Monthly Archives: February 2014

Do Gym Classes Help Improve Grades?

Physical education classes have come under fire of late as cash-strapped schools scramble for ways to save money.  Everyone knows gym class is a great way to get kids moving and it promote a healthy, active lifestyle, but some schools simple cannot afford the teachers or the facilities it takes to run a successful physical education program.  Studies conducted to ascertain the value of gym class suggest that it’s far more important than we think.

A number of studies were conducted on school children of all ages.  One of the most interesting involved 138 students in Rome aged 8 to 11. The children were all healthy and none of them suffered from known attention disorders, but like most children their age, they had trouble staying focused throughout the long school day.  The study required the children to pick letters from a long string of symbols; a test recognized for its ability to ascertain concentration levels.  The children wrote the tests before and after their gym classes.

Researchers found that the children’s test scores improved dramatically after their 50-minute gym classes. Their scores improved more the more they moved. Endurance classes where the children were just moving, rather than thinking like they would when playing ball sports, were the most effective in improving their concentration. The findings of the various studies show a remarkable improvement in a student’s ability to concentrate right after exercising. This means that gym classes are not lost school hours, but are a valuable tool in getting students to learn.

It’s not just gym class where these discoveries can be put to good use. We can also encourage students to walk, run or hit the gym when they are studying for exams. Getting your child moving means that they can take a break from their studies and recharge with some fresh air and exercise. Don’t let your kids sit in front of their desks for hours; this will see the rule of diminishing returns take effect as they learn less and less for every hour that they study.

If you are studying, try to schedule regular breaks where you can move around. Play a game, go for a run or a walk or get to the gym to give yourself a break. If you find yourself having to read the same passage over and over again, then it’s time for a break. If the weather outside is not conducive to outdoor activity, do some yoga in the living room or dance to your favourite song. Moving will definitely help you to concentrate.

Exercise has added benefits that help your kids to achieve. Improved sleep patterns, lower blood pressure and reduced obesity rates make your children happier, healthier and even smarter! Make gym classes an indispensable part of your school’s curriculum. If you are having trouble finding the money for physical education programs, get the parents to help raise funds and have a volunteer program for gym instructors rather than a permanent teacher.

Note: Adapted from a post originally published 2/5/2012 on the Tutor Doctor Corp. blog


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Is Your Child Skipping School? Here’s What To Do

ferris-300x300Almost every student skips school from time to time.  Perhaps they feign illness or pretend to go to school only to end up skipping class or classes.  When this problem becomes chronic, your student could be facing bad grades or failed semesters.  The key to dealing effectively with your child not wanting to go to school or certain classes is to really understand the problem.

Find the cause(s)
There are a number of reasons why your child may not be attending school.  Perhaps they are overwhelmed and are not coping in class, or perhaps they have been bullied and are afraid to go to school.  Anxiety from these kinds of issues can lead to physiological symptoms like stomach ache, headaches and nausea.

You can also explore other possibilities like not getting along with the teacher or being under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It’s vital that you understand the underlying causes of your child’s absenteeism if you are to effect a plan of action that can help them to overcome their difficulties.

Getting answers
Of course the first person you should talk to is your student.  It’s important to remain calm and patient, even if they seem reticent to tell you.  Remember that if they are feeling overwhelmed or if they are being bullied, they may be too embarrassed or afraid to tell you.

Speak with their teachers who have an excellent insight into what happens during school hours.  Your child’s teacher and help to unravel the root causes of absenteeism and provide insight as to who may be influencing your student.  Educators have excellent ideas or suggestions on how to solve the situation too.  You should also speak with friends and other family members to make sure you understand the situation and see the whole picture.  Chances are if the absenteeism is chronic, there may be more than one cause.

Plan of action
When formulating a plan of action to overcome the difficulties your student is experiencing, you need to include them in the discussion.  When they are part of the planning, they are far more likely to be part of the solution.

Together, you should outline a very clear plan of action so that they feel supported and so that there is a structure in place and they know what’s expected of them.  Address the underlying issues directly and get their input on how best to handle the situation.  For example, if they are being bullied, they may not want you to get involved.  In this case, you should discuss coping strategies and ways to deal with bullies.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Extraordinary circumstances call for strong measures, so don’t be afraid to ask family members for help.  You can also get support from the teacher and principal.  Together, perhaps even with your child’s involvement, a realistic plan for overcoming difficulties can be developed and acted upon.  If your student feels overwhelmed, get a tutor to help them with their studies.  If anxiety is an issue, speak with the school councilor about ways in which to offer support or getting counseling that will your student to cope.

Note: Adapted from a post originally published 2/24/2014 on the Tutor Doctor Corp. blog

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Filed under Academic Advice, Education, Health, Parenting, School Safety

Five Important Things Teachers Need From Parents

parentteacherBeing a parent just might be the toughest job in the world and most parents have really busy schedules that add to the pressure of family life.  Teachers, for the most part, understand that and they are there to help provide support and structure to your student’s life. When teachers and parents work together, they can optimize education and provide a really effective support network for kids to excel. Here is how to best help your child’s teachers to create a positive and healthy environment for learning.

Get Involved: Teachers understand that parents are busy, but helping out from time to time really eases the burden on teachers and shows your children that you are eager to participate in their lives. Knowing what goes on at school helps you to stay connected with teachers and other parents so that you can create a supportive network with each other.

Communication: This is by far the most important aspect to pay attention to. Children tend to behave very differently at school than they do at home. Teachers generally have good insight into what is happening socially and academically with your child. Communicating effectively and in a healthy, friendly way will ensure that you are always up-to-date with what is influencing your child and how to help them to optimize their learning experience. When teachers and parents communicate, they can work together to offer support and find the best ways to overcome behavioral and academic difficulties.

Create An Environment Conducive To Learning: Ensure that your child has a quiet place to do their homework and enough time to complete it. Never overly ridicule academics or deemphasize the importance of education; your student will learn the value of education from you. Support academics as an essential component of success and provide your students with everything they need to do their homework and study for tests.

Involve Your Child: Everyone gets a bad grade at some point. Discuss poor results with teachers to find the underlying cause, then sit down with your student to draw up a plan of action. When students are part of these discussions and participate in creating a plan to overcome issues, they are far more likely to take ownership and responsibility.

Get Organized: Teachers understand that you have a busy schedule, but part of the learning experience is mastering the skill of responsibility. Parents play the biggest part in teaching students how to effectively manage time, how to organize schedules and keep appointments, how to prepare properly for important upcoming events like tests or projects, how to be organized and how to take responsibility for tasks on their own. Establishing schedules and structure will mean your students feel more secure and you aren’t running around at 5am trying to finish your child’s science project. These are essential life skills that will stand them in good stead in the future.

The important thing to remember is that your childs teacher and you have a role in your child’s education.  When you work together, you can really provide a very effective atmosphere where your students feel secure and happy and where they can learn and excel.

Note: Adapted from a post originally published 2/21/2014 on the Tutor Doctor Corp. blog

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The Ultimate Guide To Being Good At Math

A recent study found that while natural ability does help some students to grasp mathematic concepts faster, it only gets you through the first three grades. What that means is that everyone can be good at math. The good news is that, no matter how much you may struggle with math, if you are patient and determined, you can get great grades.

Imagine not dreading your math homework, imagine feeling confident about your upcoming exams. If you have always struggled to do well in math, then this is your guide to improving your math grades.


It’s All In The Attitude

In a study by Patricia Linehan for Purdue University, she found that people have two attitudes to learning. One in which they believe that studying and effort will improve their abilities and one in which they believe that they either can or can’t do something and no amount of practice will help.  This unfortunate attitude is called entity orientation.

When we have an entity orientation attitude towards math, we believe that we will never be good at math, no matter how much we practice or how hard we work.  When you have this attitude towards math, you will find it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy as you aren’t motivated to try.

Studies have found that anyone who practices math with a positive attitude will see an improvement.  Since natural talent plays such a small part when it comes to math, it means that a change in attitude is the first step to success.

Ask yourself what your attitude is and work at changing it.  You can improve, and you will improve if you work hard and persevere.


How Are Your Building Blocks?

Math is a subject that requires strong foundations. If there are gaps in your knowledge from previous grades, you will find it increasingly difficult to grasp more developed concepts. You may need help with the building blocks of your knowledge.

The best thing to do here is to get a tutor.  A math tutor will be able to examine your knowledge base and identify the gaps which are causing you to fall behind in class.  Once you have filled in the gaps, you will be amazed at how much more sense new concepts make to you.  You will find it easier to understand math and won’t have trouble keeping up with the class.

You only need a tutor to help build a solid foundation for you and get you up to speed so that you are at the same level as the rest of your class, then you should be able to keep up on your own.  However, to gain an additional edge on math you might just want to keep getting guidance from your tutor.


Practice Makes Perfect

Once you have your building blocks in place, the key to math success is practice. You should set aside some time every day to work on your math problems. Try working for twenty minutes and then taking a five minute break. Studies show that twenty minutes is a small enough increment to not seem too daunting a task, but its long enough to work through a couple of sums.

Some other aspects to consider as you attempt to improve your math are:

  • Interacting with your teacher
  • Utilize assistance at school
  • Talk to your friends and form study groups
  • Relate math to your life and realize how much it actually does come into play on a daily basis.  Math actually is something you’ll use in your life!

Note: Adapted from a post originally published 2/18/2014 on the Tutor Doctor Corp. blog

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Filed under Education, Improved Learning, Parenting

Monday “Think About It”

Is the amount of money spent on the Olympics really necessary?  Does it help enhance world cooperation like they were intended to?  Personally I gave up on the Olympics once the Canadians beat the USA women in hockey and then did the same to our men.  Guess we keep Beiber and our taxes will pay the Presidents bets with the Canadian Prime Minister.

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Sunday Morning Shout Out

While for some of us, this may seem like the longest, coldest winter ever, outside of flying to Tahiti, there are other ways to survive it. May I suggest even thrive in it? –Or just embrace it a little.  A great post at KC Edventures suggests some ways for young families to pair some classic and  newer winter reads with awesome activities.  The post is titled Fun with Kids Books and Winter Activities and lists books from Lita Judge’s The Red Sled and Jane Yolen’s  Owl Moon to Ezra Jack Keats’ The Snowy Day and Laura Ingall Wilder’s Sugar Snow,  kids can sled and decide what animal they would be wooshing down a giant hill; take a nighttime walk with a parent to see the moon; have a snowy adventure, accompanied by a trail making stick; or even try their hand at making sugar snow.  There are many more books and ideas listed.

Speaking of books, how about beating cabin fever with a trip to the library.  From  the winter books mentioned for the younger set and great books for the older set, to in house movies, lectures, book clubs for all ages, live entertainment, and new releases that rival many video store offerings, libraries are a great way to shake the winter blues. For a full list of winter events, check out the Erie County Library website, the Nioga Library website, and Pioneer Library website to see what’s happening in your area.  There you will find individual links for your  city, town, or village’s local library.

Other cabin fever avoidance ideas for you and your family might include:  a game night or game afternoon; some family cooking or baking; snow shoeing; your own indoor/outdoor Olympics;  a long day-dream; many rounds of hot chocolate; a family dance party; a  family snow ball fight. I think I will stop. I think all the snow and cold have gotten to my head.

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Time Management Tips For Busy Parents

Are there just not enough hours in the day for homework, after school activities, dinner and family time? Are mornings really tough to get through? If you are finding it difficult to get through everything you need to do in a day, then a revamp of your time management approach may be in order. Find time management processes that work for you and pass these on to your students. They also need to find constructive ways to manage their time effectively.

Know What You Are Dealing With
Start by examining what you spend time on in a day. Knowing how you are spending your time will help you to find time-wasters and deal with them. If you spend time each morning getting your students dressed, you may want them to pick outfits the night before and pack their school bags too.

Planning Is Everything
Make sure that everyone is ready for the new school day before bed and take stock of what you need to do in the coming week, month and semester. Knowing what is coming will prevent last-minute panic and you will be able to use spare time to prepare.

Make sure everyone else knows what’s coming up in the week, what their responsibilities are and what is expected of them. Having structure will mean you aren’t solely responsible for everything.

It may just be simpler to do things yourself, but you need to start delegating tasks and chores to everyone in the home. This teaches your students how to be responsible for tasks and that when they don’t fulfill their responsibilities, there are consequences for everyone.

Tidy Up
Do you spend an inordinate amount of time looking for lost items? Keeping it tidy and making sure that everyone knows where things are meant to go is a great way to prevent wasting time looking for things.

Don’t Multitask
Being a parent means you are probably always doing ten things at once. While this may be effective at times when you are doing tasks that don’t require your attention, it can have disastrous consequences. When you are doing ten things at once, you are doing ten things badly. This may mean that you will have to come back and do many of these tasks again. Try to focus when you have important things to do and just do one at a time. Do them once; do them right.

Just Say No
Don’t take on too much. If you have a busy schedule, you don’t want to take on new tasks. Learning to say no will be a great asset to your time management.

Note: Adapted from a post originally published 2/17/2014 on the Tutor Doctor Corp. blog

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