Freshmen Success Program

Far too often students find themselves on the brink of high school without the tools they need to succeed. A child may be very intelligent, but lack fundamental skills that will prevent them from achieving success.  These skills don’t necessarily come naturally; instead they must be taught, practiced, and reinforced year-after-year. That's where the Freshmen Success Program comes in here at the Academy of Notre Dame. The program focuses on a mastery of these five skills to ensure a more successful high school experience for the student:

Listening

There are some surprising and not-so-surprising ways to improve listening skills. Eye contact and other physical responses such as nodding will improve listening as well as asking questions and joining discussions. Good posture and taking notes can also be helpful as it engages the body to stay alert. 

Organization

Learning how to organize oneself is essential. Setting an assignment tracking system for short and long term assignments helps students plan time efficiently. Take a look at your student’s backpack and notebooks. Are they well-kept and in good repair? Is work separated according to subject matter? These can be eye-opening clues to your student’s organizational skills. There are many methods of organization and what works for one student may not work for every student.  Your child should experiment with different approaches until they find one that is a good fit for their needs.

Study Habits

Preparing for exams can be anxiety producing for students, but good study skills can help to manage anxiety, increase understanding, and produce higher scores. Setting up a specific space for homework completion, scheduling a homework time, and breaking down work into manageable sections all play a part in building good study competencies.  To improve retention students can preview texts for an overview, mark paragraphs to document what they understand and what they don’t, review notes from the day’s classes, and write out information.

Cognitive Tasks

Increasing the depth of understanding from simple comprehension to analysis and synthesis is critical in today’s world. To do so, students must be asked to move from the viewpoint of a book, article or media position so that they are able to see bias, differentiate between fact and opinion, relate information to other known information, and apply knowledge to new situations.   

Leadership

Taking ownership, speaking your mind, motivating and persuading groups, controlling emotions and problem solving to achieve goals are all leadership skills. These are developed through empowerment and confidence building. Leadership is taught by providing opportunities to take on projects and manage groups, and being supported by oversight and interaction of adult mentors. Encouraging your student to get involved with projects that motivate them will help bring out their own leadership qualities.

The Freshmen Success Program includes an assessment of student progress in each of these areas and support is provided if weaknesses are identified.