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The Day Before The Test

Tips for Preparing for the ACT and the SAT

Students preparing to take your official ACT or SAT in the coming days or months: have no fear. The day may be near, but Huntington is here to steer you clear of your woes and bring you cheer. Just a little rhyme to make you smile. I know it’s probably been a stressful time, but it’s important to maintain some level of sanity as you work through your exam prep programs and prepare for the big day of testing.

The day before your test is an important day as well. As you know, most students are in the habit of spending the day before a big test studying and cramming in any information they can. They stay up late drinking Mountain Dew and listening to heavy metal to pump them up. Or maybe that was just me. Regardless, there are some good habits (and far healthier habits) to get into the day before a crucial exam. 

To Study or Not to Study?

That is the question. Luckily it’s an easy question to answer. And the answer is definitely, absolutely, positively no. The day before your test is too late for studying. Your brain can only handle so much information in a window of time before facts and data start spewing out of your ears. For weeks you have likely been in input mode. You have been taking practice tests, reading through study guides, working with your tutors, and a number of other test preparations. Now that the test is here, it is time for output mode. You have done as much studying as you can. Put the books down and fight the urge to cram and freak out. 

The Most Important Meal of the Day

We have all been told for as long as we can remember that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. And this is mostly true. But if you’re anything like me you might find yourself too busy in the mornings to make breakfast. And that’s okay! But the day before your test is a really important day to make the time to sit down and have a nice breakfast. The great thing about living in 2019 and having instant access to the world wide web is the delicious and healthy breakfast recipes available everywhere. My favorite place to check out great recipes if Tasty. Here are some fast and healthy recipes to browse! 

Self-Care

Last, but certainly not least, is the concept of self-care. If you take anything away from these pre-test strategies, I surely hope self-care is the one. Mental health is extremely important. Especially in the fast-paced and stressful world we live in today. And a huge aspect of mental health is self-care, something not nearly enough people value. Self-care means taking the time throughout your week to put yourself first and take care of your needs. For me, this looks like a quiet bubble bath, a sheet mask, and some lavender essential oils. For others, this might look like a long jog, a coffeehouse with live music, or a relaxing nap. Any way you look at it, self-care will go a long way the day before a test, so take advantage of it and plan some much needed you-time.

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Early Warning Signs

How to Spot When Your Child Needs One-on-One Tutoring

When your children begin the journey into schooling, a lifestyle change takes place. Kids go from playing and laughing to learning and growing. Often, this transition is met with some challenges. Especially when you come to find that your child has not reached the academic level they should be upon entering Kindergarten. Which is a very stressful event. 

Parents can often all agree that finding out your child is behind in school is one of the most difficult conversations to have about your 5 or 6 year old. They are at an age where we still view them as young, maybe even “babies” in some aspects. But, nevertheless, they are being judged and measured by adults on their reading, writing, and math skills. Much like other adults. 

If your child is behind from the get-go, starting a one-on-one tutoring program is a terrific solution. Here are some things to watch out for in your child’s early formative schooling years to ensure they are not in need of one-on-one tutoring. 

Fatigue or Lack of Endurance

Does your child seem tired or lazy during learning moments? Can they only focus for 5 or less minutes before they are giving up or throwing tantrums? These are clear indicators that parents should seek tutoring intervention. Endurance is a huge part of learning. Starting from the earliest days of Kindergarten to the tertiary years of college. If your child struggles with endurance, starting a regiment with a tutor can help build it. Your child will then get the opportunity to practice working for longer periods of time until, eventually, they become excited to sit down and read for 30 minutes. 

Indifference

Indifference is the end of creativity. Indifference leads students to Mediocre Land where they catch a bus into I Don’t Care Anymore-Ville. Indifference is a virus that can spread in schools. If your child appears indifferent about their school work, this may be a sign that they could benefit from having a one-on-one tutor. Indifference generally blossoms from a lack of motivation or interest in the subject matter – two things that one-on-one tutors can help establish. Don’t let indifference be the blockade preventing your child from a full learning experience. 

Failing Grades and/or Assignments

The early weeks of a new school year are a great time to observe your child’s schooling behavior. Watch them as they work on their homework. See what strategies they use to study or stay organized. This can clue you in to how devoted they are to their classes. Because without devotion to your school work, failing becomes a more likely possibility. Failing early assignments or tests is a big sign that your child needs to seek one-on-one tutoring. Tutors don’t just teach content, they also teach tools. And students who find themselves failing can use these tools to grow and stay ahead of their coursework. 

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Meet Our Teachers

Skyler is a verbal Exam Prep tutor and works in the Learning Center. Skyler loves to sing Broadway music and is obsessed with all things Disney. His favorite place in the world is Yellowstone National Park where he visits every year.

Cindy is a verbal Exam Prep tutor. She has had four joint replacements and sets off EVERY metal detector she walks through. She has also visited thirteen countries.

Kelly-Rae is a verbal Exam Prep tutor and works in the Learning Center. She enjoys crocheting in her free time and has a dog named Boots and a cat named Louisa May. She also loves reading Jane Austen novels.

Jameson tutors students in math and science, works in the Learning Center, and helps with Exam Prep. He can solve a Rubix cube in under a minute and plays the ukulele and the cello. He also used to be a student at Huntington.

Roy tutors students in math and science and helps with Exam Prep. He is a tango dancer and has studied sharks in South America. He loves to ride his bike all over Boise.

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What’s the Actual Problem?

When children are doing poorly in school, adults often jump to the conclusion that it’s only about their grades or their achievements in class. This is not always the whole story. A student struggling in school could be going through a lot of things. Things that are often hidden from the surface. 

As a student who went through a lot of emotional ups and downs during my formative years, I know this to be true. Students aren’t always simply struggling with the material or content. Often, they are falling victim to other issues that trouble young kids. 

Trouble in School

Bullying

When a child is being bullied in school, this severely impacts their ability to be successful. Bullying often causes self-harm, depression, anger, and many other troubling things. All things that can negatively impact a child’s experience in the classroom or at recess. If your child is exhibiting signs of being bullied or is perhaps the bully, seek intervention from the school counselor. They are trained professionals and can offer additional resources to help stop the bullying. 

Malnutrition

This impacts students far more than parents or teachers can know. There are approximately 12 million students across the United States who experience food insecurities. Many of these students can be found in rural areas as well as intercity schools. Malnutrition causes lack of energy and inability to focus and can lead to rapid grade decreases. It’s important for parents and teachers to know that if a child is struggling in school – it could be starting in the home. 

No Connections with Teachers

Having a teacher in school that you trust and respect can be huge. Especially for young children. If your child has not developed a positive relationship in their school, this can be very detrimental. Teachers are role models for their students. Without role models, kids can begin to make poor choices or go down rough roads. Help your child develop a positive relationship with a teacher in school. That way, if they are struggling, they have someone to talk to as well as someone to push them to work harder. 

Trouble at Home

Household Changes

Changes in the structure of a child’s household impact them much more than we know. Whether they are moving from their childhood home or their parents are going through a divorce, these changes have the power to impact a child’s performance in school. This makes those teacher connections even more important. Teachers who understand what changes are affecting their students can help prepare them for the changes as they approach. This is the same for parents. 

Income Changes

Changes to a families’ income status can also affect a student’s grades. If mom or dad gets laid off from an important job, this often leads to changes that students aren’t always prepared for. Be aware of how this might impact your kids and try to get ahead of it. Teachers – be on the lookout for students who aren’t assimilating well and offer strategies. 

Sibling Disputes

For single child families, this isn’t so much of a worry. But for families like mine (five kids and two parents), sibling disputes are a real issue. I fought with my sister all the time and this definitely impacted me at school. I found myself getting distracted by my emotions and getting behind in lessons. Watch how your children interact with each other and be sure whatever dispute they have doesn’t follow them to class. 

Trouble with Life

Anxiety or Depression

Students suffering from anxiety or depression have a high chance of failing classes. This is due to the emotional stress one is under when they go through what I call “emotional slumps” or the extreme lows. These disorders are not to be ignored. If you think your child may be experiencing symptoms of these common ailments, speak to a medical professional immediately. Get ahead of the emotional trauma and do what you can to ensure your child doesn’t get behind in school because of it. 

Fear of Failure

This one is all too real for the “perfectionist” student. These students love holding themselves to high expectations and pushing themselves to be the best. And there is nothing wrong with that – until they don’t reach those expectations. Fear of failure can result in lowered motivation and lack of confidence – two very devastating emotions. If you have a student who strives to be perfect, help them set realistic yet challenging goals. Teach them that failure is a key aspect of learning and success. 

Lack of Motivation

People often call these children lazy. The reality is that these students are likely focusing their efforts elsewhere. Maybe they are a tremendous soccer player, a top player in the world of Call of Duty, or a devoted humanitarian. No motivation in school is hard to get through, but it isn’t the end of the world. For teachers, offering incentives can be hugely helpful. Whether that’s a pizza party for a high class average on a test. Or a promise to have open computer time after a project. Incentives can be powerful tools when wielded responsibly. 

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Setting Gears in Motion: Math

Math can be a difficult subject to master. Some people really struggle in their math and science classes while excelling in their humanities courses like English and History. This is likely due to the fact that math requires strong reasoning skills. If you possess these reasoning skills you are probably left-brained as opposed to right-brained which focuses on creativity.

For example, I am a strong right-brainer. My logic and reasoning skills fall short compared to my creative skills. I therefore have to work much harder at mastering mathematical content. This often lead to anxiety. If you’re like me, there are some key practices you can employ to develop logic and reasoning strategies.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book entitled Outliers which presented the argument that in order to master a skill, you must have 10,000 hours of practice. This may seem like a lot, but over a lifetime it isn’t so daunting. He emphasized the importance of practice. Practicing your craft is a huge step towards mastering it.

In math, practicing solving equations, working through word problems, and comprehending graphs greatly impacts your scores or grades. Practice is necessary to become good at anything. Take professional athletes as an example. They make loads of money practicing their craft. In their free time, they don’t lounge around or go on vacation – they drill, drill, drill. If you do the same thing with math, the mastery will follow.

Understand Your Errors

Like all things in life, it isn’t helpful to simply know you are wrong. You must understand why you are wrong to correct the behavior. It’s the same thing in math. If you make an error or mistake, you must understand why the mistake was made. You can then make necessary steps to change your thinking and correct the error to avoid making it again.

If you are making mistakes on your homework or course work, try taking a step back and understanding the concept. Once you have a full grasp of the concept, you can then break it down and learn how to solve the problem accurately.

Master, Then Move On

Some things come naturally to us. As babies, we naturally learn to crawl, then stand, then walk, then run. As adults, some of us have natural rhythm and dancing comes easy. This is like math as well. For some individuals, math concepts come easily and they can master them quickly and continue their way up the ladder into more challenging content. For most people, this simply is not the case.

It is important in math that you master concepts before moving on. Math skills build off of one another and become more challenging as you work. When you learn a new concept, practice it to mastery before moving on to harder problems. Failing to learn a skill before developing that skill further can lead to confusion and stress. Especially as you make your way into trigonometry and calculus. Start with a foundation, then build your walls, then top it off with a ceiling. You will be glad you did.