How to Study: A Local Tutor Can Beat the Options

If you want to learn how to study and if a local tutor can help better than the options, read on!  When it comes to academic success, there are many avenues to help you achieve a positive result. Re-working problems, reviewing all information from the course and teacher as well as solid test preparation skills can be helped by books, online courses and local tutors.

Naturally, your individual learning style and personality will dictate how you you learn best, and what works for one student may not necessarily allow another student to achieve the same success. That’s why we’ve decided to look at several different options to help you decide the best way for you to gain the academic accolades you deserve.  After all, if you’re going to be in school or taking those tests, then you may as well get the best results possible!

Books

For many years books have been the ‘go to’ for both teachers and learners. Textbooks provide practice questions, explanations, examples and, quite often, answers. There are also plenty of books that explain theories and provide summaries of major topics, regardless of the subject. Being well-read is beneficial in subjects such as English and history, so the more you read the better your results will be – providing you take in the content that you’ve covered of course! Reading provides you with an extensive vocabulary and a thorough background knowledge on multiple topics. The overall impact that it can have on your studying ability as well as grades is going to be the subject of another post!  It’s really a game changer….so start reading more! Books are incredibly accessible, especially if you join the library or various online sites. (And if you don’t want to read, then listen!

Pros:

  • You can use sticky notes to mark important pages so you can refer back to particular points of information if you need to clarify anything.
  • If you own the book you can make notes in the margin and even highlight important parts of the text.
  • You can easily borrow books from libraries for free.
  • Many textbooks are available second hand.
  • There is quite often an extensive range of books on any one subject so you can choose the version that best suits you.
  • Some people find it easier to physically flick through pages than scrolling on a tablet or computer screen.
  • Studies have also shown that students actually do better and learn more using actual books over electronic books and note taking.

Cons:

  • Books are often expensive to buy.
  • They take up space which can be problematic if you have a small room.
  • If you don’t own the book you can’t write your own notes and thoughts.
  • They are heavy to carry around between classes and study sessions.

Online Courses

The internet has opened up a wide world of studying opportunities, right at your fingertips. You can now study virtually any subject from even the most remote location. Online courses use a variety of teaching and learning tools including live chats, online lectures or webinars, practice questions, corresponding documents and study guides, forums with fellow students, and videos. Despite the beneficial aspects of online courses, you need to be very careful that the course you wish to take is genuine, covers the material you need to know and will be beneficial to your future.

Pros:

  • Online courses mean that anyone can learn and prepare for exams regardless of their location.
  • Some of these courses are free.
  • Due to the wide variety of courses, you are bound to find one that suits your needs.
  • You can study on your own time & schedule, when it suits you.
  • Online courses often come with a plethora of online resources that you can regularly refer to.

Cons:

  • The course may not be approved by some schools or programs and the person or people running the course may not have adequate qualifications.
  • Online courses can be expensive.
  • You have to rely on your internet connection, particularly if there is a live chat or video component.
  • Courses can be based in different time zones, making real-time help sometimes difficult.
  • You have to be quite internally motivated to achieve positive results.

Local Tutors

Tutoring is a great way to solidify your learning or help you come to terms with subjects you are finding difficult. Tutoring is either done one-on-one or in small groups, both having their own set of advantages and disadvantages. You may find some online tutoring services that are excellent, but local tutoring is definitely better for many over online tutors, especially if you need a little extra motivation and help to stay on track.

The biggest downside to tutoring is that it costs, especially if you want some of the top rated and reviewed tutors. But there is good news. Finding affordable tutoring services is not as difficult as you may think. Typing ‘cheap tutors near me’ into Google will be of some help, but you still have to trawl through several webpages and options before you find what you are looking for.

To make your life easier, check out Private Tutoring at Home. It’s a one stop shop to find a tutor near you.  Plus, if you and the tutor don’t hit it off, you won’t pay for that first session.  It’s part of the “good fit guarantee” that is offered.

Pros:

  • One-on-one tutoring involves lessons that cater exactly for your individual needs. Even small groups sessions are more successful that large classes.
  • A good tutor will keep you motivated and focused.
  • You can increase the number of tutoring sessions as exams approach, or if you are having particular difficulties with a subject.
  • Your tutor will use many different resources and teaching strategies to ensure you understand what is being taught.
  • You are the number one priority – you’re not competing for attention against other students.

Cons:

  • If you live in a remote or rural area, it might be difficult to find a tutor in your area.
  • Tutoring sessions can be expensive.
  • You may have to try a couple tutors before finding ‘the one’.

The bottom line is that the best way to learn content or prepare for an exam is to use a range of different learning strategies. For example, if you study using only books, you are limiting yourself. However, when you use a tutor they will generally teach using books, online resources, worksheets, videos and more! You are getting the benefits of all these learning tools in one – and the session is clearly designed to your learning needs and requirements which should mean faster, easier and better results.

While the choice is entirely yours, using a local tutor is well worth the cost and is highly recommended. After all, you can’t put a price on a valuable education or getting the results in a course that you need!

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Pros and Cons of Year Round School: Is Year-Round Education The Way Forward?

Have you heard the talk of year round education? The long summer break may fill every child with excitement – days full of fun and no commitments, time to spend with friends without the stress of school. For most parents, the summer brings the challenge of finding ways to entertain their children. Sure, there is the allure of a family vacation, but for many parents, juggling work, children and finances is no easy task. Year-round schooling is becoming more popular in many areas and is something the rest of the world has been doing for years. It certainly addresses a lot of the issues that parents face, but does it really mean better education for our children? Read on to find out the pros and cons of year-round schooling.

To understand the various benefits and drawbacks of a year-round schooling system, this article will delve into a number of factors favored by both advocates and critics to help create an objective view. Every child and family is unique, so a one-size-fits-all model shouldn’t apply. Having the option to send your child to a year-round school adds another opportunity to consider and provides parents with more chances to give their children the best education possible.

Does a Year-Round School Mean More Days at School?

First and foremost, the idea that year-round schooling means more days at school is simply not true. The model still operates on the basic system of 180 days classroom time, it is just allocated in a different way.

So if children aren’t spending any more time in the classroom, how does year-round schooling have a positive impact on children’s learning? Let’s look at the system in greater detail. Most year-round schools operate on a 45-15 day plan. This means that students attend school for 45 days, or nine weeks, and then have a three week break at the end of that time period. Other common timelines include a 60-20 and a 90-30 plan.

No matter which way you slice it, the holiday periods are more evenly spread throughout the year and the time spent at school remains the same, just in smaller chunks of time.

The Effect of Summer Brain Drain

While a lengthy summer vacation will certainly help to reinvigorate both students and teachers, it can be detrimental to a quality education.

Children who don’t participate in activities that stimulate them over the summertime break will find that come the start of school in September, their brain function has depleted somewhat. Those from disadvantaged backgrounds, as well as children who speak English as a second language are the ones that would benefit most from more continuous learning.

Those students that are able to take part in camps, activities, travel and all the other opportunities that are available for young people are going to remain stimulated, interested and learning.  Their minds will remain active and they will have less brain drain or learning loss over the summer.

Participating in a year round school program that has shorter but more frequent breaks will lessen the impact of being out of school.  There’s simply less time to lose the gains that were made during the semester prior according to those in favor of this type of program.

Overcrowding and Multi-functional Buildings

Schools are not cheap to build, so it seems like a waste to have the buildings empty for almost a quarter of the year. Even in a year-round model, the amount of time the building is in use does remain the same. The argument here comes from some school districts who have implemented the year-round model on a rotational system to help alleviate the problem of overcrowding. This is called the multi-track system.

A multi-track system effectively divides students into groups, each operating on their own calendar, meaning that the school buildings are in use all year round. Sure, there would be an increase in running costs of the school but it is certainly a cheaper way to cater for a growing number of students than it would be by building an entirely new school.

A big problem here is for parents who may have children with different school calendars struggling to arrange childcare, not to mention the impossibility of a whole family vacation!

Summer Opportunities

For older children, a long summer break gives them the opportunity to take on a summer job and learn the value of hard work, commitment, and how to manage their personal finances.

With shorter breaks, these opportunities may not present themselves as frequently or as easily.  In the year round model, students would likely have to take different jobs that would run year round or seasonally while still going to school.

Working Out Family Logistics

Many parents already have a tough time balancing work and their children’s education. Arrangements for morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up need to be made, after school activities arranged and vacation programs booked. So, you can only imagine how much trickier this would be if different schools, even those within the same district, worked under different systems. Parents could potentially find themselves in a literal logistical nightmare!

How Do Teachers Cope?

We all know teaching is a stressful job. Teachers work far more hours than those of the school day, spending their evenings, weekends, and holidays planning and reviewing and grading. Teacher burnout is a real problem, with about 8% of the profession leaving each year.

This is one are that may be reduced if schools offer more frequent breaks for not only their students but their faculty and staff as well. Sure, teachers will spend a lot of their vacation time doing work, but the time away from the classroom is often enough to sufficiently recharge the batteries and would enable more qualified, experienced staff to stay in the industry.

What About the Rest of the World?

Most other countries do not offer students such a lengthy summer break as we see here in the US and they seem to manage just fine. In fact, many of these countries are ranked higher than the US in their educational capabilities and ratings.  Students are still rewarded with breaks, and quite decent ones, and the number of days spent at school doesn’t differ greatly.

An interesting point to note is that students in the US generally have longer school days than many other countries and also start formal schooling much younger, however, the results in how students are doing compared to other countries for all this extra education isn’t showing.

One example of this, Finland is well-renowned for its successful educational system. Children in Finland start school around age six or seven and attend classes for roughly four hours each day. Of course, Finland and the United States are two very different countries so comparing them is hard, but it certainly gives some food for thought as to how much schooling children need in order to be successful.

Conclusion

Despite all of this, shouldn’t the focus be on quality not quantity? Does year-round schooling make for a more productive and effective education? Perhaps it does. But a long summer break may also lead to further opportunities for many children. Bottom line – give your child the best education you possibly can, whatever this may be.  Let us know your thoughts and comments in the comment section below!  This is definitely a topic that most of us have an opinion on.

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What is a Tutor and What Does a Tutor Do?

Are you unsure about what is a tutor and how tutoring can help you or your child?  Don’t worry, you aren’t alone!  We get asked that question a LOT!

What is a Tutor?

When it comes to achieving academic success you often hear the phrase ‘get a tutor’. This is all well and good, but it is probably useful to know what is a tutor and how tutoring can help before you hire one. The most common, and obvious, reason that parents enlist the support of a tutor is to help their child. It doesn’t matter whether the child is struggling or needs a boost to excel further, the one-on-one personalized sessions are invaluable. Keep reading to find out just how valuable this can be for students and parents alike.

Teacher or Tutor?

The terms teacher and tutor are often thrown around interchangeably, but ‘teacher’ isn’t just a tutor synonym. There are a few key differences when it comes to what they actually do. Both have a student’s best interests at heart and work incredibly hard to help each student reach their individual academic potential. However, due to the nature of their work, strategies and outcomes will often vary. First, let’s look at the role and responsibility of teachers;

  • Teachers must follow a set curriculum and provide learning opportunities to many children at a time.
  • Teachers need to develop a ‘best-fit’ teaching strategy. This means that their lessons aim to try and cater for a variety of needs and abilities. Whilst every care is taken to ensure this is done, it is inevitable that some students won’t receive the exact information they need.
  • Teachers will guide students to reach particular targets. These should be achieved within a certain time frame, but it is hard to monitor and record.

On the other hand,

What Does a Tutor Do?

  • They work with small groups or, most commonly, with individuals. This allows for the lesson to cater exactly for the student’s needs.
  • It can also be adapted as the lessons progress depending on the understanding of the students.
  • Tutors follow the lead of their students. Lessons are designed around what the student needs to work on or what they what to achieve.
  • They often reinforce what has been taught in the classroom, allowing for content to really be absorbed by the student.

You Might Also Be Interested In: How to Study Math: 35 Math Tips You Should Know

Role of a Tutor

There really aren’t too many down sides to tutoring or having the help of someone. It is equally beneficial for struggling students right through to high achievers. Here are some of the top reasons why tutoring is helpful and what role a tutor can play:

  • Improves academic performance – this one is obvious, but it is important to remember that these improvements may bring a student up from the bottom of the class, or push a middle student to the top.
  • Boosts self-esteem – when a student learns and understands the content being taught to them they gain confidence. This confidence is valuable not just in the classroom and around test time, but will also filter into other aspects of their lives.
  • Caters for individual needs – the one-on-one sessions are designed to meet the specific needs for that individual student. Unlike a classroom scenario, a tutor can continue to work with the student until they fully understand the content.
  • Offers a different perspective – in subjects such as math, there are often various ways to reach the same answer. A teacher doesn’t always have the time to explain concepts differently to each student therefore many children miss out. A tutor has the time to explain and re-explain a question and technique until it makes sense to the student.
  • Encourages communication – when working with a tutor, students must learn to communicate their needs and ask questions. This helps them build a different type of relationship than those with their parents, friends, and teachers.
  • Teaches problem-solving skills – when students are guided they can learn to think for themselves in a way that provides them with skills they will use later in life.
  • Helps understand standardized tests – even the smartest students can struggle with these unique tests. A tutor can provide clarity on the format of standardized tests and the type of questions asked, as well as providing feedback on practice questions.
  • Detailed and specific feedback – due to the one-on-one nature of tutoring sessions, students will receive feedback that is specific to them and their goals. Quite often this feedback is immediate, helping students to continue to improve at a faster rate than they would in the classroom.
  • Consolidates learning – if a tutoring session complements what is taught in the classroom, students will be able to store the information for longer and will have a greater chance of regurgitating the information when it is needed, such as during a test.
  • A tutor is neither a teacher or a parent-children will respond differently when working with a tutor. Teachers are highly qualified but are catering to the needs of the group. Parents, while having a child’s best interests at heart, do not have the training to teach the content effectively. Children can also be stubborn creatures and enlisting the help of mom or dad is often not the done thing. A tutor sits somewhere in the middle of teacher and parent and will provide surprisingly positive results.
  • Less embarrassment – quite often students are hesitant to ask questions in class out of fear of sounding stupid. This severely hinders their learning as they may never fully understand the content and concepts being taught. Working alone with a tutor eliminates this fear and students can ask any type of question at any point during the session.
  • It can take place in a different learning environment – you can find a tutor online to cater to your needs and the sessions can also take place online. Learning from the comfort of home can often support students as it is an environment they are familiar with. Using screens and technology often engages younger learners more than traditional teaching methods.
  • Eliminates learning loss over holiday periods – by continually using a tutor throughout the year, you eliminate any ‘periods of no learning’. Students can continue to learn, or use the time to consolidate learning of practice test-style questions.

Now that you know what is a tutor and what does a tutor do, you can decide what you or your child needs to excel this year! Finding the right help to get the results that you want is critical to your success.  Good luck and please let us know how we can help.

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How Do College Students Spend Their Time?

A common question asked by parents, student, faculty and staff is “how do college students spend their time?” Because a lot of them do not seem to be spending all the time needed in classrooms or on their school work.

…it is recommended that students spend 5.14 – 10.29 hours on education activities each day.

Heading off to college is one of the most exciting experiences in a young person’s life. The idea of furthering their education, gaining independence and making new friends all make college life appealing. Naturally, there is some stress and anxiety involved as well. Students wonder how they will manage the course workload and how they will support themselves financially. Whether you are a future student or a parent, you may be interested to know how many hours college students study per week – is study really as all-encompassing as you think? Read on to find out more.

How Do College Students Spend Their Time

Of course the focus of college is gain a quality education that will set students up for a successful future. Classes, focus groups, exams and assignments all play a significant part in the educational experience, so it may surprise you to discover that this isn’t where most students spend most of their time. A study by the Bureau of Labour Statistics found that in a 24-hour period, students only spent 3.5 hours on educational-related activities (1). It is important to note that this figure includes classes as well as extra time spent on assignments, homework and exam preparation. The University of Michigan – Flint recommends that students spend 2-3 hours of study for every credit hour each week (2). So let’s do some math.

1 course = 3 credit hours = 6-9 hours of study each week. Approximately.

Full time students undertake 12-18 credit hours each semester, therefore the expectation of time spent on extra homework and study is anywhere between 24 and 54 hours each week. Seems like a lot. And remember, this is recommended homework and study time, you have to factor in the actual 12-18 hours that students spend in the classroom. This brings the weekly total to somewhere between 36 and 72 hours! The Bureau of Labour Statistics released their findings based on a 24-hour period, so if we alter the guidelines from a weekly figure to a daily one, it is recommended that students spend 5.14 – 10.29 hours on education activities each day. These results make it a fair assumption that students are not as time-laden with their educational responsibilities as they make out to be. So where do college students spend the majority of their time? And can they find more time to focus on their studies. Keep reading.

How Long Should I Study – Where is Time Spent?

It will come as no surprise that the majority of time in a 24-hour period is spent sleeping, around 8.8 hours. Sleep is important so it is probably worth leaving that time as it is. So are there other areas that students could decrease the time spent in order to optimize their study time?

The chart below highlights the results from the BLS Time Use Survey, showing that the other two sizeable chunks of time are spent on sport and leisure, and work related activities. The former probably comes as no surprise, after all, isn’t college also about having fun? The work factor adds a great discussion point. Many students need to work to support themselves financially, even full time students, so quite often it will take priority. To ask students to cut their work hours may not always be possible. Likewise sport commitments may also be difficult to decrease. Sure, it is probably safe to say that time spent watching television could be less, but realistically, with only 24 hours in a day, there is only so much a college student can get done.

How Much Time Do College Students Spend on Social Media?

While the BLS results included an ‘other’ section, it is not clear what type of activities this may include. It is reasonable to consider the use of mobile phones and social media in this category (although it may also fall under leisure activities). Either way, it is no doubt a large part of a college student’s life. With mobile phones often acting as an extra appendage in the hands of young people, the results of an online survey conducted by Baylor University offers the following information;

“The students reported spending the most time texting, with an average of 94.6 minutes a day. That was followed by sending emails (48.5 minutes), checking Facebook (38.6 minutes), surfing the Internet (34.4 minutes), and listening to music (26.9 minutes).” (3)

This same study concluded that women use their phone a hugely time consuming ten hours each day!! Their male counterparts spend almost eight hours. This is a lot of time. Of course people need to use phones to maintain communication lines and relationships, and emails may often be school-related, but it certainly gives some good for thought when it comes to effective time management.

Average Time College Students Spend Studying

Naturally some subjects are more time consuming than others. Equally, there may also be a difference between first year students and seniors. Results from the National Survey of Student Engagement shows that various course majors spend different amounts of time on extra homework and study.

The table below compares various courses and how much time students spend preparing for class. A large proportion of engineering students spend more than 20 hours each week, while most business or finance students fail to hit the 20 hour mark (4). The differences in course material and faculty expectations could account for these differences, but it shows that regardless of the course, students don’t seem to be doing enough outside the classroom to gain the academic results that they are truly capable of.

Based on the results of the time use survey and how many study hours are recommended, it will come as no surprise that 22% of engineer majors who spend more than 20 hours each week preparing for class, still feel unprepared (4).

Perhaps There is too Much Partying…

There is the common thought that college students spend countless hours in a day hanging out at parties and spend far too much time hanging out with their friends instead of focusing on the fact that they have come to college to gain an educational qualification. A study by UCLA shows that this is, in fact, not necessarily the case. The amount of time freshman students spend socializing and drinking have both declined over recent years (5). But, how much time do college students spend on social media? Students clearly aren’t spending their newfound time on studying, so perhaps phones and social media have a lot to answer for?

What Does All of This Mean?

Whichever way you look at it, college students are not spending as much time on their actual education as they could or should be spending, that much is clear. However, with the large gap between what is recommended and what students are doing in reality, one has to wonder if the educational expectations are too high.

Equally, college students are still graduating successfully, so they must be doing something right. Socializing and drinking have decreased, but the use of mobile phones and social media is on the rise and soaring. Students still work to support themselves and there will always be time spent on sleeping, eating, “life stuff” and travel. Overall, students are attending college in an ever-changing world – one where internet use is becoming more and more essential, and social networking may have just as much of an impact on future employment as do their educational results. There should always be more time spent for educational activities, but perhaps it is just not as essential as once thought. And that’s our review of how college students spend their time!

  1. https://www.bls.gov/tus/charts/students.htm
  2. https://www.umflint.edu/advising/surviving_college
  3. https://www.baylor.edu/mediacommunications/news.php?action=story&story=145864
  4. http://nsse.indiana.edu/NSSE_2011_Results/pdf/NSSE_2011_AnnualResults.pdf#page=16
  5. https://www.heri.ucla.edu/monographs/TheAmericanFreshman2014.pdf

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Best Professor & Teacher Christmas Gift Ideas: 25 Top Picks by Teachers

It’s tough to figure out the best professor or teacher Christmas gifts every year for a whole new set of teachers!  Christmas is a time of giving and it’s also a time of total stress! Whether you are visiting family for the holidays or hosting the festivities, there is always a lot going on. While buying gifts is usually high on the priority list, there are some people that are notoriously harder than others to buy for. Teachers often fall into this category. The good news is that we are here to help. ‘We’ are a bunch of teachers who have an excellent understanding of the best teacher Christmas gift ideas. Trust us, we’ve received them all – the good, the bad, and the ugly! So, sit down with a glass of festive mulled wine and check out this year’s teachers Christmas gifts idea list.

Teacher Gift Etiquette

First and foremost, remember this – teachers don’t expect Christmas gifts! In fact, they don’t expect gifts, period. This alone should take the stress out of gift buying. However, it doesn’t take away from the notion that most people want to buy their child’s teacher a present. Try not to freak out, keep calm and do a little investigative work. Make inquiries about their interests and hobbies, and pay close attention to factors such as what they wear, eat and drink, and what is on their desk. Don’t be afraid to join forces with other parents. This opens up more ideas and helps bring costs down. Finally, a card goes a long way so make sure a hand written one goes with the gift. If time (or money) is tight, a card or note is perfect all on its own.

Teacher Gift Card Ideas

There is often a preconceived idea that gift cards are a cop-out gift. After all, they don’t require a lot of time and effort do they? Wrong. Well, almost. They don’t require much effort, but they have potential to be incredibly useful and appreciate – making them one of the most popular and appreciated of the best teacher gift ideas for any time of year. Check out some of our most loved gift card ideas.

Starbucks

Not only do teachers love coffee, they love the festive holiday concoctions that Starbucks create every Christmas. Even the smallest of gift cards will help buy multiple drinks and treats! To find great gift cards for shops like Starbucks, check out all your gift card options HERE!

Amazon

You can buy practically anything on Amazon, so it is guaranteed that your child’s teacher will find something they need or want. Click HERE for some great Teacher and Professor gift ideas!

Whole Foods

Help your child’s teacher prepare for their own Christmas with a gift card to Whole Foods. They may use it to indulge in food and drink that they wouldn’t ordinarily buy, just what a gift card should do!

Local Restaurant

Not only does this support local businesses, but it gives teachers the chance to break from monotony, and enjoy a meal out. The holiday break means they have less school preparation to do, so it’s the perfect time to get used.

Beauty Salon

Whether you buy a gift card for a specific service (a massage is a great idea) or leave it open for choice, this gift gives your child’s teacher some much needed and well deserved ‘me time’.  You can choose a local salon or go online and choose a package from some of the national options.

Best Gifts for Female Teachers

Hand Cream

Teachers’ hands get a total work out! They are constantly washing their hands after art, gym, lunch and, let’s face it, just generally looking after children! A hand cream in a pump bottle is perfect for the their desk, or a small tube to live in the top drawer is equally appreciated.  What we love about this gift is that there is something for everyone in this collection.

Bath Treats

Your child’s teacher will be exhausted by the time Christmas break rolls around. Bath bombs, bath salts and bubble bath make for a relaxing bath time. For something a little different, check out this bathtub tray.   Find more cute & cheap teacher gift ideas HERE!

Winter Accessories

Think scarves, gloves and hats. They keep us warm and cozy and can be worn over and over again. Go for something plain and long lasting, or pay homage to the festive season with a Christmas-themed number.

Smart Jewelry

Bellabeat make great jewelry pieces that track and monitor health, sleep and activity. They are beautifully made and complement any outfit. They are a little on the pricey side, so it will require some parental teamwork, but your child’s teacher will receive one very useful and practical gift!

Toolkit

Sometimes waiting for school maintenance can take forever! Give a teachers the tools (quite literally) to take matters into their own hands. This pink toolkit fits easily in a desk drawer ready for use at a moment’s notice!

Best Gifts for Male Teachers

Socks

These aren’t just reserved for dads and grandads. Men love socks. Teachers are fun-loving people who enjoy sharing the festive season with their class. Find some fun Christmas socks like these to help spice up any teacher outfit.

Portable Speakers

Whether they are used to play Christmas tunes at home, or create a surround-sound experience in their classroom, teachers will make good use of easy-to-carry speakers any time of the year.  And these are a gift that will last long after the holiday season is past.

Docking Station

Men’s pockets fill up during the day. One of these docking stations are perfect for home or their school desk, to place all their little bits and pieces so they don’t get lost!

Serving Dishes

For the entertaining teacher! Christmas themed serving plates and bowls are wonderful for this time of year. Or opt for something a little more year-round practical like this divided dish to keep the crackers away from the dip!  A favorite of mine is to give a fun or holiday themed dish or bowl with some baked good orf candy in it.  A BIG hit that doesn’t have to cost much or take much time.

Credit Card Multi Tool

This is a new twist on the traditional Swiss Army Knife. Designed to fit in a pocket or wallet, this multi tool can go everywhere the handy teacher goes!  And it definitely will be an item that starts some conversations amongst the teachers as well with it’s cool look and multi-uses.

Food Gift Ideas

Chocolate

It’s definitely a little cliché, but teachers love chocolate! It’s easy to buy, just don’t buy the ultra cheap stuff. Go for a mid to high-end range. Think quality over quantity.  So you can go with a local store or we’ve discovered a couple of fun options to consider as well!  Check HERE for fun gift boxes of retro candies and other fun items or check these guys out for their awesome teacher gift subscriptions.

Homemade Christmas Cake or Other Baked Goods

Or any other festive treat. These are the best inexpensive Christmas gifts for teachers. The best thing about this idea is that you can make a big batch and divide it up between several teachers. It’s perfect for parents that have multiple children, or when your child has multiple teachers. Plus teachers love the homemade effort.

Something to Drink

Alcohol is the first thought that comes to mind here. Many teachers love a glass of wine, a bottle of craft beer, or some festive bubbles. Minimal thought is required, but we love it anyway! There are also plenty of non-alcoholic options too – elderflower cordial and other similar drinks are delicious!  It’s an easy and quick way to say thank you to your teachers any time of year.  One of our favorites are wine club gifts!  And Wine of the Month Club which you can find HERE is the most affordable and gets raves from Consumer Reports.com, Forbes magazine as well as Food & Beverage magazine – plus their pricing is great!

Gift Baskets

Teachers also have the holiday stress of entertaining family and friends. A basket filled with delicious food and drink, as well as seasonal accessories such as napkins and Christmas crackers, make a practical and loved gift. You can buy ready-made gift baskets and boxes, or team up with some other parents to make a teacher gift basket that specifically suits your teachers’ tastes, making them one of the best teacher Christmas gift ideas.  This is truly an all time favorite for teachers.  It’s something that they can share both at home and at work and it[‘s definitely something that helps fill that mid-day lull when an energy boost is needed.  For some fun and affordable options check out this collection!

Gourmet Coffee Kit

Staff room instant or filter coffee gets tiresome. We drink it because we need it. But what we need even more is our very own gourmet coffee kit. Try buying a single-serve sized press such as those from American Press or like these we’ve discovered, and some gourmet coffee – we will love you for it!  One of our favorite coffees to share is Hawaiian coffee brand! This is one we discovered when we were visiting: 100% Kona Coffee & Gourmet Coffee from Hawaii So delicious  plus just imagining being in Hawaii some days makes everything easier. 😉

Other Gift Ideas

Art Supplies

Teachers all over the country fork out hundreds of their own dollars buying art and craft supplies for their class. They do this out of pure love for the learning of their students, but an extra helping hand goes a long way. You can buy markers, colored card, paint brushes, pencils, and more individually, or team up with some other parents and put together an art and craft hamper! Your child’s teacher will appreciate it and your child will also benefit – it’s a win-win!

Something Personalized

Having a gift personalized turns the ordinary into the extraordinary. Pens, notebooks, stationary and pencil cases are all easy to get personalized.

 Organizational Gifts

Teachers are organized beings, it’s in our nature. Which means we can’t get enough of gifts that help us do this. Steer clear of things like diaries, journals and calendars, we have plenty of these. Instead check out drawer organizer, bags, purses and wallets. We loved these whiteboard storage pockets as well as these cool Dr Seuss like hand pointers as fun little gifts to give to teachers.

KeepCup

Teachers love coffee, but they already have a million coffee mugs. What they probably don’t have is a KeepCup. They are great for the environment – no more throw away take away cups, and the lid means there is no risk of spilling a hot drink all over children (or their work).

Subject Specific Gifts

Look for gifts that reflect a teacher’s favorite subject. They may often seem silly, but trust us, teachers love these quirky, fun gifts as they show how well you know us!   For example these science scarves are an all time favorite gift for science teachers!  My son’s chemistry teacher still comments on how much she loves hers!  And there are other subjects available as well.

By now you are feeling much more confident when it comes to what to give teachers for Christmas or at the end of the school year.  Whether you need a gift for a male teacher or female teacher, you are sure to find the perfect idea here.  We have done the hard work for you, all you have to do is get shopping!

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The PSAT: Tips and Tricks for Success

Looking for some PSAT tips and tricks to ace the PSAT this year? The Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test, or PSAT, is usually taken in your freshman or sophomore year and while it doesn’t have any impact on your college applications, developing some of the best PSAT tips to help develop your confidence and improve your test results.

Why Should I Take the PSAT?

The most important thing about the PSAT is that it is used for many scholarship applications, including the National Merit Scholarship.  However, beyond that, the main reason to take the PSAT is to better prepare yourself for the SAT test that is looming on the horizon.

Structure of the PSAT

The PSAT underwent re-structuring in 2015 and is now a longer test, requiring 2 hours and 45 minutes to complete.

The other significant change is that there are no longer five answer options, there are only four. There are three sections in the test:

  • Reading,
  • Writing and language, and
  • Math

The number of questions on each section are fairly evenly distributed, but the time allocated to each section varies. The bulk of your time is spent on reading and math, and just 35 minutes spent on writing and language.

Now with this information you can adequately prepare for each section and adjust your study schedule based on your personal strengths and weaknesses.

PSAT Tips and Tricks

Now, if you don’t know it by now (and you ought to) then listen carefully…..any test that you are going to take requires preparation.  Do I need to repeat that? 😉  Good!

So now let’s get into PSAT tips that can help you move the needle and increase that score!

  1. Be prepared – Yes, that means reading this, reviewing what the test is like, topics covered and determining your strengths and weaknesses prior to taking the test.
  2. Get help – whether that’s in a study group or working with someone that can help with PSAT prep, it’s going to make a difference in your results.  Plus it will require you to take the time to prepare.
  3. Take a practice test – Before you start actual studying, take a full test so that you know where you stand at the outset.  This will help with knowing your strengths and weaknesses before moving forward.
  4. Set goals – we all do better if we have goals and objectives that we’re working towards.  Achievable goals of 20 – 30% better than when you first took the test isn’t unreasonable (assuming you aren’t trying to prep for the PSAT in three days…).
  5. When taking PSAT tests, make sure that you do it just like it would be done in the actual exam.  There are several reasons for this. First, you get more comfortable with the test taking environment. Secondly, you’re results will be more on target with what you might actually do in the real exam.
  6. Review results – This is critical!  With each test that you take, check and see where your results are improving and where you still might want to spend more time. As it gets closer to the actual date, increase the amount of time spent in areas where you are still weak.
  7. Prepare with SAT or PSAT books – Since there is less available resources for the PSAT as compared to the SAT, incorporate some of the questions and review using SAT questions and resources.  The types of questions and information required will be very similar and can help you.
  8. To guess or not to guess – That has been the question for years!  Now, guessing is better.  There’s no longer any penalty for guessing on the PSAT exam.
  9. Unknown answers – Like we said above, guessing is better than blanks!  One tip to help, if it’s a total guess, guess the same letter for every question if you really have no idea on any answer.  This doesn’t mean if you are down to 2 answers to guess “D” if you think it might be “B” or “A”.  But if you have no idea at all, choose one letter and every question that you find yourself in like that, always answer that letter. Statistically it will increase your chances of a few of those guessed answers being right.
  10. Spend time on question you can answer – If a question isn’t clear or you’ve got doubts, pick your default answer as we said in #9 and move on!  Got time at the end?  Come back to those that have default answers and see what you can do.  But nothing is worse than getting to the end of a test and having several unanswered questions because you ran out of time.
  11. Eliminate obvious answers – Now, we kinda mentioned this above but let’s be super clear…cross out all wrong answers to see what’s left.  You’ll be amazed how many questions you’ll then be able to answer.
  12. Read, read, read, read, read – If you like to read and practice reading you’re going to be ahead of many students.  These tests require reading and the better, faster and more observant reader you are the better you’re going to do.  Is that incentive enough to stop the video games and pick up a book?
  13. Review – take a little time and review basic grammar with a teacher or online.  In addition, make sure to take a little time and review and memorize the basic math formulas that you’ve covered to date.  Practice a few problems on your calculator so that there’s no struggle with it during the exam.

How to Cram for the PSAT –

Yes, you can do that! It’s just going to be an extremely concentrated review using the various tips we recommended above.

Start?  Begin by taking a PSAT prep test.  That’s going to give you your basics and let you know where you stand.  Next, determine what resources you’re going to use to prepare for the exam?

You can find one of our PSAT tutors easily enough to help you cram and get tips that will make a difference or you can use review guides like these in the time you’ve got available.

Allocate time no matter how many days you’ve got.  Every little bit does count and will make a difference.

Incorporate any and all of our tips above into your study time leading up to the exam.  The more time, better focus you have, the better your results!

Ok, we’ve come up with 13 PSAT Tips and Tricks to help you prepare for one of your first, of many, major test taking adventures.  By starting off on this path well prepared, you’re setting yourself up for success not only on this test but on your future SAT test and other exams as well.  So spend some time, sleep, eat and get some exercise and you just might blow by the score results that you set for yourself!  We’ve seen it happen before.

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High School Tips: 22 Best Tips for High School

It’s not surprising that both parents and students alike look for some of the best high school tips prior to starting out or even as sophomores! High school should be a time of fun and learning, but sometimes the pressure to succeed academically can be all too much. Our goal here is to help those who feel they need a little helping hand to achieve what they are capable of in an educational capacity. These 22 high school tips are easily implemented to ensure a stress-free and successful high school experience.

 

High School Tips – To Do at Home

Sleep

Getting enough rest is vital to success. When you are well rested you are more able to concentrate, which is useful in class as well as when studying. Try going to bed at the same time each night in order to get maximum rest. Make sure your bedroom is clean and tidy, and don’t use your bed as a study space – study at a desk and keep your bed for sleeping only!

Don’t Multitask

It might seem like a good idea to work on several tasks at once, after all, you’re getting more done, right? Wrong. It is best to focus on one task at a time and see it through to completion, or at least for your entire allocated study session. That means no phones, television or other distractions! You’ll be surprised at how much faster you can work when focusing on single tasks – leaving plenty of time for all your other activities!

Get Organized

This is probably the most common piece of advice for every student, but why is it so important? Being aware of your time, and what you can do with it, will help ensure you have enough time to complete assignments and prepare for exams.

Create a Positive Study Space

Studying on the sofa in front of the television is not the most effective place to study. To make your homework and study sessions the most productive, create a calming and productive study space. Ideally this space would be away from distractions such as the television, and kept clean and tidy. Try allocating a space in your bedroom for a desk and a place to display your homework and study schedule, keep all your necessary equipment such as pens, paper, and highlighters in the desk so you have no excuse to leave your space for the duration of your study session.

Do Your Homework

This one seems obvious. Teachers set homework for a reason – to help your learning, leading to academic success. Not only are you consolidating what have learned in class, but you are preparing yourself for exams as well as developing positive, independent study habits.

Eat Well

Snacking on sugary drinks, chips and candy will not help you learn! A sugar high will quickly be followed by a sugar low, leaving you lethargic and unable to concentrate. Instead, maintain a balanced diet for brain development and energy. Ensure you eat a range of fresh fruit and vegetables, with plenty of protein. The odd late night coffee and snacks won’t do you too much damage, but keep it minimal.

Manage Your Time

Don’t leave assignments and test preparation until the last minute! When you are given a task, write it in your diary or calendar as well as regular reminders. Break assignments into manageable chunks and tackle them well before the due date. Always allocate yourself more time than you think – any leftover can be spent on other tasks, or even having fun!

You Might Also Enjoy: Study Tips: 25 Study Tips You Need Now

Have Fun!

High school should be enjoyable. Sure, academic success is crucial, but if you spend all your time studying you risk burning out or dealing with excessive stress. Make sure you leave some time to hang out with your friends, play sport, go to concerts, or do whatever it is you love! When you settle into you study or homework session, you will be refreshed and able to focus on the task at hand.

Individualize Your Study Plan

Each student is different – different strengths, weaknesses, interests, goals and ambitions. Your study calendar should take your personal academic goals into consideration and work around any other commitments you have such as sport or employment. By doing this, you are sure to have enough time to tackle your academic tasks and are more likely to achieve your own personal goals.

Get Tutoring

Seeking help from a professional will ensure any issues you have will be eliminated. A tutor will work closely with you and tailor-make sessions to suit your individual academic needs. The one-on-one time is invaluable and will help keep your academic goals in check.

While many can go it on their own, it can make a semester more challenging. Plus, if you do start falling behind or not understanding as well as you need to, it becomes doubly difficult to play “catch up” for the semester!

Prioritize

Each week, rank each task and assignment in order of importance to make sure everything gets done. It can be easy to fall into the trap of studying your favorite subjects first, but this often means the subjects you struggle with are left until last, creating a vicious cycle. Try tackling the tricky subjects first in order to make sure you fully understand the content so you can ace exams!  There’s a TON of information out there about starting with what’s most difficult so that you get a sense of accomplishment and then the rest of your day goes more easily.

Seek Help

There is no shame in asking for help. Whether it is help with understanding content taught in class, asking a sibling to do your chores so you can complete an assignment or asking your parents to quiz you before a test. You’ll be surprised at how willing people are to help you when you really need it.  It’s also one of the best ways to prepare for tests and exams as well.

Learn to Say ‘NO’

Taking on too much can be detrimental to your academic success. Be selective when it comes to extra-curricular, sporting and social activities. They are important, but you can’t be involved in everything. Choose what you enjoy most and focus on them and your studies. Don’t be afraid to turn down small opportunities, especially those that don’t really have an impact on your future.

 

High School Tips – What You Can Do at School

Set a Schedule

Using a schedule will help you keep on top of all your tasks, including the many assignments that you are bound to have! Create a rough plan for each semester and a more specific schedule on a weekly basis. Be sure to include your regular commitments and then prioritize your schoolwork. Check your schedule regularly in order to remain focused on and track!

Check in with Your Career or Guidance Counselor

These people are an untapped resource when it comes to academic success. Speak with them about subject and grade requirements to help you focus on the most important aspect of your studies. By channeling your time and energy to where you need it most, you are bound to hit academic success!

Choose the Right Classes

Know your strengths and weaknesses! Don’t take classes that you know you will find incredibly difficult. By taking classes that you enjoy and know you can succeed it, your results will be more than pleasing!

Accept Criticism

Teachers will occasionally give you feedback that you won’t want to hear. Instead of getting upset and disheartened, don’t take it too personally – they are saying it to help you! Focus on what was said and take steps to make positive changes, you’ll soon reap the rewards!

Ask Questions

The only way to be certain of information is to clarify it with your teacher. If you are too embarrassed to ask a question in class, speak to your teacher privately, they’ll be more than happy to help. However, it is important to remember that there are no silly questions, and any questions you have will probably be on the minds of other students too, so you’ll be helping others as well.

Maintain Good Attendance

Succeeding academically is so much easier to do when you actually attend class! Simply by showing up on time and prepared, you are setting yourself up for passing. Even if you are feeling slightly unwell or tired, show up and do your best – your success depends on it!

Form a Study Group

Working with other like-minded people will do wonders for your learning. As a small group, you can learn from each other, discuss key points and keep each other motivated. For best results, make sure your group meets somewhere free from distractions and remains on task throughout the session.

Connect to Your School Community

While you don’t want to take on too many extra-curricular activities, networking and forming positive relationships can be beneficial to your academic performance. Learn from students older than you, make yourself known to teachers, and take on leadership roles to help make high school the most successful experience possible.

Set Goals

This is one of the best high school tips that you can really take action on! Decide exactly what you want to achieve and write it down. Think about the steps required to reach your goals and write them down as well. Having goals (and mini goals) will help keep everything else on track ensuring the ultimate academic success!

With these 22 tips for high school, you can breathe a bit easier and know that you have many of the areas covered.  It’s an exciting four years that are loaded with many opportunities, exciting challenges and new beginnings.  It’s up to you how and what you do with this time and these high school tips.

 

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Summer Brain Drain: 10 Ways Parents Can Help Stop It

Have you heard of summer “brain drain”?  If you haven’t, then keep reading to learn more. If you have, trying to find ways to help prevent summer brain drain this year for your kids, might be something that you’re looking to do! The words ‘summer vacation’ usually conjures up images of long, hot days, freedom and adventure. School and education is usually the furthest thing on the minds of young people and the effect of the commonly called ‘summer brain drain’ is definitely not on the radar. All the strain, stress and hard work of exams have dissipated, and the excitement of three months without educational restraints is often uplifting.

What is Summer Brain Drain?

However, come September and the beginning of the school year, the dread of returning to school is only accentuated after such a long hiatus from any kind of studying, school work or learning. It can often take children quite a while to regain the focus required for academic success. The good news is that there are several ways that you, as parents, can minimize the summer brain drain. To put in simply, reverse the problem. Fill up the brain! There are plenty of way you can do this.

How to Stop Summer Brain Drain

Try some of these tips during summer break to help keep your children in a positive educational mindset.

  1. Read, read, read

The ability to read forms such an important backbone in your child’s education, so it shouldn’t stop when school does.  You can read to your children, have them read aloud to you, or encourage them to read on their own, depending on their age and ability.  Join your local library and ask either the librarian or your child’s teacher for quality book recommendations.  Even 30 minutes a day reading something is a start and will help your child keep their mind active and growing.

  1. Music lessons

Learning an instrument does wonders for brain development and it can often be difficult during the busy school term to find the time. Look for holiday music programs or hire an instrument and teach your children yourself – there are plenty of resources online to help you!

  1. Write about it

Writing is another skill that children will use throughout their education, and one that can rapidly decline when it isn’t used! Ask your children to keep a diary of their holiday, especially if you go somewhere or do something exciting or unusual. You don’t need to read it, the fact that they are writing is good enough. If your child is showing interest in writing, encourage story writing or look for writing workshops at your local library.

While handwriting is important, as it improves fine motor skills and is still helpful in day to day life, the brain will still get a workout when children type. Encourage them to focus on spelling, grammar, sentence structure and, most importantly, fun and creativity!  Don’t forget to check out writing competitions or programs online.  There are some great and free writing groups your children can join.

  1. Museums, art galleries and more

Museums, art galleries and exhibition centers are great for children at any time, but during school holidays you will find a large array of shows and activities to capture the minds of young people. Discuss the content with them, ask questions and promote conversation – you never know, you might learn something too! Following on from the previous tip, you can also ask them to write about what they have learnt in their summer journal.

  1. Don’t worry about boredom

Quite often parents worry about their children becoming bored. But if you are constantly providing them with activities and ideas on how to keep occupied, they will not develop the ability to think for themselves. As already stated, a simple way to avoid summer brain drain is to encourage children to use their brains – so let them figure out how to entertain themselves aside from staring at a phone or computer screen!

  1. Go on vacation

This may seem like it would do the very opposite, and keep your kids’ brains in holiday mode. However, a holiday, no matter how small, can have a positive learning impact.

If you can afford it, a trip that includes cultural diversity is priceless in your children’s learning, but even a trip to the local campground can help teach children skills such as independence and cooking.

Family vacations can also go a long way to improving relationships.  Simply getting out of one’s day to day surroundings opens up your eyes, ears and mind to new things and interesting environments.  If your budget is tight, explore the idea of a stay-cation where you don’t leave your area but camp out at home and take day adventures from there to new areas or places that you haven’t yet explored.

  1. Make your home a learning environment

Issuing children various chores and responsibilities is nothing new in most houses, but the summer break can be a great chance to involve the children further. Whether you pay them for extra chores to teach lessons of saving, finance and delayed gratification, or simply encourage them to work as part of a team in the daily running of the household to promote responsibility, children will learn valuable life skills.

Don’t forget fun activities such as cooking and meal planning – children will love having a say in what the family eats, and cooking and baking together uses math and science skills and helps to develop patience. Engaging children this way reminds children that they are capable of learning, therefore promoting a growth mindset that will help them when they return to the classroom.

  1. Learn another language

You don’t need to send your children back to school fluent in a foreign language, but the process the brain goes through when learning a new language will help with brain development and other subject areas.

Look out for short courses within your community, or find a private tutor at Private Tutoring at Home. If the cost provides limitations, there are resources available online or at your local library, or perhaps you have a bilingual friend that may be willing to help out! With the way the world is these days, learning about another culture and having some familiarity with another language is becoming more and more important.

  1. Work or volunteer

This one is for the older students, although younger children can be given responsibilities around the home. A job, be it paid or volunteer, will help young adults develop responsibility, time-keeping, organizational skills, confidence, job-specific skills, and can often lead to building positive friendships with people outside of school.

  1. Let them play

While it’s often with the best intentions, many parents try too hard to help their children succeed academically. Children need play. It stimulates creativity, allows them to relax and can improve social relationships. Of course, you need to be careful of the type, and how much play they do. For example, it wouldn’t be productive for a child to spend the majority of their summer playing games on a computer or phone on their own. Age also plays a factor. Younger children can be afforded more play than older children, but fun should always be a consideration!

Summer brain drain is a real fact of life for those with three and up to four months off from the school year.  Finding ways that can eliminate some or all of it will allow you greater peace of mind this summer and your kids and easier time when fall rolls around and school starts up again!  Let us know some of your tips and tricks in the comments below!

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6 Best Summer Math Activities: How to Stay Smart & Have Fun

Been thinking about some fun summer math activities to add into the day?  Math games and activities shouldn’t be reserved for the classroom. In fact, you can have a ton of educational fun with your children over the summer break.

Best of all?  You don’t need to spend money on fancy games, all of these games can be created with objects you have lying around the house. The great things about these math games is that you can adapt them to any age group, meaning you can play the same game with the whole family!

Fun Summer Math Activities

1. Shape Twister

The good thing about this game is that it has the potential to entertain children for hours. The game is played much like the traditional game of Twister, but uses basic mathematical shapes. You can prepare the game yourself or get children to help you (thus keeping them busy for even longer). This is how you do it:

  • Draw large basic shapes on paper, colored or plain is fine – the focus is on shapes. You will need four of each of the six shapes (these can vary depending on knowledge, but some good ideas are square, circle, triangle, diamond, pentagon and rectangle).
  • Arrange the pieces of paper together to create a playing surface.
  • Create a spinning board. Using some strong cardboard, divide it into four sections (one for each hand and each foot).
  • In each segment draw each shape. These must be in circle formation so the spinner can definitively point to a shape. Use another piece of strong cardboard to cut an arrow shape. Fasten it to the board at the center with a paper fastener.
  • Play! Children take it in turns to play and to be the spinner. The spinner reads the instruction aloud for the players to follow, for example, ‘right hand on square’.
  • The winner is the player who doesn’t fall over!

2. Memory Matching Game

Help children improve their recognition, matchmaking and memory skills with this homemade memory game. Start by taking some photos of various objects and people. Print out the photos, ensuring you have double of each image. Glue the photos onto card or have them laminated.

How to play:

  • Shuffle the cards (the photos) and lay them face down in a grid pattern – no peeking!
  • Players take it in turns to flip over two cards. If they match, they keep the pair and have another turn. If not, they flip the cards back over and it is the next player’s turn.
  • Keep playing until all cards have been paired up and the player with the most pairs wins!

3. Bottle Toss

This game is just like many games you see at carnivals!

  • Collect a bunch of bottles and fill them with water to make them more stable. Write different numbers on each of the lids – vary these depending on your child’s ability and whether you are focusing on addition or multiplication.
  • Cluster the bottles together and use plastic rings, perhaps bangles, to toss over the top of the bottles. Give children a challenge such as ‘add to 20’ or ‘multiply to 60’.
  • Children aim at various numbers to create a successful equation.
  • The first person to achieve the challenge wins!

4. Pitch, Hit and Graph

Enjoy the outdoors with your kids and have some educational fun! This activity is geared towards baseball, but you could adapt it to any sport you like. It can be played with any number of people, but the more people you have the more more data you will get, creating more graphing options. This makes a great challenge for older children.

  • Set up distance targets and pitch the ball to your kid. For each hit, record the distance using pen and paper.
  • Convert the data to a graph – try line graphs, bar graphs and pie charts.
  • Don’t forget to have your child pitch to you and record you scores!

5. Mathematical Tic-Tac-Toe

Turn this classic game into a educational math activity.

  • Use nine squares of paper for the tic-tac-toe grid. Write several math problems or equations on the squares and arrange in a grid pattern face down.
  • Each player has their own small stack of cards, or paper, with either an ‘X’ or an ‘O’. They take it in turns to flip the paper in the grid, choose a problem and answer it. If answered correctly, they replace the piece of paper with their own, thus placing and ‘X’ or an ‘O’ in its place.
  • The aim is to create three successful sheets in a row!

6. Playing Card Math

Everyone has a deck of cards lying around, so dig them out and play this math game.

  • Remove the King, Queen, Jack and Joker cards, and explain that ace cards are equal to one.
  • Shuffle the remaining cards and then place nine cards in a 3×3 grid pattern.
  • Ask you child to look for any combination of cards that add up to a particular number. Once they have identified the cards remove them, and replace them with new cards from the pack. If no combinations are available, remove all nine and replace them. Keep playing until the deck is complete.
  • For older children, give them a number and allow them to reach it using any way possible. For example, to reach six they might use 3×4-5-1 to get rid of as many cards as possible.
  • Make it a two player game and have the children alternate turns, the person who collects the most cards is the winner.

Games are great ways to get kids working their brains, decreasing summer learning loss and staying on top of all that they learned in school.  In addition, by playing some summer math activities together you accomplish a few things without anyone noticing. First, you’re having family or togetherness time.  Secondly, you’re just having plain ‘ole fun!  Remember that term?  The older we get the more we forget it. 😉  And finally, Your kids are able to work on their math skills without realizing it.  Finding practical applications and fun with a few of these summer math activities is a great and easy way to do it!

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Put an End to Summer Learning Loss

Summer learning loss prevention is something that we, as parents, need to think about with our kids!  Many experts believe that the summer learning loss percentage can be 1 month of learning from during the school year, though other studies show as much as 25-30% of a loss.  Many children reach their academic peak at the end of the school year, after all they have studied, reviewed subjects and sat for endless amounts of tests while being in school nine to ten months at that point. Their brains are full of information that they can recall at the drop of a hat.

And then what happens? Summer vacation. Around ten to twelve weeks of freedom, fun and no stress or pressure from school. Sure, kids need time to be kids and to enjoy their childhood, but summer learning loss can cause real problems upon the return to school. What is even more problematic is the divide that summer learning loss can create between children.

While some learning loss is to be expected, the good news is that it can be minimized. The bad news is that some children are more susceptible than others. This article aims to explain who is most affected and hopes to offer some solutions to this educational-dividing issue.

 

Summer Learning Loss – the Problem and Some Solutions

Every child is at risk of experiencing summer learning loss. There are, of course, a small percentage of children who attend regular summer school and similar programs, which significantly reduces any learning loss. Unfortunately, in general, children who come from lower income families tend to experience summer learning loss more than their wealthier counterparts.

The reasons for this are highlighted here, as well as strategies to prevent summer learning loss regardless of age, economic status or learning ability. With a few steps to minimize learning loss, you can help your kids get on track to have a great start to the new academic year!

Summer Learning Loss Low Income – Why?

One theory suggests that the reason lower-income students return to school with a large learning deficit is due to their lack of resources over the summer period. During school, all students have fairly equal access to learning, especially during class time, thus making similar learning gains and improvements. However, over the summer, students from higher-income families tend to have access to more resources to continue on an ever increasing learning curve.

The tips in this article are not dependent on a high income and are guaranteed to help the positive learning continue no matter what your financial resources.

What Causes the Problem…

In order to prevent summer learning loss, children must keep learning. This doesn’t always mean summer school or extra tutors, although, for some children this is beneficial. Learning happens in a large variety of ways. Holidays, language lessons, and sport camps are all ways to keep learning. They also come at a cost that many families cannot afford.

Simply engaging children in conversation and spending quality time together can help reduce summer learning loss, but this can be difficult for single parents, those who work long hours and can’t afford time away from work, or those who, for a variety of reasons, have less than positive familial relationships. However, family doesn’t mean just blood relatives.  Extended family and friends can all be a part of this as well.  Kids learn from whomever is around, just give them the chance!

Some Solutions to Fix It

The simple answer is to keep children learning throughout their summer break. Of course, having a healthy budget can help with the type and number of activities children participate in, but money doesn’t have to be a limiting factor. Most summer learning loss articles offer expensive suggestions that are targeted towards families that can afford it. This only increases the educational gap and does nothing to help low income families. Not this article.

Check out the following list of low-cost, accessible and fun learning experiences to aid summer learning loss prevention in all children.

 

  • Read, Read, Read

One of the best things children can do over the summer is read. Libraries are usually free to join and offer an abundance of books for children of all ages. Librarians are full of knowledge about books to help advise you on what might suit your child the best, and what might help them develop a love for reading. A child may be a hesitant reader simply because they haven’t found a style of book they enjoy.

 

  • Get Writing

Writing is a valuable skill for all educational levels. It only requires a notebook and a pen or pencil and can help stimulate the creative brain as well as helping children maintain the fine motor skills required to write. This may sound silly, but several months without even gripping a pen can be very detrimental to this widely used skill. For younger children, drawing and coloring are helpful too.

  • Promote a thirst for learning

The type of children that learn best at school are the ones that want to learn. You can make almost any activity a learning experience by encouraging conversation and asking your child questions. Hopefully, this will stimulate them to think about things and start a journey of curiosity and inquisitiveness. Try simple questions like these;

  • “ where does the food you are eating come from?”
  • “ how do they build bridges over water?”

The best type of questions are ones that naturally form part of a conversation, such as “why do you think…” and “ what will happen if…” Hopefully you get the idea.

Once a child begins to question the world and desire a meaningful and valuable answer, there will be no stopping them!  Learning new things is key to summer learning loss prevention!

  • Explore free or near free events and areas

Most towns and cities have summer events and activities to get involved in or to explore.  Summer concerts, art programs, STEM program (growing in popularity and availability), library or community center options are all free or near free to those residents in the community.

In addition, there are a lot of online resources as well for your kids to explore.  For example, do you or your child like to write?  Then perhaps writing a book would be something fun like this summertime book writing program to get involved in!  Online searches will show several opportunities for kids to get involved in areas that will stimulate and help them grow academically and have fun doing so.

  • Create a positive and supportive environment

A child will be more willing to learn if they feel comfortable. Don’t put your child down for asking questions or when they make mistakes. Encourage them to persist, talk about mistakes, and lead by example by trying new things yourself.  If they get nervous about trying something new, maybe you could try it as well?  Or show them you trying something else that’s new to you so that they see everyone goes through the same types of experiences.

  • Do something different

If you can afford to take a small holiday, do it. Trips like camping or visiting relatives can often be done without breaking the bank. Taking your children out of their everyday environment gives them a break and a chance to see and do things that they don’t ordinarily do. They will gain new experiences and build more positive relationships with you. Try rearranging the living room together, doing some gardening, eating at the table instead of in front of the television, or playing a board game. Day trips are good too, and there are always cheap and free activities for children during school holidays – you just have to pay attention to what they are.

Our summer learning loss articles are just the beginning of the steps that are available to you to test out!  Explore and discover other ways that you can help your kids not have as much or any issues this year!  Let us know what steps you do and share so others can get ideas as well.

 

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