Thursday, December 18, 2014

College Thoughts

If you have a high school student or two, like me, you are probably in the process of visiting colleges, working on college applications, and trying to figure out how to afford college and whether it’s worth it for your student to accumulate so much debt.  In this weak economy, we hear about under or unemployed college graduates who have mountains of debt.

I just read a New York Times article that clarifies this position: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/11/upshot/what-students-dont-know-about-their-loans.html?_r=1&abt=0002&abg=0
“Nationwide, many students are borrowing more than they understand. At elite colleges, though, the opposite may be true.” According to this article, “the unemployment rate for 20- to 24-year-olds with a four-year degree is 5.4 percent, and it’s only 3.2 percent for 25- to 34-year-olds.”

The key takeaways for me are that these are graduates of 4-year colleges. Furthermore, the article points out that graduates from more selective colleges tend to overestimate their college debt; meanwhile, students who attended less selective institutions for less than 4 years not only tend to underestimate their debt, but are less likely to acquire the types of jobs that will help them pay back their loans.




All the research I’ve done lately says that in spite of incurring debt, it is definitely worthwhile to graduate from a 4-year college or university because lifetime salaries will be significantly higher.  However, many students drop out of college either because they are not ready to attend college and be independent yet or because the college they are going to is not a good fit.
 
Here is my advice for maximizing the chance of selecting a college that your child will succeed at, grow emotionally, have a great college experience, feel like he fits in, and GRADUATE.
  1. I recommend the Fiske Guide to Colleges. It only talks about the top 175 or so 4-year colleges and gives a very good flavor of what it is like to attend each college, including quotes from students.  It also includes a quiz to narrow down your choices.  For example, do you prefer a big or small school, urban or rural, Greek life or not?
  2. Do not rule out private schools because of the sticker price. They may provide more financial aid to more students than you think.  You can find out approximately what your portion will be by using their financial aid calculators.
  3. Be sure to visit the college(s) of choice, if at all possible. Getting a tour, sitting in on a class, eating lunch at the cafeteria, and spending time with students are all indicators of how good a fit the school is.  The prospective student should feel comfortable and at home there.
  4. Starting in 9th grade, make sure your student takes challenging courses, gets help when the courses get tough, and adequately prepares for the SAT and/or the ACT.  The goal is to be positioned to have many options of colleges.
  5. If the selected college turns out not to be a good fit, it is fine to transfer.  I have spoken to many students who transferred after two years and were much happier at the second school.
  6. Encourage your student to focus on a potential career choice and major early on.  Switching majors, careers, or schools can lead to a loss of credits, increasing both the time and cost required to graduate from college.
Winter break is a good time to relax and unwind, but also a good time to regroup, get started on test prep, and plan for the future.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Reduce Stress! Keep Your Life Organized With Lists



This book of lists can help you organize every aspect of your life. It's formatted in a binder, so it's easy to scan or make copies of any of the individual lists that you want to save.

  • What was that delicious wine we enjoyed at the restaurant last week?
  • When was your last tetanus shot?
  • Who did you send holiday cards to last year?
  • Which plumbing company fixed your sink?
  • What needs to be done to complete the college planning process?

Dena Fleisher, the Listful Thinker, shows your how to keep track of every detail in your life by using Listful Thinking - Organize Your Life With Lists. Dena has been writing and following lists her whole life, and is a professional organizer. You can contact her at listfulthinker@gmail.com to find out more information or order the book.


Friday, November 14, 2014

There is a College for Everyone!

The SATs can sometimes feel like a dominating force in a high schooler's life. For many students, preparation begins Freshman year with the PSATs, a practice test designed to give underclassmen an idea of what to expect when they take the real thing. Even though the PSAT is said to be more difficult than the actual SAT, a result of low scores can send even a good student into a panic about not getting into a good college. There's no doubt that standardized tests can be stressful, especially when the future of your education is on the line, but earning below-average scores does not mean exclusion from every academic institution. Here are a few suggestions for students applying to college with lower SAT scores:



  • Of course, you can always re-take the SATs, and in fact, students are encouraged do so at least once. The ACT is also a viable alternative to the standard SAT, and colleges will accept scores from either test. To learn about the differences between the two, click here: http://tutoringforsuccess.us/test-prep/
  • Most colleges have what is known as a "holistic admission process," meaning they consider all of your strengths and weaknesses when reviewing your application, not just your test scores. A strong academic record and application essay, excellent letters of recommendation, extracurricular activities, and a solid in-person interview are all factors that admissions offices take into consideration.
  • With regards to extracurricular activities, it is generally preferred that students have one or two that they focus on; too many might detract from their schoolwork and thus lower their GPA. These activities can be anything, from participation in sports, the Arts (Fine or Performing), community volunteering, various competitions, or entrepreneurship. Colleges want to see what makes you unique, so don't hesitate to think outside the box!
  • Many students don't know what they want to study before they get to college, but for those that do, selecting a major well-suited to your strengths is another way to bolster your chances of admission. For example: If a student excels in Math and Science, a university might be interested to see that he plans on studying Engineering. 
  • Don't make the mistake of thinking that every school in the U.S. requires test scores for admission! On the contrary, there are hundreds of colleges and universities where the SAT and ACT are optional for some or all of their applicants. To learn more, check out this list from collegeapps.com: http://collegeapps.about.com/od/standardizedtests/a/optionalscores.htm.
  • Oftentimes, poor test taking is a result of unpreparedness and text anxiety. Assuage at least some of those worries by enlisting the help of a test prep instructor. The SAT is not like any other test; learning HOW to take it is just as important as being familiar with the material it covers.

A below-average SAT score might seem like the end of the world for some students, but it isn't, and doesn't need to be. Talk to you child and do some research together about the different options that are available. It's important to remember that a student is not a statistic, and ultimately, schools want to accept bright, well-rounded individuals who are serious about their education. However this manifests itself in your student is not always consistent with their test scores, so remember: there is an admission process, and a college, for everyone.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Stress Strategies


With the end of the quarter fast approaching, schoolwork is undoubtedly piling up and causing your student a fair amount of stress. We all get over-extended sometimes, whether it's because of school, work, or just daily life situations. Stress is often unavoidable, but fortunately there are ways to help manage it. Here are just a few suggestions:

  • Exercise can be an enormous stress reliever. We all know about the physical benefits, but the mental and emotional benefits are just as important. Regular exercise can reduce the level of stress hormones in your body; it also increases the production of Endorphins in your brain to facilitate a happy, positive, and overall relaxed feeling and improve focus.  Just 20-30 minutes a day of any exercise, even taking a walk, can make a big difference.
  • Listening to your favorite music can be a wonderful way to de-stress. Do this either while doing routine homework, or give yourself mini-breaks every so often and listen to a song or two.  Studies have shown that it is best not to listen to music when studying for a test and trying to retain information.
  • For many of us, there just aren't enough hours in the day. However, scheduling in some regular personal time for yourself is incredibly important when it comes to stress management. Too often we just go, go, go without taking a moment to breathe and check in with ourselves mentally. This personal time is just as important as any of the other things you have going on, so treat it as such and schedule it in accordingly.
  • Few things wear you down faster than not getting enough sleep. Teenagers especially need 8 or 9 hours a night. Undoubtedly your student is busy with a myriad of commitments, both academic and personal, but it is crucial that he factors a solid night's sleep into his schedule. Take into consideration every assignment and extra-curricular activity, then plan a set bedtime and try to stick to it.
  • Nutrition can also play a huge part in your stress-management routine. Fast food might be convenient, but too much can have a detrimental effect on your health, and thus how you feel. Make sure that your student has access to healthy snacks, and even if there is limited time for an evening meal, that doesn't mean you have to head for the drive-thru. Planning and cooking on the weekends is a great time-saver; just pop them in the freezer, and defrost when it's time to eat.
  • Keeping a journal, reading for pleasure, and drawing are excellent ways to process your stress and make down-time more emotionally productive.  
  • Have family meals whenever possible.  Connecting with those close to you, sharing your day and thoughts, and laughing together will help everyone relax.

The remaining stress-management tips were taken from http://www.helpguide.org/, a non-profit resource site that helps people help themselves, and others:

  • Having the right mindset is easier said than done, but can make all the difference in how you handle stress. For starters, don't try to control the uncontrollable. We can't prevent certain situations, and we can't control our feelings, but we CAN choose how we react to things. Try to look for an upside, and share your thoughts and emotions with someone you trust. Learn to forgive (yourself and others), and free yourself of negative energy.
  • Do something you enjoy everyday. Whatever it is, allow yourself to have this time free of judgement or guilt.
  • If there are animals in your life, spend time with them to relax. Take the dog for a walk, or watch a TV show with the cat in your lap.

Unfortunately, stress is often unavoidable. We all get weighed down from time to time with the pressures of everyday life, but it's important to remember that there are ways to cope. The list of suggestions doesn't end here, either; what are some stress-management strategies that work for you? The more prepared you are to handle stress, the easier it will be to deal with everything when those overwhelming moments arise.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

AP American History Course Has New Curriculum - And Controvery

 


Yesterday, The Washington Post reported that the College Board’s changes to the AP History curriculum have provoked protests in Golden, Colorado, a suburb of Denver. Conservatives claimed that the changes did not present the U.S. in a positive enough light.  Defenders from the College Board claim that the revisions are accurate and encourage analytical thinking even as they expose some uncomfortable aspects of American history and conflict between social conservatives and liberals.

“The new AP history curriculum adds two periods: life in the Americas from 1491 to 1607, which addresses the conflicts between Native Americans and European settlers, and from 1980 to the present, which includes the rise of social conservatism and the battles over issues such as abortion, as well as the fight against terrorism after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and demographic and economic shifts of the 21st century.”

The changes are a framework, meaning that teachers have a choice of curricular materials and can add topics relevant to their communities.

Jefferson County, Colorado, is not the only county to object to the changes:

"On September 19th, the Texas State Board of Education went on record against allowing the new AP curriculum framework in state classrooms. Legislators and activists in South Carolina and Tennessee are discussing similar moves."


Ironically, one of additions to the curriculum, which includes the rise of social conservatism, is playing out with the current protests. Below is a link to the entire Washington Post article.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/changes-in-ap-history-trigger-a-culture-clash-in-colorado/2014/10/05/fa6136a2-4b12-11e4-b72e-d60a9229cc10_story.html

Friday, October 3, 2014

Exercise is ADHD Medication

I want to share with you another important article on exercise, which has been proven to help with executive functioning, paying attention, and success in school. This article was recently published in the Atlantic Magazine. I have included excerpts below, but the link to the full article is: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/09/exercise-seems-to-be-beneficial-to-children/380844/

Exercise Is ADHD Medication
 
Physical movement improves mental focus, memory, and cognitive flexibility; new research shows just how critical it is to academic performance. (James Hamblin, Sept. 29th 2014).
 
[Recently] the medical journal Pediatrics published research that found kids who took part in a regular physical activity program showed important enhancement of cognitive performance and brain function. The findings, according to University of Illinois professor Charles Hillman and colleagues, "demonstrate a causal effect of a physical program on executive control, and provide support for physical activity for improving childhood cognition and brain health." If it seems odd that this is something that still needs support, that's because it is odd, yes. Physical activity is clearly a high, high-yield investment for all kids, but especially those inattentive or hyperactive. This brand of research is still published and written about as though it were a novel finding, in part because exercise programs for kids remain underfunded and under-prioritized in many school curricula, even though exercise is clearly integral to maximizing the utility of time spent in class.
The improvements in this case came in executive control, which consists of inhibition (resisting distraction, maintaining focus), working memory, and cognitive flexibility (switching between tasks).

 
Earlier this month, another study found that a 12-week exercise program improved math and reading test scores in all kids, but especially in those with signs of ADHD. (Executive functioning is impaired in ADHD, and tied to performance in math and reading.)

James Hamblin, MD, is a senior editor at The Atlantic. He is the host of If Our Bodies Could Talk.


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Back to School with Good Habits!

School has finally begun, and these first few weeks can be critical in determining your child's academic success for the rest of the year. As most of us know, it takes time and practice to formulate good habits, whether it's in our personal lives, or our daily work routines. Get things started off on the right foot with these tips for the best school year ever!

  • Organization is key!  At Tutoring For Success, we place a lot of emphasis on strong organizational skills, and for good reason! Sometimes it is the only thing standing between a mediocre student and an excellent student. Think about it: If your child is constantly missing assignments or unable to study for tests because she can't find notes and homework papers, it's likely to affect her grades. Teachers often require their own systems of organization, which is useful for students who don't know where to begin, but the basics aren't hard to assemble on your own. Have one or more three-ring binders, each with a personal hole puncher and multiple tabs for each subject. A notebook for writing down assignments and a separate homework folder should also be acquired and maintained. Little adjustments like these are a great way to foster good organizational skills in your student, and will pave the way for stronger habits overall. 
  • Embrace technology! Cell phones and tablets don't always have to be a distraction to students. While keeping in mind each teacher's particular rules about such devices (often they are not allowed out during class time), see if you can use your phone to take pictures of notes, homework, or important announcements posted on the board. This can be especially useful if your child struggles with neat handwriting. Tablets can also be good for note-taking, and usually come with formats that neatly organize thoughts and ideas. For college students, bring a recording device and record your professor's lectures (with their permission, of course) in order to supplement your studying later on.  
  • Learn how to manage your time! An organized schedule is just as important as an organized notebook where your child's academic success is concerned. As classes get underway, so do extracurricular activities, and before you know it, the work is piling up. Encourage your student to keep a calendar (either a physical one, or online), and factor each assignment and activity into their day. Be sure to keep track of things like exercise, sleep, and even free time to make sure that their routine isn't suffering. When working on long-term projects, break things up into manageable amounts and spread these out over a series of days or weeks. This will prevent a last-minute panic or cram session the night before the due date. Studying is hard work, so students can reward themselves periodically with small breaks to refresh their brains, such as playing games on their phones, taking short walks, snacking, or just resting their eyes. This will help even the most insurmountable mound of homework appear less daunting.

Going back to school doesn't have to be the rigorous chore your child might see it as. The start of a new year is the start of a new beginning: new friends to make, new things to learn, and new opportunities to grow and change. Armed with the right attitude and tips such as these, your children can be well on their way to a full and successful school year.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

More About the Benefits of Summer Tutoring!

Deciding how your children should spend their summer can be tricky. While some kids love going to a variety of camps and daytime activities, many others find themselves bored and glued to video games or hours of TV. Whatever their schedule, studies have shown that it is common for students to lose 1-3 months of learning during the summer months. Learning Loss is no joke, especially for students who are prone to be unmotivated during the school year. Finding a summer tutor for your child can not only bridge the gap between the school years, but also keep him busy and learning during a time when boredom is always lurking.

Here are just a few ways that working with a tutor this summer can help your child:

·         A tutor can help build confidence. If there is one or more subjects that a student has found particularly difficult, working with a tutor can allow him to catch up and even get a jump on new material before the school year begins. This approach will help your child start the next school year feeling confident and in control.

·         A tutor will encourage your child to read. Reading for pleasure is always beneficial for your child’s academic progress. The good thing about summertime is that she can choose to read whatever she wants. Discussing books with a tutor and even writing short essays or studying new vocabulary will keep your child learning and stimulated throughout the summer.

·         Adjusting to school will be easier. If you child has spent her vacation reading, learning, and reviewing with a tutor, getting back into the swing of things once school  officially starts will be easier than ever.

·         Summer is a great time to prep for the SATs and ACTs. If you have a high-school student who is preparing for college, meeting with a tutor to prepare for the SATs or the ACTs can help him get focused and ready. Students will have the leisure to prepare at their own pace, without the added pressure of additional schoolwork.

·         Close the gap. Are there areas that your child is weaker in than others? Math and writing are two of the biggest problem subjects for students of all ages. Instead of putting learning issues on the back burner during the summer, hiring a tutor can allow you to take an active role in bridging the learning gap for your child. Don’t wait for September to address problems! This will also reduce any anxiety your student might have about the upcoming school year.

At Tutoring for Success, we know that your summers are busy; family vacations, play dates, and camp schedules can make it difficult to plan for anything else. That’s why our tutors are flexible and willing to work with you and your child when planning sessions. Don’t let Learning Loss get the best of your family! Plan for the school year while enjoying your summer, and avoid stress, anxiety, and frustration when September finally rolls around.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Summer Tutoring

At this time of year, students are typically exhausted and the prospect of doing academic work in the summer is not appealing. This is absolutely understandable. However, summer brain drain is real, and summer review, particularly in math and science, can give your children a boost for the upcoming school year. In addition, it is imperative to fit in some reading and writing. 

Here are my recommendations for keeping minds sharp this summer:
 
  • Take a break when school ends for some much needed brain relaxation.
  • Talk with your children about academic areas that may need a boost. Set up some review time, with or without a tutor, during some free slots in your summer.
  • Read for pleasure.
  • For high school students, do some practice SATs and ACTs.

Summer tutoring can actually be inspiring and motivational. We hope to hear from you!

 
www.tutoringforsuccess.com - (703) 390-9220

Friday, May 30, 2014

Preparing for Final Exams

While the end of school is an exciting time for students, getting through final exams can be stressful. Regardless of how well your child does during the school year, prepping for finals is almost always a seemingly insurmountable task. Finals can also be a source of heightened anxiety given that they usually account for a significant portion of a student’s final grade. In order to avoid a stress-induced meltdown and many sleepless nights of cramming, here are a few tips that can help you and your child get a jump on preparing for finals in the coming weeks:

·         Break material up into manageable pieces. No good can come of opening a text book to page one and attempting to digest the entire thing in one sitting. You will not retain the information needed to pass your test, and you will absolutely stress yourself out in the process. Instead, try breaking up study material into smaller chunks, and tackle each bit one at a time. Oftentimes teachers will provide you with a study guide that helps with this tactic.

·         Make a list of things to review. Even if you don’t receive a study guide, you probably have some idea of what will be covered on the final. Go through your notes, textbook, and past assignments and make a basic list of everything that has been covered in class. This will serve as your guide to planning an effective study strategy.

·         NO CRAMMING. As already stated, cramming the night before an exam is counterproductive. Not only will you not retain the necessary information, but you will wear your brain out trying to remember too many things in too short a time. An exhausted, overworked student is useless come test day.

·         Be aware of important dates and deadlines. It’s a good idea to keep a calendar that lists when each final exam will take place. This will help inform your decisions of what to study for, and when. This is of course also useful for classes that require final papers or projects in lieu of an exam. Long-term assignments should be tackled just as you would a final test: carefully over time, broken up into manageable chunks.

·         Take final exams seriously! This sounds like a given, but finals are not to be taken lightly. They count for a large portion of a student’s final grade, and sometimes whether or not they pass the class at all. Make sure your child isn’t dismissing this as “just another test,” especially if they are new to the final exam experience.

·         Consider extra tutoring sessions. Regardless of whether or not your child is already working with a tutor, hiring one to help to prepare in the weeks before finals might be the best course of action. Tutors can help by giving their students individualized attention, as well as teaching them organization skills and test-taking strategies. Scheduled tutoring sessions will also guarantee that your child is devoting time to organized and effective preparation.


Final exams don’t have to mean weeks of excessive stress, sleepless nights, and emotional meltdowns. Getting an organized start and sticking to a plan of action will help your child feel more at ease, and hopefully will encourage good study habits in the years to come.

703.390.9220. / www.tutoringforsuccess.com

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Honoring the Missing Schoolgirls this Mother's Day

This mother’s day, of course my mind is on my two teenage daughters, but I also can’t stop thinking about the lost Nigerian teenage girls. While our government has stepped in to help, we too can help by promoting education and heath for girls in Africa. Nicholas Kristof, an op-ed columnist for the New York Times, listed three ways we can contribute, which I have copied below:

“On Mother’s Day, let’s honor the Nigerian schoolgirls who were kidnapped by extremists and remain missing. Send a girl to school or help empower moms.

So here's a challenge.

Mother’s Day is this Sunday, and, by all means, let’s use it to celebrate the moms in our lives with flowers and brunches. But let’s also use the occasion to honor the girls still missing in Nigeria.
One way is a donation to support girls going to school around Africa through the Campaign for Female Education, (https://camfed.org/); $40 gift pays for a girl's school uniform.

Another way to empower women is to support Edna Adan, an extraordinary Somali woman who has started her own maternity hospital, midwife training program and private university, saving lives, providing family planning and fighting female genital mutilation. At http://www.ednahospital.org/, a $50 donation pays for a safe hospital delivery.

Or there's the Mother's Day Movement (http://mothersdaymovement.org/) which is supporting a clean water initiative in Uganda. With access to water, some girls will no longer have to drop out of school to haul water.


We inevitably feel helpless when terrible things happen, but these are practical steps to fight a blow against extremism while honoring some of those brave Nigerian girls who are missing — like Deborah, Naomi, Hauwa, Pindar, Mary, Monica, Grace, Esther, Aisha, Ruth, Saraya, Blessing, Gloria, Christy, Tabitha, Helen, Amina, Hasana and Rhoda. We may not be able to rescue them, but we can back them up."

See Kristof's whole article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/08/opinion/kristof-honoring-the-missing-schoolgirls.html?_r=1
 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Shopping For Knowledge!

Well, finally, the gorgeous spring weather seems to want to stick around.  School will continue for seven more weeks, and I’m sure the kids are counting.  If you’re like me, you worry about what will happen to your kids’ brains during the 2 ½ months of summer while they enjoy their well deserved break from school.

Keep in mind that learning is a continuous process.  I’m not in school, but I learn every day by reading the newspaper and novels.  Many people enjoy mind games and brain training games, like those found on Lumosity.com. Hopefully, many of us will have the chance to take our children to local museums and historical sites this summer.

Learning and brain exercises of some kind should never take too much of a break. With that in mind, I wrote an article for The Washington Parent called A Field Trip to the Grocery Store, which you can view here:

http://washingtonparent.com/articles/1405/1405-field-trip-to-the-grocery-store.php

Happy Learning!


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Homework Time: How Much is Enough?

When I was in college, I thought I needed to spend hours and hours studying, but it was too much time, and I ultimately wasted much of it wandering around the library, looking at unrelated books, and talking with friends. My first quarter grades reflected my lack of focus.  The second quarter, I tried a new approach.  I allowed two hours per day for homework and focused the whole time on my work.  The result was better attention and better grades.

How much time do your children set aside for homework and, most importantly, is it focused time? Do your children stay up too late doing homework?  Can you pinpoint the reasons?
  • One subject or problem is taking too long. 
  • Student is wasting time, or not focused. 
  • One or more teachers assigned too much work. 
  • The student is procrastinating or avoiding one or more assignments. 
Comment on this post using your Google account, and join in on the conversation! Let's pinpoint the trouble areas with the goal of doing homework faster and more efficiently. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Technology is Great, but too much Can Be Detrimental

 


There is no doubt that the use of technology has enhanced productivity and learning in many ways.  However, some of us are suspicious of the effects of overuse, and for good reason.  I recently attended a seminar by William Stixrud, an well known local neuropsychologist, and I would like to share with you what I learned.

Did you know that self regulation and executive functions (which control organization and planning) are better predictors of academic success than IQ? This applies to all grade levels, including college.

Research has found that increased technology use is associated with poorer executive and self regulation skills. (On the other hand, free play helps with executive functions.) Self regulation is associated with impulse control and the ability to plan and wait for a reward.  Think about which situations provide delayed rewards and which provide immediate rewards.  Video games are tempting because they provide instant gratification, and thus they are difficult competition with books, homework, chores, etc.

Engaging in too much technology not only hinders our patience with delayed rewards, but also plays a role in reducing creativity, active play and exercise, and sleep, all important factors in being healthy.  Time spent with technology also takes away from needed mental down time to just chill.

·         Does your child sleep with her phone and text people in the middle of the night?  Research has shown that 87% of teen cell phone users sleep with their phones on.

·         Are you and other family members constantly on the alert for emails and texts?  Are you on your phone instead of personally interacting with other family members?

·         Do you have family dinners?  Are family members attached to their phones at dinner or engaged in live conversations?

·         Are you addicted to Facebook?

Like most people these days, I frequently check my emails and voice mails. However, I rarely text and am the only member of my family without a smart phone and without a personal Facebook account.  I like to be in the real world.  When I’m out, I like to talk to actual people and enjoy nature.  If my friends have something personal to tell me, they know how to find me.  Sometimes I miss the opportunity to Google something on the spot, but I can wait. 

I don’t expect you to give up your phone, but consider having technology free periods of the day for your whole family.  Don’t let your kids sleep with their phones; the phones should be off and charging overnight.  Enjoy your e-books, but once in awhile get some regular books from the library.  Spend some unplugged time with your kids, doing something you all enjoy. Choose activities that involve nature, like hiking, camping, and biking; studies show that both nature and exercise can help reduce stress. Taking away your kids’ technology for periods of time may be hard, but it can provide appealing alternatives instead.  Ultimately, it will be worth the effort.

Studies have shown that screen time is an independent risk factor for stress, as well as attention and behavioral problems.  Screens of all kinds are here to stay, but take the challenge to find more alluring things to do.

 
Written by Cheryl Gedzelman, taken from lecture by William Stixrud, Ph.D. clinical neuropsychologist.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

New SAT Changes Will Be More In Line With Reality


David Coleman, President of the College Board, announced changes to the SAT that will be implemented in the spring of 2016.  These changes, overall, are meant for the SAT to be better aligned with high school, college, and career work.

Here are the major changes that were announced:


1.      The exam will be three hours instead of the current three hours and 45 minutes.  This is because the essay will be optional.  (Because students are currently allowed only 25 minutes to write an essay that takes about two minutes to grade, it is questionable how useful the current essays are.) 

2.      The score will return to a 1600 scale from the current 2400 scale.

3.      The exam will be available in both paper and digital forms.
 
4.      There will no longer be a penalty for wrong answers (like the ACT).

5.      Every SAT will include a passage from a “Founding Document” such as the Declaration of Independence.

6.      There will no longer be “obscure” vocabulary words.  Instead, the vocabulary words will be those “widely used in college and career” (College Board).

7.      The math section will allow calculators only in certain sections.


Because the exam will be more attuned to high school work, the goal, according to Coleman, is for students to do well on the SAT as a result of working hard in high school, and should not need to spend as much time studying specifically for the SAT.  In addition, the SAT content and scores will be a better predictor of college success.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Procrastination

We all do it.  However, when our children procrastinate doing their homework, it is frustrating because we lack control – we can’t make them focus, concentrate and get it done.  At least with our own undesirable chores, like paying bills, we know we will eventually get down to it when we have to.

Sometimes procrastination isn’t so bad.  When the deadline approaches, the adrenaline and focus kick in and we hunker down and do the task at hand.  The problem with my children’s procrastinating is that while most of the time they do eventually get their homework done, it is often past the desired bedtime, causing anxiety and lack of sleep.  There are no easy answers, but I have done some research and found a few strategies that work.


Here are some tips to conquer procrastination, for parents, children, and teens:

·         Start with an easy task that won’t take too much effort to accomplish.

·         When tackling a hard or complicated task, just get started with 10% of it.  You can break it down into parts rather than doing it all at once.  At the very least, open up the books and do one problem or write one sentence, and come back to it later.

·         Visualize how you will feel and what you will do with your free time after you have completed your tasks.

·         Make a to-do list, with or without times for each task.  Check off each task when it is completed.

·         Alternatively, don’t make a to-do list, but every time you accomplish something, write down what you did and check it off.

·         Offer yourself a break or reward after each task or part of a big task. (If it’s food, have something healthy)

·         Get some physical exercise before, in between, or after.  When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which trigger a positive and energizing feeling, which helps with motivation.

·         Steer clear of distractions.  Find a quiet place and quiet time.  Try to control impulses to constantly check your phone, or leave your phone in another room.


Do you have a tip that has worked for you or someone in your family?  Send it our way.


Just to show that procrastination is universal, see the following link to the Procrastination Musical – I hope it makes you laugh.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xi3aEGo8y-E

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Recognizing Different Learning Styles

Each of us takes in outside information through our five senses; processing that information, however, is not so universal. Have you ever wondered why your child seems to understand something better after viewing a graph, or hearing a story read out loud? Maybe he uses flash cards for vocabulary tests or revels in a hands-on science experiment. These preferences may not seem all that important, especially if your child is doing well in school, but for those students who struggle academically, a brief investigation into their particular learning styles might prove useful for success.

It should come as no surprise that Education is not a "one-size-fits-all" endeavor. No two people are exactly alike, so it makes sense that not everyone learns in the exact same way. There have been many studies done on this subject, and there are, of course, different schools of thought, but the most widely accepted conclusion seems to be that there are three distinctive learning styles. They are: Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic. Here is some information about each one:

  • Visual Learners learn best when looking at graphics, watching a demonstration, or simply reading. They are "big picture" people, and are often interested in layout and design. Charts, graphs, and pictures are usually helpful, while just listening is not. If your child is a visual learner, she might want to try color coding her notes, learning the bigger concepts first before focusing on details, using flash cards, and removing excess visual distractions while studying (i.e. an open window).
  • Auditory Learners learn best when things are explained to them out loud; because of this, your child may recite information to himself while studying. Often these students will process things by talking about them, rather than talk about things after processing them. Auditory learners can benefit from listening to recorded lectures, utilizing study groups and discussion materials, and studying with background music.
  • Kinesthetic Learners process information through hands-on experience. For them, doing an activity like going on a field trip or performing a science experiment is the easiest way to learn. They prefer their learning to be connected with reality. If your child is predominantly a kinesthetic learner, have him take frequent study breaks to move around, learn new material while doing something active, or try to take classes with teachers who encourage demonstrations and fieldwork.

Interestingly enough, most people actually use a combination of all three learning styles but display a clear preference for one. It is very important to remember that while your child might favor one or even two learning styles, it is not set in stone. Training a child early on in learning styles other than the one he prefers can help him utilize multiple learning methods when he is older. This is important, as relying on a single learning style can debilitate a child's true potential.

If your child is struggling in school, experiment with alternative methods of study, and talk to the teacher about how information is usually presented in class.  Most teachers teach orally and visually, but if your child has told you otherwise, you can ask the teacher to write things down for the visual learner or explain more thoroughly for the auditory learner. A tutor can teach to the student's primary learning style and also encourage her to try different learning styles with games, visual aids, discussion techniques, and even computer programs.

Help your children discover how they learn best, and then you and your children will have more control over the learning process.