The Learner Blog

The Learner Blog

How to Boost Your Immunity to Avoid Getting Sick

avoid getting sick

Getting sick is no fun. Not only are you congested, achy and tired, but when you’re so sick that you have to stay home from school, you miss out on important learning in the classroom and can quickly fall behind.

You may think that you can’t control whether you come down with a cold or not, but in fact, there are lots of healthy habits that you can put in place to boost immunity, fight off illnesses and stay healthy all year long.

Here are a few easy ways to avoid getting sick during the school year:

  1. Get Enough Sleep
    Did you know that studies have shown that sleep deprivation suppresses your immune system function, causing you to get sick more easily? According to the National Sleep Foundation, teens between the ages of 14 and 17 need eight to 10 hours of sleep per night, which can be challenging when you need to be up for school at the crack of dawn. Some ways to get better sleep are to maintain a consistent bedtime and also limit the use of computers or screens at least an hour before you go to bed.
  2. Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables
    Eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables is essential for having good health and staving off colds. Fruits and vegetables are chock full of phytonutrients, antioxidants and more, which not only create those foods’ vibrant colors, but also fight inflammation and support healthy immune system function. Experts say it’s best to “eat the rainbow,” meaning getting a variety of different colored fruits and vegetables in your diet. Some of the best ones to include are spinach, broccoli, red peppers, tomatoes, blueberries, and oranges. According to the USDA, teen girls need one and a half cups of fruit and two cups of vegetables a day, and teen boys need two cups of fruit and three cups of vegetables per day.
  3. Don’t Stress Out
    Not only is stress not fun, but it can also cause you to get sick. When you are under long-term stress, your body thinks it’s in danger, causing your cortisol levels to rise, which dampens your immune system and puts you at a higher risk for infections and disease. To avoid stressing yourself out, make sure you have good planning and time management habits, and take time to meditate or breathe to keep things in perspective.
  4. Get Some Exercise
    Another great way to keep your immune system healthy is to participate in regular exercise. Studies have shown that doing moderate exercise a few times a week helps increase the number of white blood cells in your system, which helps fight off bacteria. And working out is a great way of relieving stress, too!
  5. Wash Your Hands
    Germs are everywhere, especially at school, where hundreds of people cough and sneeze all day and touch everything from tables, chairs and computer keyboards to door handles and bathroom faucets. The best way to protect yourself from picking up someone else’s cold is to be vigilant about washing your hands several times a day. Wash your hands in hot water with soap for 30 seconds.
  6. Use Hand Sanitizer
    Since it’s not always easy to get to the bathroom in between classes, it’s also a good idea to bring a bottle of hand sanitizer in your backpack and use it whenever you’re around someone else who is coughing or sneezing.
  7. Drink Water
    Drinking enough water is another key factor in maintaining a healthy immune system because when we are hydrated, our cells can function at their best. Water brings oxygen to all of the cells in your body and also helps flush toxins out. Bring your own water bottle to school, and keep drinking and refilling the bottle throughout the day.

Tell us what healthy habits you’re starting this winter. Write to us in the comments below!


Homework Stressing You Out? Here Are Some Time Management Tips


Do you ever feel so overwhelmed with everything you have to get done that you don’t even know where to start? When you’re faced with a mountain of work, it can be tempting to crawl under the covers and hope it will go away. But a better solution is to start practicing some good time management habits.

Sure, some of these tips may not give you the adrenaline rush that comes from waiting till the last minute, but working under pressure really isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Giving yourself a little structure and discipline will not only help you feel calm, even in your busiest times, but it will also give you a life skill to carry into adulthood when you have even greater responsibilities and commitments.

Get started with these useful time management tips:

  1. Remember, Academics Come First
    We’ve all been there. You have a huge English paper due next week, a science test on Monday, and your volleyball team has a tournament all weekend. While we don’t advocate quitting a team or dropping out of the school musical at the last minute, it is important to remember that schoolwork should come first. If you are absolutely at your wit’s end, or you have noticed that your grades have started to suffer because you’re over-committed, you might need to cut back on your extracurricular activities.
  2. Buy a Planner
    This may seem obvious, but you’re not going to be able to start planning anything if you don’t have a place to write it all down. Put everything in your calendar, including homework assignments, tests, social events, and family responsibilities.
  3. Plan Ahead
    Here’s the thing: Your volleyball team’s schedule was probably given to you at the beginning of the year. And most teachers give you a syllabus outlining when big papers and tests will be given throughout the semester. So busy weeks really don’t have to stress you out — if you plan ahead. When you know you have a busy week coming up, make sure to work ahead in the few weeks before so you can keep everything under control.
  4. Prioritize Your To-Do List
    If you’re feeling overwhelmed, one of the best places to start is just writing down everything you can think of that needs to get done. Include school and non-school related things — whatever is weighing on your mind. Next, go through your list and identify which items are most urgent and need to get done immediately. Then identify which tasks are important, but don’t necessarily need to get done today. Too often, students just deal with the urgent things, and once they’re done they slack off and do something fun. Instead, if you have any extra time, try to do at least one task that will help get you ahead — such as brainstorming for an upcoming paper — before you take a break.
  5. Estimate How Much Time Something Will Take
    When you’re trying to prioritize what homework to tackle first, one good method is to estimate how much time each task will take you. If you’re not sure, you can start by keeping track of how long each type of homework takes you each night. After a few weeks, average the times. Once you know how long something generally takes, use those estimates when planning what you’ll get done each day.
  6. Do the Worst Stuff First
    Do you love English but hate math? If so, it’s best to get your math homework done first. The more distasteful a task is, the more you should put it at the top of your to-do list. The sooner you get it over with, the more productive you’ll be with other tasks because the icky thing won’t be hanging over your head.
  7. Take Advantage of Study Hall and Travel Time
    If you have open blocks during the day, use them do get as much homework done as possible. You’ll be more awake during the day than if you try to cram late at night, and you’re probably less likely to get distracted at school than at home. Also, if you have a long commute to and from school, spend that time getting your reading done.
  8. Break Down Big Assignments
    If you have a big research paper due in two weeks, you don’t want to start writing it the night before, pull an all-nighter and turn in something half-baked. Instead, when you first get the assignment, spend a few minutes mapping out when you can tackle smaller parts of the project. Work backwards from the due date, giving yourself time to brainstorm, write an outline, write your first draft, revise and proofread before it’s due.
  9. Use a Homework App
    One great way to stay on top of your assignments and manage your time is to use a homework app. One that gets great reviews is iStudiez Pro, which can manage your class schedule, teacher contacts and upcoming assignments and tests. Another popular one is MyHomework App, which lets you track your classes, homework, tests and assignments in an easy-to-read calendar display and gives you handy homework reminders.Whatever method you choose, remember this Educational Endeavors slogan: Structure equals freedom! By putting systems in place for handling your workload, you’ll gain freedom from worry and stress.

Do you know any other great time management strategies? Let us know in the comments section!


How to Do Better On Math Tests in 7 Easy Steps

math test

Imagine you have a big math test coming up and you want to do well, so you sit down, open your math book and think, Okay, now what? You know it’s going to take more than just memorizing information, so what exactly should you do to prepare for that test?

We talked to several Educational Endeavors math tutors to find out what tips they offer students. Put these strategies to use, and you’ll start acing your math tests in no time.

  1. Do Your Homework
    Here’s the good news: If you’ve been doing your homework all along, you really shouldn’t have to spend much time studying for your math test at all. In fact, our tutors agree that doing your homework consistently and going back to understand why you got certain homework questions wrong is the most important factor in doing well on your tests. “Homework is a good way to gauge whether you’re understanding the topic or not,” says Jaclyn Woodruff, a math teacher at Northside College Prep who also tutors students at Educational Endeavors.
  1. Ask Questions in Class
    “A lot of the reason people get behind in math is because they’re nervous to ask a question, especially in front of their peers,” Woodruff says. But she adds that most of your classmates won’t judge you for asking a question. In fact, it may help them understand better, too. Still, it’s important to make your questions specific, according to Erin Nakayama, another Educational Endeavors tutor and a former math teacher at Chicago Bulls College Prep. “Most students say, ‘I don’t understand’ or ‘I can’t get this.’” Instead, Nakayama suggests, go through the homework questions you got wrong line by line to find out where you went wrong and ask why you got that specific step wrong. For example, you might ask, Why do you distribute the 3 to the y and the x? or Why is the 7 negative and not positive? “Really troubleshooting and pinpointing where you went wrong is so important,” Nakayama says.
  1. Study By Yourself
    Although studying with your friends might sound fun, it isn’t that effective when preparing for a math test. “Group studying is less effective with math than with other subjects,” Nakayama says. “A lot of students will think they’re doing fine because they’re working with other students or using the answer key as a crutch.” Instead, it’s best to find a quiet place where you can concentrate and just do lots of practice problems.
  1. Do Practice Problems
    Speaking of practice problems, the more you can do, the faster you’ll be able to do them when it comes time for the test. “Quantity is really important,” Nakayama says. “Being able to do [problems] under the gun is part of the game.” Start by re-doing the problems that missed on previous quizzes; then re-do problems from your homework that you got wrong. And if your teacher will let you, ask to see a test from the previous year and practice doing those problems as well. Erica Nayvelt, a math teacher at LaSalle II Magnet School and tutor with Educational Endeavors, says she assigns even-numbered questions for homework and then suggests that students do the odd-numbered questions before a test. “I encourage students to complete the odd problems and check their answers on sections they need extra practice with,” she says. “I also tell students to review notes and rework the problems they found difficult in class or for homework.”
  1. Explain the Concepts to a Friend
    One time when studying with others does make sense is if you use the time to explain a concept to another person. “You’re much more likely to remember how to do it if you have to explain it to someone else,” Woodruff says.
  1. Get a Good Night’s Sleep
    Don’t stay up late cramming for a math test. If you haven’t learned the concepts by now, you’re not likely to learn them at 2 a.m. It’s better to get a good night’s sleep and hit the test rested and refreshed.
  1. Check Your Answers
    There’s nothing worse than missing a question you could have gotten right just because you made a silly mistake. As Woodruff says, “Part of studying is knowing how to verify your answer.” Start by plugging your answer back into the equation to make sure it works. Next, look at your answer and ask yourself if it makes sense. “For example,” Woodruff says, “if you have an exponential function and your answer is a decimal, you’ve probably made a mistake.”

Even if math isn’t your favorite subject — or your strongest — following these expert strategies is sure to improve your confidence, your understanding, and your grade.