Monthly Archives: June 2014

Sunday Morning Shout Out

There has been much discussion about summer slide in recent weeks.  Another trend is equally upon us.  Please indulge me for a few minutes as we discuss the adult phenomenon “summer’s wild ride.”

Experts say that each summer, parents lose up to two months of sanity gained during the school year. In fact, one week of I am bored and Joey started it, can trigger a precipitous decline in well-being. In a recent study, one hundred parents were asked to scream their heads off for five minutes at 11:30 in the morning.  While 90 parents were screaming so loud that it sounded like sirens going off, the other 10 started baying at the sun and demanding immediate chocolate.  Oh, and there were ten extra study participants.  These parents dropped out before 11:30, as these children would have been outliers.  These children inexplicably defied the odds and played well all morning, without problem or complaint.  Still, another original ten participants from the predetermined study size bolted at the word study.  Apparently, they assumed their children were going to be asked to do the “s” word and thought their children’s non-compliance would skew the results.  Freak out syndrome is one expert explanation given for parents’ sudden fear over anything sounding school related during the summer.  This is not to be confused with common coreitis, which became rampant during the school term.

Left untreated, experts express worry about a growing zombie population among the adult population. Or maybe it was vampire syndrome.  When children’s high energy meets parents’ low energy, the differential creates conditions ripe for blank stares and twitching eyes.  Reportedly, whole neighborhoods on the Eastern seaboard have found similar conditions among parents, at 3pm on hot summer days.  The problem is vast! Similar symptoms have been seen all around the country. In one extreme example, a large group of blank staring parents with twitching eyes, banded together and made a giant slip and slide to a local coffee shop.  They are still camped out slurping iced cappuccinos and smoothies.  In a written statement, Occupy Summer Sanity spokeswoman, Ida Kno, stated, “Parents will remain here until our children concede to returning our tablets.  We want to peacefully resume Facebook without disruption.”

Experts recommend guarding against such conditions.  They say it is imperative to have a mix of fun with some routine each day. Discussions have surfaced in leading periodicals about the importance of booting your children outside for hearty and healthy hours of play.  Parents are encouraged to do summer at their own pace and not feel like they are their children’s’ personal entertainers.  No, shockingly enough, they say children need to use their imaginations and come up with play for the day.  They are wildly encouraged to pick up a book. Parents are being told to take a breath and enjoy each day.  There is a slower, easier tempo available to any parent who looks for it and paces herself. We wait all year for this season. S avor it and stock up on the chocolate for the rough patches….


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What To Do About Bad Grades

bad-grades-21It’s that time of the year again when some families have to deal with the reality of bad grades. Poor academic performance can put strain on your family. Your student may experience a drop in self-esteem and confidence which will only compound the problem. We believe that every student can learn, but each student learns differently. You have to find the learning style that suits your student’s ability and then provide them with the tools they need to succeed in academics.

Start At The Beginning
Speak with your child and their teachers to ascertain the root of the problem. Perhaps social or behavioral issues are influencing academics, or perhaps your child is missing some important building blocks in their knowledge.

Teachers have full classes and very little time, so they assume that students have the foundations from previous grades that they will add onto. If your child has some gaps in their knowledge base, they will fall further behind each year.

Study Skills
Each child has a learning style and, while most teachers try to present information in a number of different ways, they may not be speaking the academic language your child understands. There are many tests available online which will help you to find out what kind of a learner your child is. Then you can help them to convert information into a format that is easy for them to understand.

Some students need to learn organizational and study skills. While most teachers do impart these skills in the lower grades, if your child doesn’t know how to organize their time, how to study effectively, how to write a good essay or how to summarize texts, their marks will not be a true reflection of their abilities.

Language Skills
If your child does not excel in language arts, they may be underperforming on all their test. The ability to read and comprehend texts in a timely manner and then communicate effectively through writing are essential skills for students to succeed. Encouraging reading and working on writing skills may improve your child’s overall academic performance.

Consider A Tutor
Tutors are a great way to get your child the help they need. Tutors can test your child to see what their learning style is. They can go back and find what building blocks are missing in your child’s knowledge and help them to understand the fundamentals.

Tutors should liaise with teachers to find the best solutions for your student. Working one-on-one with a tutor will avoid all the embarrassment or anxiety they feel in a classroom environment and their self-confidence will improve too.

Tutors can teach students the study and organizational skills they need to be great independent learners.

The summer school break presents a unique opportunity to give your child a jump start on the new academic year. Summer tutoring need not take up much of their time, but it will help them to catch up and build confidence to face a new academic year without the anxiety that they usually associate with academics and the start of a new school year.

Note: Adapted from a post originally published 6/26/2014 on the Tutor Doctor Corp. blog

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Should Your Child Repeat a Grade?

If your child struggled through this last year and the school is recommending retention, there are some very important points to consider.  Studies show that repeating a grade can be harmful for students and grade retention is one of the biggest predictors of high school dropouts.  Before you decide to keep your kid back a year, discuss alternatives with your teachers and school administrators.

Limited Gains

Students who are held back may initially show improvement, but the gains they get from retention only last a year or two before they begin to fall behind again.  When students are struggling at school, the answer may not be more school.  Instead, speak with teachers about what is holding them back to solve their academic issues over the long-term.

A study by Roderick and Nagaoka (2005) found that 3rd graders who had been kept back a grade struggled during the next year, had higher rates of special education placement, and showed no advantage two years later than those who had moved to the next grade.  The study also found that 6th graders who had been held back a year had lower achievement growth than students with similar academic issues who were not retained.

Age Concerns

Older students may have different developmental interests than the younger students in their grade. Bullying and lack of confidence can lead to behavioural and social issues which only compound the academic problems.

Long-Term Gains

Most studies which compare students which similar academic performance to see if retention helps to improve grades show that it is not effective in fostering positive academic growth.  Holmes (1989) carried out a meta-analysis of 63 different studies that examined the academic impact of retention.  Fifty-four of the studies concluded that students who were retained and students who were promoted performed at very similar levels.  This means that retention had no significant effect on academic performance.  In fact, students who had not been held back slightly outperformed their retained peers the following year (Norton, 1990; Walters & Borgers, 1995).

Solutions To Poor Academic Performance

Whether you decide to promote or retain your child next year, this action alone is not enough to overcome academic problems.  Perhaps your child needs to learn study skills, or maybe some fundamental building blocks are missing from their knowledge base.  In both cases, academic losses will be compounded and they will drop further behind each year.

Discuss the underlying problems with your child’s teacher.  They will be able to direct you to the causes, both academic and behavioural, that your child is experiencing.

Consider a personal tutor who will be able to adapt material to suit your child’s learning style, teach them the requisite academic skills they need to succeed and fill in the missing building blocks to their knowledge base.  Taking a hands-on approach will help your child to succeed which will improve their self-confidence too.

Note: Adapted from a post originally published 6/23/2014 on the Tutor Doctor Corp. blog

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Monday “Think About It”

The first 14 years of this Century have brought about profound changes to the world, countries, families, individuals, children, education and technology.  Just think back to the worries of 1999 about Y2K, then the Tech Bubble pop in 2000, 911, iEverythings, Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Occupy Wall Street, Common Core, Marginalization of Women in countries like India and Pakistan, China’s Economic Growth, Obama, school shootings, drones, Snowden, etc.  Add all that to a major economic crash and a disappearing middle class in the USA and it might be interesting for you to reflect on how the “Great Recession” changed you and your family?

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Sunday Morning Shout Out

As this school year rapidly draws to an end, perhaps you are looking for a few words to inspire, motivate, or congratulate your favorite student. Whether a napkin note; a pep talk; a graduation card; or a graduation speech, the folks at offer 10 famous graduation quotes to help the harried parent or teacher when they are word poor and short on time.

For parents and teachers with a little more time, National Public Radio (NPR) compiled a database of over 3oo commencement speeches and shares what they learned from their favorites.  I recall hearing The Buffalo Bill’s Marv Levy at SUNY Fredonia for commencement. While I remember wanting to reject any football analogies at the time, I know Levy had a lot to say beyond the game that applied to life, specifically about hard work and perseverance.   He got me at hello. What were the most memorable inspiring or parting words you received from a parent, educator or someone else at the close of school or at high school/college graduation?  What are the most meaningful, applicable words you have given to others?

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Monday “Think About It”

Summer is fun! Summer learning loss? Not so much. (Image Credit:

Summer is fun! Summer learning loss? Not so much. (Image Credit:

With the continued advancement in learning requirements for your child can you risk any type of ‘summer slide‘ for your child?

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Sunday Morning Shout Out

summerslideStatIdeally, summer is a time of fun, new experiences, lots of outdoor time, swimming, perhaps camp, a vacation, recreation programs, summer sports, and a more laid back routine.  However, do you know it also produces something often referred to as summer slide?  This term is used to identify the academic losses that occur for all children during the summer months, if they do not engage in educational activities during the summer.  In fact, it has been found that students lose about two months of grade level math skills during summer months and that low-income students lose more than two months in reading skills during this time as described by the National Summer Learning Association in their article titled ‘Know the Facts‘.  It can also refer to the quality of life type losses that occur for many economically disadvantaged students, in terms of nutrition, appropriate adult supervision, and meaningful personal and social activities. Such factors contribute to the achievement gap between low and higher income youth and make a difference in high school completion, college entrance and career options.

Now is the time to ask yourself what you can do to prevent summer slide.  During this past week, it was announced in the Buffalo News that the “Say Yes Program” will contribute $1.2 million to Buffalo Public School so that the district can offer summer school to all elementary students this year.  It will run from July 8 to August 1, with transportation and meals provided.  For the first time, students will also be offered summer enrichment activities, from community organizations, alongside regular academic work.  Remedial summer school will also be available for students in seventh through twelfth grade, with transportation to be provided.  Additionally, there is the possibility of a full day summer school program for students who need to retake more than two subjects.

More information is slated to come home to Buffalo School parents in the coming weeks.  If you are outside the Buffalo School district, you might want to ask yourself if your school district is offering summer programming.  If such programming is not available in your district, what about your local library?  All libraries seem to offer summer reading incentive programs, alongside extra summer activities to entice young people to read; be enriched; and have fun.  What might you do at home? offers some great and easy tips to keep your children’s brains powered up in their article titled ‘Seven Ways To Stop Summer Slide‘. National Public Radio’s (NPR) “Mindshift” project also offers a bevy of ideas to curtail summer slide.  Plan now and help your child soar through summer, rather than slide.


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