SAT Math Topics: 5 Tips on What You Need to Know

Want to know what are the new SAT math topics? The math section of the SAT is designed to test your knowledge on problem solving, critical thinking, modeling, algebraic functions and using tools strategically. Seems like pretty broad concepts doesn’t it? Don’t worry, this is your definitive guide on the exact SAT math review topics that are currently being covered. By the end of this article you will know what math is on the new SAT, and how to review for it effectively!

SAT Math Review

The SAT math topics are about getting real. The good news is that the SAT doesn’t test you on every single math topic you have ever had studied. Feel free to breathe a sight of relief. Instead, it selects areas deemed the most relevant in college courses and careers.

The SAT Math test focuses on areas that play a large role in colleges and a variety of careers, therefore applying real world math. These focus areas are:

  • Heart of Algebra – create, manipulate and solve algebraic equations. These questions center around linear equations – equations that involve two variables that change as stated by a consistent pattern.
  • Problem Solving and Data Analysis – is all about being quantitatively literate. These questions require you to create and use a model, as well as understanding the difference between the model predictions and actual data collected.
  • Passport to Advance Math – includes questions that require the manipulation of complex equations and functions that are typically needed in STEM-based careers.

On top of these areas, the test also covers additional key concepts that don’t fall into any of the above categories. These include coordinate geometry, basic trigonometry, area and volume.

5 Ways to Review the SAT Math Topics

1. Know how to complete grid in questions

Students are often given advice to learn the style of questions and the format of the test. But what does this mean when it comes to the SAT? In the SAT math section there are multiple choice questions and grid-in questions. Answering multiple choice questions are fairly straightforward – simply select the answer you think is correct.

Grid-in questions are different. These are questions where you are going to have to come up with the correct answer on your own. Don’t ask me why “grid in” is the terms used, I don’t have that answer! 20% of the questions on the SAT math test are grid-in questions so it’s definitely worth your while to understand how they are answered. You are given the instructions for the grid-in answers, but reading them can waste a lot of time. Instead, familiarize yourself with the instructions on practice tests – the instructions are the same. This allows you to spend more time thinking about your answers on test day.

2. Become familiar with the provided formula sheet

Many students breathe a sigh of relief when they hear they don’t have to learn every single formula. But that doesn’t mean you can rest easy. You still need to know when to use each formula. Even knowing where the formulas are located on the sheet will save you valuable time. Have the sheet available during every single revision session and refer to it regularly. Pin it somewhere for you to study on a regular basis – a mirror, the refrigerator, or on the back of the bathroom door!

3. Work backwards

Sometimes it’s easier to start by looking at the multiple choice answers available. You may be lucky enough to rule out a couple of options straight away, but if not, try putting the various options into the equation. This tactic has potential to actually be more time consuming, so may not be ideal for every question, but it’s certainly a good one to have in your bag of tricks.

4. Use the daily practice app

The College Board not only provides official practice tests, but also an app to help track your progress. You will receive a question each day with hints and explanations. It’s a great way to maintain your math skills and to remind you to keep preparing for your math SAT!

5. Make the most of other subjects

It may come as no surprise that you use math skills in a variety of subjects. Because the SAT math section has such a focus on real world math, subjects such as science and social science are incredibly relevant. Apply your math knowledge in these subjects and you are unknowingly preparing yourself for the SAT math test. Any questions that involve data analysis, graphs, percentages, ratios and tables are useful in preparation for the SAT.

Topics Covered in the New Math SAT

As you have already learned, the math SAT covers three main topics, with anything leftover categorized under additional math. This section will give you a SAT math topics breakdown, providing you with a thorough understanding of exactly what math is on the SAT.

The Heart of Algebra

In this section, questions are focused around equations based on real-world topics such as distance, speed, mass, volume or everyday financial topics.
Questions may ask you to;

  • Solve linear equations and linear inequalities
  • Interpret linear functions
  • Answer equation word problems
  • Graph linear equations
  • Solve linear function word problems
  • Solve systems of linear equations
  • Answering these questions may require you to;
    • Use multiple steps to simplify an expression or equation
    • Select a graph that shows an algebraic equation that you saw in Algebra 1 course or Algebra 2. or choose the equation that describes a graph
    • Indicate how a graph would be affected by a change in its equation

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

Problem Solving and Data Analysis

In this section, questions revolve around the application of ratios, percentages, and proportional reasoning. We’ve come up with a collection of more topics and what might be asked of you below:

  • Ratios, rates, percentages, units, and proportions – solve multi-step problems with a given ratio, rate, percentage or unit. You will also need to know how to calculate ratios, rates, percentages and units using the information provided.
  • Table data and data inferences– analyze the data presented on a table and use it to answer questions
  • Scatterplots – select the best equation to fit various scatterplots.
  • Graphs and tables – understand and identify key features, as well as summarizing and evaluating the data presented in them
  • Data collection and conclusions – determine whether data collection methods are accurate and reliable
  • Statistics – determine mean, median, mode, range, and/or standard deviation

Passport to Advanced Math

Students who are interested in STEM-based careers will need to pay particular attention to these type of questions. They involve complex equations and functions, and focus on the following areas;

  • Solving quadratic equations
  • Interpreting nonlinear expressions
  • Quadratic and exponential word problems
  • Radicals and rational exponents
  • Operations with rational expressions and polynomials
  • Polynomial factors and graphs
  • Nonlinear equation graphs
  • Linear and quadratic systems
  • Structure in expressions
  • Isolating quantities
  • Functions

Now that you are familiar with the new SAT math topics you can go ahead and prepare easily and aim to get the results that you need for schools! Always remember that the SAT math exam is only covering information that you’ve already learned. So prepping and taking some time to review the material will help to refresh your memory and remember how to quickly and accurately complete problems in these areas. Remember to work hard and apply yourself, the rest is easy!

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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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ASVAB Study Tips (even if you don’t have a lot of time)

Studying and preparing for any test is difficult and stressful, especially one where the results so directly impact on your future. The ASVAB is a unique test so knowing how to study for the ASVAB is critical. You need some pretty specific ASVAB study tips to help you ace this exam!

This article will clarify what exactly the ASVAB is and how you can achieve success without stress or pressure, even with minimal preparation time.

As you know, the ASVAB, or Armed Service Vocational Aptitude Battery Test, is required by anyone wishing to enlist in the United States military service or Coast Guard. It is a multiple choice test that is divided into several categories.

Each military field has a minimum score that you must achieve to gain acceptance. However, in many cases it is safe to say that entrance will be granted with a score of 50. For this reason, you will want to figure out how to pass the ASVAB with a 50 (minimum) to give yourself the greatest chance of a positive result.

This article offers some simple, yet effective, tips and strategies to help you reach your desired score. In order to be successful, it is important to know how to study for the ASVAB, so keep reading.

ASVAB Test Areas

Each of the ASVAB test areas are designed to measure your aptitude and capabilities in certain fields deemed essential by the military. All the content has been covered during high school, so you already have the knowledge required to pass. It’s just a matter of applying the knowledge and understanding the format of the test. The results from the tests help decide which Military Occupational Specialties (MOS), or Army Jobs, the applicant is most suited for. The ASVAB Test areas are;

General Science
• Arithmetic Reasoning
• Word Knowledge
• Paragraph Comprehension
• Mathematics Knowledge
• Electronics Information
• Auto and Shop Information
• Mechanical Comprehension
• Assembling Objects

Some military branches will also use an area called Verbal Expression in their requirements. Verbal Expression is the combined score of Word Knowledge and Paragraph Comprehension.

How Many Questions are on the ASVAB?

The answer isn’t exactly straightforward. There is a difference between to computer-based test and the pen and paper version. The former has 145 questions, whilst the pen and paper applicants have to attempt 225 questions. In both versions, the questions are fairly evenly distributed amongst the test areas so it is important to spread your study time equally.

Six Sensational ASVAB Study Tips

Don’t let the slightly unusual structure and complicated scoring system deter you from sitting for the ASVAB. You’d be surprised at how simple and straightforward your preparation can be.

If you are nervous about taking the ASVAB, follow these points and you will be on your way to success – you might even learn how to pass the ASVAB with a lot higher than a 50!

  1. Plan a realistic study schedule – like many other tests, your results often reflect the time and effort you have put into preparing for them. The most effective way to ensure you have enough time to thoroughly review and prepare is to create a study schedule, and stick to it! The only way you will actually follow your study schedule is to make sure it is a realistic one. Start by making note of all your necessary commitments and then fill in the blanks with study blocks of around two hours at a time, a sufficient study period. You should also make note of what exactly you will be studying during each session to ensure you have everything covered
  2. Practice, practice, practice – this is another familiar test preparation recommendation. The best way to study for the ASVAB is to take as many practice tests as you can. Not only will this help you understand the format and style of the questions, it will help highlight any areas of weakness. If you notice some weak spots, adjust your study schedule accordingly to help you improve. You can find plenty of practice tests online and a great review book is this one!
  3. Perform weekly reviews – allocate a session once a week to test yourself. You can take a practice test in timed conditions or assess your weak areas using other means. By doing this, your learning process will be ongoing and there won’t be any gaps in your preparation.
  4. Understand the format – this is more crucial than learning the content. Make yourself aware that there are points lost for incorrect answers and therefore guessing isn’t always a viable option. In the paper version of the test, blank answers are considered incorrect, whereas blank answers in the computer tests will incur a penalty. Know which format of the test you are taking and focus on its structure and key elements.
  5. Get a tutor – a tutor can help with the content, but more importantly they will help you become familiar with the test format. Using a tutor from Private Tutoring at Home will alleviate the pressure and stress that often comes with both test preparation and test day.
  6. Enroll in an ASVAB prep course – whether you attend one in person or participate in an online version. These courses will guide you through the style of questions asked on the ASVAB and have the added bonus of ensuring your study schedule stays on track.

You Might Also Enjoy: What is the ASVAB Test? Getting an ASVAB Tutor Can Help

What if I’m Running out of Time?

Like most tests, it is in your best interest to allow yourself plenty of preparation time. However, sometimes things don’t work out exactly how you planned and you find yourself with less than a desirable timeframe to work with. Don’t worry, success is still achievable. You’ll just have to tweak your study timetable a little. These ASVAB study tips are designed to help give yourself the best shot with as little as one month study.

  • Sit and take a baseline practice test – if you are short on time, the first thing you should do is sit a practice test in exam conditions (you can get some sample tests HERE). Use the results to help highlight your areas of weakness.
  • Create your study schedule based around these weaknesses and ensure each study block is a minimum of 45 minutes and no longer than two hours. Any less than this and you won’t have enough time for the information to sink in, any longer and your brain will find it harder to retain the information.
  • Follow an existing ASVAB study guide – save time building a schedule from scratch and find a study guide that already exists. Swap the topics around to make sure you spend sufficient time on your weak areas. Alternatively, find a printable ASVAB study guide template to help create an easy-to-follow, yet personalized study timetable.
  • Have breaks – even though time is tight, don’t forget to have a break every few hours to help keep your brain fresh and ensure you retain important information.
  • Don’t waste time learning content – all the content in the ASVAB test has already been taught to you during your high school years. Sure, you may have forgotten some of it, but your limited time is better spent familiarizing yourself with the style of questions asked.
  • Continue to take practice tests – sit and take a practice test every week (always in exam conditions) and make note of your score. Ideally your weak areas will improve and your score will increase. After each test, adjust and tweak your study schedule based on the results that you are getting.
  • Know someone else that is taking the test as well?  Study together and partner  up 1-2 times a week.  That way you can quiz and review and compare how things are going.  It also eliminate feeling like you’re doing all of this solo.  Even a bit of complaining can ease the pressure and the stress of prepping for the ASVAB exam.
  • Once the exam is done, celebrate!  Whatever the results –
    you deserve a little celebration for prepping for the exam and seeing it through.

Our ASVAB study tips are the first step in an exciting, new phase of your life!  Planning as much time as possible to prep is your best move to getting the results that you are looking for.  If time is short, then increase the amount of time you are spending to prepare in what time you have.  Move other things to the side (where possible) for now.

Following our ASVAB study tips and suggestions will help you ace the ASVAB the next time you take it!

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How to Study for the GRE on Your Own: 7 Best Success Tips Plus Guide

If you’re trying to figure out how to study for the GRE on your own, you probably have some questions!  What’s the best GRE study guide and way to prep?

The GRE, or Graduate Record Examinations, offers a gateway to graduate and business schools.  While those entering medical school or law school take other tests, those interested in most liberal arts fields, education, and some business program will be looking to take the GRE.  And like all the standardized tests, the better your scores, the more options you have available for schools as well as financial aid.

GRE Study Plan

But students also lead busy lives and ensuring you have time to focus on the GRE may not always seem possible. So just how long does it take to study for the GRE? The short answer is, however long you have! You can have a GRE study plan 3 months long and some are longer and some are less.

Naturally, the longer you have the more likely you are to achieve a higher score, but there are some steps you can take to increase your chances of success without the luxury of time. This is your guide on how to study for the GRE and how to create an effective GRE study plan.

What is Involved in the GRE General Test?

There are three sections in the test;

  • analytical writing,
  • quantitative reasoning, and
  • verbal reasoning

The test can be taken as many times as you like, but considering there is a cost with each attempt it is best to adequately prepare so you can achieve your desired result the first time around. Your confidence level may also take a hit with each unsuccessful attempt, so do it once and do it right!

Let’s look at the test sections in further detail.

Analytical Writing – this section requires focused responses that articulate complex ideas that are supported with relevant reasons and examples. You must examine claims and evidence, and maintain a concentrated discussion with a high level control of standard written English.

Quantitative Reasoning – this section examines your ability to understand, interpret and analyze quantitative information. You will use mathematical models to solve problems and your basic skills of arithmetic, algebra, geometry and data analysis will be tested. You are allowed to use a calculator when completing this section.

Verbal Reasoning – here you will analyze and draw conclusions, identify the author’s assumptions and/or perspectives, and understand the author’s intent in a literal and figurative manner. You will be tested on your ability to summarize text, selecting the key points from the text as well as understanding the structure of the text. Your understanding of the meanings of words and sentences will be tested, as will your ability to recognize relationships between words and concepts.

One really important point to remember about this test!  Questions on the test can be skipped and you can return to them later.  Plus, you also have the opportunity to change any answers before submitting your test. Now let’s move on…

How to Prepare and Study for the GRE

The skills required to succeed in the test are developed over a period of time and not related to any particular field of study. For this reason, preparation is crucial to success. Unlike many other examinations, where content can be revised and learned, the GRE measures your ability to respond to the information given.

The good news here is that you will already have acquired many of the skills required, you just have to put them into practice. By gaining an understanding of the types of questions asked in the test, you will be able to confidently answer the questions accurately. Here are some ways to prepare and study for the GRE that guarantee success.

  1. Spend the Time You Need

Like many other examinations, last minute studying is not useful. The more time you spend preparing for the GRE, the better your results will be. It is recommended that you spend 4-12 weeks developing your skills for the test. This is quite a broad timeframe, the lower end of the scale should be achievable by just about any student that focuses on their preparations. Naturally, spending more time will result in the best outcome possible.

  1. Create a Study Plan or Schedule

Base your GRE study plan on how much time you have. A longer timeframe may mean that you can spend less hours each week, allowing for many of your job and social commitments to continue.

While the GRE should be one of your top priorities, it can be easy to procrastinate if you prepare too far in advance. Breaking your study time into manageable chunks will help eliminate the possibility of procrastination.

Regardless of how much time you have to prepare, make sure you allocate sufficient time to study. Write down when you will be studying, and what you will study – use a schedule, pen and paper, calendar, or even input it into your phone and set reminders if you have to! This way nothing gets missed and you will still have time to enjoy a positive social/study balance.

  1. Study Sample Questions

One of the very best ways to study for the GRE on your own is to complete as many practice tests and questions as you possibly can. As already stated, the GRE doesn’t really require you to learn a large amount of new content, but instead it tests your ability to respond to certain types of questioning. The most effective way to learn how to respond to GRE questions is to do them!

Even if you only have a limited amount of preparation time, completing sample questions is an incredibly useful way to spend your time. Make sure you complete the questions within a time-restricted period to simulate actual test conditions. This will also help you develop coping strategies to deal with the pressure involved on test day.

  1. Make Each Day Count

The best GRE study plan is one that includes study time practically every day. This way you will be able to build upon your skills and knowledge. Studying for a large amount of time one day a week is far less effective.

To start with, your learning capacity diminishes with each hour of studying (just like your muscles become fatigued the longer you exercise).

Secondly, if you have a long period between each study session you are likely to forget what you have previously learned which means more time spent relearning what you already learned.  Does that seem smart?

You Might Also Be Interested in: 25 Study Tips You Need Now

Studying almost every day (it’s important to have a break too, remember) allows you to sufficiently build upon your knowledge and the repetition means it is more likely to be committed to your memory.

  1. Personalize Your Program

By understanding your own strengths and weaknesses you will be able to cater to your specific needs. One of the easiest ways to do this is to sit with a practice exam, under timed conditions, right at the beginning of your preparation period. This will highlight the areas you need to spend the most time on and allow you to allocate your study time accordingly.

Spend more time on the areas you find difficult, or on the subject areas that are most relevant to your educational goals. Your program will also need to be reflective of how much time you have to prepare. If you are really short on time, you may need to choose only a few areas to focus on as you probably won’t have enough time to successfully improve all of your weak areas.

  1. Use Online Tools

In the modern day of the internet, just about everything is at your fingertips. Preparing for the GRE online is a simple way to ensure you are studying practically and effectively.

Many first class, online prep courses come at a cost, but if you can afford it they can be worthwhile. These courses do require some kind of intrinsic motivation in order to develop successful results. If you are more of a people person, try investing in a personal tutor.

  1. Use a Tutor

You may be keen to figure out how to study for the GRE on your own, but using a tutor can significantly improve your results. Meeting regularly with a professional tutor will help you remained motivated and focused.

They can offer valuable tips and advice on how to best work on your own during your other study sessions, whilst keeping you on track with some valuable one-on-one time.

Finding a good tutor can be difficult. They need to not only have the knowledge and skills to teach you, but also understand your goals. A personality match is also crucial – feeling comfortable around your tutor will ensure you ask plenty of questions and are honest about your understanding of key concepts. Check out the following link to find a highly qualified GRE tutor in your area!

Overall, sitting and taking the GRE does not need to become a stressful event. Understanding how the test works, the types of questions asked, and implementing some valuable study tips will ensure you achieve the results you need to take your education to the next level.

Good luck with your GRE study plan and let us know what you did and how to study for the GRE on your own?

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Why Reading is Important: 14 Ways Reading Helps Your Life

Why reading is important is a question most parents have heard from kids or even their partners. You’ve probably heard it a hundred times or more – read, it’s good for you! But does anyone actually answer your question of ‘why reading is good for you?’

The good news is that simply by reading this article, you are beginning to understand what reading can do for you. Our goal here is to help you understand why reading is good for your health, what reading can do for you as well as the scientific benefits of it.

Reading Benefits:

Scientific Benefits of Reading

The scientific benefits of reading are becoming more and more known, here are some of the top scientific explanations as to why you should pick up that book!

  • Boost brain power – in the same way that going for a run improves your cardiovascular fitness, reading will help enhance your memory and brain function. As we get older, both these functions tend to decline. Regular reading can significantly delay this decline as well as helping to prevent the onset of diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Reading helps your mental sharpness to stick around a little longer, much more so than watching a movie!
  • Reducing stress – immersing yourself with a good page-turner can help switch off from the pressures of day-to-day life. Research suggest that even reading a book for a mere six minutes after a stressful day is a great way to relax and recharge the batteries, even more so than listening to music – another favorable stress-busting technique. Try reading for a few minutes each day, or on your commute to work (providing your not driving of course!)
  • Improves empathy – understanding others will lead to positive and long-lasting relationships. Engaging with literary characters can help the brain make connections that help the reader understand other points of view and help with recognizing emotions. Just like athletes use visualization techniques to improve muscle memory to enhance their sporting performance, reading novels can help brain connectivity.

Why Reading is Good for Your Health

While many of us understand that reading might have benefits on our mind as well as our memories (and that’s critical the older we get), understanding our it might help our overall health is not quite as well known.  Here’s just a few reasons to consider reading more:

  • Increases motivation – people who read books about people doing things, fact or fiction, are more likely to engage in the activity themselves. This could be drastic and crazy such as climbing mountains or taking on large travel adventures, or simple like taking up a new hobby such as cooking or knitting.
  • Can combat poor mental health – improving mental health often goes hand in hand with reducing stress, but reading about others in similar situations is useful too. Biographies are great way to understand that you are not alone in your battle, and the large number of self-help books allows people to access advice and guidance from the comfort of their own home without stigma or embarrassment. Naturally, professional medical advice should also be sought.
  • Independent thinking – characters and plots are often portrayed in ways to sway our thinking. Authors usually deliberately make characters likable or loathed, but every so often we come across a book that makes us think outside the typical box. You may like the story, but not the characters, or vice-versa. This highlights our individuality and makes for great conversation when discussing a book with others.
  • Armchair education – reading biographies and other factual or historical books will provide an abundance of knowledge. Even reading articles such as this one will teach you something. However, even fictional books based around true events or set in specific historical periods will captivate us even more and we learn without even realizing it!

Old School Paper Books vs Modern Day e-Readers

E-readers are becoming more and more popular, and don’t get me wrong, they are great! They have the capacity to store large numbers of books on a small device which is great when traveling or commuting. But there is something special about turning the paper pages of a book. The good news is that many e-reader owners still love a printed book, and here are some reasons why this should continue;

  • Sleep better – including reading as part of a bedtime routine can help signal to your body that the time for sleep is near. However, using an e-reader can actually wake the brain up courtesy of the backlit screen. Reading a printed book by a lamp is a much better way to slow the body down and prepare for a good night’s rest. Plus it aids in all the other ways that we’re covering here.
  • Improves memory function – turning pages will actually help you remember what you have read more so than ‘clicking’ to the next page. Many people may find this is the reason they print important documents rather than reading them off a computer screen. Books also allow for easier flicking back and forth to help remember important events or characters.

How Does Reading Make You Smarter?

Reading is beneficial at any age, but like most things, the earlier you start the better. Not only does it help form positive habits, but it may also make you smarter – something that will help significantly with your education. Some of the benefits of reading for students and young people include;

  • Reading can help children develop a longer attention span, and when it comes to schooling this one has obvious benefits. Because stories have a structure that includes and beginning, middle and end, children are captivated for a fairly lengthy amount of time.
  • Exposure to vocabulary – reading exposes students to around 50% more words than television or even conversation. As children, and adults for that matter, read they come across new words regularly. These new words then tend to be used in conversation and writing. Using a larger array of words will make you not only sound more intelligent, but you will generally be more intelligent. In the case of students, those that have a larger vocabulary are more likely to gain attention from their teachers which can improve confidence and promote further learning.
  • Improved reading comprehension, spelling, grammar is seen in those children who read for fun. Creating a love and habit for reading at an early age has a profoundly positive impact on education. Exposure through story time, following parental leads and positive encouragement, are all ways to promote reading.
  • Developing the imagination and creativity. Children who read do not necessarily go on to be writers, journalists or editors. The creative part of the brain is wide.y used when students read – they imagine themselves in the story line. Creativity is the key to success in many careers, and so much of it can be gained from reading!
  • Reading provides entertainment you can take anywhere! Books, especially those developed for children are often small and portable. E-readers are even more compact and can store thousands of stories. Whether a child is camping, waiting for the bus, eating a snack or preparing for bed – reading can be done virtually anywhere, any time! No more “I’m bored” statements!

Find a Reading Tutor Near You!

Hopefully you’ve got a few ideas of why reading is important and what reading can do for you at this point?  If so, then the goal of our post was successful!  And if you need help with reading this year or if you are prepping for the SAT Reading test and want to improve your skills for life as well as a big test, then we can help with that!   Whatever the case, the next time you get a few minutes, find yourself a good book on any topic and get started reading!

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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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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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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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