Even the best students have moments when they go on a bit of a "mental vacation," as Doris Johnson, a guidance counselor at Four Seasons Elementary school, sees it. Their eyes glaze over, their fingers start twirling wisps of hair and their attention drifts out the nearest window.
So what's a kid to do?
"You say, 'Stop! Listen!'," shouted 9-year-old Brad Hurst, one of 13 incoming fourth- and fifth-grade students at the school who voluntarily are spending three days this weeklearning what it takes to be a successful student.
"The entire issue of study skills is such a weak thing," Mrs. Johnson said. "Parent are at a real loss, but they really want to help."
This is the third summer Mrs. Johnson has offered that help to both students and their parents with week-long sessions on study skills. Parents come in for one week, and their children come in another week. Both work on homework and study skills and attitudes related to education.
Each student is given an oversized folder with "Ways To Succeed In School" written across the cover in large type. The folder is full of hand-outs with suggestions for students on how to be successful in school.
There are, for example, the 12 rules for success, that start with having a good attitude and command students to listen, do their homework, don't chew gum, get involved and study.
In addition to doing homework, students must remember to bring their homework to school, Mrs. Johnson said. Nearly all the students raised their hands when she asked if anyone had ever forgotten his homework.
To avoid that common problem, 9-year-old Branden Kessler suggested placing the homework assignment in a folder as soon as the assignment is completed and slipping the folder in the back pack that students carry to school.
Writing a note to yourself also couldn't hurt, offered 8-year-old Sarah Yemoli.
Mrs. Johnson also gave students a daily schedule sheet to fill out with the aid of their parents. She told them to allow time for after school sport activities and play time, but to make sure they allowed enough time for homework.
"If you have soccer practice at 4:30 p.m., schedule your homework at 3:30 p.m.," Mrs. Johnson said. "And you have to be strong. If a friend calls during your homework time, tell them you have to do your homework first."
Only a few students said they watch television while doing their homework. Most seem to prefer listening to the radio. Mrs. Johnson warned them, however, to be aware of how easily they can be distracted by outside influences like television and radio while they are studying.
To demonstrate the ease of distraction, she had the students pair off. In each pair, one stood with his arms outstretched while the other tried push them down. The students with the outstretched arms were able to resist at first. But when their partners made funny faces or otherwise distracted them, their arms fell more easily. Students said the tips they learned during the week will be of great help in the coming school year.
"Instead of just doing my homework I'm going to study, too," said 10-year-old Laura Grigson.
Brad and Branden both said they plan to make use of the schedules Mrs. Johnson handed out. Branden said he plans to stay away from the television set during study time.
"I know I get really distracted by the TV. Definitely," he said. "If I start to peek, I'll go in another room."