Working Together to Help Your High-Achievers Reach Even Higher
At Envision EMI our central goal is to foster the development of the happy, successful young people who will someday lead our world. As a result, we wanted to devote this space to sharing just a bit of the new thinking, ideas, and resources that we develop on a daily basis. We hope that you will find what we have here of value and welcome any suggestions for other material or subjects you would like to see covered.
Elementary School Subjects of the Month
Middle School Subjects of the Month
High School Subjects of the Month
Elementary School Subjects of the Month
Presenting for the first time
As a future leader, your child should be able to effectively present ideas to the class or a group while in elementary school. Formal presentations are rare at this age, but will be become much more frequent when entering middle and high school. Capturing the basics now and practicing them when the opportunity arises is a good way to prepare for presentations later. Review the four important skills below with your child so that he or she has a better understanding of how to conduct a presentation.
The volume of your child’s voice should be loud enough so that everyone in the room can hear the words he or she is speaking, even those in the back of the room. However, no one should ever speak so loud as to offend anybody. Sit in a room with your child at the front and have him or her practice maintaining a proper volume. You can also pretend to be a person asking questions from different spots in the room, and with different volumes.
The pace of your child’s presentation should not be too fast or slow. It is important to find a steady and comfortable pace. It’s easy, even for adults sometimes, to get nervous in front of a group and tend to speak much too fast in the interest of getting the speech over with. When trying to correct this habit, people may overcompensate by speaking too slowly. Work with your child to find a nice, steady pace that works and can be practiced over and over.
Some of the worst presentations are ones in which the speaker has no emotion and speaks in a monotone voice the entire time. Your child needs to let the audience know how excited he or she is and maintain that level of excitement throughout the speech. By placing emphasis on certain words and practicing using emotion with you in the room, it will help to ensure that his or her classmates don’t get bored.
In order to connect with his or her classmates, your child needs to be sure to look around the room while speaking. One helpful trick is to focus on the audience’s foreheads rather than looking them directly in the eyes. Avoiding locking eyes can help your child avoid a potentially nervous moment such as freezing during a speech. This further engages the audience and shows the interest of the speaker. If your child has trouble remembering, have him or her put cues in the speaking notes that denote when to look up. Be sure your child practices this at home in order to gain comfort before trying it on the class.
From Lincoln’s Gettysburg address to Martin Luther King’s "I Have A Dream" speech, great speeches have moved people and changed history.
In a perfect example of this, that is at once exciting and approachable for students, the movie Miracle documents one of the greatest Olympic triumphs of all time as the United States hockey team defeats the heavily favored USSR in what has been dubbed the "Miracle on Ice." Kurt Russell plays the coach of the US hockey team, and delivers a powerful pre-game speech to his hockey players in the movie. Click here to watch that speech delivered in the movie. Discuss with your child aspects of the speech that made it so effective and powerful, and who knows, maybe it will soon be repeated in the World Cup in South Africa.Back to Top
Simple Steps to Resolving Conflict
As the parent of an elementary school student, it can be very frustrating for you when your child reports that he/she has been involved in a conflict at school. It is often a parent’s natural reaction to want to step in and solve the problem as quickly as possible, especially since it is an emotional experience to see your child get hurt. However, it is important for your child to have a plan to deal with these conflicts as they arise with classmates and friends. By teaching your child these four easy steps, it can help each person involved in the conflict to avoid it escalating to a real problem. You know your child the best, so it is important to take your own interpretation of these steps and apply them in a way that makes the most sense for him/her.
Stop and Deal
Rather than letting a problem build, it is important to address the issue right away so that it does not result in a misunderstanding or argument. Avoiding issues, even the uncomfortable ones, can lead to false assumptions and further tension.
Say How "I Feel ..."
By using statements that get across how your child feels, he/she can express to the other person involved what is bothering him/her without placing blame or using accusations. For example, saying “I felt hurt when you didn’t invite me over” instead of “You obviously don’t like me anymore…” is a much more productive statement. It is almost impossible to disagree with someone for saying how they feel and will generally lead to a calmer and more rational discussion. Placing blame is the quickest way to be drawn into an argument and veer off topic into further conflict.
Make a Plan
Once your child has told the other individual how he/she feels, it is important to not stop there and to come up with an agreed upon plan. By setting plans, it lets both parties feel involved and leaves each person with a better sense of the situation. For example, by following “I’m hurt that you didn’t invite me over” with “but you should come over tomorrow to play basketball,” it shows that the person felt the other did something wrong, but that the friendship is still important to him/her. This will almost always lead to a better and more honest response from the other person.
Shaking someone’s hand provides each person involved with a physical sign that the issue has been resolved in a positive way and helps to close the door to further arguments.Back to Top
Middle School Subjects of the Month
The Five Steps of Planning a Project
In middle school, it is likely that your child will have to take on more complex projects, requiring some in-depth research and planning. It is important to develop these skills now, because these types of projects will become much more frequent in high school. Go over the project planning steps below with your child so that he or she can apply them to projects at school and get a better sense of time management. The examples used below are in reference to a typical academic fair project, one involving a long time period for completion and heavy research.
Step 1: Start-up
Successful projects must have both a plan and a goal. The project should begin with the end in mind, so that your child can envision what the final product looks like. Significant time should be spent in the very beginning defining the goal of the project and understanding what needs to be accomplished before moving into the details of how to achieve the goal.
- Understand the project and set goals
- Know target date of completion
The first step to take when your child enters an academic fair is to choose a project. It is important to pick a topic from a subject that your child is interested in. If he or she does not do as well in math or science, it only makes sense to stay away from the science category. Once your child has narrowed the selections down to two or three possibilities, the final topic should be chosen based on interest, availability of resources and feasibility.
Step 2: Project Development
This stage allows your child to plan how to accomplish the goal and to break down the large project into smaller components. This is the stage during which to highlight every issue that will need to be addressed during the course of the project.
- Identify resources
- Determine tasks
- Divide responsibility
Your child should now develop a timeline from which to complete the project. A teacher or administrator should provide some key dates, but it is important to set personal milestones to reach along the way. When finding books at the library and especially reviewing web resources, make sure your child consults with a teacher to determine credibility of the source if it seems questionable. Once all resources are collected, it’s time to make a list of action items to complete for the project. It is also helpful, when reviewing resources, to keep note cards with valuable page numbers and quotes for easy reference when typing up the report later on.
Step 3: Execution
With the planning and preparation completed, it is time to make the project happen and get to work. This is a good time for your child to further prioritize tasks, completing the most important tasks first! Manage time effectively and finish the project.
- Prioritize tasks and time
- Make a backup plan
- Get it done!
Your child now has all of the research and materials needed to complete the academic fair project. From the action item list, he or she should determine which tasks are most important and get them done first! Provide help whenever possible, but allow more time for solo work on the project. Unlike elementary school projects, it is important for you to take a much more hands-off approach, so that your child can learn to find the answers to tough questions unaided. This will help to build that strength for high school.
Step 4: Pulse Check
At certain points along the way, check on the progress of the project. Where is your child compared to the timeline? How much work will it take to get back on track? After asking these questions, further develop the game plan to meet the goal on time.
- Check on progress
- Get and give updates
The academic fair project is coming along great, but there have been a few snags along the way. Before your child starts the project, be sure to make it known that it is important to take a step back every once in a while to assess progress. However, students do not often enough do this on their own, so go ahead and step in and ask how things are going. With this kind of discussion, it is much easier to figure out where the setbacks are occurring and to develop a plan to get back on track.
Step 5: Evaluation
This step is known as the “finishing touch” to project planning. It is the time to look back on the process and the results. By evaluating performance and outcome, knowledge and wisdom are increased and project planning skills are improved.
- Reflect on process and results
- Consider lessons learned
Your child’s academic fair project is complete! Be sure to congratulate your child on all the hard work and talk about what lessons were learned along the way. Discuss the subject area your child examined for the project and listen to the many new things he or she learned. Also, refer to these project planning steps as a model to take into doing future projects in high school.Back to Top
The SAFE Way to Respond to Bullies
Bullying is such a prevalent issue with middle school students, that we thought it was important to revisit the topic. In our leadership programs, we focus on the SAFE method for dealing with situations with bullies. Go over the approach with your child and discuss typical examples of bullying along with ways to deal with these situations as they arise.
Bullies typically target individuals who are alone and different than they are. If your child is being bullied, it can sometimes seem like there is nothing that can be done to stop it. The SAFE model below provides strategies to help your child beat bullying and stay safe.
Stand Positive and Strong
- Stay calm. Try not to let the bully know you are upset or angry. Stand tall and show confidence even if you don’t feel it.
- Ignore the comments and behavior.
- If you feel safe, be sure to let the bully know that you don’t like what is happening and that they should stop.
- If you are being bullied online, do not reply. Save the message and tell a trusted adult.
Avoid the Situation
- Walk away from the bully.
- Try to stay in a group. Bullies are less likely to target you if there are other students or adults around.
- Tell an adult what is happening. This is not tattling; it is standing up for yourself.
- Seek out others who have had similar experiences with bullies. They can provide support and become friends.
- Join clubs or activities that make you feel good about yourself. This is a great way to develop new relationships.
Express Your Feelings
- Use “I” statements to tell the bully how you feel and ask for the behavior to stop.
- Talk to family members, teachers, counselors or friends about your experiences and feelings.
- Keep a journal of what is happening and how it makes you feel.
High School Subjects of the Month
DECIDE – The key to responsible decision-making
High school is a time when your child’s decisions start to have a real, meaningful impact on his or her future. Taking the time to make sure decisions are made responsibly is a big part of being a leader and helps to set up a framework for making future decisions. The model below will help your child to look at the ways that different decisions will relate to his or her goals. Talk to your child about examining different options that relate to his or her ultimate goal, and the acceptable choice will present itself.
- Define the problem: Put into words exactly what the specific problem is that you want to focus on.
- Examine the alternatives: What are all of the different possible solutions to the problem? Try and think of as many as possible.
- Consider how choices relate to goals: Examine what your goals are and try to find which solutions align with your personal goals.
- Identify acceptable choices: Which of the choices that you have come up with will actually provide a solution to your problem?
- Decide on one choice: Determine which choice will provide the best solution and put it into action!
- Evaluate results: Was this a good solution to your problem? What could have been done better? Not every choice you come up with is going to be the best solution, so it is important to learn from each decision and make better decisions each time moving forward.
As a young leader, your child must be able to effectively communicate a message and provide proper instructions for completing a task. In order to do these things successfully, your child must master both verbal and non-verbal forms of communication. Share these tips with your son or daughter to provide a foundation for communicating effectively.
- Think Before You Speak – Think about the message you are communicating. Be sure that it makes sense. Then, try to break it down into smaller bits of information.
- Use Appropriate Words – Use your words wisely, and avoid slang expressions, abbreviations and negative words.
- Speak Clearly – Speak loudly (but don’t shout), clearly and slowly so that people can hear and understand you. Be sure to enunciate and avoid mumbling. Avoid use of filler words such as uh, um or like.
- Use the Proper Tone – People will make inferences about your feelings on a subject based on your tone (whether you feel a certain way or not).
- Provide Examples – The best way to emphasize your point is by illustrating through examples. Think about which examples are most meaningful and best support your point.
- Make Eye Contact – This is the most important non-verbal communication practice, so be sure to practice and make it a habit. Looking people in the face shows sincerity and also allows you to better tell if they understand what you are saying.
- Facial Expressions – Using the appropriate facial expressions can help drive home a point. Expressions such as surprise, anger, excitement and sadness will compliment your message and make it easier to understand. Practice in front of a mirror to gain a better feel for expressions you commonly use.
- Body Language – When communicating, think about what your body (posture, arms and hands) is communicating. Use bodily expressions and motions to help drive home a point. Watch videos of well known speakers and pay close attention to their body language.
"Gavin felt this experience was phenomenal and I was delighted to hear him talk excitedly about how much he loved being challenged and how much he loved working with so many high-achieving, motivated students."
Parent, Forum on National Security
In the News
- December 25th
- November 8th
- October 3rd
- July 27th