For many families, middle school marks a transition from dependence to independence. Parents become less involved in their students' schooling, leaving students responsible for managing their time.
While it's important for students to build responsibility and independence, the transition from elementary to middle school can feel overwhelming. Middle-schoolers are confronted with new school buildings, new classmates, new teachers, new procedures and new expectations. They need parents' support to navigate these changes successfully.
Moreover, middle school is a critical time in students' academic trajectories. The math and language skills built in middle school determine students' eligibility for advanced high school coursework. Additionally, middle-schoolers who build strong study skills are better positioned for success in high school and college.
Your student's day-to-day experience in middle school will be profoundly different from elementary school. She'll have different teachers for different subjects, her own locker and a larger building to navigate.
Help her prepare by talking about these changes beforehand. Teach her how to use a combination lock and a school email account. The more she knows about these new experiences, the less intimidating they will be.
Here are some ways to help your student adapt to day-to-day changes in middle school:
Middle school is much more academically rigorous than elementary school. Students have more homework, more classes and fewer breaks. They start building essential skills for accelerated courses in high school. They also choose their own elective classes.
When it comes to electives, students must choose strategically. A computer science course, for example, is more beneficial than woodshop if your student is college bound. Additionally, many colleges require two years of foreign language study for admission, so starting in middle school is advantageous.
Here are some way to help your student adjust to the academic demands of middle school:
If your child's school offers a transition program, it likely focuses on the procedural and academic changes between elementary and middle school. However, the social changes are often the most pronounced.
Children entering middle school are going through big emotional, cognitive and physical changes, and those changes often affect their social lives. Their developing social skills make them more aware of other people's thoughts and opinions, and, while that awareness helps them in many situations, it also causes stress.
Many incoming middle-schoolers have anxiety about building new relationships, since they are in class with so many unfamiliar students and teachers. Talk to your child about the best way to make new friends, as well as how to identify toxic friendships and group dynamics.
Here are some ways to help your student prepare for the social challenges of middle school:
College Planning in Middle School
Is your middle-schooler college bound? If so, the time to start planning for college costs and admissions is now. To learn more about how to create a smart financial plan for college, sign up for our free college financial planning seminar led by an expert financial adviser.
You've likely heard the term "emotional intelligence" (or EQ), but do you understand its importance to your child's academic and social success?
Experts agree that EQ skills are more important to a child's future achievement than his grades or intelligence. Many public schools include emotional goals alongside grade-level academic benchmarks, and some even have targeted programs for building EQ.
As we learn more about emotional intelligence, it will become an increasingly valued skill in the workplace. Here's how you can help prepare your child.
What Is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive and understand emotions - in oneself and in others. Some skills typically associated with emotional intelligence are:
Much like IQ, we're born with a certain level of emotional intelligence. However, learned behavior is also a large component. People of any age can build their emotional intelligence skills for increased productivity, better relationships and healthier choices.
Why is Emotional Intelligence Important?
Studies consistently show that EQ is a better predictor of a child's career success than IQ. In fact, EQ skills account for 54 percent of the variation in adults' level of success, one study found. Additionally, children with strong EQ get higher grades, earn more advanced degrees and make healthier life choices.
The benefits of high EQ have become so lauded that many top-level companies - like Google, American Express and FedEx - now use EQ testing as part of their interview processes for new employees. In collaborative, fast-moving corporate environments, the ability to work successfully with others is often more important than pure smarts.
With schools and companies increasingly recognizing the importance of EQ, it's often parents who are behind the curve. Many parents push students to earn high grades but pay little attention to emotional development. Even more fail to notice small opportunities to build emotional skills at home.
How to Build Emotional Intelligence
The best way to foster emotional intelligence is to model it. Take some time to evaluate the way you express your emotions. When you have a negative emotional response, do you label it honestly and express your underlying frustrations? Repressing negative emotions usually causes them to leak out in unhealthy ways, like resentment, explosive anger or nervous habits.
If you have room to improve when it comes to modeling emotional intelligence, don't fret. These skills are challenging, and people of any age can work on them. As you talk more openly about emotions at home, your child will become more empathetic and more self-aware.
Here are some other ways to build EQ at home:
Stories are how we make sense of the world around us. For children, this is especially true. Make sure your child has ample opportunities to read on her own. This may mean weekly trips to the library or limited screen time.
While your student will be assigned books in school, this obligatory reading should not be the only reading your student does. Help him discover his own literary interests, whether that's science fiction, comic books, graphic novels, fantasy or biographies.
Reading is the best tool for building empathy because students experience the world through the eyes of characters who are different from them. In fact, reading is the only self-guided way for children to get inside someone else's head.
Strong empathy helps students build supportive friendships, connect with bosses and coworkers, and avoid off-putting or antisocial behaviors.
2. Acknowledge Emotions
Understanding and labeling emotions is a huge component of self-awareness. Toddlers throw tantrums because they don't have the language skills to express themselves. As children age, it's important to help them develop those skills and accurately label their feelings.
Here are some example statements for constructively labeling emotions:
"You wanted a popsicle, but you can't have one before dinner. You feel so frustrated."
"It's tough for you to brush your teeth when you don't want to, but it's time now."
"You're disappointed that we can't go to the pool today."
"You're mad that Anthony isn't sharing his toy!"
"You get to stay up late with your brother. You're so happy and excited!"
3. Encourage Self-Expression
Do you often find yourself saying things to your child like, "Don't be upset," or, "Stop crying"? While this is a natural response to seeing your child upset, it's beneficial to let him express his emotions instead of correcting him. If children feel ashamed of their emotions, they repress negative feelings and fail to develop helpful communication and coping strategies.
Always listen to your children and affirm their emotions before offering advice. Affirming their emotions does not mean that you condone their behaviors - it's simply a way to let them know you care and that their feelings are valid.
When you do give advice, guide your child to her own conclusion, rather than offering your own. This helps her build interpersonal problem-solving skills (which can be tough to develop in the age of social media). If your child is being mistreated by a friend at school, you might ask, "What could you say to Angie that would let her know how you feel?"
Here are some ways to encourage healthy self-expression:
"You're feeling very angry that you're not allowed to go to the party, but slamming your door is not allowed. Tell me in words how you feel. I will not change my mind, but I will listen."
"What a terrible day! Of course you're crying - your friends made you feel embarrassed!"
"It seems like you're anxious about your test today. I get nervous before tests, too. Do you want to talk about it?"
4. Pretend Play
For small children, pretend play is an excellent way to process the surrounding world. (All species use play for this purpose!)
If you notice your child struggling with a particular social dynamic or negative emotion, try to incorporate it into your next play session. Here's the kicker: Instead of minimizing or dismissing their emotion in your imaginary world, make it more pronounced.
For example, if your child is jealous of his brother, play a short game where no matter the outcome, his brother is declared the winner. Let your child be in on the joke - let him protest dramatically and fall over in despair. Children love repetitive games with a recurring "punch line." By acknowledging a negative emotion while still making your child the "star" of the scene, you bring the unhealthy dynamic to light and let it dissipate.
Reading for EQ
Wondering how to help your elementary student build emotional intelligence through reading? Call us at 847-834-0791 to learn more about our expert elementary language arts tutors.
Has homework drama wormed its way into your nighttime routine? Never fear! With a little structure and planning, homework time can become a chance to check in with and support your student. Take the stress out of weeknight homework with these easy tips:
1. Set a Routine
Setting a consistent nightly routine is the first step to making homework time less hectic. When students know what to expect, it is easier for them to transition between activities and focus. It also builds strong study habits, which will be essential when their coursework becomes more challenging. Furthermore, a designated "homework time" each night makes it less likely that assignments will slip through the cracks.
2. Create a Helpful Homework Space
A noisy or cluttered homework space can make it tough to get things done. Find a quiet (and TV-free) spot where your student can work without interruption. Make sure she has access to the materials she needs to complete her assignments - like pencils, paper, a calculator or a computer - before she starts. For some reluctant studiers, the hunt for a pencil can spiral into a major distraction.
3. Build an Assignment Calendar
Writing upcoming assignments out in calendar form helps students visualize their weeks and manage their time effectively. Two weeks may sound like plenty of time to finish a large project, but once you break it up into manageable chunks and add it to the calendar, your student can see the benefit of starting early. For children (and many adults!) remembering due dates can be a challenge, so writing down each assignment helps prevent last-minute panics.
4. Set a Timer
Nobody wants homework time to drag into the night. But if you have to hover over your student to get him to work, he can't develop the necessary self-motivation to succeed in high school and beyond. Work with your student to determine a suitable time limit for each assignment, then set a timer she can see. The "ticking clock" adds structure to homework time and motivates her to work efficiently.
5. Create an Incentive
Homework incentives don't have to be rewards. This could be something as simple as putting a sticker or check mark on a daily calendar. The point is to create a sense of accomplishment and finality at the end of each homework session. Your student has worked hard, so take a moment to acknowledge that together before bed.
6. Use Visual Aids
A visual aid could be a chart, graph or diagram - or even something as simple as colored highlighters. Organizing information into a visually engaging whole helps students retain what they learn. Additionally, creating visual aids builds important data analysis and organization skills. Here are some ideas to get you started:
7. Communicate with Teachers
Students can't always be trusted to keep track of their assignments and keep you in the loop. Use a syllabus or curriculum guide to maintain a general idea of what's happening in class, and check in with teachers every so often. If your student's teacher does not use a website to share grades and assignments, a short email will do.
Remember that, as a parent, your job is to support the work a teacher does in the classroom. When you contact a teacher, make sure that your tone is collaborative and that you leave room for your student to advocate for herself, when necessary.
8. Cut Yourself a Break
You've got enough on your plate without stressing over how to multiply exponents. If your student's homework surpasses what you remember from school, no worries. There are plenty of affordable, qualified tutors (as well as school resources) that can help your child complete assignments and master new concepts.
For more information on iLearn Academy's Homework Help program, call 847-834-0791.
The modern math class is deeply reliant on technology. Many lectures are online, and much work is submitted online or graded by computer.
This new approach has many benefits. Students can experience moving graphic displays of mathematical concepts, many that they can manipulate themselves to get a better grasp of new ideas. Students also get instant feedback on their answers with online homework and don't have to wait for a teacher's corrections.
However, there are drawbacks, as well. Students can repeatedly get questions incorrect due to small input errors, like a missing bracket or period. For other questions, students can simply click their way to a correct answer without actually doing any math.
Overall, technology is simply another tool to help students learn. Technology doesn't replace the tools that are tried and true: paper and a pencil.
Don't be fooled. The world still has pencils! Use them. Writing is important for students to memorize math concepts and techniques. Showing work gives students a record of what they have done and what they understood. Additionally, by showing work for previous assignments, students are making themselves an instant study guide to use for later exams.
The scientific evidence is clear: Writing helps memory. Those who write their notes learn concepts quicker and remember them longer than those who type or take pictures of notes. Some studies attribute this to the many different parts of the brain that are engaged while taking notes. When students take notes, they must take in visual and auditory information and reinterpret it as written symbols. In the process, this information passes through many crevasses of a student's mind (auditory while listening, visual while reading, symbolic while interpreting, tactile while writing). Later, when students go to recall the information, their minds have more places to draw from.
Other studies claim the mere inefficiency of writing forces students to choose important information to transcribe. Students who take pictures or type notes can record everything verbatim. Then, they try to memorize every word when it comes time for a test. No easy task!
Writing is slower. So, students who write are forced to learn what primers help them remember. Because of this, their notes are more helpful . In other words, they must actively process and filter information to choose what is important enough to write down.
Whatever the reasoning, study after study finds that writing by hand is the best route to remembering. When students do homework on a touch screen or keyboard, the writing element is lost. This makes it hard for students to remember solving the problem in the first place, let alone how to do it again.
It is important that students write down every problem they encounter online and work it out on paper. Writing out work gives students a record of what they did and what they understood. This is helpful in many ways. Firstly, it saves them time and missed points on homework and tests. For online homework, for example, if students miss an answer, they can simply look through their written work to find their error, fix it, and resubmit, rather than doing the entire problem again.
Writing helps with human graders, too! Written work gives teachers the chance to reward students for showing understanding, even if an answer is wrong. Secondly, writing out work helps students notice common mistakes they make. If a student has one step in a problem he cannot do, writing will help him notice that and get the needed help. Similarly, teachers can quickly identify the source of an incorrect answer and help students with that step of the problem.
Who needs a study guide when you have all this nice written work? When students make it a habit to show work, they automatically accrue a wealth of resources to study later:
With all this, students will not have to seek out new materials to study. They can refer back to work they're familiar with. There's no better way to master skills!
In summary: Please don't forget about the pencil. A pencil is a math student's best friend. Simply put, if students cannot solve a problem with a pencil, then they don't know how to solve the problem.
Writing helps us remember. Writing helps us communicate what we know. Writing gives us the best resource to refer to later. No matter the medium, if a student is trying to learn or remember any math concept, writing will help. Whether watching a video, solving problems on a screen, working in a book, doing a worksheet, or taking a test -- write.
Want to help your student master math concepts and build strong study skills? Schedule a sample session with one of our expert tutors.
The ACT is a college admissions test designed to measure students' readiness for university-level study. A high score helps students get admitted to their target schools and qualify for scholarships.
Because of the test's importance (and length - it takes nearly three hours to complete), preparing for the ACT can be daunting.
Luckily, the test-makers let students and instructors know exactly which skills and concepts will show up on each section of the test. With this information and a detailed study plan, students can avoid cramming and walk into test day feeling confident and prepared.
The ACT English Test
The ACT consists of four portions: English, Math, Reading and Science.
The English section tests students' knowledge of grammar, punctuation and writing standards. Here is a breakdown of the concepts included in each ACT English test:
1. Grammar, Usage and Mechanics (40 questions)
Perhaps the fastest way for a student to improve his or her English section score is to memorize punctuation rules. While the breakdown attributes only 10 questions to punctuation problems, the English section requires students to draw on punctuation rules frequently to rule out wrong answers and answer sentence structure problems. For example, the test-writers often rely on misused commas to generate the three incorrect answer options that students must eliminate.
Check out this sample problem, for instance:
As World War I began, the British navy blockaded the European continent, cutting off Chilean nitrate supplies.
A. NO CHANGE
While this is primarily a sentence structure problem, students must correctly apply punctuation rules in order to select the correct answer option.
Ready to boost your ACT score in a few easy steps? Take a couple minutes to memorize these 13 punctuation rules, then complete some ACT practice problems to solidify your new skills.
The 13 ACT Punctuation Rules
1. Use a comma to separate three or more words in a list.
Sam brought his bat, ball, and glove to the game on Sunday.
2. Use a comma to separate two equal adjectives.
The violent, steely waves menaced the fishermen.
3. Use commas to offset non-essential words or phrases in a sentence.
The sunset, glowing in the evening dusk, looked like a ball of fire.
Teresa, my cousin, immigrated from France in 1998.
4. Use a comma to separate an introductory word or phrase from the rest of the sentence.
Yes, Mary is planning to attend the dance this Friday.
According to Dad, the car is fixed.
5. Use a comma to offset a dependent clause at the beginning of a sentence.
Although she was good at business, she chose the profession of a teacher.
6. Use a comma and coordinating conjunction to separate two independent clauses.
I enjoyed watching the game, but my brother thought it was too long.
Now, try a few practice problems:
1. A bright yellow shining light glowed from the lighthouse to warn travelers at sea.
A. NO CHANGE
B. bright, yellow, shining light
C. bright, yellow, shining, light
D. bright, yellow, shining, light,
2. We went to a great concert last night but the music was too loud.
A. NO CHANGE
B. concert last night, but the music
C. concert, last night but, the music
D. concert, last night, but the music
3. To open the door properly you must turn the knob while pressing in firmly.
A. NO CHANGE
B. properly you must turn the knob,
C. properly, you must turn the knob
D. properly you must turn, the knob
Answers: B, B, C
1. Use apostrophes to show missing letters.
I'm, They'd, It's raining outside, Who's coming?
2. Use apostrophes to show ownership.
Juan's car, children's film, many flowers' stems
3. Do not use an apostrophe to make a noun plural or create a possessive pronoun.
yours, ours, its muffler, Whose idea is it?
1. Use semicolons to connect two related independent clauses.
I called Jessica; she will arrive in 30 minutes.
2. When necessary, pair semicolons with a longer transition word or phrase (subordinating conjunction or conjunctive adverb) followed by a comma. Do not use a coordinating conjunction.
I love cheese; however, I find milk disgusting.
I missed the final exam; as a result, I failed the course.
1. Use colons to set up a list of items.
This recipe includes many ingredients: chicken, curry, onions, brown sugar, and sour cream.
2. Use colons to set up and deliver a salient point.
That's when Walt Disney stumbled upon the character he would become known for: Mickey Mouse.
Now, try a few practice problems:
1. Almost all areas on earth have been explored by modern scientists; as a result, they have begun research on the floors of the sea.
A. NO CHANGE
B. scientists; as a result they
C. scientists, as a result, they
D. scientists. As a result they
2. Don't you remember they're story about catching butterfly's?
A. NO CHANGE
B. Don't you remember their story about catching butterfly's?
C. Don't you remember their story about catching butterflies?
D. Don't you remember there story about catching butterflies?
3. The questions were tricky, but I did them.
A. NO CHANGE
B. question's were tricky, but I
C. questions were tricky; but I
D. questions were tricky, but: I
Answers: A, C, A
Preparing for the ACT English Section
How did you do on the practice problems? The more time you spend answering practice questions in the ACT format, the easier the real test will be.
Every ACT test features the same concepts, format and question types, so completing practice problems and practice tests is by far the best way to raise your score.
Need assistance finding practice materials, creating a test preparation plan or mastering difficult concepts? A test prep tutor can help.
The expert ACT tutors at iLearn Academy help students raise their scores by six points, on average. For more information, check out our test prep program page.
Parent-teacher conferences are right around the corner, and it's important to make the most of this valuable opportunity to connect with your child's teacher face to face.
The goal of parent-teacher conferences is to find ways to work together to support your child's success. By taking a few minutes to prepare in advance, you can help facilitate a productive meeting.
Ready to form a beneficial partnership with your child's teacher? Here are a few ways to get there:
Talk to Your Child
Before your conference, check in with your child. See if he has any questions or concerns he'd like you to address with his teacher, and get a sense of his attitude toward the class and teacher. Is your child falling behind, feeling unchallenged, or struggling socially? Knowing this at the onset will help you make the most of your time with his teacher.
Come with Questions
Coming prepared with questions ensures that you leave with all the information you need, and the teacher will appreciate your engagement. Rank your questions from most pressing to least, in case you run out of time to discuss them all.
You will likely have questions about your child's performance in class, academic strengths and weaknesses, and skill levels. However, don't forget about the social element of education. It's essential to talk with your child's teacher about how your child responds to feedback, how she behaves in class and how she gets along with other children. If your child is displaying any behavioral or social issues in class, it will be important to address them at home so she can thrive in the classroom.
Here are some helpful questions to ask during a parent-teacher conference:
Maintain an Open Mind
A good teacher will talk with you honestly about both your child's strengths and her weaknesses. These weaknesses may not be negative, but merely areas for improvement. Take advantage of the opportunity to help your child improve.
If your child's teacher has noticed academic or behavioral problems, don't become defensive. While it can be difficult to hear negative feedback, your cooperation is essential to your child's success. Advocate for your child when needed, but be prepared to take on a supporting role, as well.
If you feel disappointed or frustrated, know that there's no pressure to respond to the teacher's feedback right away. Thank her for the information, and let her know that you're processing it and will follow up.
Create an Action Plan
The most important question you can ask your child's teacher is, "How can I support your efforts at home?"
Work with the teacher to create a short list of goals for your child. Then, decide how you will both contribute to those aims.
For example, if your child is failing to complete and turn in homework, you might instate a "no TV until homework is finished" rule. If she's struggling to make friends at school, you may sign her up for a soccer team or community theater.
Once you have your action plan, check in with your child's teacher throughout the year to measure progress. As long as you're respectful of the teacher's time and expertise, he will appreciate your involvement and support. This type of plan ensures that the goals you discuss in the parent-teacher conference turn into real, measurable progress for your student.
If your child is struggling with academics, your action plan might include outside tutoring. For information on iLearn Academy's certified tutors and personalized learning plans, browse our curriculum.
Parents and students often gravitate toward one-on-one tutoring because it gives students the individual attention classroom teachers can't provide. However, many students benefit even more from small-group instruction.
Studies show that small-group tutoring is particularly effective for problem-solving skills and targeted skill-building. Furthermore, students who participate in small group tutoring outperform their peers.
Curious about the benefits of group tutoring? Here are three big advantages of enrolling in a small group (besides saving money!).
1. Students Stay Engaged
In a small group, different perspectives and learning styles create a fun, high-energy environment.
If one student is struggling with a concept, another student can explain how she arrived at the correct answer. This makes the session feel less like a lecture and more like a discussion. Students feel motivated to keep up with the group, and each student can use his or her strengths to assist others.
This set-up also removes some pressure when a student is dealing with a challenging skill. Watching another student apply the skill successfully can be a very effective learning tool.
2. Students Stick with It
A friend at the tutoring center is a powerful incentive to keep students working hard and coming back. While short-term tutoring is certainly helpful for a difficult class or test preparation, long-term instruction is what builds the academic strategies that position students for lifelong success.
Long-term tutoring groups offer social and academic support. Students learn from each other's strengths and feel more at ease tackling challenging concepts. With a small group, students are less likely to view tutoring as a chore.
3. Students Build Confidence
For shy children and teens, speaking up in a classroom of 30 students can be daunting. Small groups create an opportunity for students to practice sharing their thoughts in a low-stakes environment. Without so many eyes on them, timid students can start taking small risks, eventually becoming comfortable enough to share their opinions confidently and consistently.
This confidence is essential to students' success in college and the workforce. Many college classes are discussion-based and come with a participation grade, and almost all careers involve some form of public speaking or collaborative discussion. Students who can thoughtfully express their ideas and offer feedback to others will achieve more.
Finding the Right Small Group
Not every small group will be a good fit for your child, even if the other participants are the same age.
A good tutor will place your child with others at his skill level, but will also take personalities into account. For instance, a highly motivated student may get frustrated if she's working with a student who needs a little more prodding. Conversely, a class clown might settle down if placed in a group with focused students. Your tutor should work with you to find the most helpful placement for your child and her study style.
To learn more about available math, English and test prep tutoring groups for students in Glenview, Wilmette, Northbrook and the surrounding towns, call 847-834-0791.
How young is too young for tutoring? That depends on what you want from it.
When most people think of tutoring, they think of junior high and high school students who need help with challenging classes. But tutoring also builds strong foundational academic skills and self image for young children. In other words, tutoring doesn't have to be reactive -- it can also be proactive.
By enrolling young students in tutoring, you help them build healthy habits and avoid learning challenges down the line.
The Value of Early Intervention
It's well established that students' experiences in kindergarten through second grade set the trajectory for the rest of their academic careers. Their level of comfort with basic reading and math skills positions them for ongoing success or frustration, and the study and organization habits they form during this period will stick with them. Furthermore, early intervention allows educators to track a student's academic and social development and identify any challenges.
If a student is behind developmentally, teachers and parents don't always have the time to give him the individualized academic attention he needs to catch up. This is where tutoring can make a huge difference.
Tutoring for elementary-aged children focuses on establishing helpful learning strategies and positive self image, giving young children an edge over students who don't receive this personalized instruction. For example, a student who struggles with math can spend years developing learning strategies before hitting challenging classes like Algebra and Geometry. Because her tutor has helped her prepare, she avoids the negative experience of receiving a low grade and labeling herself "bad at math."
Additionally, elementary years are ideal for tutoring because children are still developing their identities as students. Will your child's school experience make him confident or insecure? Curious or resistant? Motivated or resigned? Tutoring can play a large role in students' self-image and attitude toward learning. A curious, motivated student remains engaged - even in challenging courses - and is better positioned to pursue her passions later in life.
Tutoring for Gifted Students
Tutoring is useful for far more than boosting grades. It's also an excellent way for advanced children to learn at their own pace and avoid "academic boredom." If a student is not challenged in school, he often loses interest, disengages or acts out. By providing advanced students with a place to work ahead and explore their interests, tutoring helps them stay focused and reach their potential.
Would you like you elementary-aged student to get a leg up and get ahead in class?
Talk to an iLearn Academy staff member about how tutoring can set your child up for future academic success, or enroll now in our Fall Program.
As the cost of child care steadily rises, parents are looking for ways to get more for their money. Whether that's through nannies who also teach piano or after-school programs that help children learn Spanish, today's parents want their child care dollars to go farther.
Tutoring is a great example of a child care option with added benefits. Tutoring gives parents the chance to run errands or squeeze in a workout while their children build skills that help them excel in school and beyond.
In most cases, tutoring costs more than a babysitter, because students receive personalized academic support from a knowledgeable instructor. In some cases, however, small-group tutoring is more affordable than hiring a nanny or paying for athletics.
So before spending big bucks on child care, take a look at the afterschool tutoring programs in your area. You might find a perfect fit for your child care needs -- and your student's academic goals.
Rising Cost of Child Care
In Illinois, families spend an average of $27,854 annually on in-home childcare and $10,229 on in-center child care. This expense makes up 32 percent of the median household income in the state. That means that a given family in Illinois could easily be spending one third of its annual income on child care.
With child care making up such an enormous chunk of household spending, it makes sense that parents increasingly view child care as an investment in their children's futures -- and choose child care options that offer concrete benefits.
It's tough to find anything more beneficial for children than academic skill and confidence. That's why so many parents turn to tutoring as a regular child care option.
Benefits of Tutoring
A 90-minute tutoring session for an elementary school student can be as affordable as $36/hour. When you pick your child up from the session, her homework is complete, she is caught up on new concepts, and her tutor has helped her prepare for any upcoming projects or large assignments. This lets families spend weekday evenings free from homework stress.
Studies show that students who receive tutoring perform significantly better in core subjects and on standardized tests. With weekly tutoring, parents can spend less time worrying about school performance and more time connecting with kids.
Not only does tutoring boost grades and save time at home, it builds confidence. This can affect your child's attitude toward learning and his motivation in school for years to come.
Paying for Tutoring
Many companies allow employees to put up to $5,000 in tax-free Dependent Care Accounts to pay for child care. This money can be applied to tutoring expenses, as well. Ask your employer about its Flexible Spending Account options, and check with your human resources office to see if your company offers other child care subsidies.
On your personal income tax return, you can itemize up to $3,000 per child for child care or tutoring expenses, which can yield up to $600 in tax savings.
Group tutoring is another way to save money. Look for a tutoring center that places no more than two or three students in a group and matches your student with others at her level.
Find a Small Group
iLearn Academy offers affordable small-group tutoring for children as young as kindergarten. To learn more, sign your student up for a short diagnostic test.
As a tutor, a large part of what I do is prepare students for the SAT or ACT, two standardized tests used for college admissions.
Typically, students have a limited amount of time to prepare for these tests. As such, they’re always asking which test they should focus on – the ACT or the SAT.
My answer to them is simple: Unless a student initially performs markedly better on an SAT than an ACT, he or she should prepare for the ACT.
I believe that preparing for the ACT is more helpful than preparing for the SAT because the structure and format of the ACT is more predictable. However, students must decide for themselves based off their test-taking performances and desired colleges. Here are some things to consider as you or your student decides whether to focus on the ACT or SAT:
Take a Practice Test
The first thing any student should do when deciding between the SAT and ACT is take a practice exam for each.
There are many free online and paper practice tests for both the SAT and ACT. Once a student has taken both, she can compare the scale scores for both tests. Scale scores measure aptitude by percentile (the percent of test-takers a student did as well as or better than).
If the scale score for one test is significantly higher than the other, that student should prepare for the test on which they scored the highest. If the scale scores are similar (within 5 percentile points of one another), students should prepare for the ACT.
The most accessible SAT tests can be found here. ACT tests can be found here. Either test can be taken online or printed out.
Why it is Tougher to Prepare for the SAT
Preparing for an SAT is not impossible – it's just harder.
The writers of the SAT, the College Board, reformatted the structure and timing of SAT passages, as well as the way the test is scored, at the end of the '16/'17 school year. Because this change was so recent, there aren't many trusted materials in the new format. The skills being tested have not changed, so students can still confidently prepare for the content of the SAT. However, working on timing and measuring score progress is harder.
In contrast, the ACT has been virtually the same for more than 20 years with no large changes. For example, the ACT recently adjusted the science portion from seven to six passages and added a new type of passage to the reading section. However, the number of questions and the way the test is scored remains the same.
Because the ACT is so consistent, it’s much easier to give students concrete goals. We can look up what scores they will need to get into the colleges of their choice. We can find out exactly how many questions students need to get correct in order to reach that score. We also can find ample materials in the correct format, so students can practice timing and strategy for years before test day, if they wish. All of this precision helps students build confidence.
Other Test Prep Tips
Students should not prepare for both tests at the same time. If a student must take both an ACT and SAT, I suggest working on them in sequence. First prepare for the ACT, then move on to SAT.
The ACT and SAT have very similar content. Once a student has prepared for an ACT, he should know nearly everything that would show up on an SAT. The student will simply have to get used to a different format and timing structure to get ready for an SAT.
Students and tutors should try to use materials that were printed in 2017 or later.
If a student is unsure where he’d like to attend college, it can be tough to decide which test to take. Practice tests are a great way to identify which test plays to a student’s strengths.
The ACT is more straightforward and has more practice material at the ready, so I suggest starting there. Luckily, once a student prepares for the ACT, he will be better prepared to take the SAT, as well, should he decide to.
When in doubt, take both tests. That way, students will be ready to put their best foot forward no matter which test a college prefers.
To increase your score with iLearn Academy's proven ACT and SAT test-prep programs, sign up for a diagnostic pre-test today.
In 1951, legendary radio host Edward R. Murrow launched a series asking listeners to share their most fundamental beliefs about humanity and the world around them.
Dozens of leading cultural, political and literary figures of the 1950s contributed their thoughts to the program, and listeners across the nation tuned in. Although Murrow stated many were skeptical that any meaningful ideas could be articulated in only five minutes on the radio (a concern bowled over by the advent of sound bites and social media), luminaries like Albert Einstein, Helen Keller and Eleanor Roosevelt shared their most personal philosophies and beliefs on the air.
Today, the This I Believe project lives on as an opportunity for students to share their values and opinions while honing their writing skills.
As part of our summer English curriculum, elementary and middle school students will compose and refine essays about their strongest convictions — whether that’s the value of team sports, the importance of equality or the superiority of chocolate ice cream. At the end of their courses, students will submit their pieces to the This I Believe website. Through this project, students will build their persuasive writing skills and develop their unique writing voices.
At iLearn Academy, we believe strong writing skills are important not just for school and work, but for students' personal expression and exploration. We're proud to participate in This I Believe alongside our students.
You can browse personal essays from students across the country on the official This I Believe website. To learn more about iLearn Academy's enriching academic programs, view our curriculum.
Individualized instruction significantly boosts students’ grades, but the effect on their confidence -- and eventually, their identities -- is even more important.
Children develop identities by noticing how they are similar or different from those around them. When a student struggles in school but sees his peers excelling, he often comes to the conclusion: “I’m not smart.” This feeling may stick with him throughout his life and affect his confidence, performance and willingness to try new tasks.
Alternatively, when a student works hard to master a new concept or overcome a learning challenge, that victory remains with him and shapes his identity. He starts to see himself as someone who is resourceful, hardworking and capable: “I am smart.”
It’s no surprise that the right instructor can make a huge difference not only on a student’s grades, but on his or her life.
While many tutoring centers hire college students looking to supplement their incomes, iLearn Academy’s instructors are certified teachers or experts in their given fields. These instructors have extensive experience identifying a student’s needs and delivering tailored instruction.
Think back to your favorite teacher from elementary school. Now imagine getting to sit with him or her for an hour or two every week for small-group or individualized instruction. The combination of outstanding teachers and one-on-one attention can completely transform a student’s attitude toward school and learning.
Each summer, we see young people eager to return to school. They’re excited to walk into the classroom with the confidence to overcome new challenges.
Thank you for giving your child the gift of confidence this summer. We look forward to more victories - large and small - this school year.
Are there classes not currently in our curriculum that would benefit your child? Take our 15-second survey and let us know how we can serve you better.
My sincere gratitude,
Youngah Anderson, Director
Many students look forward to sun-filled summers free from books and homework, but this extended break from learning sets many students back.
The average summer learning loss in math and reading for American students amounts to one month per year, according to a report by the RAND Corporation. The negative effects of summer learning loss show up as early as first grade in some students, and it takes up to two months after school starts for students' brain development to get back on track.
Summer learning loss can have long-term implications, as well. By the end of sixth grade, students who experience summer learning loss are, on average, two years behind their peers.
This learning and achievement gap is daunting. The good news, however, is that summer learning loss is easy to avoid.
While summer provides a break from learning in a traditional school environment, it offers countless opportunities for students to grow academically outside the classroom. From pursuing their particular interests to exploring brand new subjects, summer gives students time to build knowledge in fun, stimulating ways.
Looking for strategies to combat learning loss while keeping your child's summer fun? Here are five easy ways to weave some learning into those carefree summer days:
1. Add the Library to Your Weekly Routine
Reading is the best way for students to keep their brains sharp during summer break. Reading promotes brain development, teaches vocabulary and comprehension, builds empathy and opens students' minds to worlds outside their own.
Visit the library each week so your student can pick out a new book. If she's a reluctant reader, try creating a simple incentive program to get her started: When she finishes five books, she gets a small prize. If she can finish 20, she earns an ice cream date with the whole family. Sometimes, her own library card is all the incentive a student needs!
2. Learn from Household Projects
Learning doesn't have to involve writing assignments and problem sets. Much of learning is simply developing the ability to think critically and solve problems. What better practice than to complete a project as a family?
This could be as simple as baking a cake, assembling a bicycle or building a birdhouse. Walk through the directions together, and let your student guess what step comes next -- or write out all the steps beforehand and let him guess the correct order.
This list of 15 kid-friendly household projects can get you started.
3. Visit a Cultural or Historical Site
A visit to a local cultural or historical site presents many opportunities to learn. Together, read any signage providing background about the site, and talk about what it might have been like to live during that time period. What would be different? What would be the same? Talk to your child about why cities, states and nations choose to preserve historical sites, and ask for their opinions.
There is a huge collection of excellent historical fiction for children and teens. Do a quick search to find any books related to the site or area you're visiting, then read the book together before or after your trip. The same goes for age-appropriate movies and TV shows.
4. Take a Hike
Nature is a boundless source for summer learning. Students can study types of plants, animal behavior and ecology simply by spending time outdoors. Take some time to learn about the parks and walking trails in your town. Some parks districts even offer guided hikes for children and families.
Here's a list of fun, educational outdoor activities to spark students' curiosity about nature.
5. Invest in a Tutor
Summer tutoring keeps your child's academic skills sharp and her mind engaged. Even one hour weekly with a tutor sets students up for success during the year. One-on-one and small-group tutoring not only boosts grades, it builds confidence and helps students feel comfortable confronting new academic challenges. In short, tutoring can affect a student's attitude toward learning for the rest of his or her life.
Get the most from your investment by finding a tutoring center with certified teachers, personalized lesson plans and a results-focused approach.
With these simple steps, your student will be ready to start the school year strong.
iLearn Academy offers two-day-a-week summer academic programs that help students keep math and reading skills sharp. Browse our summer offerings to find a schedule that works for you.
2. Read Actively: It’s best not to take notes while reading, because that can interrupt the flow of the message. It can also decrease the reader’s comprehension. Sometimes, the main point of a paragraph is not recognized until the entire paragraph is read, so taking notes at the end helps the reader include all of the main elements. Highlight a phrase, or dates, that stand out. A few words are not enough, and entire sentences are too much.
3. Review: When finished reading the ten-page chunk, consider what the section was about. In your own words, write a summary of it. Write down broad connections of the material to things you already knew, or previous readings.
Other tips include reading aloud when something doesn’t seem logical upon the first read. The extra step of speaking the words can sometimes engage thought processes and help clarify the language. Writing notes in your own words encourages additional thought about the reading, which also adds to memory retention. The idea of highlighting and handwriting notes is to include enough material to provide a summary of the entire passage, and the through process of doing that is what increases retention.
For more suggestions on note taking, ask your iLearn Academy instructors today.
Ever wonder if students are missing anything by choosing to read a digital book versus a hard copy version? With the convenience of digital resources at their fingertips, students have access to volumes of literature, almost instantly. In a world where there are so many digital apps that compete for your child’s attention, does quicker access mean more learning and better retention is taking place? According to the research, it’s not. However, there are some clear benefits to using both. Researchers have examined if comprehension is affected by one medium or the other, and you can help your student understand how digital and paper choices affect learning.
Research shows our brains respond differently to onscreen text than words on paper. According to the magazine, The Scientific American: On The Reading Brain in the Digital Age, the benefit of physical print allows the brain to recall text on a certain page as the brain function retains the words in a physical landscape. Similar to walking in a forest, your brain knows how far you have read the book and this spatial awareness leads to better recall on identifying which page you read a particular detail of a passage. Screen reading, on the other hand, “interfere with intuitive navigation of a text and inhibit people from mapping the journey in their minds.”
During class, students are exposed to interactive lessons, and homework options are often available digitally. While a majority of students who participated in the study preferred to read digitally and felt their comprehension was better when they read online, comprehension was measurably better when students read in print.
iLearn Academy offers both print and digital resources to help your students excel in both areas. We assess the student’s ability to comprehend and retain information yet try to maximize all the benefits of learning that the digital world has to offer.
We offer three tips to improving your student’s retention when reading digitally:
For more information on the debate on learning in the digital age read more at:
If you would like to learn more about your students learning style, please contact iLearn Academy today at 847-834-0791.
Parents can take part in active and respectful listening - which simply means tuning in to what students have to say and, at times, to what they are feeling. The best response for parents is empathy, not answers, when teens share their new ideas and feelings. Active listening, repeating back what your student said to you, is a healthy and effective way to clarify meaning. By repeating words back to the speaker, you’re showing you heard him or her and that you acknowledge how he or she is feeling.
The ability to stay calm is critical to keep the communication lines open. Resist the urge to question, judge and criticize when you learn something new about your teen’s interests. Encourage your student to learn as much as possible about new interests or fields of study, and suggest finding out things together. That lets your son and daughter know your support is unconditional.
According to the College Board in 2017, the average debt per graduating student with a 4 year degree from a public school was $27,000. Future graduates are likely to have even a larger debt burden as inflation for college tuition continues to outpace core inflation in the U.S. by nearly 4%. The long term consequence? Graduating with a large amount of student debt can reduce your son or daughter's ability to save for retirement throughout their career by an average $325,000*.
Helping your children pay for the cost of college does not have to be a daunting experience. If you get started early and consider the various sources of financial aid then you can help your student start their career debt free.
1. Think Long-Term College Savings. The earlier you start saving, the better off you'll be. One of the best methods is to combine tax benefits and savings by investing in a 529 Plan. There are two types of plans: Prepaid Tuition Plans and College Savings Plans. You can choose any state sponsored plan, however, if you choose an Illinois plan, you receive an added tax break by deducting part of your contribution from state tax. The primary benefits of a 529 plan are earnings will grow tax free when used for college, ability to transfer funds from one family member to another, and ability to choose your investment in attempts to outpace college inflation. Other savings plans include a Coverdell (Educational IRA) with lower annual contribution limits of $2,000, Custodial Accounts with less tax benefits, and Personal Savings. No matter how you save, careful planning for the long haul is the best way to prepare for the cost of college.
2. Free College Money. If you're looking for someone else to pay for college then knowing the options and understanding the filing deadlines in this highly competitive marketplace will be the keys to your success. Available options include: 1. Federal and State Grants, 2. Scholarships, 3. Service and Work Study Awards, and 4. Tuition Waivers and Allowances. The first step is to consider if you qualify for "needs-based" or "non-needs based" aid. Start by visiting FASFA (Free Application for Student Aid) at fasfa.ed.gov to determine your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), or what the government thinks you can pay for college. Next, you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) to be given to the financial aid center at your prospective college. The main source of free money is the needs-based "Pell Grant" followed by the Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (SEOG). Next, learn more about Illinois' state grants at www.isbe.net. Scholarships are the next best free source and are usually based on merit or competition. Check with your college and visit sites that do not charge a fee such as fastweb.com, studentaid.ed.gov, fastaid.com, and collegenet.com. There are a lot of scholarship scams on the internet so be careful with the "too good to be true" offers.
3. Alternatives to Loans. Consider alternatives such as deciding which school to attend will keep your costs down. The reality is, unless you are graduating from an Ivy League school, most employers are more interested in your skill sets and less on where you graduated. Consider attending a school close to home to save money on room and board. Also, think about picking a lower cost school and research which classes will transfer to a school of choice then transfer to your ideal school in your senior year. These strategies can save you thousands of dollars. If borrowing is your only option, understand the interest rates and payback options. The best choice for loans is the subsidized needs-based "Perkins" or "Stafford" Loan with lower interest rates than institutional loans.
Learn more about how iLearn Academy can help you save and prepare for college by contacting Mr. Anderson at 847-834-0791. Please be sure and attend our free "Paying for College" workshop at our learning center on March XX, 2018 or call for more information.
*College Board, Trends in Student Aid 2017, read more at: https://trends.collegeboard.org/sites/default/files/2017-trends-student-aid_0.pdf
Hello iLearn Academy followers,
This is a friendly reminder that ACT Test Preparation Courses for the April ACT Test are set to begin January 20th. If you are interested in attending this program be sure to register for iLearn Academy's free Mock ACT Test so we know where to begin.
To schedule the Mock Exam or inquire for more details regarding our ACT program call 847 834 0791.
-A pitfall for some parents is to dismiss their child's education to the responsibility of the public or private school teacher. In reality, your attitude and involvement towards your child's academics has a major impact on their overall development and grades. Studies show 90% of all children experience some form of anxiety or depression. By building a strong emotional foundation at home, your son or daughter will be more focused and less anxious on preparing for and taking tests. Consider for a moment your own experience as a child--did one or both of your parents take a personal interest in your education? What was their attitude toward your getting an A or D--were you rewarded or reprimanded? If your child knows they have your full support, no matter the result, their level of stress will be manageable. This guide will identify some effective ways to help your student build confidence, stay focused, and reduce anxiety.
The Five Things You Should Know about Reducing Anxiety
iLearn Academy has a lot of dual-language learners. This article shares that as these students gain English proficiency, they often outperform students who only speak English!
Here is a great story about a middle school student that stood up to bullies. Talk to your parents or teachers if you are being bullied. Never suffer silently. Click the picture below to read the article.
Hi iLearn Academy followers,
Here is a great article about what colleges look for from the applicants.
Results of Study Conducted in Chicago Public Schools Lead Experts to Prescribe More Individualized Tutoring Nationwide
At iLearn Academy, we know the impact a tutor can have on a student's academics and future opportunities. Study after study confirm the benefits of tutors and we see these benefits every day in iLearn Academy classrooms. Since our inception, iLearn Academy has sought to bring our small class, and progress based personal approach to tutoring to as many students as possible at as low a cost as possible. Though we strive to make our type of tutoring accessible we are often limited by the practicalities of having to keep the doors open all the while compensating our highly qualified teachers. A new education policy proposal may change that for charitable tutoring centers like ours, by making it conceivable to bring iLearn Academy type tutoring sessions into public schools across the nation at no extra cost to school districts.
The Hamilton Project
We were pleased but not surprised to hear about a recent national education policy proposal made by the Hamilton Project (an economic policy initiative at the Brookings Institute) which calls for public schools to adopt an approach to teaching that is foundational to how iLearn Academy operates. The new policy calls to dramatically ramp up the use of in-school math tutors in addition to regular classes to help students perform at higher levels with existing school funds. This policy was announced by the Hamilton Project following a two year study in the Chicago Public Schools which showed dramatic increases in math understanding through multiple means of assessment on ninth and tenth grade underperforming students. The proposal brought forth in the Hamilton Project, "Improving Academic Outcomes for Disadvantaged Students: Scaling Up Individualized Tutorials" (Ander, Guryan, and Ludwig) calls for public schools to provide its underperforming students with targeted sessions multiple times per week in a small group setting by a tutor well-versed in secondary mathematics with frequent assessments to monitor growth. This approach has long worked for iLearn Academy students and it has now been proven to work for students in the Chicago Public Schools as well.
The Hamilton Project Results: Improved Grades
The Hamilton Project uses the data gathered from a 2013-14 study they conducted to support to their claims that individualized tutoring for math leads to big results. During the study Chicago Public Schools welcomed Match/SAGA (non-profit tutoring organizations) tutors into 12 high schools for one year. The results were impressive: after one year of being tutored in a two to one student to tutor ratio for 50 minutes a day, ninth and tenth grade CPS students who participated in the tutorials saw an average "increase of 0.58" to their math GPA on a 4 point scale, moved from the "34th percentile to the 42nd percentile" in math standardized tests (Plan/Pre-ACT), and "learned one to two extra years of math, over and above what the typical American high school student learns in one year", (p 11. Ander, Guryan, and Ludwig). These results, however, are nothing new. We've long known that tutoring in a small group setting helps students immensely. You'd be hard pressed to find any studies since the 70s that don't reaffirm that. What's new here is being able to provide personalized tutoring to students with no additional expenses to school districts.
Results Show Benefits of Tutoring Go Beyond Education:
1. Reduced Crime Rates
The Hamilton Project lists in "Improving Academic Outcomes for Disadvantaged Students" many future economic benefits, from individual earnings to reductions in crime for having a tutoring safety-net in place for students at risk of failing out of school. The proposal found that the benefits could be "1.3 to 2.9 times as large as the cost" (Ander, 11). The possible social and monetary benefits are wild especially considering that we can get them through funds already available. Due to the reauthorization of Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in December 2015 school districts can now allocate Title 1 funding to reputable non-profit tutoring services. Chicago Public Schools was able to pay for all Match/SAGA tutorials for '14/'15 and 15'/16' school years all with government stipends through Title 1. Title 1 paid all totaled $2.9 million to provide these tutoring services for 12 high schools one year and 20 high schools the next year.
2. Lower Educational Costs
The Hamilton Project states that the average cost per student to CPS for a year of tutoring was $3,800. If this system was scaled up nationally they predict costs could be cut down to $2,500/yr about 2/3 of the original cost. There were $14 billion (Ander, 12) of Title 1 funding made available to districts nationwide in 2014, and hundreds of millions of dollars each year to large districts like CPS. These cost for tutoring would be 3-4% of Title 1 funds already allocated to schools.
3. Personalized Student Attention
The Hamilton Project has prescribed for the nation essentially what we prescribe for every student who comes through our doors: devoted, personalized, attention in a very small group setting by a tutor who is highly knowledgeable in math. The Match/SAGA Tutorial Experiment done in Chicago Public School proves once again that regular sessions with a small student to tutor ratio are undeniably helpful for students who are behind. They further provide a way schools can get these services at no extra cost to themselves. This would be a practical way to get tutors into public schools where they can have the most impact. iLearn Academy strongly believes in the power of personalized tutoring. We would love to see services like these and ours reach a wider audience and will be covering the progress of this proposal closely.
To read more about the proposal please follow the links below.