Is Less More?

Our children see less of us so we can earn more in order to give them more. Parents zealously book after-school activities hopeful that they will benefit children physically and mentally. But the combined effects of pressure to achieve and isolation from parents promote stress in children, according to Suniya Luthar, a psychology professor at Teachers College, Columbia University.

Less Time at Karate…More Time with You

Take a critical look at your child’s after-school schedule and talk with him or her about it. Consider eliminating an activity your child favors least. Cut highly competitive activities where children may be openly criticized for performance. Being shamed in front of peers undermines self-esteem and discourages children from trying new things. Consider dropping activities that are not well supervised or have little adult involvement.

Elect activities with the potential to build self-confidence. In his new book, “How Children Succeed,” author Paul Tough puts forth that non cognitive skills such as self-confidence and curiosity are more important than cognitive skills like those measured by IQ tests in achieving success. If your child likes to draw an after-school art class may promote his or her confidence in a low-stress environment. If your child needs academic help, find a tutor who knows how to scaffold instruction in a way that develops self-confidence while building academic skill.

Evaluating and reducing your child’s after-school commitments, leaving more time to renew and strengthen his or her connection to you,will reduce stress and fortify your child for the challenges ahead.

Posted in Tutors | Leave a comment

How to Reduce Back to School Anxiety

Starting a new school year is like starting a new job.  You may know the basics, but the people and the particulars make it completely different. Like adults, new situations create anxiety for children. Find the source of your child’s anxiety and address it.

Teacher – Deserved or undeserved, your child’s new teacher may have a reputation for being mean. Explain to your child that the teacher is looking for students to show what they already know about class room behavior; he or she wants to get right to learning and hates wasting time getting kids to pay attention. If your child’s concerns about the new teacher have not abated by the end of the second week of school, consider sending the teacher a note. Introduce yourself. If you can do so honestly, compliment the teacher by telling her you believe your child will thrive in an environment that is safe and secure and where everyone is expected to succeed. Tell the teacher you look forward to meeting her on open school night to discuss your child’s progress. Having a relationship with her will make it easier to talk to her should your child’s unhappiness in the classroom persist.

Friends – If your child is in a brand new situation, get the class list from the school, introduce yourself to other parents, and invite them for a play date at your house. If their interest is weak or they don’t reciprocate, move on to the next name on the list. Even if your child has friends from previous years, encourage him or her to make new ones. Shared interests are a great basis for friendship. Encourage your child to seek out others in the classroom that like animals, drawing, astronomy, or music. If you have a younger child, arrange a play date to a zoo, museum, or concert.  For older children, volunteer to arrange outings for them based on their shared interests.

Academics – Teachers review the prior year’s skills before launching into new material.  If your child shows signs of struggling, don’t wait. Falling behind creates enormous anxiety and shame. Get help from a tutor who will review and practice last year’s skills with your child. If you don’t have a personal referral for a tutor,  look for a tutoring agency that has been in business for a while. Tutoring agencies have built up large pools of tutors to choose from, so you’ll be able to find one who can meet your child’s specific needs. The added benefit of using a tutoring agency is that their tutors have already been screened for expertise in their subject areas. Some tutoring agencies offer the added convenience of online tutoring.

Organization - The older children get, the more teachers expect them to get and stay organized.  If your child struggles in this area, help him sort out the day’s work by subject and deadline. Learn the organization system the teacher uses and periodically review its principles with your child. If your child’s notes are unclear, most teachers have homework assignments posted on their websites.

Whether your child is worried about making friends or a new teacher, parents can play a significant part in helping to ease the transition into the new school year.

Posted in Tutors | Leave a comment

How to Find the Right Tutor for Your Child

Word of mouth is the best way to find a professional, but without a referral, you are left to navigate a maze of agencies and individuals offering similar educational services. These guidelines will help you find the right tutor for your child.

  • Licensed – Find a tutor who is NYS certified.
  • Experienced – Ask how many students a prospective tutor has worked with in your child’s subject area and grade level. Ideally, he or she will be able to provide data that shows robust, consistent progress.  Tutoring agencies collect this information and can easily cull it.
  • Verified – Do a background check before you hire someone.Another advantage to using a tutoring agency is that it does all the screening for you. Agencies confirm certifications, subject expertise, and fingerprint clearance from the Department of Education.
  • Flexible – Another advantage to using an agency is that they can usually find someone to accommodate your child’s specific needs.  For instance, they can provide bilingual tutors for children who need bilingual support in their learning environment.And if your child has special needs, they can hand pick a tutor to help your child.
  • Personable – If possible, meet briefly with a prospective tutor in a neutral setting to get a feeling for whether your child will feel comfortable with him or her.

The ideal tutor is an individual with the skills your child needs and the ability to teach them in a structured setting that is overseen and frequently evaluated. Smaller tutoring agencies, usually independent non franchises, have the flexibility to customize teaching while supervising the progress of learning plans.

What have you learned in your search for a high-quality tutor for your child?

Posted in Tutors | Leave a comment

FiveWays to Ease Education into Your Child’s Summer

Borrow a few simple techniques from the education experts to help prevent summer slide the loss of academic ground during summer break and promote your child’s future academic success.

1. Give your child access to reading materials and allow him or her to choose them however “non-educational” their choices are. Bookstores and libraries are packed with books about the lives of pop icons, fashion, animals, and sports.

2. Read with your child and prompt him to practice reading comprehension strategies by asking him to visualize characters, make predictions about the plot, and summarize events as you read.

3.  Make the most of summer movie blockbusters like Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, Para-Norman, and Brave. See the movie, then read the book with your child and discuss their similarities and differences.

4. Talk about everyday activities to build your child’s background knowledge. After watching a favorite TV show, invite your child to discuss  it. Then share your thoughts with him. Your bank of knowledge and experience add to his.

5.  If your child is tutored during the school year, consider having your child continue working with him or her throughout the summer.  If your child doesn’t have a tutor, the summer is a great time for him to start working with one. Independent tutoring companies, like Tutors on Wheels, customize summer study programs that address academic weaknesses based on final report cards.

Posted in Tutors | 1 Comment