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IT REQUIRES MORE THAN ACADEMICS TO CREATE SUCCESSFUL LIFE-LONG LEARNERS My tutoring philosophy is about balance. My obligation to my students - which may include roles as teacher, counselor, mentor, and/or role model - is to foster various traits which increase my students' likelihood of success - in school, professionally, and as human beings. According to the Johnson O'Connor Foundation, and various other longitudinal studies, the single best predictor of success both in school and occupation is a large vocabulary. A large vocabulary has been shown to enhance reading comprehension and fluency, improve critical thinking, and make communication in all fields more effective. But, it is also crucial to understand that, as absolutely critical as text based literacy skills are, it is easily possible to have a large vocabulary and still struggle with reading. I know this well from my own daughter’s experience and many of the students I have worked with. So,... read more

We played a lot of games in kindergarten; so it came as no surprise when the first grade was almost identical. This was Ms. Huff’s first year teaching and my education paid the price: I scored below my grade level on multiple subjects. School administrators decided that Ms. Huff would make a better kindergarten teacher two years later. However, the questioned still remained about what my parents and the school were going to do about my low test scores (I bet you can guess what the school suggested). Fortunately, my parents concluded that my test scores should not condemn me to another year in the first grade. My parents decided to enroll me in a reading camp at the University of Houston that summer. I had no idea why I was in this class. Things were different – we worked. The class helped me develop a foundation and maybe even a false sense of confidence. After that summer, I can remember walking into my class and asking my teacher if I could be the second grade reading champion... read more

There are several points in grade school that involve a critical shift in the thinking that is required in the school work.  Parent's should be aware of these points as they navigate through the abyss of raising a school-aged child and supporting the child as he/she moves forward through the grades.   3rd Grade - The third grader is transitioning from whole number thinking into understanding the concepts of parts.  They are exposed to fractions, decimals and percentages.  This is a major paradigm shift.  Students are also exposed to long division at this point.  Supporting children in this phase requires an emphasis on helping the child conceptualize whole things being split into parts.  In addition to homework support, tutoring, and supplementary work, parents should introduce cooking chores to children at this time, and make them follow a recipe that has precise measurements.  Reading comprehension and writing is also an issue here... read more

The answer: Let them read what they like. Most kids have a preference. For instance, some children will not read chapter books, but they love non- fiction text with pictures and captions, great vocabulary, and scientific or historic content. Standards actually encourage this type of reading.  Some kid's love reading dictionaries, encyclopedias, magazines, and even religious stories. Video games have manuals and books on tips and strategies. Many include complex organization. Let them read!  Rarely, I have met a child who completely repels all literary content.      Watch what texts your child naturally gravitates towards; then feed that interest with diverse literary texts.     

By far, one of the most difficult concepts in elementary mathematics is fractions...and it is all our fault. One of the major misconceptions among many education systems was that early exposure to fractions would help students learn them. This meant attempting to introduce fractions before students could even multiply or divide. You have no idea the trauma this has had among decades of students. Education systems created self-induced math anxiety.   For years I had to address what I can only describe as fraction PTSD. I had talented Algebra students immediately clam up if the problem had a fraction. Now as a teacher I of course did my job and we spent time trying to get ourselves comfortable with fractions but in the back of my mind I knew I was using valuable class time to address an issue that simply shouldn't even rear it's ugly head in Algebra. But every year it was there. Students were crying, parents were crying, and teachers were crying over the fraction crisis... read more

By far, one of the most difficult concepts in elementary mathematics is fractions...and it is all our fault. One of the major misconceptions among many education systems was that early exposure to fractions would help students learn them. This meant attempting to introduce fractions before students could even multiply or divide. You have no idea the trauma this has had among decades of students. Education systems created self-induced math anxiety.   For years I had to address what I can only describe as fraction PTSD. I had talented Algebra students immediately clam up if the problem had a fraction. Now as a teacher I of course did my job and we spent time trying to get ourselves comfortable with fractions but in the back of my mind I knew I was using valuable class time to address an issue that simply shouldn't even rear it's ugly head in Algebra. But every year it was there. Students were crying, parents were crying, and teachers were crying over the fraction crisis... read more

Monday, December 9, 2013   More families are looking for alternatives to traditional public schools. School closings and teaching faculty reductions are leading to over – crowded classrooms that don’t seem to meet all student’s needs. Home schooling is one educational option available to families seeking an alternative to their local public school system. This article highlights four things that will help you get your home school off to a good start while meeting all of your student’s educational needs. 1. What can you teach successfully? As an adult, chances are you can remember that one subject you were good at in school. Whether it came naturally for you, or you simply studied hard and still remember the content, you probably know the subject well enough to teach it to your home school students. However, you should still take some time to decide whether or not you can teach the subject to your students. Unless you have teaching experience as a classroom... read more

Back-to-School Smart Tips It’s FINALLY almost time for school again, and I know a lot of you are excited (I know I am!), but there some excellent pointers to keep in mind as school starts back up again. Before school starts: 1. Get a really good planner you like. Most students aren’t accustomed to using planners or don’t keep up with it. Planners, whether you know it or not, are just as important, if not more important than binders and pencils. I know that all through middle school, high school, and college, I would have been completely lost without my planner. Planners are EXCELLENT for writing down quiz dates, test dates, homework, and after-school activities. Some schools will sell planners and those can be excellent, but I also recommend looking around at Office Depot, Barnes and Noble, or Wal-Mart/Target for other general planners that organize by time and day. Weekly planners typically do not work well for people with full schedules, so try to stay away from those... read more

For those struggling to get their kids into reading - This is a long post, but I successfully get 95% of my students to want to read non-stop within the first 2 months of school and I would like to share this with you. I kid you not, I have more of a problem with my students reading under their desks during other classes than trying to get them to read. I dunno about you, but I think that is actually a good problem to have! Parents, you can adapt what I am doing from my classroom to your home with ease. --------------------------------------------------------------------------- It's a tricky business. Kids, typically, don't like reading for pleasure. Well, not at first that is. There are a few fundamental reasons for this. 1. They are forced to read. It isn't an option "you must read for 30 minutes each night because I said so and it's good for you," etc. When kids (especially pre-teens/teenagers) are told to do something, they immediately don't want to do... read more

Although learning is awesome, it can be a difficult and frustrating journey for many students. This difficulty, however, is often times quite normal although most feel it means that a child may not be able to learn or that he/she is so frustrated that learning is no longer taking place. This is where the experienced tutor steps in; for frustration in learning is a part of the learning itself. I have taught and tutored many students and have seen first hand how this frustration can leave some students, and their parents, feeling helpless and hopeless. But there is ALWAYS Hope!!! What they have failed to realize is that as the brain learns difficult concepts, it can only take in parts at a time, little parts at a time. So although it may seem no learning is taking place, it actually is, just in smaller segments. In fact, the most frustration comes right before a new concept is achieved. This is when most children become the 'most' frustrated. The may not want to go to school, complain... read more

Hello Scholars! It sure is lonely here at my desk waiting for scholars to respond...anyway I was just reviewing some Word Ladder puzzles...they are so much fun to do and I remembered that word searches of any kind help build vocabulary spelling skills. Is this something I could help anyone out there with? I started a new science experiment too...how long will it take for cheese to mold underwater? Hope to hear from a few scholars soon. Mrs. B

Virtual education’s popularity is on the rise. Parents have a wide variety of schools to choose from if they decide to enroll their children in a virtual school. This can make choosing a virtual school that's right for your children difficult. This article summarizes five important things to consider when choosing a virtual school for your children. 1. Independent Study vs. Live Instruction First, review the school’s website and any literature they have to see whether they use a live, online learning environment or if students will learn content in an independent study setting. There are pros and cons to each. An exhaustive list is outside of the scope of this article. In my experience as a former virtual schoolteacher, high school students can handle independent study with the right amount of supervision from their parents, middle school students cannot. They need the structure that live, online classes provide. Live, online classes typically use the same virtual meeting... read more

If you had asked my middle school students to describe our class routines, you might have thought I was their English teacher, not Social Studies. As a teacher and tutor, I’ve tried to pass on a legacy for the love of reading to my students. I often tell them, “If you can read, you can teach yourself anything.” In this article, I will give you some tips on how to get your children to read more, and more often. It’s Not Magic! Occasionally, parents visited my classroom to ask, “How do you do it?” They were usually referring to the success of my Friday Silent Reading routine. Each fall, I explained the importance of literacy to my students and said that practice is best way to improve reading skills. I told them that I expected them to bring a book of their choice to class every day, to read it if they finished all the day’s scheduled activities I’d given them, and that the first 20 minutes of class every Friday was reserved for sustained silent reading. Parents seemed... read more

Unless you or your child attends a year – round school, summer vacation begins sometime in the next week or so. College students have read more pages than they thought humanly possible, taken many exams, written research papers, and stayed up way too late over the past 10 months. Parents of school – aged children have helped with homework, gone to parent/ teacher conferences, E-mailed teachers, and maybe volunteered for one activity too many. This article will help you understand the importance of continuing your/ your child’s learning over the summer and lists several suggestions on how to make the fall back - to - school transition much easier! Suffer No Setbacks Educational researchers agree that students need to continue their education over the summer or they stand to lose up to three (3) months worth of the previous year’s learning. Think about that for a minute. It’s like going to class from March to May for no reason! Unless you keep learning over the summer, you’ll... read more

May is a busy month for schools. Standardized tests, field trips, and graduation planning takes center stage. Teachers meet with parents of struggling students as well as those who would benefit from summer enrichment classes to discuss summer school enrollment. This article will help parents/ guardians decide whether or not to enroll their child(ren) in summer school. A "Bad Rap" The words “summer school” tend to stir negative thoughts. Many parents and students falsely believe that going to summer school is a bad thing. Some cite teasing as a reason for not sending their child to summer school. Others think that their child will become overwhelmed without a summer break. In truth, research has shown that students who do not participate in any school – related activities during a two – month summer break can lose up to three months of the previous year’s learning! Teachers always include nearly a month’s worth of “re-teaching” (reviewing the previous year’s content)... read more

The last article of this series taught readers how to create academic standards – based unit and lesson plans. The key to writing useful lesson and unit plans is creating clear goal and objective statements. This article teaches readers the similarities and differences between the two statements and gives three tips for creating clear, content – relevant goals and objectives. Similarities and Differences Both types of statements must relate to a manageable piece of content. Goals and objectives suffer when they encompass too much content. An example of a goal statement that is too large is, “Students will be able to write a novel”. There are many smaller steps students should accomplish before students can complete this goal. A better goal statement is, “Students will be able to list the parts of a novel”. You can creatively teach this to your child(ren) in one day. Goals and objectives are typically 15 words or less and do not include the word “and”. If you have written... read more

I learned in my human development class that babies learn through repetition = Rote memory You may have also witnessed the ease with which the ABC's were learned. Mary Had a Little Lamb? Twinkle Twinkle? It is easier to commit something to memory through a song. Why is it so easy to remember that annoying tune on the radio? To better memorize - Words - Phrases - Rules (Grammatical, mathematical etc) Try putting it to a simple song tune. Ex My 2 year old learned how to spell his name BINGO style. L-O-G-A-N.

The first two articles in this series covered how to prepare to home school your child(ren). If you’re following along, you’re probably asking yourself the most logical question: how do I know what to teach every day and how do I teach it? The simple answer is, “By pre-planning using unit and daily lesson plans.” This article explains unit and lesson plans, why they’re important to home schooling parents, and how to write each of these plans. What are unit and lesson plans? In part two of this series, I defined curriculum as “what is taught”. While that’s true, this definition can also be used for unit and lesson plans. Unit and lesson plans are written as a series of step - by - step instructions that explain exactly what you will teach, how you will teach it, the state or national academic standards that say you must teach it, and a list of books and materials you will need to teach the lesson successfully. Both lesson and unit plans state how you will check (or “assess”)... read more

In the first article of this series, I reviewed the steps that parents should take to make sure their child(ren) transition smoothly and legally from traditional schools to home schooling. This includes: researching and submitting necessary state department of education paperwork, creating a school year and school day schedule, choosing subjects and books/ materials, and setting learning goals. What’s next? This article explains how to plan each subject along with projects, quizzes, and tests to ensure your home school is successful. 1. Create a curriculum calendar. This is not the same as creating a school year or school day calendar. A curriculum calendar breaks down each subject you’ll teach so the material is spread evenly across your school year calendar. Use the school year learning goals you created along with the state or national subject standards for each class you’ll teach. Read the entire state or national standard before finalizing your curriculum calendar. You... read more

Parents consider home schooling their child(ren) for a number of reasons. Some may be dissatisfied with the curriculum offered by local public and private schools. Others may travel a lot and want their children to experience other countries and cultures. Whatever your reason for considering home schooling, this series of articles will teach you basic steps to take to begin home schooling your child(ren). Today’s article teaches you six important first steps to ensuring a successful and legal transition from traditional school settings to home school. 1. Review state home schooling laws. The first step you should take is to research your state’s home school related education. These regulations are easily found on the internet by entering “home school” in the search box on your state’s department of education website. This will tell you everything you need to know about needed documentation, deadlines, how to withdraw your child(ren) from public school to begin home schooling, and... read more

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