Tuesday, October 25, 2016

National Bullying Prevention Month: How to Stop Bullying

How to Stop Bullying

In observance of National Bullying Prevention Month, we are taking the opportunity to highlight the seriousness of bullying and some strategies to prevent and stop it.

Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose. (stopbullying.gov)

“You will not bully, intimidate, or harass any user,” Facebook requires people to pledge when they sign up. Users also agree not to fake their identities or to post content that is hateful or pornographic (The Atlantic)

Most of us have been a victim of bullying at some time in our lives.  As we have seen by news reports of suicides that resulted from being bullied, bullying is a serious matter.  I hope these strategies will help some of you find ways to prevent and stop bullying.

Types of Bullying

Physical: Hitting, punching, kicking, picking a fight
Verbal: name calling, insults, teasing, mean jokes, gossip
Emotional: Purposely leaving someone out or embarrassing them
Cyber-bullying: spreading rumors online or receiving insulting texts by phone, text, or email

Strategies for Children and Teens

Physical: Do not engage.  Assertively tell the person to stop and walk away.  If there is a fight, you will get hurt and also get in trouble.
1.      Look the bully in the eye and firmly tell him to stop.  Be assertive and use confident body language.  Example:  “Cut it out, Jim!”  Stand up tall.  Think to yourself, he is acting like a jerk and won’t get away with putting me down.
2.      Stay calm.  Even if you feel upset, don’t let your emotions show.
3.      If the bullying persists, tell an adult you trust who can make an impact.  Telling is not the same as tattling.
4.      If you see someone being bullied, stand up for him or her, and try to get some friends to join you.  Offer friendship to a victim.
5.      If you are tempted to tease someone in a mean way, think about what it would be like if someone were doing this to you.  Look for your better side.
Emotional:  This kind of bullying can often be found inside your social group.  You can tell the perpetrators to stop, and you can seek other friends who treat you with respect.
Cyber-bullying: You can report this to the service provider, which can block the person from trying to contact you.

Strategies for Parents

1.      Pay attention.  If you notice something is wrong with your child, talk about it. Converse with your child on a daily basis and be open to hearing things you don’t like without being critical, so your child will confide in you.
2.      If you find out your child is being bullied, take it seriously and take action.  Suggest the strategies above.
3.      If you find out your child is a bully, it is time to have a serious discussion about the implications.

No one deserves to be bullied.  Do not tolerate it for yourself or others.  Together, we can make the world a kinder place.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Top 5 Grammar Mistakes

Top 5 Grammar Mistakes

If you want to look smart, it is best to reduce your grammar mistakes.  Here are five of the most common mistakes made even by excellent writers!

1.       Using an apostrophe for a plural word – example: The class will meet on Wednesday’s.  This is plural, so it should by Wednesdays.  If you aren’t sure about adding an apostrophe, ask yourself if the word is plural or possessive.  A possessive word gets an apostrophe, like “the bike’s tire is flat.”

The most common misuse of the apostrophe that I’ve seen refers to a family – you should write “the Johnsons,” not “the Johnson’s”.

2.       Using an apostrophe for its when it isn’t possessive– example: “The tree lost it’s leaves” is incorrect because “its” is not a contraction for “it is.”  The correct sentence is, “The tree lost its leaves.”  Also correct is “It’s time to go” because in this case, “it’s” is a contraction for “it is.”

3.       Capitalization Remember that you only capitalize proper nouns, which are the names of people or places.  For example, “our school’s principal” is not capitalized, while “Principal Heller” is, since it is a name.

For a title, you capitalize each word except the small words like is, for, and, about.  A sample title is “All about Eve.”

4.       The use of I – “Henry and I went to the store” is correct because without Henry, it would be “I went to the store.”  In this case, I is the subject.  “They gave Jane and I a big thank you” is not correct because in this case, I is the object, which should be me.  “They gave Jane and me a big thank you” is correct because without Jane, it would be, “They gave me a big thank you,” not “They gave I a big thank you.”  To get this right, just remove the other person and see how it sounds.

5.       Less vs. fewer - Less refers to amount, such as “less water.”  Fewer refers to something that can be measured by number, like “fewer apples.”  About ten years ago, Bob Green, a columnist from The Washington Post, convinced the Giant Supermarket to change the fast line sign from “10 items or less” to “10 items or fewer” so that they could be grammatically correct.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Countdown to the First Day of School

We all know about brain drain that can come from our much needed summer breaks.  Most students can benefit from transitioning back into academics before the first day of school.  Here are some transitions that can pay off next month:

1. Everyone should be reading for pleasure.  It doesn’t matter what you read.  Any kind of reading improves comprehension, fluency, vocabulary, spelling, grammar, and writing.  Always read something enjoyable, and take your book wherever you go.

2. Review math.  You can order review books online or get a tutor to help review last year’s math to get the brain ready for this year.

3. Practice writing.  Send emails or cards to friends and relatives or keep a summer journal.

4. Review for PSAT, SAT, or ACT.  Summer is the best time to practice without having school homework to do as well.

5. Assess your potential needs for the school year.  Working with a tutor or academic coach at the beginning of the school year improves focus and prevents the workload from becoming overwhelming.

6. Start off strong! Contact Tutoring for Success to create your personalized tutoring plan for the 2016-2017 school year.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Making the Most of Summer Break

Summers start off like,

Our idea of summer plans are all,

And then the reality of summer break boredom hits,

We have a few suggestions to cure your families from summer boredom:

Make sure your kids are eating well. Find healthy fun recipes you can make as a family!

Help your kids get enthusiastic about going to the library and signing up for the summer reading program. Have them make lists of must read books for the summer.

Make sure your kids are getting plenty of exercise. Taking them to the pool and enrolling them in fun active summer camps can make the summer fly by.

Make sure your kids are relaxing and resting up from the long school year they just had, and most importantly getting rested up for next year.

Make sure that once in awhile, they remember to review for next year. Who knows? Maybe they will even go into the next year all like,

And don't forget to call Tutoring for Success to check out our special summer rates to help catch up, keep up, or get ahead.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Finishing the school year strong!

With summer break just around the corner, many of us find it difficult to keep our focus strong while approaching the end of the school year. Motivation is dwindling as the thought of school free days get closer and closer. It is possible to regain focus and motivation to achieve the desired success in school we all hope for. Here is a guide to finish the school year out strong!

Get organized!
Make a Schedule of Important Dates for the remainder of the school year including test days, project due dates, and end of the year social functions.

Spend time outside!
Take advantage of the sunny 70 degree days by completing homework assignments and studying for tests outside.

Avoid Cramming
Study in Intervals. Research shows that studying in intervals provides better long-term retention, ultimately leading to higher test results. Study in 30 and 50 minute segments with breaks of 5-10 minutes in between.

Communicate With Teachers
Teachers are most effective when they have the full support and backing of parents, and this time of year is even more critical to have that cooperation. Keep the lines of communication open and be involved whenever you can as a parent.

Diminish Distractions
Put your cell phone in “Do not Disturb Mode”. Study in different locations. Eat snacks to stay energized. Take frequent breaks.

Start planning your summer
If you have something to look forward to upon completion of the school year, by starting to plan your summer you are giving yourself something to work towards.

Use your resources
One of the best ways to prepare for final exams is to work with a tutor to prepare. Tutors can help you identify areas you need help with and create a personalized plan based of your academic ability to prepare.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Hoda Kotb's 10 life lessons for grads

Last weekend there were college graduations and celebrations all over the country.  I was at my niece’s graduation at Tulane University, where I was fortunate to experience one of my favorite speeches ever, by Hoda Kotb from the Today Show.  Her inspiring speech gave us ten valuable pieces of advice for college grads or anybody…

You don’t want to miss this.  Click here to see the speech for yourself.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Making a College Decision by the May 1st “D Day” deadline

If you know any seniors who still haven’t finalized their college decisions, forward this guest blog by Jewel Walwyn, a professional college counselor.

It’s April and you have done the hard part-or so you thought. On your desk at home, or your inbox, sits a cluster of acceptance letters from colleges!  You are college bound, but the problem is, to which one. You carefully chose the colleges to which you will apply and are now faced with options. Options can be great, but you have less than a month to decide which college will help to steer you in the correct trajectory for the rest of your life. No big deal, right?

As you and your parents ponder over and analyze your schools, here are some things to consider that may help to objectively compare the schools beyond that attractive admissions officer that plays the same sport you do!

First, why May 1st:  May 1 is National College Decision Day, so called because the vast majority of U.S. colleges and universities set this as the deadline for students to notify them of their decision to attend. This date determines if you will accept or deny that financial package that is coupled with your acceptance letter.

In order to make a fully informed decision, I recommend considering the following questions that I’ve compiled over the years thanks to many amazing sources:

·        How many students stick around after freshman year?

·        How many students actually graduate?

·        How many students find good jobs after graduation?

·        Which school offers the stronger academic program in which I’m interested?

·        Are there extracurricular activities and social clubs that appeal to me more at one school than another?

·        What kinds of students enjoy attending this school?

Once you’ve created a list of questions, it’s time to find the answers. Here are some places to start your search:

·        If you haven’t already done so and the campus is nearby, visit the campus. A campus visit reveals far more about a college than any website will.

·        Go through the college’s website with a fine toothed comb. Read between the lines to learn about the college’s atmosphere and values.

·        Look over the school newspaper (most are available online). The school paper often offers a glimpse of campus life and available activities.

·        Access the course catalogue (if not available online, most schools will gladly provide one). If the school doesn’t offer interesting courses, you probably don’t want to attend.

·        Contact the admissions officers with any unanswered questions. People who work for the college may be biased, but they also know more about the school than anyone else.

Compare Your Options Once you’re fully informed, it’s decision time. Choosing which college to attend is the first major life decision most students make – it’s a harrowing, terrifying, and exciting experience. Many students are tempted to make this decision purely based on emotion (i.e. “I got into my dream school! It’s expensive, but who cares?”), but this decision must be made in a logical and thoughtful manner.

·        Compare financial aid packages. This can be trickier than it sounds- rule out any schools that are too far beyond your family’s means.

·        Make a pro and con list for each school. Sometimes seeing all of the possible benefits and consequences in black and white can make the decision easier.

·        If you are still stuck, go with your gut. You will spend roughly 4 years living and studying at this school – ultimately, it is you who will have to decide what is right for you.

Respond Correctly There’s a bit more to finalizing a college decision than simply sending in a form. Follow these steps to get all your ducks in a row:

·        Send your Statement of Intent to Register and your deposit to your chosen college. Make sure to re-read all the materials that came from the colleges so that you submit every required document!

·        Notify the other colleges that you will not be attending. Many schools will already have sent a form that essentially asks you to “check yes or no” – if so, simply submit that form. If there was no form, notify the colleges in writing. Don’t feel obligated to include an explanation – a brief note stating that you have carefully weighed your options and decided to attend another school will suffice. Notifying your reject colleges might seem like a massive waste of time, but it’s the polite thing to do. There are hundreds (if not thousands) of other students on the wait list, and by notifying the college that you will not attend, you open your spot to another student.

·        Review any and all paperwork your college has sent. Make note of any additional applications and deadlines (such as housing applications). Check to see whether the college requests a final transcript, immunization documents, or other documentation and submit the appropriate documents in a timely manner.

Once all of this has been finished, you can breathe a sigh of relief – the long and arduous road to college admission is FINALLY done

Jewel Walwyn, M.Ed. is a college counselor at School Counseling Group located on Mac Arthur Blvd in Washington, DC. With over 15 years of experience, Jewel guides students and families through the college process. She specializes in helping students with learning disabilities as well transfer students, adult students, and those seeking a gap year.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Keeping Motivated after Spring Break


The Spring weather is warm and beautiful, making homework even harder to attend to.  You can commiserate with your kids, right?  Here are some ideas for them to keep motivated:

1.      Look at the big picture and at the future.  Picture yourself holding up a report card filled with A’s and B’s.  Picture yourself attending the college of your choice.  Picture yourself at your dream job.

2.      Readjust your daily schedule.  What time of day are you most productive?  Try to concentrate your studying then while still getting to sleep at a reasonable time.


3.      Reward yourself.  Keep study sessions to about 45 minutes and then take a break.  Do something fun when your homework is finished.

4.      Find a Study Buddy.  It’s more fun, and often more productive, to study with a friend.  You can get together or use Facetime.

5.      Exercise and Eat Healthy.  Almost everyone is more efficient with a good night’s sleep and sufficient exercise.  Lots of carbs drag you down.  Focus on protein, vegetables, fruit, and whole grains.  Try to find healthy snacks.  Look into “brain food” to maximize productivity.

6.      Write Down Everything.  It is much easier to get everything done with a “To Do” list.  Keep a list of long term assignments and tests, too, so you can break up tasks.


7.      Start Waking up Earlier on Weekends.  This requires a lot of self control, but keeping a weekend sleep schedule close to the weekday schedule is best for your biorhythms.  Also, you can get more done.  Try it once and see if the pay-off is worth it.

8.      Schedule an Hour of Quiet Time at Night.  This may be difficult to fit in, but will help you relax and get a good night’s sleep.  It is best for sleeping to read a regular book at night rather than look at a screen.

9.      Identify a Study Spot (or not).  Some people do best with a regular place to study (preferably free from distractions) and others do best rotating their study spots.  Find out which works best for you.


Do you or your children have other strategies to keep motivated?  Please share.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Balancing Act for Parents

SixThings I’ve Learned as a Mom

1. Your children are not you and won’t do things your way.

2.  Kids do not like to be told what to do.

3. Nagging doesn’t help and often backfires.

4. Support does help.

5. Listening helps a lot.

6. Laughter is the best cure for stress.


During my many conversations with parents, I have discovered the consensus that for many of us, parenting is the hardest job we will ever do.  We have to balance love, acceptance, and support with frustration, stress, and, in some cases, manipulation.  We have to be strict, but not too strict.  We have to let our kids be themselves and learn from mistakes without being a helicopter parent.  We have to offer support without suffocation.

So how do we determine which supports our children need?  This is where listening comes to play.  The trick is to listen and show empathy and understanding (“so you feel frustrated by your workload…”, “I know it feels awful when you’re fighting with a friend…”) without offering advice unless asked.

If the problem is that your child is an emotional mess, maybe therapy is an option.  If your child feels out of control with school work and homework, maybe he needs an academic coach.  If he does not understand math or physics, maybe he needs a tutor.  Most of the time, your children are not disorganized, time challenged, or failing a subject in order to irk you.

There are just a few months left until June.  Let the small things go, enforce discipline if needed, and listen to your children’s concerns.  As most of you already know, a little support can go a long way.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Making the Most of a Snow Day

With all these January snow days, it is so tempting, for parents and students alike, to stay in pajamas, watch TV, and be social media junkies.  While there is STUFF THAT SHOULD GET DONE, it is oh so much easier to procrastinate.

So we put together a list that could possibly get you up from the couch.

1.      Organize.  This is not fun in itself, but here are the benefits.  If you do it with at least one other person, you can have fun.  Make fun of ridiculous stuff that has made its way to the back of a drawer.  Put on entertaining music.  Dance around the house while you are putting things in their proper places.  Recycle all those papers you no longer need.  File some away in folders for later use.  Set a goal of one drawer/cabinet/backpack/binder or one hour, and celebrate afterwards.  Revel in having more space for future materials that will seem important at the time.  Think about how much faster homework will go when you don’t have to look for papers.  They will be purged, and you will know where everything is.

2.     Shovel.  Don’t wait until the snow is over, or it will be too heavy to lift.  Be aware that shoveling is a major cause of heart attacks.  Be sure to take breaks.  This is much more fun with two or more people, and think about what great exercise you will get!

3.      Study for Midterms.  Speaking of getting better grades, midterms count a lot.  Don’t just read over your notes.  Spend extra time reviewing weak areas.  Answer questions from the text book.  Practice math problems.  Study with a friend or family member who is also stuck at home.  Look at the future, how your productive preparation will result in excellent grades.

4.      Practice an SAT or ACT.  This is mainly applicable for high school juniors.  While tutoring can help up your scores, practicing actual tests helps even more.  The College Board has released practice tests online for the new SAT, and many prep books are available.  If you take a full SAT and ACT, you can find out which one you are better at.  You don’t need to take the whole test at once.  It is fine to complete a section or two a day, and be sure to reward yourself afterwards.

5.      Read for pleasure.  In my many years as an educator, there is no doubt in my mind that reading for pleasure is the best predictor of school success.  You can effortlessly improve vocabulary, reading fluency, spelling, grammar, and writing.  In addition, the best practice for the reading section of the SAT and ACT is to spend time reading different types of nonfiction –science, biography, history, etc.  During the school year, it’s hard to find the time to read for pleasure, but during a blizzard, you have the time.  Have a reading party, where everyone in your family sits around reading.  Then you can take breaks and discuss, but only for fun.  Reading for pleasure is not work.

6.      Get some fresh air.  It’s cold and windy, but challenge yourself.  If you wear the right clothes, you should be OK.  Discover unique things that can only be done with large quantities of snow.

7.      Bake.  There is nothing quite like freshly baked goodies during a snow storm.  For younger children, you can practice measurement and following instructions at the same time.

8.      Connect with friends and Family.  Face time or Skype with relatives who are also stuck at home.  Hang out with friends from the neighborhood.  Have a sleep-over.  Build a campsite indoors.

9.      Catch up on Homework.  Middle and high school students are well aware that the second quarter and semester will end within the next two weeks.  If you are behind in any homework or projects, this is obviously an ideal time to catch up.  I know it’s hard to get into homework mode on your day off, but think about going back to school all caught up and increasing your chances of getting better grades.  If possible, make this more fun by teaming up with a friend.

10.  Check in on elderly neighbors.  Maybe they need their driveway shoveled or just some companionship and cookies.