Monday, April 30, 2012

Some Interesting Facts About the Teenage Brain

Who do you think is responsible for the following quote?

"Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up their food and tyrannize teachers." (The answer is at the bottom of this article.) *

Did you know that the frontal lobe of the brain, which is responsible for decision making, problem solving, planning, and self regulation, does not fully mature until the age of 25? This can affect impulsivity, emotions, and overreactions. Well, that explains the stupid choices I made in high school and college! It also explains why auto insurance is higher for teens, and why you have to be 25 years old to rent a car. So even if your teen seems responsible and mature, beware! Did you also know that teens tend to misread facial expressions? Did your teen ever accuse you of yelling at her when you were actually just talking?

Here are some ways you can influence the positive emotions in your child:
  • Emphasize and capitalize on positive events.
  • Focus on what is new and good.
  • You're never too old for hugs.
  • Focus on gratitude for what you have.
  • Emphasize the present rather than rehashing the past.

On the bright side, teens are fully capable of abstract thinking and can shine intellectually when motivated.
Source: Presentation by August Frattali, Principal of Rachel Carson Middle School

*Answer: Socrates, 5th Century BC

Friday, April 27, 2012

Could Your Child Have a Learning Disability?

Sometimes, you have a hunch that something isn't quite right with your child. For example, Jared is in 3rd grade and is still not reading fluently. Because he struggles to sound out so many words, his comprehension is shaky. Emma is in 4th grade and panics when asked to write. She will find any excuse to procrastinate. When she finally gets started, she cannot put her thoughts together to write a coherent paragraph, though she has no problem telling you a story. Although Adam is in the 5th grade, he still struggles with remembering multiplication tables, but he understands math concepts at his grade level. Sharon is in 8th grade and cannot understand her science textbook because of her poor vocabulary and reading skills. However, if you explain scientific concepts orally or give her a simpler book, she understands the concepts perfectly well.

What these children have in common is their average or above average intelligence and a suspected learning disability. If they can get formally evaluated and are shown to have a learning disability, they may be eligible to receive accommodations in school under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 or special education services provided to children with disabilities under the reauthorized Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

What should you do if you see your child struggling? This article was published in the April, 2012 issue of Washington Parent Magazine. To view the entire article, click here.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Math Tutoring

Is math a thorn in your child’s side? A kid who's struggling with math or science might refrain from talking about these particular subjects.  How do you know when it's time to get a math tutor? Here are just a few indicators:

·         Doesn’t understand the concepts on a regular basis

·         Understands concepts but doesn’t do well on tests

·         Has difficulty with math problems due to gaps in prior knowledge, such as fractions

·         Has trouble with word problems

·         Is reluctant to do math homework

·         Takes too long to complete homework

·         Dislikes math

When math makes sense, it can actually be fun for students to easily do the problems and see them come out right. Everyone can become better at math with more practice and extra help. These are some ways in which a math tutor can help:

·         Discover gaps that are preventing the student from understanding new concepts

·         Break down steps into smaller chunks

·         Find a commonality for mistakes

·         Provide the extra time and patience that is unavailable in a class setting

·         Show multiple ways to solve problems

·         Demonstrate real life applications of math concepts

·         Show students that they can be successful

As the school year is coming to a close, this is your chance to boost grades.  Don’t let math get you down!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

SAT Preparation

Preparing for the SATs can be daunting; many students don’t even know where to begin, let alone how to go about studying. Fortunately, there are multiple resources currently available that can help make taking the SATs as unintimidating as possible. Of course, there are always test prep books. The College Board regularly updates their books to adapt to any changes made in the test format, and can be purchased online or at most book stores. A lot of information can also be found online at Both the book and the website offer introductions to the SATs, practice exams to help you prepare, and answers to all your questions regarding this very important test! Here are some preparation tips taken from both sources to help give you a better idea of how to study:

  • Familiarize Yourself with the Test and its Components: The first chapter in The Official SAT Study Guide is all about introducing the SATs. Why is it taken? How is it organized? How is it scored? The more you know about the test itself, the less intimidating it will be.
  • Create a Personalized Study Plan: The College Board website is a fantastic resource for SAT preparation. By clicking on their “SAT Study Plan” link under the “Practice” menu, they will help create a personalized plan of action for you based on three simple questions: Which test will you take? How many times have you taken it? When will you take it? From there, they offer tips on how to go about studying, along with links to resources that should assist you.
  • Study, Study, STUDY: As the College Board says, “There’s no substitute for studying.” This may sound painfully obvious, but sometimes the simplest answers are also the most helpful. Your best bet is to study a little bit each day, as opposed to cramming right before the exam. You can do this a number of different ways, including reviewing chapters in the Study Guide, taking practice tests, meeting with a prep instructor, or even just answering the Question of the Day online. The College Board website posts a new one every day, and it is a great way to keep your mind focused and working!
  • Read!: Research has shown that students who regularly read for pleasure excel in school, not just in Language Arts but in all areas of study. Learning to read effectively improves your vocabulary, gives you the ability to decipher what an author is saying, and strengthens analytical and problem solving skills overall. It can also improve your writing ability and test scores! Reading is one of the best ways to help prepare for ALL aspects of the SATs.
  • Be Aware of, and Access All Resources Available to You: We live in an age of constant information; everything is at our fingertips. Take advantage of the Information Age by selecting and making use of any and all resources that you think will help you to do well on the SATs. In addition to working on your own online or with the book, studying with teachers, family, and friends can also be a great way to hone your skills and build your confidence. The opportunities are limitless, and so is your potential to succeed
  • Get a Tutor: Sometimes it is best to enlist the help of a professional SAT tutor. Having a one-on-one coach who knows the test well can give you that extra boost you may need during your preparation. SAT tutors are familiar with the most up-to-date versions of the test, as well as specific techniques on how to study and approach each section of questions. They can also outline a study plan tailored to your needs that you can continue to use on your own. Most importantly, SAT tutors will help you gain the confidence you need to ace the test!