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Tutor Doctor of Raleigh & Wake Forest

Serving Raleigh, Wake Forest, Rolesville, Youngsville, Cary, and the surrounding areas of the Triangle
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6 Awesome Halloween Costumes you can Make From a Box

Supersize your fun this Halloween while saving some money and the environment too. Take time with your kids to make your own epic Halloween costumes out of recycled boxes. You can pick up a box at your nearest grocery store (just make sure it’s clean). Utilizing recycled boxes is better for the environment than buying a costume which only gets one use before ending up in the landfill. Making your own costumes is great ghoulish fun for the whole family.

5 Habits for a Happier Home

A few new habits that will create a happier, healthier home for you and your children. Habits take only a couple of weeks and a little discipline to start, but they will ease the tension in your home, mean less nagging for you and better grades for your students. Mellow Mornings Ever have to wake Read More

Destress Your Teen

Growing up has never been easy. Teens have been experiencing stress for generations, but these days, we have data that gives us a clearer picture of what’s going on among today’s teens, in part thanks to a recent study by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto, Canada.

The study offered some interesting observations. To begin with, despite the apparent “kids today” consensus that being young is worse nowadays than ever, reports of bullying have been in steady decline for some years now, as have reports of teen gambling and opioid use. Social media has not created an apocalypse in the realm of teen psychology.

There is one area, however, in which conditions are very serious: teen stress. According to the CAMH study, 34% of teens report experiencing moderate or severe stress — an increase of ten percent over 2013.

Put another way, one in three teens experiences enough stress that those around them should feel concerned. The question is what to do about it.

Know thyself

A big part of growing up is learning how to grasp our own feelings. For some of us, knowing what’s going on is second nature, but there are plenty of folks for whom it’s a struggle. This is especially true of teens, whose feelings can seem feel powerful, even overwhelming, and difficult to master. The subtle feelings can be tricky too, sitting in the background and altering perceptions. It’s important, therefore, to learn to recognize the signs of stress when they appear. Look for physical symptoms and behavioral changes. This should not be limited to the parents either — teens themselves need to understand stress and how it works, and spot the warning signs of stress within themselves in order to respond with the appropriate self-care. Trying to power through it, or maintain a positive facade, does not help anything.


Failure happens in life

A high schooler might feel like a failed exam is traumatic, but in the grand panoply of a life’s experience, it’s barely a pothole on Main Street. That’s not to say it’s nothing — feelings are feelings and they’re entirely valid — but honestly, a test is just a test. Grades are important, as are assignments and presentations and all the other steps on the journey to graduation, but students should understand that failure is a part of life, and a crucial life skill is being able to pick oneself up off the floor, brush off the dust and get on with life.


Feelings are responses to reality, they’re not reality itself

Stress is a thing that occurs in our lives from time to time, at all ages. Stress, however, is a response to one’s interactions with the world, it’s not the world itself. In other words being a teenager applying to university, preparing for the SAT or ACT, waiting for responses to applications — well, it’s perfectly natural to feel stress in response to all these things. But that stress, however justified, is still just a feeling. It shouldn’t be allowed to alter one’s perception of life itself. If it is allowed to do so, then life can seem mighty dark and unhappy indeed. In practical terms, this can have many negative effects on health and happiness, as well as making it harder to succeed in life. Acknowledge feeling as feelings and don’t let them take over.


Do some good, it might help

One of the worst things about stress and anxiety is the feeling of being out of control, of an absence of independence, even of agency. But some studies point to an unusual way to tackle that feeling: helping others. According to Michael Ungar, director of the Resilience Research Centre at Dalhousie University, helping other people can be an empowering experience. “One of the best things you can do with kids if they are anxious,” he says, “is not just ask them to do things for themselves, but ask them to do things for others.” A bit of volunteering, mentoring or coaching might help a stressed teen.


Get some sleep!

Seriously, sleep is a crucial component not only of mental development, but of mental health. Getting a good night’s sleep as often as possible is one of the most important things anyone, of any age, can do for themselves. Sleep. No joke!


Get more exercise

No, this isn’t about being thin. It’s about getting the heart pumping and working the old muscles a bit. Playing a sport, going for walks, swim, climb — it doesn’t matter. Exercise works wonder for stress and always has. It doesn’t need to be intense; even a moderate, gentle workout can really help in relaxation. Be careful, of course — don’t risk injury. But try moving around, it’s likely to help.


The key to handling stress is to be open about it, acknowledge it, and be methodical about tackling it. No one should feel any shame or embarrassment in being stressed. Indeed if left alone it can be very harmful, both physically and mentally. Learning healthy ways of dealing with it while still young can be a fantastic, empowering skill that will reap great rewards for decades to come.


Helping quiet kids succeed in school

It’s not easy being an introvert. You’re subject to all the same obstacles and struggles as anyone, including trouble at home, difficulty concentrating, and just plain hating school — but on top of all those everyday concerns you have a layer that makes school’s casual socialization much more difficult. Speaking up in class, participating in group work, answering questions on the board, all these things (and more) can be a source of stress, anxiety and, even reduced grades. So how can we help these struggling students?


Shyness isn’t the same as introversion

Understanding the mechanism is a good start. In general, shyness is where a person is afraid to speak up, where the act of public speaking can easily generate embarrassment and even shame. It is frequently associated with a lack of confidence, even self-esteem. Introversion, however, is more of a personality alignment, in which someone is just happier with their own company and a generally lower appetite for social interaction. Introverts can also be shy, but they are still different things.

Try shrinking the audience

If a teacher is aware of shy/introverted students in the class, a useful technique is to slow down the process of public speaking. Instead of simply pointing to someone and ordering them to stand up and start speaking, take a pause and ask the students to think about their answer. This will give the more withdrawn students a chance to calm down and collect their thoughts. Furthermore, adding a partnering step can also be a big help. Have students try giving an answer to a fellow student before giving it to the whole class. That act of speaking to just one person, hopefully a friendly person at that, can really take the edge off and make it easier to address the class.

Employ social media

This is one scenario in which social media can be a huge benefit in the classroom. Even the shyest of student is likely to have a much easier time communicating through text-based chatting or posting to platforms like Facebook or Moodle.

Be careful about comfort zones

Some teachers and parents may feel the goal should be to reverse their student’s shyness/introversion by forcing them out of their comfort zone with required recitations or speeches. However, this approach can be extremely dangerous, and indeed can cause real trauma.

Instead, be gentle and gradual. As mentioned above, addressing individuals or small groups can be a great way to expand a student’s comfort zone, so that over time they’ll be better equipped to grow their audience. It is true that being able to speak to large numbers of people can be a valuable life skill, but acquiring that skill has to be a gentle process. The mere thought of standing on a stage and addressing a crowd can truly be a terrifying prospect for some people.

Above all else, it has to be emphasized at all times that shyness and introversion don’t in any way lower the value of a human being. Ensuring that every young person accepts that truth is critical to advancing in life.

Four Amazing Students From Across America

Some people are just amazing. They stand out, achieving things that can be simply hard to believe. It can induce envy in some people, but perhaps the best reaction is old-fashioned wonder. After all, the human race is the better for their awesomeness. Here are just five amazing young people.

Andreas Pavlou, Sewanhaka High School, Elmont, New York

Andreas, from a low-income family, edited his high school newspaper and was president of the student council. While still a young man his father passed away prematurely, leaving Andreas to help support his family.

One summer while still in high school, Andreas had an opportunity to conduct cancer research. As part of his work, he made new discoveries relating to breast cancer, including a very promising combination of gene therapy and drug treatment.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, he won the very prestigious Questbridge scholarship, which got him a full ride to college.

Shree Bose, Fort Worth Country Day High School, Fort Worth, Texas

Ms. Bose is another teen who, moved by the suffering of a loved one at the hands of cancer (in this case a grandfather), engaged in advanced research in an effort to find a cure. She asked every research center in her area to let her work but no one took her seriously — except for the North Texas Science Health Center, which agreed to give her access to their labs plus mentoring.

She focused on the chemotherapy drug Cisplatin, and discovered that inhibiting a specific protein allowed the drug to be much more effective in killing cancer cells. She says, “For the over 240,000 patients diagnosed with ovarian cancer, this research will hopefully be able to reduce the recurrence rates in patients treated with particular chemotherapy drugs in the future.”

Thanks to her work, Ms. Bose won numerous science prizes, scored an internship at the National Institutes of Health and was accepted into Harvard.

Athena Kan, River Hill High School, Clarksville, Maryland

While serving an internship at Johns Hopkins, Ms. Kan performed research into healthcare inequalities among minority groups, even presenting her findings at a medical conference. This inspired her to take an active role in the field of public health, founding a health fair called CHOICE (Coalition Halting Obesity in Children Everywhere). This brought together dozens of exhibitors — ranging from nonprofits to private corporations — along with free health screening. She also served on a county-level public health committee.

Ms. Kan received a full scholarship to Harvard.

Anvita Gupta, BASIS High School, Scottsdale, Arizona

Ms. Gupta combined an interest in computer science with a passion for biology by creating software that automatically identifies medications for diseases like cancer and ebola, thereby boosting research into new drugs.

Her achievement won her several high-level science prizes, including a presentation at the White House Science Fair. She also gained entrance to Stanford (computer science and biology).

As if that wasn’t enough, Ms. Gupta was struck by the dropout rate of girls in her AP computer science class, with three-quarters of the girls leaving the course. So she founded LITAS, a computer science club for middle school girls. The club, which is designed to increase female participation in STEM fields, has won sponsorship from Google, among other high-profile organizations.

Understanding: Dyslexia

Reading is a vital skill; it’s hard to imagine doing well in school, or in life, when reading and writing are a struggle. Yet people with dyslexia deal with this every day. It makes school more difficult, it makes socializing more difficult, an…

Helping Kids Deal With Disasters

Hurricane Katrina. Hurricane Irma. Hurricane Harvey. The Boxing Day tsunami. The Japan earthquake and tsunami. Wildfires, winter storms, terrorism, on and on and on. Terrible things happen in this world, people suffer, and among the hardest-hit, whet…

Helping Kids Deal With Disasters

Hurricane Katrina. Hurricane Ima. Hurricane Harvey. The Boxing Day tsunami. The Japan earthquake and tsunami. Wildfires, winter storms, terrorism, on and on and on. Terrible things happen in this world, people suffer, and among the hardest-hit, wheth…

Making Healthy Choices For the New School Year

Once classes start and the demands of school start setting the daily rhythms of education, it’s easy to lose track of the many decisions, big and small, that can affect how well the year turns out. Doing well in school, though, depends on much …

Back to School: Time to Get Organized!

It’s important to be organized. It’s extremely important to be organized for school. Study after study has shown that students who are properly organized get better grades, have less stress, and just generally do better in life. Along with less stress, an organized student is likely to have more confidence and more free time to pursue outside interests like athletics, arts and hobbies. Best of all, if you can get organized for school and stick with it, you’ll probably have better odds of a good working life once school is done. Here are some tips you can get started with even before the school year begins.

Keep your supplies sorted

It may seem mundane, but ensuring you have all your school supplies standing by and ready to go is important. You don’t want to be searching for printer paper the night before a report is due! Keep track of absolutely everything needed for your schoolwork, from pens and pencils to paper, highlighters, binders and so on, and make sure you’ve always got enough of it. This applies to your computer as well — make sure everything’s working properly, the software is humming along, and that everything is properly backed-up.

Be aware of any extra resources you might need

Some courses require special supplies, such as books, research material, software and so on. Read your course description carefully, and make sure you know ahead of time what you might need to pull together as part of the course. Don’t be left scrambling at the last minute!

Set up a calendar and make a note of, well, everything

There are lots of free apps and websites that will let you create a digital calendar you can access anywhere, but it can also be handy to have a large section of your wall set aside for big paper calendars that allow you to see the whole school year at a glance. Put down everything you can find related to school: tests, assignments, field trips, holidays, just everything. What’s more, schedule your work before those events, so that you’re always studying and working in advance, calmly, confidently.

Setting up a thorough calendar at the start of the year is probably the most important thing you can do to de-stress. Yes, it can be scary to see it all in one place, even frightening, but you’ll see it’s just a case of working through everything bit by bit.

Create a study space that’s all yours

Set aside a space for doing your schoolwork and respect it. A desk, properly-lit, decorated according to your taste, will help you get things done. It’s critically important to respect that space — don’t let it get piled high with junk! Keep it clean, make it a precious little corner of the world that’s all your own. Also important: keep all your work organized. A bookshelf, filing cabinet, incoming and outgoing trays, whatever you need. You don’t want your work getting misplaced, lost or forgotten.

Establish rhythms for your life

You’d be surprised how much a daily routine can reduce your stress. Knowing ahead of time when you’re supposed to get up, when you’re supposed to do homework, when you’re supposed to eat, rest and so on, can be very comforting. The same can be said for weeks, even semesters. This sort of organizing will make sure you have the time to study ahead for your classes, and make note of any areas of your schoolwork that require extra attention (or the help of a tutor).

Keep your daily life organized

Us humans need a lot of upkeep. We need to be washed, dressed, fed — and sometimes we need medical attention too. It’s important, therefore, to keep the “daily living” part of your life organized. Keep a steady supply of any toiletries you need, such as makeup, toothpaste, shampoo and whatnot. Also keep an eye on your physical health, especially ensuring you’re on top of any medication you require.

Live a healthy lifestyle

If you’re not physically healthy, your schoolwork will stuffer. Live as healthy a lifestyle as you can, getting lots of exercise (not just gym class!), eating a healthy diet and proper, regular meals. Try to cover all the major food groups and avoid snacking — and if you must snack try to keep it healthy. Yes, processed foods like chocolate, potato chips and so on can be tasty and (temporarily) satisfying, but they should only ever be a small part of your diet.


Set aside time for socializing and relaxing

There’s more to life than school. While minding your responsibilities, you also need to be a well-rounded person with a full life. That means yes, it’s okay to spend time with your friends just hanging out, chatting, gossiping, and laughing. Friends play an important role in de-stressing. Relaxation can also be found in a hobby or two. Even just lying in bed and listening to music can bring peaceful rest.

Discover your learning style and use it to your advantage

Research suggests that our brains have different ways of learning. In fact, only a minority of people thrive in the standard, one-size-fits-all approach employed by most skills. A simple quiz can help you discover how best your brain absorbs and retains knowledge. Once you’ve got that figured out, you can change how you study and tackle your assignments, working with your teachers to emphasize your learning style. It might well give your grades a major boost!

Monitor your stress and mental health

Our society still struggles to discuss mental health without judgement. However, our inner lives are a crucial part of our identity, and it’s absolutely critical to keep an eye on your heart and mind if you’re to succeed in school (or life). Don’t bottle up your feelings! Make sure you have someone responsible to talk to, such as a parent or counsellor. Stress, especially, can be horribly destructive if left to fester, no matter where it comes from (family, friends or school). There are many tools, even apps, to help you track your stress levels. Developing a healthy approach to stress and emotional struggles can be incredibly empowering. Indeed it can improve your odds of living a life that’s long, healthy and happy.

Get some sleep!

It’s impossible not to underestimate how important it is to get a good night’s sleep. Our brains need to rest and recover from the day, and if they don’t get that rest they have trouble functioning. Avoid staying up too late! It should be a top priority to get a good night’s sleep as often as possible. This is one of the best things you can do to keep your grades up.

Remember: you got this!

School can be tough. It can. But you can do it!. Make sure you remind yourself regularly that you’re fully capable of doing what you need to do. You’re stronger than you think you are! Staying organized is an excellent way of proving that.

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