How to Keep Kids Excited About School

Now that the excitement of being back in school is starting to settle down, how can you keep kids excited about learning?  Read on.

Gallup, Inc. “How to Keep Kids Excited About School.”, 8 June 2017,

Six Ways to Keep Kids Excited About School

Recently, there have been gains in the U.S. high school graduation rate. Still, more can be done to help students feel involved and enthusiastic at school. Here are six ideas to address the school engagement cliff:

  1. Create hope. Hope is rooted in the ideas and energy that students have for the future. Hope expert Shane Lopez once said hopeful students envision a future that is better than the present and believe they have the power to make that future a reality.Gallup Student Poll results show that hopeful students are more likely to say they get excellent grades at school and are over four times more likely than their least hopeful peers to be engaged with school. A great way to help build students’ engagement with school is to find ways to help them build a positive relationship with their future and give them chances to test-drive that future today. Students have better days at school when caring adults encourage them in their quest for clarity about the future.
  2. Foster talent. When my daughter, Ella, was a kindergartner, a paraprofessional wrote her a kind note at the end of the school year, thanking her for helping to love and support her friend with special needs. That paraprofessional encouraged my daughter’s passion for developing others at a very young age. It was meaningful to have another adult at school recognize the strengths that I as a parent get to build each day.Ella is now a middle-schooler and dreams of becoming a special education teacher. It is important to identify what students do best and what they enjoy doing. A little personalized recognition, coupled with opportunities to identify and develop their strengths, can have big long-term school engagement returns for students.
  3. Care a lot. Teachers work hard to learn the names of students each school year, but it might be just as important for students to be able to name at least one adult at school who cares about them. While two-thirds of fifth graders surveyed in 2016 strongly agree that adults at school care about them, only about one in four high school students say the same. Each student needs someone who is their cheerleader. Many student-facing adults at school can fill this important role.
  4. Recognize creative teachers and teaching. Recently, I was privileged to honor teachers who had reached tremendous tenure milestones in our district. This kind of recognition is special, but insufficient. It is important to recognize teachers who boost engagement and help address the school engagement cliff by designing and implementing lessons that boost students’ ability to learn difficult material, while leveraging their talents, skills and interests to get work done.Gallup Student Poll results show that older students are less likely than younger students to strongly agree that their teachers make them feel their schoolwork is important. Leaders should take every chance to recognize teachers who help students feel that the content they are learning and projects they are completing are relevant. This could help blunt the effects of boredom and increase students’ desire to expend discretionary effort that can help facilitate their readiness for the future.
  5. Have fun. Last year, I snapped a picture of a group of high school students standing outside the school doors, waiting anxiously to get into a Friday night dance. It was fun to see how excited they were to get inside the building. I wondered what could be done to help students feel just as excited to come to school on random Tuesday mornings. Finding ways to make school days more fun can increase students’ positive emotions, and those good feelings can serve as a platform for building engagement that leads to learning growth.
  6. Model engagement. Teachers and school leaders have the unique opportunity to model engagement. Engaged staff members show students every day what it is like to live, learn and work together.Gallup research suggests there is a link between teacher engagement and student engagement.One way to help battle the school engagement cliff is to prioritize and model teacher and staff engagement. Teachers’ excitement and enthusiasm for learning, their support and care for one another, and their strong commitment to excellence will inspire students to commit to becoming their best selves at school each day.


10 Study Skills That Lead to Success

I wish I could say I wrote this.  I wish I could say I followed this.  Here’s where it came from :

teen guideMuchnick, Justin Ross. “Planning Your Education While in High School.” Teens’ Guide to College & Career Planning: Your High School Roadmap to College & Career Success, 12th ed., Peterson’s, 2016, pp. 49-63. Gale Virtual Reference Library,


  1. SET A REGULAR STUDY SCHEDULE. In college, you are solely responsible for remembering to do your homework. Develop the study patterns in high school that will lead to success in college. Anyone who has ever pulled an all-nighter knows how difficult it is to function at a high level in school the next day.
  2. SAVE EVERYTHING. Develop an organized system for storing your papers. Stay on top of your materials, and be sure to save quizzes and tests. It is amazing how questions from a test you took earlier in the year can miraculously reappear on your final exam.
  3. LISTEN. Teachers give away what will be on the test by repeating themselves. If you pay attention to what the teacher is saying, you will probably notice what is being emphasized. If what the teacher says in class repeats itself in your notes and in review sessions, chances are that material will be on the test. So really listen.
  4. TAKE NOTES. If the teacher has taken the time to prepare a lecture, then what he or she says is important enough for you to write down. Develop a system for reviewing your notes. After each class, rewrite them, review them, or reread them. Try highlighting the important points or making notes in the margins to jog your memory.
  5. SET UP A DISTRATION-FREE STUDY SPACE. Now more than ever, a teen’s life is full of distractions. Unfortunately, if you allow yourself to be distracted while studying, chances are you will perform poorly at school. It’s critical that you study and do your homework in a well-lit, distraction-free space. That means no phones, TVs, loud music, or social networking, to name a few common distractions.
  6. CREATE YOUR OWN “REWARD SYSTEM.” Studying is hard work, and it’s even harder when it seems like one endless, mundane task. Make your study experience more enjoyable by giving yourself small rewards after completing smaller chunks of your homework. For example, treat yourself to a handful of M&Ms after you knock off your history homework, or give yourself a short break to go for a jog after finishing your English essay.
  7. DO YOUR HARDEST HOMEWORK FIRST. If you put off your most dreaded, difficult subject of homework until the end of the night, you will be mentally drained by the time you start it. Even though it’s tough to confront your most challenging homework at the very beginning of your study time, you will feel so much better after you finish that subject. You can even use this to gain some positive momentum and feel good as you start the rest if your homework, instead of having a real challenge hanging over your head for the whole evening.
  8. MANAGE YOUR TIME WISELY. Devise a system that works for you to note your short- and long-term assignments, projects, and tests. An old-fashioned paper study planner still works wonders for your time management skills! Be sure to write everything down in this notebook even if your teachers post your assignment online. Having your week planned out all in one place can help you find openings in your schedule and be more productive.