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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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Starting the Semester Off Right

The Boise School District is gearing up to begin the Fall term for the 2019-2020 school year. This means parents are scrambling to buy school supplies, school clothes, and prepare for the schedule shift. With the incoming school year about a week away, students need to start getting in the mindset of school. The right mindset for school can include a lot of different things. 

Some students will let out a big “whoo-saw” as they prepare for upcoming stress. Others will spend every moment they can with friends. And some students might spend the next week in front of the TV letting their brains chill out before getting crazy. These are all great preparation techniques, but there are some tangible things that need to be taken care of as well. 

Plan Ahead

Most schools now use some kind of internet portal to keep students, parents, and administrators in the loop regarding a student’s progress in a particular class. These online portals are likely available for your perusing now. Start the peruse! Look at your teacher’s classroom page, read their profile, learn more about them. Take a look at their classroom portal and familiarize yourself with it. This will help you get a better idea of what your semester will look like and will help you plan for the upcoming school term. 

Develop a Calendar

Calendars are hugely important, especially for high school kids. By the time most students start high school, they are involved in some kind of extracurricular. Whether that is football, chess club, theatre, or band, lots of students have things going on outside of the school day. Create a calendar that accounts for everything you are involved in. Yes. This means including your classes, practices, meetings, driver’s ed, eating, homework time, family time, and friend time. Having one place where you keep everything going on in your week will help you stay on track. 

Organize Your Supplies

School supplies are super fun to buy. I remember getting so excited to buy school supplies every year. And I won’t lie, I still get excited every time I walk into Staples or Office Max. Supplies help us stay organized and keep our chaos under control. Since your supplies do so much to keep you organized, they deserve to be organized as well. Once you have purchased the supplies you will need, organize them so they can be as effective as possible. Build your class binders, label your dividers, individualize your notebooks. Do whatever you need to to keep your supplies organized so they can help you stay organized during the school year. 

Meet Your Teachers

I know, I know. This seems a little scary at first. Many students think the best time to meet your teacher is on the first day of school. But this isn’t really true. Meeting your teachers before the school year begins is really beneficial. Meeting your teachers gives you an idea what to expect from their class so you can prepare for the nuances assigned to it. Learn about their background, talk to them about their teaching style, discover the classroom rules and guidelines. Plus, teachers love to meet their students. The better your teachers knows you, the better prepared they are to teach you in a manner that is best for you. So don’t be afraid to send them an email, drop by with a coffee, or friend them on Facebook (if they allow it!).

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The Power of the Practice Test

Important tests come up all throughout our lives. We have to take a test to go to Kindergarten. We have to take tests administered by our state to track our growth in elementary school. We take tests to get into college (and to stay in college). We even have to take tests before we can legally drive a car. Testing is a big part of life. 

Those of us who have taken many of these tests (in other words, the oldies) know the power of taking practice tests beforehand. Practice tests do so much for our official testing day. They can eliminate stress because we feel more prepared. They give us a baseline for upward growth. They will even tell us our strengths and our weaknesses. But that’s not all the practice test does for us. 

Secret Intel

If you’ve ever seen a spy movie, you know just how critical intelligence is for a mission. And I don’t mean intelligence like brain power. Although that is helpful as well. I’m talking about intel, as in information. Taking practice tests is the student’s version of secret intel. When we take a practice test, we discover many, if not all of the nuances to the test. We learn how much time you get for each section, what the questions will look like, and what to watch out for. 

This intel is then used to hone in our studying so we can focus on more crucial parts of the exam. For example, if during a practice test for the ACT you discover that you are performing low on the math section, you now have the intelligence to focus your studying efforts on mathematical strategies. The same goes for other content areas of the exam. If you know all of the road signs and the laws of the road, but can’t actually drive a car, your efforts should be spent behind the wheel. 

Practice Makes Pretty Good

Most people would say practice makes perfect, but I like to say you should never let perfect get in the way of pretty good. So in this case, practice makes pretty good. Striving for a perfect score on a test is like hoping your favorite shirt will fit you perfectly for the rest of your life. It’s just not realistic. However, practicing a test before you take it can significantly upgrade your scores. For instance, here at Huntington, students who participate in our exam prep programs can expect an average raise in their ACT score by 6 points and an average increase on their SAT of 200 points or more.  

Testing Skills

Taking practice tests also provides you with a priceless skill – test taking. Not all people have this, but those who do can pass tests in their sleep. That is because taking a test is an actual skill. And like all skills, it can be built and developed. Build your test taking knowledge by taking practice tests. This way, you learn about time management, elimination, choosing the best answer out of a bunch of good answers, and so much more. Practice tests prepare your brain for the real thing. And if your brain is prepared, so are you. Like good study habits, good testing habits will follow you all your life and help create a more positive outlook on learning and achieving. 

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Setting Gears in Motion: Study Habits

School is a complicated place. There are students of a variety of ages, backgrounds, and academic levels. There are hundreds of rooms, a giant parking lot, a large sporting complex, lockers gallor, and so many people it’s hard to keep track. School is overwhelming. So overwhelming in fact, it can cause anxiety and stress for many students. Once the anxiety and stress sets in, the students check out academically and their grades suffer as a consequence. 

But schooling doesn’t have to be a complicated mess. It can have structure and routine. For example, having a steady study schedule that encompasses all of your classes can really help eliminate stress and make room for discovery. And creating a steady study schedule begins from day one of classes. Not halfway through the semester. If you are working on creating a solid study schedule, there are some pointers to keep in mind. 

Small Increments Beat Big Ones

Beware the cram session. Cramming has been scientifically proven, over and over, to be unsuccessful and to be debilitating for students. Cramming leads to almost zero retention and can cause further anxiety before a test. Instead of spending a large block of time studying, break your block into several small blocks. For example, instead of planning to study from 5pm to 9pm the night before the test, spend the week before the test studying in 20 minute spurts each day. As we all know, attention spans are generally quite small, so make sure you are catering your study time to your attention span. 

Visual Reminders

Sticky notes are a student’s best friend. Sticky notes help you keep track of your day and your calendar, as well as important details to remember. Sticky notes are excellent visual reminders to study. Stick one on your vanity or your mirror at home. Stick them to your school work. Trust me, if you see a sticky note five times a day that says don’t forget to study, you likely won’t forget. During college, I went as far as to stick my reminder notes on my food in the refrigerator to ensure I would see them. Girls gotta eat!

Another form of visual cues for studying is color coding. You can color code your sticky notes if you so desire. But color coding mostly refers to the methods you use for actually studying. If you are a visual person, use multiple colors of pens, pencils, or highlighters during your studying to categorize information. The colors act as a secondary means for retaining the information. If you remember what category the color represents, it can help you remember the material in the category. Next time you’re studying, color code your flash cards, your vocabulary terms, your math formulas, or anything else you are studying and see if it makes a difference for you. 

It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Studying is not a sprint. It doesn’t happen over a small period of time. Studying takes months and months to truly perfect. And the American public school system doesn’t lend well to this. We only give our students a few months in a class before we switch things up. Which makes creating a study routine from the get-go even more critical. Your study routine might take some getting used to, but if you remain vigilant and consistent, it will come naturally to you and studying will become a part of your everyday routine. 

Once it becomes a part of your routine, you won’t have to stress over an upcoming test, because you have been slowly preparing for it for weeks. If you feel like a deadline for an essay is approaching rapidly, have no fear, your study routine has already given you time to outline and draft your essay. Now it just needs to be polished. Remember this next time you are assigned a big project. Plot out your study routine over the next few weeks until the due date. You won’t regret being ahead of the curve.