Tag Archives: elementary school

5 Free Tools To Keep Your Son Focused This School Year

Back to school can be an exciting yet stressful time of the year. If your son is starting a new school or transitioning from elementary to middle or middle to high school, he’ll need tools to help him stay focused, organized and calm.  The following tools are great for giving your son an extra edge for the start of the school year.

Photo courtesy of Mrehan(Flickr)

Photo courtesy of Mrehan(Flickr)

1. Does Your Home Encourage Learning Questionnaire

Does your home reflect an environment conducive to learning? Depending on your son’s age, you can create a learning environment by providing resources  that support what your son learns in school as well as his specific interests. For example, if your son is interested in astronomy, there are low cost ways you can encourage his learning through DIY kits. Our kids spend many hours at school, so at home we want them to relax and unwind. This questionnaire helps you identify areas in which you may need to improve your child’s learning environment.  Does Your Home Encourage Learning


2. How Many Ways Are You Smart and Learning Styles Quiz

People are smart in various ways. We don’t need to get bogged down by what society defines as gifted or intelligent. Also, emotional intelligence is equally important as IQ.  Even if you know your son’s learning style, he needs to know how he learns best and his strengths. Knowing his learning style gives your son an advantage to learning faster.  How Many Ways Are You Smart and Learning Style Inventory Survey


3. School Year Vision Board

I do this with my oldest son every year  before back to school. It’s a great visual for boys to look at the year ahead. This is not a wish list but rather a visual plan for your son’s personal and academic success. Think of it as a visual reminder of his goals for the school year. There are online vision boards but I like the the old fashion way with a large poster board and pictures from magazines. I never tell my son what he can’t put on a board, I just give him tools on how to use the vision board.


4. Goal Setting Toolkit for Boys

Research shows that written goals have a 80% higher chance of being achieved. Goal setting for kids should be simple and short term. I’ve created this simple tool for boys because it gives them the steps they need to take to achieve their goals. Use this tool just for the year and have your son review it daily or weekly to ensure he is on track. When you sign up for my newsletter, you get the goal setting kit for free.  Raising Great Men Newsletter Signup and Free Goal Setting Toolkit


5. Stress Style Inventory

One of the many complaints I hear from parents and students is that they are overwhelmed and stressed.  The problem isn’t the stress but the how to properly manage the stress. Most kids and adults are not aware of their stress style. It is helpful to know if you experience stress through your mind or body. This inventory form helps you identify your stress style as well as offer tools for managing your stress.  Stress Style Quiz

These tools are a great way to get a jump start on the school year.  If you have other tools to share, please comment below.

Finding the Right School for Your Son

Choosing the right school for your son is a very big decision. Even though my son is in the 7th grade, we attended school fairs this year to get a jump start on his high school choices.  I did not influence or urge him to look at any particular school. I did guide him by indicating what to look for in a school. Overall, he made tabs and a list of schools based on high school graduation rates, admissions criteria and extracurrilar activities. His next step is to take virtual tours before we take physical tours next year.

School tours are the best way to find out more about the school. The only way to make an informed decision is to visit the school. Before you take your next school tour, you want to make sure that you are well prepared and have carefully examined all the facts about the school you and your son  are choosing. Keep in mind your son's learning style, interests, personality and their character. Remember to keep your son active in the progress for middle and high school. This is the learning place where he will spend most of his formative years.

Here is checklist of questions and things to observe on your next school tour.


•What is the school's philosophy?

•Does the school's philosophy match your philosophy on learning?

•What is the ratio of teachers to students?

•How many teachers’ aides are in a class?

•What is the maximum number of students per class?

•How is the day structured?

•How much time is spent on independent play vs. group activities?

•How is the curriculum developed? Is the curriculum built around "play"?

•Are the children provided a structured learning experience?

•How receptive is the staff and administration? (When you called the school to make an appointment or to ask questions, was the staff polite and receptive?)

•Are the teachers attentive and responsive? (Observe how teachers speak to the children. Pay attention to their tone and body language.)

•How are discipline issues handled?

•How do teachers intervene when a problem arises?

•Are the children encouraged to play or does the school function as a mini college?

•Is nap time suggested or enforced?

•How clean is the play area? Are the toys and blocks dirty? (Ask the teacher or Director of the school how often toys and books are cleaned.)

•Does the school have a "community" feeling?

•Does the school embrace cultural diversity?

•Would your child feel comfortable in this setting? (Chances are, if you don't feel comfortable in a school, your child may not feel comfortable too.)

•Are parents welcome to be part of their child's experience?

•What is the turn-over rate of teachers?

•How long has the Director been involved with the school?

•Does the Director have any short or long term plans for the school?

•If it is a private school, does the school offer scholarships?

•Does the school offer extended hours for working parents?

•Does the school have its own playground?

•Is the playground equipment stable?

•Does the school have an Emergency Evacuation Plan? If so, is it given to parents?

Elementary/Middle/High School

•What is the school's philosophy?

•What is the school’s code of conduct?

•Does the school offer conflict resolution?

•What are the guidelines for suspension and expulsion?

•Does the school have a strict dress code?

•How do the students interact with the teachers?

•Does the school have a diverse student population?

•Does the school have an accelerated or gifted program?

•What is the criterion for having your child tested or admitted into a gifted program?

•What is the average class size?

•Does the school have reduced class size? (Are the reduced class size only for particular programs?)

•Does the school offer an integrated curriculum with full inclusion of all learners?

•What are the school’s academic standards?

•How are the school's test scores?

•What sports/enrichment programs are offered?

•Have the scores fluctuated or have they been steadily improving or declining?

•How does the school prepare its students for higher education?

•What programs are offered in the school?

•Does the school support English Language Learners?

•How long has the administration been in the school?

•Does the school provide teachers with professional development?

•Does the school have a strong PTA or PA?

•Is an after school program offered?

•Does the school have an Emergency Evacuation Plan? If so, is it plan given to parents?

•Does the school have a virtual tour?