Healthy Study Habits for Students

A #Reclaiming2020 Thread

School can be a lot for students under the best of circumstances, and this is equally as true for grad students as it is for kindergartners

Burnout, Screen Fatigue, and Other Anxieties

Mental health, establishing healthy study habits, and knowing how to find an appropriate balance is something we put a lot of focus on her at TNN.

Our students, especially in the US educational system, can oftentimes be put under extreme amounts of stress, and are very rarely given the tools to know how to deal with it. Even more so now during the age of COVID as classrooms shift into bedrooms and the lines between ‘study’ and ‘sleep’ become blurry at best.

Identifying the early stages of burnout (difficulty concentrating, poor sleep quality, irritability, eye strain, and more) is crucial to help curb it’s effects.

Knowing When to Walk Away

Burnout is something that is more often associated with high paying executive positions or even online content creators. But it is a common experience in all walks of life. Any time you expend more effort than you receive value from, you a prone to burnout. That could mean working at something for an hour and not making as much progress as you would have liked, or it could mean studying for months without feeling like there is no return.

To recognize if you are approaching or at risk of burnout, here are a few resources that can help.

The Tell-Tale Signs of Burnout from Psychology Today

Burnout Self Test from Mind Tools

Burnout Prevention and Treatment from Help Guide

Productive Procrastination

Procrastinating one activity by performing another is a trick as old as time. It’s why students who have a dreaded assignment suddenly find themselves with one thousand and one other little mindless things to do.

And while procrastinating something at all costs can easily develop into self-sabotage, there is a way to use that procrastination instinct for good.

If you are staring blankly at your screen, don’t know where to start, or just otherwise fighting tooth and nail to focused … stop fighting. Frustration and anxiety make focusing on a new subject even harder and that natural resistance you feel towards getting into a project can sometimes (not always) be your bodies way of telling you that you need a break.

So instead put on a ten-minute video, podcast, or music playlist, and use find a healthy use for that procrastination energy. Like;

By giving yourself an intentional ‘break’ that is still productive, you can start to create healthy habits around work-life balance and recognizing when you need to step away.

Setting Healthy Boundaries

As we mentioned before, with so many students performing some or all of their academic duties from home, the lines between ‘school’ and ‘no school’ can get kind of blurry. As anyone who has ever tried to work from home before can confirm, that is a sure fire recipe for burnout.

Creating physical or mental space where you can flick on and off in work/study mode is key to setting healthy boundaries, achieving a balanced lifestyle, and long term success. We all know the age old adage of the unhappy employee or executive who keeps bringing their work home with them. But what happens when the work starts at home with you as well?

There are a few ways to help deal with this but none quite so effective as creating a physically separate space for study time. Setting your desk against a wall or window so that you are less distracted by other stuff in your room, working in a separate office space, or working at the dining room table, assuming you have a supportive household, are all valid options.

It can also help to set time restrictions. Parents can enforce this by breaking up study time with schedule meal times, but also by putting a time limit on school stuff. If school work HAS to be done by 8pm, then it leaves students time to unwind and helps create that space. It also helps to include regularly scheduled breaks throughout the day. I find that I can rarely focus for more than 3 hours at a time, so I plan walks, kickboxing, or meal prep time around those gaps accordingly.

Limit Screen Time

By now we all know how bad starring into our screens for hours on end can be bad not just for your eyesight, but also for your circadian rhythm, your general physical well being, and even our mental health. This is even more true for younger kids whose brains are still developing.

In a classroom setting, teachers of younger students will routinely break up longer periods of sitting with short periods of movement. This same concept can be easily applied to screen time as well, serving a dual function here as screen time is typically relatively stationary.

Schedule regular intermissions to get up, walk away from the screen, maybe get a snack or go to the bathroom or even take a little walk (this is easier to enforce if you have pets). Do anything and everything that is not related to a screen (computer, cell phone, TV) for at least ten minutes in order to allow your eyes to rest and give you a break.

Print notes or use physical study guides when possible. Take notes on paper instead of in a tablet. Zoom your classes by connecting the computer to a TV screen or larger monitor but further away. And, whenever possible, choose options that are physical rather than digital. We will never be able to completely walk away from our screens, they are too valuable a resource. So limiting their influence where we can is a big help.


There is still a lot of the school year left, and much of the world is still in a constant state of change. As we adapt to different circumstances and try to build good habits, it is important to be kind to ourselves, listen to our bodies, and take steps to protect our mental and emotional health, particularly as students. Building good study habits and setting healthy boundaries is just a small part of that, but it is a part that we can all work on a little bit every day.


Check out this and more original content available every week at TheNerdyNanny.com by subscribing to us on Facebook or Instagram.

You can also check out Eve Daniels, author of The Nerdy Nanny books, on YouTube where she gives writing and academic advice as well as updating you on all of her latest and upcoming projects.

Free Resources for Students

I have been in Grad School for a grand total of about three months now, studying Experimental and Medical Bioscience here in Sweden. And if I said that the road to get here was a smooth one it would be a bald-faced lie.

I struggled as a student for many years in a lot of different areas. Mastering difficult concepts, general memorization and repetition, buckling down and concentrating for hours on end, trying to puzzle together new pieces of information- these are the woes of the modern student and they are things that do not come naturally to everyone.

But, thankfully, there are resources out there that help.

My Top Resources in Grad School

These are the programs, apps, extensions and websites that are queued up on my computer – right now. To say they are getting me through grad school is an understatement. These are things that I rely on and use, without fail, almost every single day.

Grammarly

This free program and plugin that you can either install to work automatically on your computer and programs of choice. Depending on your settings it automatically catches and corrects (you can turn the auto-correction feature off if you prefer) simple spelling and grammatical mistakes with much greater efficiency than the spellchecker on your computer.

But Grammarly also points out run on sentences, conflicting verb tenses, and a bunch of other things that your spellchecker doesn’t. For those of us writing a lot of long tedious papers, checking manually is a nightmare and it can be difficult to catch your own mistakes. Enter – Grammarly.

YouTube

In the beginning of my Masters program, I had a serious problem visualizing the microscopic interactions that I needed to understand in order to do well. Everything from Antibody – Antigen reactions to Flow Cytommetry. I was falling further and further behind because I just COULD NOT picture these tiny reactions.

Thankfully, other people, much smarter and more skilled in animation than I, can. Also thankfully, those people made YouTube videos about these concepts that I have been hoarding like a starved squirrel gathering nuts. If you want to get some idea of just what I’m studying you can take a look at that carefully cultivated hoard of videos HERE. YouTube is the second most powerful search engine in the world (behind Google), and as such, is an amazing resource for students.

OpenStax

OpenStax is an open source academic resource providing textbooks and reference material at zero cost. While this won’t replace your mandatory reading list anytime soon, when you get into upper level courses it is often up to you to seek, cultivate, and gather reference materials in your subject.

Plus, sometimes you just need to have something explained to you in a slightly different way for it to click. I have Biology and Chemistry textbooks stored on my computer for reference materials, but I flip through others depending on the area of interest pretty regularly as well.

OneNote

If you have Microsoft suite, you have probably seen that little purple square logo at the bottom of your screen before. OneNote is a comprehensive digital note-taking platform that offers you the convenience of organizing your note-taking into subjects, tabs, subcategories, and even separate notebooks. Plus, while you are connected to the internet at least, one-note backs up automatically.

I use One Note exclusively for my notes because I have too many different subcategories and cross-referenced material for it to make any kind of sense in a single categorie. I need those little tabbies darn it!

I call this one free because OneNote comes with most Microsoft packages and if you already needed to buy it for access to word or powerpoint, then it’s there. If you don’t have Microsoft suite there is a free alternative called Evernote which works about the same way, though I find it a little less visually appealing (personal preference). And if you prefer a Google system … don’t even bother with Keep – it’s just a series of post-it notes that are impossible to keep track of if you have more than 4 things going on at once.

$ Rosetta Stone $

Okay, this one I use everyday… but not exactly for school work. I’ve been trying to learn Swedish for AGES and, as I am currently living here, it seems now is as good a time as any. The modules are of varying length so I can do a couple of quickies or set aside time for a longer one depending on what unit is up next, and it used spaced repetition to revisit previously material based on a measurement of my performance and how long it’s been since I last logged in.

This is the one resource I am listing that is not completely free. There is a free trial version but with reduced capacity. If you are currently using or have ever looked into or used a free language learning app but quickly passed through the free version only to find the stuff you really needed to learn is hidden behind a paywall, I’d recommend giving Rosetta Stone a try.

Either way the trial is free and, if you were already looking at making a purchase, it’s definitely worth a shot.


Popular Study Aides for High School

Khan Academy

I have used this in the past as math is, unfortunately, not an area I excel in. Khan has full units for individual subjects from basic counting and shapes all the way up to statistics and calculus. It works in practice questions and active modules in between concept explanations, which is something that I find extremely useful, especially for subjects that require application.

Quizlet

Quizlet was unfortunately not around (or at least not popular) when I was younger, but the girls I tutored used quizlet constantly. It’s a free resource to make online flashcards, that you can cluster, repeat and set aside as you master the material. Really great for any subject that includes a lot of memorization (vocab), particularly if you apply spaced repetition. – alternatives include Tiny Cards & Study Stacks

Audio Books and Podcasts

As much as I wish it were true, not everyone loves to read. As an author, that is almost physically painful for me as a love of the written word is something I cherished as a kid. But as a tutor, part of my job is acknowledging that not everyone’s brain works the same way. And some people prefer to get their books in audio form. If you have a long reading list, a passive commute or some other chunk of time in which reading a book may not work but listening through headphones is totally possible, then supplementing or even replacing some of your reading material with audio might be a good call for you.

Apps & Extensions to help you Focus while Studying

For me, as with many students, staying on task is a challenge. Particularly when the work is piling up or when it is crunch time and you want to do just about anything but study. Though knowing yourself and developing healthy study habits are ultimately the best recourse, here are a few things that can help cut through the noise.

Momentum

A google chrome extension that provides a clean, minimalist start page that tells you the time, the weather, allows for the plugin of different various features and focuses on your primary goal with a little built-in to-do list pop up feature in the corner. It seems like such a small thing, but opening up your computer to a clean slate rather than a messy notifications board or something like google or Facebook where it is so easy to get off track.

Crackbook & Parental Controls

Crack book is another extension that allows you the option of blocking problem websites after a fixed amount of use. For example, I have mine set so that I can click over to Facebook or Instagram for up to 20 minutes between noon and 8pm (my predetermined study hours). After that if I try to click over I will be met with a gray screen and an increasing time delay. This means that if I really do need to use Facebook for something I still have access, but I have to wait for increasingly long amounts of time, so I better make it worth it.

Forest App

This one that my friends use constantly. At $1.99 it’s not free, but there are free alternatives available. This is just the one that is most popular in my immediate circle. Essentially you start a timer within the app and it blocks out the use of your phone completely during that time. At the end you are rewarded with a cute little tree figure and, after enough ‘sprints’ your tree levels up into new cute characters and, better yet, the forest app actually helps sponsor the planting of trees in real life.


These are just a few of the resources I rely on, there are literally hundreds more out there. The trick is to find one that works for you and for your learning style and that you won’t get distracted by in and of itself.

If you have any resources that you love and rely on, please comment them below either here on TNN or on our Facebook page!


Check out this and more original content available every week at TheNerdyNanny.com by subscribing to us on Facebook or Instagram.

You can also check out Eve Daniels, author of The Nerdy Nanny books, on YouTube where she gives writing and academic advice as well as updating you on all of her latest and upcoming projects.

This is Halloween… or is it?

Happy Halloween everybody!

Ah October… and with the coming of fall, the annual migration of Spirit stores begins their long-awaited return to their natural habitats – the defunct shops in America’s strip malls. And it is also when die-hard Halloween fans begin their 31-day celebration and count down.

For a lot of American’s, Halloween is going to look a little bit different this year. Many neighborhoods will not be indulging in their door to door trick or treating, and parties are even more of a non-event in the age of back and forth lockdowns.

But that’s American Halloween and this year, for the first time in my life, I am not in America for the celebration of this joyous holiday season. If you’re new around these parts, you may not know that I have recently been accepted into Grad School and have subsequently moved from sunny south Florida to slightly less than sunny south Sweden. As such, I’ve been asking around my Swedish friends and relatives to see what kind of festivities I can expect and the reports have been… mixed, to say the least.

Halloween as it is currently known and celebrated is an American Holiday, but, as with most forms of American entertainment, it has been exported across the globe in various forms.

It helps that Halloween is based on an ancient holiday that is reflected in numerous cultures as being a significant date on the calendar (full moon, end of harvest, fall equinox, etc) Those cultures created their own version of the Holiday moving forward through time.

So… what exactly does Halloween look like all across the globe?


Sweden

Halloween is a relatively new concept in Sweden, first introduced in the ’90s by American TV shows and movies but rapidly caught on. The holiday is celebrated over an entire week from October 31st to November 6th with “Alla Helgons Dag” (All Saints Day) kicking off the school’s autumn break. It’s really not surprising the holiday caught on as much as it did. By fall the days are short and the nights are long and cold. There are few celebrations at this point of the year either, so having a release in mid-fall is incredibly valuable.

Unfortunately, as the kick-off of a school holiday, Halloween is mostly celebrated by kids and teenagers, though adult celebrations are becoming more common in certain party prone areas of major cities and some bars and restaurants have begun celebrating the holiday in earnest as a way to encourage people to come out of their homes in the break autumn days.

Iceland

Halloween is not an actual holiday in Iceland but is becoming adopted more by people as a sort of pop culture reference common among kids. The interesting thing about the Icelandic tradition is that while the kids are having fun with the holiday itself, the adults have taken a liking to what they have been calling “Hallovin” which literally means “Hello Wine”.

All Saints Day

Versions of All Saints Day are celebrated all over the globe, typically followed by All Souls Day on November 2. A part of the Catholic tradition, family members typically visit the graves of loved ones.

Various countries add in their own traditions. In Germany, they hide the knives to that spirits cannot hurt themselves or others. Denmark has combined candles on graves with trick or treating. Finland uses the holiday as an excuse for partying and hanging out with friends. In Poland flowers accompany the candles on graves. In Italy, there is a single red candle placed in windows but fields worth of flowers adorn graves and cemeteries in a beautiful display of color.

The most well-known example of these celebrations is of course Dia de los Muertos or the Day of the Dead. The Mexican celebration of All Saints Day. This holiday, long since iconized by candy skulls, tourist boards, and Disney movies, holds a deep cultural significance for many.

Romania

Perhaps slightly predictable but the reported castle of Vlad “The Impaler”, that is to say, the original Dracula, is an understandable hot spot for Halloween celebrations. Although the castle where most celebrations are held is under some debate as to whether or not Vlad had ever been there, the celebrations definitely more than make up for any lack of historical accuracy.

China

About a month earlier, mid-August to mid-September, Honk Kong celebrates the Hungry Ghost Festival to “feed” spirits who grow restless around this time of year and wander the world. Paper burning and food offerings are common across many countries in East Asia around this time of year, but the Hungry Ghost Festival itself is unique to Hong Kong.

Japan

The Kawasaki Halloween parade is a relatively new celebration, only about twenty years old, but is the largest Halloween parade of it’s kind and attracts nearly 4000 participants. All of whom must have applied for entry nearly two months in advance.

Samhain

Samhain is often regarded as the ‘original’ Halloween, deriving from an ancient Pagan and Celtic holiday thousands of years old and still practiced to a smaller degree across Ireland and Scotland. Bonfires, traditional foods, superstitions and fortune-telling rule the night. you can check out more on Samhain and it’s relation to modern-day Halloween Here.

Nigeria

The Awuru Odo festival hands down puts most other Halloween traditions to shame. This celebration of the return of friends and family members back to the living can last up to Six Months. Celebrated with music feasts and the traditional masks, participants celebrate the lives and spirits of those who have gone in full joyous fashion before the dead must return to the spirit world. This ritual holds huge cultural importance as it celebrates those who have left us as if they were still here, much like Dia de los Muertos and other modern versions of All Hallows Eve. Unlike other versions of the tradition, however, Awuru Odo is celebrated only once every two years as the spirits return to earth.


While I will undoubtedly be missing out on the trick-or-treating, bar crawls, haunted houses and Halloween Horror Nights this year, I look forward to celebrating Halloween in whatever way I can in my new home.

What does Halloween look like where you are from? With so many varied traditions across the globe, how does your family or culture or home town partake in this spookiest of celebrations?

However you celebrate, I hope to with you a fantastically joyous

Happy Halloween!!!


Check out this and more original content available every week at TheNerdyNanny.com by subscribing to us on Facebook or Instagram.

You can also check out Eve Daniels, author of The Nerdy Nanny books, on YouTube where she gives writing and academic advice as well as updating you on all of her latest and upcoming projects.

Top Tips from Home School Veterans for Distance Learning Newbies

With millions of students returning to digital classrooms this semester, and our memories of the previous spring largely a panicked blur, it is understandable that some parents, and students, might be struggling with the new arrangement.

If you are trying to supervise distance learning from home and finding the process frustrating for both you and your child you are not the only one. This is a stressful situation for many, and pretending you are not struggling if you are will only lead to more resentment and frustration down the road. But you are not in this alone.

We have pulled together the best advice from veteran home school teachers as well as seasoned online students to help you conquer the coming digital semester.


Distance Learning Tips for Students

Most of these tips are geared towards students, older kids who spend more time studying independently than they do with a parent or teacher.

Check your school’s grading platform every single day and turn those notifications on. You will not be able to rely on your teacher reminding you every day about that paper that is due next week, or the quiz coming up around the corner.

Set a fixed time for school work. Sometimes this will be set by your school as more programs have mandatory attendance. Other times it may be more free form. But having a consistent routine is honestly a lifesaver for preventing mental resistance.

Do not rush through your work. This is not the time to skim through the directions or glance over assignment sheets. Because you will not be conferring with your teachers or fellow students, it is easier to misinterpret or completely skip steps or even entire assignments.

Make an Agenda. Whether online or on paper, having all of your assignments for all of your classes written in one collected place is key to keeping track of everything when it is scattered across different digital platforms especially. (at TNN we use The Lazy Bujo)

Take the time to ask questions and engage teachers. Now more than ever, asking questions is crucial. With online classes clearing up any confusion in the beginning is vital as you may not have an opportunity at the end of the semester for the 1 on 1 clarification you need. Speak up during class or, if you are uncomfortable with that, consider sending your teacher an email. Go through your entire assignment, write out all the different areas that confused you and, when you have all your questions in one place, read it over before hitting send.

Do NOT email your teacher saying “I dnt get the thitd one”.

Explore the technology before you need to use it. No one likes logging in for an online test only to find out they are missing a plugin or it doesn’t work with their browser. Look at the platforms you will need to use, familiarize yourself with them, and be able to use them with confidence.

In a collaborative environment, choose your project partners carefully. This is sound advice no matter what but is especially important when you are unable to meet with group members face to face.

Use alarms and calendars to ensure you don’t miss an assignment. Big test next Thursday at two? Set an alarm for Wednesday, Thursday morning, and Thursday at one. Also, be sure to label your alarms so you remember why your phone is beeping in the first place.

Don’t procrastinate. It can be easy to put schoolwork off until the last minute under the best of circumstances. But without reminders from teachers and fellow students, this problem is only exacerbated. And if you get stuck on an assignment you saved until the last minute, there will be no one to help you through.

Social learners beware. There are many types of learners. Some students learn from their fellow classmates just as much as they learn from teachers. If you are one of those, the coming months will be a struggle for you. You can try and combat this early by forming group chats with some of your classmates, but this may not work for everyone.


Distance Learning Tips for Parents

Most of these Tips are geared towards parents of younger children who require a more hands on approach to at home education.

DON’T TRY TO BE A SCHOOLTEACHER

“Let go of the idea that you have to be like their classroom teacher – they aren’t at school and this isn’t a normal situation. Read books, play board games, bake, go on a bug hunt, jump on the trampoline, watch awesome documentaries, write to friends, connect with others using technology, build Lego, and ask them to think of ways to help others feel calmer and more ok with the situation at hand.”

Kylie, mama of one, 7

HARNESS THE POWER OF YOUR CHILDREN’S INTERESTS

“Connect your children’s learning to their interests in order to engage them and keep them interested. Ask them to write a letter to a beloved relative or friend to strengthen their writing skills.”

Sabrina, mom to two kids, 5 and 7

ACCEPT THAT YOUR HOUSE WILL BE MESSY

“Forget about keeping the house tidy! Once you let this go, happiness and learning will follow.”

Sarah, mama of four, 7, 5, 3 and 1

KNOW WHEN TO WALK AWAY

“It’s more important that children enjoy the experience than get it right every time. If they feel pressured or begin to not enjoy something, let it go and come back another time. Unless the lesson is persistence or pushing through when things are difficult – in which case, gently encourage them to keep trying!”

Corrine, mom to two kids, 5 and 8

TEACH THEM INDEPENDENCE 

“This is a great time to support the building of your kids’ self-help skills, such as making their own breakfast and lunch, making their bed and tying their shoelaces.”

Kylie, mama of one, 7

TURN EVERYDAY MOMENTS INTO LEARNING EXPERIENCES

“Forget the idea that learning only happens at a desk with a pencil and paper. Learning can occur anywhere at any time! Gardening can be science, language and math all at once. Baking is also a great way to practice math skills. Children are naturally curious, so let them choose activities they’re interested in, and then find opportunities for learning in them.”

Sabrina, mom to two kids, 5 and 7

DON’T BE AFRAID TO TACKLE CURRENT EVENTS

“I get my teenagers to watch a documentary a day – today it was about Africa’s deadliest animals. We also do a Word of the Day and today it was virus! I know, straight into the hot topic, but it led to a productive discussion. And they’re also journaling about homeschooling and coronavirus updates.”

Jacqui, mom of three, 16, 13 and 11

DON’T EXPECT ALL YOUR CHILDREN TO LEARN THE SAME WAY 

“If you have more than one child, they may not always want to do the same thing at the same time. Mine certainly don’t! Try to learn more about what each of your children is interested in and how they learn, and do your best to give them tasks and activities that are adapted to their interests and needs.”

Sabrina, mom to two kids, 5 and 7

MAINTAIN ROUTINES

“Make sure to keep the same morning and evening routines. Think of them as your arms! These routines – like your arms in a hug – offer support at a time of upheaval and something to lean against when everything else might seem a bit nuts.”

Kylie, mama of one, 7

NURTURE EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE 

“Emotional intelligence is just as important as academic skills, so encourage your child to identify how they’re feeling during activities. Take a break if they’re feeling frustrated, but use it as an opportunity to identify those feelings and strategies to deal with them. Wait until the big emotions have passed, though, or it won’t be pretty for anyone!”

Sabrina, mom to two kids, 5 and 7

Give your kids some ownership over their day.

“My biggest piece of advice for families thrown into the homeschooling world is to try not to recreate school at home. I actually had them sit down and tell me what they would like to do throughout the day. ‘OK, we’re going to do math and then we’ll do some art and then we’ll do science. And then what do you guys think? OK. You want to go play outside for a while? That’s fine.’ Get the hard stuff out of the way first, then let them follow their own curiosity.”

Blair Bailey, mom of 6, homeschooling for 12 years.

Ashley England homeschools her daughter, who’s in kindergarten, though she says the current stay-at-home situation doesn’t reflect true homeschooling.

Be flexible and Forgiving / Accept Change

It’s better to ease into it than hold on to tough expectations for the whole family. Try to give everyone just a little bit of grace and try to give yourself a little grace, too. Even for veteran homeschoolers, the coronavirus pandemic has upended regular activities, like science clubs, coop classes, and debate. Don’t forget to just breathe and be there with your kids.


The Big Take-Aways

Top Tips for Distance Learning

  1. Find a Comfortable Routine before worrying about being productive – Christy M
  2. Don’t Try to do everything every day. There will be days when the laundry piles up or math is the only subject you get to and that’s ok – Christa L
  3. Be gracious, to yourself and your children – education and learning are more than books and tests. Take it one breath at a time when one day is too much – Curt-Cari W.
  4. Everything is a learning experience – whether that’s math or emotional awareness or how to make mac and cheese.
  5. Home school doesn’t have to be public school at home. Focus learning opportunities on your childs unique interests

And, my favorite piece of advice of all time –

Your kids will learn despite your worst efforts. Trust – Karen G.

As much as we struggle with recognizing it, we are still in the middle of an unprecedented (in our lifetimes) global event. The underlying low levels of stress will continue to impact us even if we don’t think they do. Stress, lack of human interaction, and general anxiety at the state of the world are to be expected and should not be minimized or pushed to the side.

Take time for yourself, take time for your family, and take time to be there for each other in whatever ways we can over the coming months.

We are all in this together.

For more Distance Learning tips from students who’ve been there check out the advice from Jori Krulder’s High School English class HERE.


Check out this and more original content available every week at TheNerdyNanny.com by subscribing to us on Facebook or Instagram.

You can also check out Eve Daniels, author of The Nerdy Nanny books, on YouTube where she gives writing and academic advice as well as updating you on all of her latest and upcoming projects. Start doing the tips in this article

Sources

IACET Personal Recomendations -Karen ‘High School Junior’

Jori Krulder, English teacher of 23 years Rocket City Mom The Tot

Parents.com Houston Public Media Real Clear Education

SimpleHomeSchool.Net Confessions of a Homeschooler

Teaching Advice for Parents – from a long time Student and Tutor

With the coronavirus situation in the US constantly changing and schools opening or shutting their doors in response to this, more parents than ever are finding their kids doing classes from home either through distance learning or online education.  And while homeschooling, distance learning, and online classes are all perfectly valid options and can be quite beneficial to students who might struggle in a traditional classroom setting, these are decisions that are usually arrived at after weeks if not months or years of ongoing conversations with teachers, education professionals and guidance counselors.  As such, when students do move from a traditional classroom setting to online, they are at least somewhat prepared for that transition.

This is not at all what happened last year as millions of students suddenly saw themselves learning online from home with very little warning and even less of an idea of how to handle the change.  

Homeschooling and long-distance learning are no joke.  It’s not ‘the easy way out’ or ‘simpler’ to try and navigate these waters online.  It takes time and patience and resources and, oh yeah, even more time.  This is why parents who home school need to seriously consider their decision before they take that step.  It takes weeks to settle into a routine and years to find the right balance between teacher and parent. 

But parents of students displaced by COVID never got the chance to make that decision on their own or come to terms with suddenly being a full time stay at home teacher.   So, as a tutor and nanny for the last ten years, here are a few things to hopefully help make this transition easier;


Distance Learning During a Pandemic

If your student is continuing online or distance learning this year, you need to make an informed decision early on about how involved you are going to be. This will obviously be complicated by your family and working situation and how independent a learner your child is. As this situation goes on, however, expectations for student performance will only go up. If you relied on grace periods or leniency in the last term, be prepared to no longer have those to rely on this fall.

Parent Teacher Involvement

However much you intend to be involved, or not, in your child’s education over the coming months the most important thing is to establish clear expectations and boundaries right from the start. If you are working 9-5 office hours, you need to have an honest conversation with your student about when and how much you will be able to help. If you are home but need to help a younger child during ‘classroom hours’ that also needs to be established early on. If you are home and fully available but looking at your child’s physics homework just makes you wonder what a Newton is, you need to communicate that as well.

While your routine and level of involvement may change over the coming months, keeping clear and honest lines of communication between yourself and your child over how much you are able to help and how much is appropriate for you to help is one of the most important things you can do. Will, there be times at 2 in the afternoon when your child is frustrated by a math problem and becomes upset that you can’t help? Of course. But acknowledging that those limitations exist ahead of time will limit the establishment of false expectations and unnecessary confusion.

Are you a Parent or a Teacher?

At various points in the coming months, you will need to straddle the roles of both parent and teacher. This is a difficult balancing act that you will, at some point, inevitably get wrong. But that is okay.

Again, this is where those clear and honest lines of communication come into play. So long as your child knows that you are there to support them, everything else will fall into place.

Set up a School Routine

One of the things I mentioned last year when students first transitioned online (HERE) and which is still true today is figuring out what your ‘school schedule’ looks like. Does your student need to be logging in at a set time for lectures and discussions? Do they need to login a certain number of times a week to count for attendance? Are the assignments entirely do at your own pace?

Whatever your students’ situation is you need to figure that out within the first week of school starting (if not before) and then use that to build a routine. Set a time that they need to be logged in and get started and then stick with it. Don’t be afraid to schedule in an afternoon break if they have long days (like an after school break before homework) but make it clear that once they are done for the day their time is their own and restrict access to distractions like TV, cell phones or video games until that time.

*Pro Tip – kids resisting a schedule? One of the easiest ways to set up a routine is through established mealtimes. If lunch is at 1 (assuming your kids are not supposed to be attending online classes then) this gives you a set point of control to help keep things moving. Plus it provides added motivation to actually make and eat a healthy lunch each day.

Start the Semester Together

They’re still relatively new to this, you’re still new to this. Those few months at the end of last school year already seem so very far away and, honestly, it was more of trial by fire than anything else.

If you are a stay at home parent or are working from home and intend to be involved with your student, set aside the first day back to go over the online platform with them. Make it clear that this will not be every day before you start. But beginning the semester by going through and familiarizing yourself with the platform, the class expectations, and the rubrics is a great way to a) ensure that your student doesn’t skip over all that ‘boring’ stuff, b) take the time necessary to familiarize both of you with the platform and c) means that if your student does get stuck or needs help you are not completely clueless when it comes to looking at the online assignments or even knowing where to find them.

It’s Okay to say “I don’t know”

As “all knowing” as parents would love to believe they are, or at least would like their kids to think that they are, there will be times when you stumble across some of your child’s school work that you Just Don’t Know.

And that’s okay.

Whether it’s 3rd grade rock formations or junior year calculus, there are going to be subjects and material that your child may need help with but which you either a) haven’t seen in 20+ years or b) never learned in the first place. At some point you are going to have to be comfortable with freely admitting that you don’t know about a subject, acknowledging it, and then moving forward to find the right answer. Teaching your child the critical thinking skills and tools necessary to teach themselves and help them learn over a lifetime is so much more valuable to them than teaching them that you know all the types of rocks.

How “Helping” can Hurt Students

We’ve all seen it. The helicopter parents who think they can fix everything for little Jimmy by harassing the teacher at the PTA meetings. The ones who meticulously glue poster boards together for their fourth graders’ science fair project. The ones who “edit” 10th grade English papers on Shakespeare and expect teachers to not notice the difference.

While these behaviors, as well intentioned as they might be, are toxic and controlling, they are also relatively easy to spot. What is harder to see is the parent who spends 15 minutes carefully coaching their child towards the right answer. This is especially true in subjects where parents aren’t totally comfortable. The common default of ‘google it’ won’t help your child learn how to solve these problems in the future.

Policing ourselves more than our students is hard. It takes a sometimes uncomfortable level of self honesty. But all that gentle prodding towards the right answer won’t help your student two years down the line when are not in the classroom with them to help them with their test. Recognize the difference between when you are helping them to learn versus when you are helping them to get the right answer.


As many of us can now recognize, we are likely into this for the long haul. This means that distance learning and online education will likely be a recurring part of your child’s academic future. Learning the skills to succeed in such an environment will be key to their success in the future.

As will establishing healthy study routines and habits, learning critical thinking skills, and being comfortable in an online platform.

If you are ever in doubt or have any questions, do not be afraid to reach out to your child’s teacher, auxiliary staff, your local children’s services council, library services, or another education professional such as a tutor or aide. You can always reach us here at The Nerdy Nanny either at contactus@thenerdynanny.com or by reaching out on social media.

If you are looking for more information on effective study or learning habits for older students I strongly recommend checking out Thomas Franks playlist HERE. And for more on general productivity and motivation, you can check out this playlist from Matt D’Avella HERE.


Check out this and more original content available every week at TheNerdyNanny.com by subscribing to us on Facebook or Instagram.

You can also check out Eve Daniels, author of The Nerdy Nanny books, on YouTube where she gives writing and academic advice as well as updating you on all of her latest and upcoming projects.

Back to School – Teacher Appreciation Time

Anyone remember how, in the before times, parents would complain about those annoyingly specific school supply lists their kids were sent home with? Or how the 37 emails they sent their child’s teacher were not all answered in the first five minutes? Or how their teacher was not taking enough extra time out of their day to fully encourage their child to be all that they could be?

If the last year has taught us anything, other than how quickly the entire world can change, it is how invaluable our teachers truly are.

So this year, as we prepare to go back to school either digitally or in-person, lets show our teachers some love.

Summer vacation may have ruled for the last two months, but I want you to think back to those three long, lonely, stressful months at the end of last school year. When suddenly the kids were at home the classes were online and there was only so much teacher could do to help given a cobbled together online platform, limited resources, and exactly zero time to plan. I want you to think back to how tired and stressful and overwhelming it was to suddenly be responsible for the education of a child… then multiply that by 30 for elementary school and 100 for middle and high school.

Our teachers go through so much. They go in early, work through lunch, and stay late all for a depressingly low salary that barely competes with the cost of living. They buy school supplies with their own money because schools just won’t and they take time out of their evenings and weekends to help our students when they struggle and are falling behind.

Last year we were all starkly reminded of how much teachers do and how little support they receive. It is about time we do something to change that.

Support Raising Teacher Pay

In light of the unprecedented challenges teachers faced across the board this month, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed historic raise in teacher pay… to 47,500. In a state where the cost of living is among the highest in the country (behind New York, California, and Hawaii) this salary would put a family of 4 just $5,000 over the maximum income for eligibility for food stamps. Make no mistake, this increase is vastly appreciated and has been a long time coming. But it has also taken so very long in coming that the increase simply isn’t enough to compete with inflation anymore.

In addition, teachers have been denied the possibility of hazard pay when schools reopen fully, which is the current plan going forward in Florida, and are at risk for losing their jobs entirely if they have outstanding health or medical conditions (or live with someone who does) which may make their being in a classroom too dangerous. Teachers will be putting their own health and the health of their families on the line to teach in crowded classrooms in facilities which the Department of Education has acknowledged are simply not possible to enforce social distancing in, so that they can be $5,000 over the food stamps line.

This legislation was a huge step forward, but that does not mean it is time to stop. It is so crucial that we continue to advocate for not only advancements in teacher pay, but better resource allocation for equipment and access to supplies, and smaller classrooms to alleviate overcrowding. Teachers have enough to deal with, right now more than ever. And while the long-awaited boost in income is most certainly welcome, trying to find enough glue sticks and deal with an overcrowded classroom is not something that teachers should be responsible for.

Speak up. Stay involved. Advocate for Teachers Pay and Rights. Vote in local as well as statewide and federal elections not just for candidates but also specific policies. Often times massive education reform is not enacted simply because it is a footnote on a larger bill that no one bothers to read fully and vote for. Stay informed of policies affecting education in your area and act on them.

How We Can Support Teachers NOW

Do you remember complaining about those school supply wish lists that teachers always ask for when your kids were in elementary school? I mean, why are they asking for paper towels? It’s not like the schools are failing to provide essential supplies and forcing teachers to go out to Target and Dollar Tree and spend their own money on basic equipment, right?

If you in a position where you are able, and not everyone is, many families have gone without a reliable income for months now, but if you are –

BUY ALL THE DAMN GLUE STICKS

Go to the Dollar Tree and clear that sucker out. Glue sticks, scissors, highlighters, notebooks, paper towels, index cards. If you think a teacher or student might need to make use of this in a classroom at some point over the next five years, you put that stuff in your cart and you load up! I want to see every single classroom with a small mountain of a stockpile of supplies in the corner so that no teacher has to even THINK about running out to buy supplies with their own money every again. Have a Costco membership? Even better. Notebooks, pencils, paper towels – the works. Coordinate with other parents or the PTA. Make sure these people, the ones who will be educating your kids for the next year under incredibly trying circumstances, could never want for anything.

Going back to school online? Send supplies anyway, schools will reopen eventually. Get your teacher a Nat Geo membership, or download course materials and resources online that you know they will need but the school board won’t be paying for. Share your discovery.science login! Or program software or your expertise.

If you don’t have the extra $10, $20, $50 dollars to spend on school supplies right now that is absolutely fine, not everyone does. If you are able, try and volunteer your time or resources where you can – be a classroom parent, help out coordinating school supplies, offer to print things off, come in on a weekend to help repair old desks or fix up the playground, volunteer to help make classroom materials if you are skilled at photoshop or Canva. Use your time, expertise, or resources in whatever way you can.

Once the classrooms are taken care of and the students have the supplies they need, don’t be afraid to show your child’s teachers a little love. Fill the teachers’ lounge with Costco sized buckets of coffee and piles of non-perishable snacks (no nuts). Consider donating a new microwave or coffee pot or printer or comfortable desk chair. Hell, bring a few bottles of wine (no, probably don’t do that…).

Most importantly, ask your teachers what it is that they NEED, and make sure that they have it. No one likes going into work and not having the essential equipment they rely on to do their job well. Teachers, more than most, have been making due for a long time. It’s time to show them how much they mean to us, to our kids, and to our sanity. And in case you need a little more incentive … remember trying to teach your kid common core fractions las year?


Check out this and more original content available every week at TheNerdyNanny.com by subscribing to us on Facebook or Instagram.

You can also check out Eve Daniels, author of The Nerdy Nanny books, on YouTube where she gives writing and academic advice as well as updating you on all of her latest and upcoming projects.

Distance Learning vs Virtual School vs Home Schooling

As we enter into a new school year, many of us are struggling with this strange new landscape that is Distance Learning. Still others are enrolling in virtual school or switching to an entirely homeschooled option.

Last year millions of parents struggled with balancing working at home (or not at all) with supervising their child’s education over the computer. So, before we head off back to the digital classroom, I thought it was a good idea to take a moment and get some advice from those who’ve been at it longer – Home School Parents.

But, before we get into that – home school, distance learning, virtual school? What exactly are they and what is even the difference?

Distance Learning

Distance Learning is when your child is still enrolled in the same school that they were in person. They still report to the same principle, they still organize their classes the same way, they still have the same teachers for the same subjects. The only difference is that those classes are now online.

The teachers are still 100% responsible for creating course material, giving assignments, proctoring tests, providing instruction, and grading. That does not mean your child will not ask you for in-person help, just as they would in normal circumstances with any homework they might bring home, but you are not the creator of their coursework.

These classes can be at a designated time, students can be required to attend virtual classes during particular windows, a certain number of days per week, a certain number of hours, or none of the above as long as their assignments are completed.

The individual scenario will be entirely dependent on your child’s school district, their school, their teachers and the particular subjects they are taking. For good or for bad there is no real uniform system for Distance Learning, which means that understanding your students systems and their individual requirements will ultimately be on an individual basis.

The biggest downside to distance learning is that it is, ultimately, at the discretion of your child’s school. If your state, school district, and the individual school say that they are opening for physical classes, then your child is expected to show up to class as if it were any other school year. If the number of new COVID cases increases or if your child’s school faces an outbreak, then you will likely face an emergency shut down and switch back to distance learning. You have no input and your child will be expected to attend regardless of the format.

For some students, the stress and uncertainly can be more disruptive than the actual online classes themselves. If that is the case, I recommend exploring a 100% virtual school option.

Virtual School

Many states, including Florida, have provided a 100% online school option for students completely free of charge for several years now. These operate in a very similar way to distance learning where a teacher, or several teachers, is responsible for creating your childs lesson plans.

These are, for the most part, privately owned and operated companies that contract with the state to create an independent digital ‘school’. With a virtual school option, your child will actually be transferring to a different school that operates entirely online. They will have new teachers and a new system to operate in, but largely similar classes.

The advantage of these systems is that, ideally, as they are entirely online schools they have more experience in helping students excel in an online environment. In practice, however, because these are privately owned and operated companies, they can often have their own flaws and foibles. As a general point of concern, schools owned by Connections Academy are often described as ‘point and click’ educators, with a lot of screen time and busywork and little focus on actual comprehension. Other virtual schools have minimal login requirements, which can be difficult for students who are natural procrastinators and may end up with all of their course work still not done by the end of the term.

There are many options and it would ultimately be up to you and your student to explore what option might be right for your family as each is suited for different learning styles. Additionally, because they are virtual they often do not have geographic restrictions, so you are not limited to schools in your county because… well, there are no ‘counties’ on the internet. Broward Virtual School is a great option for south Florida students.

There are also other online schools that are ‘private’ and require tuition. This can range anywhere from fifty to a hundred dollars per school year to several thousand per semester. Some offer scholarships, some don’t.

Check with your state education board for complete lists of both ‘public’ and ‘private’ virtual schools that operate in your state. You can also check out listings through Niche.com, an online educational review guide that is essentially the YELP of schools.

Home School

Home School is the most unique. It is the most demanding for parents but can also be the most beneficial for students in the right environment.

*NOTE – Some virtual school programs will market themselves as an Online Home School. This is not reflective of the actual program, and they are in fact still virtual schools. It is just a marketing tactic.

With true homeschooling, parents are responsible for creating a lesson plan within state guidelines. You need to find the materials, create a lesson plan, find or create test materials and assignments, and proctor all of the material. Parents are 80% in control (because they have to follow certain state guidelines) and 100% responsible.

The advantages of homeschooling are that because your child has one teacher, aka You, they are able to work as quickly or as slowly as they need in order to master the material. The teacher is not pausing to help 30 other students at the same time. This means students may spend as little as 1-2 hours per day working on class material to achieve the same results as a traditional classroom.

Parents who want to take on homeschooling should consider a few factors before they dive in. How well their child will respond to the parent taking on the role of teacher, child age and grade, learning style preferences, how many kids you have at home, whether or not you have to work during that period, and, in all brutal honesty, whether you can handle being a teacher (more on that available after 9/1 HERE).

If you are homeschooling a younger child and a teen you could do hands-on class time with the little in the morning and by the time the teenager is up at noon you are able to help them with their assignments if needed. Likewise, if you have a middle-school-age child but need to work at home, there is absolutely nothing that says school can’t be between 5 and 7 pm.

Additionally, with middle and high school age students, once coursework is assigned, students often will not need an adult to be directly involved the entire time. They could very easily get started on assignments at 2 and then have ‘teacher’ help them with anything they struggled with later in the evening.

Home School in a Pandemic

A NOTE OF CAUTION

I do NOT recommend homeschooling for parents who have not otherwise at least considered this option before. Not only can there be a lot of time commitment involved in setting up lesson plans and finding course materials but, to put it bluntly, not everyone is meant to teach.

Being able to explain complicated subjects in a way that students can easily understand.

Knowing what material is important to focus on as a foundation of future learning and what is not.

Understand the balance between ‘helping’ students and doing the work for them.

Being able to separate the rolls of ‘teacher’ from ‘parent’.

These are just some of the things that home school parents need to be able to juggle. It is a balancing act that home school parents have years to learn as their child grows older. Beyond learned skills, some personality types are just not a good match for teaching. If you lose your patience easily or are often in a rush, homeschooling will be more difficult. But there is one additional area that is especially important for parents of older children who are considering homeschooling –

How well do you understand the materials you are teaching?

I have said it once and I will say it again, confused teachers create confused students. If your high school sophomore is taking AP physics, unless you are an actual engineer, you will likely struggle to understand the class material, let alone being able to teach it. But even at a more basic level, if you struggle to remember the difference between an adverb and an adjective how well can you actually expect to be able to teach it?


Home Learning during a Pandemic

The abrupt transition from in-person to distance learning in the middle of the previous school year gave parents and students a glimpse at the virtual education experience. And while this means that this year parents will be better armed, or at least familiar with the programs at hand, the previous academic year was also filled with panic, last-minute patches, and the overall feeling that this entire situation was, ultimately, temporary.

This means that, for many, the lessons learned were soon forgotten. Both with course material, and course operation. Both for parents and students.

That is not inherently problematic. It is a completely natural and understood psychological phenomenon (Psychology Today). Educators have long since understood that stress inhibits learning (Strauss, 2011). Not only does that affect the amount of material our students manage to learn but, more importantly, it affects our ability to learn how to effectively navigate a new learning environment.

The stress of the initial switch combined with the tumultuous months since then, our brief brush with Distance Learning can feel as though it took place in another lifetime. Which makes our memories of how to navigate the digital learning environment somewhat blurry at best.

As the weeks turned to months and new COVID cases continue to rise, many of our students will be returning to the digital classrooms soon. And with only vague recollections of how to navigate this new landscape, It might be worth getting a few tips from those who have been through the distance and virtual schooling.

Coming Soon: Top Tips for Distance Learning Newbies from Home School Veterans


Check out this and more original content available every week at TheNerdyNanny.com by subscribing to us on Facebook or Instagram.

You can also check out Eve Daniels, author of The Nerdy Nanny books, on YouTube where she gives writing and academic advice as well as updating you on all of her latest and upcoming projects.

Other Resources;

IACET

Personal Recomendations -Karen ‘High School Junior’

Jori Krulder, English teacher of 23 years

Rocket City Mom

The Tot

Parents.com

Houston Public Media

Real Clear Education

SimpleHomeSchool.Net

Confessions of a Homeschooler

Back To School Tips for a Pandemic

Back to School is going to be interesting this year.

Some states will not be opening public schools at all, while others (like Florida) are anticipating opening to full capacity. Add to that the uncertainty around various policies moving forward and continued resurgences of new cases…

Being able to adapt to potentially changing circumstances as the months unfold will be a key feature of this years back to school planning.

Online, Distance, or In Person

Determining if your state and school, in particular, will be returning to in-person classes or distance learning is the very first step you should take. What you and your family’s situation will be is dictated by a couple of factors including health, finance, what state you live in, and the resources available to you. I will say that some schools are trying to be more flexible with online learning alternatives, but what that means and how that affects your options will change depending on your school and state.

Prepare for Change

Whether you are going back to school in person or digitally, unless you have enrolled in a specifically all-online program, you may end up changing from in-person to distance learning at any point between now and the end of the semester, if not the entire year.

The situation with COVID is a continuously changing and developing. If you or your child do not do well with change or struggle with uncertainty, this is going to be challenging and it may be worth considering an alternative. Many universities and even state public schools have options for entirely online curriculum available for students free of charge. The options may differ for you and you should always do your research on the different programs. But if you or your student struggle more with uncertainty than you might with an online class it may be worth exploring those options.

Have ‘Supplies’ Ready

On top of the standard back to school supplies list, there is now a new category of school supplies that students need to consider, and sooner rather than later.

If you are returning to school in person this fall, regardless of your school’s individual policies, you can still wear a mask even if you’re school does not require it. Yes, it’s always a little uncomfortable to be the only one wearing a mask, but that discomfort is not worth risking others’ health. I also recommend purchasing a reasonable amount of hand sanitizer (please do not hoard essential supplies) and disinfecting wipes. Using hand sanitizer does little if you don’t also wipe down your desk.

Set up a Focus Routine

Having a rhythm to your day or your studies can really help you to stay focused and stay on top of things. The rhythm or pattern that works for you may be different from what works for someone else. If you find something that really works for you then stick to it, even if it is a little unconventional. But likewise don’t be afraid to try new patterns or routines, you may be able to isolate what it is that helps you even if you don’t stick with the overall routine. I will be doing a video on my focus/study routine on my YouTube channel later this month.

This includes having a predetermined space to do your work. I know some of us like to go out and get our work done in places like coffee shops or libraries. That may not be possible this year or is at least very ill-advised. So having an established place to get your work done that is comfortable, uncluttered, and easy to focus in is key. Again, I will be showing you how I set up my workspace shortly. While there is no perfect system some of the things I do may help you with your own setup.

Don’t Overload Yourself

There’s a lot going on this year. And while academics are important, please don’t feel the need to place any undue pressure on yourself. Piling up additional classes or activities is not something I would recommend. In particular, extracurriculars. It is entirely likely that athletics, volunteering, or other extracurriculars may be put on hold at various points throughout the coming year.


Things are bound to be a little bit different this year. Figure out where and how your education will continue, be prepared to embrace change as it comes, have disinfecting supplies ready, set up a focus routine and be careful not to overload yourself.


Check out this and more original content available every week at TheNerdyNanny.com by subscribing to us on Facebook or Instagram.

You can also check out Eve Daniels, author of The Nerdy Nanny books, on YouTube where she gives writing and academic advice as well as updating you on all of her latest and upcoming projects.

My Perfect Planner – The Lazy BuJo

Do you resentfully like photos of perfectly designed and colorful Bullet Journals on Instagram? Are you desperately trying to get organized or keep on track with your plans and goals but every single system seems to inevitably fail? Did you read the title and laugh? Good Enough. Meet your new Planner.

Hi! Just in case you’re new here, I’m the crazy person who decided to launch her own independent publishing company, apply to grad school, create 10 kids books in two years, get into grad school, and then move halfway across the planet in the middle of a pandemic. There – now we’re all caught up.

And as crazy and insane as my life may sound, finding a scheduling system that works for me has always been a problem as over-complicated minute by minute planning a) never works and b) never works. While Bullet Journaling is an artistic and utterly customizable trend that would seem to solve this problem, I was less inclined to sit down for 20 minutes at the start of each month and draw out a million little perfectly illustrated boxes in different color-coded systems.

So with store-bought planners frustrating me, Grad School creeping up around the corner and neither the time nor inclination to hand draw a Bullet Journal, I found I had to create my own.

The end result was The Lazy Bujo.

Why this Planner is Different

It Never Expires

As in, there are no dates marked anywhere in this journal. This was such a small thing but I found it severly limited the usefullness of store bought planners for me.

As COVID has undoubtedly proven over the last few months, sometimes things don’t go to plan. I always wondered why academic planners bothered to include June and July, but likewise found that, for whatever reason, I would have random months or partial months that I just… didn’t use.

In a normal planner, it’s use it or loose it. With the lazy Bujo, it’s more use it … or don’t, it’ll still be here when you need it.

Monthly / Weekly / Daily

Each section starts with a monthly spread, again unmarked and undated so these planners never expire.

The weekly break down is a little different because a) the week is split into two parts and b) there is no Sunday. By splitting up the week into two parts I found there was enough room in each grid for daily planning without needing to carry a 365-page book around (yes, that’s how many days are in a year).

Another thing I hate about weekly planners is when they scrunch the weekends into smaller squares so they all fit on one page. I have PLANs for the weekend and kind of need that space. Also, some store-bought planners start their weeks on Sunday, and some start on Monday. My weeks, frequently, will switch between both. So with the Lazy Bujo, I left unmarked slots available on either page letting you move Sunday as you will and leaving an extra slot of weekly wrap-ups or planning ahead.

It’s Customizable

The grid system that makes BuJo’s so endlessly adaptable is part of what I used to create my planner. No, there are no dots, so it isn’t really a ‘Bullet’ Journal. But the boxes that you would normally draw in are marked out in an array that I find works for a variety of needs. And, again, these boxes are unlabeled other than weekly headers.

No predetermined uses for the boxed mean that I can use them however best work for me. And whatever works for me might be different on a Monday than on a Sunday. While time blocking may be useful on days when I have school, priority lists or categories may be better on weekends.

Other Features I like

I shoved in extra planning pages around the monthly calendars as a space for a brain dump, recap, planning ahead, or, quite honestly, a messy combination of the three that somehow always seems to involve also drawing a dragon somewhere.

Because the journal is black and white I’m still able to draw in some color doodle when my brain gets bored (again, lots of dragons) but I’m not required to put in any artistic time or effort before I can even start using it. I also find it’s easier for me to color code my notes or use highlighters in a blank planner as my needs change rather than being locked into a system.

The Lazy Bujo covers six months, which is further than I am willing to plan in any single instance but also means I don’t have reorder more than once a year. It also means I get a fresh start about halfway through the year, which is normally when my planners start to look a little rough around the edges.


Well, there you have it.

I made an ideal planner for me as I started into grad school and, after some gentle nudging, I’ve made it available for you too.

If you’re interested, I’m going to be doing a short video on different organization methods I’ve found over the years that may help you getting started on the right foot or getting back on track. Whether it’s with school, work, personal projects, my writing, or just remembering what day of the week it is, life is about balance. And, hopefully, this will help with that.


Check out this and more original content available every week at TheNerdyNanny.com by subscribing to us on Facebook or Instagram.

You can also check out Eve Daniels, author of The Nerdy Nanny books, on YouTube where she gives writing and academic advice as well as updating you on all of her latest and upcoming projects.

Top Streaming Picks for STEM & STEAM

Previously here at TNN we talked about incorporating streaming options as a way to encourage a general interest in STEM and Science in general. The general idea being that as screen time is already a part of our lives, using family viewing to explore new worlds.

Now that we’ve covered the basic types of programs, I have gone ahead and listed a few of my favorite shows from each of the big 4 streaming providers; Prime, Netflix, Hulu, and Disney +.

Prime Science

Prime STEM Jr. Science Shows (ages 5-10)

Animal Encyclopedia and Wild Kratts are always a go-to for me. Animal encyclopedia is a fun mix of different animals and ecosystems with enough science to call it educational but can be a little low energy for some kids. I was hooked on the original Wild Kratts as a kid but find that the new animated version to be just as endearing and manage to fit in even more information in this new format.

Sci Girls holds a place deep in my heart as female representation in science programming was always such a rarity as a kid. These days it is more common, but still not the norm. This show follows actual junior scientists as they work with mentors to develop some amazing stuff.

Whats up in Space is a pretty classic kids science program exploring space travel and our solar system. The content is nothing new or revolutionary, but it is a definite addition to your watch-list if you are looking for STEM content on Amazon Prime.

Brain Candy is what it says on the tin, this upbeat fun kids show sprinkles in trivia and science. The content is fun and upbeat without being too technical for younger viewers.

Prime Middle School Science (ages 11-13)

Annedroids is one of those picks that may have some parents squinting my way. While yes, the show is essentially science fiction the vast majority of the material is based on science fact. Additionally, the problem solving the kids use in the show is a valuable part of the scientific process and the shows more evenly balanced cast as far as gender and race are considered is a nice change of pace.

Ocean Mysteries with Jeff Corwin is a smaller version of the nature documentaries you are likely to find on other streaming services. The series takes place at the Atlanta Aquarium, an AMAZING facility which gives the added advantage of having experts on hand and a broader variety of species available all in one place.

Design Squad is definitely the kind of program that I would have gotten all fired up about in middle school. Real-life teen designers and engineers are tasked with seemingly impossible challenges, from the perfect pancake flipper to wind-powered kinetic art. The thought process and trial and error are what make this show a must-see. Science doesn’t always get it right on the first go, and sometimes you have to figure out how to get things wrong before you can get them right.

Prime High School Science (14-18)

High School – Big Picture with Kal Penn, Science of Secrecy, Xploration animal science and Xploration Earth 2050.

For more STEM and STEAM or educational programming options on Amazon Prime you can check out resources from ‘We Are Teachers’ by clicking HERE.

STEM & STEAM on Netflix

Netflix – https://www.weareteachers.com/educational-netflix-shows/

Elementary STEM to Stream (3-10)

While interactive shows like Sid the Science kid may get old for parents, they are great for budding young scientists pre-k and younger.

Dino Hunt is a fantastic spin on the standard nature documentary which could only possibly be improved if it had been narrated by Sir David Attenborough. On that same vein is If I were an animal which has been a really cool way to explore the natural world in a different way from the normal point and shoot documentary.

The all-time favorite, for now, and forever, is and always will be Magic School Bus. I will follow Ms. Frizzle underneath a volcano, into the human body, and to pluto and back, even if it isn’t a planet anymore.

The InBESTigators is a really cute investigative science mystery series and nice pick for family watching as the awkward hijinks create enough laughs for even older kids (or nannies) to enjoy.

Middle STEM to STREAM (11-14)

Bill Nye, regardless of the decade, will always have my attention and my heart. I grew up watching Bill ride his bicycle (bike shorts and all) from the Sun to Pluto. I saw him have to explain, to fully grown adults, how detrimental an oil leak is to our ecosystem. Now I watch him explore everything from the basics of scientific theory to advancements in quantum computing. Bonus points – both old and new Bill are currently available on Netflix.

The Expanding Universe of Ashley Garcia is a phenomenal Netflix original featuring a female latinx super genius trying to navigate the world of teenagers and high school. Though the show is more family sitcom than science education, it touches on a lot of interesting topics and provides representation to a frequently under-served demographic at a pivotal age. For that and that alone I have included it in the recommendations for all three age groups (plus, it’s a really cute show).

Absurd Planet is hilarious and bizarre version of one of my high school recommendations, Our Planet. And Oh Yuck! covers all of the disgusting but still fascinating scientific concepts of things you’d probably rather not know about. Other recommendations include the live-action version of Carmen SanDiego, which is hilarious to watch as an adult, The Impossible Flight, 100 questions, and Magic for Humans, which features a lot of optical illusions and outside of the box thinking.

High School Science to Stream

As Netflix originals become more viral in nature, it is only natural for them to become more viral in their content. Explained views like those short animated explanations for things you see on your Facebook feed or in some TED Talks. They cover a huge variety of content in a completely bingeable format at sneaks information into your head and now have several different spin-offs including ‘The Mind’, ‘Coronavirus’, and ‘Sex’ Explained. All of which genuinely interesting for high schoolers and a great platform for bringing up topics of discussion.

While my brother is definitely more of a Dangerous Animals fan, I’m more comfortable watching Our Planet for the fourth time. Both are beautifully filmed nature documentaries with obviously different focuses and both will lead you into a slew of recommended nature documentaries and other similar content, but there were our favorites.

STEM & STEAM shows on Hulu

Hulu is one of my all-time favorite streaming providers right now. The slightly out of the box content mixed with a few family sitcoms make it a nice mix for me and a change-up from bingeing Netflix for too long. However, due to a large amount of HIGHLY inappropriate animated content that kids might accidentally click on, it is not one I recommend for families with young children. That being said;

Mythbusters was a science and engineering icon for a generation. For so many of us 90’s kids, Mythbusters was our introduction to science. It informed our understanding of physics and the scientific process and, maybe most importantly, confirmed within us the idea that even when you have everything planned out, things can still go wrong. Science is, at times, an exact science. And the rest of the time it’s a bunch of goons wandering around in the dark and hoping they won’t knock anything over. Mythbusters showed us the less pristine side of the process which often involves scaling projects up and down, taking questions apart to analyze their individual components, grease covered hands, errant explosions, getting things wrong, and starting over from scratch. The new Mythbusters Jr. series is just as much science-oriented but with more family-friendly and only slightly simpler concepts. The assembled crew of mini Mythbusters are brilliant creators, geniuses, and tinkerers in their own rights, and watching them tackle these problems directly is amazing.

Other favorites include the nature series What on Earth and Natures Strange Mysteries Solved, which both fit with Hulu’s kind of off and quirky branding and are a good fit for middle school and possibly younger teens. Vets Saving Pets is also a really cute series and a great way to introduce kids to the more medical side of animal science by luring them in with bunnies and puppies.

How it’s Made is a show that I routinely binge, but can be incredibly dry. Isolated episodes involving favorite candies or toys seem to hold interest, but beyond that, we mostly use the show as educational background noise. Superstructures Engineering Marvels is also a little dry, but very cool. Especially if you have kids who may be leaning more towards the engineering side of things, or just have a fondness for K’nex.

STEM & STEAM on Disney+

If you recently purchased Disney+ for access to either Star Wards or the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you may have also noticed it comes with quite a few other featured channels, two of which make this list considerately simpler.

Basically ANYTHING on National Geographic (special shout out to The World According to Jeff Goldblum, One Strange Rock, Secrets of Tampa zoo and Weird but True) or Disney Nature are well worth your time.

For younger kids, Forky Asks a Question is an adorable Pixar project with several shorts based on the newly created character from the last Toy Story.

Aliens of the Deep is a team-up between James Cameron (yes, Avatar, that James Cameron) and NASA (yes, that NASA) that bends the line between science and science fiction by exploring the underwater trenches of the world and imagining the possibilities they hold, both for the earth and for human civilization. With undeniably beautiful visuals, the imagery and concepts are probably going to be a better fit for kids ages ten and up.


As always, these are just my recommendations. You know your kids best and if one of these shows is not the right fit for your child, skip it. Likewise, if you aren’t sure, don’t be afraid to try introducing a show during family time and, if you child responds well, keep watching. Often times what kids are willing to watch alone or what they are willing to watch if it means spending time together are two very different things.

These are the listings available for each of these streaming services as of July 2020. What is offered on each of these services changes regularly, and as new shows are added old ones are removed.

What sorts of STEM or STEAM content do your kids like? Is there a particular favorite of your kids that I missed? What other science or generally nerdy activities do they, or you, enjoy?


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