Psychological Assessment and Treatment of Children and Adolescents

Archive for the School & Academics Category

Published on: September 20, 2015  

Making Sure College Is Worth The Cost

Research has shown that college graduates are have more difficulty finding jobs following achieving their degrees. It’s likely a balance between the number of open positions in any given field and the number of skilled employees vying for each open position.


In the past, going to a reputable college, university, skilled professional school or being taught, supervised, or mentored by a leader in any given industry would have set you apart from others seeking opportunities in the workforce. Do you believe this still the case?

Here’s a thoughtful article that completes my series on options after high school (even for adults considering getting an advanced degree or receiving specialized vocational training).

The focus on the article is on the value of a college education. Do the opportunities created justify the high price tag? You be the judge…

With Warmest Regards,

Dave Callies, Psy.D.
Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychologist
Gyro Psychology Services
866-616-4976 (gyro)

Published on: March 30, 2014  

Preparing For Exams

For most schools in the area the semester is coming to a close. This means that most kids, especially high school students, are preparing for exams. Many students find this time to be stressful and feel overwhelmed when attempting to study. Here are some study tips for students we have found to be helpful.

Set Aside Study Time: Don’t wait until the night before to prepare for an exam. Start studying in the days prior to the test. Set aside 1-2 hours each night for studying and review. Try to study at the same time each night. Use this time to read, review, write papers, or finish up projects. Effectively managing your time is the key!

Organize Your Study Time: Once you’ve decided how long you are going to study each night, determine how much time you need to study for each class/subject. (e.g., 30 min. for math, 45 min. for history, etc.) It may be a good idea to start with the most challenging first. Also be sure to include time for study breaks. Breaks should be no more than 10-15 minutes.

Eliminate Distractions: Study time is for studying only. Do not take calls, send or receive text messages, watch T.V., or work on something unrelated on the computer. Depending on your preference and levels of distractibility, some music may be fine.

Studying: Some basic studying strategies include skimming chapters to be covered on the exam (assuming you’ve already read them). Rereading notes taken – repetition is key here so, even rewriting notes may be helpful. Practice test questions using questions provided by your teacher or those included in previous assignments and tests. Make use of lecture outlines and/or review sheets provided by the teacher. Also, don’t forget to stay organized. Sometimes having study buddy is also helpful, but only as long as you don’t distract each other.

Learn how you study best: Everyone learns differently.  Just because your friend makes color-coded outlines, it doesn’t mean that’s the best way for you to study too. For example, change the lyrics of a song you know to help you memorize the countries of Asia, write a funny story about the characters in a book you’re being tested on, or acronyms for words that need to be memorized. Any studying is good studying, so do it the way that works best for you.

Try Not to Do Too Much: Spreading your studying out across several days is the key. Don’t spend all night every night studying. If you try to do too much at one time, you’ll tire out and add to your stress levels.

Get a good night’s sleep: Eight hours is ideal for the night before an exam. It may be tempting to stay up late studying, but remember: you’re going to need energy and focus while you’re taking your exam. Here are some resources and tips for managing sleep problems.

Relax: You’ve survived final exams before, and you’ll survive them this time too.  If you’re feeling nervous when you sit down to take the test, take three slow, steady breaths. Remind yourself that you’ve been getting ready for these tests all year long.  Here are some tips for teens on managing stress and anxiety.

I hope you find some of these tips to be helpful. Please contact us if your child or teen has difficulty establishing an effective test taking strategies, 360.236.0206. We’re here to help!

Good Luck!

Gyro Psychology Services



Published on: December 29, 2013  

Helping Your Child Develop An Effective Organization System

Keeping schoolwork organized is important for helping you and your child know where their work is and when it is due. Organizing handouts, a record of tests and quizzes and upcoming projects makes it easier for your child to stay on top of academic responsibilities and ultimately leads to school success.

Please let your child or teen’s teachers know that you are working on an organization system and ask for their help in the process.  You’ll be delightfully surprised by their encouragement and support!

Here are some simple steps you and your child or teen can do to develop an effective organization system:

  • Put Together a Binder- It is a good idea to have a separate folder for each subject, organized together in one large binder. This helps to ensure that work for one class is not getting mixed up with work for another. Variations include using a small binder for each class or using two medium sized binders, one for morning classes and one for afternoon classes.
  • Create Separate Notebooks- Just as it is useful to have a separate folder for each class, having a separate notebook for each individual class is also a good idea.


  • Develop a Folder Specifically for Completed Homework- Having a separate folder for homework to turn in and special papers to go home is an easy way to help your child remember where his homework is and what needs to be turned in. Please let your child’s teacher know that a specific folder has been developed so that they can remind them should they become distracted and forget to turn in daily assignments.


  • Develop a Planner- Keeping a planner or organizer is essential for tracking assignments and long-term projects! Often times, schools provide a planner for their students. If not, you and your child or teen should create one on your own. Your child should be encouraged to write down his homework assignments following each class. In some instances, it is necessary to have the teacher initial the planner to ensure that assignments are written down correctly. In turn, you can initial each assignment to communicate to the teacher that it has been completed.


  • Help Them to Organize Their Backpack and Clean Up the Clutter- Encourage your child to clean out his backpack each night. Non-essential items should be discarded. Papers should be placed in their appropriate folders and homework should go in the homework folder. This is also a good time to take a look at the planner to see what’s ahead. Once the class folders are organized and completed assignments are in their appropriate places, place necessary materials back in the backpack. Keep the backpack in the same location each night, such as by the front door. These steps will prevent hurried packing of the backpack in the morning. It will also ensure that your child arrives at school with all assignments and that he knows where to find them. You may have to help your child or teen develop these routines initially.  Keep in mind that you want them to be able to manage this routine on their own.
  • Provide Lots of Praise and Encouragement- Praise and encouragement goes a long way in motivating your child to continue to stay organized.  It lets them know that they are taking important steps to improve their academic performance and can get them thinking about how they can stay organized in other areas like organizing their room (keeping it clean) and chore completion.

These are simply a few ideas to help keep your child and teen organized. Always be sure to follow school guidelines regarding necessary school supplies and organization strategies.

If you would like some additional support in helping your child develop an effective organizational system and improving their academic performance, behavior at home & in the community, please give us a call, 360.236.0206.  We’re here to help!

Warmest Regards,

Gyro Psychology Services



Health Disclaimer

Published on: November 7, 2013  

Parent-Teacher Communication

We’re a little over two months into the school year, which means that school conferences are being held right about now. Parents, you’re probably anticipating this conference with your child’s teacher and wondering what the teacher(s) will say about his performance so far this year. Did you know that school-to-home communication has been linked with increased academic and behavioral performance in children? Here are some things to keep in mind during this season of conferences.

If you expect that your child’s school year is off to a great start, that’s wonderful! Take the opportunity at the parent-teacher conference to find out more about what your child is currently learning.

  • You might ask questions about the curriculum and how you can supplement your child’s learning at home.
  • You’ll also want to know what’s coming up next in the curriculum so you can prepare to help your child if they need it.
  • If it is in fact true that your child is meeting academic standards and performing well behaviorally, you might ask for specific examples of ways that your child is succeeding. Not only is it nice to hear as a parent, but it would also serve as a great basis for giving some specific praise and rewards to your child.

If you suspect that things are not going so well for your child this year, bring some specific questions with you. Your child’s teacher(s) are having this conference to share information with you, so don’t be shy when it comes to determining the details.

  • Talk to your child before you attend this conference. Ask your child how they would “grade” himself or herself, if they were the teacher. What does your child expect the teacher to say?
  • If a teacher tells you that your child is struggling academically or behaviorally, ask to see some data. Teachers have been collecting information for the last two months. If they have tried any interventions or new strategies to help your child, ask to see the data from those interventions, so you can see if it truly is working.
  • Ask the teacher if they have suggestions for how you can help your child at home. Determine what strategies the teacher is already using in class that you can also implement at home.
  • Consider implementing some kind of school-to-home communication system so that you can stay on top of your child’s progress. You might ask if the teacher can send you weekly emails, or if the teacher could send home a daily note about your child’s performance.
  • Ask the teacher if more intensive intervention needs to happen. If things don’t get better with some supports in place at home and school, what will you have to do next? For example, what are the teacher’s thoughts on an Individualized Education Plan or Section 504 Accommodation Plan for your child?

If things have not been going well for your child for some time now, but the parents and teachers have already made some accommodations/adjustments to your child’s school program, your family may need some more help.

  • Parents have the right to request a special education evaluation to determine if more individualized instruction is necessary for their child. Ask the teacher about the school’s procedures for requesting a special education evaluation.
  • Ask the teacher, counselor, or other school professional about additional resources at school and in the community that might help, such as after-school study halls or tutoring services.
  • Consider bringing the child to a psychologist, who would be able to conduct a full evaluation to determine your child’s specific academic and behavioral needs. Then, and more importantly, the psychologist should be able to give you some recommendations on how to proceed, and may even be able to provide some treatment for your child and the family.

We know that it can be difficult to navigate a school’s many systems. If you are concerned about your child’s performance in school or at home, consider talking with one of our Child and Adolescent Psychologists here at Gyro Psychology Services, Inc. We can help you determine what your child needs to succeed academically, behaviorally, and emotionally. Please give us a call – we are here to help.

Warmest Regards,

Gyro Psychology Services

Lacey, Washington


Health Disclaimer

Published on: April 23, 2013  

Dealing with Bullying

Many children are the victims of bullying and it continues to be a pervasive problem in our schools.  Bullying can take many forms: physical, verbal, psychological/ indirect, and cyber bullying.

Physical bullying is any form of physical attack meant to cause harm to another person such as: spitting, biting, kicking, pinching, or punching.

Verbal bullying can be teasing, insulting, making racist or sexist remarks, or using abusive language.

Indirect/ Psychological bullying is common among females and can include: spreading rumors, being gossiped about, and being excluded from social groups. Cyber bullying is a more recent type of bullying created by the continuous advancements in technology and social media.  Bullies can use the phone, text message, IM, websites, and picture messages to go after their targets relentlessly.

Why does bullying happen?

Bullying is often done because someone is seen as different by appearance or in their social status. Starting from a young age we became aware of differences and start to from ourselves into different social groups; this is a completely normal part of development and is not necessarily a bad thing. Social groups can be supportive and help kids and teens develop a sense of belonging. Unfortunately, as cliques become more prominent, so does bullying. Bullies need to feel powerful and in control and tend to get some type of satisfaction from their actions. Bullies often are dealing with anger problems, unhappiness, and low self-esteem. They may even be victims of bullying at home and use bullying others as their outlet.

Harm of bullying:

It was a common misconception for a long time that bullying was a normal part of childhood and we didn’t need to do anything about it. Since this problem has been researched further, it has been discovered that bullying can cause long lasting damage to its victims. Bullying makes kids feel unsafe and unwanted on a regular basis.  With school no longer a safe place, learning can be affected as kids become distracted from their school work or start missing school all together. According to the National Education Association, at least 160,000 children in the United States miss school each day due to fear of bullying.  Research shows that many victims can suffer from low self-esteem and be prone to depression and anxiety.

What you can do:

Tips for handling bullies:

  • Ignore the bully and walk away. Bullies get satisfaction from causing you distress. Not giving them any attention takes that satisfaction away from them.
  • Refrain from lashing out (physically or verbally). Getting angry only shows the bully that they are getting to you. If you’re not in a situation to walk away, try calmly talking to the bully or use humor to throw the bully off. Avoid physical force if you can because you are more likely to get hurt and get in trouble if you use violence against a bully.
  • Practice being confident! Practice ways to respond to a bully. It will make facing the bully easier. Also try finding something that makes you feel good about yourself whether it be a sport, music, or some other type of hobby.  Getting involved in activities can help build your confidence and help you make new friends.
  • Talk about it. Talk to your friends, parents, guidance counselor, or any other trust person about your experiences with bullying. Talking it out is a good outlet for anger, fear, and sadness that comes along with being bullied.

If you are being bullied physically or you are afraid it may escalate into physical violence, it is better to ask a trusted adult for help then deal with it all on your own.

There are resources available to help you stop bullying so if at any point you feel you can’t handle the bully on your own, ask for help!

Warmest Regards,

Gyro Psychology Services, Inc.

Olympia, Washington


866.616.GYRO (4976)

Health Disclaimer

Published on: April 17, 2013  

Setting Goals

What are your goals? Do you want to improve academically? Do you want to start exercising? Maybe learn a musical instrument?  Or make the soccer team?  Goals can be for the short term or long term. Short term goals can be fulfilled in the immediate future while long term goals will take more time and steps to achieve. Whatever your goal is it should be something that is important to you, not someone else. Any change you are trying to make has to be something you want, doing it for other people will make it harder to stay on track and motivated.

When you decide to set a goal keep these tips in mind:

  • Define the goal. Being specific about what you want to achieve makes it easier to do so. (eg., being neater vs. picking up your room once a week. )


  • Keep it realistic. Goals that are too unrealistic may be extremely difficult or impossible to achieve and that can be disappointing. Keeping your goals reasonable helps you to achieve them which can increase confidence and self-satisfaction.


  • Identify the small steps needed to achieve the goal. Especially with long term goals, breaking the goal down into small steps give you something tangible to work towards and keeps you on track.


  • Take time to reassess your goal as you go. If something is not working, modify it!


  • Find a friend! Does a friend have a similar goal as you? Teaming up and supporting each other can help you both achieve your goals.

Reaching your goals will take work and time. Establishing any new habit will take a few months to become routine as your brain gets used to this new activity. Because you are retraining your brain remember that slip ups will happen. Sometimes it will take a few tries to reach your goal but do not let this get you down. Stay positive and keep trying. Eventually you will succeed!

Warmest Regards,


Gyro Psychology Services

Olympia, Washington


866.616.GYRO (4976)

Health Disclaimer

Published on: November 21, 2012  

Time Management

An important part of being successful in school, and in life overall, is managing your time well. Procrastination is trap we all fall into but it does nothing to help us. Knowing how to use your time effectively will get you far in life. The best way to start managing your time is to get a planner. Write down what you have to do daily, appointments, due dates, etc. Having a visual schedule can help you stay on track and keep you from forgetting anything. Listed below are some other strategies that can help you improve your time management.

  • Prioritize your tasks. Look at what your to-do list and rate things from top to least priority. Do the things that will take the longest, are due first, or are the most difficult first, as those will take the most time.


  • Avoid overloading. Make sure you still make time for sleep, exercise, eating, and fun activities in your schedule. Don’t wait until everything builds up to do it all. Trying to do a project the same night you should be studying for a big test is not a good idea and will always cause you to stress out.


  • Study effectively. And by this I mean create a good study routine. Pick an appropriate environment to study in. Ser aside time every day to study. Break larger tasks into more manageable ones. Take notes and write down any questions that arise so you can ask them in class.


  • Get rid of time wasters. Common distractions include TV, videogames, Facebook, Twitter, and other Internet activities. Try to avoid these distractions by studying away from them. If that isn’t possible, try unplugging the devices or deleting distracting sites from your favorites or bookmarks on your computer. You could even try many of the browser apps available that let you block certain websites for periods of time (e.g., Chrome Nanny for Google Chrome).


  • Always be flexible! Life is going to get in the way of your schedule time and time again. You can’t plan things like sickness, transportation troubles, or emergencies but you need to be able to work around them. Know how to rearrange your schedule when necessary and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.

Please check out previous blogs related to school achievement and success.

Hope you all have a Happy Thanksgiving!


Warmest Regards,


Gyro Psychology Services, Inc.


Health Disclaimer

Published on: November 15, 2012  

How to Succeed in College

I shouldn’t have to tell you that college is going to be a completely different experience than any schooling you’ve had before. For many of you this is your first experience living away from home. For you out of state kids, this may even be your first time living in a different state! You now have more independence than your probably know what to do with, but with this independence comes much more responsibility. Your parents are no longer around to clean up after you or keep you on track. Your teachers are no longer your babysitters and probably won’t get to know you as well. If you go to a big school especially, it is up to you to pay attention, track your progress, and seek out the help you need.

College can be overwhelming. New people, new experiences, new and larger classes, larger homework loads, it is a lot to take in. How do you succeed in such a new environment?

Basic tips:

  • First and foremost, GO TO CLASS! This one should be obvious but even so, many college students skip class on a regular basis. Going to class is positively correlated with doing well, I promise you that. Just because your teacher may not take attendance, doesn’t give you the okay to not go. Why pay for a class if you’re never going to go? What’s the point of going to college if you’re not going to take the opportunity to learn?!
  • Study! Always make time to study. Just because you may have been one of those kids who could skip studying it high school does not mean it will work now. Study outside your room and away from any distractions. Make studying a priority. When you get an A on that test you skipped a party to study for, you’ll thank me.
  • Learn the campus. If you have a day or two before classes start, wander the campus and figure out where your classes are. Try finding the quickest route between them. This can save you a lot of time and stress on the first day.
  • Get to know your professors. If you need help or have any questions go to their office hours. Even if you don’t have questions, go in and introduce yourself. Eventually you may need a professor to write you a letter of recommendation so you’re going to need to know one well enough to do so!
  • Take advantage of college services. This includes counselors, tutors, career center, and more. They are there to make your life easier so use them!
  • Budget your time. If you stretch yourself too thin, something will suffer. Learn to give yourself adequate time to study, sleep, work (if you do), do extra activities, and be social. It may take a couple failures to learn the proper balance.
  • Look at your grades! You do not want your final grade to be a surprise so keep track of how you’re doing throughout the class. If you are struggling, seek out help.
  • Do an internship. In today’s society, job experience can make the difference of being hired after college or not.

Beyond the basics:

  • Explore. A lot of kids come in with the idea that they already know what major they are going to do, but many of them end up changing it. Try classes in new subjects, join a club that sounds interesting, and see your options! College is a time to test the waters. You never know, you may find a new passion.
  • Stay balanced. Don’t let one side of your life take over. It is important to stay emotionally, mentally, and physically fit. Make sure you’re eating properly, getting enough sleep, staying active, and giving yourself time to have fun. College doesn’t have to be work all the time.
  • Set yourself up for a strong performance. Don’t let the small things get you down. Learn to accept constructive criticism. Take classes with the best professors and get to know them. Go the extra step to do the best you can.
  • Pick what YOU want to do! This is not the time to do what your parents or others think you should do. Study what you are passionate about and what interests you. This is your future we’re talking about. You don’t want to end up with a degree in something you dislike.

Warmest Regards,

Gyro Psychology Services, Inc.


Health Disclaimer

Published on: November 7, 2012  

How to Succeed in Middle and High School

Middle School

Welcome new middle school students! This is a transitional time for you. You’ve moved on from the small world of elementary school into a much larger environment. You have more teachers, more homework, a little more independence, and less recess. This time is where your learning starts to branch out and you slowly prepare to enter high school. Take this time to learn the skills that will help you to do your best.

The advice I’m about to share is just not for new middle school students, it is relevant to you returning students too.

  • Have a good place to study. This may be the first time you have had to really study for classes. Make sure you have a quiet, well-lit place to do so.
  • Eat healthy. The better you eat, the more energy you will have to get through the day!
  • Always do your homework. Get into the habit of it now.
  • Listen and ask questions. The more you pay attention the more you learn and the better you will understand the material. If you have any questions, ask! Don’t let yourself stay in the dark if you do not have to. Your teachers are there to help you.
  • Try new activities. Whether they are clubs, music, or sports. Explore what interests you.

There is more to succeeding in middle school than just the academic side. It’s also important to learn how to deal with the new social environment. In middle school there is a lot more drama than elementary school. Just remember, drama is unimportant. Avoid gossip as much as possible and do not surround yourself with drama causing people. Find a good crowd of people to be a part of. Most importantly, do ever let anyone pressure you to do something you don’t want to do.


High School

A lot of what is important to do well in middle school also applies in high school. In high school you still need to eat healthy, pay attention and ask question, do your work, and create a good place to study. But there is also more than that to succeeding in high school…

  • Find a study buddy. You can help each other learn by quizzing each other and explaining things to one another.
  • Take good notes. Make sure they are complete, organized, and neat.
  • Talk to a guidance counselor. Your guidance counselor can help you create your schedule, deal with drama, and help figure out and prepare for what you are going to do once you graduate.
  • Join a club or sport. It is important to be involved! Not only is it an opportunity to make new friends and have fun, it also looks good on college applications.
  • Make goals for yourself. Do you want to get a B in math this semester? Do you want to work of up the courage to try out for the school play? Set goals and work to meet them! Take charge of your high school experience.
  • Remember school is important! Don’t let work or your social life get in the way of studying and doing your homework. Your grades are important.

Just like middle school, the social aspect of high school can be difficult at times. In high school you will probably find out who your real friends are. Find friends who encourage you to do your best and kick the ones that bring you down to the curb. In high school you will probably be exposed to parties, drugs, alcohol, and sex. Just remember to never let anyone pressure you to do something that makes you uncomfortable or is against your values. You don’t have to drink or smoke to be liked. Be friends with people that respect your choices.

Take a look at our November newsletter to get more tips on becoming a great student.

Warmest Regards,

Gyro Psychology Services, Inc.


Health Disclaimer

Published on: October 31, 2012  

Tips on Applying for College

It’s November so the deadlines for college applications are approaching for many of you. Applying for college is stressful, time consuming, and nerve-wracking. Essays, letters of recommendation, grades, extracurricular activities, it can all be extremely overwhelming.  You may be worried about getting into your dream school or being able to afford college or any number of things.  Applying for college doesn’t have to be a nightmarish experience.

To make the process easier…

  • Get organized! Figure out which colleges you’re applying to and their application due dates. Do they use the common app or a specific application? What other things besides the initial application do you need to send and by when? (e.g., test scores, transcripts, letters of recommendation, etc.)
  • Make sure you request early for your teacher, boss, or other adult to write any letters of recommendation for you. If you wait till the last minute they may not do it for you because they will not have time.
  • Request that your transcripts from high school be sent directly to the colleges you’re applying to.

  • Send your standardized test scores early on. Sometimes it can take a while for schools to receive your scores and you don’t want to miss the deadline because your scores didn’t make it in time.
  • Don’t procrastinate! Set a schedule to get things done. Do not wait until the day before the application deadline to put it together!
  • Give yourself adequate time to write any essays required. Write drafts and have other people look over them. The essay is an important part of the application and can mean the difference between acceptance and denial.
  • Double-check the writing in your application. Check for spelling and grammatical errors. Nothing says, “I don’t care” more than I application full of errors.
  • Stay honest! You are your own unique person. Don’t try to be what you think the admission committee wants.
  • Be confident but don’t go overboard. Yes college applications are a time to sell yourself and highlight your achievements, but you don’t want to appear arrogant.
  • Most importantly of all, do not procrastinate! Set a schedule to get things done. Do not wait until the day before the application deadline to put it together! Beat the deadlines as best as you can. You will save yourself a lot of stress and frustration if you do.

Best of Luck to all college-bound students!

Gyro Psychology Services, Inc.


Health Disclaimer