Take Control Of Homework

Although very few students love homework, it does serve a purpose. Homework helps you:

  • Reinforce what you’ve learned during the day.
  • Build study habits that are essential in college.
  • Prepare for your classes.
  • Get a sense of progress.

Here are some tips to help you deal with homework more efficiently and effectively.


Set the Mood

Create a good study area with everything you need (for example, a calculator). If you don’t have a quiet place at home, try your school or local library.


Know Where to Begin

Make a list of everything you need to do, and note all deadlines. Do the more difficult assignments first, so you don’t have to face them at the end.


Study at the Same Time Every Day

Even if you don’t have homework every night, use the time to review notes. If sitting down to work is part of your normal routine, you’ll approach it with less dread. Also, you’ll become a pro at using time productively.


Keep Things in Perspective

Know how much weight each assignment or test carries, and use your time accordingly.


Get More Involved

Keep your mind from wandering by taking notes, underlining sections, discussing topics with others or relating your homework to something you’re studying in another class.


Organize the Information

People process information in different ways. Some people like to draw pictures or charts to digest information, others prefer to read out loud or make detailed outlines. Try to find the methods that work best for you. Ask your teacher for recommendations if you’re having trouble.


Take Advantage of Any Free Time

If you have a study period or a long bus ride, use the time to review notes, prepare for an upcoming class or start your homework.


Study with a Friend

Get together with friends and classmates to quiz each other, compare notes and predict test questions. Consider joining a study group.



If you have concerns about the amount or type of homework you have, you may want to talk to your family, teachers or counselor. They can help you understand how much time you need to allot for homework and how to manage your tasks.


Celebrate Your Achievements

Reward yourself for hitting milestones or doing something well.





8 Tips To Earn High Score on SAT Essay

Success on the SAT Essay depends on preparation as well as execution. Consider the following when mapping out your test-taking strategies and game plan:


1. Understand the SAT Essay Scoring System
Unlike your multiple-choice answers, which are scored as either correct or incorrect, the SAT Essay is assigned three scores.

Two readers will score your Essay separately and assign a score of 1 to 4 for each of three sections that include Reading, Analysis, and Writing. The two reader’s scores are then added together. SAT Essay score reports provide these three separate scores, each on a 2 to 8 scale. For example, a possible score combination would be 6 Reading / 7 Analysis / 6 Writing.

Your Reading score will reflect how well your essay shows that you understood the passage.  Your Analysis score will reflect how well your essay analyzes how the author went about persuading the audience. Finally, your Writing score will reflect the cohesiveness of your essay as well as how well it demonstrates a command of language and the conventions of standard written English.


2. Study Sample Passages and SAT Essay Prompts
To help you understand what will be expected of you in order to achieve high scores in each of the scoring areas, take time to review example SAT Essay prompts. As you read through each of the example passages and corresponding responses, consider how and why the author used evidence, reasoning, and stylistic or persuasive elements.

Making your way through these samples should help you in developing your own strategies for tackling the SAT Essay come test day.


3. Turn to Professional Writing and Editorial Outlets
Another way to build on your analytical reading skills would be to devote time to reading op-ed pieces from reputable media outlets. As an example, peruse The New York Times once or twice a week and analyze the editorials and op-ed pieces to further hone your skills. The more often you apply the skills required of you for the SAT Essay in your everyday life, the more prepared you’ll be to apply them in a test setting.


4. Prep with Practice Essays
As is the case with multiple-choice sections of the SAT, practice makes closer to perfect when it comes to SAT Essay responses. Using sample SAT Essay prompts, set aside 50 minutes to work through them as you would with the test day prompt. Compare your response to that of the student examples provided at different score points to discover possible weaknesses in your reading, analytics, and writing skills that you’ll need to focus on in your preparations. For more objective feedback, consider working with a friend, your parents, or a teacher.


5. Read Your Test Day SAT Essay Passage Thoroughly
Come test day, nerves and anxiety seem to be at all-time highs. This can leave students feeling as though they need to rush or second-guess their responses or both. The same goes for writing during the SAT Essay portion of the test.  You may feel like you need to start writing as quickly as possible, but make sure you understand the author’s argument thoroughly before beginning. One of the worst mistakes you could make, after all, would be to finish writing your SAT Essay response only to go back, reread the passage, and realize you’d misunderstood what the author was saying. Give yourself enough time to write, but don’t underestimate the importance of reading carefully as well.


6. Start with an Outline
Once you’ve carefully read through the provided passage and corresponding prompt, take a minute to compose your thoughts in a rough outline. Mapping out your approach for an introduction, body, and conclusion when the content is fresh in your mind will ensure that you don’t arrive at the end of your response with holes in your argument. An outline also helps you plan your writing by giving you a clear sense of direction when transitioning from one point to the next.


7. Start Strong, Build Strong, End Strong
As you would for any essay written for a class in school, make sure you develop your SAT essay in a structured, connected way.  In your introduction, offer a strong thesis statement that relates back to the SAT Essay prompt and make sure each element in the body of your response ties back to support it. Conclude with more than just a summary of what you’ve written. Consider, for example, ways you might put what you’ve written into a broader context or offer a memorable insight based on the analysis you’ve provided.


8. Make Time for Edits
While not always possible, aim to leave some time at the end for review. In doing so, you may catch misinterpreted information or find other ways to further build on the points you made in your response. Try to be as critical of your own work as possible, and consider every minute of time available as an opportunity to provide the best possible representation of your writing and thinking.



How To Motivate Unmotivated Readers

Even if your child is motivated to read, supporting them with a variety of ways and options will keep their momentum going. Here are seven tips to open up the wonderful world of reading for your child.


1. What’s “Just Right”? Children feel confident and competent when they read books that are “just right.” But how do you find a “just right” book? Have your child read the back and front cover, and first page of the book. If there are more than five words that he cannot pronounce or understand in context, the book may be too challenging. Be supportive about finding a more perfect fit. Choosing the right book will help your little reader feel successful.


2.Map it Out. It’s important to provide your child with a variety of fiction and non-fiction reading. A fun way to do this is to get a map and show her the way from your house to the grocery store or another familiar destination. Have your child write out the directions, street by street, and then read them to you as you walk or drive to the store – like a living GPS!


3.Card Tricks. Do you think effective reading only takes place at libraries and bookstores? Think again! There are reading opportunities everywhere. Go to a greeting card store with your child and read the greeting cards together. Later, vote for the ones whose words convey the best birthday wish or get-well sentiment.


4.Picture This!  During your next outing or gathering, take action-packed photos, then have your child create captions to go with each picture. Assemble the pictures and captions in a picture book or album, and add speech and thought bubbles to create a personalized — and probably hysterical — graphic novel.


5.Last Comic Standing.  Take time to read comic strips together. Share favorites from your own childhood and have your child put his favorites on the fridge. Read them aloud, and often — repetition is a great way to build reading skills. Soon, he’ll love looking forward to the “Sunday funnies” each week.


6.Become a Fan.  Your reader will soon develop a love for particular authors and illustrators. Nurture her fan-ship by helping her write a letter to her favorite author. Many authors have their own websites with contact information. You can also contact the book’s publisher, the mailing address for which can often be found on the back of the title page or on the publisher’s website.


7.Labels of Love.  Word recognition and vocabulary are important parts of reading. On a rainy day, get some paper and tape and start labeling everything in your home — from furniture to small knick-knacks. Reading these labels repeatedly will build your child’s mental word bank. If your family is bilingual, create labels in both languages.



7 Tips To Keep Kids Healthy During Cold Season

Every mom and dad knows as the days get shorter, and the wind gets colder, out comes the cold medicine and the thermometers. In the northern hemisphere, fall and winter mean cold and flu season, and all those germs are hard on little bodies. Keep your kids healthier this sickness season with these seven tips.



  1. Keep up on preventative medicine

The best way to fight a cold or flu is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. The Center for Disease Control recommends all children six months and older receive the flu vaccine each year. Also, make sure your children are going for well-child checks at the appropriate times.



  1. Wash hands often

It’s such a simple thing, but hand washing really does matter. Researchers in London found that if everyone regularly washed their hands we could prevent a million deaths a year. Teach your kids to sing the happy birthday song twice while washing, and always use soap.



  1. Get a good night’s sleep

The body’s immune system quits working well when the body is sleep deprived. Now is not the time to slack off enforcing bedtime. Most school-aged children need at least 10-11 hours each night, and babies and toddlers need even more.



  1. Teach proper sneezing etiquette

Most kids sneeze all over everything, spreading potentially harmful germs to siblings and friends. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends teaching kids to sneeze into a handkerchief or into their elbows to prevent the spread of germs.



  1. Eat well

A well-balanced diet is the best path to overall health. Some foods do slightly increase immunity, but there are no magic foods. Stick to eating plenty of plant-based foods and lean protein, and drink lots and lots of water.



  1. Quarantine sick kids

If your kids do fall prey to a cold or flu, keep them away from others, including their siblings. It’s a good idea to keep sick kids home from school and extracurricular activities; they’ll heal faster, and you won’t infect the entire neighborhood.



  1. Rethink cold medicine

When we see our babies suffering, our first instinct is to pull out the medicine. The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages any child under 2 using over-the-counter cold medication and says these products do not work for children under 6. Also, antibiotics only treat bacterial infections and can have serious side effects if overused. Since most colds and flus are viral, not bacterial, chances are good a doctor will not prescribe your child medicine. If your child gets sick, your best bet is lots of rest, plenty of fluids and giving your child time to heal.



Stay healthy this cold and flu season. The same measures used to keep your family healthy in general, such as eating right, exercising regularly, and getting plenty of rest, are the same guidelines for preventing illness. Never underestimate the power of eating your fruits and veggies and using good hygiene. Remember that kids are never too young to start learning these good habits.

Why We Give Thanks

The origins of Thanksgiving can be traced back to a Native American called Squanto and the settlers of Plymouth Rock, known as the Pilgrims.

It all began in England in the early 1600s. A group of Englishmen got fed up with religious persecution. Historians refer to them as separatists. Separatists and their families fled to the Netherlands for religious freedom. For a few years, they enjoyed religious tolerance.

But some members of the group wanted to establish a new religious community in the New World. Hoping to find a better life, they negotiated with investors to fund their voyage to the New World (now called America). On September 16, 1620, 101 separatists and investors, along with 20 to 30 crewmen, set sail on a ship called the Mayflower. The separatists who sailed on the Mayflower are known as the Pilgrims.

The Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock on December 21, 1620, and established the Plymouth Colony. In that harsh winter, they didn’t have enough time to build homes or grow crops. Nearly half of them died of starvation or diseases by the end of winter.

The next spring, Squanto, an English-speaking Native American from the Pawtuxet tribe, went over to the Pilgrim settlement to welcome them. A friendship blossomed between Squanto and the Pilgrims. He noticed that they had trouble surviving the winter, so he taught them how to grow corn, collect sap, catch eels, and much more. He also helped the Pilgrims make peace with the local Wampanoag tribe.

The harvest of 1621 turned out successful. After the food was distributed for winter, there was still extra food to spare. Delighted Pilgrim Governor William Bradford decided to have a celebration for a good harvest in mid-October. The Pilgrims invited the Wampanoag tribe to play games and celebrate with them. They had a feast at the end of the festivities that included a variety of foods, like venison and boiled pumpkin. The celebration lasted three days and is now called the “First Thanksgiving.”

Most people nowadays think that the Thanksgiving feast of 1621 was the start of today’s holiday. But Thanksgiving was not an official American holiday until 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the fourth Thursday of November Thanksgiving.

Since then, Americans across the country have celebrated Thanksgiving every year with their family and friends.



Safety Tips for a Happy Halloween

For a tear-free celebration, observe these safety recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Los Angeles Fire Department, and the National Safety Council.


Dress-Up Smarts:

  • Choose fire-retardant costumes. Look for a label that indicates flame-resistance on any costumes, wigs, and headpieces you purchase. If you’re making the costume yourself, examine the fabric content and talk the salesperson to help you choose the least flammable material.
  • Use make-up instead of masks. Hypoallergenic, non-toxic face paint is a better choice than a mask, which may obscure your child’s vision and hinder his breathing. If you do opt for a mask, cut oversized holes for his eyes and mouth, and encourage him to take the mask off each time he crosses the street.
  • Select light-colored costumes when possible. This makes it easier for drivers to spot trick-or-treaters. For costumes that have to be dark, accessorize with a white pillowcase your child can use to stash his loot and help him stand out in the dark.
  • Attach reflective tape to her costume to make her easier to spot. A few strips on her back, front, and goodie bag should do the trick. If she’s planning on biking or skateboarding, stick some tape on that as well.


Stay Safe on the Trick-or-Treat Beat:

  • Make sure children under 12 are supervised by an adult or teen chaperone if you can’t take her around yourself. Teens should have a curfew.
  • Round up a group. It’s best for kids of any age to travel in groups of three or more — there is safety in numbers. Plan a route with your child, making sure he knows to call you if he deviates from the plan. Keep his route to familiar streets and houses, working up the street then back down without crisscrossing. Set a time limit when he should come home or call you.
  • Tell her to visit well-lit, familiar houses. Make her promise to stick to the stoop — and never go inside unless she knows the grownups very well. Remind her to say “thank you” for her treats.


Prepare for Treat-Seekers:

  • Turn on the porch lights and replace burnt-out bulbs.
  • Decorate the walkway or steps with lanterns instead of candles. Battery-powered light sources such as light sticks are just as decorative and not as dangerous.
  • Let adults do the carving. Give your child a marker to draw the pumpkin pattern, but keep knives in the your own hands. If you plan to use a candle in the pumpkin, small votives are the safest bet. Stash the lit pumpkin on a sturdy surface away from anything flammable, and don’t leave it unattended.
  • Remove tripping hazards on your porch, walkway, and driveway. Clear your lawn of hoses, branches, bikes, wet leaves, or wires that could trip trick-or-treaters.


Sift Through the Loot:

  • Check candy wrappers. Pinholes, tears, or unusually loose packages can indicate possible tampering.
  • Remove choking hazards for young children, including hard candies, small toys, peanuts, or gum.
  • Don’t let your child eat anything that isn’t sealed. Unless you know the source, throw away homemade or fresh food items.
  • Regulate candy intake. Set a daily quota on your child’s consumption, and set a deadline for when leftover Halloween candy gets thrown out.



6 Signs Your Child May Have a Learning Challenge

During the elementary-school years, a child’s learning difference becomes more apparent. Youngsters must absorb new vocabulary words at the same time that academic demands increase. Kids who are struggling can fall way behind. To identify a potential learning challenge, ask yourself:


  • Does your child have uneven skills — performing well in some areas, struggling in others? Success in one area shows he has the intelligence and maturity to read, but he might have a learning disability that prevents him from recognizing word sounds and linking them to letters.


  • Can she decode grade-level texts as well as write simple, coherent sentences? At this age, a child should be reading on her own, as well as writing about what she has read, using accurate spelling. If her progress in acquiring these basic skills is slow, she lacks strategies for reading new words, or she stumbles when confronted with multi-syllable words, you need to find out if this is because of a learning disability.


  • Does he mispronounce long, unfamiliar words? Speech should be fluent. A child who hesitates often, peppering his speech with “ums” and pauses or struggles to retrieve words or respond when asked a question, is sending important clues about a possible learning disability.


  • Does she rely heavily on memorization instead of learning new skills? By 3rd grade, your child should be able to summarize the meaning of a new paragraph she just read, as well as predict what will happen next in the story.


  • Is his handwriting messy, even though he can type rapidly on a keyboard? Misshapen, wobbling handwriting can be a sign that your child is not hearing the sounds of a word correctly, and therefore is unable to write them down.


  • Does she avoid reading for pleasure? And when she does, does she find it exhausting and laborious? This could be a sign of a learning disability.


What to Do Now
Schedule a conference with your child’s teacher, the school support staff, and your pediatrician to get their perspectives on whether your child has a learning difference. Together, you can decide if your child should be formally evaluated for a learning difference or if other steps can be taken first — perhaps moving him to a smaller class, switching teaching styles, or scheduling one-on-one tutoring or time in the resource room.


Don’t be shy about asking questions: Is your child’s progress within the normal range? Why is he having all this trouble? Should you consult another specialist (a neurologist, a speech-and-language expert)? Trust your gut. If you’re not getting the answers you need, find someone who can give them to you. Meanwhile, at home:


  • Help your child flourish: She needs to know that you love her no matter what, so put her weaknesses into perspective for her. Empathize with her frustration (remind her of some of your own school difficulties), and reassure her that you’re confident she will learn to deal with it.


  • Focus on what he does right and well: Does he love to paint or play baseball? Make sure he has many opportunities to pursue and succeed in those activities, and let him overhear you tell Grandma how well he played in the last game. Prominently display his trophies or ribbons.


  • Start a folder of all letters, emails, and material related to your child’s education. Include school reports as well as medical exams.


  • Collect samples of your child’s schoolwork that illustrate her strengths as well as her weaknesses.


  • Keep a diary of your observations about your child’s difficulties in and out of school.


  • Help him set up a work area at home as well as the materials he needs to study.


  • Show her how to organize her backpack and how to use a plan book for assignments.


  • Coordinate with teachers so you can practice at home the skills he learns at school.



Homework Habits for Beginning Learners

The goal of homework is to help students remember and understand what they learned in school that day. For children ages 5 through 7, it can also help teach them independence, responsibility, and time-management and planning skills, all keys to success in the real world.

A little homework can go a long way and 10 to 20 minutes each day for children in kindergarten through second grade is seen as most effective, according to the National Education Association (NEA) and the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA).


Here are some successful homework habits to get your children on the right path:


1. Set the stage. Your children need a quiet, well-lit, clutter- and distraction-free spot to do their homework. This should be the same place every day, whether it is at the kitchen table or at their desk in their room. That means the television is shut off, even for you. In fact, take this time to work on a quiet task of your own, whether it’s paying bills, reading the newspaper, or planning the next day. Make sure all the materials your children need to complete their homework are within arm’s reach, including pencils, paper, crayons, or anything else.



2. Time it right. Homework for young children should be done when your child gets home from school, while the information is still fresh in their minds and when they have ample energy. Have your kids eat a little snack and talk about their day with you and then have them start their homework. Schedule the extra-curricular activities for later in the day so kids can get their homework done first. For beginning learners, now is the time to establish that homework is more important than dance class, soccer practice, karate, or the long list of activities your kids may be involved in outside of school. Remember, they may be too tired after their activities to be able to focus on their work. Bedtime is never the time to rush through homework.



3. It’s not your homework, it’s theirs. Parents need to be involved in homework to see what their children are learning and how well they know what they need to know. Being nearby while they do their homework also allows you to monitor your children’s frustration and encourage breaks when and if they are needed. However, be sure not to do the homework for your children, but guide them if they are struggling. You want them to get that feeling of pride and accomplishment on their own.



4. Get excited and be positive. Let your children know how grown up it is for them to have homework and how proud you are of them. Try to instill in them that it is “fun” to be able to do the assigned tasks. If you view homework as a chore and something that interferes with your personal schedule, your children will mimic that behavior. Let them show you their work, praise them for finishing their homework, and be encouraging. It will make a difference.




Help Your Child Become An Avid Reader

Most parents understand the value of sharing reading experiences with their child. However, not all realized that the way they read to their little one, and even how they interact with their child during playtime, can impact learning. Parents can help grow literacy skills while teaching their child to draw, play catch, or count numbers. What’s most important is making these experiences fun, engaging, and memorable.

“The more children interact with reading material, the more active and confident readers they become,” says Dr. Carolyn Jaynes, literacy learning designer at LeapFrog, a developer of innovative, technology-based educational products. “Read with your child at an early age, and build fun daily routines that incorporate reading.”


Dr. Jaynes offers the following tips for parents who want to help their children become active avid readers.


  • Read often. Practice pays off. The more kids read, the more they grow skills. A nightly bedtime story is a good place to start.


  • Make reading fun. The more engaging the reading experiences, the more it benefits the child. Make story books come to life by giving characters different voices and adding drama to the narration; when a character acts surprised or sad, change your tone to express the emotion. You want your children to realize that, beneath the surface of the text, there is a great story filled with imagination.


  • Help kids interact with the reading material. Asking questions will help your child remember the story. Talk with them about the narrative, and ask what they think of a character’s decision. What would they do differently? What do you think will happen next? Encourage them to interrupt you if they don’t understand a word.


  • Point out the illustrations. Have your child demonstrated their comprehension of the narrative by pointing to story elements in the illustration. For example, ask questions like “Can you point to the bear that looks worried?” or “Where was the wolf hiding before he crossed the road?”



College Freshman Survival Guide

Moving away from home for the first time can be scary – for both students and parents. But life in the dorm shouldn’t cause freshman fear. Get started now preparing for your college career, and you’ll be ready for class in no time.


  • Plan ahead. Start thinking about what you’ll need to thrive in dorm life. Make a list of items to purchase for your dorm and for class. Check with your college for a list of recommended items as well as items that are not allowed in the dormitory.


  • Create a budget. Determine how much income you’ll have while in school, and create a budget. Explore all your options for sticking to your new budget. Reloadable pre-paid cards are a great tool for learning to live within a set budget. These cards can be used like any debit or credit card but are loaded with money upfront and don’t require a bank account. They’re cheap, and many offer email or text updates on balances.


  • Dorm room essentials. Stocking a dorm room on a budget has been made easier by discount retailers. In one stop, you can get everything you need to outfit your dorm room. Basic include a bed-in-a-bag, sheets, towels, pillow, trash can and storage bins. You’ll also need laundry detergent and a laundry basket or bag, fabric softener and stain remover, an iron, a hair dryer, hand sanitizer and tissue. Think of the items you typically use throughout the day, and stock up


  • Bathroom Basics. Most dorms don’t provide the luxury of private restrooms, so be prepared for the community restroom. Items you’ll need include a shower caddy filed with essentials such as shampoo, razor, soap, wash cloths, flip flops, and a bath robe.


  • Stock the fridge. Busy class schedules and late-night study sessions require serious sustenance, typically in the form of easy to make foods. You’ll probably also want a few basic cooking supplies such as a can opener, a set of small bowls and coffee makers.


  • Get ready for class. Now that your dorm room is in order, you’ll need to get ready for class. Classroom basics include a book bag, notebooks, highlighters, and pens and pencils. If you have a computer and printer, don’t forget copy paper, extra discs or an external hard drive.