Friday, April 29, 2016

How Do Glasses Help Us See? - Andrew Bastawrous and Clare Gilbert

Today, glasses help millions of people with poor vision be able to see clearly. But how? Andrew Bastawrous and Clare Gilbert help unravel the answer by explaining refraction — the ability of a transparent medium, like glass, water, or the eye, to change the direction of light passing through it.

Lesson by Andrew Bastawrous and Clare Gilbert, animation by Andrew Foerster.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Finding A Tutor - 10 Tips for Finding a Local Tutor

It can be tough finding the right tutor to fit your child's needs. Let us help you ask the right questions and find the right match.

1. Know your child's needs: The real key to finding the right tutor for your child is knowing what kind of help your child needs. Just because his or her grades are slipping only in math, doesn't mean that your child isn't struggling with other subjects. Do your homework by checking your child's homework and having concrete examples and problems to discuss with potential candidates. The only way to find a qualified tutor is to hire them knowing what you'll need. You don't want to be stuck with only a math tutor when your child needs help with writing, too.

2. Know the market: Every community is different, so finding a tutor can take several different forms. In a university town, many parents turn to college students to get their students the help they need. However, college students often have different priorities and are inexperienced in being an independent contractor. An alternative might be going to a tutoring center, but your child might not get the one-on-one attention that he or she needs to rebuild crucial foundations. Some cities have companies that offer one-on-one tutoring in your home at prices equivalent to group centers.

3. Know what questions to ask: In order to find the right tutor, there are a lot of factors that need to be considered: areas of expertise, training, experience, and personality. If your child has special needs, you need to make sure your tutor has experience working with children with your child's specific disability. Often, experience with one does not translate into being able to help with another special need.

4. Involve your child: At the end of the day, you need to find a tutor that your child will listen to and respect. If you get your child invested during the entire process, it's much more likely that he or she will bond with the tutor and commit to creating positive habits through the guidance of their new tutor. As a role model, tutors really need to click with their students in order to maximize their teaching and coaching.

5. Be patient:Finding the right tutor can take time. Make sure you don't settle for a quick fix that might end up being inexperienced or ineffective. Your child's future is worth the wait.

6. Do a background check:Unfortunately, not everyone who wants to work with children has the best of intentions. If you go through a company, make sure you ask them to provide a copy of a recent (within one year) background check. If you hire one on your own, you are entitled to ask the tutor to submit to a background check. If they balk, make sure you walk away. Your child's safety is paramount.

7. Get your child's teacher involved: In many ways, finding a tutor is like finding a second teacher-- someone to work in tandem with parents and teachers to ensure your child succeeds. If you make your child's teacher aware that you're looking into tutoring and that you would like his or her input, the teacher might be able to shed light on the underlying reasons for your child's issues. This information can prove invaluable for rebuilding foundations and reforming negative habits and attitudes.

8. List your goals: In order to find a tutor that understands where you want to go and what you want for your child, you need to be able to articulate specific goals -- both short-term and long-term. These goals could be something simple, like "I want my child to write his homework in his planner everyday" or they could be more comprehensive, like "I would like my child to improve her science grade from a D to a B." You should list a variety of goals, keeping in mind that it's about more than grades. It's about building solid foundations and good habits.

9. Remember experience counts: Finding a tutor with experience can be a challenge if you don't go through a tutoring company. You need to keep in mind that just because someone gets straight A's in a subject doesn't mean they can teach it. You should look for someone who has the attitude of a learning coach with a holistic approach to tutoring and experience working with children you are struggling. For many smart people, they are easily frustrated when a child doesn't pick things up as quickly as they think they should. Patience and experience are key. One way to find out if your tutor has what it takes it to check references.

10. Monitor progress: It's not over once you schedule your first session. You need to make sure your child is responding to the tutor you've chosen and that the tutor is working toward achieving the goals you've set together. It's not a set-it and forget-it thing. At the same time, you need to give the tutor time to get to know your child and figure out how to equip them with the knowledge and habits they need to succeed. Checking in with your child and the tutor after a month is a good way to measure how it's going.

This could all seem pretty tough to do on your own, so there are companies out there dedicated to finding the "perfect match" for your child. At the end of the day, keep in mind that finding a tutor can be the crucial first step toward success for your child.

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Saturday, April 23, 2016

Does Grammar Matter? - Andreea S. Calude

It can be hard sometimes, when speaking, to remember all of the grammatical rules that guide us when we’re writing. When is it right to say “the dog and me” and when should it be “the dog and I”? Does it even matter? Andreea S. Calude dives into the age-old argument between linguistic prescriptivists and descriptivists — who have two very different opinions on the matter.

Lesson by Andreea S. Calude, animation by Mike Schell.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Our Summer Camp Schedule is Now Available - Register Today!

Summer is just a few months away! Check out our camp schedule and sign up your camper by clicking HERE.

I know you’re thinking, “But it’s only spring!” I’m a mom, too, and I know how fast summer can creep up on all of us. It’s never too early to start planning for summer learning activities. We talk a lot about what our kids are learning in school, but did you know we also know a lot about what happens when they’re not in school during the summer vacation?

Here are some facts:

  • Most students lose about two months of what they learned in math over the summer months.
  • Low-income students lose more than two months in reading achievement.
  • Parents consistently say that summer is the most difficult time to ensure that their children have productive things to do.
  • Our children’s’ need to learn does not end in May when the school doors close. They need to stay active and engaged, which also helps them stay on track academically when they return to school in August.

The Academy to the rescue!
Yes, it’s time to plan ahead and secure a spot for your child in a program that will support growth and learning during the summer months. Don’t worry, you don’t have to tell the kids they are avoiding summer learning-loss. If they are having fun with engaging, well-run pro-grams, trust me, they will be learning.

The Specialty Classes are taught by credentialed teachers or University graduating student-teachers. Small groups and classes keep your child focused and challenged. There will be days when The Academy is transformed into Mars, a rain forest, or an ocean scene.

I look forward to seeing you and your children this summer!

Questions? Give us a call. (707) 474-4710 or email

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Importance of Reading Aloud: Tips for Reading to Children

Learn why reading aloud is so important to young children's learning. One of the most important skills a parent can teach a child is how to communicate -- how to speak, listen and read. This clip includes practical tips for reading at home.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

What Would Happen if you Didn’t Drink Water? - Mia Nacamulli

Water is essentially everywhere in our world, and the average human is composed of between 55 and 60% water. So what role does water play in our bodies, and how much do we actually need to drink to stay healthy? Mia Nacamulli details the health benefits of hydration.

Lesson by Mia Nacamulli, animation by Chris Bishop.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Tutors - How Selecting the Right Tutor Makes a Difference

I am a public school teacher. My wife is a public school teacher. My peers are public school teachers. It seems that there is a common frustration among all of us. So many times in our schools, we see teachers struggle to give the attention each student needs in overcrowded classrooms. The child who is falling behind is getting frustrated because he needs someone, anyone, to help him through this one topic but he can't get the attention he needs in a classroom of thirty-plus students. That one topic of frustration becomes two topics (because the second topic builds off the first) and then two topics becomes three and so until the student is so frustrated, he or she gives up entirely. Then there is the gifted student who finishes their work quickly but sits for a majority of the class waiting for others to catch up. The gifted student falls behind, not on the grade book, but rather towards fulfilling their potential. Then there is the student with the learning disability or the attention disorder; you can imagine how they feel.

So many wonderful teachers out there are doing their best to meet these students needs but it is near impossible nowadays. Classes are held in rooms that were previously closets or in dilapidated trailers and class sizes increase every year. The need for supplemental education to support students has become more important than ever.

Parents usually have a couple places they can turn. They will ask a neighbor who might then refer them to someone down the street they heard was a teacher. Or they will ask the guidance office at the school who will give them a list of twenty tutors or tutoring services. They might ask the teacher as well, but most schools will not allow teachers to tutor students from the same school for compensation and the time the teacher gives after or before school just isn't enough.

The problem the parent runs into is the fact that, even if they find a tutor, they don't know anything about the tutor. They don't have a background on the tutor. They know very little about their qualifications. They don't if the tutor's schedule will fit theirs. And then there is that awkward conversation about price (made even more awkward if it is a friend or neighbor).

Those are the barriers to finding good tutors. A tutoring service can help but it's important to ask these key questions:

  1. How do I know if the tutors in your service are qualified?
  2. Do I have any choice in the tutor I can select?
  3. Will I be able to see profiles or backgrounds and qualifications of ALL your tutors so I can make the choice?
  4. How do I know which tutors service my area?
  5. How do I know which tutors fit my schedule?
  6. How much will this cost? Is the tutoring service upfront with pricing or do they make you call their number and set-up a consultation before you know the price?
  7. If I am not totally satisfied with the tutor, can I switch quickly?

When my wife and I created our tutoring business, we decided to make sure that these answers were upfront on our website. We carefully selected and pre-screened our tutors, including extensive interviews, criminal background checks, and reference checks. We posted their qualifications, philosophies, teaching styles, and schedule availability on the site. We posted pricing information clearly for the parent. We posted our philosophy. We made it so parents could schedule tutors right on the website immediately. It was our goal to make finding an effective tutor affordable and convenient. These are the gaps we found when we saw parents searching in vain for tutors. These are the things you should be looking for when you choose a tutoring service.

Remember, your time is valuable and having the power to choose the educator who will be spending so much time with your child is something you should not take lightly.

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Friday, April 8, 2016

How Do Schools of Fish Swim in Harmony? - Nathan S. Jacobs

How do schools of fish swim in harmony? How do the tiny cells in your brain give rise to the complex thoughts, memories, and consciousness that are you? Oddly enough, those questions have the same general answer. Nathan S. Jacobs explains the concept of emergence, the spontaneous creation of sophisticated behaviors and functions from large groups of simple elements.

Lesson by Nathan S. Jacobs, animation by TED-Ed.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Tips on Inspiring Kids to Do Homework

Parenting expert Samantha Kemp-Jackson shares six must-know tips on getting your child to do homework.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Can You Solve the Locker Riddle? - Lisa Winer

Your rich, eccentric uncle just passed away, and you and your 99 nasty relatives have been invited to the reading of his will. He wanted to leave all of his money to you, but he knew that if he did, your relatives would pester you forever. Can you solve the riddle he left for you and get the inheritance? Lisa Winer shows how.

Lesson by Lisa Winer, animation by Artrake Studio.