Monthly Archives: April 2014

Mother’s Day On A Student Budget

Mothers DayMother’s Day is on Sunday, May 11th and, as a student, you probably don’t have much free cash to show your mother a little appreciation on her special day.  The good news is that Mother’s Day isn’t really about spending money so much as it is about showing your mother that you really appreciate all the things she does for you.  When it comes to Mother’s Day, it’s the sincerity and the thought that counts.  It is also about family and connectedness so don’t forget to engage your Mom’s significant other and any siblings you may have.  Here are some really great ways to show your mother a little love on her special day.

Keeping It Clean
While doing chores that you are already responsible for doesn’t count, you can do work your Mother would normally do to make her life easier. Do the laundry, wash her car, clean the house or do all the cooking for a week. Giving her a break will not only make her day, it will also give you an idea of just how much work she puts in to her family and her home.

Spring Picnic
With exams and end of term stress, most of you have not yet been able to enjoy the warmer Spring weather.  Plan a picnic with your family so that you can all spend some time together.  Take your Mother to the park or to another great natural setting.  Make a lunch or dinner for the family to share including all her favorite foods.  Pack some outdoor activities such as soccer or baseball for added family fun.

Family Entertainment
If you mother likes going to the movies or the theater, take her out to see a show on Mother’s Day or stay at home and watch her favorite movie with her (even if it’s not your favorite movie!).  You can make some popcorn and prepare all her favorite snacks too.

Dinner El Fresco
If you are planning to cook your mother a special meal for Mother’s Day, then take it outside! Dinner on the roof, in the garden or in the park is a great way to make a family meal even more fun.  Play charades after dinner or bring a board game that you all enjoy.

Putting in the time and effort to do something special for your mother is what will make Mother’s Day special for her.  Making a cake, creating a card, writing a poem or cooking a special meal is a fool-proof way of showing appreciation on her special day.  Your mom does so much for you and she really deserves a little bit of creativity and imagination this Mother’s Day.  For me this will be the first Mother’s Day since my Mom passed away so it will be challenging but I’ll remember all the great times we had together.

P.S.  Mom’s…it is OK to give us hints on what you’d like to do on your day.  When we’re small we also appreciate you helping us make it a special day!

Note: Adapted from a post originally published 4/25/2014 on the Tutor Doctor Corp. blog


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7 Steps To Stress-Free School Mornings

A great visual reminder of what the morning routine is for younger children! (Image Credit:

A great visual reminder of what the morning routine is for younger children! (Image Credit:

Do many of your mornings feel chaotic as you wrangle your kids through the morning routine while scrambling around for gym clothes and searching for missing text books? Do you often have to make school runs to drop off forgotten homework or items for after-school activities? If your mornings are stressful, you all get a bad start to the day. While you will always get the odd morning when things don’t go smoothly, setting up routines and processes will help you and your family to get a calm, peaceful start to the school day.

Start The Night Before
One of the biggest barriers to a successful morning routine is tired children. Ensure that your students get enough sleep on school nights so that they wake up rested and refreshed.

Pick an outfit for younger students and get your teens to set out the clothes they will wear the next day to prevent last-minute fashion emergencies. As students get older, they will need more time to get ready in the morning so ensure that they get up earlier.

Breakfast really is the most important meal. Studies show that students who eat breakfast are more attentive, get better grades and have fewer behavioural problems. Provide a balanced breakfast and have some quick fixes on hand, like cereal, for mornings when things aren’t going to plan.

Start a routine where students put their homework in their bags when they are done with it and where they pack their backpacks the night before. Check diaries for upcoming events and sporting activities to ensure that they have everything they need for the next day.

Lunch Duty
One thing to realise is that you can’t do everything yourself. Consider sharing lunch duty so that each family member gets a turn to make lunches. Lunches should be made the evening before or at least prepped so that you only need a couple of minutes in the morning to put things together.

Planning lunches that comply with school meal requirements and buying everything you need on the weekend will help to make your mornings smoother.

Of course it would be wonderful if your child was able to clean their room and make their beds before leaving for school. Perhaps you even dream of a clean kitchen or laundry in the basket. But trying to cram too much into one morning will leave everyone in a bad mood. Prioritize the things they need to do to prepare for the day and leave the rest until they get home.

If a morning routine is a new concept in your home, try introducing one thing at time. This will enable your students to grow accustomed to one new process so that it becomes a habit before introducing a new idea. It only takes a couple of weeks to turn a new routine into a habit, so persevere; you will be so glad you did when your mornings are peaceful.


Note: Adapted from a post originally published 4/28/2014 on the Tutor Doctor Corp. blog

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Monday “Think About It”

lilyI just attended a funeral for a 19-year-old who died in an automobile accident.  Thinking about what the family is going through at this time made me wonder ‘is there anyway to prepare for such a tragedy?’  How do you make sense of it?  How do you move on?  What can people who attend the wake, funeral or memorial do or say to help ease the pain of such a loss?

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Sunday Morning Shout Out

Stress researchers now believe that the greatest risk for many children is the wear and tear of the way we live, which makes all of us more vulnerable to dangers from depression to obesity to substance abuse.  Dr. Laura Markham, Clinical Psychologist

It was a typical day by most counts.  It was full of the usual demands of an active household, with three young, vivacious, seemingly never still children and two loving, ambitious, tired, worn out parents.  Home, community, and work commitments had left their habitual mark.  Sometimes the mark felt like a gentle wrinkle on the face, detritus from the day.  The exhaustion, the wear and tear, like a pesky old friend.  While the day had been sunny, the night quickly went south.  Tonight, the mark felt like a gash across the face.  The normal exhaustion was accompanied by anger and sadness.  She wanted a better way.

Sure it was the worn out factor.  Seven o-clock isn’t called the bewitching hour by chance.  It was also stress.  Most adults can think to themselves  about the source of their stress and what they can do about it.  What about children and when adult stress ambushes the family?  Like a pebble tossed into the water, undulating out ring upon ring of water, adult stress can create or add to the stress children already have in their lives.  Children have a lot of it already!  As stated in the first quote, the hyper pace of our days is taking its toll on our most vulnerable population.  The American Psychological Association (APA) found in its annual poll on stress, that teenagers are as stressed out as adults.  Frantic, multitasked everything, for everyone, is just a poor way for us to operate.  It is hard on the emotions and self-control, harms the immune system, and wreaks havoc on the family trying to stay connected and cohesive.

In the article “Ten Ways to Help Your Children With Stress,” Dr. Markham offers ten suggestions for families to employ.  From encouraging us adults to slow down and get centered in our lives and resisting the urge to over schedule our children, to teaching our children stress reduction strategies, like exercise and guided breathing, and choosing age appropriate activities that connect rather than over stimulate everyone’s senses, this article is chockfull of many great ideas.  It helps the parent who regrets the bad moments and bad nights, and wants more consistently pleasant, less stressful beginnings and endings to the day.  Someday, 7’oclock will seem like a kinder hour.  Until then, I hope to rein in some of our lives.  What do you do to handle stress in your home?

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Top Six Things Teachers Need From Parents

If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to educate them too. It is not just the ‘job’ of your child’s school to provide learning skills and opportunities to practice and utilize them.  Studies show that parents who get involved in the education of their students see much better results in confidence and grades.  Of course teachers understand that parents have hectic schedules and very little time to share with their kids, but setting aside just an hour or so a day to dedicate to academics can make all the difference in your child’s life.

Read To Your Children
Reading helps you to open communication as most children will have questions about the text.  Reading to your children encourages them to read and this is one of the best gifts you can give since effective reading will make studying and getting through all those text books so much easier.  Your children are never too young or too old to learn to love reading.

Introduce Yourself
Get to know your children’s teachers and make sure that you touch base regularly. Don’t be the parent who only contacts the teacher when they have a problem; instead keep the channels of communication open and offer help as often as your schedule allows. Teachers have a tough job and it’s nice for them to feel like you are on their side.

Conflict Resolution
Encourage your children to socialize with their classmates outside of the classroom and guide them in problem solving with students that they don’t get along with. If students are able to resolve conflicts on their own, teachers don’t always have to be the referee.

Take Part
A great way to help the teacher out is to get involved in school activities when your schedule allows. Helping to organize events, raise funds or with maintenance around the school will help you to form a relationship with the very important educators who are responsible for your child’s schooling.

Teachers can accomplish so much more when they have the support of parents and a team they can count on. There are many benefits for you too; you get to meet other parents and many of the teachers and children with whom your child spends their day.

When you participate in school activities, your children will be encouraged to do so too and they will feel like you care about their education and success. Getting involved helps to illustrate just how important education is and that it is something worthy of investment.

Make Learning Fun
Reading books at home, teaching your children how to measure ingredients and bake, playing educational games together, taking courses outside of school and discovery the art, history and science museums together shows your family that learning is an essential, lifelong pursuit that can be fun too.

Pitching In
Teach your kids the skills they will need to navigate classroom life like cleaning up after themselves, taking responsibility, following instructions and being able to work in a team. Each child and teacher are different and the best way to navigate each school year is to be open to communication with your teachers and your students so that you can resolve issues before they grow.

– See more at:

Note: Adapted from a post originally published 3/31/2014 on the Tutor Doctor Corp. blog

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Filed under Education, Improved Learning, Parenting

Teen Inventors Saving Lives

Sometimes the best solution to problems come to inquisitive minds that can redefine the issue and recognize new paths to solutions.  Often these solutions are adaptations of something already known to a new area or they are creative innovations that provide breakthrough resolution to a new or existing problem.  Often the mind that brings the insight to the world would be considered less than an expert in the field and tend to to be under the age of 30.  In some instances the invention is created by an individual under the age of 20 and often the focus on social or health issues.  This is really exciting because these teens are thinking outside the box to create solutions to medical problems that change the world and help to save lives. Below are examples of inventive young entrepreneurs who have solved complex medical issues with devices they have created themselves.

Catherine Wong

Need a medical checkup but can’t get to the doctor? Whether you live in a remote area or just want to keep tabs on your heart, Catherine’s invention attaches to your cell phone and allows you to measure your heartbeat. Catherine’s device allows you to take a test called an electrocardiogram which can alert users to irregular heartbeats which would give them time to seek medical help.

Tony Hansberry

Tony is a student at the Carnell Cookman School of Medical Arts which is the first American school to have an integrated medical curriculum. Tony developed a new suture method which radically reduces the time it takes to perform a hysterectomy. This makes the procedure safer for patients and it reduces the recovery time and cost of the operation.

See the video here.

Jack Andraka

Jack may be just a freshman, but his future is already looking bright. He recently won the $75,000 grand prize at this past spring’s Intel International Science and Engineering Fair becoming the youngest participant to do so. Every year, 40,000 people die of pancreatic cancer as it is one of the most lethal cancers, with a five-year survival rate of 6 percent. That may be about to change with Jack’s new invention which comprises a small dipstick probe that utilizes 1/6th of a drop of blood to accurately see if the patient has cancer. The test is easy to administer and only takes five minutes to complete.

Suman Mulumudi

15-year-old Suman attends Lakeside School and has built two medical devices that would reduce healthcare costs and improve accuracy. Suman has built the Steth IO which is a device you can add onto a smartphone which turns it into a stethoscope which is far more accurate than traditional stethoscopes.

His second invention aids in the administration of angioplasties; a procedure that clears blocked arteries. Here lesion in arterial tissue have to be repaired using a stent. The hardest part of the procedure is placing the stents in the correct places. Suman’s device helps to measure the length of the lesions so that accurately sized stents can be used thus reducing the need for repeat hospital visits.

Suman’s invention uses a microprocessor from an optical computer mouse and combines it with 3D modelling and printing to create the LesionSizer which measures the length of the arterial lesions for more accurate results.

Note: Adapted from a post originally published 4/21/2014 on the Tutor Doctor Corp. blog

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Monday “Think About It”

I just came across an interesting document titled “Sensible Solutions For Safe Schools” that suggests the number one way to stem violence in schools is to ‘put character in the curriculum.’  A wonderful suggestion I think.  The problem statement put forward on page 10 of that report made me wonder why more education policy makers in State Capitals and Washington DC don’t recognize the problem they are causing with their Common Core and Race to the Top policies?

In the United States, educators are considered “highly qualified” based solely on their content knowledge.  As society evolves, there is a need for training the “whole child,” which encompasses academics, social skills, character building, physical and emotional health, and in some instances, survival.  If we continue to teach the way we always have, many students will be “left behind,” not because they lack the academic skills, but because they do not possess the ability to care for and protect themselves and others.  Ultimately, the students of today will be our leaders for tomorrow, and it becomes the responsibility of the classroom educator to reach not just the mind, but theheart of each student with whom s/he comes in contact.

Our current education system seems to value only what it can measure.  Year after year, educators are required to give more assessments in more subjects more frequently.  Yet, all of the attention being paid to this one small part of education suggests that knowledge is the primary goal of education.  This assumption comes at the cost of the rest of the child, and ignores the fact that knowledge is a means to an end, and not an end in of itself.  Gandhi once wrote “without the right education, the community will not only remain backward, but become increasingly so… [Knowledge of academic content is] essential in the world of today.  Without [it] one is crippled.  [But] it is also necessary to learn how to put the knowledge thus acquired to proper use.”  Just as we do not expect students to learn math, science, language, and other skills on their own, we cannot expect them to also learn character and peace creation on their own.  If we value character development and peace creation as much as we value math and language arts, we need to teach them.

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