This Season’s Best Student Stocking Stuffers

Thinking of a last-minute gift that will make learning fun? Take a look at our recommendations for stuffing your kid’s stocking with gifts that will be both popular and educational.

E-readers such as Amazon’s Kindle or Barnes and Noble’s Nook – All ages
E-readers are perfect for students of all ages. They have internal dictionaries that make learning new vocabulary words a breeze and students can highlight text, bookmark pages, and take notes with the click of a button. Reluctant readers will often find themselves caught up in the novelty of reading on an electronic device while struggling readers will love the large font and narrow margins options.

A subscription to Time for Kids – Grades K to 6
Getting your child involved in the world is fun with this interactive news source. Time Magazine for Kids features articles written not only for kids, but by kids. Both the online and print format are filled with timely, appropriately written news articles that will both inform your child and spark dinner time conversation. Available in four age groups: K-1, 2, 3-4, and 5-6.

Livescribe Pen – Grades 6 to College
If your child wants to be a more efficient note taker, here’s the solution! With the Echo™ smartpen from Livescribe, students can record everything they hear, say and write, while linking their audio recordings to their notes. They can quickly replay audio from their Livescribe paper, a computer, or a mobile device –all with a simple tap on the handwritten notes. It’s never been easier to take notes and stay organized.

A Personalized Journal – All ages
Even if your child isn’t keen on writing, starting a dialogue journal with them, in which you and your student respond to each other and share your thoughts, is a great way for kids to think of writing as a relaxing, pleasant experience and opens the lines of communication between you and your child. Older kids may find a personal journal to be a way to wind down from the demands of the school day.

Perplexors Logic Puzzle Books – Grades 3 and Up
Going on a long car or plane trip this holiday season? Need activities to keep your kids entertained while on holiday break from school? These challenging Perplexors build logic skills and student confidence with a new scenario on each page.

And finally…A Great Private Tutor!
Thinking of getting some help for your child next semester? Whether your child could benefit from reading, writing, or just math tutoring, don’t wait until the New Year to arrange it! Now is the time to contact the Educational Connections office to ensure you will find a tutor who fits your child’s learning style and academic needs.

No matter which gifts you choose to give this year, Educational Connections wishes you and your family a very happy holiday season!

When Homework and Perfectionism Collide

Does your child erase and redo homework over and over again until it’s just right?  Is anything less than 100% not good enough?  Welcome to the world of perfectionism, where unrealistic expectations are daily and unrelenting.  Perfectionists engage in frequent hypercritical self-talk, bringing themselves down and creating a whole lot of stress within the family.  With these children, the goal is to change their mindset.  Begin by using the following techniques:

 

Reward efficiency, not grades

Studies show that the majority of perfectionist children have parents that are demanding and overly critical.  Although this certainly isn’t the case with every child, it’s important for parents to pay attention to how they act and react when it comes to grades.  Let’s say your daughter brings home a 90% on a writing project.”  Instead of saying, “This is good, but you could have had a 100% if you had a stronger thesis statement.” Consider “Way to go!  You worked hard on this project, but didn’t spend too much time revising it.  It turned out just fine!”  Instead, praise your child’s efficiency when she gets her work done in a timely manner without redoing it multiple times.

 

Help to make a homework plan

When it comes to homework, perfectionists sometimes procrastinate because they fear the work they will produce won’t be good enough.  Having a homework plan helps them to feel in control and more confident.  Encourage her to start with an easy task followed by a hard one, and to repeat this sequence (easy, hard, easy, hard). In essence, she’s easing herself into homework by starting with something she likes.  Later, she’s rewarding herself after a tough assignment with an easy one.

 

Switch gears

If you see that your child is spending an inordinate amount of time on one homework assignment, switch gears.  At this point there are three choices.  The first is that she can either quickly finish it up with the mindset that it just has to be good enough.  The second is that she can take a much-needed break away from all homework, and the third is to switch subjects and go back to that assignment later with a fresh frame of mind.

 

Stick with a schedule

Starting homework at the same general time each day helps to reduce procrastination.  It’s perfectly fine to help your child get started if needed.  Take a few minutes to discuss the assignment and watch your child begin before you leave the room.  More important than a start time is an ending time for schoolwork.  Many students will correct and revise their work well into the evening.  Have a family policy such as, “All homework must be completed by 9pm.”  Remind your child that the final product just has to be “good enough.”

 

Empathize, do not criticize

Try to steer clear of comments like, “Stop worrying about that,” or “You don’t always have to be perfect.” Instead, empathize with her insecurities.  “I can understand why you’re worried about reciting your poem.  All of the children will be in front of the class, too.  You’ll be part of a group,” or “I realize that you want to correct your paper, but at this point, your essay has all the qualities the teacher expects according to the directions.”

 

Quell test-taking anxiety

For many, perfectionist characteristics spill over to preparing for exams and test-taking.  Studies show it helps when students write down their worst fears right before the test. Students who do this perform just as well as their non-anxious peers.  But students who do not take the time to jot down their anxieties perform poorly compared to the other two groups.  Taking time to release worries can make a big difference when it comes to test-day performance.

 

Know when you need outside help

For some children, perfectionism is just the tip of the iceberg.  If your child’s symptoms are interfering with homework completion on a regular basis, consider seeking therapy.  A good therapist can tackle the “all-or-nothing” and “worst case scenario” thinking that hampers your child.  Better yet, she will give you the strategies to make sure these perfectionist qualities don’t spiral downward.  Perfectionism can be embedded in anxiety.  It’s important that it is treated so that it does not result in depression or other mental health disorders.

 

Ann K. Dolin, M.Ed., is the founder and president of Educational Connections Tutoring and Test Prep in Fairfax, VA and Bethesda, MD. In her award-winning book, Homework Made Simple: Tips, Tools and Solutions for Stress-Free Homework, Dolin offers proven solutions to help the six key types of students who struggle with homework. Numerous examples and easy-to-implement, fun tips will help make learning less of a chore for the whole family. Learn more at anndolin.ectutoring.com or ectutoring.com.

“Tech Breaks” Can Help Students to Focus on Homework and Finish Faster!

I’ve always been interested in research-based ways to help students complete their homework more efficiently.  As parents, it’s our natural instinct to say things like “Turn that off!”, “Stop texting”, or “Facebook can wait.  Do you have to check your account while doing homework?”.  But in reality, our kids may “need” their technology and perhaps rewarding themselves in a disciplined way may just help them to focus a little bit more.

Author and psychologist Larry Rosen suggests some counter-intuitive solutions for students who are being distracted and overwhelmed by numerous tech gadgets and applications. Among them: a “tech break,” in which students are allowed to spend 15 minutes or so focusing only on technology — checking social-media sites, texting or watching videos on YouTube. Rosen suggests this disciplined approach allows students 15 minutes of tech time for each 30 minutes of focused study.

Here’s a great article on the topic from Hechinger Ed.  Read on!

Psychologist Larry Rosen laments the fact that technology is driving us all to distraction. This past weekend, he spoke at a Hechinger Institute seminar for education reporters, which focused on how digital media are transforming teaching and learning in U.S. schools.

In a forthcoming book, iDisorder, Rosen argues that all our tech gadgets and applications are turning us into basket-cases suffering from versions of obsessive-compulsive disorder and attention-deficit syndrome.

“Kids are thinking all the time, ‘Oh my god, who texted me? What’s on Facebook?’” says Rosen, a professor at California State University-Dominguez Hills. He says the average computer programmer or medical student can only stay focused on a task in front of him- or herself for three minutes.

Rosen has suggestions for fighting back, and some of them are counterintuitive. Instead of resisting the urge to text, check Facebook or watch a YouTube video, Rosen says just do it. That’s right: Cure the tech disorder with a dose of more technology!

Rosen calls it a tech break. But rather than taking a break from technology, you give yourself permission to embrace technology for a particular amount of time, be it one minute or 15. “It works amazingly,” he says.

Here’s why: If your brain keeps thinking about a text message you need to return, it’s better to send that text to get the nagging impulse out of your head. Once you stop thinking about sending that text, then you’ve literally freed up space in your brain to focus on more important things, like solving the global energy crisis or creating world peace. Or, just getting that research paper done.

The trick is to be disciplined and only take tech breaks at predefined intervals. One example would be to work hard for 10 minutes, and then allow yourself one minute to check email. For a child doing homework, Rosen suggests rewarding the child with 15 minutes of tech time for each half-hour of focused study. Rosen advises giving the child an option of spending the 15 minutes immediately or accumulating it for later use. After all, you need more than 15 minutes to get into a good video game.

Rosen’s theory has interesting implications for schools. Would kids be more focused and productive if teachers told students to take their cell phones out of their lockers and check their texts in the middle of every class?

Fortunately, there are other effective ways to reset the brain. Rosen lists a bunch: listening to beautiful music, looking at art and practicing yoga. Or going outside for a hike.

Upcoming Parent Presentations in Your Area!

These workshops, presented by Ann Dolin, are free and open to the public!

Thursday, November 15th 7pm – Cunningham Park Elementary, Vienna, VA
Starting Off on the Right Foot: 10 Powerful Solutions to Ensure a Stress-Free School Year

Wednesday, November 16th 7pm – St. Charles School, Arlington, VA
5 Proven Strategies for Raising an Academically Successful Student

Thursday, November 17th 7pm – Chesterbrook Elementary, McLean, VA
Homework Made Simple: Tips, Tools, and Solutions for Stress-Free Homework

Tuesday, December 13th – 9:30am – Wolftrap Elementary, Vienna, VA
Homework Made Simple: Tips, Tools, and Solutions for Stress-Free Homework

Thursday, December 15th – 7pm – Woodson High School, Fairfax, VA
ADHD Boys vs. Girls: Does Gender Matter? Patricia Quinn, MD — Part of the Parent Link Seminar Series

Take a look at additional workshops or book a presentation at your school!

Why Is Reading So Hard for Some Kids?

Picture two students, side by side, reading a fairytale from a storybook.  One student easily reads with expression and enthusiasm, “Once Upon a Time”.  The other student slowly reads “On up a tim.”  Both students live in the same neighborhood, have educated parents that read to them at night, and were exposed to literature at a young age.  So why can the one read and the other cannot?  Is it a fairytale story to think that reading is a natural process?  The answer is “yes”.

How Prevelant Is the Problem?

Almost 20% of children have a reading problem that impacts their ability to learn to read through traditional teaching methods. Most reading instruction in American classrooms is taught through the whole language approach where students are expected to learn to read naturally through exposure to literature.  While this methodology works with many students, it doesn’t work for all.  Critics of the whole language approach state that students also need phonics-based instruction.

Reid Lyon, the former head of National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, makes a valid point by questioning why there are so many illiterate adults and children if reading were a natural process.  According to a recent article in TIME magazine, there are almost 3 million students in special education classes specifically because they cannot read.

Most have a reading disorder, such as dyslexia.   In many instances, the student demonstrates strong reading comprehension, but there is a specific glitch in sounding words out (decoding). Because reading is a combination of decoding and comprehension, a student’s decoding skills are vital to the reading process. To learn to decode a student needs to be able to understand that individual sounds make up words.  Thus, a reading disability that is not based in comprehension is occurring at the basic letter/sound level.  Students aren’t able to quickly pull apart sounds and blend them together.  And interestingly, because reading and spelling are related, a red flag for dyslexia is poor spelling.

What’s Causing Such Difficulty?

Scientific data points to specific neurobiological differences between normal readers and those with dyslexia.  Brain scans show that those with a reading disorder process information from the frontal lobe, while normally-functioning readers process information from the posterior region, the part of the brain that makes reading automatic.  When this occurs, students compensate by relying heavily on memorizing words because they can’t sound them out fast enough.  While this compensatory strategy helps get kids through a school year, without proper treatment, these children flounder as they encounter new, more challenging text.  As students age, they will continue to struggle to decode, however, this does improve with time.  The most significant residual effect of their untreated reading problem is very slow reading.

What Can Be Done?

Twenty years of research demonstrates that we can remediate almost all reading disabilities.  Assessment of a student’s letter/sound knowledge as early as the kindergarten and first grade is key.

Too often the excuse of a developmental lag is given and that eventually Johnny will “catch up”.  Statistics state that 76% of students with an untreated reading problem never do catch up.  Waiting to seek help is not the answer.  When help is given in 4th grade rather than in kindergarten when weaknesses were first spotted, it takes four times as long to improve the same skills by the same amount.  Although it may take longer to remediate a reading problem in a middle or high school student, we do know it can be done.

One-to-one reading instruction or small group instruction is considered the best approach. Explicit instruction is the most powerful way to improve reading. The focus should be on decoding, fluency, and ultimately, comprehension.

In the 1930s, Dr. Samuel Orton and Anna Gillingham developed an approach to reading, a ‘course of action’ if you will, to provide reading instruction.  Their method is still the gold standard used today.  The Orton-Gillingham approach is multisensory (instruction taps into the visual, auditory and kinesthetic domains) because this approach aids the processing, retention and application of information.

Although scientific evidence proves that reading is not a natural process for many, obstacles can be overcome.  With the right instruction, these students will be able to open up their books and be whisked away to magical lands.

Have a Math Test? 6 Proven Solutions to Study Smarter!

Let’s face it, math is different.  The study skills and processes your child has used in other subjects won’t necessarily serve her well when the time comes to prepare for a big math test.

What is the best way to study for math tests?  Our language provides an important clue.  We don’t say “do the history” or “do the English”, but we do say “do the math.”  Thus, it goes without saying that the first step in doing well in math is for your student complete her assigned homework problems on time before every class.  For the gifted few, this will be enough.  For the vast majority, this is only the beginning.  Here are some key steps to ensuring success on that big test:

  1. Pull It all Together
    Students can’t wait for the last minute.  Well before the big test, they should begin by gathering up all quizzes (and answer sheets or solutions given in class), homework, class notes and other study aids.  These problems will make the foundation for a practice math test.
  2. Find Areas of Weakness
    Next, your child should go through everything that has been graded, including homework and quizzes, and write down all the problems where credit was lost for other than obvious mistakes in calculation.  Questions from the math teacher’s quizzes, tests and study packets or even better yet – old versions of the test to be taken – are the ideal source for these practice tests because teachers so often recycle questions.
  3. Create a Practice Test
    The third step is to create a practice test using the problems just gathered and to work through it, problem by problem.  There’s no doubt that this takes time.  It is easy to forgo preparing a practice test because of the work involved in pulling it together, but it’s the best investment when it comes to studying for math.
    Testing yourself repeatedly before an exam teaches the brain to retrieve and apply knowledge from memory. If you are facing an Algebra test, practicing the problems is far better than simply rereading notes.  The very act of writing a question and solving a problem also helps cement information in the brain.
  4. Use the Internet
    For students who aren’t willing to go the extra mile, consider one of the best websites out there for math.  Khan Academy, has placed 2,600 10-minute videos on math and science subject on its own You Tube channel.  When troubled by a math concept, there’s no better, more engaging place to go on the internet.
  5. Test Day Jitters
    Even when students are fully prepared, anxiety can be a huge burden on test day. An estimated 35 percent of students are so nervous before high-stakes tests that it impairs their performance. Reducing stress on the day of the exam can prevent choking under pressure, says Sian Beilock, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Chicago.  Anxious students should set aside 10 minutes beforehand to write down their worries. She and a fellow researcher tested 106 ninth-graders for anxiety before their first high-pressure exam, then asked half of them to spend 10 minutes writing down their thoughts right before the test. The anxious kids who did the writing exercise performed as well on the test as the students who had been calm all along. But anxious students who didn’t do the writing performed more poorly.
  6. Get Help
    If you find that as a parent, you’re not the best teacher for your child, consider hiring a tutor to teach these study skills.  A tutor comes to the table as a skilled and objective third party, without an emotional history with your child.  One-to-one attention can make the difference between grasping the material and falling further behind.

Just remember that math is a different animal from other subjects, but with just a few adjustments to studying, your child will be much more successful in the long run.

Ann K. Dolin, M.Ed., is the founder and president of Educational Connections Tutoring and Test Prep in Fairfax, VA and Bethesda, MD. In her award-winning book, Homework Made Simple: Tips, Tools and Solutions for Stress-Free Homework, Dolin offers proven solutions to help the six key types of students who struggle with homework. Numerous examples and easy-to-implement, fun tips will help make learning less of a chore for the whole family. Learn more at anndolin.ectutoring.com or ectutoring.com.

By Ann Dolin, M.Ed.

Are We Raising a Generation of “Calculator Kids” Who Can’t Do Math?

Forty years ago an Indiana electronics company brought a product to market that did more to change American K-12 education than almost anything else. The company, Bowmar Instruments, began selling the first handheld pocket calculator for a whopping $240!  By 1976, the cost of the cheapest four-function device had dropped to a few dollars and calculators were available to children in virtually every home.  And as a result, the way children learn and do math in the U.S. was forever changed.

Just the other day I was helping my eighth grade son with his algebra homework.  He was solving a fairly complicated equation and got down to the last step 7x=42.  He whipped out his calculator.  I said, “Will, you know this.  7 times what number is 42?”  He replied, “Uh, I really don’t know.  Why does it matter?  I’ll just use my calculator.” He proceeded to punch the numbers into his T1 84.

My son is a very good student, but his number sense is lacking.  Like many students who have used calculators in class from day one, he does not have an intuitive sense of the relationship between numbers.  Want to know if your child does?   Just ask him or her to figure the tip on the check next time you’re out for dinner.  Kids with number sense can mentally compute 10% and then add half of that to come up with 15% or double it for 20% and they can do it quickly.

There is a time and place for calculators, but their use should be coupled with instruction in critical thinking and number sense.  Sometimes kids will arrive at an incorrect answer to a math problem because they put the wrong numbers into their calculator.  When it spits out a wild answer, they have no idea it makes absolutely no sense.  Far too often, they don’t analyze the answer and think to themselves, “Does this make sense?”  Why?  Because they have complete faith in their all-knowing calculator.  Gadgets only get kids so far.  In the end, they must have number sense.

Recently, message boards and blogs serving high school and college math and science teachers have been brimming with articles about how to use WolframAlpha, a free web-based service that goes far beyond simple searches by providing answers to complicated questions in math and science. Go to wolframalpha.com and type in 3x^2+4=31 and the solutions x=3, x=-3 come back. Type in “the number of molecules in 1.2 pounds of sugar” and the result “9.58 X 1024“ returns.

Wolfram Alpha now is offering apps for the IPhone at the iStore and on the Android market for $1.99.  Nearly 100,000 paid copies have been downloaded on the Android Market alone. I worry that many will use Wolfram to avoid the pain of learning.  “Best $1.99 I’ve ever spent. It helps me endure math class. I owe these people my first born child,” one student recently wrote about the Wolfram app in a user review on the Android Market.

I’m all for it if students are FIRST taught how to solve problems without the crutch of the latest app.  Technology makes math easier, but it shouldn’t replace good old fashioned mental math and number sense.

Ann K. Dolin, M.Ed., is the founder and president of Educational Connections Tutoring and Test Prep in Fairfax, VA and Bethesda, MD. In her award-winning book, Homework Made Simple: Tips, Tools and Solutions for Stress-Free Homework, Dolin offers proven solutions to help the six key types of students who struggle with homework. Numerous examples and easy-to-implement, fun tips will help make learning less of a chore for the whole family. Learn more at anndolin.ectutoring.com or ectutoring.com.

By Ann Dolin, M.Ed.

9 Easy Tips to Help Your Teen Study for a Test!

In classrooms across America, teachers strive to provide engaging lessons, meaningful homework, and assessments, but more often than not, our students aren’t learning how to learn. Kids walk out of their classrooms armed with study guides, notes, and chapters to read, but they don’t know how to put that information into storage for retrieval tomorrow, next week, or three months from now.

For many teens, studying means quickly reading through their textbook or notes. Wrong! Studying isn’t passive; it is a full contact sport. In order to really study, students need to get engaged in the material. This type of studying is very different from merely reading over the material. The following tips will help your child to properly prepare for the next upcoming test.

  1. Set the groundwork
    Helping a younger child study for a test might be a piece of cake, but so often, teens resist their well-meaning parents’ support. When you know a big test is coming up, approach your child early on. Consider asking, “Can you show me how you’re going to study?” Open a dialogue about how your son or daughter will prepare. Remember, the end grade isn’t as important as the preparation process.
  2. Use the study guide properly
    If you are reviewing test material with your child (or if he is doing so independently), encourage him to make connections instead of merely verbatim. For example, if you are asking your child to define terms for a biology test, ask not only the definitions of mitosis and meiosis, but also how they are the same and different. Helping your teen make connections between topics stimulates flexible thinking. This is important because the actual test questions may not be just as they appear on the study guide.
  3. Try out a 3×5 card
    When your child has a study guide or an old quiz from which to study, they should read the question, cover the answer with a 3×5 card, and try to recite the correct response. If they get it right, they check it off and go to the next one. If it’s wrong, they practice a few more times until they get it down.
  4. Utilize mnemonic devices
    Researchers have found that using mnemonic devices can help students improve their memory skills by connecting to-be-learned information to what the learner already knows. One common mnemonic device is HOMES, which is an acronym for the Great Lakes- Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior. This strategy is flexible; it can be used with virtually any type of rote memorization. Once students are shown how to use this technique, they come up with all kinds of catchy acronyms to make retention easier.
  5. Let your teen hold the cards
    If your teen has flashcards that he needs to study, let him hold the cards and quiz you. Studies show that merely allowing the student to hold the cards and take on the role of the teacher increases time on task and retention of information. If your child is a visual learner, encourage him to draw a picture next to the term he is learning. This helps to create a mental image, which triggers the definition. For example, if the vocabulary word is “docile”, his drawing might be of his dog, who is good natured and easy to train.
  6. Make a practice test
    A highly effective way to prepare for an exam involves creating a practice test. This means that the student generates a sample test of questions he thinks might be on the exam. This information can come from old quizzes, a study guide, or notes. Encourage your child to ask the teacher about the test format. Will it be comprised of essay questions, fill-in-the-blank, or multiple-choice? This formation helps with preparation.
  7. Invite a friend over
    For some students, small group learning is far more appealing and productive than going it alone. Positive peer influence has been well documented to improve academic success, and as an added bonus, study groups are fun. Group discussion will help your teen absorb new information that he may otherwise miss just by reading.
  8. Plan ahead
    Practice makes permanent when studying for tests, especially when it’s done in advance. Once a deadline for a test is given by the teacher, your child should record it in his planner along with the smaller study tasks leading up to the final date. Breaking a large task, such as studying, into smaller ones over a period of days increases memory retention and decreases stress.
  9. Troubleshoot test anxiety
    Many students are quick to complain about test anxiety. Although some may be accurate in their self-diagnosis, others are nervous because they haven’t prepared properly. Perhaps they’ve read their notes, skimmed the chapter, and reviewed the study guide, but that is not true preparation. Quizzing oneself until the information is committed to memory is imperative. If an answer is “on the tip of his tongue,” it’s likely that it wasn’t stored into memory effectively and more work is needed.

By Ann Dolin, M.Ed.

10 Easy Tips to Help Your Elementary- Age Child Study for a Test!

Helping your child to study effectively for tests is vitally important in the elementary years. When the groundwork for good habits is set early on, students are more likely to experience success and increased motivation. You can make a difference in your child’s academic performance now and in the future by trying some of the following tips.

Studying for Math

  1. Use a dry erase board

    To practice for an upcoming test, write a few math problems on a small dry erase board. Kids love using dry erase boards and many prefer them over traditional pencil and paper. Try out different color markers, too. Color increases attention, so don’t be afraid of using bold hues.

  2. Play Beat the Clock

    Print out math facts that need to be memorized for an upcoming test from websites such as math-worksheets-generator.com or superkids.com. These sites allow the selection of specific facts such as multiplying with fours or addition of twos only. Practicing one fact pattern at a time leads to quicker mastery. Jot down the time it takes your child to work through the page. During the next practice session, set the timer for that amount of time and say, “I bet you can’t beat the clock!” Keep decreasing the time as your child progresses to automaticity.

Practicing for Spelling Tests

  1. Try Rainbow Writing

    Kids love Rainbow Writing for spelling words. Instead of writing the words over and over to practice, they trace the words with two or three different colored pencils. Using color helps kids to remember their spelling words on test day and this method is far more fun and interesting.

  2. Play the piano

    Often, when children learn with a hands-on approach, they are better able to lodge the information into long-term storage. Instead of asking your child to spell out loud, tell them to play the words on the piano – not a real piano, but to pretend his fingers are the piano keys. For example, one difficult word for kids to spell is “because”. Have your child tap his right pinky on the table and say “b”, then tap his right ring finger, and say “e”, and so on. Encourage him to pause between syllables so that it sounds like “b-e-/ c-a-u-s-e”.

  3. Select silly sentences

    Sometimes, common sight words don’t follow phonetic patterns. The word “friend” is one such example. Teach your child a silly sentence such as “Fri your friend to the end” to teach these tricky words.

Preparing for Science and Social Studies

  1. Utilize acronyms

    Researchers have found that using acronyms can help students improve their memory skills by connecting to-be-learned information to what the learner already knows. One common memory aide is HOMES, which is an acronym for the Great Lakes – Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior. This strategy is flexible; it can be used with virtually any type of rote memorization. Once students are shown how to use this technique, they come up with all kinds of catchy acronyms to make retention easier.

  2. Let your child hold the cards

    If your child has flashcards that he needs to study, let him hold the cards and quiz you. Studies show that merely allowing the student to hold the cards and take on the role of the teacher increases time on task and retention of information.

  3. Draw a picture

    Another easy way for a student to increase memory when using flashcards is to add a picture. By simply drawing a picture next to the to-be-learned term, the student is creating a mental image in his mind’s eye, which triggers the definition. For example, if the vocabulary word is “docile”, his drawing might be of his dog, who is good natured and easy to train.

  4. Try out a 3×5 card

    Encourage the use of a 3×5 card so that your child can quiz himself and review independently. When your child has a study guide or an old quiz from which to study, he should read the question, cover the answer with a 3×5 card, and try to recite the correct response. If he gets it right, he checks it off and goes to the next one. If it’s wrong, he practices a few more times until the information is down pat.

And Most Importantly…

  1. Plan ahead

    Breaking down study time over a few days is far better and a lot less stressful than studying the night before. When your child has an upcoming test, help him break the study time into increments. Have him write these simple tasks in his planner or on your family calendar. For example, if there’s a science test on Friday, he may jot down “practice flashcards” on Wednesday and “review study guide” on Thursday.

By teaching valuable study skills now, your child will be able to reap the benefits of better grades, a deeper understanding of the material, and increased confidence.

By Ann Dolin, M.Ed.