Is technology really the problem?

By Ann Dolin | Technology

Mar 15

Speaking of technology…

When it comes to the academic success and health of our students a lot of blame gets passed around these days to smart phones, social media, and internet usage in general.

Some of that blame seems to be well-deserved. For one thing, back in our day, the potential for bullying pretty much ended when the bell rang.

But on the academic front, there is an argument to be made that social media is just the video games of last decade, or the TV of the decade prior to that. It’s just the latest easy-entry distraction for kids who feel overwhelmed by their schoolwork.

As Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia, Daniel Willingham, writes in his excellent book Why Don’t Students Like School?

“People like to solve problems, but not to work on unsolvable problems. If schoolwork is always just a bit too difficult for a student, it should be no surprise that she doesn’t like school much.”

Solving problems brings pleasure if they are hard enough that the answer isn’t totally certain, but not so hard that we can barely get started.

Our Executive Function Coaches find the same pattern in the students they work with:

Kids find their way to distractions when a homework assignment, project, or studying feels too big and overwhelming.

One way to help with the problem is to employ a technique what we call “remove the barrier to entry.”

First, have your son or daughter break large tasks into smaller tasks. Then make the “barrier to entry” almost nonexistent.

By setting the threshold for getting started so low that it is almost a guarantee that he or she will be successful in completing the task, we can help get the ball rolling by making the student feel a sense of confidence that they can actually move forward.

Two different ways to do this are to focus on either time or task.

  1. To focus on time, set a timer for 5-10 minutes. Have them commit: “I’m going to read for 10 minutes and then I can take a short break before restarting.” And then step through that process, bit by bit.
  1. Alternatively, you can choose to focus on task. For example, you could select just 5 out of the 30 vocabulary words assigned to study first, before moving on to the next group.

For some additional examples on how to do this you can read the full article and look at Tip #5: Remove the barrier to entry.

And if you’d like some personalized 1-on-1 help for your child to improve their organization, work on time management, and bolster their study skills, click the button below to contact us.

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“This last session, in particular, is exactly the type of help Ellen needs… Thank you so much! And the work is paying off: Ellen brought home an exceptionally good report card yesterday – all of her grades went up and she had the most ‘4’s I’ve seen on her report card yet! We were so excited and she was beaming.” ~ John, ECT Parent