Thursday, September 29, 2016

JATP: Admission Preparation - Nobody Does It

I've got a bone to pick with some parents here in Atlanta. It comes from the single fact that they love to give their best buddies misinformation when it comes to raising their children and "private school prep".

Don't think that, for one second,  I don't get it either. In the past  I've been burnt by a few so-called "friends" that take the information that I share with them and claim it as their own. At least when I help people, I refrain from using psychological warfare like some parents in Atlanta and say, "you don't need to study" or worse yet, "Go to this person because that's the only person everyone goes to!". But somehow, somewhere, parents get sucked into the "Test Prep Trap" that eats up at their time and unfortunately, their dreams of having a child attend private school.

I'll be honest with you - I am adamant about who I work with and tell them that this process is not easy. The stakes have become increasingly more difficult with each passing year because with each "class" of students, the options for great insiders becomes even more competitive. Many of the people that you call might not even know what they are doing because, to be quite candid with you - they have actually called me pretending to be you to obtain my trade secrets. So if they tell you that they do prep, you can believe them. Now, is it the "prep" that you'll need in order for your son/daughter to do well on the test - that is for you to decide.

I love what I do and (given that there are only a number of hours in the week where I can help those who need Admission Preparation here in Atlanta), I don't think that everyone understands the process as well as I do. It's very complex, from the moment that I meet your child until the last time that you step into the school - every child that I work with has a map of what they need to do and where they need to go. I've seen children receive acceptance letters from places that I knew, from first glance - would take them. Even when the cards do not look like they will be in favor of a student from our initial Opportunity Assessment, we review different parts of the process to ensure a favorable outcome.

Yes, it's true - my clients are asked to not share my information. What we do is so private and individualized that it should come as no surprise that I tell them, "please don't follow me on Instagram or Facebook or whatever social media website you are normally on. I'm not looking to be the McDonalds of Admissions Preparation."

You'll laugh at this because one of the first items of business that I have with my clients is that I tell them to not refer people to me because I'm not in the business to expand, but to excel in my skill sets and, perfect it with each and every child. My inner circle will tell you that I'm a private individual that only others "talk" or "gossip" about and frankly, it just doesn't even raise a hair on my neck. I have to laugh at all these people who show off because at the end of the day - they won't answer the phone when you are in tears after you child's application has been reviewed and declined. I'm not like that - I don't pretend to care if I really don't and if I do care, you'll know.

Business is not a business without people and the people that I work with during Admission Prep mean the world to me (and they know it!) I know what I am doing (a little too well) and I'm really proud to say that I've had more students turn into Mensa members than I would like to admit. When it comes to Admission Preparation - it's not studying for the test - it's preparing for success. If you study for the test - there are flags that will show what you did and you will, invariably - without a doubt, get burnt.

I condone those who work with clients and prepare for the "JATP Test". I'm a professional - and I teach my clients how to blow out their competition, point blank. That's a fact - no matter how you look at it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

It's Conference Season! How to Prep for that first Parent-Teacher Conference

Fall is - tomorrow,  and in a few days or weeks you will be in your child's classroom (hopefully they will have a nice chair for you and not the miniature sized chair that only your angel can sit in) sitting across or beside their teacher discussing his/her progress for that grading period.

Coming from the other side of the desk, your teacher has quite a bit to share with you but sometimes may not have the time or the professional license to tell you everything you need to know. Here are some "clues" that will help you decipher the hidden art of teacher language.

1. "Frank is a wonderful child!"

Translation: "I would like to say more about your child but they are a wallflower in class and I barely just learned their name. Do you know what it's like keeping track of 28 children and then needing to attend Tuesday faculty meetings and keeping my weight/social life and paper work all in check?"

Used for: Parents who do not show up/volunteer/or interact with other parents at the school and remain "nameless and faceless" because let's face it - they are "interact- less". These students typically do not talk or participate during class and may have a difficult time speaking up because there is just too much going on around them.

2. "I think that Don is very creative."

Translation: "Your child has some hidden artistic talents that you might want to invest in, but our school does not have an after-school program because, it's all about the STEM baby!"

Used for: Parents who may not know their child as well as they think they do. These are the children that secretly draw, play music, write poetry, or hide in the basement with their stop motion figures when their parents are home and do not want to bother them with their hobbies. They might be the next Jony Ive, Steve Jobs, Elon - you know what I mean.

3. "Charles is a natural leader."

Translation: "He (or she) is the boss. Whenever there is a group assignment your child takes control of the group. I don't know if the other kids like it, but I don't have any complaints..."

Used for: Parents who want their child to study business or "take over" when they go on vacation/date night. These are the parents that are likely to volunteer more at your school so they can pad this "unpaid work" on their resume or (worse yet) their LinkedIn profile.

4. "Caleb has problems following directions."

Translation: "I want to say that your child has attention issues, but this is the politically correct way for me to say this without losing my job or you trying to contact my supervisor to find out more information."

Used for: Parents who need confirmation that they need to talk to some psychologist/counselor/doctor/guru/talk show host or friend of a friend who knows a friend that will try to solve their problem. [Deposit $3,000 of your hard earned money below and the gatekeeper will let you in.]

5. "Christine is an angel!"

Translation: Hey, all of the teachers that I had in elementary/middle school and high school told my father this. (Yes, it was my father who had the envious task of attending my parent teacher conferences and I was so embarrassed whenever he was there. He made it sound like I did not have a choice but to be a good student because if I wasn't - he probably would have disowned me, or blame it on my mother.)

I'm not sure what to make of it - (if only my teachers could see me now, relentless when it comes to my strong convictions) but it means that your child is a rule follower. Dependable as they may be - the teacher really does like your child and looks forward to working with your child.

Used for: Parents that need their children to be valedictorian/get into a great university or worse, change the world with their ideas/actions. These are parents that bring up extremely engaging children that have the opinions of a Supreme Court Justice but the work ethic of an accountant on April the 15th.

6. "Charlotte has so much potential."

Translation: For some reason that I cannot understand, your child has commitment issues. Commitment to doing the homework or project and more often than not, commitment to even turning in the homework. They are at a loss for words because they can only tell you what they observe, but not why the child is that way to begin with.

Used for: Parents who show up late to meetings and do not turn things in on time. The apple does not fall far from the tree either.

If you, or a parent you know has had a fantastic or disappointing Parent-Teacher Conference, please feel free to share in the comments below or you can always email them to me at: christine@learningridge.com.

The comments above are the personal opinions/convictions/observations of the author, Christine Javier. If you wish to contact Christine for Educational Consulting, you can call me at (404) 964-8533.

It's Conference Season! How to Prep for that first Parent-Teacher Conference

Fall is - tomorrow,  and in a few days or weeks you will be in your child's classroom (hopefully they will have a nice chair for you and not the miniature sized chair that only your angel can sit in) sitting across or beside their teacher discussing his/her progress for that grading period.

Coming from the other side of the desk, your teacher has quite a bit to share with you but sometimes may not have the time or the professional license to tell you everything you need to know. Here are some "clues" that will help you decipher the hidden art of teacher language.

1. "Frank is a wonderful child!"

Translation: "I would like to say more about your child but they are a wallflower in class and I barely just learned their name. Do you know what it's like keeping track of 28 children and then needing to attend Tuesday faculty meetings and keeping my weight/social life and paper work all in check?"

Used for: Parents who do not show up/volunteer/or interact with other parents at the school and remain "nameless and faceless" because let's face it - they are "interact- less". These students typically do not talk or participate during class and may have a difficult time speaking up because there is just too much going on around them.

2. "I think that Don is very creative."

Translation: "Your child has some hidden artistic talents that you might want to invest in, but our school does not have an after-school program because, it's all about the STEM baby!"

Used for: Parents who may not know their child as well as they think they do. These are the children that secretly draw, play music, write poetry, or hide in the basement with their stop motion figures when their parents are home and do not want to bother them with their hobbies. They might be the next Jony Ive, Steve Jobs, Elon - you know what I mean.

3. "Charles is a natural leader."

Translation: "He (or she) is the boss. Whenever there is a group assignment your child takes control of the group. I don't know if the other kids like it, but I don't have any complaints..."

Used for: Parents who want their child to study business or "take over" when they go on vacation/date night. These are the parents that are likely to volunteer more at your school so they can pad this "unpaid work" on their resume or (worse yet) their LinkedIn profile.

4. "Caleb has problems following directions."

Translation: "I want to say that your child has attention issues, but this is the politically correct way for me to say this without losing my job or you trying to contact my supervisor to find out more information."

Used for: Parents who need confirmation that they need to talk to some psychologist/counselor/doctor/guru/talk show host or friend of a friend who knows a friend that will try to solve their problem. [Deposit $3,000 of your hard earned money below and the gatekeeper will let you in.]

5. "Christine is an angel!"

Translation: Hey, all of the teachers that I had in elementary/middle school and high school told my father this. (Yes, it was my father who had the envious task of attending my parent teacher conferences and I was so embarrassed whenever he was there. He made it sound like I did not have a choice but to be a good student because if I wasn't - he probably would have disowned me, or blame it on my mother.)

I'm not sure what to make of it - (if only my teachers could see me now, relentless when it comes to my strong convictions) but it means that your child is a rule follower. Dependable as they may be - the teacher really does like your child and looks forward to working with your child.

Used for: Parents that need their children to be valedictorian/get into a great university or worse, change the world with their ideas/actions. These are parents that bring up extremely engaging children that have the opinions of a Supreme Court Justice but the work ethic of an accountant on April the 15th.

6. "Charlotte has so much potential."

Translation: For some reason that I cannot understand, your child has commitment issues. Commitment to doing the homework or project and more often than not, commitment to even turning in the homework. They are at a loss for words because they can only tell you what they observe, but not why the child is that way to begin with.

Used for: Parents who show up late to meetings and do not turn things in on time. The apple does not fall far from the tree either.

If you, or a parent you know has had a fantastic or disappointing Parent-Teacher Conference, please feel free to share in the comments below or you can always email them to me at: christine@learningridge.com.

The comments above are the personal opinions/convictions/observations of the author, Christine Javier. If you wish to contact Christine for Educational Consulting, you can call me at (404) 964-8533.

Which Type of Parent Are You?

I come from a long line of extremely pragmatic, and unbelievably strong women in my life. There was no shortage of problems to solve for my mother and my grandmothers (my mom having six children, with my paternal and maternal grandmothers having almost a dozen each) on a daily basis and what I learned and observed from them is that when it comes to children, there is a time and a place for thinking about what decision to make, and then acting upon it.

Recently, I've come to realize that many parents call me in hopes that there is one pill, one book, one methodology to solve all of their child's problems. I have had several mothers feel the pressure by their own peer groups to get their children tested so that they could have the ultimate solution to their child's problems in the palm of their hands. Each time I talk to these mothers I think to myself, "why are they taking such drastic measures for someone who is only six years old?"

I'm not one to tell anyone what to do - it's not in my nature to advocate for one industry or another. Growing up in a huge family, having a disadvantage would become your advantage in life. Given the fact that my older brother did not like school as much as I did, he motivated me to study harder than I already did and I served as his "homework helper" even though I was five years away from attending college.

I wish someone could explain to me what the rush is to medicate children. I've grown very fond of the excitable nature of children and seeing their curiosity and energy ebb and flow with activities that appeal to them and those that they show little interest over. But to suppress their natural state by introducing chemicals into their system, involving them in a regiment of exercises that may be used for institutionalized individuals,  or a strict regiment of wheatgrass and [insert the "hip" nutritional yeast product of the month here] worries me.

Where is the common sense parent? Where is the parent that looks inward before looking outward for answers? Where is that confident parent that knows no matter what life throws at their little child, they will know - within three steps, what to do and how to solve the problem that their child has.

When I say that each child is unique, I really mean it. Not everyone needs to follow in your neighbor's footsteps in order to get the same results. Unless you would like your child to be a carbon copy of your neighbor's child, think to yourself, "what would be the best thing that we can do for our child?" I despise people that believe that their is only one solution and one person and one answer to a child not knowing how to behave, read, pay attention, or communicate. Sometimes your situation might be simple - sometimes it might be complex; whatever it is you should not be in fear to make decisions for your family. It's that pride and confidence that makes you - the parent that you are meant to be.


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Monkey See/ Monkey Do! How Technology Brings Out the AntiSocial In Your Family!

I had visited a friend who is a speech therapist in the Atlanta area and as usual, we share some of the common problems that we are seeing with parental interactions and it's effects on their children. What we have noticed most is the unsurmountable (and perhaps inevitable) effects technology has had on their children.

Unlike the generation that many individuals have grown up with, the role of technology is found to have more negative effects when children have "early exposure". I've seen parents who have eliminated televisions from their child's bedrooms and have replaced them with tablets. I've also seen children who spend hours in the car in complete silence as they listen in on their parents having "conference calls" or talking to anyone and everyone - except their own children. The most extreme cases are when children who I've seen work with other providers who need to be coddled, prodded, or grounded from the devices that are an extension of their hands.

Technology is used as a device that is to augment processes that were very time consuming and is also used to allow people access to information that they were unable to obtain before. When children see what their parents are doing, they naturally (for the most part) want to imitate their mom and dad. When they see mom angry after talking to someone on the phone - they imitate this action on their play dates. If the dad has shown his short fuse because the babysitter/nanny failed to show up on time, the child (or children) react in the same way. Every morning, if mom has her daily call with grandma about the gossip for the day, the children find in no way, shape, or form is it not normal for them to "tune other people out" when they are on their iPad watching YouTube or Minecraft videos for hours at a time.

I'm concerned for the welfare of these children. There are times where parents would get in trouble for not being "home" for their children if they are under the age of 11 and did not have supervision. Is having your child babysat for three to four hours a day by complete strangers on the internet classified as "abandonment"? Don't get me wrong - I love technology, and if it was not for technology, I would not have the ability to learn, synthesize and share my interests and hobbies but - I'm an adult and I've had to learn discipline by understanding what moderation is and knowing how to prioritize. When a child is left alone to  watch you use your technological devices, what do you expect them to be?

Are you a good role model by leading by example?

If you or anyone you may know has challenges with academics, communication, learning, Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, ADD/ADHD, math, please do not hesitate Christine at Learning Ridge by calling 404-964-8533 or you can email: christine@learningridge.com.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Are Your Kids Ready for Overnight Camp?

For most kids, it’s a time during the summer that they look forward to the most: the experience of going to their first overnight camp! For weeks at a time, they will have butterflies thinking of all the fun activities they will be engaged in while away from their parents. Mornings spent with peers talking about the events from the night before will show in their eyes as they exchange stories with more excitement than an action packed blockbuster movie. However, there are some kids that may not have the same experience.

Going to your first overnight camp can be overwhelming when you are not quite ready. Some children may experience unnecessary anxiety and stress because they are either unfamiliar with the set up of staying somewhere overnight that is not “home” or are unprepared socially for being in a camp setting. 

I had the experience of watching one of my favorite 2nd graders attend a camp for a total of 30 hours before the Camp Director and the child decided that this experience was not one that was mutually beneficial. It was devastating to hear the anguish of the father as he had to drive his son back and endure the six hour trip listening to the reasons why his experience was a horrible one.

If you believe that your child may not be 100% ready to attend camp, here are some tips to help them get ready for that first “going away” experience:

Help coordinate a Large Group Play Date


Yes, your child has a wonderful best friend who you treat as that other member of your family. Let the summer be a time where your child can learn to socialize and play with a larger circle of friends. The exposure and experience will help them prepare to be around different personalities and be more comfortable as a result.

Schedule field trips to local places and stay there for the whole day

The Zoo, the Georgia Aquarium, the Coca Cola Museum, there are many “whole day” excursions from which your child can choose from. Going on a field trip is more than just learning about what the particular venue has to offer. It is an opportunity to plan the events for the day and to also pacify oneself when you have a sudden onset of boredom. Kids learn at any given moment when they have an experience that is memorable and meaningful and you can learn from them too!



Give your child unstructured free time



This is a tough one for some parents, but be creative when giving your children free time. For example, you can give them a few hours to themselves but place limitations on it. Telling your child “this afternoon is all yours - you can do whatever you want to do, but it has to be technology free” may lead your child to pick up an outdoor activity rather than staying indoors. Another example can be stated with a simple, “This morning we can do anything that requires us to use paint”. Give your child the ability to make executive decisions and plan out the process of time management. You will be surprised at what they’ll come up with.


Create a series of “Community Overnight” Camps


If you live in a thriving subdivision or a great community of like-minded parents, gather up your children and help co-sponsor some overnight camps. The children will learn how to build better communication skills with those that they are familiar with and will have memories that will be cherished for years to come.

Want to be a little more daring? Parents who are hosting can have a special time where they are the “Featured Guest Speaker” and can share a scary/funny/inspirational story to all of the kids that are there. (Yes, my father sat in one night and told all of my friends stories of his childhood and how unbelievably mischievous he was. It ended up being a night of Community Comedy sponsored by “My dad”.)

Have your child take classes over the summer


It’s important that children learn how to be comfortable in different situations. Allowing them to take classes over the summer will not only help them work on a different skill or talent, but it will help them actively engage in the learning process. They’ll learn that education is something that happens when you are not looking and will be grateful that you helped them along the way.

If you have any questions about getting your child get ready for Summer Camps, choosing a Summer Camp, or enrolling in a Summer Learning Camp featuring Handwriting Without Tears, Singapore Math, and Orton-Gillingham at Learning Ridge this summer, feel free to visit www.learningridge.com or contact me at christine@learningridge.com.


Have a Great Summer! 

Friday, May 20, 2016

Parents Who Do More, Speak Less

There is a trend in parenting where parents speak to children about anything and everything and when there is an opportunity to teach, they use a script. Sometimes the script comes from a book that they have read that teaches them "how to act" when their child exhibits a negative trait or to start documenting the root cause that causes the child to misbehave.

Parenting, unlike other interactions that humans partake in, is not an exact science but much more of an expression of one's ideals and belief systems passed on from one generation to the next. It's important that as a parent, you take on the role of establishing an identity not only as the role model in your child's life, but the individual that you will raise them to be when they grow up.

In my practice, one of the most important aspects of my interactions happen when I see a parent correct a child. I have witnessed the entire gamut of responsiveness from the father who coddles, to mothers who bribe their children into the bank of capitalism and have told me behind closed doors, "my mom can get me to do anything if she gives me money". I've seen beautiful parenting when one mother, not short of any discretionary funding - explains to her child that there is value in waiting for something that you want because "life is about enjoying what you have worked so hard for!". It reminds me of when I was in elementary school and when we would return from recess, our teacher would give us one Jolly Rancher if we had a "Perfect Week!". Can you imagine the attention to detail and perfectionistic tendencies I had to endure in order to earn that one piece of candy.

As I watch parents come in and out of my life - I see those who have it easy, and I see those who will, at least for a few years in their life, regret what they had done when their child was younger. If there is anything I wish for parents to do more of, it's to spend time with your kids and focus on bridging your past with their future. Teach them about your values and the traditions of what your family has held very close to your heart. Understand that we live in a community - and do not pass judgment on what people are on the outside, but how they make you feel when you are with them. Raise them so that no matter what they do in life, they will always look back and say, "I could not be who I am today if it wasn't for you." You'll tear up when your children say that to you, I know that I always do.