Sylvan Testimonials

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Technology Rules

The holidays are over. The New Year has started. Over the holidays, many kids may have received tech-toys for gifts. Computers, video games, cell phones, and electronic screens are ubiquitous in our lives and the lives of our kids. As the New Year is getting underway, we want to keep our kids clearly focused rather than busily distracted. Technology has played and can play a crucial role in education, but there are important rules for using any tech device.

Whether texting, surfing the web or playing video games, research shows that kids between the ages of eight and 18 spend more than seven hours a day with gadgets. * That, in and of itself, is neither good nor bad. Balance, as in every other aspect of life, is key. A variety of helpful resources have made technology an integral part of our lives and how we learn. While technology has introduced many portals of enhanced learning, it can also be a distraction in kids' lives – offering kids easy ways to get sidetracked, diverted and overwhelmed.

To help kick-start a successful year, Sylvan Learning, the leading provider of tutoring services to children of all ages and skill levels, offers parents and families the following tips to find the right balance for using technology efficiently and effectively.

Your rules rule. Have clear guidelines for kids to follow. Like all rules for children, the clearer and simpler, the better. If you're unsure how to start, talk to trusted teachers at school, other parents in the community, or look at good online sites.

Set time limits. A good rule of thumb for teens is two hours of screen time per day, including schoolwork. For elementary schoolers, it's less. No screen-time just before bedtime. Decide what will work best for your family.

Set place limits. Ban electronic screens at dinnertime, for example, or when the family is having a discussion or enjoying family time together. Many families find that for younger kids, it's best if the computer is in the family room – not in the kids' rooms – and used only when an adult is present, monitoring.

Schoolwork comes first. Study and chores come before socializing and games. So does anything else you decide – writing that thank you note, going to Sunday school, helping the next door neighbor.

Stress privacy. Explain to your children why you won't permit them to give out personal information about themselves or their family, to meet with strangers they've "met" online, or to spend money online. Just be realistic and firm.

Stress common sense. It is good sense not to allow downloading or uploading – music, movies, or photos for instance – without your permission. Show kids how their online words and pictures are, for all intents and purposes, permanent. Just as we watch what we say in our speech, we need to do the same thing online.

Be a role model. You're a role model in everything you do and say as a parent, including using technology. Let the kids see you using your computer, phone, and other devices to make your life easier, more efficient, more fun. Show how you're in control of it, not the other way around: i.e. if you say no gadgets at dinner time, don't pick up the phone yourself.

Technology, when used effectively, helps enable and empower our children's educational lives. The key lies in setting boundaries on kids' electronic use.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Fit4Algebra: When Does Learning Algebra Begin?

Fit4Algebra. Is your child ready?

There are many prerequisites to algebra and benchmarks to help you know if your child is measuring up. The National Mathematics Advisory Panel offers helpful benchmarks for the foundations of algebra by outlining the topics students need to have mastered at each grade level to be on the path to algebra in grade 8. However, these topics alone are not sufficient. Future success in algebra requires building conceptual understanding, computational fluency and problem solving skills.
As children enter school and begin to learn addition and subtraction facts, it is not enough for them to memorize those facts. They need to develop a firm understanding of numbers and how to combine and separate them to form new numbers. They need to build fact families and understand that there is a variety of ways to express these relationships.
Equality is another important algebraic concept that should receive attention beginning in pre-k. Sharing is an important skill for students to learn at this age. They can learn to share equal quantities by counting and placing items into two or more equal groups.
Remember, science has debunked the myth of a math gene. ALL students can learn math! But why is it that some students are better at math than others? It is most likely their experience or attitude toward math. Studies have shown that effort does matter!
A strong grounding in high school math through Algebra II or higher correlates powerfully with access to college, graduation from college and higher earning upon college graduation. Start preparing now, no matter how young your child is, for lifelong success in math.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Parent/Teacher Conferences: Be Prepared!


Getting Ready:
  • Ask your child if there are topics he or she would like discussed with the teacher.
  • Write notes to yourself about your child's personality, learning difficulties and study habits -- aspects that you feel the teacher should know. Take these notes with you to the meeting.
Helpful Questions to Ask at the Meeting:
  • What is your classroom homework policy?
  • What are the skills that you expect my child to master this year?
  • Is my child working up to his or her ability?
  • How can I stay involved in my child's learning
During the Conference:
  • Be respectful of the teacher's time and arrive promptly.
  • Begin the conversation on a positive note.
  • Discuss your notes concerning your child's learning habits.
  • Ask your most important questions first -- in case time runs out.
  • Listen to the teacher's comments and be open to feedback and suggestions.
  • Ask the teacher for specific suggestions on ways to help your child reach his or her full potential. This is the most important part of the meeting.
  • If the teacher says something that you don't understand, ask for clarification. Don't be shy.
  • Take notes so you can discuss the meeting with your child.
  • End the meeting by reiterating the actions that will be taken by the teacher or you.

After the Conference:
  • Develop an action plan, then work with your child to implement it. Be sure to make learning fun.
  • Stay in contact with the teacher and continue to discuss your child's progress.