Educational Blog

Fun Halloween Trivia for Kids

Does your child have a lot of questions about Halloween? Share fun facts — like how the holiday got its name and why we carve pumpkins as decorations — with your curious kid.   Why do we dress up? People used to believe that ghosts might visit the earth on this day, so some tricksters started to dress up as spirits to scare their unsuspecting neighbors!   Why is it on the 31st? To honor saints and martyrs, the Catholic Church deemed November 1st All Saints Day in the eighth century. The evening before was known as All Hallows’ Eve.... More »

Raise a Reader: A Parent Guide to Reading for Ages 11-13

Just as your  teen is now asserting her independence and also negotiating a new world, she is also starting a new world of responsibility in middle school. If you are feeling chagrined at the quality of your teen’s reading choices, suggest alternatives, but consider letting him choose his own books. Kids and teens like choosing their own books — 89 percent say their favorite books are the ones they picked out themselves. In most elementary schools, students have just one main teacher for the year. In middle school, your  teen will likely have a different teacher for each subject. Each... More »

What the Report Card Really Means

A, B, C is no longer as easy as 1, 2, 3. Today's student report cards go way beyond the simple letter grades of years past. Now, many school districts send home detailed accounts of each subject's content, student progress, social behavior, work habits, learning skills, and more. The Letter Lineup Don't expect to see traditional letter grades until 3rd or 4th grade. Prior to that, schools usually describe progress with a scale such as D for developing, E for expanding, S for satisfactory, and N for needs improvement. The kindergarten report card can be likened to a checklist of skills crucial... More »

Time for a Tutor? Grades 3-5

If your child is struggling, don't panic at the first bad report card or note from the teacher. Do some homework. Find out why they're falling behind — and what you can do to make a difference. While there are some normal developmental tasks a child should master at each age, the operative word is "normal" — and it has a very wide range. After reviewing the lists below, if you're concerned, check with your child's teacher, the school psychologist, or a reading specialist. Most likely, you'll get all the reassurance that you need. If not, you'll know how to... More »

5 Creative Ways to Boost Your Child’s Reading Confidence

Some kids take to books like Curious George to trouble. But even for them, learning to read can be pretty daunting. After all, putting letters and sounds together and deciphering their meaning is tough. For Ann Sackrider’s son, Hudson, it was really tough. “Even when he was in third grade, he had a hard time grasping how letters form words,” says the Brooklyn, NY, mom. “It was sad to see him wrestling with it.” So she gave him constant exposure: telling stories, keeping and reading books in every room, and talking about characters. In other words, she made reading something to look... More »

Setting School Year Goals for Kids

Helping your child feel engaged and motivated in the classroom is one of the most important things a parent can do to ensure school success.  The teacher will tell the whole class what she expects, from what the kids will learn to how she’ll measure their progress. But make sure to sit down with your kids and figure out the things they’d like to achieve this year, too. Why? Because helping your kids set goals gives them a sense of agency in their learning journey. You may find out some cool things your kid is interested in, plus surprising ways you can help... More »

How Parents Can Help Students on SAT, ACT

TO SUCCEED ON THE ACT or SAT, high schoolers often require support from adults. Students may turn to school professionals like teachers and guidance counselors, as well as their own parents, guardians and mentors. However, some forms of well-intentioned support can be counterproductive to a student's test preparation. Here are three mistakes that parents may make when they assist their children in preparing for the ACT or SAT:   Becoming involved too early or too late in the test prep process. Drawing on their personal knowledge of the test. Placing undue emphasis on achieving a target score on a single... More »

Reading to Learn: Upper Elementary Reading Skills

The main goal in grades 3 to 5 is for children to become enthusiastic, independent readers who can use their skills to learn new material in all subjects — from history to math. Put simply, children focus on learning to read through 2nd grade. After that, they "read to learn," as well as read for pleasure. The National Research Council, the National Reading Panel, and the National Institute for Literacy identified these skills as key for kids to become strong, independent readers who enjoy reading:   1. Fluency: Fluent readers recognize words automatically so they can focus their attention on making... More »

4 Back to School Anxiety Soothers

Will I get more homework? What if my teacher is mean? Starting a new year comes with a lot of unknowns, so it’s no wonder that many parents report that their kiddo is struck with anxiety this time of year. The biggest clues: Her happy summer mood has quickly turned restless, irritable, or withdrawn, or she starts complaining about headaches, stomachaches, or sleep problems, says Marian Fish, Ph.D., the school psychology graduate program coordinator at Queens College in New York City. The good news? It’s nothing for you to worry about, because we’ve asked the experts what you can do:... More »

4 Helpful Habits for Back-to-School Season

Very soon we'll be trading in the sound of the ice cream truck bell for the sound of the school bell. The start of a new school year is right around the corner. With the season comes the opportunity to put in place some back-to-school habits that can help your children build their literacy skills. Here are four practical ideas to help your family kick-off the school year.     1. Keep Up With a Reading Log Many schools request children to read at home several times a week. Even if the school does not require daily reading, it's still... More »