Tag Archives: School

Understanding Introverted Students

In any classroom today about 10 students likely are introverts, and while the trait has gotten a lot more attention lately, experts say educators often aren’t doing enough to help those students succeed and some policies are making school unnecessarily challenging for them.

Marsha Pinto, a 21-year-old advocate for introverts, says she was quiet as a middle school student, sat in the back of the classroom and liked to read rather than socialize, though she worked hard.

“But I had one teacher in sixth grade who insisted I speak up loudly and threatened me with lower grades if I didn’t participate,” she says. “When I was bullied by some other girls, she even claimed that it was my fault for being so quiet.”

Pinto’s story could be repeated by others, though often the problems introverts face are more subtle―when educators reward extroverts for being outspoken leaders, promote social interaction, and make groupwork the norm even though some students thrive when they are working alone. “Middle school was very hard for me,” says Pinto. “For a lot of reasons it is difficult for quiet students, and the classroom structure itself is sometimes one of them.”

About the Quiet Kids

About a third of us are introverts, more than half because of genetics, sometimes from upbringing, and sometimes from “random events that are hard to quantify,” according to John Zewlenski, a psychology professor at Carleton College who has studied introversion. Traumatic events could cause it, or being thrust into a restrained role with family or friends.

Psychologist Carl Jung coined the term in 1920, but experts since have more clearly defined it. They’ve seen its unique brain patterns and, to the relief of introverts, have distinguished it from shyness, a crippling anxiety over social interaction. Linda Silverman, director of the Gifted Development Center in Denver and author of Upside-Down Brilliance, says extroverts get energy primarily from others while introverts can become overloaded or drained by the outside world, and sometimes just don’t need or care about it.

“Parents and teachers aren’t working overtime turning extroverts into introverts,” Silverman says, “but they do try to remake introverts into extroverts. And they don’t need to.”

And we shouldn’t assume they will always struggle, experts say. Research shows introverts more readily regulate impulsive responses and avoid risks, may be able to think more quickly, concretely and creatively and get better grades (more Merit Scholars are introverted). Some research shows they are more attractive to others and have better relationships. They may even live longer.

“Introverts think before they act, digest information thoroughly, stay on task longer, give up less easily, and work more accurately,” says Susan Cain one of the leading introvert experts and advocates. Teachers should know (and can remind their quiet students) that the successful ranks of introverts include Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein and several tech company giants such as Bill Gates and Mark Zukerberg, along with celebrities like Michael Jordan, Christina Aguilera, and even Merryl Streep.

Zelenski’s research shows, however, that while introverts aren’t sad, with more engagement they could refine social skills (they often absorb themselves by observation and reflection) and gather more confidence and happiness, which he’s convinced they experience less than extroverts. Children also change, and over time introverts may become more interested in socializing or even leadership roles and regret not having developed those skills.

“They’ll feel great when they join in, and they’ll only do it out in the world,” says Cain. “But they need to engage on their own terms. So while they shouldn’t be sheltered them from difficult social situations, they should know that we understand and sympathize and want to help.” She and other experts say that introverts may need to be “nudged” by educators, and encouraged to participate and not fear making mistakes.

In the School

Change is often difficult for them, and preparation is key. It might be helpful if introverted students come in before the opening day, and are clear about plans for changes in the schedule or events like a field trips. Classes where rules are enforced about “no putdowns” will be easier for them.

Teachers should understand that introverts are not disinterested, says Silverman, although they have to learn how to advocate for themselves. Ask them if they want strategies for speaking up during class or seeking help later.

“Extroverts think out loud, while introverts mentally rehearse everything before they say it―and wish everyone else would,” says Silverman. “Classrooms don’t operate that way.”

Collaboration is a good skill to learn and will be required later in school and work, says child development expert Jennifer Miller, but by “hanging back to observe social situations” introverted children may in their own way learn the social and emotional skills that educators are now stressing. So, they may understand the importance of collaboration and do it later as they get more mature and figure out their own patterns for it.

Introverts also tend to be more self-aware, which leads to empathy and self-management, and they make responsible decisions because they listen well, are creative thinkers, and reflect and consider consequences, she says.

“When you call on an introvert,” says Silverman, “you always hear a pregnant pause while he or she rehearses the perfect pearl to share with the class.”

In group projects, teachers should perhaps encourage them to participate, but look for other options if possible and not expect them to change dramatically and become very talkative nor should they assess them unfairly if they participate less verbally.

As visual learners they can picture things and may synthesize and learn complex concepts easily through their own problem-solving methods, but struggle with directions, memorization, easy skills, and details, Silverman says. (So, for instance, they may figure out how to learn whole words rather than phonics.)

They should write down ideas before a brainstorming session, take notes during a discussion, and get extra time for responses when possible. Dyads, where they bounce ideas off another student before a discussion openly, might help. (It is best to correct or praise them privately too, Silverman says.)

Elementary school teachers are more likely to be extroverts, and high school teachers are more likely introverts, Silverman says. “Colleges are havens for introverts, and they often excel with all the introverted professors,” she says. “Introverts may appear smarter as they get older.”

Silverman says teachers should envision this scenario to help them understand:

Imagine that a group of teachers has been divided into introverts and extroverts and given a task to do with markers on butcher paper in a set time limit. The extroverts immediately start drawing on the butcher paper while they talk and decide exactly what they want the finished product to look like. We are doers—we process actively. The introverts are very quiet at first, thinking about the task, then they talk about it together and plan how to execute it. No marks are made on the butcher paper until around 15 minutes before the time is up. That’s the difference between action and reflection.

She also is fond of recalling a story a teacher told her after one of her lectures.

“Her middle school class was involved in small group projects and one group really wanted to hear the ideas of a particular student who was creative but introverted. She overheard one of them excitedly tell the boy: ‘We really need your input on this. Think about it and get back to us.’”

Omega Learning® Center is AdvancED accredited nationwide and provides tutoring and test preparation services for grades K-12. To find a learning center near you, visit OmegaLearning.com.

Source: http://www.educationworld.com/quiet-consideration-understanding-introverted-students-and-how-best-engage-them

7 Tips To Prevent Homework Battles

1. Create a homework station.

It doesn’t matter whether there’s a space in your house set aside for homework or a portable homework station. Having a place to keep everything your kid needs for homework can help prevent organization issues and homework battles.

Help your child stock the homework station with paper, sharpened pencils and other supplies needed daily. When your child sits down to work, make sure they have enough light and few distractions. And when done, have them do a quick check to see if anything needs to be replaced for tomorrow.


2. Use checklists.

There’s something very rewarding about being able to cross a task off a checklist. You can help your child learn how good that feels as well as teach them how to keep track of homework. All he or she needs is a small pad of paper on which they can list their assignments for the day. As your child completes each one, they can cross it off the list.


3. Create a homework schedule.

A homework schedule can help your child set a specific time for studying (and schedule in breaks between subjects). Help your kid find a time of day when they are able to concentrate, when you’re available to help and when they are not in a hurry to get somewhere else.

A homework schedule can also help your child keep track of long-term assignments and upcoming tests. Use a large wall calendar to write down due dates and tests. Then your child can work backward to add in study days before tests and break projects down into smaller chunks.


4. Choose and use a homework timer.

Homework timers are a great way to help keep an easily distracted child on track. A timer can also give your kid a better sense of time.

There are many types of timers to choose from—what’s best depends on your child. If he or she is distracted by sounds, a ticking kitchen timer may not be the ideal choice. Instead, try an hourglass timer or one that vibrates.

There are also homework timer apps that you can program for each subject. And don’t forget that your phone probably has a timer built right in, too!


5. Use a color-coding system.

Using colored dot stickers, highlighters, and colored folders and notebooks is a great (and inexpensive) way to keep organized. Ask your child to choose a color for each subject. Have him or her mark assignment due dates and test dates on the calendar with a sticker of the right color.

Before you file homework assignments and study guides in the appropriate notebook or folder, use a highlighter or sticker to mark the page with the right color. That way if the paper falls out, your child will know what class it’s for.


6. Mix it up a little.

For some kids, studying is tough because they need to learn material in different ways. If your child is having a hard time with a writing assignment, help him or her talk it through or act it out first. Use vocabulary words in everyday conversation—even if you have to be silly about it.

For math, use household items to help them figure out problems. Teach fractions with slices of pizza, for example. And help your child learn spelling words by letting your child text them to you. You can even help  master new facts by setting them to music!


7. Check in and check up.

You can’t do your child’s homework for them, but you can make sure they are doing it. Checking in to see if your child needs help or just to let them know you’re around may ease their homework stress. And don’t forget to look over their work at the end of the day, too!

Omega Learning® Center offers Tutoring K-12 with certified teachers for every subject in school. Stop by an Omega Learning® Center near you.  http://omegalearning.com/find-tutors/ 

Source: https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/learning-at-home/homework-study-skills/7-tips-for-improving-your-childs-homework-and-study-skills

January Parent Action Plan

1. Talk to your child.

In terms of school, ask your child how things are going with school and what subjects are their most and least favorite. Ask what they wish would happen so that the rest of the school year is awesome. Find out what he or she thinks are their areas of strength and need. Then share that information with his or her teacher. (More on this in #3.)

Ask about their friends and classmates. Decide if their extra-curricular activities are working out or not. Find out any help is needed with school and friends.

Does your child need you to check in every night? Does your child need to pack his or her backpack each evening before bed? Does your child need to spend less time with a certain friend? What can you, as a parent, do to help?

2.  Get organized.

Help your child organize their backpack and folders. Clean out all of the old so there’s room for the new.

Go through your family folders, emptying out the papers you no longer need. If you have a central “command station” in your house (usually your kitchen, mud room, or office area), clean it out.

Replenish your child’s school supplies, tend to broken binders, run the lunchbox through the washer. Make sure that everyone — and every thing — is geared up to begin the New Year fresh and ready to learn.

3.  Send an email to your child’s teacher.

Make it short and sweet and simply ask if there’s a time you can chat about your child’s progress. Perhaps it’s over the phone, or maybe it’s in person. Maybe email is best.

Share with the teacher what your child told you about his or her needs, and see what you all can do to make it happen. You are a team when it comes to your child’s education; you must all work together to ensure your child’s school success. Make sure the teacher knows that you’re here to help!

Before we know it, we’ll be wrapping up the school year, so don’t let January pass by without adding these three important topics to your to-do list!

Omega Learning® Center offers Tutoring K-12 with certified teachers for every subject in school. Stop by an Omega Learning® Center near you.  http://omegalearning.com/find-tutors/ 

Source: http://www.scholastic.com/parents/blogs/scholastic-parents-raise-reader/3-things-all-parents-should-do-their-kids-january

Staying Motivated in High School

To succeed in high school and college, you have to do your best at all times. But sometimes it’s hard to stay motivated, even when you really care about the work you’re doing. Here are five ways to stay on the right track.

1. Focus on High-Impact Activities

The key to success in school is staying focused on your coursework. Make a list to get an overall picture of your workload before you start to tackle any of it. Then, make a plan. Although it’s tempting to do the simplest assignments first, those that take more time and effort to accomplish are probably the ones that you’ll learn the most from.

To determine what your priorities are, rank your assignments in the order of their importance. Then rearrange your time and devote more energy toward those that have the greatest impact on your course work and grades. For example, even though all homework assignments are important, studying for a midterm exam takes priority over writing a paragraph for English class. As you complete each task, think of it as another step on your way to college success.

You can handle any project in small chunks.

2. Create New Challenges

Changing your approach can help you stay interested in what you’re doing. If you’ve been given an assignment similar to one you’ve done in the past, think about it in a different way. If you wrote an essay for a creative writing assignment last year, try a poem this time. For book reports, pick a history book instead of another biography.

3. Set Attainable Goals

If you’re having trouble writing a 25-page paper for class because it seems like such a big job, don’t focus on that final number. Break the paper down and consider each section of your paper individually. You can handle any project in small chunks.

4. Find a Social Support Network

Create a group of people around you who want to help you succeed. Mentors can be teachers or family friends who can give you guidance and help you develop new skills. Counselors can help you with planning your courses and starting to explore colleges. You can also reach out to friends and peers who can motivate you by listening and sharing ideas.

5. Acknowledge Your Accomplishments

Give yourself a quick reward when you complete an assignment or task. Take a walk, send an email, get a snack — whatever works for you. Then move on to the next project.

Omega Learning® Center offers Tutoring K-12 with certified teachers for every subject in school.

Click here to find an Omega Learning® Center near you.


5 Ways to Reduce Test Anxiety

The average student feels at least some level of anxiety before an important exam. But for some individuals, that stress can be severe.

As schools administer an increasing number of standardized and high-stakes college admissions tests, it is important to learn how to combat that anxiety. The following five strategies can help you overcome exam-related stress.

1. Breathe: Close your eyes and take three deep breaths.

Pause a moment after inhaling, long enough to mark the change from in to out. Then exhale evenly and fully before beginning again.

Breathing may sound too easy to be useful, but deliberately expanding your chest to take a deep breath relaxes your muscles and encourages them to work normally again. As a bonus, the increased flow of oxygen helps energize your brain. Best of all, this technique takes only a moment, so use it just before your test begins or during a particularly difficult section.


2. Set aside time for Yourself: You may feel a tremendous pressure to dedicate every waking moment to studying, but it is still important to allot part of your schedule to resting and reconnecting with the people you love.

Go on a walk to enjoy the fresh air, eat dinner with your family, play with your pets or brew a cup of tea.

This is not permission to procrastinate. Research show that your brain requires time to integrate knowledge. If you never slow the flow of information, your mind becomes saturated at a faster rate than you can store new data.

Downtime is a prescription for becoming more focused and capable, when used in moderation. Set a time if you must, but do not neglect your joy, especially while preparing for an important exam.


3. Exercise: Multiple studies have proved that physical exercise is a remarkably effective antidote to stress.

Like the breathing exercises outline above, exercise prompts you to focus on your body rather than your worries.

Many students carry their stress in the bodies, and exercise moves your muscles, increases blood flow and works out a good percentage of body knots. When you return to studying, your focus will be much improved.

The most useful side effect of increased blood flow is the increased circulation that extends well beyond the end of your exercise session. Blood carries oxygen, and your brain must have oxygen to work properly while you review. Nothing will decrease your test stress faster than realizing that you are learning and making progress.


4. Sleep: There is a persistent and damaging myth that pulling an all-nighter indicates your seriousness when preparing for an exam.

In truth studying all evening is the worst possible response to anxiety. Not only is it nearly impossible to remember material read at 3 a.m., but a lack of sleep clouds your mind the next day and perhaps into the week beyond.

Worse, fatigue damages your resilience. Stress is hard on your body. Breathing exercises, downtime and exercise can alleviate the effects of anxiety, but none of them will  be as effective as sleep.

Sleep is how short-term memories formed while studying become long-term memories that can be recalled during test-taking.


5. Take control of your preparation: Too often, academic stress comes from feeling a lack of control over a situation.

While other people will be writing the test questions and grading your answers, you have the power to prepare. Creating a schedule with concrete goals will give you a sense of progression as you complete required tasks before the big day.

For example, if a student is struggling with preparation for the verbal section of an exam, give them a goal of memorizing a list of 500 vocabulary words over the course of two months. It sounds like an intimidating and ambitious goal, but when broken down into pieces, the student realized that 10 words per day was a very achievable task.

At times, stress is unavoidable, especially when preparing for major exams. A little stress is a strong motivator, but a lot of stress is harmful and hurts your performance. Use the techniques outline above to keep your balance.

Omega Learning® Center also offers remediation and test prep. Our tutors help your student efficiently study and prepare for tests using study skills including validated test-taking strategies, improving listening skills, note-taking skills, and time management.

Click here to find an Omega Learning® Center near you.


Retake the ACT, SAT or Change Exams

Sometimes, despite hard work, your SAT* or ACT* score is disappointing. Don’t lose hope, though; if you took the standardized test early in the college application process, you may have time to retake it. But should you retake the same one, or consider changing course and registering for the other college entrance exam instead? Weigh these considerations before you decide.

1. Avoid unnecessary testing: Determining whether an SAT* or ACT* score is sufficient is an art unto itself. If you did well – or well enough – on the SAT* or ACT*, do not worry about completing the other exam too.

  • A high score on both tests offers you no benefit over an equally high mark on just one exam. Your time is limited, and you would do better to focus on other elements of the college admissions process.

2. Consider the causes of your poor showing: If your score was disappointing, consider why. Did you struggle with the exam content and format, or did circumstantial elements complicate matters?

  • Many factors can affect your testing performance, including anxiety, fatigue and illness. With illness, chances are slim that you would face the same challenge twice.
  • Anxiety and fatigue are states that you can affect to some extent. Extra preparation time before your next test date can give you a chance to address these issues constructively.
  • But should you change exams? If your poor performance was primarily due to circumstances or a lack of preparation, you should retake the same test. You will have less preparation to do, since you are already familiar with the format. You will also have a ready-made guide to which sections you should concentrate on studying.

3. Compare formats: In some cases, the SAT* or ACT* format may have actually worked against you. With the redesign of the SAT*, there is less separation between the two major college entrance exams, but there are still some differences.

  • The SAT* has no dedicated science section – though science is included elsewhere. The SAT* also has a slightly different format for its math portion, and it allows students more time per item.
  • For the ACT*, if you did very poorly on the science section, for example, you may benefit from registering for the SAT* instead. Conversely, you may have a strong science background that could help you score well if you switched to the ACT*.
  • Before deciding, take at least one full-length practice exam for the new exam you are considering taking. Do not just compare your results to a simulated national average. The practice tests cannot exactly match the curves used in the real versions, so look for whether the alternate exam format was noticeably better for you.
  • If you take the ACT* practice test, did you benefit from the faster pace? Some students produce their best results when they cannot overthink answers. Or, did the slower pace of the SAT* reduce your anxiety?

4. Weigh your time constraints: Learning a new exam format and a fresh set of strategies can be time-consuming. Do you have several months available to focus on an entirely unfamiliar test? Despite the similar content of the two exams, the different pace necessitates distinct answer-optimization strategies.

  • If you have a single month before your last possible test date, concentrate on improving one or two key areas from your first exam. A month is sufficient to drill into a topic and see results.
  • If you have two to three months available, however, you have more options. How much time can you devote to test prep over that span? If significant time and you have identified structural advantages to switching, then do so.
  • Changing exams may pay large dividends, but it is hardly a surefire method for improving your score. Consider the causes of your poor performance, the differences between your test options and your available time before taking your next step.

Omega Learning® Center offers a SAT*/ACT* Evaluation Test in a proctored, simulated environment. An Omega certified teacher will review your SAT* and ACT* test results and build your test prep program. For more information and to reserve your seat, stop by an Omega Learning® Center near you.  http://omegalearning.com/find-tutors/ 

**SAT is a registered trademark of the College Board, which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse, this service. ACT is a registered trademark of ACT Inc.


Tips That Take the Chaos Out of After School Activities

August 18 Tuesday Back-to-school means more than just backpacks, school buses, and homework. It also means the beginning of after-school activities. Between soccer practice, piano lessons, art classes, and club meetings, after-school schedules may have parents’ heads spinning. With a full after-school calendar, parents can find themselves feeling like time-crunched chauffeurs driving kids from one event to the next.

When it comes to after-school activities, a little preparation can go a long way. With these simple tips, after-school will be much less stressful and more fun for both parents and child.

* Carpool. Other parents are going in your direction. Simplify things by taking turns bringing the kids to practice. It will give you and the other parents a few nights off and form friendships between the participating families, just make sure the children know who is picking them up in advance.

* Keep a detailed calendar. Write down every practice, game, and meeting. Include start and finish times plus the location. Plan your routine in advance and keep the calendar with you. Store important phone numbers on the calendar as well such as the coach, babysitter, other carpool parents, and the doctor.

* Have easy snacks on hand. After a long day at school, children will need an afternoon snack to keep up their energy for their after-school activities. Whether it’s a simple snack for one child or for the whole team, sandwiches are convenient and portable for wherever your schedule takes you.

* Label everything. Write your child’s name in permanent marker on everything including shoes, bags, and uniforms. This will help to save you time sifting through soccer balls and water bottles to make sure you bring home the right one.

*Don’t over-schedule. Make sure your child isn’t doing too much. Younger children can’t handle as many activities as older children. Talk with your child and see how they feel.

Omega Learning® Center offers Tutoring K-12 with certified teachers for every subject in school. Find a center near you! http://OmegaLearning.com

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Common Core Standards and the New School Year

Common Core Standards and the New School Year

States affected by the Common Core Standards

States affected by the Common Core Standards

The Common Core Effect

  • Unifying curriculum across the nation.
  • Changing the way teachers teach.
  • Changing the way students learn.
  • Changing the way students are tested.

Classroom testing will become increasingly more important academic areas will be covered with greater depth curriculum and testing will encourage real world application less multiple choice tests. More answers requested in written form.

What is the Common Core Standards Initiative?

The CCSSI is a state-led effort designed to improve educational outcomes for students by developing a set of consistent, clear K-12 academic standards in English language arts and mathematics. National PTA and Harvard Research studies have found that when parents are actively engaged in their children’s education, student achievement outcomes improve. Parents need to know how the new curriculum changes will affect their children for years.

“American students are graduating unprepared…”

According to the National PTA, “American students are graduating unprepared for college and careers.” Less than a quarter of high school graduates can pass their classes in the first year of college. The National PTA adds, “Past standards have been so long and confusing that they do not function as clear guides for instruction.” To address these issues, states are transitioning to a standardized “Common Core Curriculum” across the nation.


What are the challenges?

A nationwide transition to a common core curriculum offers many advantages, but the interpretation of these initiative objectives by states and even school systems may vary and prove challenging for families. For example, states with higher learning standards will have to lower standards during the transition period and states with lower standards will need additional resources to catch up. Curriculum will become more rigorous within increasing classroom sizes, leaving students to rely on an increased amount of study skills to achieve a desired course grade and GPA.

Tutors for math and reading tutoring for grades K-12.

Omega Learning Center Can Help.

How can Omega Learning help your student?

Our children must succeed through the transition years. Omega offers a comprehensive solution to the common core challenges. Our remediation curriculum is common core aligned, which means our tutors can help your child build critical thinking skills, rather than relying on simple memorization. Our comprehensive math and reading programs include the following key objectives: Remediation, Homework Help, Study Skills, Test Prep, and Enrichment. Our certified teachers communicate daily with parents and teachers at school to help your student achieve success in the classroom.


Omega Learning Centers open in 5 states: Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Florida, and Virginia

To help your child succeed through the changes, Omega Learning Center has developed Common Core-Aligned Curriculum. Omega Learning Center is the first national tutoring franchise system to invest in proprietary curriculum that is aligned with the new Common Core Curriculum Standards adopted by all public school systems in 45 states. Omega’s curriculum supplements to your child’s school curriculum and is used to solidify the basics of reading and math in the manner by which public schools are teaching and testing your child. Omega’s remediation curriculum will not only help your child succeed in school this year, but it will enable them to thrive in future academic years.

Common Core Standards and Georgia

Georgia has joined 44 other states, the District of Columbia (D.C.), and 2 territories, along with the Department of Defense Education Activity, in formally adopting a set of core standards for kindergarten through high school in English language arts, mathematics, and grades 6-12 literacy in science, history/social studies, and technical subjects. The Common Core Georgia Performance Standards (CCGPS) provide a consistent framework to prepare students for success in college and/or the 21st century workplace. These standards represent a common sense next step from the Georgia Performance Standards (GPS).

Call Omega Learning Center today to find a center near you and ask about our new “Common Core Aligned Programs” and introductory specials! 770-422-3510.

Omega Learning Franchise opportunities available

Omega Learning Franchise opportunities available

For franchise opportunities, call Omega Learning Center’s national Support Center at 770-422-3510.

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What You Need to Know About Your Child’s Start at Kindergarten

Welcome to one of your child’s biggest adventures ever: starting school.

Prekindergarten and kindergarten provide a safe, happy place for your child to grow, learn and discover. It’s a place where your child can feel confident and secure while he or she constantly explores. Your child will probably have many questions about school. So will you?

What Will My Child Learn?

These are the years when your child learns the foundational skills he or she will need to succeed. When you meet with your child’s kindergarten teacher, he or she may talk about the seven “Domains of Learning.” What the teacher means is the areas, or “domains,” in which your child learns. Each of these seven areas has its own important skills. The teacher will pay attention to how your child performs in class in each of these areas. Every child is different. Not all children learn things at the same ages. The kindergarten teacher will evaluate your child in the first few weeks of school, and talk with you in your scheduled parent/teacher conference about your child’s skills and abilities in the Domains of Learning. Here are some things to think about now as you prepare your child for school:

The Seven Domains are:

  1. Social and Emotional Development: Does your child get along with others? Follow rules? Start an activity, work on it, and finish it?
  2. Physical Development: Does your child run, jump, climb, play ball? Button a shirt? Zip a jacket? Use scissors? Trace? Draw? Use good health and safety skills?
  3. Language and Literacy: Does your child alk and listen to adults and to other children? Speak clearly? Understand stories? Love books? Know some letters and numbers?
  4. Mathematical Thinking: Does your child sort things by color and shape? Can he or she count?
  5. Scientific Thinking: Does your child explore? Look, listen, touch, smell and taste to get information? Talk about how things are alike or different?
  6. Social Studies: Does your child talk about himself or herself, the family and the community? Talk about how people are similar and different?
  7. The Arts: Does your child dance? Draw? Paint? Sing? Make music? Play make-believe?

Your child’s teacher will talk with you about your child’s strengths and weaknesses, and work with you to support your child’s learning in each of these areas.

Your Prekindergartener

Four-year-olds tend to be busy and active. They like to test limits on their behavior. Children at this age need help in understanding the difference between right and wrong, and in cooperating and making friends with others. Some things your child should know and be able do before coming to prekindergarten include:

  • Choosing and following routines, such as hearing a story before bedtime
  • Beginning to recognize his or her first name in print
  • Knowing how to ask an adult for help
  • Recognizing a favorite book by its cover
  • Being curious about letters, words, numbers, and counting
  • Repeating parts of rhymes or some words from songs
  • Following basic two- or three-step directions, such as, “Please get your coat, put it on, and stand by the door.”
  • Listening to a story when read aloud
  • Handling books carefully
  • Knowing and following basic rules, such as putting away toys

Your Kindergartener

Five-year-olds tend to be calmer and more independent than four year-olds. But they still need guidance and routines. They may recognize a few letters and words, and pretend to read and write. They love to listen to stories, especially those with a lot of action and repetition. Skills your child will need in order to do well in kindergarten include:

  • Getting along with and respecting others, making friends, and having confidence
  • Being physically strong and coordinated
  • Communicating with adults and other children
  • Noticing the connection between written letters and the sounds they make (for example, how the letter “m” makes the “mmmm” sound)
  • Showing an interest in stories and reading
  • Seeing the connection between a number and the quantity it represents
  • Recognizing color patterns and types of shapes (such as a square)
  • Being able to place items in a certain order (such as largest to smallest)
  • Being aware of the roles of people in his or her family and community, as well as animal and plant life
  • Feeling comfortable expressing himself or herself through painting, drawing, clay, etc.

What Will School Be Like?

Your child’s classroom may look a lot different than the kindergarten that you remember. Instead of desks in a row, there may be special learning centers around the room for activities in art, reading, math and other areas. Activities often differ from teacher to teacher and school to school, but they are always built around the Domains of Learning, with prekindergarten focusing more on language and literacy. Every day, your child will develop his or her own skills while making friends and interacting with others. Your child’s teacher is a trained professional who knows how young children learn, and who also understands that no two children are alike. Think of the teacher as your partner in helping your child to learn. In school the teacher will build on what you are teaching your child at home, and at home you will build on what your child learns at school. Start the habit of staying in touch with the teacher about your child’s progress and challenges. Communication between you and your child’s teacher will be perhaps the most important part of your child’s education!

What Does “No Child Left Behind” Mean for My Child?

The No Child Left Behind Act is a federal law, passed in 2001, designed to improve student achievement. No Child Left Behind requires public schools to make sure that all students reach certain levels of learning at each grade level. No Child Left Behind also has requirements for what students must know before they graduate. To make certain that students meet these federal requirements, schools give statewide tests at selected grade levels in reading/language and math. It is important that your child get a strong start in school right from the beginning, so that he or she can meet these requirements. If your child’s school does not meet the requirements of No Child Left Behind or make adequately yearly progress, your child may be eligible to enroll in another school or could receive free tutoring. Charter schools, magnet schools, and transfers are some of the ways to choose a public school for your child. For more information on school choice, visit: www.ed.gov/parents/schools/choice.

How Will My Child Get To School?

To make the most of school and help your child to learn, he or she should attend school every day and be on time. Starting school may mean that your child will ride a school bus. Or you may need to walk with or drop your child off at school each day.

Riding the School Bus

Check with your local school to find out if your child is eligible for school bus transportation. If your child will be riding the school bus, shortly before school starts you will receive details from the school system about the bus route, time, and stop location. You are responsible for getting your child to and from the bus stop. You will need to have your child at the bus stop at least 10 minutes before the bus is due, because the exact pickup time may vary depending on traffic and weather. An adult should meet your pre-kindergartener or kindergartener at the bus stop at the end of the day. Be sure your child knows who to look for when getting off the bus. You will also receive information on school bus safety. While your child’s teacher will review this information with your child, be sure to discuss riding the bus safely with your child and be sure he or she understand the rules.

Walking and Drop-Offs

A responsible adult or older sibling should walk your prekindergartener or kindergartener to and from school every day. As you walk to school, show him or her the best route, keeping in mind traffic, streets to cross, and other safety concerns. Impress on your child the need to go directly to school and directly home after school. Talk with your child about being safe on the street and not talking to or obeying strangers. If you drive your child to school, be sure to drop your child off on time, prior to the start of school.

What About School Closings?

Sometimes bad weather or other emergencies make it necessary to close schools, to delay the opening of schools, or to send students home early. School personnel will work with the weather authorities, local officials, and the police to look at the weather and road conditions and decide if school should be canceled or open late. School closings and delays are for the safety of students. Television and radio stations will carry messages about school closures and delays, beginning early in the morning. When schools are closed for the day or close early, community and after-school activities are canceled. Please help us to keep things running smoothly by not calling your child’s school to ask about closures. In case of other emergencies, it is important that the school have an emergency phone number where you can be contacted, and the name and phone number of another adult (with his or her permission) who can care for your child if you cannot be reached. Please make sure that the school has this information, and let the school know if the phone numbers change.

How Do I Find Before- and After-School Care?

Choosing child care is a personal decision. Try to look for child care programs that offer activities created especially for prekindergarteners and kindergarteners, that invite parents to be involved, and that will work closely with your child’s school.

Source: http://www.education.com/reference/article/Ref_What_You_Need_Your/

Test Problems: Seven Reasons Why Standardized Tests Are Not Working

By David Miller Sadker, PhD |Karen R. Zittleman, PhD


In a New York City middle school, the principal asked teachers to spend fifteen minutes a day with students practicing how to answer multiple-choice math questions in preparation for the state-mandated test. One teacher protested, explaining she taught Italian and English, not math. But the principal insisted, and she followed his directive. As you might suspect, the plan failed, and in the end, fewer than one in four New York City middle schoolers passed the exam. While the importance of the test dominated the formal curriculum, the lessons learned through the hidden curriculum were no less powerful. Students learned that test scores mattered more than English or Italian, and that teachers did not make the key instructional decisions. In fact once the test was over, one-third of the students in her class stopped attending school, skipping the last five weeks of the school year.

Inner-city schools aren’t the only ones experiencing testing woes; rural communities and wealthy suburbs have their own complaints. In Scarsdale. New York, an upscale, college-oriented community, parents organized a boycott of the eighth-grade standardized tests. Of 290 eighth-graders, only 95 showed up for the exam. In Miami protests erupted when over 12,000 Florida seniors were denied their high school diploma, and in Massachusetts, local school boards defied the state and issued their own diplomas to students they believed were being unfairly denied their high school graduation because of the state-mandated test. Teachers in California and Chicago refused to give tests and faced disciplinary action. Why are teachers, students, and parents protesting? What’s wrong with measuring academic progress through standardized tests? Here are some reasons why high-stake tests are problematic:


1. At-Risk Students Placed at Greater Risk. Using the same tests for all students, those in well-funded posh schools along with students trying to learn in under-funded, ill-equipped schools is grossly unfair, and the outcome is quite predictable. Since students do not receive equal educations, holding identical expectations for all students places the poorer ones at a disadvantage. State data confirm that African Americans and Hispanics, females, poor students and those with disabilities are disproportionately failing “high-stakes” standardized tests. In Louisiana, parents requested that the Office for Civil Rights investigate why nearly half the students in school districts with the greatest numbers of poor and minority children had failed Louisiana’s test, even after taking it for a second time. In Georgia, two out of every three low-income students failed the math, English, and reading sections of the state’s competency tests. No students from well-to-do counties failed any of the tests and more than half exceeded standards. Even moderate income differences could result in major test score differences. In Ohio, almost half of the students from families with incomes below $20,000 failed the state exams, while almost 80 percent of students from families earning more than $30,000 passed those same exams.

A third kind of standard called an opportunity-to-learn standard, was supposed to remedy these social and economic challenges. Opportunity-to-learn standards were to ensure a level playing field by providing all students with appropriate educational resources, competent teachers and modern technology. Differences in student learning styles were to he accommodated and additional time provided for students to relearn material if they failed the test. Teachers were to be given quality in-service training. Yet half the states did not earmark money to remedy dramatic educational differences between school districts, and real barriers to achievementracism, poverty, sexism, low teacher salaries, language differences, inadequate facilitieswere lost in the sea of testing. Although the rhetoric of the standards movement is that a rising tide raises all ships, in fact, without the adequate resources, some ships do not rise. In the current standards and testing movement, opportunity-to-learn is the forgotten standard.


2. Lower Graduation Rates. Grade-by-grade testing and graduation tests actually increase school dropouts. A Harvard University study found that students in the bottom 10 percent of achievement were 33 percent more likely to drop out of school in states with graduation tests. The National Research Council found that low-performing elementary and secondary school students who are held back do less well academically, are much worse off socially, and are far likelier to drop out than equally weak students who are promoted. Retention in grade is the single strongest predictor of which students will drop outstronger even than parental income or mother’s education level.

Education Secretary Paige was given credit for dramatic improvement of test scores in Houston, where he was superintendent. Houston was the center-piece of the “Texas Miracle” and the foundation for No Child Left Behind. But by 2003, it became clear that underreported dropouts contributed to test score gains. Houston reported a dropout rate of just over 1 percent a year, but that statistic was put in doubt by later studies that found the dropout rate was closer to 40 percent. When poor students, Latinos, African Americans, and Native Americans fail to meet graduation testing requirements, they are retained in grade and then likely to drop out. When their low scores disappear, the school’s average test score improves, giving a picture of success when the real picture is failure


3. Higher Test Scores Do Not Mean More Learning. Evidence is mounting that for a growing number of schools, teaching is being redefined as test preparation. Seventy-nine percent of teachers surveyed by Education Week said they spent “a great deal” or “somewhat” of their time instructing students in test-taking skills, and 53 percent said they used state practice tests a great deal or somewhat. In Texas, James V. Hoffman and his colleagues asked reading teachers and supervisors to rate how often they engaged in test preparation. The study used a scale of 1 to 4, in which 1 stood for never, 2 for sometimes, 3 for often, and 4 for always. Most of those surveyed said that teachers engaged in the following activities “often” or “always”:


Teaching test-taking skills3.5

Having students practice with tests from prior years3.4

Using commercial test preparation materials3.4

Giving general tips on how to take tests3.4

Demonstrating how to mark an answer sheet correctly3.2


In one school, for example, students were taught to cheer “Three in a row? No, No, No!” The cheer was a reminder that if students answered “c” three times in a row, probably at least one of those answers is wrong since the test maker is unlikely to construct three questions in a row with the same answer letter.

Although this kind of test preparation may boost scores, it does not necessarily produce real gains in understanding that show up on other tests or performance measures or that students can apply in a nontesting situation. Consider these findings:

A study of eighteen states with high-stakes testing compared trends in state test scores with long-term trends on other standardized tests. When state tests were given, other test scores often dropped. In more than half of these states, performance went down on the ACT, SAT, and the math test of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). The study concluded that higher state test scores were most likely due to direct test preparation rather than increased student learning, and to differences in how many students were excluded from testing based on disabilities or limited English proficiency.

Three-quarters of fourth-grade teachers surveyed by RAND in Washington State, and the majority of principals, believed that better test preparation (rather than increased student knowledge) was responsible for most of the score gains.

In Kentucky’s state assessment, scores went up on test items that were reused, then dropped when new items were introduced. This discrepancy between new and reused items was larger in schools that had greater over-all test score gains, a relationship that suggests students were being coached on reused items.


4. Standardized Testing Shrinks the Curriculum. Educator Alfie Kohn advises parents to ask an unusual question when a school’s test scores increase: “What did you have to sacrifice about my child’s education to raise those scores?” As schools struggle to avoid the “underperforming” label, entire subject areassuch as music, art, social studies, and foreign languagesare de-emphasized. What is not tested does not count, and 85 percent of teachers believe that their school gives less attention to subjects that are not on the state test. One teacher had this to say about how the timing of state tests drives teaching: “At our school, third- and fourth-grade teachers are told not to teach social studies and science until March.” As “real learning” takes a backseat to “test learning,” challenging curriculum is replaced by multiple choice materials, individualized student learning projects disappear, and in-depth exploration of subjects along with extracurricular activities are squeezed out of the curriculum.


5. When Tests Fail. Tests themselves are often flawed, and high-stakes errors be-come high-stakes disasters. When Martin Swaden’s daughter failed the state math test by a single answer, Swaden requested to see the exam so that he could help his daughter correct her errors and pass the test next time around. It took a threatened lawsuit before he was able to meet with a state official to ex-amine the answers. Together they made an amazing discovery: six of the sixty-eight answers were keyed incorrectly, not only for his daughter, but for all the students in Minnesota. Jobs had been lost, summers ruined, the joy of graduation turned to humiliation for those students who were misidentified as having failed. Suits followed and $7 million in damages were eventually paid, but the testing company argued that it was not liable for “emotional damages.”

Unfortunately, such stories continue to mount as the crush of millions of new tests overwhelms the handful of testing companies. In Massachusetts, a senior spotted an alternative answer to a math question, and the scores of 449 students were suddenly propelled over the passing mark. A Massachusetts teacher spotted a question with two correct answers, and when the scores were adjusted, 666 more students passed. A flawed answer key incorrectly lowered multiple-choice scores for 12,000 Arizona students, erred in adding up scores of essay tests for students in Michigan and forced the re-scoring of 204,000 essay tests in Washington. Another error resulted in nearly 9,000 students in New York City being mistakenly assigned to summer school, and $2 million in achievement awards being denied to deserving students in Kentucky. By 2003, the National Board on Educational Testing and Public Policy reported that fifty high-profile testing mistakes had occurred in twenty states from 1999 through 2002.

Test materials also have been delivered late, or with missing pages, or errors have been found in scoring. Raters complained that they are given inadequate training and little time to grade essays, and at $9 an hour, many doubt the accuracy of their ratings. Many question the wisdom of rewarding and punishing students, teachers, and schools based on the flawed history of the testing industry.


6. Teacher Stress. While teachers support high standards, they object to learning being measured by a single test. Not surprisingly, in a national study, nearly seven in ten teachers reported feeling test-stress, and two out of three believed that preparing for the test took time from teaching important but non-tested topics.’ Fourth-grade veteran teachers were requesting transfers, saying that they could not stand the pressure of administering the high-stakes elementary exams, and teachers recognized for excellence were leaving public schools, feeling their talents were better utilized in private schools where test preparation did not rule the curriculum. When eighty Arizona teachers and teacher educators were asked to visually depict the impact of standardized tests, their drawings indicated test-driven classrooms where boredom, fear, and isolation dominate. Teachers feel that they are shortchanging schoolchildren from a love for learning. Figure 10.4 presents one of those drawings. (For others, visit Mr. Tirupalavanam Ganesh’s Web site at ganesh.ed.asu.edu/aims.)


7. What’s Worth Knowing? The fact that history, drama, the arts and a host of subjects are given less attention in the current testing movement raises intriguing curricular questions: What is really important to teach’? What is worth knowing? While it may sound pretty obvious, thinking beyond the obvious is often a good idea. Much of what is taught in schools is tradition and conventional wisdom, curricular inertia rather than careful thought. To see how society’s notion of what is important can change, try your hand at the following test questions that were used to make certain that eighth graders in Kansas knew “important information.” We have shortened the exam, but all these questions are from the original. (Flint: Brush up on your orthography.) See if you would qualify to graduate from elementary school in 1895.


Source: http://www.education.com/reference/article/Ref_Test_Problems_Seven/