Monday, January 30, 2017

Design a Kid-Friendly Workspace

Create a comfortable place for your child to complete her homework.


One of the best ways to encourage your child to complete his assignments competently and on time is to create a homework space that's all his own.

The Setup
First, consider your child's study style. If she is easily distracted, a secluded, quiet spot is best, but if she's more comfortable working with other people around, choose a corner of the living room or kitchen. Make sure the area is free of clutter and that other family members respect "homework time."

While music may be okay at low levels, TVs should be turned off — very few people can resist becoming distracted by TV. But no matter where your child does her homework, the U.S. Department of Education recommends that the space has bright lighting, relative quiet, and close-at-hand supplies.

Two other essentials are a reasonably large work surface and comfortable seating. If you can afford to buy an adjustable chair, that's great, but you can also adjust your existing furniture by stacking pillows or even telephone books on the seat. If your child's feet don't rest on the floor, use a footrest, boxes, or more stacked telephone books. A final tip is to use a rolled-up towel or small pillow between the back of the chair and the child's lower back to provide lumbar support.

Finally, let your child take part in creating his study space so he'll feel more comfortable and be less likely to think of homework as a chore. Your child might feel less intimidated if he has a favorite stuffed animal sitting beside him to "help" study spelling words, or if she has a "magic thinking hat" to wear when stumped by a math problem.

Computer Smarts
A few additional ergonomic guidelines should be followed when your child works at a computer. The monitor should be level with his head, and it should be directly in front of him, about 18 to 30 inches away. Make sure there's no glare falling on the screen or use an anti-glare screen, as glare causes eyestrain. If your child is very young, consider getting a kid-sized keyboard and mouse or switching to a trackball, as little hands often have trouble using these adult-sized components.

Necessary Stuff
Once you've got the space and furniture covered, stock up on basic supplies. For younger children, also include arts and crafts materials. For older children, include a dictionary, thesaurus, and an atlas. Use colorful jars to hold supplies, or for a portable option, use plastic stackable cubes or even a sturdy shoebox.

For kids working at a common area such as the kitchen table, bringing out the "homework supplies" is also a great way to indicate that study time has begun. The other essential item for all ages is a wall calendar where your child can record assignment due dates and other important information.

Article Source: Scholastic.com

Friday, January 27, 2017

The Mathematics of Sidewalk Illusions - Fumiko Futamura


Have you ever come across an oddly stretched image on the sidewalk, only to find that it looks remarkably realistic if you stand in exactly the right spot? These sidewalk illusions employ a technique called anamorphosis — a special case of perspective art where artists represent 3D views on 2D surfaces. So how is it done? Fumiko Futamura traces the history and mathematics of perspective.

Lesson by Fumiko Futamura, animation by TED-Ed.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

8 Steps to Tutoring Success



After you’ve decided to seek help, what’s next?
 
Ignoring a child's school problems or waiting too long to seek help perpetuates a cycle of frustration and failure. Here, an eight-step plan:

Step 1: Reality Check

When you or the teacher identify a problem, take a step back and consider the whole child. "Many factors could account for a child's falling behind. Rushing to hire a tutor should be the last thing you do," says Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Ph.D., co-author of Einstein Never Used Flashcards: How Our Children Really Learn and Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less. "Instead of slapping a Band-Aid on the problem, be a diagnostician and figure out the cause.”

"Your child could be tired," says Hirsh-Pasek. "Maybe he needs to go to sleep earlier, and you need to better enforce bedtime rules. Maybe he's not doing well because he's being dragged down by having too many high-fat snacks or fast-food meals. Or maybe he can't complete his homework because he's overscheduled and exhausted from too many extracurricular activities."

Step 2: Get Perspective

Talk to your child as well as his teacher or guidance counselor for their perception of the problem. Does he hand in homework assignments on time? Does he fidget in class or lose focus when the teacher talks? Does he seem unhappy or uninterested in school in general? Is his behavior disruptive in class? Lack of motivation or acting-out behaviors may be a sign that a child is having difficulty either understanding or processing information. Sometimes simply moving a child to a smaller class can make a difference. If that is not possible, ask if he can move his seat to the front row right near the teacher, which may prevent his attention from wandering.

Step 3: Consider the Best Setting

Once you've decided to find tutoring help, you need to determine what form it should take. Some children feel more comfortable working privately with a tutor in their own home; others are motivated by the dynamics of a small group and concentrate more easily when they are away from the distractions at home. They might benefit from a study group or supplemental class at a learning center. Also ask yourself: Does my child do better with men or women? Does he need lots of nurturing or a firm hand?

Step 4: Ask for Referrals

Whether you decide that a once-a-week meeting with a homework helper (say, an older student or moonlighting teacher) is sufficient, or that intensive remediation makes more sense, keep in mind that tutoring is only as good as the person who does it. Check with your child's teacher, the school office, and other parents for names of qualified tutors. Schools may have a list of tutors who work regularly with students, and may even be familiar with the teachers and course curriculum. Your school may also offer some sort of academic help — before, during, or after school.

Step 5: Meet and Greet

Meet the tutor or visit the learning center with your child so he feels a part of the process and you can see if there's a rapport between him and the tutor. Sit in on one or two sessions to be sure. Since anyone can advertise in the local newspaper that he's a tutor, check credentials. Your tutor should not only be knowledgeable in the subject matter, he should have experience working with children your child's age. If your child has a learning disability, the tutor should be trained to identify and work with youngsters with this specific problem.

Step 6: Discuss Plans

A skilled tutor does more than simply check over homework. She will assess your child's strengths and weaknesses, prepare individualized lessons, and use hands-on materials wherever possible. She should also consult and work with your child's classroom teacher. Finally, she should offer positive reinforcement so your child feels good about himself and his efforts. Ask if the tutor gives additional homework besides your child's regular classroom work as well as how she evaluates progress. Does she use standardized tests or other forms of evaluation? How often?

Step 7: Set a Timetable for Progress

Most tutoring relationships last several months to a year (meeting once or twice a week). Don't wait that long before asking for feedback. Talk to your child and the tutor after every session. Does she enjoy the sessions? Are her grades improving? Does she have more confidence with the subject matter? Is she feeling better about school in general? This informal observation, combined with her teacher's input, will help you determine if the relationship is working. And if it's not? It can take several months for a child's performance to improve, but if you sense something is not working, don't be shy about discussing your concerns with the tutor. If he's not responsive, find someone new.

Step 8: Stay Involved

Parents are part of the tutoring equation. Your involvement is necessary to make it work. Make sure the tutor has the phone number or email address of your child's teacher, a copy of the textbook and curriculum she's using (request this from the teacher or guidance counselor), and your child's past tests so he can see areas of weakness. Finally, be sure to reinforce skills at home. Ask the tutor for suggestions, look for ways to fit in real-world practice (cooking together is great for both math and reading), and don't forget to share books and stories often.

Article Source: Scholastic.com

Saturday, January 21, 2017

How to Master Your Sense of Smell - Alexandra Horowitz


Some perfumers can distinguish individual odors in a fragrance made of hundreds of scents; tea-experts have been known to sniff out the exact location of a particular tea; and the NYC Transit Authority once had a employee responsible only for sniffing out gas leaks. But can anyone learn to smell with the sensitivity of those experts? Alexandra Horowitz shares three simple steps to a better nose.

Lesson by Alexandra Horowitz, animation by Black Powder Design.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Founder's Message - The Academy of 21st Century Learning




The Academy of 21st Century Learning transforms lives by uniting the academic standards of reading, writing, math, science, foreign language, and study skills with creativity, leadership, art, and music.

By focusing these abilities through curriculum targeted to the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics, our students will become much more competitive when seeking higher educational opportunities and competing in the global marketplace.

Conveniently located in the Nut Tree Center in Vacaville, and serving the needs of students and families from locations throughout Solano and Yolo Counties (Fairfield, Winters, Woodland, Dixon, Suisun, and Davis). The Academy is a new place for learning! Our energetic instructors, many with degrees from UC Davis, provide expert and state-of-the-art, STEM-based tutoring. We are also proud to offer summer programs, counseling, SAT/ACT prep, and many other academic services to our students from Kindergarten through High School.

Come join us and be a part of the fun and excitement at The Academy!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

What’s So Great About the Great Lakes? - Cheri Dobbs and Jennifer Gabrys


The North American Great Lakes — Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior — are so big that they border 8 states and contain 23 quadrillion liters of water. They span forest, grassland, and wetland habitats, supporting a region that’s home to 3,500 species. But how did such a vast and unique geological feature come to be? Cheri Dobbs and Jennifer Gabrys takes us all the way back to the Ice Age to find out.

Lesson by Cheri Dobbs and Jennifer Gabrys, animation by TED-Ed.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

When to Hire a Tutor for Your Child


We all want our children to do well in school, but sometimes – despite our best efforts – they just need a little extra help.

Monday, January 9, 2017

How To Help Kids Focus On Homework - Susan Stiffelman, MFT



Susan Stiffelman, MFT Author and Therapist, shares advice for parents on the best way to help improve your child's focus on homework.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Can You Solve the Counterfeit Coin Riddle? - Jennifer Lu


You’re the realm’s greatest mathematician, but ever since you criticized the Emperor’s tax laws, you’ve been locked in the dungeon. Luckily for you, one of the Emperor’s governors has been convicted of paying his taxes with a counterfeit coin, which has made its way into the treasury. Can you earn your freedom by finding the fake? Jennifer Lu shows how.

Lesson by Jennifer Lu, animation by Artrake Studio.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Reasons Why Your Child May Be Struggling in School



Parents tend to get very frustrated when they find out their child is struggling in school. They try to do everything they possibly can to help, but sometimes it’s not enough. Many different factors can affect your child’s performance in school. For example:

Vision problems

Children with vision problems have frequent headaches, have a hard time reading, often sit right in front of the TV, and in school can barely see the blackboard. Vision problems can keep a child from excelling in school. Correcting vision problems can make a world of difference in your child’s academic performance.


Learning/Behavioral disabilities

If your child has a learning disability, they may have trouble remembering things, may be socially isolated, have trouble following directions, may be anxious, and sometimes violent. The most common learning disabilities are ADHD and dyslexia..

Environmental factors

Not being socially accepted in school can damage a child’s self esteem. Problems at home such as abusive parents, absent parents, a divorce, death in the family can negatively influence a child’s performance in school. Many children will keep what is bothering them to themselves. Even if they don’t say anything, they are well aware of what is happening at home. If you’re having a stressful situation at home, talk to your child about their concerns and most importantly listen.

Boredom

Highly intelligent children who are always ahead of in class assignments may have a hard time staying focused due to their boredom. Kids start to lose interest in learning if they are not being academically challenged. Seeking the help of a professional tutor will help your child become interested in learning again by introducing him to new concepts that will intellectually stimulate his mind.