a comfortable chair, and maybe even a beanbag chair for reading. Absolutely no TVs!
  • Paint the room with solid colors. Neutrals always work, but primary colors like red, yellow, or blue will keep them in “school mode.”
  • Use décor that continues the theme of studying and learning. A chalkboard or dry erase board would be good, as well as a wall clock. If you want more art as inspiration, find educational posters or search through Pinterest for other great decorating ideas.

Whatever you decide to do with this study room, just remember that the point is to help your kids focus.