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Tutor Doctor Blog

  • Does your Child have ADHD?

    pic by Audio Store Luci

    Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD is a child’s inability to stay focused on the task at hand or to concentrate for more than a couple of minutes. This is more than just a daydreamer or a child who is bored in class, this disorder can really impact your child’s academic performance and may lead to behavioral problems. Studies show that 8 – 10% of children of school-going age have ADHD and that boys are there times more likely to have the disorder than girls. Luckily, there are many techniques for dealing with ADHD that can help to ensure that your child excels academically.

    When your child is disruptive in class, they get negative reactions from teachers and they miss out on the vital building blocks of their academic knowledge. High-energy kids often interrupt and sometimes have trouble waiting their terms which can lead to social problems. Children with ADHD aren’t being willful or purposefully misbehaving, they genuinely have trouble focusing on any one task for more than a couple of minutes.

    Diagnosing ADHD

    One of the biggest problems with ADHD is that there are so many symptoms associated with the disorder and it’s imperative that you consult a professional for diagnosis. Start with your family doctor who will refer your child to a neurologist or psychologist for evaluation. There is a long list of symptoms which should be present regardless of mood or circumstance and must manifest before the child is seven. The symptoms include:

    • An inability to focus for more than a few minutes
    • Difficulty listening and following instructions
    • Lack of attention to detail which can show up as mistakes in schoolwork
    • Being forgetful and disorganized and often losing things
    • Having trouble sitting down and fidgeting constantly
    • Being very talkative and loud and interrupting often
    • Having trouble waiting for their turn

    Dealing with ADHD

    There are so many options for parents of children with ADHD that you can find solutions that help your child to thrive at school and at home. From medication to behavioral therapies and diets, you can opt for the solution (or combination of solutions) which best suit your family.

    It’s essential to speak with your teachers about the situation and to work with them to find ways to help reinforce good behavior patterns. Teachers already have a playbook of ways in which to deal with children who are easily distracted. They can seat them away from the window and in the front of the class where it’s easier to refocus them on the lesson.

    Children with ADHD can learn to focus, they can acquire organizational skills and they can really fulfill their potential academically and socially.  If you work together with your medical team and your teachers and tutors, your child can turn their high energy levels into a wonderful asset.

     

  • What to do When Your Child Hates School

    pic by Working World

    Is your child refusing to go to school? Are they are so reticent to start the day that getting them to school on time is a constant struggle? When your child is not enjoying school, it can make things difficult for the whole family. The first thing to realize is that you are not alone and that most students go through this at some point in their academic careers. While the cause of these bad school mornings can be fairly innocent like not having done homework or the desire to avoid gym class, you must be prepared to take action should the behavior persist.

    Causes of Absenteeism

    When students don’t want to go to school, or are so slow in getting ready that they make you late or if they are constantly beset with imaginary symptoms, there may be a more serious underlying cause. When students start to fall behind academically, they can feel overwhelmed, lose confidence and feel embarrassed. This can be seriously detrimental to their ability to grow and develop.

    Bullying by teachers or other students can also cause your child to feel enormous anxiety about going to school. From simply dreading each day to a phenomenon called school phobia, your student’s fears should be taken seriously and addressed so that they can have a happier, healthier academic career.

    Overcoming Anxiety

    One of the biggest hurdles to resolution is that students are often not able to verbalize their fears. They may be too embarrassed or afraid or maybe they fear that you will take action that could embarrass them in front of their peers. One clue that can help is the level of anxiety that your child displays when they have to go to school. Anxiety can manifest in different ways from being overly emotional to physical symptoms such as stomach aches or headaches. Moodiness and loss of appetite are also side effects of anxiety and since you know your child best, these should be easy to pick up.

    Taking action

    Of course you need to speak with your child first and ask them specific questions. If you find them unresponsive, try to address their fears of public embarrassment or retribution. If they remain tight-lipped, speak with their teachers. Teachers are a great resource here because they have a much better understanding of what goes on at school.

    Give it time. If your child needs to take a break, discuss this with their teacher and principal to find a schedule that will keep them up to date with school work. If bullying is the culprit, most school have plans in place to work with the students to resolve these issues.

    If the problem is academic, consider getting an in-home tutor to help your child catch up and keep up. Tutors who work one-on-one will help them to fill in the missing building blocks in their academic knowledge while teaching study and organizational skills that will help them to become effective independent learners.

    If you child does stay home for a while, don’t make it a fun experience. They must work during school hours and there should be no TV or internet.

    Be patient and caring when your child doesn’t want to go to school. Use the amazing resources that teachers and school councilors provide so that you can encourage your child to have a positive academic experience.

     

  • What to do when your Child doesn’t like their Teacher

    Pic by Joanne Johnson

    It’s inevitable that during the course of your child’s academic career, they will encounter educators that they don’t get along with. Whether the conflict arises from a misunderstanding or a personality clash, it’s important that the situation be dealt with in a constructive and positive way. Teachers are professionals who are trained to treat students with dignity and respect and students must learn to do the same.

    Talk about It

    Students will often make sweeping statements like: “The teacher hates me.” You need to understand exactly what this means. Ask your child to explain why they think this and give examples of situations in which the teacher has behaved in a way that would make them feel that way. Ensure that they are not misunderstanding the situation or that they aren’t reacting negatively to being disciplined.

    Role Play

    One of the best ways to work through a difficult situation is to allow your student to deal with it themselves. Over the course of their lives, they will encounter managers, neighbors and people that they don’t get along with. Learning to navigate these difficult relationships is a fundamental tenant of happiness.

    Start by discussing ways in which the student can deal with situations that make them uncomfortable. Role play situations that may occur in the classroom and discuss different ways of dealing with these events so that they feel prepared and confident. Allowing them to deal with the situation can be a constructive learning experience.

    Be Diplomatic

    If the problem persists and you feel like you need to take action, don’t be aggressive or angry. Remember that your child will have to deal with the teacher and try to smooth over the situation rather than inflaming it.

    Start by explaining the way your child feels and then ask the teacher if they have any idea why your child feels that way. Really listen to their side of the story. You should say things like: “Jane is upset and I need to understand why she feels this way.” Assume that it is a misunderstanding and don’t make teachers feel like they are under attack. The ideal situation here is to promote understanding and cooperation.

    Last Resort

    If you feel that the teacher is not responding well to your child or if the situation deteriorates and your child’s academic performance suffers, it may be time to take a trip to the principal’s office. Remember to do so when you are cool, calm and collected. Explain the situation clearly and provide constructive suggestions which can lead to resolution. Perhaps moving the student to a different class may be an option. Be patient and persistent. Having a positive experience at school is essential in maintaining your child’s constructive attitude to education and academic performance. Be an agent for resolution and positive change to turn a negative experience for your child into a positive learning opportunity on how to navigate relationships with authority figures.

  • Study Suggests Later Start for High Schools Will Help Sleep Deprivation

    Pic by Betty Wetherington

    A recent study by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that teenagers really do need more sleep. The AAP has even gone so far as to recommend that schools adopt later starting times for classes to allow students to get the rest they need. The study found that the natural sleep cycles of adolescents make it difficult for them to fall asleep before 11pm and has therefore recommended that schools move their start times to 8.30am to allow teens to get the 8.5 to 9.5 hours prescribed.

    Sleep cycles or circadian rhythms are the biological schedules and are triggered by chemical, behavioral and psychological changes that happen in our bodies throughout the course of the day. A disruption in these patterns will lead to difficulties falling sleep or staying asleep.

    When students don’t get enough sleep, they experience a loss of memory, delayed responses and an inability to concentrate that can affect their academic performance. A lack of concentration also leads to a higher accident rate among teen drivers.

    Sleep-deprived students get sick more often which means they miss school. Insufficient sleep has also been linked to obesity and a higher risk of diabetes.

    A survey by the National Sleep Foundation saw some disturbing statistics with 60% of high school students reporting extreme daytime fatigue with 25% falling asleep in class at least once a week. The main reason for this was that the average high school student got 6.5 hours of sleep per night; way below the recommended amount. “Chronic sleep loss in children and adolescents is one of the most common – and easily fixable – public health issues in the U.S. today,” said pediatrician Judith Owens, MD who led the study.

    “The research is clear that adolescents who get enough sleep have a reduced risk of being overweight or suffering depression, are less likely to be involved in automobile accidents, and have better grades, higher standardized test scores and an overall better quality of life,” Dr. Owens said. “Studies have shown that delaying early school start times is one key factor that can help adolescents get the sleep they need to grow and learn.”

    Dr. Owens has proposed that start times be changed in accordance with these findings: “The AAP is making a definitive and powerful statement about the importance of sleep to the health, safety, performance and well-being of our nation’s youth,” Owens said. “By advocating for later school start times for middle and high school students, the AAP is both promoting the compelling scientific evidence that supports school start time delay as an important public health measure, and providing support and encouragement to those school districts around the country contemplating that change.”

  • How to Pick the Right School Backpack

    pic by Firesam

    Carrying a backpack over the course of a school career shapes your growing child’s back and determines their posture. Picking a backpack that gives them the support they need will ensure healthy growth and reduce the risk of back and neck pain and problems in later life. Backpacks also need to be fitted and adjusted properly and regularly as your child grows. Backpacks must be worn properly and shouldn’t be excessively heavy. Here are some pointers to consider when selecting a backpack:

    Opt for a bag with two straps which allows for even distribution of weight across both shoulders. Encourage your student to wear the backpack properly to ensure even load distribution.

    Lower or lift the backpack using the adjustable straps so that the heaviest part of the bag is at waist height.

    Opt for padded shoulder straps to prevent heavy bags from digging into the shoulders. The optimal situation would be to get a bag that has a padded wait strap. When tightened and correctly adjusted, the bag’s weight then rests on your child’s hips and this puts very little strain on the shoulders and back. Unfortunately, these kinds of bags aren’t very fashionable so it could be a hard sell for older students.

    You can mitigate some of the backpack strain if you buy a bag with wheels. It’s best to get a bag that has both wheels and straps because wheels can be difficult to use in the snow or with stairs. Many of the bags with wheels are too big to fit into a locker.

    The standard rule is that a child shouldn’t carry a backpack that exceeds 10%-15% of their body weight. You can check the weight of your child’s backpack with a bathroom scale. If the backpack is regularly too heavy, speak with the teacher about ways to reduce the weight.

    If backpacks are too heavy, encourage your student to carry some books in their arms and to drop off everything they don’t need in their lockers between lessons to reduce their carrying weight.

    Further reduce weight by opting for lightweight backpacks. Heavy leather satchels or branded fashionable options may add a lot of unnecessary weight.

    Caring for your backpack will help to extend its life. Don’t machine-wash backpacks; instead submerge them in a tub of warm water and scrub with soap and a brush.

    Make a tick list of all you want and need in a backpack. Be sure that it is small enough to fit into a locker and big enough to carry everything from laptops to ring binders. Opt for comfort over making a fashion statement and go for one that is lightweight and functional.

    Buy the right size bag for your student and encourage daily cleanouts so that the pack never weighs more than 15% of their body weight.

  • Lessons your Child should be Learning in Preschool

    Pic by Mats Eriksson

    Keeping your child on track

    by Christine Bryant 

    Kindergarten is an important milestone in a child’s life. After all, it’s the first block in the foundation of education they will build over the next 12 years. But many children have their first school experience in preschool where they begin to develop essential skills. Here’s how a preschool should be helping your child to develop so that they can be on track for kindergarten.

    Responsibility

    Be sure that your preschool is asking kids to be responsible for their lunches, snacks and gear from home. “By the end of preschool, most kids can take on full responsibility for all of three items,” says Vicki Hoefle, a longtime professional parenting coach and educator. “When they do, it builds confidence, organizational skills and teaches responsibility.”

    Rules

    If your kid doesn’t like rules, you’re not alone. But Hoefle says it’s important for preschoolers to learn boundaries so when they get into the kindergarten setting, they understand structure. She suggests preschools invite the kids to help each other follow the rules, set up for activities and participate in cleanup. “If kids are invested in the space, supporting classroom rules and helping each other, they will be ready for more participation in kindergarten.”

    Language

    Preschool is an important time for educators to work with children on developing their language skills, incorporating lessons that will help them with items such as answering questions in complete sentences, retelling the plot of a story and even answering hypothetical questions such as “What would you do if you were thirsty?” Dr. Adiaha Spinks-Franklin, a Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician with Texas Children’s Hospital, says by the time a child enters kindergarten, she should be able to know her parents’ first and last names, address and phone number and understand instructions containing multiple steps, direction words and objects with descriptions.

    Play skills

    A child entering kindergarten should know how to play simple card and board games, and they should use imaginative and futuristic play when playing with friends, Spinks-Franklin says. “They should be able to take turns, share and negotiate,” she said. “A kindergartener understands rules in a game and how to follow them.”

    Leadership

    Let your kids take the lead — and encourage preschools to as well, advises Brown University researcher and child development expert Richard Rende, who has conducted research with Elmer’s about the benefits of arts and crafts in education. “Creativity is promoted when kids take the lead,” Rende said. “The creative spark is lit when kids try to figure out how to make things work on their own.”

    Confidence in academics

    It’s important for preschool teachers and parents at your child’s age to help build confidence and self-esteem so they’re fully prepared to expand upon academic skills they should know at this age, says Frank Milner, president of Tutor Doctor. Some of these academic skills they should know by the end of preschool include looking at pictures and telling stories, counting to 10, talking in complete sentences, identifying rhyming words, identifying alphabet letters, sorting similar objects and bouncing a ball.

    Independent living

    Sure, no one expects a preschooler to live on his own. But learning independent living lessons in preschool can help set up a child for success in kindergarten. Spinks-Franklin says children entering kindergarten should be able to dress themselves, including buttons, zippers and tying shoes. He should also be able to make a simple meal, such as a bowl of cereal or sandwich and be able to brush his teeth on his own.

    Fine motor skills

    Preschool may seem like it’s all about fun, but at this age through lessons, children are learning important fine-motor skills. “Strong fine-motor skills strengthen finger muscles using play dough, clay, scissors, tweezers, scrunching paper, etc., to make fingers strong for cutting and writing,” says Lori Becker, professor of Early Childhood Education at Kaplan University.

    Safety lessons

    Preschool is a great time to reinforce what moms and dads teach at home about safety, Spinks-Franklin says. “A child entering kindergarten should understand basic rules of safety — do not run into the street, talk to strangers, walk away from parents in public places or take off her seatbelt while the car is moving.”

    Happy memories

    One of the most important items a preschooler should learn is how to create happy memories, and lessons at your child’s preschool present the perfect opportunity for this. “Smiles, laughs and some silliness keep kids engaged,” Rende said.

    What important lessons does your child’s preschool teach that you think are important to a child’s development?

  • What Common Core ‘Looks Like’: Word Problems and More

    pic by Pink Sherbet Photography  

    EducationWorld asked educators and other experts for concrete examples of how Common Core is changing instruction for the better. Below is what tutoring center owner Christopher Lien shared.

    By Christopher Lien

    Lien is a franchise owner with Tutor Doctor, the leading “at-home” private tutoring franchise worldwide.
    What’s your best concrete example of how Common Core-aligned instruction is qualitatively different from previous models of instruction?
    A popular “word problem” is given to kindergarten and first-grade students to help them learn division. They start with a group of 40-50 small blocks they can handle on a table top. The problem statement reads, “Two classes are going to the zoo for a field trip. A number of parents will drive the students to the zoo in their minivans. Each minivan can carry 5 students. If 43 students will go to the zoo that day, how many minivans will be required?”
    Some students will initially count and separate 43 blocks from the others, and then separate them into groups of 5. Other students with slightly more math sense or practice may immediately form groups of 5 blocks until they’ve reached 43, or 45 students. How they process the final group of 3 blocks is interesting – some want to add them to the other full groups of 5, and others might freeze and feel unsure of how to process a group of blocks fewer than 5. This is where they learn about remainders, and once they realize it’s okay to have a less than full group of blocks, it opens up their math sense requisite to division skills.

    What’s your best concrete example of how student learning is enhanced due to Common Core-aligned instruction?
    One of my daughters is a visual learner and was initially having difficulties understanding numbers. Multiplication and division didn’t come naturally for her. When presented with different visual methods of solving a multiplication problem, she rapidly increased in number sense skill and eventually became better able to solve problems without needing visual representations. The visual methods included grids of dots and rows and matrices of squares. Once she had rows or groups of ten squares, she could group them together to solve two-digit or three-digit problems.

    What is the biggest challenge of implementing the Common Core?
    Misinformation or misunderstanding of the nature and objectives of Common Core have sometimes resulted in parents’ fear, cynicism and skepticism. Homework can initially appear foreign from the parents’ prior experience, and some conclude they’re unable to assist their children with homework. A closer look and steady patience can help parents perceive the critical thinking aspect of the lesson, and eventually fears and unfamiliarity can subside.

    What advice do you have for schools that are struggling with the standards?
    Communication is paramount to alleviate concerns parents have about Common Core and the specific methods of implementation used in their schools. Communication forms should include frequent Web site updates of curriculum or text samples and outlines, public assemblies in the evenings or on weekends so more parents can participate, brief videos showing actual classroom sessions where students are learning Common Core lessons, and parent-teacher conferences to discuss the distinction between prior and new methods of student skill assessment. Once parents get both information and the opportunity to ask questions, they’ll rapidly feel more at ease with the new direction and become more supportive of their schools’ efforts.

  • Helping your Child Adjust to a New Sibling

    Pic by Richard Leeming

    Sibling rivalry is a very natural instinct which older children experience with the arrival of a new baby brother or sister. They act out, become aggressive or regress which can put more strain on a family. Bringing a new baby home is tough enough, but knowing what to expect from your older children and helping them to work through the adjustment will make everyone’s transition easier.

    Start early: Tell your child you are pregnant first and explain to them exactly what this means. Answer all their questions and try to involve them as much as possible in every phase.

    Minimize changes: There’s only so much change a little person can handle, so if you have other major changes on the horizon like moving them out of their rooms, starting pre-school, potty training etc. try to get it out of the way long before the new baby comes.

    Get involved: Try to include them in as many of the preparations as possible like getting the nursery ready or choosing names.

    When baby arrives: Set aside time to spend alone with your older children. Really listen to their concerns and problems about the new baby and don’t discount them; try to hear them and help them to adjust.

    Stress the benefits: Focus on all the good things they enjoy by being the older sibling and allow them to participate as much as they want to in the baby’s care.

    Gifts: When friends and family members arrive with gifts for the new baby, distribute some gifts for older brothers and sisters too so that they don’t feel left out.

    Bonding: Allow your child to hold and hug the new baby. You may want to teach younger children how to hold a baby by using a doll before the new addition arrives. You should also discuss what new babies do and that they won’t really be much fun for a while.

    Keep your structures in place: With the upheaval of a new baby, your older children will act up and push the boundaries to get attention. While you must be empathetic and patient, be sure to keep the structures that they are accustomed to like bed times and meal times. Having some structure will help them to feel secure.

    For younger children, there are a number of books that can help with preparation for the arrival of a new sibling. Some titles include:

    When the Teddy Bears Came

    Rosie’s Babies

    Sophie and the New Baby

    Topsy and Tim: The New Baby

    Mummy, Mummy, What’s in Your Tummy?

    Big Brother, Little Brother

    The New Baby

    Alfie & Annie Rose Storybook

    Za Za’s Baby Brother

    Spot’s Baby Sister

  • Save on Back to School Supplies

    Pic by Liz Latham

    It’s almost time to send your children back to school and this can pose a financial burden on most families as you pay school fees, buy new clothing and tick off the back to school supply list. If you start early, you can avail yourself of a number of apps and sites that have specials and coupons that can really help ease the financial strain.

    Only get what you need

    Start with the list that your school has issued and tick off any items you already have. Check drawers and cupboards and see what items you can reuse from last year. When you go shopping, don’t be tempted to buy items that aren’t on the list.

    Shop online

    You can buy most of the items you need online and you can compare prices that way too. Be sure that the shipping costs are lower than traveling costs to go to the store yourself. When you compare items online, you can find the stores which sell them at the lowest price. Of course you don’t want to make a special trip to each store or the gas money will negate any savings, but keep the list handy so that if you happen to be in the area, you can pop in and get a few things. Combining your back to school shopping with other errands will also save you gas money.

    Swap Meets

    You can organize to swap all your school supplies with neighbors and friends. This way you can maximize on bulk buys and you can swap out items which you don’t need. You can also work with other families to take advantage of ‘Buy one get one free’ offers or bulk purchase discounts.

    Coupons

    Coupons are a wonderful way to save and you can really reduce your costs by visiting the following sites to find coupons that you can utilize:

    Coupon Divas

    The Crazy Coupon Lady

    Target

    Bargain Briana

    Common Sense with Money

    Coupon Cravings

    Deal Catcher

    Retail Me Not

    Money-saving apps

    If you want to save money on the go, there are smartphone apps that help you to find bargains on your back to school supplies. You can also use these apps in stores that offer price matches. Simply find items cheaper elsewhere and show the cashier the ad on your phone so that they can match the price. This will really save on time and travel expenses as you don’t have to go to more than one shop.

    Here are some of the apps you can use:

    Rodger’s alerts

    Checkout 51 (iOS or Android)

    Red Flag Deals (iOS or Android)

    CartSmart

    The Coupons App (AndroidiOS)

    RetailMeNot (AndroidiOS)

    Cartwheel by Target (AndroidiOS)

    ShopSavvy (AndroidiOS) / RedLaser (AndroidiOS)

    Foursquare (AndroidiOS)

    Swarm (AndroidiOS)

     

  • Help your Child to Adjust to a New School

    pic by Avalore

    If you are relocating this semester, you can help your children to settle into a new home and school. Moving is a traumatic experience as children have to get accustomed to a different home, a strange town and new friends. They may also be missing old friends and familiar places. There are some ways you can make the transition to a new school seamless. The most important approach is to understand and acknowledge their fears and anxieties and address as many as you can.

    Get orientated

    Contact your new school and ask for a tour. If you can get a copy of your child’s schedule, you can trace their daily route from home to school and then around school to all their classes. Knowing where they need to go will help to reduce anxiety. If there are summer holiday activities where your child could meet prospective new school mates, then get details from the school office.

    Ask your new school about the buddy system. Many schools assign ‘buddies’ to new students who help them to settle in and find their way around.

    Know your new school

    Look online and ask the school for brochures or information on activities and clubs. Knowing all the fun things they can do may help kids to foster a positive image of their new school. Getting involved in activities, sports and clubs from day one is a great way for your kids to make new friends.

    The website can also provide information about dress codes, teachers, school rules and supplies needed so your child can be prepared.

    Talk it out

    Ask your child what they are most afraid of or what they worry about when they think about their new school. For example, if they are concerned about getting lost on their bike ride or walk to school, offer to drop them off for the first week or take the route together a couple of times before school starts so that they feel confident. Getting them to talk about possible problems and helping to address their concerns will alleviate anxiety.

    Get organized

    No one knows your child like you and so you are able to pre-empt any possible issues. For example, shop for and plan clothing choices for the first week. Make sure that they have their back-to-school supplies, get them back into a routine so that they aren’t late on their first day and make sure that they have all your contact details at the new school.

    It’s a celebration!

    Give them something to look forward to for their first week at school. Celebrate their first day with a cupcake party or take them somewhere special on the weekend after their first week. Having something positive to focus on will help to motivate them.