Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Math Test Mishaps

Are you the type of parent that watches your child complete their math homework the night before a test so that they can earn an "A" and come home with a grade that is "unexpected"? If this is you, then you might have to change your mindset when it comes to test-taking, specifically in the area of math.

Math, similar to physics and chemistry, is an "application based subject". It's important to understand more than the material that has been presented in class in order to do well on tests.

After over a decade personally helping students with math, here are some reasons why students fail to earn that "A" on the test:

  1. Forgot to follow the directions (sometimes even reading them)! Yes, you would be surprised. I've seen students in Algebra that mistakenly mix up the positive and negative sign and walk out of the test telling mom and dad they aced the integers test.. Not a good idea.
  2. Poor penmanship. Some students think that they are already in medical school by the way they write. If his or her teacher cannot read what has been written, they cannot grade it either. When the skills become more cumbersome, students will try to collapse numbers that are not aligned in different columns so that they finish before everyone else. This is not a way to do well on tests.  
  3. Perplexed by Vocabulary. If your child is taking a test and cannot distinguish between the LCM and GCF and encounters a word problem, they are in a world full of hurt. 
  4. Homework: OPTIONAL. Even though your child has a great social life and a calendar filled with more extra-curricular activities than the valedictorian for Harvard, homework helps. 
  5. Math Basics. I am not saying that you need to complete 100 facts in 2 minutes, but you need to know all of them well enough to meander through calculations.  
Be aware of these signs of a student who may not be at their potential in math. If you would like more information about Math Study Tips, Math tutoring or enrichment, contact us at: info@learningridge.com or you can call us at (404) 964-8533. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Computerized Testing For Young Students: Helpful or Hurtful?

When I was a student, actually - let me be completely honest, we didn’t have computer access when I was in school until I was in college (one of my math professors from Loyola talked to me about email, and that was freshman year). There were three computers in the entire school and we basically had drills (similar to what I assume they would have at the CDC) before we could even “touch” the computer. Before they had us walk into the “computer room”, they gave us a twenty minute lecture of how we were to respect the computer and that we were dealing with high tech materials that could cost the teacher in front of us their job. And of course, we had to go to the sink and wash our hands with soap, there was no such thing as "sanitizer" back then. It was good old fashioned, soap.
Fast forward (several decades later) to 2015, and there has never been a time more than ever where clients have been complaining to me about how their child cannot perform well on computerized standardized tests. It’s come to my attention that children are asked to perform monumental tasks that (as I breathe a sigh of relief) I cannot imagine performing at such a young age.
A few years ago, a first grader in one of the City Districts took one of these exams, for the first time. He was excited to take a computerized exam because, like most children, computers and technology do not signal, “testing” or “reading”, it signals "fun" and "recreation" like challenging your friend’s high score on Temple Run. When his mother saw his score, compared to his peers in the district, she was mortified. I remember meeting with her at one of my favorite coffee shops and her eyes looked bloodshot as if she spent the entire night either crying or had to take a bottle of aspirin to rid herself of the headache also known as "raising kids to be smart, sociable, and successful". His mother was not the first mother to complain to me, and she certainly was not the last. We came up with a plan to increase his scores on that computerized test and the last time I saw his score, he was in the 98th percentile in the district. Sadly, every year I have parent after parent call foul on these computerized assessments that feel more like a polygraph test administration than an actual test of basic skills.
Let me be clear: despite our technophilic tendencies, many children still learn  to read in a more traditional way. For the first few years of a child's life, many parents snuggle up with their children and read them a bedtime story. They use a non-technological device called their fingers to teach their children how to track the words on the page and use the volume of their voice to emphasize certain interesting or exciting parts of a story. Children begin to engage in the reading by flipping the pages of a book and readjust their focus as they find their place. Nowadays, these behaviors have quickly been replaced with a computerized screen that does not have the ability to change the location of the  text or allow you to touch or mark it. As you can already imagine,  it’s a highly stressful and frustrating experience.
Most adults, let alone most children, need time to absorb information when reviewing material on a screen. As one reads through a passage, several processes must take place when you are reading in order to understand it proficiently. If you are like most people, you must prime  yourself  before answering any type of question. Here are some tips for your young reader to help them take their next computerized test:
3 Skills For Great Computerized Test Takers
Use Your Imagination
As I read through the words of a book or an article, it’s important that I take a second and use my imagination to understand what the writer is trying to convey. Sometimes the idea of “imagery” is a difficult concept for students when they are thrown into a computerized test.
Be Organized
The other process that takes place when reading through information is that you must organize the details as you read. Sometimes the glare of  the screen or the other distracting noises that you could hear as you are given these tests could be a strain on your attempt to organize the data.
Use Your Memory
Lastly, the ability to recall the information can only be done if, you have a way to remember. If your student is stressed beyond belief, then they may not remember key pieces of information to help them answer some of the reading comprehension questions.
If you or anyone you know have questions about education, testing, learning challenges, or just want to talk about your child, feel free to contact me at: christine@learningridge.com or visit our website at www.learningridge.com .

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

How to Be A Great PlayDate Host!

New to the field of Playdating? Here's some insight from our best clients at Learning Ridge..

Are you new to the area and are trying to have your children integrate with their peers at school? Then organizing a play date with one or more of their friends will be a sure win!

As you learn more about your child and their friends, here are a few PlayDate Host Rules:

1. Be gracious with your accommodations

You do not have to change your home to Disney World, but you should make your little guests feel welcome. Make sure they know where the necessities are (bathroom, place for their belongings) and where they need to be for the duration of their playdate.

2. Establish ground rules

Before the playdate starts, make sure that you reinforce "house rules" with your child and their friends. Depending on your parenting style, you may use a more active approach by discussing important topics with the child and their parents or you could use a less direct approach by engaging in conversation with your child where the information will be relayed to their friend. Be sure to use proper language with your child’s friends and expect them to do the same. 

If the playdate is at your house or is in an area that you may not be as familiar with, ensure that there are safe zones for them to wander in (kitchen, basement, playroom) and red zones where they are to not be out of your sight (garage, pool area without adult supervision, garage). This will ensure unnecessary search teams looking for your child and the other children on the playdate. 

3. Discuss meals/activity options

The last thing a parent wants to hear when their child is finally in the car from a playdate is that their friend’s parents did not feed them anything at all. Parents, it’s a playdate, not your version of “Survivor: Home Edition”. If things are too hectic for you, pick up a pizza, grab some donuts or take them to the park. If you are the parent of the child and know that the other parent runs a tight pantry, send your child off with a few snacks and an activity book to keep them occupied.

4. Count how many children you are responsible for

This is so important but some parents miss it. Make sure that you leave with the exact number of children that you came with (this advice is really meant for the fathers who might have "mommy duty" when their wife is out of town). Otherwise, if you miscount and accidentally leave a few children behind or inherit children from another play group, you’ll end up meeting someone dressed up in blue later on that evening.

5. No matter how much you want to pry, don’t be nosy around your child’s friends

I was having lunch one day and this mom was looking for a way to have her son join a baseball team. She kept prodding her son’s friend about the team, the coach, the players, until her son’s friend said, “Are you thinking about having your son play?” It was really tacky, and most children like playing with their friends rather than be interviewed on a playdate.

If you need to find out more about the other service providers your children's friends have in their circle, it may be best to ask the other parents. Using interrogation techniques does not make for a pleasant play date atmosphere and makes you look a little too.... tacky.

For more information about Playdating or General Questions about Education, feel free to contact Learning Ridge at 404-964-8533 or you can email info@learningridge.com

Monday, October 12, 2015

Atlanta JATP "Private School Parent Archetypes"

It’s October, also known as “Private School Season”. If you haven’t done so already, the calendar that coordinates all of your personal goals and objectives will slowly be overtaken by your child’s Private School Schedule. It’s going to be an arduous ride for all of you, but how will your personality fit in with this entire process?

After a decade of working with so many clients in this city, I’ve come to realize there are four different types of “Pre-Private School Parents”. Read through these descriptions and try to figure out which one you are!

“Do Nothing” Parents

These parents are the first to turn in their application and the first to start crying silently when April comes and they receive an onslaught of rejection letters in the mail. They’ve spoken to all of their friends who have kindly told them that the only way your child will get in will be to just turn in the application.  Perhaps their odds may be better spent on a weekend in Atlantic City but not on the future of your child’s private school placement. My experience working with these parents is the moment that they call me in the spring, it’s time to work on next year’s application.

The “I’m Connected” Parent

They are members of  the same country club as the Former Headmaster of the school that you are applying to. Or they think that if they have lunch with the mothers at “Insert Name of Private School”, they’ll get in. Easier said than done, right? 

I’m Getting JATP Prep/Consultation From A Former Private School Staff Member

I’ve seen some parents that have taken the time to work with these private school consultants and it’s really interesting to me. Some of them have a background that is so far from education that I wonder how they can even consult on the proper “educational fit” for your child. 

After a few years in the field, sources have confided in me that the information being presented is more of a formality that provides a little more than the what you could see from a brochure/website. As far as anything above and beyond that, good luck! 

Holistic Approach Parent

These parents are the ones who plan ahead, look at their different options, and focus on a plan for private school. When these parents call Learning Ridge, LLC, they know that they have someone to talk to and can rely on their years of working with clients who have successfully been admitted into these private schools and also who are currently attending these private schools, to help them through this process. By working with our experienced Educational Consultant, you will know how to prepare your child for the next few months, but also yourself!

So there you have it! Which archetype to you belong to?

For more information about the Admissions Preparation Process for Private Schools in the Atlanta area, feel free to contact Learning Ridge at 404-964-8533 or you can email us at: christine@learningridge.com