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Brain Boosters for Youth

Unlocking school success for youth in foster care is more than addressing any one issue, but did you know that there are a few simple steps you can take to support the teens in your life with to help them experience their next test with slightly better odds?

Here are a few tips & tricks to help strengthen their ability to function well:

*Set up a designed homework spot where they have everything they need in one place – including items such as pencils, scrap paper, and other supplies. Contrary to what most of us were taught, fidgeting and movement can help the brain access and store information. Giving time before studying to allow for movement gives the brain and body a break and a boost. Even chewing gum or playing with fidget toys can help. 

*Getting ready for a multiple-choice quiz? Remind students to do three things to help them score well: First, always cross off wrong answers first, using the process of elimination to help find the correct responses. Next, no second-guessing allowed! If you’re unsure about an answer, trust your gut and stay with the first answer you chose – it’s more likely to be correct! Finally, don’t leave any questions blank when doing multiple-choice. Even if a student doesn’t know the answer, their guess has a chance at being right – whereas a blank won’t get them any points!

*Saturated fats and Omega-3 fatty acids play a key role in healthy brains. Avocados, nuts, eggs, coconut oil, and yogurt are all great sources of good fats and are easy to include as part of a simple breakfast or afternoon snack. Walnuts, soybeans, chia seeds and some seafood like salmon and mackerel are great sources for Omega-3s.  

*Sleep also plays a major role in how well students perform. Studies have shown that kids’ scores decline sharply when they get less than 6 hours of sleep per night, or more than 11 hours. The recommended sweet spot? About nine hours. Supporting teens in setting healthy sleep habits helps them academically, but also increases their ability to perform well athletically as well!

*Last but not least, be supportive and involved in their education. Caring adults can be integral to the success of teenagers in school by providing positive reinforcement, executive functioning support, tutoring or connections to resources, and encouragement! 

Want to know more about how MAAC is supporting educational success for youth in foster care?

MAAC is offering ILP workshops across the state of Georgia to help youth in foster care successfully navigate the new school year!

Setting School Goals the SMART Way

The SMART goal framework can be a helpful tool when working with youth. Consider the following to help them develop and reach their goal – each goal should be: 

• Specific 

• Measurable (includes a clear indicator for how you’ll know you’ve accomplished it)

• Attainable (manageable and and realistic given the circumstances) 

• Relevant (focused on the key area/s of need)

• Time-based (includes a deadline or benchmark for when the goal should be reached) 

Need some examples to help break it down further? 

“My goal is to get better grades”. This statement is vague, and it doesn’t provide a measurement indicator or a deadline. 

“My goal is to bring up my overall GPA for this semester by submitting all of my math homework for the next eight weeks on time, thereby changing my math grade from a C to a B.” This is a SMART goal!

“My goal is to go from a D to an A+ GPA in two weeks.” While this goal may be specific and clearly measurable, it is most likely unrealistic and the student should start with a smaller step. 

“My goal is to read for twenty minutes every day during the school year to help strengthen my skills so I won’t struggle as much in English class.” This is a SMART goal!

Talk to youth about their future so they can start planning for it and thinking about it. Helping them set goals is the first step in showing them that you believe in their ability to achieve and make progress in all areas of their lives. How will you help your youth be set up for success?

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