Today’s Skills for School. Tomorrow’s Skills for the Workplace!
Curriculum From America’s #1 Learning Expert…
I used to struggle in school; I would study for hours for a test, then “bomb” it. My grades did not reflect my effort and I often gave up. I figured, “What’s the point of trying if I’m just going to fail anyway?”
Does this sound familiar?
As adults, we are frustrated to see our students and children wandering aimlessly through their schoolwork: losing assignments, poorly preparing for tests, and not working to their potential. Eventually, we see them develop a “bad attitude” and wonder how we can ever motivate them to do better in school.
Employers are seriously frustrated because we are graduating students with NO useful skills! Data from countless sources: employer surveys1, International PISA scores2, and PIAAC scores3 consistently confirm that our graduates are not getting the skills needed for success in the workplace from school.
Teachers and administrators are under impossible pressure to improve students’ performance and scores! “Impossible” because student motivation is at an all-time low4. And, with a turn-over rate that has more than doubled in the last ten years, teachers are burning out faster than ever!5 Curriculum demands are so intense; teachers have no creative freedom to be the compassionate “coach” they envisioned this vocation to be. Instead, they feel like drill sergeants. Ineffective drill sergeants.
Special education teachers are especially under pressure! The number of special education students has risen nearly 40% in the last three decades; while resources have shrunk, expectations have skyrocketed! On top of this, special education teachers often feel like they’re on their “own little island,” trying to support their dear students in schools (and a society) that don’t understand their challenges.
Let’s not rush to blame students! Yes, they are disorganized. Yes, they are disengaged. No, they don’t seem to care too much about school. But, that’s The System’s fault, not theirs! Students know better than us that most of what they learn in school is not relevant to the real-world demands of their future.
Besides, education focuses on their “weaknesses” rather than celebrating their strengths.
It’s no wonder they aren’t engaged!
One Simple Set of Skills Solves ALL of These Problems!
Students are struggling because we aren’t teaching them how to learn, get organized, or think on their own. We haven’t given them the tools to get engaged. Nor have we given them space to celebrate their strengths.
Teachers are struggling because their mandates are growing and then… they have to do all of the work for their disengaged students!
Employers are struggling because the can’t find suitable employees who can learn, organize, or solve problems in a rapidly changing world of technological advancement.
The SOAR® Curriculum Is a Simple Set of Skills…
The SOAR® Curriculum is a simple set of skills to help students organize and study efficiently. Regardless if students are in 6th grade or college, the academic tasks they have to do are the same. Therefore, SOAR® is appropriate for students in upper elementary, middle school, high school, and even college.
SOAR® teaches students how to:
- Identify students' strengths & “SuperPowers” (according to Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences)
- Set goals
- Establish priorities
- Manage time
- Organize papers, desks, lockers, & other space
- Speak & listen effectively
- Work with teachers & peers
- Read and understand textbooks
- Take notes
- Study for tests
- Write research papers
- Prepare for presentations
- Track long-term goals
SOAR® Soft Skills also covers 100% of the Common Core Anchor Standards for College & Career Readiness.
The “Most Needed” Workplace Skills Are Also the Key to School Success
My life changed when I learned how to learn. I went from struggling in K-12 to soaring through college with a 3.9 GPA, simply from learning study skills.
My experience totally bucks the trend of the 50% college drop-out rate! More than 50% of students who enroll in college don’t graduate because they can’t meet the demands of school. Instead, I found college to be far easier than K-12.
But, my experience is not unique…
Study Skills Improve School Success by 600%!
Ohio State University confirmed the great impact study skills have on school success. In a published study, they confirmed the graduation rates of students who took a study skills class rose by up to 600%!6
Employers Are Begging for These Skills
The same skills that transformed me into a confident, successful student are the same skills employers desperately need! Dozens of employer surveys consistently confirm that the most “in-demand” skills needed in the workplace are “soft skills.”7 In education, we call them “study skills.”
In one validated survey of employers from growing sectors (including technology and healthcare), 95% of the “most needed” skills cited were the same “soft skills” (aka “study skills”) that I’ve been teaching since I was a college student.
Princeton-based Educational Testing Services (ETS) found that the millennials in the United States perform at the very bottom of nearly all countries in the skills most needed by employers: literacy (including the ability to follow instructions), practical numeracy, and “problem-solving in technology-rich environments.” Even millennials with the most education –those in the 90thpercentile– “scored lower than their counterparts in 15 countries… and only scored higher than their peers in Spain,” according to the ETS report.3
The Solution Is Simple. But, We All Have to Help.
One afternoon, shortly after my first successful semester, I was overcome with intense anger! I had just earned better grades than I ever thought possible. I was discovering confidence I never imagined possible. My world had been radically changed for the better. Yet, one thought suddenly crippled me…
“Why Didn’t Someone Teach Me How to Learn Earlier?”
The skills and strategies that had just revolutionized my life were so simple; I could easily have used them as early as 5th grade. Instead, I spent my years of middle and high school feeling “stupid.” I was suddenly realizing all of that sheer frustration was totally unnecessary. Fortunately, I soon came to my senses, knowing there was no use being angry about a past I couldn’t change. In that same moment, I knew…
I might not be able to change my own past, but I could change the future for others! In that moment, I embraced my life mission… to get these skills to as many students as possible! That was more than 20 years ago and I’ve made a lot of progress.
But, this mission must be embraced by everyone who cares about our children, students, and the future of our nation’s economic stability. Instead of pointing fingers at: the elementary teachers that “didn’t prepare” students for middle school, or the middle school teachers that “didn’t prepare” students for high school, or the high school teachers that “didn’t prepare” students for college, or the college professors that “didn’t prepare” students for the workplace… we need to take action to support our current students, wherever they are.
Educators can teach study skills in the classroom. Employers can provide financial support for these skills in their local schools; meanwhile, they can teach these skills to their own employees. Everyone can build awareness about these critical skills!
Follow a New, More Simple Path
There are many ways in which education can –and should be– reformed. However, our two greatest leverage points are simple and hiding in plain sight.
First, We Must Address Our Country’s Motivation Crisis!
Regardless of school, region of the country, or socio-economic background, students across the country are growing more and more disengaged with school! Yes, technology is largely the reason, but hardly a reason “to blame.”
Why not blame technology? Because technology has opened students’ awareness of a big, bright, fascinating world that’s far more attractive than the read-test-repeat pattern endorsed by The System. Now that students carry access to more information in the palm of their hand than all of the world’s greatest thought-leaders previously had access to in a lifetime, who can blame them for “checking out” of school?
We must get students engaged by tapping into their unique talents, abilities, and strengths. Instead of focusing primarily on gaps and what students don’t do well, we need to turn the spotlight on areas where students excel.
This doesn’t mean that we ignore gaps or challenges. It simply means that we lead with strengths.
Change the Conversation to “How Are You Smart?”
The Theory of Multiple Intelligences gives us fertile ground to begin exploring the answer to this question, “HOW are you smart?” Investing a bit of time into teaching students about the Multiple Intelligences, doing surveys to explore their own intelligences, and searching for “Super Powers” requires little time, but totally transforms school cultures and student motivation!
You can start this conversation right now! Start it with your family, your co-workers, your next class of students. Turn the focus from “deficits” to “strengths” with this one, simple question… and never stop asking it!
Second, Put the 80/20 Rule to Work in Education
Education almost totally ignores a fundamental Law of the Universe, the 80/20 Rule. 80/20 says that 80% of causes only make 20% of the impact. Conversely, only 20% of causes will have 80% of the impact. For education, this means:
- 80% of what we teach makes only 20% of an impact on students. But,
- 20% of what we teach makes 80% of an impact.
This means, if you identify the “most critical 20%,” you can leverage it for serious gains! As I’ve already outlined, the “most critical 20%” for education and workplace success is “study skills!” I’ve already shared my story and data from several sources citing that my story is not unique. In fact, it’s repeatable for anyone who embraces the impact of these life-long skills.
Resolve These Challenges in Just 15 Minutes a Day!
All of the SOAR® programs are centered around empowering students to be successful in school… and eventually, in the workplace! For more information, you are welcome to Contact Us. We are an approachable small company dedicated to making life easier for all of the parents, educators, and students we are here to support. That means a live person will answer your call during office hours and we will help you right away. (In the rare event that you have to leave a message, we’ll call you right back!)
Susan Kruger, M.Ed.
Founder of StudySkills.com
Author of the worldwide best-selling book, SOAR® Study Skills
Get Started Today…
1Employer surveys: http://relevanteducation.org/what-employees-need/
2PISA scores: http://www.oecd.org/pisa/keyfindings/pisa-2012-results.htm
3PIAAC scores: http://www.ets.org/s/research/30079/index.html
4Student motivation: http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?isbn=0309084350
5Teacher turn-over: http://all4ed.org/reports-factsheets/path-to-equity/
6Ohio State University “study skills” study: http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/lrngclas.htm
7Most needed skills in the workplace: http://www.advantageoakland.com/ResearchPortal/Documents/wd_skillsneedsreport2009.pdf
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SOAR in the News
Who’s Using SOAR?
Cornerstone for Study Skills Class
This is very exciting. The SOAR® Binder System and handbook are the cornerstone for my study skills class for all 6th graders at St. John’s. We have had great success!
Why Didn’t Someone Tell Me?
Why didn’t someone tell me about this before?
Book Report Done Early
For this spring’s book report I set a goal to get it done on time and not have to rush. I got it done two weeks early!
Easier to Stay Organized
I can’t believe how much easier it is for me to keep my papers organized. Since I started using the Binder, I have not lost one assignment! My parents are so excited and I feel so much better about school. Thank you!
I was trying to design a study skills class and did an online search to find some good resources and SOAR® came up. When I looked at the program and how organized it was, it appealed to me! There were other programs out there, and there were things I could have done myself, but because SOAR® has a research base behind it, that is what attracted me to this particular program.
I see students as well as parents who have been very happy with SOAR®. I can see huge rewards with this program!
Good Grades Despite Grueling Schedule
I’m happy to tell you that my daughter is doing splendidly well in school. We’ve gone over your book together. You got her off to a good start with the binder system. I do not check her work or even help her at all. Her teachers have told me that she is a model student. She has been responsible in keeping up with her studies and receiving good grades even though she has had a grueling schedule. Thanks so much for what you do for the students.
Strategic Learning Class Helped Tremendously
My daughter took your live Strategic Learning Class this past Fall. She really REALLY enjoyed your class and told me it helped her tremendously at school.
Everything Grouped in Categories
I liked how everything was grouped in categories and everything kind of set up the next step of SOAR.
Comprehensive Coverage of Needs
I have done much research over the last 2 years in an attempt to find just the right thing that I feel would be most beneficial with the at-risk students with whom I work. Though my work with students has been helpful, I have always believed something more concrete that systematically teaches organization and study skills, would be more fruitful for students in the long term. I have concluded, FINALLY, that the SOAR® Study Skills program is the best I have ever seen, offering the most comprehensive coverage of the needs of the students I service. The author provides sound rationale for her approach and plenty of info to answer questions, as the site is easy to navigate. The resources are simple/kid-friendly, illustrating each desired skill. As a teacher, having viewed and used numerous curriculums over the years, I am most excited about this discovery.
The information is nice because it comes in “quick hits,” meaning it isn’t overly burdensome to cover; the principle is there, we can employ it almost immediately, and move on to practicing it.
SOAR Strategies Make Homework Easier
My sons were good students to begin with, but they have used many SOAR strategies to make homework easier for them.
Became an A Student
Your program helped me change into an “A” average student in high school after struggling with “C’s” and “D’s”.
SOAR Binder System a Godsend
SOAR has been a Godsend to our family…you have no idea! My son has not lost one assignment or forgotten anything at school since I set him up with your Binder System. You really demonstrated how to simplify the organizational process and I am so grateful to have found something that finally works!
Easy to Study For Tests
I am reading and reviewing chapters in my books now. It is really easy and really helps me study for tests.
Loved the Binder
I loved the binder. What a simple but effective idea!
Homework Done Faster
Homework is getting done faster and there is much less fighting in our household!
Ideas to Get More Organized
You got us to start talking about ideas to get her more organized. I’m going to order your book and pass the word about your program to the other moms I know.
A Lot Smoother
This will make my school year run a lot smoother. Thanks for all the wonderful ideas.
Excellent, usable information!
SOAR Has Helped So Much
SOAR has definitely helped me so much. My teacher also would like me to be a Teacher’s Assistant when I’m a senior. I hope others learn as much as I did from SOAR.
Feel More In Control
I feel much more in control when I study now because I know exactly what to do. I don’t waste my time staring at my textbook, I take better notes in class, and I am better prepared for each class so when I study for a test, it all comes together.
Practical and Easy Tips
Everything is practical and easy to do. Great tips! My son set up a SOAR binder and it is working for him!
Tips Helped Tremendously
He never planned ahead and it drove me crazy! But, you were right…he did not know how to plan ahead. Your tips for teaching him, or should I say “showing” him how to plan ahead have helped tremendously. I’m not mad at him all of the time anymore…it is a big relief!
More Organized Now
I like the SOAR® system because the strategies pertain to all students. I have found that even my gifted students have problems with organizations, maybe more so than others. I had a 5th-grader last year who was a “shover,” he could not get papers in the correct folder to save his life. We exchanged his folders for the SOAR® Binder System. He was so relieved to see how simple it could be to organize his papers, he gave me a huge hug! I put another 4th-grader on the Binder System this year. He feels so much more organized now and can find things quickly. I still check in with the organization when we meet during class. I like how he puts everything in the front and then makes time at the end of the day to put in all of his papers where they need to go. I don’t know what these kids would have done without going on the SOAR® Binders. The system is great. They feel better about school – kind of a relief seeing their stuff organized for once! They finally know where everything is! I have a whole third grade that is planning to implement the SOAR® Binder System for their students next year…
This is a great system! I would like to see my whole school use this. Would you be interested in training my colleagues?
Now Getting As and Bs
I was getting Cs and Ds. Now I am getting As and Bs! I learned how to be organized and how to study…it has made such a difference!
Great to Know I’m Not Alone
I have a child who is bright and enrolled in a very rigorous school, but I realize he does not know how to study properly, manage a longer view of assignments, etc. I recently read your SOAR Study Skills book and subsequently ordered the Homework Help for Parents program. I am a convert! I am also delighted to learn that I am not alone in this battle…
Life Is Easier
Life is so much easier!
Focused about Time Management
Kurt is more focused about his time management. The jar of priorities made a big impact on how he uses him time on a daily basis.
Although I’m very blessed to be hosting 40+ family members at my home for Thanksgiving, I almost forgot to be thankful… The plan was to move my husband, our two kids, and myself into our new home this past weekend. Then, be ready to host my 40+ extended family members for Thanksgiving less than a
Hi, I just read your article Titled “Can You ‘Opt Out’ of Homework?” (Click HERE for the original article.) I enjoyed the article but I guess I need a more concrete answer to the question of my legal homework rights: CAN I LEGALLY OPT OUT OF HOMEWORK FOR MY CHILD? – Dawn, SOAR® Parent The answer is
Happy Halloween! On this peculiar holiday that celebrates death, I thought I would share a very crazy, but 100% true story about my Grandma’s Eternal Halloween Departure. Hey, I’m not the one who invented this holiday! So, if it sounds a little weird to celebrate this story, well… it is. But, death is a natural part of
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