Part 1. Not Working to Potential
When my older son, Robert, was going into the 9th grade, we noticed that he had a hard time getting his work done in school. He had always been an A student, but suddenly he was not. He could not organize his time, materials, and homework. He seemed to procrastinate getting started on assignments and once started, was easily distracted. Once started, he would rush through his work making careless mistakes.
To find out why he was struggling, we took him for a neuropsychological evaluation.
Sure enough, the evaluation showed that he had ADD/ADHD and anxiety. We received a detailed 21-page report that was packed with advice. It had suggestions on how he could manage his time better, organize his stuff, take useful notes, read in a focused way, and get ready for tests. The report also recommended many other skills, tools, and strategies that could help him do his best in school.
Part 2. The Aha Moment
Meanwhile, my younger son, Noah, was in 7th grade at the time.
Our after-school hours became a battleground filled with stress and frustration. Like Robert, Noah also had trouble completing his schoolwork, finding many distractions to avoid starting, even though he did not have ADD/ADHD. Despite my best efforts to advise and teach him how to manage time, and complete, and submit assignments, he wouldn’t listen to me. There were many afternoons and evenings when I was at my wit’s end. Sound familiar?
That’s when I revisited Robert’s thorough diagnosis report. The pages were full of detailed learning strategies for managing time, getting organized, and studying with focus and intention. That’s when I had an aha moment: These tools could be game-changers, not just for Robert, but for Noah as well.
Part 3. Creating a Solution to Eliminate Pain Points
Speaking with other parents in Noah’s grade, it seemed that we were all dealing with similar stress around schoolwork. Our kids were in a fantastic school, but they were not being taught how to study.
Many parents admitted that even if their child was receiving high grades in Middle School, they were putting in minimum effort, and really just coasting by on their smarts. Parents were very concerned about how this would play out in 8th grade and high school.
It seemed a general consensus that school for many of us parents was a source of stress and worry, just as it might be for our kids.
To help Noah and his classmates, I asked the head of school if I could use the conference room to conduct a special workshop. The workshop would teach the students how to study better. The headmaster agreed.
I then hired a college professor who specializes in teaching students with learning challenges like ADD/ADHD and anxiety. Because of this, he knew exactly what skills students need to succeed.
Including many of the tips from Robert’s diagnosis report into the workshop as well, the professor and I created a study skills and executive function workshop for middle schoolers. My goal was for Noah and his friends to learn a clear, and easy-to-follow logical system for studying effectively. After all, studying is much more than just flipping through the pages of a textbook
Part 4. What Happened Next
Almost the entire 7th grade came to the study skills workshop on that Saturday in January. The kids loved it. They enjoyed the hands-on, interactive activities. Even better, they realized that these new skills would help them be more efficient and have better control over their schoolwork.
Seeing this, I decided that teaching study skills and executive functions was a much-needed service that would help a lot of kids.
So, I took a big risk.
I quit my day job and started Successful Study Skills 4 Students.
Part 5. More Than Grades
That was 13 years ago.
Since then, we have helped over 8,000 students in Fairfield County, Connecticut, Westchester, New York, New Jersey, and online everywhere. From Darien, Greenwich, and Westport, Connecticut, to Brooklyn, Chappaqua, Scarsdale, and Armonk, New York, to points in New Jersey, Texas, to Washington state to Washington D.C, to Switzerland, and Dubai.
We have proven one absolute thing: Kids are more effective, efficient, more engaged, and happier when they know how to study. And so are their parents.
Since 2010, S4 Study Skills has expanded to offer private one-on-one tutoring in study skills, executive functions, and all subject matter areas, including, math, writing, Spanish, French, and elementary school support. We also offer several college-bound programs such as college essay support and SAT/ACT prep, as a Crash Course in College Study Skills, as well as the Success in College program.
What excites us most at S4 Study Skills? It’s simple:
We believe that every student deserves an efficient and effective system to complete their work, enhance their performance, and increase their confidence.