Thursday, November 29, 2012

How a Math Tutor Can Help Your Child

At Tutoring For Success, math has always been our most requested subject. With the right tutor, many students who struggle with math can overcome blocks, become more adept in any level of math, and even learn to enjoy it.

Math is a cumulative process.  If you did not learn your multiplications tables fluently, you will have difficulty with fractions.  If you did not learn your fractions fluently, you will have difficulty with algebra.  A gap in one or more of the basic math skills can cause a variety of difficulties later on.  Here are some ways that a math tutor can help:

1.      Address gap areas that are not fluent or causing confusion.

2.      Clarify and more thoroughly explain concepts that the teacher has not adequately explained

3.      Provide short cuts to help complete math problems quicker and more efficiently

4.      Work with the student to come up with an effective study strategy to prepare for tests

5.      Offer real life examples to make math more relevant

6.      Teach special strategies for acing the SAT or ACT

7.      Find ways to make math interesting to improve motivation

8.      Help the student catch up when he or she has missed class due to illness

At Tutoring For Success, we choose our math tutors very carefully.  They have significant teaching experience, patience, and a variety of ways to teach the concepts.  Many of them have math related careers and can easily come up with real life applications.  To really be proficient in math, you should know several ways to solve problems.  It needs to all make sense.

While not every student needs a math tutor, if you see your child struggling, don’t wait too long for problems to resolve themselves.  Because so much of math is cumulative, without intervention small problems now can become bigger problems later.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Gearing up for the Next Quarter

If you’re like me, the onslaught of homework seems relentless.  Because of the two days off at the end of the first quarter, courtesy of Hurricane Sandy, there seemed to be no break between the first and second quarters.  However, the second quarter is now in full swing, and this is a good time to help your children evaluate and regroup.  Our goal?  Better grades, yes, but in our family, the more important tasks are to improve time management of homework and long term projects, to become more organized, and to reduce stress, all of which will also improve grades.

Gearing up Strategies
·         Blackboard: Many teachers use Blackboard to list assignments, provide study guides and resources, and share pertinent information.  To stay on top of things, your child should check Blackboard every day.  Parents can get on Blackboard too, but in our family it is the students’ job to check in.
·         Organizing supplies:  Our rule is that the backpack may not contain loose, wrinkled papers; I do periodic spot checks for this.  Every paper needs to be filed in the appropriate place.  Some students prefer binders, which require hole-punching, while others prefer folders. There should be a separate folder for each subject or two, and maybe another one just for homework. Now is a good time to get rid of papers that are no longer needed.  Some can be recycled and others can be stored in folders at home for later use.
·         Schedules:  If homework is not getting done in a timely manner, work with your child to set up a schedule.  Estimate how long each assignment will take, and incorporate extracurricular activities and instrument practice time.  Also allow time for reading for pleasure.  Daily pleasure reading does as much to improve your child’s academic skills as homework.  Short breaks are OK, but more extended leisure time is best saved for after homework and reading are done.
·         Long term projects:  It is easy to procrastinate.  These should be written down in a prominent place, either somewhere in your house, in an assignment book, or both. You can use a calendar to plug in parts of the projects that should be worked on periodically, so that the due date doesn’t come along too quickly.
·         Tests:  Students: Do not wait until the day before a test to study!  Get a study guide from the teacher.  Most study guides include almost everything that will be on the test.  The best ones require active studying, such as requiring the student to research the information or do practice problems.  If you are not sure, ask the teacher what will be on the test, what the format will be (multiple choice, short answer, or essay) and how she recommends you prepare.
·         Reducing stress:  Students: If you are organized, have a plan, stay focused, and don’t procrastinate, your stress level will be reduced (and your parents’ stress, too).  Also, get enough sleep, find time to exercise, and take short breaks to play with friends, play your favorite computer game, or watch a favorite TV show.  Finally, don’t forget family time.  Family dinners and outings, and promoting positive interactions and laughter will improve your whole family’s well being.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Preparing for Teacher Conferences

Preparing for Teacher Conferences
If you have a child in elementary school, you are probably preparing for a conference next week.  If you have a child in middle school or high school, you may not have a scheduled conference, but now is a great time to schedule one. You can do so with one or two individual teachers or with the whole team.  Below are some tips on how to make the most of your parent – teacher conferences:
·         Have a plan before you go.  Your conference time is short, and the first half will be the teacher’s agenda.  You should talk to your child in advance to find out if he has any problems or concerns.  Academics are important, and so are social aspects.  You can ask the teacher about your child’s behavior in class as well as at lunch and recess.  If you have been looking at graded assignments all quarter, you may have some questions about expectations.  You can also address the volume and type of homework, the teacher’s recommended way to study for tests, and your child’s state of mind concerning school.
·         Share with the teacher any family or social dynamics that may impact your child’s behavior and academic success.  If your child struggles with anxiety, extreme moods, depression, attention issues, or hyperactivity, bring this to the teacher’s attention.  If your child’s school situation causes him anxiety in any way, be sure to share this with the teacher as well.
·         Start positive.  Compliment the teacher on anything positive that your child has shared with you.  This will get your conference off on the right foot.
·         After you have shared information with each other, set up a plan of action.  There may be more you can do at home to improve your child’s success.  There may also be more the teacher can do at school to enhance your child’s performance and overall well being.
·         Ask the teacher if your child is on the right track, needs extra help, or needs enrichment.  Then follow up.
·         Don’t forget to bring written questions with you and take notes for future action.  The time will go quickly, and you need to be as efficient as possible.
·         After the conference, share with your child what you and the teacher discussed. Be sure to start positive.   If appropriate, set up a game plan, based on the conference.  Keep in touch with the teacher on a regular basis. Email or phone calls right after school usually work well.
November is an excellent time to assess your child’s progress and adjustment, and sharing information at a conference can be invaluable.  You and the teacher may learn something surprising and helpful to promote success throughout the school year.