A few tips to help your teen get a good night’s sleep

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For younger students, this doesn’t usually seem to be a problem. But once the teenage years start, it can seem like your teen is always tired and never gets the sleep they should.

If that’s your teen, you’re not alone.

In fact, 73% of teens report that they don’t sleep enough. That means most teens aren’t getting the zzz’s they need.

Sleep affects more than you may know. Without the right amount of sleep, teens could:

  • Become more forgetful
  • Develop more skin issues, like acne
  • Gain weight and/or overeat
  • Become more likely to get sick
  • Drive poorly
  • Become irritated easily

The list goes on. Sleeping is important, you know that. But sometimes it can feel near impossible to get your teen to sleep, especially if they’re waking up often in the middle of the night.

If your teen is having trouble sleeping, here are a few tips to follow.

Take the phone away at night

Let’s take a moment to talk about those smartphones. They’re more detrimental to sleep than you might think.

A study showed that turning the phone on silent isn’t enough. Small disturbances like a screen notification keeps the brain wanting to check your phone.

Even just being aware of a missed call, an unread text or another notification causes the brain to stay alert, hurting the chance of a good night’s sleep. It knows there is something else to do, and it diverts the attention.

We recommend setting all smart devices (phone, tablet, etc) in another room. If your teen is able to forget about it, they’ll hopefully be able to sleep much better.

Keep their workspace separate from their sleeping space

As independent study and homeschool students, your teen has the ability to study wherever they want. But, if they’re having trouble sleeping, you might want to consider not letting them study on their bed or in their room.

If they do homework in your bed where you sleep, it’s likely going to make them want to take a nap rather than do math homework. The same goes for sleep. If they’re on their bed where they also do your homework, their brain may think it’s time to study.

Have them exercise early in the day

Exercise certainly has its benefits. It can make you happier and healthier. Exercising releases endorphins in the brain that make you feel good and have energy.

So, if your teen exercises too late in the day, they might still have some pent up energy, making sleep a difficult feat.

If your teen has practice in the afternoons and can’t really avoid exercising late, then try some relaxing exercises, like yoga, to destress before sleeping.

Don’t limit them drink caffeine in the afternoon

Caffeine is generally known to keep you awake. So….don’t let your teen take it at a time when they should sleep. It takes a couple hours before it leaves the body’s system, so make sure they avoid coffee, energy drinks and other caffeinated beverages after 6 p.m.

Limit naps

Your teen is growing, which means sometimes they need a nap, and that’s OK. But frequently napping, especially in the afternoon, can really interfere with sleep. Try to limit it to a 15-minute power nap if it’s something they need during the day.

Stick to a sleep schedule

It will really help your student’s brain if it knows when it sleeps and when it’s time to be awake. Have them stick to a realistic schedule and be as consistent as possible.

Keep lighting bright in the day and low in the night

Lighting actually plays a big role for sleeping. The brain knows when it’s dark, it’s time to sleep. That means if your teen tries to study in dark room, they’ll probably be a little tired and less focused, and then a little too awake when they actually try to sleep.

Keep lighting bright during the day, and bring it down in the evening so the brain can know to wind down.

Follow a few tips to reduce stress

Stress can be a major culprit of lack of sleep. If your student is feeling anxious or stressed, their brain is going to want to stay awake.

We posted a blog a little bit ago about how to reduce stress in your life. Here are the basic tips for reducing stress:

  • Be open with it. Talk with your parents, friends and doctors. All are here to help
  • Breath. Breathing exercises work wonders!
  • Limit negativity and toxicity in your life. Remember the positives instead.
  • Exercise and eat your vegetables. It really impacts your mood.
  • Get out and socialize, especially when you don’t want to.

See a doctor

And, of course, if nothing seems to be working, a doctor will be able to help your teen the most. But hopefully these tips above can help them get the sleep they need.

There are different ways to take notes. Here’s what’s best for each learning style

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Here’s a tricky riddle for you.

What’s something everyone knows is an important tool for obtaining good grades, but few hardly utilize? And even fewer actually enjoy doing this one thing.

OK, maybe it’s not that great a riddle. Considering this subject revolves around schoolwork, there can be a number of answers. But the one we have in mind is taking notes.

It might be surprising that there are, in fact, multiple ways to take notes. And, depending on your style, there are a right and a wrong way to take notes.

While there are several different methods, we’ll focus on the four ideas based on our teacher’s suggestions and input. Each has its benefits and downsides, it just depends. All have the ability to customize, so you develop your personal learning style. Check them out:

The “write down what you hear” method

The write-down-everything-as-fast-as-you-can style works for very few, but it seems to be everyone’s go-to.

With this approach, you watch a video, read a lesson or hear a lecture and try to write down everything. You’ll likely end up short-handing a lot in order to keep up, which means you’re and probably not taking the time to comprehend what you’re writing.

If you are an incredibly fast typer, maybe you can write down everything you hear. Even then, it’s probably best to focus on what you find important.

If you do like to write down most of what you hear in order to have more resources later for studying, there’s a workaround.

photo submitted by an online English teacher 

As you’re reading through lessons, pay attention to the bolded words, and try to write your own definitions. You can always refer back to the lesson for the actual definition and writing in your own words helps you comprehend and remember.

When to use this note-taking method:

  • You’re a fast writer/typer and paraphrase well
  • You don’t mind taking time to thoroughly read through notes later

Why you might not use this method:

  • You don’t write or type quickly
  • You often get stressed about missing key points
  • Reading notes is difficult for you and you’d prefer to scan

Visual Outline Method

For these notes, we’ll be pretending you’re learning becoming a school mascot, Peyton Panther.

Before you head to your tablet or computer for taking notes, you might want to consider the good ol’ fashioned notebook. It’s believed that physically writing notes helps you retain information better.

It’s debated, though, because typing allows you to take more notes since most type faster than they write. The best advice? Try both and see which truly helps you learn.

Another benefit of physical notes is that you get to doodle. Studies saythat drawing pictures that associate with the topic can help you.

If you feel you’re more of a visual learner and you enjoy drawing, try out the visual outline method. Here’s how you’d format your notes:

  • Topic or keypoint
    • Sub point
      • supporting points (if needed)
  • Topic or keypoint #2
    • sub point
      • supporting points

And so on and so forth. Each time you have a new topic or keyword, draw something to go along with it.

For example, let’s say you were learning about Peyton Panther. Your notes might look like this:

English teacher Isha Rupal is a fan of the outline method. Her personal customization is what she calls “prioritization.” Find what matters and break it down.

Try to keep things mentally and physically organized based on whether I categorize them as big ideas, supporting details, examples of the supporting details, exceptions to the rule, etc. So, as an example, my written notes might look like this:

  • Spongebob Squarepants
    • Lives in a pineapple under the sea
      • Two windows, one door
      • Neighbors are Sandy and Squidward
    • Works at Krusty Krab
    • Best friend is Patrick Star
      • Kind of an idiot
        • “East? I thought you said Weast!”
        • “Is mayonnaise an instrument?”

When to use this note-taking method:

  • During a long lecture with several points of discussion
  • You have a hard time paying attention and often find yourself doodling
  • You like to paraphase

Why you might not use this method:

  • You’re a perfectionist and drawing might take too much of your focus
  • You don’t enjoy drawing
  • There are a lot of keywords in the lecture

If it is a keyword-heavy lesson, this method could still work. But you might want to break down your notes a little differently. we suggest this layout:

Unknown word Definition Picture
Peyton Panther School mascot, spirit enthusiast

The Cornell Method

This is a note-taking method that’s either loved or hated by most. Some swear by this approach while others find it too constraining.

If you’re in a science-based course or going through a lesson with a lot of bold points, this could be the best method. With the Cornell method, you separate your paper into one skinny column on the left, a large column on the right, and a row at the bottom. It’s formatted as such:

  • Title
  • Left column of keywords
  • Right column with notes, takeaways
  • Bottom row with a summary

If you wanted to take your notes about Peyton Panther using this method, it’d look something like this.

Here’s how one of our teachers customizes the Cornell method:

“I mostly teach middle schoolers so I try and keep it simple when telling them to take notes,” said Mr. Welch. “My advice to them is usually to take notes in an organized way that you can easily refer back to and extract information from, but at the same time take notes in a way that is comfortable and fun for you personally. This template leaves that door open for them to organize their thoughts but do it in an interactive and freelance way.”

When to use this note-taking method:

  • There’s a lot of terms and keywords to learn
  • You want to memorize keywords or definitions

Why you might not use this method:

  • The lesson has several different topics and breaking it down is difficult
  • You don’t feel confident in scanning and filtering information in lessons

The Branching Method

This method is great for breaking down complex lessons. If you are learning a few different things that relate to each other, like the different nervous systems within the body, this can help you jot down notes in a way that helps you see things a little simpler.

Notice that all these can be written digitally, even if you want to doodle. Use an app that lets you work with a stylus, so you can take notes how you want.

Back to the example of Peyton Panther. If you were learning about the mediums in which one might see Peyton, this is how the branch method would look.

You can also color code topics as you take notes. This will make it easier to review your notes when you go back later.

An update on our new school building

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We are incredibly excited to announce our school building is set to be finished late October! This building is meant to be state-of-the art, designed for today’s learners. Here’s what it will have for our students:

Secured facility for the protection of its students
Highly mobile furniture to encourage group learning in all forms
Includes computers for each student to study
Open classroom concept
Small class sizes of 1:25
Digital curriculum coupled with highly qualified teachers

Since it broke ground in late May, the building has made great progress. We will be posting more pictures as we receive them from our principal.

Building Progress

A little more about Valor:

Tuition free
Public charter school (with the quality of a private school)
Hybrid, flipped classroom
Ability to study in person and from home
Personalized learning tracks based on student’s progress and needs

Interested in Valor? Get more information here:

A few tips to help your child stop procrastinating and focus on homework

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We’re all different, but as parents, there’s one thing we usually have in common: the homework struggle. And it’s real.

It happens every day. There’s the ever-piling list of things to do, usually accompanied by the not-so-willing student who needs help staying motivated.

As a parent, you know too well that every decision in school impacts your student’s future. Better grades mean more opportunities, after high school and even in elementary school.

Getting your child to focus on homework can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. There are a few easy changes you can implement now to start seeing improvements today. Check out the tips below.

Tips to Help Your Child Focus on Homework

Tip 1: Have your child do a small exercise first

Studies show that cardio-based exercises boost memory and thinking skills. Cardio based means doing something that accelerates the heart rate.

If you get your child moving before starting schoolwork, it will get the blood flowing. This will help the brain become more active and ready to focus on homework.

Some exercises could be jogging, riding a bike, playing a sport or even just dancing a bit to some fun music. Anything your student likes to do that’s fast-paced can certainly help the motivation and focus.

Tip 2: Get a routine set and stick to it

With Valor’s hybrid model, there is the added benefit of a more flexible schedule. With that added benefit comes the need for discipline.

To be successful in courses, it’s best to create a daily schedule for your child. Ideally, your child would put this schedule together with your help where needed. Keep the schedule realistic, including breaks where necessary.

Once a schedule is in place, there’s less guessing. Routines can also lead to reduced stress, as some studies have shown.

How to Make a Schedule:

1. Get a planner, or use a free online application

Some tool for your child easily view the daily schedule is important. This can be a physical planner or an app, but either way, it’ll make sticking to a schedule much simpler.

2. Think about the week; include every plan

Have your student list everything they plan to do that week. Does she like to fit in some time to skateboard? Great! Schedule it in. Besides, it might be best to do that skateboarding right before homework. 😉

3. Be Realistic

If your child is more of a night owl, you don’t have to force them to be an early bird and vice versa. Adjust free time and homework time accordingly. Your student might be one who needs frequent breaks in order to work efficiently. If that’s the case, then set a timer for 30 minutes of work with a 15-minute break immediately following.

Whatever works best with your child’s learning style will be a routine you both can stick to. You’ll be able to figure that out as you try new things and test them out.

Tip 3: Gather the necessary items before starting homework

Small disruptors go a long way (we’ll explain that more later).

If your child stops homework to grab a snack or a notebook, he’s going to get distracted.

Make sure your student has all the necessary materials ready to go before starting schoolwork.

Keep a list of teacher’s and guidance counselor’s phone numbers on hand. Also having note-taking materials, the daily schedule and a glass of water will help your child be better prepared to focus.

Tip 4: Establish a workspace

We’re not saying you have to go to the store right now and drop hundreds on a desk, chair and supplies. The workspace doesn’t have to be traditional. But it should be a designated place in order to better focus on homework.

Maybe that place is an office in your home. Or perhaps your child has a fuzzy bean bag in your room that she loves. Whatever you both decide, make it a habit, and make sure it’s a place that’s comfortable to work. After all, that bean bag might be comfy to relax in, but might not be best once your student has a laptop and notebook to juggle.

It can be a good idea to incorporate some fun items to the workspace to help your child be excited to work there. These can be items like photos, music, lotion, candles or a favorite drink.

Whatever is decided, it’s a great idea to separate the workspace from sleep space.

If your child does homework in your bed where she sleeps, it’s likely going to make her want to take a nap rather than do homework. Make sure she studies somewhere you know he won’t get distracted until she finishes homework.

Tip 5: Remove all distractions

A distraction includes anything that deters your student from focusing on homework. This can range from music to a loud sibling.

Let’s take a moment to talk about those smartphones. They’re more detrimental to homework than you might think.

study showed that having the phone on silent isn’t enough. Small disturbances like a screen notification could increase errors in your work. It also could prolong the time it takes to complete assignments. Here’s why:

As a researcher from the study stated, “Although these notifications are generally short in duration, they can prompt… mind-wandering, which has been shown to damage task performance,” (PsychCentral).

Even just being aware of a missed call, an unread text or another notification causes the brain to lose focus on homework. It knows there is something else to do, and it diverts attention.

We recommend setting all smart devices (phone, tablet, etc) in another room. If your child is able to forget about it, he will likely finish his homework quicker with fewer mistakes.

Tips to Help Your Child Stop Procrastinating

Tip 1: Create Rewards For Motivation

If you know your student has six assignments to complete in a day, then set aside a small reward for each.

Know your student’s weaknesses and turn them into rewards. If she likes to surf YouTube videos or SnapChat with friends, then allow these activities AFTER she’s completed schoolwork, but not until then.

Tip 2: If your child gets bored easily, incorporate more breaks

If your student has a hard time staying focused (like most students), it can cause stress or negative associations if she thinks he has to do his homework all in one sitting. And if your child experiences high stress before starting homework, he’s probably going to have a difficult time not procrastinating.

If that sounds like your child, then implement short breaks. Let him take a short break and color, or turn on a favorite YouTube music video and have a dance fest.

Getting the blood circulating will help your child’s brain and spirit.  Nothin’ like rockin’ out to a favorite tune!

Now this is the way to do homework, right?!

By breaking up coursework with small, fun tasks, her brain will have more positive associations. This might help your child dread starting homework less.

Tip 3: Reach out to your guidance counselor

It’s often a forgotten fact that your guidance counselor’s job is to help your student with any academic struggles. If your child has trouble starting her coursework, reach out to your counselor for help. They are state-certified and dedicated to you.

Helping your child stay on track with homework is never easy, we know. But by following the tips above, it can become less stressful, and your child will hopefully be able to stay more focused.

How the flipped, hybrid classroom can help students who struggle with math

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It’s no secret that math tends to be the least favorite subject for many students, simply because it’s frustrating to so many. When students don’t understand what’s being taught, you lose them.

The problem is, the current classroom setting doesn’t allow teachers to have the time for those who fall behind.

In general, this is the way students learn math:

The teacher stands at the whiteboard (maybe a SmartBoard, if the teacher is lucky) and introduces a new chapter to the class. Students go home and start on homework. The really quick learners probably won’t have any questions. But most likely, students will get stuck on a problem or two. So, they bring questions to class the next day.

Although, that doesn’t help the homework grade…

By the time they get to class, the teacher will try to make time for questions. But even then, it’s time to learn a new chapter. So, the teacher gives another lecture and assigns more homework.

Now those students are not only stuck on yesterday’s homework, they’re trying to learn something new. And more likely than not, something on that newly assigned homework will confuse them too.

Now they have even more questions, and the teacher introduces yet another math concept. Before students know it, the homework and confusion have piled up and it’s time for a quiz.

As the homework piles on and students fall behind, it’s frustrating. And it’s why many students give up on the subject altogether.

Sound familiar?

It’s not the best solution to expect students to seek out help, tutoring and keep up with the curriculum. It can work for some, but for many, it’s disheartening and it loses student engagement.

Instead of expecting the student to adapt and keep up, it might be time to rethink the way we teach math.

Flipping the Classroom: The way Valor instructors teach math

At Valor, we flip the classroom.

It sounds a little funny, we’re sure, but the flipped classroom is actually an important method of teaching. It means that we find out student’s weaknesses and strengths before introducing any subject.

With online math courses, students log in and start with the coursework first. They’ll read through some instruction, watch videos and complete some math problems, or our version of ‘homework.’

Student’s answers are recorded and sent to the teacher. The teacher then reviews and examines which areas the students did well, and which areas need help.

Then the instructor presents the lecture. Teachers don’t go in blind, they know exactly how to help their students. And so, students log in to a live synchronous session and discuss specific struggles and get more insight.

Students still stuck on a math problem can email, call their teacher or set up a one-on-one online session to help them truly master the concept.

Students enjoy what they’re learning with digital math courses designed for them

Math doesn’t have to be boring.

Don’t laugh, it truly can be an entertaining subject. All it takes, really, is a curriculum made for teens, known as digital natives.

Valor offers an award-winning curriculum jam-packed with videos, games, fun stories and interactive content throughout the lessons. Students won’t be just reading PDFs or textbooks, they’ll work through online courses that will help them actually enjoy what they’re learning.

Is your child ready to start improving in math? Get started below:

The top myths about hybrid learning addressed

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When it comes to a hybrid education (a school that incorporates online education into the classroom), the amount of varied “facts” thrown out there can leave you with so many questions it can get overwhelming. Maybe you’ve never attended a hybrid learning school, or maybe you have a sister whose friend’s cousin’s nephew goes to one.

The bottom-line is: there are a lot of myths floating around out there, and that’s why we’ve addressed some of the top myths in this post.

1. Schools who use hybrid learning are as expensive as private schools.

We can easily address this myth. If a school holds a public charter status, it is completely tuition free. It doesn’t matter whether the school is hybrid, online or both. What matters is whether it is private or public.

District-sponsored charter schools give students the opportunity to get a quality education for free. Some hybrid learning schools are private and do charge tuition, and that’s why we recommend you do your research and find out what the best fit is for you.

Valor just so happens to be one of those public schools, so it’s tuition free with the quality of a private school.

2. Hybrid curriculum is only simple, busy work

This is a big myth.

A lot of people worry that digital curriculum equates to impersonal, busy work.

Not true.

In fact, the beauty of a hybrid model is that students receive an education specifically tailored to them. Students work at their pace and take as much time as needed to grasp each concept. If a student works faster than the others, she is not tied to waiting until the rest of the class is ready to move on; she can continue to learn. If a student is stuck, he can work with an instructor individually until he truly grasps the concept.

3. Hybrid learning students don’t get enough socialization.

This is another myth that may worry some parents and students.

Being in a hybrid environment where students spend time on computers could seem isolating, and even thought to have a negative impact on the student’s socialization.

This is far from the case.

Hybrid schools balance time spent on the computers with several opportunities for interaction with other students. In addition to computer coursework, students participate in traditional coursework, hands-on labs, collaborate on group projects, and can attend outside school events to get to know their peers and socialize.

4. Teachers don’t instruct as much in hybrid schools

This one is an ongoing myth we are proud to say we can bust!

Because there’s digital curriculum “teaching” students, many seem to think the onsite instructors don’t do much.

In reality, the opposite is actually true.

Hybrid learning classrooms usually mean small class sizes, which allows teachers to communicate individually with every student to help them receive a more personalized education.

Oftentimes, Valor students find that they communicate much more with their teachers here than they ever did in a traditional setting.

Join us at an open house for great food and enrollment info

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It’s been on your mind lately.

You’ve been thinking about a change. You might even be ready to switch schools, but don’t know where to start.

So, why not start the switch and get some great food while you’re at it?

Open Houses: Happening at Macayo’s in Goodyear through June

You can always enroll for Valor by filling an application out here. But if you want, you are welcome to come into the office during business hours to get in-face support from our faculty or staff.

Here are the details:

  • June 22, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • June 26, 4 – 7 p.m.

Head to Macayo’s to meet with enrollment advisors, get questions answered and enroll onsite.

Items to Bring to the Open House

These items aren’t required to attend an Open House. But if you’d like to significantly speed up the enrollment process, we recommend bringing these items with you.

Valor’s Enrollment Open House Details

  • What:Enrollment Open House for families wanting more information on why and how to enroll for Valor Preparatory Academy of Arizona
  • Where: Macayo’s – 1474 N. Litchfield Rd Goodyear, AZ 8395
  • When: June 22 from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., June 26 4 – 7 p.m.
  • Why: Meet with faculty or staff face to face to discuss questions, concerns and receive additional information on the benefits enrolling with Valor. We will also help you start the enrollment process and we can assist you step-by-step to fully complete your student’s enrollment.

We’ll see you there!

Download flyer

Our school building is officially under construction! Check out the progress

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We are incredibly excited to announce our school building is under construction! This building is meant to be state-of-the art, designed for today’s learners. Here’s what it will have for our students:

  • Secured facility for the protection of its students
  • Highly mobile furniture to encourage group learning in all forms
  • Includes computers for each student to study
  • Open classroom concept
  • Small class sizes of 1:25
  • Digital curriculum coupled with highly qualified teachers

Since it broke ground in late May, the building has made great progress. We will be posting more pictures as we receive them from our principal.

Building Progress

A little more about Valor:

  • Tuition free
  • Public charter school (with the quality of a private school)
  • Hybrid, flipped classroom
  • Ability to study in person and from home
  • Personalized learning tracks based on student’s progress and needs

Want to learn more about Valor? Join us at an Open House!

You can come to Macayo’s in Goodyear to meet leadership and learn more about the school. Here are the dates:

  • June 15 from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • June 19 from 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.
  • June 22 from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • June 26 from 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Download this flyer to learn more.