Read every day [book excerpt]

Good students are readers.

Why? First, they have a large store of background knowledge. Second, they have large vocabularies. Third, they can read quickly with excellent comprehension.

Reading is a habit that can be acquired, like any other habit. The lucky people acquire the habit of reading when they are little children. They’re the ones who must be forced to put down their books to come to the dinner table; who stay up past their bedtime, reading by flashlight under their blankets; who sit in the backseat of the car with their nose in a book; and who long for summer, when they will have time to do nothing else but read.

If you are one of these people, skip the rest of this section and go on to other good habits that you may not have acquired.

If you’re not yet a habitual reader, begin now. Continue reading “Read every day [book excerpt]”

Practice Moral Courage (book excerpt)

Practice moral courage.
Moral courage enables you to stand up for what you believe in when others disagree. When others propose to do something they shouldn’t, the person with moral courage is able to make his or her own choice, instead of going along with the crowd. When others are saying things that are rude, or hurtful, or inappropriate, the person with moral courage calls them on it. When others are mistreating someone, the person with moral courage defends him.

This is the hardest habit to acquire. Continue reading “Practice Moral Courage (book excerpt)”

How to deal with organization problems

Dr. Mel Levine of All Kinds of Minds has excellent advice for teachers and parents trying to help a disorganized student. A common mistake, he says, is to nag and threaten. “You won’t always have me here to help you”, etc. The truth, says Levine, is that as adults we can almost always find someone—a spouse, friend, or colleague—to help us.

Drink lots of water (book excerpt)

The brain—and the rest of the body—needs plenty of water to work at its peak levels.

Recent research by scientists studying the brain tells us what our grandmothers have always known: the body needs plenty of water to stay in good working order. When you study at home, have a pitcher of water at hand. At school, ask permission to have a bottle of water at your desk. The rule of thumb is that we should drink 6–8 glasses a day (about 48–64 oz., or somewhere between 1.5 and 2 litres).

Soda pop is not an approved substitutes for water. The sugar content in these drinks puts you on a roller-coaster of sugar highs and lows, and it does nothing to help your body—including your brain—work better. Fruit juice? Energy drinks? No. Stick with water.

Eat properly, get enough sleep, and stay drug-free (book excerpt)

Your brain—have I mentioned this already?—is part of your body.

You can’t expect your brain to do its best unless you take care of it. Junk food, irregular meals, inadequate sleep, cigarettes, alcohol, caffeine, “recreational” drugs—all of these diminish your brain’s ability to work. All of them, too, are entirely avoidable—bad habits people slip into because they take the easy way, the lazy way. Be smarter than that.

And if you’ve already developed, or begun to develop, a bad habit in this area, break it now!

Skipping breakfast is a common error in today’s society. I’ve made this the topic of my sample goal. If you aren’t sure what a “proper breakfast” is, now is a great time to learn a bit about nutrition. Your parents and teachers may be able to help you with this (see Chapter 4: Getting Help from Parents and Teachers).