Category Archives: Teaching & Learning

Nutrition, Exercise and Study: A Triangle of Success

Working Your Brain and Body Towards  Academic Success

I remember my ultra fast high school metabolism and the wonderful foods that went along with that. Pancakes with extra syrup for breakfast, a chocolate muffin and some chips for lunch, coffee for a snack and whatever mom made for dinner. Yikes! It’s amazing that I graduated at all. This is not a diet for success. Lots of carbohydrates and refined sugar are very tempting to relieve stress but it is not great brain fuel. I also remember that nutritionists talked to us about eating ‘brain food’ the day before a big exam but the reality is that healthy nutrition habits are most effective in the long term.

eating-healthy

Exercise also plays a big role in academic success. Sitting for hours at a time is not really that healthy. Whether you are walking 20 minutes a day or running 20 minute 5K races for the track team, any exercise can be helpful.

I am a private Orange County tutor, not a nutritionist or a personal trainer, but these diet and exercise tips seem to work for most students. You will need to choose what’s right for you based on your abilities and your current level of health – choose what’s best for your mind with one of our Irvine in-home academic tutors and get sharp before the school year starts.

1. Have your cake and eat your carrots too

I’m not saying that sweets are evil or that you shouldn’t eat them but eat some carrots too. Sweets as an addition to an otherwise healthy diet add a few extra calories but won’t necessarily destroy your ability to study. The problem with eating all of those chocolate muffins and candy is that they fill the stomach so that you aren’t hungry for healthier foods like veggies and fruits. Veggies and fruit contain vitamins and minerals that are essential to brain growth and function (READ: “Vegetables and Fruit: Get Plenty Every day“).

2. Choose a sport, any sport

I did not like team sports and so I didn’t participate in any; many students that I talk to feel the same way that I did. There are tons of other ways to get some exercise. Running or walking, a yoga class, dance, a gym workout, swimming, playing tennis, shooting hoops in your driveway etc… are all ways to get the blood pumping without being on a team where you might be sitting on the bench for part of the time (READ: “How to Balance Sports and Academics in High School“). On the other hand, if you like team sports, most schools offer options like soccer, basketball, lacrosse, track and field, and football. If your school doesn’t offer after school sports, there are many local places to sign up to be on a team.

3. Listen to your body, listen to your mind

It’s also important to listen to your body. If your back has molded into one giant piece of stone from sitting in a study chair all day, then it’s time to get up and walk around or do some stretches. Alternatively, if your knee is hurting from running too much or too fast then it’s best to prop your leg up on a chair while you study and take a break from the running. Your body will tell you when to move and when to take it easy if you listen (READ: “Coping with Stress as a Teen”).

Also, if your mind is starting to get cluttered with masses of information that is getting jumbled up into one ball of facts and figures, then I recommend going for a brief walk in the fresh air. We live in Orange County after all so the weather’s nice all year round. If you are overly mentally fatigued from studying try taking a 20 minute nap or laying down for a few minutes to recharge the brain. A rested mind can absorb more information.

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4. Rest is part of a good exercise routine

Rest is most certainly part of the nutrition, exercise and study triangle. Your body needs to be asleep to absorb all of that healthy protein and it needs to be asleep to repair minor muscle fatigue from that energetic exercise routine. Getting eight hours of sleep a night is essential to academic success.

5. Protein is your friend

Protein is your best ally when it comes to staying alert. There is nothing wrong with that pancake breakfast that I mentioned earlier if I were to replace the extra syrup with some fruit and a couple of scrambled eggs. Protein helps us stay awake and it helps us focus on both mental and physical tasks (READ: “Why is it Important to Make Lean or Low-Fat Choices from the Protein Foods Group?“)

6. Complex carbohydrates

Foods like whole wheat bread, brown rice and oatmeal are very healthy and they tend to metabolize slower so that you can sustain your energy levels while studying. Add complex carbohydrates as a regular part of your diet and you may find that those study ‘crashes’ happen less and less (READ: “Choose My Plate: Grains“).

A good diet and exercise program can also help you through life in general. People who exercise regularly are more likely to live a long and healthy life and people who maintain a well balanced diet can lead to a more productive day and a generally healthier lifestyle.

tutor logo How to Pick Out Your Freshman Year College CoursesAll blog entries, with the exception of guest bloggers, are written by Tutor Nerds. Are you an education professional? If so, email us at info@tutornerds.com for guest blogging and collaborations. We want to make this the best free education resource in SoCal, so feel free to suggest what you would like to see us post about.

 How to Pick Out Your Freshman Year College CoursesTeach.com

Music and Studying: Good or Bad For Students?

Music and Studying: Terrific tunes and harmful harmonies

The debate seems to never end; music ruins your ability to study or enhances your grades. It’s nice when science is clear cut about things, but this isn’t one of them. Silence drives many of us crazy (let it drive you a little less crazy with one of our Irvine private science tutors), so we turn to music to help focus our concentration and memory. However, some music seems to help more than others, and some does nothing but distract us (READ “Does Music Complement Math and Science Test Scores?“). Take a look at what both sides say, and make a decision that works for you.

music-and-studying

Have you heard of the Beethoven effect? What about the Mozart effect; maybe the Elvis effect? No, that last one doesn’t sound right. Whatever effect it is, people have believed for a long time that classical music has the best chance of assisting you in your studies. The findings are mixed to pinpoint exactly what it is that’s so helpful. But what most studies have in common in this: everyone agrees that when you hear something you like, it heightens your arousal and mood, which could improve performance. If classical doesn’t do it for you, but Beyoncé does, the “effect” is still there. What many researchers are suggesting now is that it may not be something the music does in general; it’s what the music does for you.

Background noise is no good

On the other side of science lab, there are studies proving just the opposite. The studies tend to focus around memory recall, and test a series of different vocal music and noises in the background while participants try to study. Those with no music tend to do the best, and those with any kind of background noise do worse (READ: Music may harm your studying). However, the findings are always varied, suggesting that one kind of stimulus doesn’t cause harm to all participants evenly. At this point we’re still waiting on studies to look at things like music tempo, instrumental vs. vocal, genre choice to match study material and other combinations.

If the Elvis effect is working for you, don’t change a thing. But if you’ve been struggling to concentrate it doesn’t hurt to try something new. Give classical a go for your next study session, write an essay listening to new age nature tunes, or paint with Katy Perry. It’s usually worth the effort; you never know what music will stir up within you.

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Orange County parents and students, listen up! Beat the summer slowdown with a private, in-home tutor. We work around your schedule so you can stay sharp while having fun in the sun. Read: 10 Reasons You Need a Summer Tutor. What are you waiting for? Call us.

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How to Balance Sports and Academics in High School

A 3.5+ GPA and Sports: How to balance sports and academics in high school

Many of my students ask how they can balance both sports and still maintain a high GPA. Maintaining a good academic record and meeting the obligations of an after-school sports team can definitely be a challenge. Many of you come home around 5 PM, starving and tired from a long day at school as well as a hot Irvine, CA afternoon running track, playing baseball or football. This feels like the perfect time to end the day; lie down on the couch, turn on the TV and relax. Unfortunately there is often much more to be done. English and math homework, studying for that big final on Friday and-if you’re a junior-that all important SAT or ACT prep. Is it even possible to make it work, to have the best of both worlds? Yes, but only with a list of priorities, excellent time management and probably a little help.

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Let’s look at 6 ways that you can manage both sports and homework:

1. Know what you are getting yourself into:

Okay, so it’s that time again. You need to pick all of your electives for the next semester. You love sports and you want to be accepted to the college of your choice. Talk to the coach ahead of time and ask about the time commitment. More often than not sports require more than just the 3-5 PM practice and Saturday morning games. Find out if the coach is amenable to allowing extra study time for the week prior to midterms or final exams. Ask if there will be any big games the week before the SAT or your AP exams (first think about when you will be taking the SAT, of course).

If you find out that most athletes go out for pizza as a team on Friday nights, factor this in to your time commitment. Knowing the exact amount of hours is crucial to your study time table.

2. Time your standardized tests appropriately:

The SAT and ACT are offered several times a year (as are the SAT subject tests) but the AP exams are always in May. Think about what your schedule will be like in the spring if you have two AP tests, the SAT and sports. Consider getting the SAT out of the way earlier in the year so it doesn’t coincide with other academics.

3. Be flexible:

If your English teacher decides to hold a big test the day after the big game, there is nothing that you can do about it. The school schedule is set in stone and that’s it. Enjoy your free weekends while you have them so that you are prepared to spend Saturday and Sunday studying and training. That Friday night pizza after the game might be your only social activity for that particular weekend so enjoy it.

4. Choose a sport you LOVE:

After-school sports are a big time commitment so make sure that you really love what you will be doing. If playing catch with your next door neighbor as a kid is your favorite childhood memory, then playing on the baseball team might not even seem like work at all.

5. Get the right nutrition:

Both the mind and the body need energy. If you are training for a full season of football or running track each day after school, think about the calories you are burning (READ: “Eating tips for teens“). Add onto that the mental energy that your brain needs to stay alert and focus on learning functions and you have a very specific diet ahead of you. I’m not a nutritionist, and each body is different but everybody needs a balanced diet to meet these athletic goals. Make sure fruits and veggies are a big part of your diet, healthy carbohydrates and protein are also essential (and, no, donuts and brown rice are not the same thing).

6. Get help from a tutor:

Managing and prioritizing time can be a challenge. Ask family for help organizing your schedule and arrange for a private Irvine tutor to come to your home to help you stay on track with the academic stuff. Odds are your sport team practices over the summer. Not a problem. Our private in-home tutors work around your busy schedules. (READ: Ten Reasons Why You Need a Summer Tutor)

Try out these tips this season and hopefully both sports and studying will be a part of a manageable schedule.

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Orange County parents and students, listen up! Beat the summer slowdown with a private, in-home tutor. We work around your schedule so you can stay sharp while having fun in the sun. Read: 10 Reasons You Need a Summer Tutor. What are you waiting for? Call us.

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Emotional IQ vs. Intellectual IQ | by TutorNerds

Emotional IQ vs. Intellectual IQ: How do they compare?

Emotional IQ is the ability to handle complex, difficult and sometimes very sad situations. It is also the ability to navigate intricate social situations. Some children simply have a knack for socializing and are farther along than their peers (want your student to grow more confident and develop social skills? Try one of our in-home Orange County tutors). However, at the end of the day, emotional IQ comes with experience and time. A 35-year-old with a 110 IQ will almost always have a significantly higher emotional IQ than a 15-year-old with a 140 IQ. Some things just come with time.

emotional-IQ-students

Intellectual IQ is the potential a person has, at any age, to achieve academically and to understand higher levels of thinking.

Gifted children (READ: GATE Testing) can find themselves in really tough situations if their adult counterparts expect them to have an adult emotional IQ. A 5-year-old has had 5 years of life experience, not 10 or 20 or 55. Even if their intellectual IQ is 130+ (the “gifted” cutoff), they still need time to grow and learn about emotional situations. Let’s look at some real life examples.

Emotional IQ vs Intellectual IQ: Example One

A second grader has an intellectual IQ of 135 but the emotional IQ of a seven-year-old. Her reading level is three grade levels above that of her peers and she easily gets bored with second grade books (Have you considered an Irvine private tutor for your child’s reading abilities? Check out: Reading Tutoring). It would be easy to give the child a fifth grade reading level book, but this could potentially be a big mistake. It’s really important for teachers and parents to look at the content of the higher level books and think about whether or not the student is emotionally ready to handle the content.

How would a second grader, no matter what their IQ, respond to learning about the Holocaust for the first time from a book? How would they respond to reading about the West Nile Virus in the newspaper? Content and skill are two very different things. It’s important to challenge a gifted learner intellectually while maintaining socially and emotionally appropriate content. Check out what these parents had to say about these books: ProTeacher.net

Emotional IQ vs Intellectual IQ: Example Two

A sixth grader, who happens to be gifted at math and has a 145 overall intellectual IQ, is struggling socially. Because he has a high IQ, he is expected to understand social situations that juniors and seniors in high school can handle. Just because he is a math whiz, doesn’t mean that he is able to have a relevant conversation with students five or six years his senior. Perhaps when they are 30 and 35-years-old respectively, the social situation will be quite different but a sixth grader will still needs to socialize with sixth graders, even if they are in different classes. I recommend that parents arrange time outside of school for their gifted child to spend with children their own age and have plenty of opportunity to just relax and have fun being 11-years-old.

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Emotional IQ vs Intellectual IQ: Example Three

A gifted child is asked to handle the academic workload of an adult. Many advanced and gifted learners are asked to not only take on the skill level of much older children or adults, but also adhere to the time table of an adult. Most of us sit down and concentrate at a desk for 8 or more hours a day and we have learned to cope with it. As adults, we know when to take breaks, when to get up and walk around and when to simply power through it. Children, no matter how smart they are, are not accustomed to sitting down for more than six hours in a 24 hour period. The beauty of childhood is to spend time outside, spend time with friends, and use the imagination. Adulthood will come all too soon enough and it is important that gifted children get time to simply be children. They need to laugh, play and have fun like all children.

Bottom Line

It’s essential to assess emotional IQ along side with intellectual IQ. The bottom line is that each child will have a potentially vast difference in their intellectual abilities. Some will be musicians, some will be engineers, and others will be artists or dancers. But a six-year-old is a six-year-old and emotional IQ generally doesn’t vary by more than a year or two if the child is under 18.

tutor logo Is your child twice exceptional? All blog entries are written by Tutor Nerds. Are you an education professional? If so, email us at info@tutornerds.com for guest blogging and collaborations. We want to make this the best free education resource in SoCal, so feel free to suggest what you would like to see us post about.

Orange County parents and students, listen up! Beat the summer slowdown with a private, in-home tutor. We work around your schedule so you can stay sharp while having fun in the sun. Read: 10 Reasons You Need a Summer Tutor. What are you waiting for? Call us.

 Is your child twice exceptional? Teach.com

Summer School Survival Kit

Surviving Summer School

So you have to go to summer school. Although it does sound like the end of the world right now, feel better knowing that more and more students are spending the warm and breezy months of July and August in a classroom. For some of you it will be to catch up and for others it will be to get ahead. Test prep tutoring is also becoming more popular during the summer months. Lets’ face it, the school year is becoming increasingly demanding and your academic responsibilities will start spilling out into the warmer months with each increasing year. Rather than feel the impending doom of a 12 month study year, we can find some ways to survive summer school, study effectively, and even have a little fun. (READ: Education World: 25 Activities to keep kids’ brains active in summer)

summer-school

3 Summer School Survival Tips

  1. Schedule Early: Get out your calendar before you and your parents pick out which session you will be attending. Most summer schools offer more than one session so that you can work around your other commitments. Think about how tired you are likely to be after that last day of the academic year. Although it might be hard to believe, even tutors were high school students once and I know I would have needed at least a week to relax and unwind. On the other hand, waiting too long to start your summer program can leave more work as many concepts are easily forgotten if left on the shelf for a few weeks.
  2. Study Effectively: Studying the right way can greatly reduce the time spent with summer homework while at the same time increasing your ability to achieve a high grade and understand the material. Schedule a certain number of hours into your day to finish your assignments. Think of it as a mini school year. Make outlines, keep a planner, set time management goals and really give your undivided attention to your school work. You will be much more likely to fully understand the material if you sit down for two hours and work on the assignment from start to finish than if you study 15 minutes here and there in between other commitments. Studying effectively includes having an appropriate environment. These include your room, the library, and for those of you who don’t get easily distracted, a coffee shop. If you feel like you can study when you are on that family vacation, great, but be realistic. Studying in the car and on planes is often difficult and there are too many distractions to comprehend the bulk of the material. Your study environment should be quiet.
  3. Ask for help: Be honest with yourself about time management. If you were originally planning to spend the entire summer chilling out at the beach, the reality of summer school can be hard. If having a tutor to help you organize and get things done will help, then go for it. Having someone drop by the house each week can also encourage a consistency that is extremely important to successfully passing your summer courses. You can also enlist the help of your summer school teacher, parents and responsible friends to help you study and stay on track.

Summer school is becoming a reality for more students each year. At the end of the day, it’s mostly about balancing your time. You can still hang out at the beach, enjoy a summer BBQ, and spend time shopping at the mall or catching the latest action flick. Study hard, have fun and don’t forget to rest up for next year! Remember,  an Irvine private tutor from TutorNerds works with your schedule, that way you can get the most out of your summer classes and hit the ground running once fall semester starts.

Not taking summer classes? Don’t fall victim to the summer slump! Catch up on math or science, start your college admissions process with the help of our private consultants, or refine your foreign language skills; whatever it may be, we’re here to help!

tutor logo Coding For Kids: Whys it Important? All blog entries are written by Tutor Nerds. Are you an education professional? If so, email us at info@tutornerds.com for guest blogging and collaborations. We want to make this the best free education resource in SoCal, so feel free to suggest what you would like to see us post about.

Orange County parents and students, listen up! Beat the summer slowdown with a private, in-home tutor. We work around your schedule so you can stay sharp while having fun in the sun. Read: 10 Reasons You Need a Summer Tutor. What are you waiting for? Call us.

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Coding For Kids: Why’s it Important?

Coding for Kids: Why is it important and where can I find it?

Is coding for kids the future? Let’s discuss. Can anyone think back to or imagine themselves sitting in an elementary school classroom 25 or 50 years ago? How well do you think those students would have done in school without a pencil and paper? Not well at all. How would they have been able to communicate their thoughts, complete their assignments or provide proof that they had finished their work? Now let’s skip ahead to 2014. Today’s paper is a computer and today’s pencil is coding (READ: What is Coding?). It’s amazing how much things have changed.

coding-for-kids

Have any of you asked your seven year old niece to unlock your new phone? Perhaps after playing around with random buttons for half an hour, and then have her look at you like you’re so very silly not to be able to figure out such a simple thing? I have. Welcome to the Age of Technology.

One of the new tools younger children (elementary and middle school age) should take advantage of is coding, also known as computer programming. Let’s take a look at why coding is so advantageous for today’s students.

Five Reasons Why Coding is Advantageous for Kids

  1. Because coding is essentially as important as having a pencil in today’s educational world, not learning about programming could leave this generation of kids at a huge disadvantage. Don’t let them be left behind.
  2. When children learn one thing, they often learn other things as well. As an educator, one of the issues I see most is a lack of problem solving. Kids and teens are asked to do so much more today than I was back in my teens so it’s no wonder that finding solutions to everyday problems can be a substantial challenge. The younger a kid learns to figure things out for themselves and become self sufficient, the better. In the last decade I have only met one or two kids who could sit down at a computer and figure out how to code without prompting. Learning computer programming is challenging for most students, which is a good thing. They will be forced to problem solve, collaborate and ask questions in order to move on to the next step. The first time it will be really frustrating but, in the end, they will be able to brainstorm-an essential and underutilized skill-on their own. This will be a wonderful advantage later in life.
  3. Coding is starting to become a basic skill that can be used across many other disciplines. If programming and computers are the new pencil and paper, imagine all of the topics, subjects and disciplines that required the use of pencil 25 years ago. Pretty much ever one.
  4. Communication. Children can use coding to communicate their ideas with their peers, and later on, their colleagues.
  5. Creativity. Art no longer plays a large part in most children’s education (which is unfortunate) and many kids are finding it difficult to express themselves creatively. Coding-in particular animation and design-is a great way for young children to regain this all important form of expression

Coding is undoubtedly important for kids, but where can they learn it in the Orange County area?

  • Our very own UC Irvine offers technology camps for children and teens ages 7-17.
  • Coder Dojo is a not-for-profit (and free) institution also located right here in Irvine.
  • The Digital Media Academy offers technology summer camps with a creative spin. Many of the locations are held in California including UC Irvine.

It is important to remember that each child is different and will enjoy different activities. However, each child deserves the chance to have the basic tools to succeed in our current technological society. 15 or 20 years ago advanced computer skills were still considered a special skill while today they can help every child learn and have an advantage in the workforce later on.

tutor logo The California Teacher Tenure Lawsuit: What You Need to KnowAll blog entries are written by Tutor Nerds. Are you an education professional? If so, email us at info@tutornerds.com for guest blogging and collaborations. We want to make this the best free education resource in SoCal, so feel free to suggest what you would like to see us post about.

Orange County parents and students, listen up! Beat the summer slowdown with a private, in-home tutor. We work around your schedule so you can stay sharp while having fun in the sun. Read: 10 Reasons You Need a Summer Tutor. What are you waiting for? Call us.

Using Memory to Study Effectively | TutorNerds | Orange County

Did You Remember to Study?

At this point in your lives, studying is a huge part of your day. It’s a pretty big task to be able to go to school for six hours and then come home and put in an additional two hours or so. If you are also getting ready to apply for college, or are preparing for the SAT or AP (read out post, “Last Minute AP Study Guide”) classes, those two hours can turn into a lot more. Have you ever thought to yourself that there must be an easier way? Unfortunately there is not an easier way, but there is a better way.

student-studying-memory

Memory plays a substantial role in how much information we need to keep in our minds and the brain takes on the complicated task of determining which information is important and which is not.

Short term, long term and working memory

There are three primary types of memory: Short term, long term and working memory. Short term memory lasts about 7 seconds, so this part of the brain essentially takes a mental note about important elements and stores them for a very short time. So when do we use this magical seven second notepad? Lets’ say you are sitting in that giant classroom on Saturday morning taking your SAT and the proctor has just said “start”. It’s time to get that short term memory rolling. For example, if you are solving for X in your head and you remember that the partial answer is 8 and you have the then divide that by 3, you are using short term memory.

academic-tutoring-memory-study

This presents a problem for students who are tired or overworked. Sound familiar? Sleep is the best way to keep the short term memory sharp but you can compensate for fatigue by writing everything down. Temporary short term memory loss can lead to a lot of missed answers that you really knew so take advantage or your pencil and test booklet in order to give yourself the best chance at success.

Long term memory can potentially last forever. Remember when you rode a bike at age six? Now, ten years later you can not only remember riding your bike but you still know how to do it. That’s long term memory. This will come in handy when you’re asked about a book you read in school two years ago; it will take your brain a bit longer, but it’ll get there.

Your Most Valuable Study Partner: Working Memory

That brings us to working memory. Working memory is your best friend and most valuable study partner when it comes to studying and taking tests. Working memory is similar to short term memory but it can store multiple pieces of information in multiple formats. Essentially your memory is multitasking the entire time you are studying, which is why you feel so tired after doing homework. So how can you use your working memory to study more effectively?

Although we don’t entirely know which tricks work for which people just yet, many students will be able to study more effectively by trying these 5 tips:

  1. Write an outline of what you really need to focus on before you start studying. If you have a list of key words or phrases, your brain can search for them while disregarding irrelevant information. The less multitasking your memory has to do, the quicker it can function. Compare it to cleaning your room. How likely are you to find your favorite pair of jeans if your clothes are everywhere? A quick cleaning at the beginning of the week can make each morning easier. The memory can work the same way.
  2. Eliminate distractions. The memory is already working hard when you are studying so do yourself a favor and turn off the TV, turn your phone to silent and close the door to your room if your home gets noisy. Many students find wearing earplugs helpful.
  3. Socialize. That’s right, talk to your friends. I don’t mean talk to them on the phone the night before a big test, but rather just in general. We have to think all the time and use short term memory when we chit chat and it keeps our brains active while we are having fun.
  4. Eat your fruits and veggies and protein too. Healthy food is fuel for our brains and memory. The more energy your brain has to burn, the quicker it can get things done.
  5. Sleep! I bet a lot of you are up until 1 or 2 in the morning finishing homework. 4 or 5 hours of sleep is definitely not enough to keep the memory running at full speed. Try getting a full 8 hours and see if you can get your homework done faster the next afternoon. I bet you’ll be surprised.

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One last thing, summer doesn’t mean an end to learning. In today’s competitive world of college admissions, it’s crucial students spend the next few months improving and catching up. What better way to do that than with a private summer tutor? We work with student’s schedules so they can still have fun. Don’t fall victim to the summer slow down!

7 Things Parents Should Ask New Teachers | TutorNerds

A Little Homework for Orange County Parents

Issues with assignments or tests may not be linked to problems at home. In this case, it’s helpful to know what’s going on in the classroom; and this is where an involved parent is indispensable.  Whether it’s how the student is progressing in class or what resources may be available for extra help, having a good relationship with teachers is important for any caregiver. Ensure you build and maintain the best relationships by asking these important questions early on. With an informed parent, students have a much better chance of successfully completing a class. Finally, refer to this list for summer schooling as well.

Teacher-questions You may find some of these questions unnecessary and some very useful, so use at your discretion to ensure you have the best understanding of your child’s academic environment.

1. How do you measure academic progress in your class?

This questions attempts to discover if the teacher is focused on testing students regularly. If he is, it’s helpful to know how the tests are administered and what is generally tested. All this information can be used to prepare your child in the future.

2. If my student is struggling in class, how will you respond?

This is a question that, unfortunately, doesn’t get asked enough. For many parents, a string of bad grades on a progress report is the only evidence their student is struggling. To catch issues early, caregivers should find out what a teacher does when a student’s grades start slipping. This could be anything from a note home to the parents to a conference including the child.

3. What aspects of the class usually give students difficulty?

Again, anything you can find out ahead of time is valuable. Knowing what tends to confuse students gives caregivers an opportunity to work on those issues ahead of time. Take advance of these hints and work with your child early on to tackle the hard stuff.

4. On a daily basis, what should I be asking my child about your class?

Some classes require a lot of homework and others build upon concepts throughout the semester. Since a teacher constructs the class, she may know what would be helpful to review on a weekly basis. She may not suggest any check-ins, but it never hurts to ask.

5. Are there any resources you suggest we use at home?

Teachers tend to be the best resources when it comes to extra studying materials. Even if your child hasn’t struggled in the past or tends to perform well on tests, having these resources handy may be helpful in the future.

6. By the end of the year, what are the big concepts my child needs to understand?

Understand the big picture of your child’s class. Not only does this give you a better idea of what they’re learning, but it also allows you to keep them focused when they get bogged down in details. Sometimes, just realizing what the end goal is can be helpful to relieve stress and raise confidence in students.

7. Is there anything else I should know about this class?

You may not have heard about the optional study groups or the textbook’s online companion. It’s always worth asking this question since every class is different from the last.

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Attention all Orange County, CA, high school students grades 9-12: Enter our essay contest for a chance to win $500! The deadline is quickly approaching.

Feng Shui and . . . Studying? | TutorNerds

Feng Shui in Orange County, CA

Sometimes studying is impossible. I can think of a million other enjoyable things to do, including sitting in traffic and listening to elevator music. If you find yourself in this predicament, consider a change of venue. Our environment has a huge impact on how we learn, and it doesn’t take much effort to improve it. Just bear with me for a moment and discover how you can take small steps to harmonize the studying experience in your life.

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The easiest place to start is the place most of us study; our rooms. Start off with a space that has enough natural light and a comfortable temperature with access to fresh air. When choosing a space for your desk, take a “command position” with your back to a wall. Your seating should be comfortable as well, supporting proper back alignment and allowing your feet to rest flat on the floor. Keep your study area clean and organized to ease your mind of extra stress. Just seeing a clean study space can calm the mind and focus you on your next task. The door to the room should be visible, but not directly in front of you.

Once the basics are set, you can enhance the space with a few more additions. First, create a space for recognition in the room. It doesn’t have to be large, about the size of a medium bulletin board will do. Here you’ll place awards, tests, and any achievements you’ve earned. These will serve as motivation for future accomplishments and a reminder of the hard work you’ve done. Lastly, if you are looking for something to symbolize perseverance and success, use a carp. They are a good fortune symbol, especially with educational achievement.

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If making changes to your space isn’t possible, or you just have to get out, consider these other locations for serene study spaces.

Land of books – Whether it’s the university or community library, it’s hard to find a better spot that can almost ensure relative peace and ample resources. There are typically cozy corners to inhabit or study rooms to rent, depending on what you need to accomplish. Stay away from places of high traffic, like computer stations or the entrance. If you can, avoid florescent lights; you’re better off going for a sunny spot instead.

Green spaces – While studying, absorbing some vitamin D is a wonderful accomplishment. Assuming the weather is nice, you can choose from a local park, trail, or public garden. Make sure you bring all your supplies and a comfy quilt or blanket to spread out on. Avoid busy parks full of children or trails with lots of foot traffic. You still want to get some studying done while enjoying nature, just don’t get too distracted by the squirrels or the workout groups.

Caffeine heaven – Coffee shops seem to be the favorite of students everywhere. While yours truly has spent plenty of time in quaint shops, sipping tea and writing poetry, they aren’t great for everyone. If you really need to focus, most students will find coffee shops too distracting between noise, movement, friends and sugary snacks. If you really need the caffeine fix, look for shops with secluded or private rooms you can snag. Another option is to check out museum coffee shops. These tend to be much quieter than your neighborhood spot, and the ambiance will definitely set the mood for studying.

Need more help picking the right study space? Just ask your Irvine in-home personal tutor where he or she likes to study. Don’t have a tutor? Contact us today and we’ll set you up with the perfect private tutor based on your preferences.

Now that your Feng Shui is settled, read our post on mindfulness!

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All blog entries are written by Tutor Nerds. For educational guest-blogging, please email us at info@tutornerds.com

Want to stay up-to-date on the latest educational news, Irvine? Follow us on Facebook! Have a quick question in regards to our Orange County, CA, private tutoring services? Tweet us @TutorNerds

Attention all Orange County, CA, high school students grades 9-12: Enter our essay contest for a chance to win $500!

Educational Website Wednesdays | TutorNerds

“Since we are destined to live out our lives in the prison of our minds, it is our duty to furnish it well.” – Peter Ustinov

That may be a little dramatic, but Mr. Ustinov is onto something. Actually, let’s think of our minds as an empty loft overlooking a bustling metropolis. As we look down on the cars and hurried people, we realize the world is overwhelming. In order to find our own place in it, we need to find out who we are. The loft may be empty, gray, and even a little dusty, but as we grow intellectually, it will soon become a collage of our interests.

tutor-logoThe first step in cerebral-interior decorating is to be curios. Do you like writing poetry? How do you know if you’ve never tried? Let’s put the poetry chair in the corner for a while and see if we like it. No? Okay, we can give the chair to a friend. Soon enough you’ll be well-furnished and content with your loft.

You may be asking yourself, where do I get this furniture? To put it frankly, everywhere! Think culture, math, science, nature, and even the internet.  Yes, you read that correctly, the internet can be both a great place and a lousy place to furnish your mind; the decision is up to you. But don’t fret, TutorNerds is here to help.

Every Wednesday we’ll suggest an educational website we think is great, so you can move furniture around, or even add that Armoire you’ve always wanted. That being said, our first Educational Website Wednesday pick is:

Open Culture – The best free cultural & educational media on the web

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From audio books to online courses, Open Culture is an excellent site to get your daily dose of culture. Not only do they post their own findings – for example, Kurt Vonnegut reading Slaughterhouse-Five – but they have a sidebar with endless links to free-movies, language-lessons, etc.

In addition to all you’ll learn from the website itself, it’s a great reference for further cultural exploration. To explain, many of Open Culture’s posts reveal what inspires the people whom inspire us. Excited to see the new Wes Anderson film? Here’s a list of movies that influenced the iconic director’s style.

Don’t Be Selfish

Having a well-furnished loft is nice, but it’s no fun without anyone to share it with. Assist your friends and family on their own cultural explorations by sharing the interesting things you find. Luckily, it’s easier than ever with social media. Click on the any of the badges on the bottom-left of the screen, or at the bottom of each post, and get the word out! Stay creative, Los Angeles.