Teaching a child is hard. Even if a child is neurotypical, there are still many challenges parents will face every single day. When your child has a learning disability, it’s even more difficult, and learning disabilities are more common than you might think. As of 2019, 6.7 million students from ages 3-21 in US public schools were served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. While the act covers many types of disabilities, 33 percent of those students are specifically served for learning disabilities. And these numbers only account for those who qualify for service and are enrolled in public school.
Thankfully, there are options for helping you and your child. One of the most common and most effective ways to help children with learning disabilities is with technology. Whether it’s word processors like Microsoft Word or a simple tape recorder, these methods have been a huge aid to so many kids. With the advent of smartphones and apps, there are more ways than ever to use technology to help your child better learn and process information. With how expensive some of these apps can be and with how many there are, it can be difficult figuring out which one is best. That’s why I’ve compiled this list of 20 apps that can be useful for kids and parents of kids with dyslexia and other learning disabilities. If you give some of these a try, I hope they prove useful. Be sure to bookmark this page so you can read it later too!
Apps to Help Your Child Develop a Love of Reading and Writing
Learning to read can be difficult for kids, especially if they have dyslexia or another learning disability. The worst part is that books alone may not give your child the support they need. Books can use unusual sentence structures, might not define complex words, among other challenges. Fortunately, Reading Machine can help with these issues. Reading Machine helps struggling young readers make sense of what they’re reading with text-to-speech, phonics support, and an excellent dictionary of common English words. The app includes over 125 books for beginning readers. It also provides you with recommended reading lists based on your child’s interests and skill level. You can pick up Reading Machine for free on the Apple App Store.
Text-to-speech is one of the most effective ways to aid children with dyslexia who are learning to read. Hearing the words spoken as they read helps them better understand their book, and it can keep them engaged even when traditional reading can get a little dull. There are dozens of text-to-speech apps on the market, but Voice Dream Reader is one of the best. Its suite of features is excellent and includes a scanner for reading printed work and alternate Reading Styles. In particular, the Finger Reading style is great for beginning readers, as it lets them control the reading by running a finger under each word. There is also Spoken Word, which allows your child to listen to books and articles as they read, and an auto-scrolling, full-screen mode that helps eliminate any distractions they might encounter on their device of choice.
That said, the app is a bit more complex than some of the others on this list. It was made for all ages which means it will be up to you to set it up for them and make sure it’s working properly. The good side of this is that your child won’t ever get too old for Voice Dream Reader. The app can be just as useful to them at age 5 as age 35. With a huge suite of features and content, Voice Dream Reader is an excellent app for children with dyslexia that can help them well into adulthood. You can download it on the Apple App Store today. Sadly, there is no free trial for this app.
Learning how to handwrite can be a frustrating process for your child, especially when they’re stuck tracing letters and numbers over and over again. Writing Wizard hopes to help by offering kids a fun, accessible way to learn how to write by hand. The app has a lot of features for beginning writers including 13 different fonts, worksheets, and interactive games to make the process more engaging. It also includes shapes and numbers for your child to learn as well. My personal favorite feature, however, is the ability to fully customize the letters to fit your child’s specific needs. This can include changing their size or simplifying more complex letters. While the app is available on the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store, a free version is only available from the Google Play Store. It includes all shapes, 8 letters, 8 numbers, and 8 words.
A major hurdle in teaching kids to read is sentence structure. English can be a bit of a mess to understand, especially for beginning readers. However, Rainbow Sentences is here to help. By using aids such as color-coded words, text-to-speech, and picture-based sentence lessons, the app helps your child learn how to construct English sentences in an easy-to-understand way. It even lets kids record themselves reciting the sentences and play the recordings back to enhance the process. If your child is struggling with putting together complete sentences, I recommend Rainbow Sentences. You can find Rainbow Sentences on the Apple App Store. While there is no free trial, Rainbow Sentences isn’t as pricey as some of the others on this list.
Targeted to older users than other apps on this list, Ghotit Real Writer is a text editor for users with dyslexia and dysgraphia. Because of its complexity, I don’t recommend it for beginning writers. That said, it packs a number of useful features, such as text correction and word prediction, into an easy-to-use interface. More advanced children and adults can get a lot out of these features, especially the word prediction feature. The app also includes dictionaries for US, UK, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, and South African varieties of English. Unfortunately, the app loses quite a bit of functionality without an Internet connection. If you want to try Ghotit Real Writer, you can download it on the Apple App Store for iPads, from its website for Macs, and it’s also available for Windows. While the price is steep, the Windows version offers a free trial.
It is a rare child who enjoys math. Addition and subtraction can be a drag, even if your child understands it just fine. With Prodigy Math Game, your child gets to learn the basics of math in a colorful, engaging video game. Making it a game can increase your child’s motivation and give them a better feeling of progression than they might get with normal teaching. For US users, the math questions in Prodigy Math Game stay in line with classroom lessons and are aligned with Common Core standards as well as Texas’ own TEKS standards. You can also monitor your child’s progress in the game to make sure they’re staying engaged both with the app and actually learning math. If you’re interested, Math Prodigy Game is available for free on both the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.
7. Mod Math: Giving Your Child an Excellent Math Companion
Much like sentence structure, math problems and notation can be frustrating for beginners. If your child is struggling with this part of math, Mod Math is here to help. From simple addition and subtraction to algebra, the app lets your child plot out their equations with an easy-to-use custom keypad and digital graph paper. Your child can also share their work directly with their teachers from the app if their teacher has an account. You can even import equations from other documents for easy access. While Mod Math is free on the Apple App Store, it does contain microtransactions. If, for example, you want to use percentages, you’ll need to buy their Mod Math Pro service or buy the percentage symbol by itself. The cost is low, but it’s still disappointing to have to pay for such basic features.
8. Todo Math: Teaching Your Child Math With Simple, Fun Exercises
Part of the issue with teaching math is that the equations and problems can feel a little dry, especially for kids. This lowers engagement and, by extension, hurts their ability to remember the lessons. Apps like Todo Math are designed to help with this. Based on Common Core standards from the US, Todo Math provides your child with thousands of colorful, interactive exercises to help them better understand math. These exercises cover a variety of concepts from counting to telling time on a clock and are appropriate for kids from Pre-K to the 2nd Grade. The sheer amount of content is Todo Math’s greatest strength with daily missions and other challenges. These make sure your child stays engaged with learning for as long as possible. The app’s pay structure is its greatest weakness. The app places a limit on how many activities free users can do per day. The price for a subscription is also steep and only available in yearly or bi-yearly payments. Even with these drawbacks, the content in Todo Math is very good, and you can find it at no cost on both the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store.
Dexteria’s entire family of apps is excellent, especially for children with autism. However, I’m highlighting their Get in Touch With Math app as an excellent learning aid for any child with disabilities. The exercises are simple, engaging, and great for teaching the basics of math. These exercises also test your child’s visual memory and fine motor skills. This is great for giving your child a sense of play even when just dragging their finger along a touchscreen. While you can’t try it for free, Dexteria Dots – Get in Touch With Math is available on the Apple App Store for a fairly low price.
10. Fuzzy Numbers: Helping Your Child Learn Early Math Skills With Creative Puzzles
Math can be particularly difficult for younger children, but an app like Fuzzy Numbers can help make it easier. The app is designed for Pre-K children and comes packed with a number of fun and educational puzzles to teach your child early math skills. The interface and look of the app are simple and colorful which can be a big help in keeping your child interested in the app. Its biggest issue is its length. If your child is particularly motivated, they can finish all 6 available puzzles in under an hour, according to some users. Although it’s a little short, the available content is well-done and great for teaching younger kids. You can download Fuzzy Numbers from the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store, but there is no free trial.
Everyone has trouble keeping track of their schedule sometimes. This is especially true when you or your child are in school. All of the assignments and tests can be overwhelming, especially as they move to higher levels of education. That’s why myHomework offers a clean, easy-to-use way for students to remember all those important dates. The app offers a lot of scheduling options, including the ability to outline your child’s schedule based on their class periods. While you can download myHomework for free on the Apple App Store, the free version includes ads that can be distracting for some. You can buy a yearly subscription to myHomework to remove the ads. The subscription also unlocks more features such as the ability to sync your schedule up with other devices.
12. AudioNote: Giving Your Child a Notepad and a Voice Recorder All in One
Many students use voice recorders in class to help them take notes, but they often have trouble remembering when they wrote down a certain note and why. With AudioNote, this problem disappears. Because it’s both a notepad and voice recorder, AudioNote can playback your note-taking alongside the recorded audio to provide the context of your notes. Each note your child takes comes with a link that can take them to the exact place in the recording where they took that note. If your child doesn’t take any notes at the time of recording, they can also take notes over the audio later. With so many useful features and a simple interface, AudioNote is one of the best voice recording apps out there. If you’re interested, you can pick it up on the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store for a one-time payment. The Google Play version is cheaper than the Apple version, but I couldn’t figure out why.
13. Choiceworks: Letting You Build a Daily Routine for Your Child
Teaching your child to maintain a daily routine can be one of the most valuable things you can do for them. It can help them stay consistent later in life with school and builds independence. It’s also one of the more difficult lessons to teach, especially when you have your own schedule to keep up with. Choiceworks can help you and your child build this essential skill together.
With Choiceworks, you can use a collection of audio and visual cues to craft your child’s routine, as well as rewards for when they finish. For example, if your child wants to read a book before bedtime, you can set up Choiceworks to remind them that they need to brush their teeth first. The app is also completely customizable. You can record yourself telling your child what and how to do the tasks you’ve given them or take photos to use as visual cues instead of the default images. In addition to schedules, the app comes with three more imageboards: Waiting, Feelings, and Feelings Scale. These can help your child build patience and emotional regulation, even when you’re not at home.
You can download Choiceworks from the Apple App Store, but you can’t try it for free. There is also a companion app, called Choiceworks Calendar for helping your child keep track of dates and schedules as well. This app is also not free.
14. Bear In Mind: Making It Easier Than Ever to Keep Your Child On-Task
Sometimes, your child doesn’t need anything too complex in a scheduling app. They just need somewhere to write their to-do lists and set up reminders. If your child is looking for a simple reminder app, Bear In Mind is one of the best out there. The app’s interface is easy to use and highly customizable, with the ability to import images and pick from 35 different sounds and music for alarms. Best of all, Bear In Mind is fully functional offline, making it useful even when your child doesn’t have a signal. You can try Bear In Mind on the Apple App Store, but there is no free trial.
15. Chore Pad: Keeping Your Child More Engaged With Their Chores
Few people enjoy doing chores, and making sure your kids stay on top of theirs can be frustrating. However, Chore Pad’s colorful interface and rewards system are great for making chores more fun than ever. When your kids complete chores, they get stars which can be exchanged for rewards you set up for them. This can turn chores into a game, which can keep your child more engaged. If you use multiple Apple devices, you can also use Dropbox to sync Chore Pad across all of them. You can grab Chore Pad on the Apple App Store. There’s also a free lite version that limits the number of users to 1 and the number of assigned chores to 4.
Apps That Can Enhance Your Child’s Communication Skills
16. First Phrases: Building Your Child’s Communication Confidence
When your child learns to speak for the first time, part of the difficulty is stringing words into phrases and sentences. First Phrases come packed with a huge collection of simple phrases and sentences for your child to learn. When using the app, an animal appears on-screen along with an illustrated phrase to say, such as “Eat the cookie.” if your child repeats that phrase, the animal will do what they said. It’s a simple and fun way to build your child’s confidence in communication. That said, the app will take up a large amount of space on your device. So make sure you have room for it before giving it a try. First Phrases is only available on the Apple App Store, but you can download an iPhone version and an iPad version. Both versions cost the same.
Auditory processing skills can be difficult to learn for some children. Thanks to Fun With Directions, your child has a game to help them better understand these valuable skills. The app starts with simple directions like “pet the dog” and gets more complex as your child progresses. This slowly helps your child build their ability to follow directions and process what they’re seeing and hearing. The app’s lessons will grow with your child. That said, the app is designed for younger children, and the directions might not be challenging enough after a certain point. You can only find Fun With Directions on the Apple App Store. That said, the app has both an iPhone version and an iPad version. If you’re not sure about spending money on the app, you can try the Lite version for iPhone for a lower price.
There are plenty of apps that can help your child learn at the word level or even the full sentence level. However, Articulation Station is one of the few apps designed to teach your child how to better communicate on not just the word or sentence level but the full story level. There’s a lot to love about it. This means the app can help your child grow from short, simple sentences to telling their own short stories. The app’s activities are vibrant, colorful, and engage your child on the auditory and visual levels. These activities include flashcards, matching games, and even full stories with comprehension questions.
That said, the app’s pricing model can be a deterrent for some users. While you can download Articulation Station at no cost from the Apple App Store, the app will ask you to pay for some specific content. This includes certain sounds your child might struggle with such as “ch” or “th” sounds. You can either buy each sound program individually or pay for its Pro version to unlock all content. If you purchase a few sound programs before paying for Pro, the app does offer you a discount equal to how much you paid for those programs.
19. Avaz AAC: Offering Your Child Support in As Many Languages As Possible
Most of the apps on this list are primarily targeted toward English speakers. This means they aren’t quite as useful on an international level or for multilingual households. If you’re looking for a speech app with more language variety, Avaz AAC is a great place to start. Developed in India, the app features 6 Indian regional languages including Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu. On top of that, the app also offers 4 more languages: American English, Australian English, French, and Sinhala. And those are just the languages on this specific app. Avaz also offers regional versions of this app for countries like Switzerland, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam.
On top of this language support, Avaz AAC is a top-quality speech app. It comes equipped with an excellent dictionary, as well as a large number of voice clips. Your child can also use the Symbolstix image library to help communicate even better. It’s highly customizable and usable for all ages. There’s also an alert button to let your child tell you when they need your full attention and a mistake button for when they need to tell you they made a mistake. Additionally, the app features a training module for new users and their caregivers to make the process as easy as possible. You can try Avaz AAC for free on the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store. The app is only fully functional for 14 days, however. After the 14-day free trial is up, you won’t be able to access the symbols or voice clips without a subscription to Avaz. The subscription comes in monthly and yearly payment models, or as a one-time payment for lifetime access.
20. MyTalkMobile: Giving Your Child More Communication Options Than Ever
There are many speech apps on the market, and finding the right one for your child can be a difficult process. One of the most important things a good speech app needs is usability. For that, MyTalkMobile is one of the best out there. The app allows your child to communicate in several ways including video, photos, web images, sound, text, and text-to-speech. This flexibility in methods will help your child communicate better than ever. Its mobile authoring mode lets your child create personalized content; so they can communicate exactly what they mean. However, this mode is only available for free for a 14-day trial. After that, you’ll need to pay for its Pro Version, which has a steep cost. You can download MyTalkMobile for free on the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store.
How to Choose the Right App for Your Child
All these apps are great, but they won’t be any help if you don’t know which one is right for your child. Fortunately, I found a paper written by experts in the field of special education that has excellent criteria for picking the right app for your child. I especially want to highlight their suggestion to make sure your child is involved in choosing the app. Ultimately, these apps are for your child, and if they aren’t interested in the app, it won’t help no matter how effective it might be for other children. So, show them screenshots from the app, explain what it’s supposed to do if they’re old enough to understand, and see which apps catch their eye and which they skip over.
Another thing to look out for is making sure your child stays moving throughout the day. While these apps can be useful, spending too much time with them or with any kind of screen will often hurt more than help your child, especially if they are earlier in their development. Use movement and play in combination with these apps to keep them engaged in the learning process.
Finally, make sure to turn off your child’s screens at least one hour before bedtime. The blue light from these screens can disrupt sleep patterns and prevent your child from getting a good night’s sleep. Good, restful sleep can be one of the most important factors in keeping your child healthy, happy, and engaged in their education. If possible, it might even be a good idea to turn off your own screen around the same time to set a good example for your child.
Help Your Child with Dyslexia and Other Learning Disabilities Learn and Grow With These Apps
There are so many unique challenges to parenting a child with learning disabilities, but there are also so many resources to turn to that can help you do the best job possible. These apps are just some of the ways you can help your child. There are websites, databases, and other resources where you can learn more about your child’s disability and learn ways to be an even better parent for your child. While I was never diagnosed with a learning disability, I was diagnosed with ADHD, which can also affect learning. I can’t imagine how big of a help it would have been if my parents had access to resources like these when I was a child. Many of these apps offer free trials or free versions to help you see if they’re right for you, and I urge you to give some of them a chance.
Zephin Livingston Zephin Livingston is a freelance writer with years of experience in multiple fields including cybersecurity, tech, cultural criticism, and media literacy.
We already know that eating healthy is good for growth and development, but did you know that it’s also associated with higher academic achievement?
Studies on children and adolescents (ages 5-18) have long focused on breakfast consumption and how it affects academic achievement. These studies have shown a positive association when children eat more fruit, vegetables, and micronutrients including folate and iron. Lowering the consumption of junk foods has also been associated with higher academic achievement.
Similar studies have not typically focused on college-age students. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information however, seven recent studies reviewed the impact of diet on college student performance in school. While a number of factors and health behaviors can have an effect on academic achievement, college students’ eating habits have received much less attention than factors like sleep deprivation, poor mental health status, and alcohol use. Not surprisingly, the studies found that consuming a regular breakfast, eating 2-3 meals per day, and consuming more servings of fruit had a positive correlation between GPA and dietary intake/behavior.
Eating Habits of Students with Higher Grades
In 2019, the CDC published the results of a national Youth Risk Behavior Survey which showed that students with higher academic grades were more likely to engage in healthy dietary behaviors than students with lower grades. While this does not prove causation, these associations still have significance.
They found that students with higher grades were more likely to eat breakfast on all 7 days of the week; eat fruit or drink 100% fruit juice one or more times per day; eat vegetables one or more times per day; and were not drinking soda or pop. Interestingly, there was not an association between drinking milk and academic grades.
Can Some Eating Habits Actually Hinder Learning?
According to Neuroscience News, consuming refined sugars and saturated fats can have detrimental effects on the brain. “High-fat and processed-food diets are also associated with lower cognitive function and memory in humans and animal models as well as a higher incidence of neurodegenerative diseases. However, researchers still don’t know if these effects are due to these foods or to the weight gain and insulin resistance that develop with long-term consumption of these diets.”
Early Nutrition Shapes the Brain
Stony Brook University researchers conducted a study that showed there is a strong relationship between what we eat early in life, as babies or young children, and what our food preferences will be as adults. The study also found that what we eat early in life suggests a link between taste and brain function in health and disease. Arianna Maffei, PhD, Senior Author and Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at Stony Brook University explained, “Expanding our knowledge of the developmental neural circuits for tastes – as studies like this do – will contribute to our understanding of food choices, eating disorders, and diseases associated with brain disorders.”
There’s a Link Between Food, Mood, and Learning
An Australian study found that young people with the unhealthiest diets were nearly 80% more likely to suffer from depression. These children also exhibited more emotional and behavioral problems than children with healthy eating habits. Research from the National Institutes of Health and from the British Journal of Nutrition showed that what children eat can improve mental health, enhance cognitive skills like concentration and memory, and improve academic performance.
Accessing Healthy Food – The Economic Link
Nutrition is key to brain development, however access to healthy food can be a challenge to those with lower incomes. Diets high in vegetables and healthy proteins cost more than diets rich in processed foods and refined grains. This cost disparity has been increasing since the mid 2000s.
In addition, many people in the United States have limited access to supermarkets and other sources of more healthy foods. These areas are often called “food deserts” and can cause families to turn to fast food or convenience store items.
This lack of nutrition can lead to stunted mental and physical development in young children. Children with diets lacking in fresh fruits, vegetables, and healthy proteins tend to have lower test scores and can also end up missing school or having to repeat grades.
One of the results of educators adapting to the pandemic has been the adoption of blended learning. We all know how schools had to pivot to using online technology while schools were closed to in-person learning. Following that, many schools have incorporated various types of online instruction into the curriculum, along with in-person learning to achieve a blended approach.
Types of Blended Learning
Some of the most popular examples of blended learning models include:
Station Rotation – This involves students rotating through various stations on a fixed schedule, including at least one involving online learning.
Individual Rotation – This is a more personalized approach, where individual students rotate through a set of stations selected for them.
Flipped Classroom – In this model, students learn at home using video, reading, and online coursework, and classroom time is used for hands-on interactive application of new knowledge.
Flex Model – Similar to the flipped classroom, but the flex model allows the student to access the online portions at will.
Lab Rotation – Students rotate on a fixed schedule that includes teacher-led instruction in the classroom, and online learning in a computer lab.
How Effective is Blended Learning?
In a study published in May 2022, the British Educational Research Association reviewed 1,355 research studies that showed blended learning and online learning were generally more effective than face-to-face instruction alone. This study also found that students prefer a blend of online and in-person instruction rather than one or the other by itself.
A blended learning approach also results in an increase in student engagement, student achievement, and positive student perceptions of learning. In addition, students learn self-pacing skills and learn how to self-direct. The positive effect on academic achievement has been documented in all class subjects, with the highest effect in biology and the sciences.
How Are Teachers Implementing Blended Learning?
During the 2021-22 school year about 49 percent of 1,097 teachers in 639 school systems nationwide reported using blended learning. The most popular type of blended learning among elementary school teachers was Station Rotation. Among secondary school teachers, the Station Rotation and Flipped Classrooms were the most popular.
This survey also revealed that personalized learning practices were utilized more often by teachers who blend learning than by those who do not. Small group instruction, emphasis on student agency, and utilizing flexible pacing were the most common types of personalized learning used.
People learn in many different ways, and when schools can provide a variety of methods of instruction, and add personalization and flexibility to the curriculum, the results are an improvement in student engagement, student achievement, and student perception in K-12th grade classrooms.
Are fewer students graduating from high school now?
Across the United States, the number of students who graduate from high school 4 years after beginning 9th grade varies greatly from state to state. Even different counties within a state report different statistics. EdWeek reported that “At least 31 states saw declining graduation rates for the class of 2021 overall, more than twice as many as in the previous year.” The largest contributing factor to these lower graduation rates has been the disruptions caused by the pandemic.
Role of the pandemic
Remote learning, COVID-19 outbreaks and quarantines have led to more students missing school, falling behind, and even failing. Family illnesses and economic hardships have contributed to students leaving school early to start work. The teacher and school staff shortages have resulted in teachers having less time to work with students who need extra help.
In the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years, “kids have had a much longer time to be absent, fail classes and lose credits, have behavior problems,” said Robert Balfanz, the director of the Everyone Graduates Center at the Johns Hopkins University School of Education.
Graduation rate vs. Dropout rate
Although it seems counterintuitive, the graduation rate is not equal to the dropout rate. In Colorado, for example, the graduation rate in 2022 improved from 81.7% to 82.3% but the dropout rate increased to 2.2% over 1.8% the previous year. This is because dropout rates cover grades 9-12 while the graduation rate looks at how many students graduated after 4 years.
Why do high school students fail to graduate?
There are a number of contributing factors, including serious injury, illness, or death. Some drop out due to teen pregnancy. Other students end up incarcerated for criminal activity and a number of students just drop out when they reach the legal age to do so. There are also students who do attend school for four years but don’t have enough credits to graduate with their peers and need to continue for another semester or longer.
According to a recent report by WiseVoter, there are between 25% and 8% of high school students who do not graduate.
Here are the 2022 graduation rates for all 50 states and the District of Columbia
District of Columbia
Tutoring can help
TutorUp tutors are all classroom-experienced, certified teachers who can help your student and improve their grades. When a student is able to recover lost ground, turn failing grades into passing, and restore confidence, they are less likely to drop out of school. Find out how we can help your student. Fill out the form below…
In most cases, tutoring expenses are not a federal tax deductible item. There is an exception to this, for special education tutoring. Parents of children with learning disabilities such as dyslexia or ADHD may deduct tutoring expenses for their special needs child from their federal income tax, according to the IRS. If the child has a medically diagnosed learning disability, specialized tutoring is considered a medical expense if recommended by a doctor, and may be deductible if your total medical expenses exceed 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income. This info can be found under the IRS Special Education section under the medical expenses that can be deducted.
Some states allow tax deductions for K-12 education and/or homeschooling expenses. Check your individual state regulations to see if your tutoring expenses may fall into the category of a deductible expense on your state return.
Other Help for Tutoring Expenses
Many school districts have programs that assist with tutoring expenses for disadvantaged or low-income students. Contact your school’s financial aid office to see if they can connect you with financial aid resources for students in K-12. If your school doesn’t have a financial aid office, the school counseling office may be a good resource, or your school district administrator’s office can guide you.
The federal government has approved coronavirus relief money to fund “microgrants” for parents to use to hire tutors or teachers.
One thing most everyone can agree on is that education has suffered a huge setback due to the COVID-19 quarantines and subsequent shutdown of schools and regular school programs as we knew them. Student grades have suffered, test scores on assessment and achievement tests have dropped, and the dropout rate has soared.
Private tutoring is not a free service, and as such is not the solution for every child. However, many parents are rearranging budgets and prioritizing tutoring as a necessary expense instead of a luxury. For many parents, being able to hire a private tutor for their child not only helps the child catch up and keep up with grade-level schoolwork, but it also takes the burden off of the parent who may be juggling a lot right now. Lots of parents who work from home full-time or part-time welcome even a few hours a week of professional academic help for their kids.
How Tutoring Helps
The Hechinger Report, a national non-profit reporting exclusively on education, recently published an in-depth look at how tutoring is helping students right now: The Simple Intervention that Could Lift Kids Out of the “Covid slide”. They report that “tutoring is more effective than other measures” and the challenge is to expand it to support more kids. Individualized tutoring gives a child the one-on-one attention they can’t get in the classroom or doing virtual school. The results are impressive.
TutorUp Tutoring Services
TutorUp is committed to providing the highest-quality tutoring services at a reasonable cost, while paying our teacher/tutors a rate that their professionalism deserves. All of our tutors are certified, background-checked, experienced teachers who are professionals devoted to helping children succeed academically, one child at a time.
Whether your child needs help keeping up with the daily/weekly assignments that so many schools are using instead of a typical in-person all day school experience, or they have fallen behind and need help catching up, a tutor could be the help they need.
To find out more, and get matched with the perfect tutor for your child, let’s get started!
Student Achievement Suffered Due to Remote Learning
In an article published this week by Education Week, reporter Mark Lieberman discusses the continued debate over the harms of extended remote learning. He cites a report published on November 28 from the American Enterprise Institute that “found that districts that stuck with full-time remote learning for longer in the first year of the pandemic saw larger declines in enrollment in subsequent school years” and that these findings showed clear signs that remote learning was among the factors that “diminished academic achievement for millions of students in the last couple of years.”
What Do They Mean by “Remote Learning?”
A definition is in order here, to make sure we all understand what they are talking about. Remote learning was the quickly constructed “solution” to schools that were closed to in-person learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns. Initially it was thought this would be a short-term solution, but school districts, parents, teachers, politicians, and others were reluctant to send students back to school while there was an increase in infections and uncertainty about how it would affect students in the school environment. So “online school” lasted much longer than first anticipated. Starting in the final months of the 2020-2021 school year, many schools kept students at home for many more months, or even the entire school year of 2021-2022. Other schools implemented a hybrid approach, where students attended 2 or 3 days in person, with the remaining days remote.
Remote learning was not a universally built and deployed replacement for in-person school, and some things quickly became clear. Not all students had the technology or the internet access needed to participate. Even those who did had to share that computer and internet access with siblings and parents who were suddenly working from home. At a particular disadvantage were students in lower-income areas. This was a huge contributor to student dropout rates and low attendance, as recent research showed.
Teachers were also inexperienced with the new format and struggled to translate classroom activities to online gatherings. As teachers dropped out, the ones who were left found themselves with even greater responsibilities and challenges. In most cases, there was little to no training or preparation for this new reality, and teachers struggled to do their best.
If Remote Learning is Bad, What About Online Tutoring?
There can’t be many people who aren’t aware of how much time we all spend staring at screens. “Globally, people average 6 hours 58 minutes of screen time per day. The average American spends 7 hours and 4 minutes looking at (an internet-connected) screen each day,” according to Digital Information World. Gen Z spends around 9 hours per day looking at a screen. For the average US teen, this breaks down to:
Watching TV/Videos – 3 hours 16 mins
Gaming – 1 hour 46 mins
Social Media – 1 hour 27 mins
Browsing Websites – 51 mins
Other – 29 mins
Video Chatting – 20 mins
E-reading – 15 mins
Content Creation – 14 mins
Additionally, 88 percent of parents report that their children between 0 and 11 years old are watching TV, 67 percent are using tablets, 60 percent are using smartphones, 44 percent are using a desktop/laptop, and 44 percent are gaming.
In light of this, what are the reasons to consider online tutoring for your child?
Unlike remote learning, where there is one teacher for dozens of students, lecturing, assigning homework, and trying to keep students engaged, online tutoring is one tutor with one student, no distractions.
Content is Highly Personalized
The tutor is able to assess the student’s needs and tailor the subject, teaching method, and support to match that student’s needs.
Short, Variable-Length Sessions
Unlike remote learning, which required hours of sitting in front of a computer screen, online tutoring sessions are short and the time length is flexible, based on student age and attention-span and the difficulty of the subject matter.
Tutors and parents decide on a mutually convenient schedule. Families have a lot of activities going on, and the online format means you don’t have to drive somewhere. You choose the day/time that works best for your schedule, in the convenience of your own home.
Parents Have Total Visibility to Their Child’s Learning
Since sessions are online, parents can watch live or even record their child’s sessions, ensuring that they have complete visibility to what goes on in the tutoring session.
Parents Choose Their Child’s Tutor
In school, it’s the luck of the draw when it comes to which teachers your child spends the day with. With online tutoring, you review the available tutors and choose the one you think is the best match for your child. And you can always switch tutors if you find it’s not the best match after all.
How TutorUp Can Help
At TutorUp, all of our tutors are certified, classroom-experienced teachers. This means that they are not just subject matter experts in whichever subject your child needs help with. They are also trained educators who can assess a student’s needs and adapt their teaching approach to best help each student. They know how to evaluate the effectiveness of their tutoring and provide meaningful feedback to parents.
Contact us today so we can help your child succeed.
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) explains the importance of communication skills, “You need language skills to communicate. And you need to communicate to learn. Reading, writing, gesturing, listening, and speaking are all forms of language. The better your communication skills, the better you will do in school.”
If a child has difficulty with reading, writing, spelling or doing grade-level work, taking tests or understanding social cues, they may have a speech and language problem.
By the time a child enters school, it becomes obvious to parents and teachers if they are having problems with speech and language. Here are some common indicators for younger school-age children:
Has difficulty following directions
Has difficulty answering questions
Has difficulty staying on topic during conversations
Frequently misunderstands what is said to them
Has difficulty telling a story
Has a poor memory
Is difficult to understand
Doesn’t use the right sounds for words
Is the problem in one subject or across many subjects
Since public schools have Speech Language Pathologists, or SLPs who can conduct evaluations to help pinpoint a child’s problem, that is usually the first recommended step. The student’s problem may be due to hearing loss, or an attention deficit disorder. A dyslexic child can also display some of these symptoms. In order to provide the most helpful support, it’s important to identify the cause.
The Individuals With Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA) specifies the necessary components of an evaluation:
A variety of assessment tools and strategies should be used to gather relevant functional, developmental, and academic information about the child;
No single measure or assessment should be used as the sole criterion for determining whether a child is a child with a disability and for determining an appropriate educational program for the child; and
Technically sound instruments should be used that may assess the relative contribution of cognitive and behavioral factors, in addition to physical or developmental factors.
SLPs play a central role in screening, assessment, diagnosis and treatment of childhood apraxia of speech (CAS), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and the development of literacy for children with dyslexia.
Should it be determined that a child needs the support of a speech therapist, that help can often take place in the school setting. Of course, outside help is also available and certified Speech Language Pathologists whether in school or outside, have the training required to provide assessment, evaluation, testing, and treatment. SLPs coordinate with teachers and families to set goals, determine the best plan of treatment, and measure achievement.
Qualified tutors who are experienced and/or certified in working with students with learning disabilities can also provide great support and become a crucial part of the team contributing to student success. SLPs concentrate on the overall goals, treatment, and progress of a student with speech and language challenges. A tutor can provide subject-specific help and, working with the classroom curriculum, reinforce what is being taught in school. Often a child benefits from both types of support since speech therapy and tutoring are compatible and not mutually exclusive.
Tutors who are certified teachers are able to recognize when a child would benefit from an evaluation to see if speech therapy is indicated. And conversely, a speech therapist is able to see when a student needs subject-specific tutoring in order to stay on track in the classroom. The earlier intervention takes place, whether therapy or tutoring or both, the better the outcome for the student.
The results of two nationally representative surveys of educators were recently reported in the Education Week special report “Big Ideas 2022: 10 Broad Trends in K-12 Education”. In all, 1,897 educators responded to the first survey, and 1,099 educators participated in the second survey. We recap the survey results below.
Educators were asked to define the word “equality” vs. the word “equity” in K-12 education. 78% responded that “equality is about giving all students the same opportunities; equity is about outcomes and giving some students, who have tended to have lower performance or higher needs, additional resources.” 13% of educators said that the “concepts are similar, but ‘equity’ has become controversial/weaponized.”
When asked what their views are of equity and equality in K-12 education are, 76% responded that they “support equity and equality, even though I define both in different ways.” 12% said they “support equality but not equity” and 4% said they “support equity but not equality.”
Responding to a question about their district policy on equality/equity, 52% said they “have formally committed to both equity and equality”, 15% said they “have formally committed to equity but not to equality”, 9% said they have “formally committed to equality but not to equity”, and 24% said their district has “not formally committed to either equity or equality.”
Questions about No Child Left Behind and Every Student Succeeds Acts
Inquiring about the federal No Child Left Behind and Every Student Succeeds Acts, 26% of educators surveyed felt that “there was nothing positive about these laws”. 23% felt that a positive outcome was that there is “additional Title I and other funding.” 21% felt that it was good that there is a “requirement to look at disaggregated data to see how student groups performed.” 15% felt that the “requirements to improve/intervene in schools or with student groups with low performance” was a positive outcome of these acts.
Nearly all educators surveyed (97%) felt that there was some type of negative effect from the NCLB and ESSA acts. 38% felt the most negative outcome was the mandated annual testing in reading and math, 29% felt the most negative outcome was the “consequences for schools or districts with low performance.”
Questions about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic
When asked if the pandemic transformed public K-12 education, 94% of educators surveyed agreed that COVID-19 has had an impact. 52% said “Yes-it’s been a major transformation”, while 43% said “I’d describe it as more of a minor change than a transformation”, and 6% of educators didn’t feel that the pandemic had transformed public K-12 education at all.
Educators were asked to list all impacts of the coronavirus pandemic that they think will have a lasting positive impact on education a decade from now. The majority of educators, 61%, said that the “added flexibility of moving at least some meetings/gatherings online” would be the most lasting positive impact. 57% said that “more attention given to student mental health” would be one of the most lasting positive impacts, 54% felt that “better integration of technology” was a lasting positive, and 54% felt that the “ability to offer remote learning when necessary” was a lasting positive. Others included more and better technology, more attention given to staff mental health, improved cleaning protocols, better ventilation/HVAC systems, and several other factors would be a lasting positive.
When asked which pandemic impact they would MOST like to see in their district or school in ten years was, 21% said “more attention given to student mental health”, 20% said “less focus on standardized testing”, 11% said “more attention given to staff mental health”, 11% said they hoped that “more wraparound services for student well-being” would be a lasting impact, 16% hoped for more flexibility to be a permanent change, and 9% want to see more/better technology and integration of technology.
Questions about transformation and change in K-12 education
When asked for their opinion on what is the biggest obstacle preventing major transformations in K-12 education, 42% of educators said that local, state or federal officials or their policies are the biggest obstacles to change. 23% said that funding levels are the biggest obstacle. 19% responded that either parents, administrators, teachers, or students themselves were the biggest obstacle.
In response to the question about what they believe is the biggest enabler of change/transformation in K-12 education, 35% pointed to teachers as the most significant change agent. 13% think funding levels are the key to major change, and 10% think administrators have the largest impact.
ACT Reports Declining Scores That Are “particularly alarming”
On October 12, 2022, ACT reported that the national average composite score on the ACT for the high school class of 2022 was 19.8, the lowest average score in more than three decades. “This is the fifth consecutive year of declines in average scores, a worrisome trend that began long before the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, and has persisted,” said ACT CEO Janet Godwin. “The magnitude of the declines this year is particularly alarming, as we see rapidly growing numbers of seniors leaving high school without meeting the college-readiness benchmark in any of the subjects we measure.”
The ACT has identified readiness benchmarks for seniors which help determine which students will have a higher probability of success in credit-bearing first-year college courses. Their research shows that students who meet the benchmark have a 50% chance of earning a B or better and approximately a 75% chance of earning a C or better in their college course or courses.
What they found was that among the 2022 graduating class, only 22% of students met all four ACT benchmarks, while 42% of students met none of these benchmarks.
Number of Students Taking the ACT is Increasing
Since 2015, when only 27% of graduates took the ACT as part of a statewide or districtwide administration, the number of students taking the test has increased. For the 2022 graduating class, 60% of students took the test at least once.
Average scores for students in 2022 declined by 5 points in reading and 7 points in mathematics as compared to 2020. The NAEP said “This is the largest average score decline in reading since 1990, and the first ever score decline in mathematics.” These lower scores in mathematics were demonstrated in students from city, suburban, town, and rural school districts and from students in the lower (25th percentile) and higher (75th percentile) performance groups. In reading, scores declined for most groups compared to 2020, with some exceptions.
Higher Performers Had Greater Access to Remote Resources
All students who took the LTT test were asked if they had attended school from home or somewhere else outside of school for any portion of the 2020-21 school year. Seventy percent indicated that they had done some remote learning. Among these students, the ones with higher scores tended to be the ones with greater access to a desktop computer, laptop, or tablet all the time; had a quiet place to work available some of the time; and had a teacher available to help them with mathematics or reading every day or almost every day.
Higher Performers Overall More Confident in Their Remote Learning Abilities
When asked if they could recognize when they don’t understand something they’re learning remotely, 67% of the higher performing students said they could. When asked if they could ask for help when they need it while learning remotely, 82% of the higher performing students said yes. And when asked if they could find learning resources online, 60% of the higher performing students said yes.
What Does All This Mean?
Regardless of the contributing factors that may result in students’ declining test scores, parents are concerned about the quality of their child’s education, and how to help them achieve their best results. Parents are exploring alternative options to the traditional public school education as well as looking for ways to help their students improve academic performance. Charter schools, magnet schools, private schools, online learning, and homeschooling are all experiencing increased levels of participation. Private tutoring has been shown to “yield consistent and substantial positive impacts on learning outcomes.”
The overall goal of education is to prepare students to be successful in life after school. Even students who are not planning to go on to college need to be equipped for success, whichever path they decide to follow. Helping your student perform better in school isn’t just so their grades can improve. It’s a way to make sure they get the most out of their education so they can move ahead with confidence.
For help with private online tutoring for your student, send us your contact info below, and we will show you how TutorUp can help.
Parents have a lot of options when it comes to choosing a tutor for their child. When a child is struggling in school, chances are that they are also feeling anxious about it. It can be a hit to their self-confidence, their self-esteem, and can make them the target of bullying. And then the problem isn’t simply that they need help getting caught up to their peers in a certain subject; instead, it becomes a bigger problem.
This is exactly why choosing a tutor is more than just finding someone who is a subject matter expert and who knows more about what your child is struggling with than they do. It is equally as important for your tutor to understand the bigger picture and be able to relate to your child in a positive way that will help them gain confidence and learn skills that will stay with them.
The Top 4 Most Important Qualities of an Effective Tutor
Knowledge: Must be a subject matter expert
Skill: Must have experience teaching and tutoring
Empathy: Must be able to see and work with a student as a whole person
Flexibility: Must be able to personalize and adapt tutoring for each individual child’s needs
These are not the only qualities that define an effective tutor, but they are the must-haves. It’s also very important to be a good listener and to respect the concerns and fears the student may have. There is also a need to be able to maintain discipline without being an authoritarian. Kids are going to have times where they would rather goof off than have a tutoring session, and an effective tutor needs to know if they should steer them back to work or reschedule for another time.
Successful Tutoring is a Partnership
There are four partners in every successful tutoring relationship:
Student: It’s more difficult to make progress with a reluctant student than with a student who sees tutoring as being helpful and supportive. Fostering a positive attitude towards tutoring is key to its success.
Parents: Parents are busy. They may have jobs and other children and responsibilities, so the tendency is to find a tutor and leave it up to the tutor and student to work things out. Checking in with the tutor regularly is important to the child’s success. And helping the child prepare for and then review each tutoring session is a great way to stay involved and know what your child is learning.
Teachers: When classroom teachers are aware of and involved in their student’s tutoring, chances are it will be more effective. Teachers can provide the syllabus to the tutor, and communicate what they see as the student’s strengths and weaknesses. This helps the tutor know what to focus on.
Tutor: The best tutors know that communication is critical. Working with parents and with classroom teachers will help them to be more successful in their tutoring efforts. It’s also important for tutors to connect with other tutors and to stay on top of professional development opportunities.
Your child may respond better to a female tutor or a male tutor. Some children need a firmer hand while others need an empathetic, supportive tutor. If language differences are a factor, matching a student with a tutor who can speak their language and who sounds like them may be important. They key is to choose the tutor you think your child will be able to connect with and learn from most effectively. If, after a few sessions, you or your child don’t feel that connection is working, by all means switch to a different tutor.
In keeping with the Top 4 Most Important Qualities of an Effective Tutor, all TutorUp tutors are:
Certified teachers in the subject(s) they are tutoring
Experienced classroom teachers with tutoring experience
Skilled at working with students who are struggling and have all different levels of achievement
Able to work effectively face-to-face and one-on-one in the online tutoring environment, personalizing each session for that student
For help getting matched with the right tutor, fill out the form below, or give us a call at 877-TutorUp (877-888-6787)
Sometimes referred to as high-intensity tutoring, or high-dosage tutoring, high-impact tutoring is defined as one-on-one (or sometimes small group) tutoring at least three times a week for an extended period of time, like a semester or an entire school year.
A recent study published by Brown University, The Impressive Effects of Tutoring on PreK-12 Learning: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of the Experimental Evidence, evaluated the effectiveness of PreK-12 tutoring by looking at data from dozens of experiments and studies. The paper they published on their study can be found here, but these are some of their conclusions, “We find that tutoring programs yield consistent and substantial positive impacts on learning outcomes, with an overall pooled effect size estimate of 0.37 standard deviation. Effects are stronger, on average, for teacher and paraprofessional tutoring programs than for nonprofessional and parent tutoring. Effects also tend to be strongest among the earlier grades. While overall effects for reading and math interventions are similar, reading tutoring tends to yield higher effect sizes in earlier grades, while math tutoring tends to yield higher effect sizes in later grades. Tutoring programs conducted during school tend to have larger impacts than those conducted after school.” They clarified that the “after school” tutoring they refer to here is with parents and non-professionals, which is why it was considered to not have as large of an impact.
The Goal of Tutoring
The overall goal of tutoring is to provide the personalized support that each student needs. For some, this will be remedial help with subjects in which a child needs to get caught up with their peers. In other cases, tutoring can provide supplemental practice in subjects that help a student maintain progress. And for some students, tutoring can provide enrichment in subjects of interest that they cannot get in class at school. The best way to provide support in each of these models is by giving each student the one-on-one attention and instruction that they can’t get in a classroom scenario with dozens of other students vying for the teacher’s attention. And, as the studies have shown, professional highly-qualified tutors provide the best results.
Different Tutoring Formats
On-site tutoring is generally in small groups, at brick and mortar learning centers, often specializing in one subject area, like math. Students enroll in these sessions and usually follow a curriculum and lesson plans created by the vendor.
Online homework help is available from a number of resources, and is helpful for the student who has a quick question or two or is stuck on a specific issue that they need one-time help with. These services are often staffed by other students.
Self-paced online resources aren’t actually considered tutoring, but are available as enrichment and don’t usually include any contact with a tutor.
In-school tutoring is offered in many schools, and may be one-on-one or small groups, with sessions taking place during the school day, or before or after school.
In-person, one-on-one tutoring is often conducted in the student’s home, the tutor’s home, or in a public place like a library or coffee shop. This type of tutoring can include homework help, or specific remedial support in a given subject area.
Online, one-on-one tutoring is very much like the in-person version, but takes place over an internet video chat platform like Zoom or Google Meet. The online format makes scheduling much more convenient for both the tutor and the student and still provides the individual, personalized support and attention the student needs.
Well-trained, consistent tutor who builds a strong relationship with students. Research indicates that teachers, paraprofessionals, college students, and other types of tutors can all be effective when tutoring one-to-one or in small groups.
High-quality instructional material aligned to standards and core classwork, focusing on addressing missed concepts and skills
One-to-one or small group (three or four students) for individualized support
Embedded in the school day or just before or after, to maximize student access
At least three sessions per week, 30 minutes minimum
Data-driven with tutors building and delivering sessions around student strengths and needs
High-Impact Tutoring with TutorUp
All of our tutors are certified, experienced classroom teachers who build their tutoring sessions around the specific needs of each student. All of our sessions are online, one-on-one so the student gets the tutor’s undivided attention. Session length and frequency are completely flexible and can be customized for each tutor’s/student’s convenience. For more information, or to talk with a tutoring consultant, fill out the form below or call 877-TutorUp (877-888-6787).
The just-released report from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) has been making waves in mainstream media and across the nation. Based on test results of 9-year-old fourth graders that were given from January to March in 2020 and in 2022, the test scores were alarming. Math scores dropped seven points, which is the first ever decline, and reading scores dropped five points, which is the largest drop in 30 years.
“These results are sobering,” said Peggy G. Carr, commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, which administers the tests. “It’s clear that covid-19 shocked American education and stunted the academic growth of this age group.”
As reported in The Washington Post by Donna St. George, this historic falloff “left little doubt about the pandemic’s toll. The average math score of 234 this year was comparable to the average score recorded in 1999, and the reading score of 215 was similar to the 2004 score. How long it might take to catch up is unclear and not likely to be understood until further test results are analyzed.”
According to other studies, there has also been an increase in classroom disruption, school violence, absenteeism, cyberbullying, teacher and staff vacancies, and an increase in students seeking mental health services.
“While we see declines at all performance levels, the growing gap between students at the top and those at the bottom is an important but overlooked trend,” said Martin West, a member of the governing board that sets policy for NAEP and academic dean at Harvard Graduate School of Education, in a statement. “These results show that this gap widened further during the pandemic.”
“Supporting the academic recovery of lower-performing students should be a top priority for educators and policymakers nationwide,” West said.
St. George reports that “seventy percent of the 9-year-olds tested this year recalled learning remotely at some point during the pandemic. More than 80 percent of higher-performing students reported always having access to a laptop, a desktop computer or a tablet. Among lower-performing students, about 60 percent had constant access.”
The NAEP testing is done at public and private schools chosen randomly from across the country. This year’s testing included 14,800 students from 410 schools. There are three 15-minute blocks of questions, mostly multiple-choice, plus a questionnaire.
Frequent, regular tutoring a proven strategy to help
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona stated that the NAEP results cast the experiences of the last two years in “a stark light” but should remind people to press ahead with efforts to accelerate student learning, support student mental health needs and invest in educators. States should steer federal relief funds “even more effectively and expeditiously” to proven strategies including “high-dosage” tutoring and after-school and summer programs, Cardona said.
NAEP tests are a congressionally authorized project, sponsored by the Department of Education and administered through its statistical arm, the NCES.
No, this isn’t a pitch for hiring tutors. It’s not a list of recommended study aids. Or books, tapes, videos, or other programs you can buy that will help your child in school. One of the simplest ways you can give your child a boost that will help him or her in school as well as for the rest of their lives is to give them the gift of organization.
That’s it. You can do those other things as well, but they won’t work or be as effective if your child’s desk, backpack, bedroom, home, and life are a disorganized mess. Because chances are that if your child’s environment is chaotic, so is their brain.
Where to Start
Start small. Does your child’s backpack for school have pockets, dividers, pouches, etc. or is it just one big open bag they throw everything into? Get color-coded folders and pouches and other containers that fit inside the backpack to help them keep things sorted. Have one folder that is just for papers they’re supposed to bring home for you to see and/or sign. Have a folder for each subject so they can easily sort their work, whether it’s completed assignments or works in progress. Of course they need other supplies; pens, pencils, erasers, sharpener, highlighter, calculator, compass, ruler, etc. Whatever your student needs to carry from classroom to classroom or from school to home, help them get it organized and work with them to keep it that way.
If your child’s assignments, classroom work, notes from the teacher, etc. are online, then take a few minutes every day to go over those things together.
Most kids can effectively use a daily planner by 4th or 5th grade. And even though today everything is online, electronic, and virtual, teach your child how to write down assignments, due dates, reminders, etc. It’s actually handier than having to look it up, plus the act of writing things down helps sear it into memory.
Being Organized as a Lifestyle
There’s a certain amount of casual clutter or disorganization that just happens in the daily flow of life’s activities, and that’s understandable. But studies have shown that living amongst clutter is stressful, and can cause anxiety and impair the ability to concentrate. Once the backpack or bookbag is sorted, work with your child to get their closet, dresser, desk, bedroom, toys, sports equipment, and other belongings sorted and organized, and teach them how to keep up with it so it’s not a huge chore once a month, but a daily habit that only takes a few minutes. This will help contribute to their inner calm, which in turn helps them focus and concentrate.
Unbusy Their Schedule
Families are on the go. In addition to school for them and work for you, there’s meals, shopping, errands, sports, extracurricular activities, church or worship, social activities, pets to care for, and the list goes on. It’s up to you to take a step back and look at your own family’s dynamics and see if there are ways you can fit in blocks of down time for your child. If there is more than one adult in the family, can one of you do some of the errands while the other stays home, giving the kids a break from being on the go? Will meal prep once a week be a viable timesaver for you that can lessen the daily burden? Will prepared meal delivery services fit into the budget so meals are super easy?
Look for ways to clear some time every day that is unstructured and unscheduled. It will help your child and also help you.
Unplug the Electronics
Kids spend too much time online, plugged in, overstimulated. Apparently the average kid between 8 and 18 spends six to seven hours a day in front of a screen. For their sanity, safety, and success, put limits on screen time. Build a library of actual books, magazines, journals, comic books, travel guides, cookbooks, catalogs, hobby books, etc. And help them get up off the couch and do something active every day. Weather permitting, spending some time outdoors each day is ideal. Walk the dog, water the flowers, pick weeds, ride a bike, skateboard, go for a walk, but just find something to do that gets your child outside and moving.
These are all things that contribute to your child’s overall mental health, which in turn is going to help them get the most out of school. Making these activities part of their daily routine is going to help your child feel focused, confident and proactive. Turning these activities into habits helps set up your child for a lifetime of success.
In the United States since 2011, the last week of January each year has been designated School Choice Week to promote the concept of all the different forms of school choice. For this current school year, National School Choice Week will be January 22-28, 2023.
There are six main options for schooling in the United States: traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online academies, and homeschooling. The National School Choice Week Team has published the trends for 2022-23, recapped here.
Traditional Public Schools and Open Enrollment
Available in all 50 states, traditional public schools are established by school districts. Open enrollment policies mean that parents can choose a public school that is outside of their own zone or district. Currently:
13 states allow parents to choose any public school for their child, in any school district
18 states allow open enrollment to parents that meet certain requirements, like living too far from the assigned school, or wishing to transfer out of a low-performing school.
An additional 19 states allow districts and schools to choose whether they will participate in open enrollment. So families must request and receive school district approval to take advantage of open enrollment in these states. Some states are lenient with their requirements while others rarely permit transfers.
Public Charter Schools
Charter schools are created by school districts, colleges, nonprofit organizations or other entities and are generally innovative schools within the public school system. 45 states and the District of Columbia allow public charter schools, and there are currently about 7,700 in the U.S. The number of students in charter schools has more than doubled in the last 10 years.
Magnet schools are also public schools operated by school districts, but they allow students to focus on a specific learning track, like STEM, medical science, or performing arts. There are more than 4,000 magnet schools across the US, and there are thousands of magnet programs within traditional public schools nationwide. All 50 states permit magnet schools, theme-based schools, or magnet programs, and 5 states have magnet programs but no freestanding magnet schools at this time.
Private schools are an educational choice in all 50 states and vary widely as to tuition and curriculum. Many private schools and nonprofit organizations offer scholarships to help students pay for tuition. In addition, 30 states offer official programs that provide scholarships or tuition assistance for families choosing private schools.
Online Learning and Course Access
Virtual academies instruct students 100% through online or digital curricula. In the 2019-20 school year, approximately 375,000 K-12 students attended a statewide online school full time in the United States. That number jumped to 656,000 for the 2020-21 school year. The numbers for 2021-22 aren’t in yet.
35 states offer full-time, tuition-free online public schools, established by state authorities, school districts, or charter schools. In many states, students can use online coursework to supplement their in-person schooling. Many states also offer this online course access to private school or homeschooled students.
All 50 states allow parents to homeschool their children. Many families collaborate with others, using tutorials, cooperatives, and leagues. Enrollment in homeschool programs nearly doubled from 1999 to 2016. By 2020, before the coronavirus pandemic, more than 2 million children were homeschooled. As of 2022, that number has grown to about 3.7 million, and is growing in all race and income categories.
To view maps showing the details of these various school options for each state, please visit SchoolChoiceWeek.com.
Once July 4th celebrations begin fading from our memories, the steady countdown to “back to school” begins. Sure, there’s still summer left to enjoy, but when stores begin stocking school supplies, and emails begin arriving encouraging school registration, it’s time to get prepared.
When Does School Start in Your District?
Depending on where you live, some kids may go back to school as early as the first week of August while others don’t start until the week after Labor Day in September. Chances are that you’re well aware of exactly when school starts in your local district, but if you’re not sure, a quick online search for your school district’s website will give you all the info you need about start dates, registration, school supply lists, and more.
If you’re not sure which school district you’re in, this handy tool or also this search tool will tell you. Just enter your address and you can see the name of your school district and the elementary, middle, and high schools in it. You can even search for charter and private schools. Once you identify your school district, it’s easy to find the website and phone number to get the details.
Getting in the Back to School Groove
You’ll want to squeeze every moment of summer fun into the remaining days of summer vacation, but it’s also a good idea to gently steer thoughts in the direction of starting back to school. Many students have done some type of summer school, summer learning programs, summer tutoring, or other learning-related activities over the break, and the transition back to full-time school might be less of a chore for them. But whether your kids have done any of that or not, encouraging a positive attitude about returning to school is important.
If your child has struggled in school, you may need to help them overcome negative feelings about school and about their own achievements and obstacles. Even kids who have few issues academically might have performance anxiety or socialization challenges that make them feel negatively about school. Being sensitive to these real hurdles, taking them seriously, and talking about them can help your child overcome the negativity.
As with many areas in life, if you’re a positive role model for your child, and show that you value education and you are supportive, it will help foster confidence and a positive attitude towards school. And while all of this is important, so is maintaining a balance between school and other activities. Be careful not to overwhelm your child with concerns about performance in school.
One way to help a child who struggles with school is to provide them with opportunities to excel at something. Sometimes this means giving them activities or tasks that are below their actual grade level, just to help them experience the joy in getting things right and mastering something.
Help Overcome the Summer Slide
It’s long been an established fact that students lose ground academically over the summer break, and starting back to school in the fall involves a lot of remedial work. This learning loss is most remarkable in math and English. Over the past couple of school years, families have also had to contend with Covid-related learning loss due to major disruptions in normal school attendance and functionality. This double-impact on learning has resulted in students who are further behind in these core subjects than ever before.
Providing kids with some fun activities that don’t feel like work or school yet still provide lots of learning opportunities can help mitigate learning loss. For help with math-related fun things to do, check out these resources. And for ways to incorporate fun reading activities that help kids keep up and improve, you’ll find great reading recommendations here.
Whenever the new 2022/23 school year starts for your student, it’s not too early to get ready for it now.