Brain Boosters for the Summer

Oh sweet Summertime, filled with beach blankets, ice cream, water activities, and long days of sunlight and recreation. Wait. Students, what about your brain? “NVM” may be the answer of choice to that question. But summer time is crucial to maintaining and prepping brainpower for the school year.

summer reading header

There is a great deal of scientific explanation that the brain is a muscle and should be exercised as such. Three months without intellectual stimulation might seem like the right of passage after a whirlwind school year, but so you don’t experience even the smallest amount of brain muscle atrophy, consider these summer learning activities.


Extra, Extra, Read All About It!

When you find yourself visiting the nearest beach, hiking trail, or amusement park, take a moment to drop into the visitor’s center or gift shop. In there you can find brochures about the history of the attraction. Reading the brief brochure, not only deposits a drop of history and trivial pursuit, but it also increases well being. Reading is said to reduce stress and slow brain cell loss.

What about taking in a novel for the summer? Although research shows that the average amount of time that teens spend reading outside of school days is eights minutes a day, who wants to be average? There is  no time to waste for college students. College students are said to need two – three hours of studying for every three credit course each week. That’s six to nine hours of studying per class each week. This summer check out a book or two from the library. You increase the circulation of local libraries and exercise the brain with a new adventure, romance, or non-fiction. Really want to get a jump on next year’s course readings? Get an online subscription to a journal in your concentration area. And let’s not forget that reading increases your vocabulary.

Seven days without exercise makes one weak.

Aerobic exercise not only benefits your physical strength, but it also improves memory, learning. According to Harvard Medical School researchers have found that aerobic exercise increases the size of the hippocampus, the portion of the brain responsible for memory, along with moods and the autonomic nervous system (breathing, heart beat, digestion). So get up and get going – increase your brain and body power.

Each One Teach One.

The power of one can be a great boost to summer learning. Reach out to someone a few years younger or a few years older and share an article, book, or expertise in an area. According to the work of Psychologist Lev Vygotsky and other educators who have used Vygotsky’s work with Zone of Proximal Development, children greatly benefit from the influence of adults or peers with greater proficiency in areas. When children are in purposeful engagement with higher ability individuals, their abilities also increase. So, volunteer with children in you community or family. These youngsters can improve problem solving, literacy, and social behaviors by reading or playing with you.

Volunteerism words of wisdom…

‘We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.” – Ronal Reagan

“ Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are we doing for others?” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Happy Reading; Happy Summer!

How to Reach Goals: The Power of a Question

Are you finding yourself swimming in a sea of endless due dates? Are you stuck in a rut and want to be more productive?Asking the right questions is the key to determining and strengthening goals and actions. A power positioned question can offer a great deal.

Let’s say that one of your goals is to gain knowledge and skills, which are valuable to your dream career. (Notice that the goal goes further than earn an A in a course). The needed information just might not be as obvious in a textbook or in a lecture.

Power positioned questions:

  • are open ended
  • should combine actionable questions and reflective questions
  • open your mind to further possibilities
  • transform and improve your mindset and practices
  • challenge the questioned person to also be introspective.

Example Questions to ask:


Actionable How can I break my assignments into manageable tasks?
Reflective How might I add healthier habits to my lifestyle to enhance my well being?


Actionable After reading ____, I understand ___, but will you help me better understand ___?


Reflective Could I make an appointment to review my past tests or papers? I would like to see where you believe I can improve my work?


Actionable What day can we get together and catch up with each other?
Reflective What strengths or areas for growth do you think I have?

How are you?


Actionable Would you like to get together for study group?
Reflective What “take aways” did you get from our last class lecture or notes?

First, ask just the right open ended actionable or reflective questions. You will find  insight and reflection. Next, use the answers and reflections for journaling or for determining next steps in your planner. In the end, power positioned questions will  bring you closer to achieving your goals as well as creating a little life, work balance.

Counting Sheep: Top Five Reasons You Need Sleep

What’s the big deal over a few missed hours of sleep? Now that it’s your responsibility to decide when to wrap up a night out, close the computer, put down the game control, end a binge watch, or turn the ringer off on the cell phone, you may be wondering about the benefits of sleep. Take a look at the consequences of getting too little sleep.

5 reasons for sleep]

Are you…

Irritable but you don’t know why?

Putting on pounds or having acne breakouts?

Impatient with your teachers, family, or friends?

Searching for the energy to get up and go?

A little more accident prone or clumsy than usual?

Your loved ones may attribute this to moody behavior, which could be true, but it is a very good chance that you could be just plain sleepy. Findings of the National Sleep Foundation explain that young adults and teens need eight to ten hours of sleep nightly. Most often people believe that younger children need several hours of sleep to ensure healthy brain and body development, so your mom or dad were sure to give you a bedtime.

Top 5 reasons you may want to add an earlier bedtime to your routines for success.

  1. Keep an eye out.

Young adult and teen crashes increase by 20% for drivers who have six or less hours of sleep.

  1. Take a chill pill.

Young adults and teens and who lack sleep are more likely to have aggressive behaviors.

  1. Watch out for the bulge.

Those who are sleep deprived tend to over eat or over indulge in sugar or unhealthy food choices. (Hmmm. That one hits close to home.)

  1. Zombies on campus.

A sleepless night can cause you to be less alert or less aware of your surrounding which may cause falls, clumsy maneuvering, or forgetfulness throughout the day.

  1. What’s the buzz?

Caffeine and nicotine usage increases for some who are in need of an extra energy surge.

In the words of creator, inventor, and artist, Leonardo da Vinci,

“A well spent day brings happy sleep.”

So, during the day get the job done, and at night get your Zs knowing you have given it your all . 

On the V.E.R.G.E: Making an action plan

I spent so many years flying by the seat of my pants. Then, there were those years where I had a plan, a revised plan, lists, and an up to date calendar. Can you guess which set of years were the best for me? You may be thinking you just do not have the time to stop and figure out an action plan, but time on the front end brings more sanity along the way.

Another school year has begun, and whether you are a freshman, who is just beginning, or a senior, with a job hunt around the corner, it’s a good idea to make or review your action plan. I am also sure that you have been considering what to do to improve your academic performance or life choices – to keep what’s working and toss out what’s not working.

It has been said that writing down the plan is a strong first step to actually reaching goals. It’s true. Mapping things out helps you make a plan and keep that plan going. So, while you prepare for your next assignment or test take some time to make a plan for the school year. With these 5 steps, you are on the V.E.R.G.E. of great new horizons.

5 Steps for an action plan:

Vision: What you visualize or imagine will propel you into the direction of your dreams. Write a vision statement that is written in positive, present tense, and concise language. Remember to write a vision statement that causes you to stretch to your highest possibilities.

Energy: Establish where you will place your energy each day. Determine the steps needed to achieve the goals. Things work out better when you know the steps you are going to take before you begin. Map out these steps daily. Be exact in how you devote your energy.

Resources: Figure out what resources or people you need to accomplish this goal. Determine who or what is readily available to you and which resources you will need to find.

Goals: Determine the categories involved in making this vision a reality. First, group the actions and resources into categories. Then, describe what needs to be done in each of the categories, with a definitive goal. Decide the time period this goal must be accomplished. Voila you will then have your goals along with the action steps to accomplish those goals.

Evidence: Decide how you will measure your progress. Consider what you can collect or point to that will prove that you are approaching or accomplishing the goal. Remember to celebrate along the way.

Each day you are on the verge of something significant, something great. At the end of each day, pause to review your day and measure the day’s significance – the day’s greatness. One of those day’s you will measure and find that your vision has become a reality, and then it’s time to plan the next dream.

Back to School Conversations Give You An Advantage

college student teacher conference 2bIt’s back to school time across the country. As schools reopen their doors consider the most important conversations to have at the start of the year. Starting the school year with open communication is a great way to create a pathway to academic success.

Back to School Conversation Starters

Give information:

  1. Make room in your schedule for meet and greet events, such as open house or departmental socials. As a student, introduce yourself and let the teacher or professor know that you are looking forward to a great school year. A handshake and a formal introduction at the start of the semester sends a message to professors that you are engaged and ready for the journey ahead.

2. Give accurate contact information at the start of the year. The information should always include address, home, cell, and work numbers, and email addresses. It is important that teachers, administrative staff, or professors know how to reach you with easily accessible information. This information allows faculty and staff to keep you informed of regular occurrences, new opportunities, or notify you in case of emergency.

3. Ensure that teachers are aware of any identified needs and the accompanying medical or instructional plans. It’s better to proactively share pertinent information at the start of the year or semester, than wait for a time later in the semester.

Get information:

  1. Hours of availability

Make sure you are aware of the days, times, and modes of access that your teacher has for extra assistance or meeting to discuss class concerns.

  1. Syllabus/Course Description

Often students may store a syllabus away for future reference if there are questions or concerns later. However, being proactively aware, of the policies and procedures of a teacher and course, provides a student with an idea of how to pace their assignments and studying. Be sure to understand the homework and late work policies. Not that you will have late work, but sometimes illness and emergencies happen, and it is best to know before hand how to proceed.

  1. Additional Resources that may assist in the class

Often when asked, teachers and professors have extra resources in mind that they know will specifically assist you in your studies. These resources are not necessities, but it may be a supplemental book, study strategy, software, community association, or article that could assist in a successful school class experience. A simple question like: “Is there any extra resource or suggestion that you can suggest?” If there is not a readily available answer, your teacher is guaranteed to keep you in mind if something arises later.

Be Observant.

  1. Determine the teacher’s instructional delivery style.

Successful students learn to determine the delivery style of each teacher. In a perfect, utopia all of your instruction would be delivered in your individual learning style. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Take notice of the routines of each of your teachers. Does she tend to give lessons in a lecture style with handouts or power point slides? Does he provide extra information with an expectation of consistent independent chapter reading? Once you have determined the instructional style of each teacher, you will know how to prepare, study, and ask for help or advice.

  1. Find out the best way to gain clarity when confused (i.e.  after class, after school, office hours, online forum)

As a mother and educator, I often reminded students that teachers and students share the responsibility of student success. Be sure to do your part. Be sure to assist the teacher in meeting your needs in the class. Do not settle for less from yourself or from the teacher. Build a partnership with teachers that leverages you for success.

Have a splendid school year reaching higher heights.