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Building Early Road Scholars: Giving Your Kids the Drive to Succeed

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Time management is an issue for most people today. Chances are you are a busy parent like me and tend to procrastinate when things get overwhelming, and so do your kids. The regimented life of the average student seems designed to overwhelm your kids. Grades become all-important at a time when distractions and extra-curricular activities explode. As a parent I know that only by being proactive can you help your child succeed. In this article, we will talk about some tools to help.

Students need to make the most of their time, and the best place they can do it is during their commute to school. The average American spends 100 hours commuting a year. With the average student having a one-way commute time of 30 minutes (many rural students commute twice that length of time), this presents an untapped reservoir of time that is usually frittered away.

Whether the student is being driven by you, a bus driver or a horse-drawn carriage, they can make the most of their time with one simple tool: a smartphone or mobile device such as an iPad. These devices allow students to be more effective learners than any generation before. School administrators like Phil Hardin at the Rowan Salisbury School Systems have recognized this potential and equipped students with a mobile device to be used during commutes to and from school. I have the privilege of being involved in this project -- as a vendor offering a mobile Internet safety service called Mobicip -- and solving a critical problem that schools face.

Unfortunately, most parents haven't installed any Internet child safety software on their mobile devices. As a parent and a developer of Mobicip (a popular Internet content-filtering service for the iPod touch, iPhone, iPad, Windows 7 and Linux, with extensible parental controls and monitoring), I lead a team that thinks about children's Internet safety 24/7. After exhaustive research with child development psychologists, high-tech law enforcement officials, Internet safety experts, school IT directors, teachers and parents, we have developed mobile Internet safety solutions specifically with the mobile learning student in mind. A kid-safe mobile device can do wonders for students. With a mobile device you can accomplish so much.

Do primary research: While it may be difficult to write a term paper on the school bus (not that many procrastinators haven't tried to do it), a student's commute is a great time to do a lot of the heavy research lifting. With online notebooks and clipping services like the wonderful Evernote, a student can research a topic on their smartphone and clip an article, website or whatever to the cloud, where it will be available when it comes time to write the term paper. Assuring a child-safe Internet browser experience is why we created Mobicip. Now parents can know that their kids are safely researching school topics while being protected by the latest state-of-the-art, kid-safe Internet filter.

Outline, outline, outline: The secret weapon of the most prolific writers on the planet is outlining. You may not be able to write out an entire paper, but you certainly can outline one using the word processor on your mobile device. A lot of people make the mistake of waiting to outline after the research is done, but that is a huge time-waster. Before you know much about a topic, write out a basic outline. You can do it as 20 questions about the topic. This will help you figure out what research you really need to do.

Flashwrite: Many people think that commuting time is the worst place to do thoughtful writing. They'd be wrong. Sometimes people get too tense about writing. You can write when you've got distractions; just do it fast, without editing yourself. Write as fast as you can about the topic. Much of what you write will need work, but you'd be amazed how much of it doesn't. If you've got a big paper due, take those 20 questions in your outline and write the answers to them as fast as you can. If you don't have to worry about others listening in, many mobile devices have voice recognition software, so you could just speak your term paper. (Note: even the quietest car is a noisy environment for voice recognition, so you will get better results with a microphone very close to your mouth. Throat microphones are the very best for noisy environments like a car. You can pick one up starting at $20.)

Proof: Read your term paper backwards, in addition to forward. Look at each sentence. See if there is anything that can be tightened, or punctuation that needs to be changed.

There's an app for that: Whatever the topic, chances are there is a study aid app available. Check it out. It maybe a separate app, or it may be an eBook like CliffsNotes.

Flashcards: Create flashcards to review test material. No matter what the topic, you can find ready-made flashcards, or you can create your own flashcards using software.

Listen to your teacher: Most mobile devices can record the audio or video of your classroom lecture. Some note-taking software will actually play back the whole lecture in sync with whatever notes you took. You can play back the whole thing, just the stuff you don't understand, or anything the teacher said would be on the test.

Listen to someone else: No matter what the topic, chances are excellent that there is a podcast given by a high school or college teacher on the subject. It is pretty easy to find these online. If a student is having difficulty with a topic, it may not be the student's fault. Some teachers can make the most basic topic incomprehensible, boring or so abstract that it is devoid of any real-world meaning. But with podcasts, you can learn from the world's best teachers.

Listen to your books: For kids who are auditory learners or who have reading problems, audio books offer a great way to supplement standard reading. By listening to and simultaneously reading the same text, you process the content in more sections of the brain. This will greatly increase recall during test time. If your child has been diagnosed with a learning difference, you may be able to get the audio book for free. Ask your school system which services are available.

Watch YouTube: YouTube is one of the greatest untapped educational resources on the Internet. Just type in almost any topic and you'll find instructional videos. The problem is that your kids can easily find other, less-than-educational videos, as well. That's why we included a robust, kid-safe YouTube filter into the Mobicip child safe browser.

Plan your success: People don't plan to fail; they fail to plan. Use the scheduling function in your mobile device to map out homework times, reading times, review times. Many productivity experts swear by writing and reviewing daily to-do lists as a way of keeping on track.

Review early and review often: You can have your entire school experience in your pocket. Most people learn via repetition. Review your notes during all the down times like when you are waiting in line.

Create an online study group: Sometimes students can help each other learn a topic. Study groups are the key to success in college. They can also be effective during junior high and high school.

Email your teacher: Sometimes it can be scary to raise your hand in front of the entire class. A mobile device is a fantastic way to discretely get the extra help you need.

Get inspired: If you want to go into a particular field, read, listen or watch YouTube video interviews with leaders in that topic. Sometimes inspiring passion can be the best study aid ever.

Whether the student in question is 8 or 85, these road-scholar tips will help you get to the head of the class.