FUN Summer Math Exercises

FUN Summer Math Exercises

Fun ways to keep up with math over the summer

Even in “normal” years, kids of all ages lose ground over the summer, especially in math and reading. With the disruptions in school we’ve all experienced the past couple of years, this year the “summer slide” is even more pronounced than usual. But how is a parent supposed to get kids doing anything resembling homework over summer vacation? Worksheets just aren’t going to cut it.

Searching online for “fun math activities” highlights a lot of different resources for students of all ages. Here are a few of the best:

Bedtime Math

This site has daily activities that you can do with your kids that incorporate math and numbers in creative ways, engaging kids of various ages, like this one on the invention of the calculator. Check out their great daily math challenges.


This site combines free and paid activities for kids that are presented as classroom aids for the teacher, but are easily adapted to at-home activities. Ideas include Math Bingo, making a paper plate clock, guessing the weight of different objects, hopscotch math, pizza fractions, and more.

ID Tech

For the older kids, ID Tech has fun math activities geared to middle and high school students. Did you know that Minecraft has an incredible math educator’s guide? Find out ways to apply math to Minecraft activities. There are ways to incorporate Fantasy Football, Math Jeopardy, subtraction dice and more.

NASA’s Math Series

Want some fun and challenging ways to engage your STEM students? NASA offers activities for algebra, geometry, and pre-calculus.

Beyond Sudoku

Of course you’re familiar with the number challenges in playing Sudoku, but have you heard of KenKen? These puzzles can be addictive!

Math Games and Activities for Kids on the Move

Not everyone learns well by sitting at a desk or staring at a computer screen. Kids need to be active and move and they can still be learning while working off some energy. We Are Teachers has a variety of activities you can offer to your squirmy kids who learn better when in motion.

Summer Math Tutoring

If your student could use some one-on-one math support from a certified, classroom-experienced teacher, we have math tutors for all grade levels. Private online sessions can be arranged to suit your summer schedule, and can help guarantee that your student is ready when school starts back up this fall.

What stressed teachers want from parents and kids

What stressed teachers want from parents and kids

by Erica Pandey, Business Reporter at Axios

reposted with the author’s permission

Teaching has become one of the most draining jobs in America. So we asked Axios Finish Line readers who are teachers how we can help them.

Why it matters: Teachers’ stress and burnout is on the rise, while wages remain stagnant. All of us can step up to aid those who educate the next generation of leaders.

Here’s what we learned from educators:

Gifts and acts of service make a difference.

  • “Pool resources and get your teacher a gift card to a local pool or yoga studio. Teachers are overworked and underpaid, and they’ve probably spent most of their discretionary income on their classroom anyway.” —Cari C., a teacher in San Francisco
  • “I think people can help teachers by donating cleaning supplies to their child’s teachers. … Kids like having a job at school. The students gain a sense of pride and are rewarded by being told, ‘Job well done!'” —Ashley N., a teacher in Orlando
  • “What teachers need is more and regular volunteers in the classrooms.” —Sheila C., a teacher in Durant, Mississippi
  • Coffee, coffee, coffee. Best gift ever. We cannot leave the building and have 20 minutes for lunch at best.” —Beth T., a teacher in Northern Virginia

If you’re a parent, be kind — and engage.

  • “Parents should always give the teacher the benefit of the doubt, rather than right away racing to the child’s side. When the child performs well, it reflects on their teacher, so no teacher wants anything else for the child.” —Keith S., a fifth-grade teacher in Old Greenwich, Connecticut
  • Please think before sending a request or complaint. The number of emails that teachers receive every day is breaking their backs.” —Jeananne F., a retired principal from Fort Myers, Florida
  • “Read to your child if they are young. If they are older, take them to the library with you and check out books. Talk about what you have read. Kids who see reading is important to the adults in their lives are far more likely to be engaged in school.” —Patty M., a high school science teacher in Hammond, Indiana

“Thank you” goes a long way.

  • “Just saying thanks is unusual but provides such a mental energy boost for us when we are exhausted down to our souls!” —Robin G., a high school English teacher in Springdale, Arkansas
  • Copy administrators on your “thank you” emails to teachers, says Joan K., a retired Connecticut teacher.

The bottom line: “Teachers perform an indispensable public service and work extremely hard doing it. But our society acts as if teaching is unskilled labor that anyone can do and chooses to compensate that labor accordingly,” says Sabrina U., a former K-12 teacher from Decatur, Georgia.

  • Appreciate and support the teachers in your life.
Summer Reading for Kids

Summer Reading for Kids

How to encourage your kids to read this summer

It’s summer and the last thing your kids want is an assignment. You know they should do some reading over the break in order to help mitigate the “summer slide” that happens to most kids. But if you make reading a chore, you risk turning your kids off.

Schools have summer reading programs. Libraries have summer reading programs. Parent groups have recommendations and lists of books that appeal to parents. And there are goals and rewards and milestones. And all of this feels like work.

Ditch the program

One of the best ways to encourage your kids to read is for you to be a reader. Seriously. They learn by example. And younger children usually love being read to. But just seeing that reading is important to you helps make it a natural activity.

If you have more than one child, having them read to each other can also be fun, or have an older child read aloud to younger kids who can’t yet read themselves.

Don’t force or cajole or bribe your kids to read. Just make reading materials of all types readily available to them. This includes:

  • magazines
  • newspapers
  • graphic novels
  • audio books
  • blog posts
  • travel brochures
  • how-to-books
  • cookbooks
  • recipes
  • catalogs
  • word puzzles
  • encyclopedias
  • poetry
  • fiction
  • fantasy
  • hobby books (like coin collecting, gardening, insects, music, art, vintage record albums…)

Resist the temptation to consult an “approved” reading list this summer and let your child’s own interests and hobbies guide them (and you) to reading about what they’re interested in, regardless of the medium. Your local librarian will be super helpful in directing you to reading materials on every topic.

Reading and writing are connected

Encouraging writing helps boost your child’s reading skills. You can help your child make a journal, or buy a ready-made one that they pick out, if they seem interested. Have them make a list of things they see or do over the summer so they have a ready made essay for back-to-school. This could easily turn into a scrapbook project. Help them pick a pen pal to write letters to. Have them write down recipes they like, creating their own collection or “cookbook”. Any type of writing activity is valuable and will improve their reading ability.

If your child has reading difficulties

Children who struggle to read are not going to enjoy reading. For some kids, making lower level, easier reading materials available can help. But if you suspect that your child is having a more serious problem with reading, summer is a good time to look into it. If the problem is something physical or cognitive, the earlier you get it diagnosed, the better. If it’s just that your child may be slower to catch on and develop reading skills, taking the pressure off and making it as fun and stress-free as possible will help.

Bottom line: remove the “work” aspect from summer reading and make a variety of materials available to your kids. Encourage reading without pressure and have a great summer!

Is Summer School in Your Plans?

Is Summer School in Your Plans?

The 2022 Summer School Picture

Millions of students enroll in summer school each year for a variety of reasons. Some students retake courses needed for graduation, some take courses for academic acceleration and enrichment, and some take career prep or college prep courses. In addition to K-12 programs, high school and middle school students can take advantage of summer programs offered by more than 97% of top universities.

In 2019, there were about 3.3 million students enrolled in summer school in the U.S., and in 2020, the latest year figures were available, that number increased to 3.4 million. According to a report on summer school by ThinkImpact, continued attendance in summer school could result in up to 25% improvement in mathematics, and up to 23% improvement in language capabilities. And 2022 should see growth as well “As there is an increased focus and significance placed on education, summer school has enjoyed a resurgence.”

The Effect of Summer School

As ThinkImpact reports, “Research has shown that students at every stage can benefit from summer school” and enrolling students in a grade level lower than the grade they just completed seems to have a marked positive impact.

The positive impact of summer school persists, even after the following school year. Students are generally showing an advantage of one grade level in post-tests over their peers, and even “one year later, there was a 13% benefit for students” in the subject they took in summer school.

Summer school during the pandemic, including online summer school, helped prevent loss of 50% of math gains and 30% of reading gains.

Blending Vacation with Learning

For most students, summer means fun and freedom and no more studying or homework. Parents need to keep that in mind, and weigh the benefits of summer learning with the benefits of having time off. Since most summer school programs are short duration, and typically don’t require daily attendance or long hours, it’s relatively easy to combine summer fun with summer learning.

The “summer slide” is a known phenomenon that impacts students primarily in math and reading. Typically, students lose an average of two months of reading skills and 2.6 months of math skills over the summer. Once they return to school in the fall, it can take weeks if not months to relearn and get caught back up to where they were at the beginning of summer.

This is one reason many parents choose to incorporate some kind of summer learning for their kids.

Summer Tutoring Online

If you’re planning to enroll your student in a summer learning program, you may find that a little one-on-one personalized tutoring support will help boost that learning. Or if your student just needs a couple of hours a week of tutoring without the need to enroll in a formal summer program, TutorUp has solutions for your needs. All of our tutors are certified, classroom-experienced teachers and as such, they have more availability over the summer than during the school year. We can match your student with the perfect tutor to help them sail through a summer school program, or just help them avoid the annual summer slump. Click here to let us know what you’re looking for.

The Latest On SAT and ACT Test Requirements

The Latest On SAT and ACT Test Requirements

Are the SAT and ACT assessment tests still optional?

One of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown has been that, in many cases, college assessment testing was suspended, and even when it has been available, most schools have made the tests optional. As pandemic fears have eased, some colleges and universities have reinstated the requirement as part of their admissions process. Many other schools are still treating the tests as optional, at least for the 2022/23 school year.

This mixed message can be confusing, and as a result, many educators are recommending that students take the SAT and/or ACT anyway.

Why take the SAT or ACT?

  • Some colleges and universities are again requiring it, with MIT being among the first to announce
  • Many scholarship programs require that students take either the SAT or ACT
  • A high score on a college entrance exam can still be an asset, even if optional, as schools do consider a student’s scores when making admissions decisions
  • Students planning to study abroad are often required to submit SAT or ACT scores
  • International students applying to U.S. colleges and universities are often required to submit SAT or ACT scores in order to qualify for scholarships
  • Some states require that public school students take either test in order to graduate
  • Many states also require homeschoolers to take nationally standardized tests in order to satisfy state testing requirements

What is the point of the SAT or ACT?

Basically, these tests help determine what you have learned, and whether you are ready for college. While some students don’t do well on standardized tests, and may find these intimidating, having a good score on one or both gives schools more information about a prospective student to help them make admissions decisions. So any competitive advantage an applicant can demonstrate is a bonus. Don’t let the “optional” status of these tests lull you into thinking you don’t need to take them.

What is the difference between the SAT and ACT?

Both exams are nationally recognized, but the SAT is seen as more of an evaluation of a student’s aptitude, and the ACT is considered more of a placement test or an indicator of academic achievement. Both tests have Math, Reading, and Writing sections and the ACT also has a Science section. The SAT has both a calculator and a no-calculator math section.

The SAT is made up of 154 questions and is scored between 400 and 1600. It requires more writing and problem solving, and gives the student more time to complete.

The ACT has 215 questions and is scored from 1 to 36. The questions are more straightforward and require less time to answer.

Students can take the ACT up to 12 times in order to get the highest score possible, and there is no limit on how many times a student may take the SAT. Each test is offered on 7 different dates throughout the year.

Preparing for the SAT and ACT

Practice tests are available online, and there are a multitude of services, some offered by local schools, to coach students and help them prepare for taking these tests. Most of these are paid services, and can cost upwards of $1,500, however it is possible to find some test prep offered for free, and many priced somewhere inbetween. Some courses are group classes, either in person or online, while others are one-on-one. The cost to take the tests themselves depends on whether you add the writing part of the test. The full ACT with writing costs $88 while the basic SAT costs $47 with additional subject tests costing $10 to $21 more.

One-on-one Online SAT and ACT Test Prep This Summer

Summer is the perfect opportunity for students to get ready for these exams, and TutorUp has experienced tutors who are certified teachers, skilled in preparing students for the SAT and ACT. If personalized, one-on-one test prep for the SAT or ACT is what you’re looking for, we have teacher/tutors who can help. Simply fill out the contact form on the right, or give us a call at 877-888-6787.

Summer Learning Loss – the Summer Slide

Summer Learning Loss – the Summer Slide

Is Summer Learning Loss Real?

A research study in the American Educational Research Journal found that “the average student loses 17-34% of the prior year’s learning gains during summer break, as well as that students who lose ground in one summer are more likely to also lose ground in subsequent summers.” They also found that there was more substantial loss in math and reading. Read more about summer learning loss here from the Institute of Multi-Sensory Education.

How to Address Summer Learning Loss

  • Summer learning programs can be effective in helping prevent summer learning loss and closing achievement gaps.
  • Having access to books and encouraging summer reading is important in helping students gain in reading achievement, comprehension, writing style, vocabulary, spelling, and grammar.
  • Journaling over the summer is a great way to not only capture memories, but also provide writing practice for students. Encouraging kids to write in their journal daily keeps their literacy skills fresh.
  • Another way to keep writing skills fresh is to encourage letter writing with a pen pal or distant relative.
  • For more targeted academic support, summer tutoring is very effective in helping students keep current and improve math and reading skills.

Summer Tutoring with TutorUp

All of our tutors are certified teachers and have a lot of flexibility in their summer schedules. If you’re interested in providing some weekly academic support for your student this summer, we have lots of options for you.

What’s Your Child’s Reading Level?

What’s Your Child’s Reading Level?

How You Can Help Your Child Become a Better Reader

There’s a lot of discussion about how kids have fallen behind in reading and need some help to get caught up. But how do you know which level your child is at? And how can you help match them to the right books at the right time to help them level up?

You can start with a conversation with your child’s teacher, who should be able to share your child’s reading level with you. Scholastic Books has put together a great list of books that are appropriate for different guided reading levels from Pre-K through Grade 3 and up. Some educators recommend choosing at-home books a level or two below the one your child reads at in school.

The Different Reading Level Ranges

Scholastic Books has their own Guided Reading Program Levels, and they also have Guided Reading Lexile Ranges. There are also the Common Core State Standards Lexile Ranges (CCSS), and the Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA) levels. You can read more about the Lexile Framework for Reading here. The Lexile reader measure can range from below 200L for beginning readers to above 1600L for advanced readers.

The Five Finger Test

To choose books for your child that are the right level, you can have your child do the quick and easy Five Finger Test. Select a book your child wants to read, flip to a page in the middle of the book and ask your child to read the page out loud. Have your child hold up a finger for each word he is not sure of or does not know. If there are five or more words on that page, you should choose an easier book. You can use the five finger rule on two or more pages, just to make sure.

For help choosing books at your child’s reading level, has a four step online guide for parents.

Online Reading Tests

There are a variety of online resources that offer reading assessment tests. These can be helpful in indicating a child’s reading level so parents can select appropriate books.

You Can Help

The important thing to keep in mind is that you can create a positive environment for your child that will help make reading fun and rewarding. While it’s helpful for you and your child’s teachers to know what your child’s reading level is, you should avoid using labels like “slow” reader or “reads below grade level”. You can be encouraging without communicating disappointment or concern that could make your child worry. Not every child is going to turn into an avid adult reader, but you can help make sure that your child has the reading capability they will need to be successful.

Reading Resources for Parents

Reading Resources for Parents

“Reading is the gateway skill that makes all other learning possible.”
— Barack Obama

Parents can have a significant impact on their children’s attitude about reading as well as their reading ability. Whether your student is an avid reader, excelling at or above their grade level, or your student is struggling with reading, there are lots of resources available to enrich their reading experience and improve their reading comprehension.

Reading is Fundamental

The RIF website is a goldmine of resources for teachers and parents with children of all ages. From grade-matched book recommendations and corresponding support materials, to Learn at Home resources, word games, puzzle creator and much more, there are helpful tools for all ages.

Reading Rockets

This is another feature-rich website for parents and teachers who want to improve the reading achievement of children. Reading Rockets has reading guides, videos, blogs, fun activities and more. You’ll find topics, booklists and authors, and recommendations for parents.

Literacy expert Timothy Shanahan has put together a list of 11 ways parents can help their children read. It’s a quick read and all of the tips are basic enough to help even the youngest of students. Bottom line, don’t leave the work to teachers and schools. Parents have a huge influence on their children’s attitude and ability to read and spending some time reading (and writing) with your child can make a big difference.

Scholastic Parents

Scholastic books offers a newsletter just for parents, book lists by age and category, reading resources, printables and activities, homework help and more.

Playing an active role in your child’s literary development is the best way to help them.

U.S. Department of Education has a section with resources for parents who want to help their child read. You’ll find tips, guides, publications and more that are geared to parents.

National Center on Improving Literacy

Improving Literacy has resources for parents with proven methods to help their children with reading and writing. There are videos, resources, articles, experts who answer questions, and more.

For Students with ADHD or Dyslexia

Ways to Lift Up Lagging Readers offers ways to make reading less work and more fun for readers with difficulties like ADHD and dyslexia.

“Children Are Severely Behind in Reading” from the NY Times

“Children Are Severely Behind in Reading” from the NY Times

The Pandemic Has Worsened the Reading Crisis in Schools

Dana Goldstein of the New York Times reported this week on the alarming “reading emergency” caused by the Covid pandemic and its severe impact on education in the United States.

Multiple studies are reporting that reading skills of younger students were at a 20-year low at the beginning of this school year. “Children in every demographic group have been affected, but Black and Hispanic children, as well as those from low-income families, those with disabilities and those who are not fluent in English have fallen the furthest behind.”

While it’s true that national tests have shown a stagnant or declining performance in reading for U.S. students since 2019, there is no denying that the pandemic has made all of this worse. Children spent months out of the classroom, and when they did return, they found less help than before the pandemic. A federal survey has shown that nearly half of all public schools have teaching vacancies, especially in special education and elementary grades.

Schools are now under pressure to boost literacy quickly to try to make up for the ground that has been lost. Billions in stimulus funds are going to schools for tutoring and other academic supports, but schools are still having trouble hiring quality staff.

Early on in the pandemic, research suggested that reading skills were holding steady while there was more concern about learning loss in math. Today the research is showing the opposite. Among the youngest students, many of whom spent their entire kindergarten year outside of school, the basics of reading have been lost.

As a result, some states like Mississippi, Alabama, and Massachusetts have begun retraining teachers in phonics. Individual and small-group tutoring is being funded by federal grants, however many educators are leaving the classroom for the more lucrative private reading and speech therapy industry. So even with the budget, schools are finding it difficult to hire experienced educators.

A new Stanford study finds that “reading fluency among second and third graders in the U.S. is roughly 30 percent behind what would be expected in a typical year.” While students are beginning to recoup the losses suffered when schools closed in 2020, it hasn’t been enough to make up for the gaps.

Many states paused academic assessment testing during the pandemic, so definitive numbers aren’t readily available but the evidence is compelling. Children who struggle with reading will be facing lifelong hurdles. What this means is that the critical time to address the problem is now, before more learning is lost.

reading statistics
Courtesty of Reading is Fundamental, Literacy Network

Private tutoring can bridge the gap

When struggling students are paired with experienced, trained, certified educators in a one-on-one private tutoring arrangement, reading improvement can be dramatic. Due to the shortage of experienced teachers in the schools, and the fact that teachers in the classroom have to divide their attention among dozens of students, the concentrated attention that students need in order to catch up is best achieved with quality tutoring.

Study Tips for Kids (and Parents)

Study Tips for Kids (and Parents)

Help Your Student Establish Good Study Habits

The best way to help your student study is to share some tips, help them get started on implementing them, and then let them take it from there. Resist the inclination to step in and handle it every day when they come home from school with assignments or they need to study for a test. In the long run, the more you take over and direct, the less your student will actually learn how to study and get organized.

Setting Up for Success

Regardless of age, here are some basics that will help any student with studying and completing homework assignments.

  • Don’t try to jump right in to homework after school. Allow for a break and a snack first.
  • Designate a specific place as the study/homework station. And make sure it’s not on their bed, or in the same room as a TV that is on, or where people gather to socialize.
  • Institute a “no social media” policy during study time. Your student may need their phone, tablet, or computer to do their homework, so the temptation to check on social media will be harder to control, but it’s a huge time-waster and breaks concentration.
  • Take breaks. Your student can set specific break times (like every 30 minutes or once an hour) or just take a break at a natural stopping point, but using a timer will help keep the break short. 5-10 minutes is long enough. Longer than that could make your student lose their place and forget what they were working on.
  • Encourage some physical activity during break times, even if it’s just standing up and stretching.

Organizational Skills

Starting at about fourth or fifth grade, your student should have a day planner or assignment notebook they write in and keep track of every assignment, the date assigned, the due date, instructions and notes. Younger students may have handouts from the teacher with daily assignments or worksheets and don’t need the additional structure of keeping a calendar.

Train children at a young age to be sure to put all of their school papers, assignments, notes, worksheets, etc. in their backpack every day to bring home from school. Help them review and sort through these papers every day before starting homework. Don’t let the backpack become the Bermuda Triangle.

For schools that send homework, notices, schedules, etc. via email or posted online, be sure to check that right after school so you’re not surprised the next morning when your student says “I was supposed to do…” or “I’m supposed to bring…”

It might help (especially for older students) to have separate folders in different colors for each subject. And for note-taking, a matching spiral notebook for each subject. So if Math is blue, it’s easy to grab the blue folder and the blue spiral notebook to find all the info needed to complete assignments.

Another method of organizing would be a three-ring binder with pocket tabs for each subject, keeping everything in one notebook, organized by subject. This can get pretty big though, so your student might prefer the colored folder/notebook method.

Make sure that your student has all the necessary supplies in their backpack every day. Depending on age, pencils, pens, eraser, crayons, markers, highlighters, glue sticks, scissors, notebook, paper, index cards, calculator, tissues, wet wipes, hand sanitizer… you get the idea.

Study Tips

Success with homework and studying begins in school. It’s important that students learn early to pay attention, ask questions when they don’t understand something, take good notes, keep track of assignments and important dates, minimize distractions in class (like keeping their phones in their backpacks), and just take school seriously in general. This includes consistent attendance.

Goal setting –

Whether it’s a certain grade a student wants to achieve, or just mastering a single concept, it helps to have a goal to work toward. Maybe your third grader needs to memorize multiplication tables. Measure how long it takes to get one down, and then set goals accordingly. Breaking big goals into smaller, more easily achieved goals helps your student see how they are progressing.

Note taking –

It’s not possible (or recommended) to try to write down everything a teacher is saying. One way to help students learn how to jot down the important points, so they can review them later, is to have them watch a short video of someone lecturing on an interesting topic or explaining something or giving instructions. You watch the video with them and have them pick out the important things they might want to write down, while you take your own notes. Then you can compare notes and see if your student is on the right track. The best way to learn how to take good notes is to practice taking notes.

Demonstrating mastery –

A great way to help a student commit something to memory, and demonstrate that they have mastered a specific topic, or concept, is to have them teach/explain it to someone else. That could be you, or a sibling, or a classmate.

Study partner/study group –

Studying with a peer, or a group of peers, can be very useful as long as everyone takes it seriously. Of course, fun should also be had, but keep goals in mind when students work together. One way to help influence this is to host the studying at your house.

It’s okay to try different things to see what resonates with your student. And if you have more than one child you’re trying to help, keep in mind that everyone is different, and what works well for one child might not be helpful for another. Listen to your child and take their input into consideration when trying to help. Good study habits for students can last a lifetime, and translate into good work habits and help create responsible adults.

Hobbies Help Kids De-Stress

Hobbies Help Kids De-Stress

Creative Ways to Improve Your Child’s Life

This seems obvious, but bears reminding: “When engaging in a hobby you enjoy, the brain releases endorphins, chemicals that are attributed to creating positive feelings. Over time, your hobby helps to train the brain to be active, happy, and healthy.”

Anybody had a stressful year or so? Could you use some extra endorphins right about now?

We’ve talked a lot about how the Covid pandemic and lockdowns, virtual school, social isolation, learning loss and uncertainty have affected all of us, but it may be hardest on our kids. Which is why it’s more important than ever to encourage kids – and all of us, really – to cultivate a hobby or two that have nothing at all to do with school, work, or anything else that is a stressor.

Emotional, Psychological, and Physical Benefits of Hobbying

Some resources say that healthy eating, exercising, meditating, and reading are “hobbies”, but those are really more accurately categorized as lifestyle choices. The kinds of hobbies we’re talking about are the more fun and creative ones like beading friendship bracelets, knitting, painting, learning how to play a musical instrument, collecting and trading things like stamps, coins, comic books, Funko Pop figures (or really anything). Of course many hobbies do involve physical activity, like dancing, rock climbing, or bicycle riding and the benefits there include feeling more physically fit without technically “exercising”.

The endorphins mentioned earlier are your body’s way of telling you that what you’re doing feels great, helps you de-stress and just generally improves your day and your life. In a digital world where our kids are staring at some kind of electronic screen for hours on end, it’s even more important to find a fun activity that allows them to unplug.

Getting involved in a hobby is also a way to introduce your child to a new social network and group of friends with shared interests, which is another beneficial result.

Don’t Just Encourage – Participate!

It’s great for parents to encourage their children’s hobbies, but it can be even more fun if you participate in the activity with your child. Even if all you do is help with the research for your kid who wants to get into stargazing or bird-watching, your involvement helps reinforce the validity of their choice and is an opportunity to bond. Certainly if your child has an interest in something you already like to do – like going to classic car shows and learning about old cars – it makes it that much more fun to share the activity.

Just Don’t Nag

Interest in hobbies will wax and wane, and something that delighted your child last summer may not interest her right now. That’s why it’s great to help encourage multiple kinds of hobbies that your child can move in and out of as the muse strikes. If that rock collecting kit or custom bowling ball is sitting and collecting dust, resist the urge to complain about it and make your child feel guilty. That’s the best way to insure that they never pick it back up again.

The objective is to introduce and encourage activities that are fun, relaxing, rewarding, distracting, or even just amusing. Remember the endorphins! It can be as simple as setting up a card table in the corner of your family room with a jigsaw puzzle that everyone can spend a few minutes on when they feel like it. Or a dedicated hobbyist can end up spending serious time and money on specialized tools or equipment, traveling to conventions, or taking lessons. Hobbies can take many forms and are as varied as the people who love them.

Some Popular Hobby Ideas for All Ages in 2022

  • Astronomy
  • Baking
  • Birding
  • Blogging
  • Calligraphy
  • Candle Making
  • Chess
  • Collecting anything
  • Coloring books (for every age, even adults!)
  • Cooking
  • Cosplaying
  • Fiber Arts (knitting, crochet, cross-stitch, needlepoint, etc.)
  • Genealogy
  • Graphic Design
  • Indoor gardening (herbs and salad ingredients)
  • Learning sign language
  • Magic Tricks
  • Meditation
  • Outdoor gardening
  • Pen Pals
  • Photography
  • Playing a musical instrument
  • Pottery
  • Puzzles
  • Soap Making
  • Videography
  • Woodworking

Links to More Hobby Ideas

28 Hobbies for Kids You Haven’t Thought Of

35+ Most Popular & Common Hobbies in the World

65 Hobbies for Kids That are Fun

11 Fun Hobbies to Do as a Family

Not All Online Tutoring Programs are the Same

Not All Online Tutoring Programs are the Same

Is there value in online tutoring?

At a time when many parents and students are weary of “online school” and virtual learning, some are questioning the effectiveness of online tutoring. After nearly two years of remote learning, why would we think it’s a good idea to sign up our kids for an online tutor? After all, aren’t kids tired of staring at a screen, trying to focus and concentrate enough to learn?

The answer is yes and no.

In a recent New York Times article, they point out that “Spending on virtual tutoring is explicitly allowed under federal stimulus guidelines, and the Education Department said quality remote tutoring can be a ‘great option for many students, as long as the tutoring addresses individual students’ needs and produces strong educational outcomes.’”

The Key Ingredients for Quality Remote Tutoring

Individualized tutoring –

A canned lesson or curriculum may serve as an adequate guideline for a classroom situation, but when a student is having challenges and needs tutoring, the learning should be personalized for the specific material that student needs help with. The student’s unique problems should be the determining factor for what the tutor wants to focus on, not a one-size-fits-all solution.

One-on-one attention –

Classroom teachers have to divide their attention among many students, all with varying levels of comprehension and success. Group lessons–even small groups–don’t fix the problem for students who are falling behind. For tutoring to actually be effective, sessions need to be just one student matched with one tutor, face to face.

Qualified, experienced tutors –

There’s a difference between a subject matter expert and a trained educator. Many tutoring companies hire college students or other tutors who may be very well-versed in a certain subject but this doesn’t mean that they know how to help a struggling student. Teachers are trained to be able to identify learning issues and how to address them, adapting their approach to the student’s unique learning style and individual needs.

Tutor/Student connection –

When a student has regular, personalized, one-on-one tutoring sessions with the same tutor, even if these sessions are “virtual”, student and teacher are able to develop a real connection. They get to know each other and develop their own pace for learning. Sticking with the same tutor helps a student develop trust and confidence in the help they receive.

Frequent sessions –

Tutoring isn’t the same as homework help. Sometimes a student is stuck on a single concept, problem, or assignment and just needs one short session to help with that. However a student who is struggling, or trying to get caught up with tutoring, gets the biggest boost with two to three sessions per week. Some concentrated tutoring support has been shown to be very helpful in learning, reinforcing, and improving in any grade and subject.

How TutorUp Measures Up

  • All of our tutoring sessions are individualized. Designed by that specific teacher for that specific student.
  • We only provide one-on-one tutoring support. No groups.
  • TutorUp’s tutoring staff is 100% comprised of certified, experienced classroom teachers.
  • Once a student is matched with a tutor, they stay connected. Unless the parent requests a change.
  • We strongly recommend two or three tutoring sessions per week. The frequency and length of the sessions varies based on age of the student, type of help needed, and compatibility of schedules. And at TutorUp, the more sessions you purchase, the lower the per-session price.
Starting 2022 Off Right

Starting 2022 Off Right

Student academic performance scores have dropped

School districts are quietly discussing student performance results for this school year, and the news is what you might expect. While many districts are operating under federal and state waivers regarding academic performance tests, the unofficial results show a drop.

Ken Zeff, a former superintendent for Fulton County Schools in Georgia, said every bit of data is helpful. So even though the results are unofficial this year, Zeff said “We should look at it and just recognize that we’ve had a dip in learning”.

The iReady test, administered nationally by Curriculum Associates, shows that performance “plummeted for all students compared to the last time it was given before the health crisis began. Nearly three million students took the test both times.” This decline in student performance is mirrored in the standardized test results that various states are reporting.

“This is a disaster. The bottom has fallen out, and the results are as bad as you can imagine,” said Michael Petrilli, president of the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute. “We haven’t seen this kind of academic achievement crisis in living memory.”

What can parents do?

Parents do have options when it comes to helping students recover academic loss and improve test scores and grades.

Charter Schools

44 states and the District of Columbia now offer a charter school option to students in public schools, at no cost to parents. Charter schools give parents the option of moving their child out of a school where they may not be thriving, to a school that has higher quality programs and teachers. By 2018 (the latest year for which data is available) 7% of all public school students were in charter schools.

Magnet Schools

These are free public schools that concentrate on specific skill areas and usually deliver a higher quality educational experience. Students interested in STEM or the arts, for example, can find programs that work for them in magnet schools. The downside is, since they are free public schools, there is often a waiting list to get in.

Private Schools

There are many different types of private schools, including traditional private schools, boarding schools, Montessori and Waldorf schools, and parochial or religious private schools. For families who can afford it, private schooling offers the most parental influence and freedom of choice. These tuition-based schools do sometimes offer scholarships.


Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states, and because it offers flexibility, innovation, and customization, is becoming more popular. Due to Covid and parents working from home, more families are opting to homeschool their children. According to Focus on the Family, homeschooling is “a flexible learning format where parents can weave learning preferences, curriculum, lifestyle, home responsibilities, career, and family needs into a holistic picture of what it means to learn together.”

Private Tutoring

Regardless of the type of school a student is in, all students can take advantage of private tutoring support. Having the undivided attention of a highly qualified teacher/tutor who spends one-on-one time focusing on an individual student gives a student a great advantage. Whether a student is falling behind, finds it challenging to learn new material in a group setting, or is just having difficulty with a specific subject, project, or concept, tutoring can help them overcome. No matter what type of classroom situation a student has day-to-day, getting one-on-one attention and support is extremely difficult. Teachers have to divide their time among multiple students while tutors can personalize lessons to suit the individual.


It will take some time for our public schools and students to make up the losses they have suffered due to the Covid pandemic, closing of in-person schools, and the focus on remote group learning. McKinsey & Company published the results of their research into recovering from the pandemic, and one of the things they found was “Disruptions to learning are not over, and student attendance rates lag significantly behind pre-pandemic levels. While actual closures of whole schools or districts have affected just 9 percent of students, quarantines and other disruptions have affected 17 percent of in-person students. On top of school closures, absenteeism rates have risen, with 2.7 times as many students on a path to be chronically absent from school this year compared with before the pandemic.”

While school districts have access to funds to support educational programs, including academic and mental-health recovery programs, they don’t seem to be allocating the funding to the programs parents want. For example, they are allocating 34 percent of funding to summer school and after-school programs, and only 7 percent of funding for tutoring. But parents are four times more interested in tutoring services for academic recovery than summer school.

Start 2022 off right – get tutoring help

This means that in many instances, parents are on their own to pay for tutoring support to help their child recover academically. For more information on the high-quality personalized tutoring services we offer, at affordable prices, please fill out the form below.

Newsletter | December 2021

Newsletter | December 2021

Study Break

This has been a challenging school year

It’s important to remember that, though they may have ground to make up, kids also need a break. We as parents may be a little too focused on pushing our kids without allowing for the mental and physical fatigue that can result.

The end of the calendar year is a great time to incorporate helpful study breaks and get your game plan for 2022 in place.

Read about why kids need a break, and get suggestions on the right way to do it.

Did you know?
  • When students experience an academic setback such as a bad grade, the amount of cortisol—the so-called stress hormone—in their bodies typically spikes
  • Having a “growth mindset” – where the student believes intelligence can be developed – helps them handle this stress
  • Study breaks improve retention and productivity
  • Social media doesn’t work well as a purposeful break
  • What does work? Listening to music
  • Taking a walk
  • A healthy meal or snack
  • Stretching and a change of scenery
  • Draw, doodle, or color

Happy Holidays from TutorUp!
Get your tutoring plans in place for the New Year!

Call 877-888-6787 for details!

Taking Study Breaks Helps Improve Student Performance

Taking Study Breaks Helps Improve Student Performance

Brain Breaks Help Avoid Student Frustration

Students are feeling the pressure. Most have missed a lot of in-person school time and are very aware of being behind and needing to catch up. Parents, teachers, news media, social media, and other kids have been talking about “Covid learning loss” and how students’ test scores and grades have suffered. As a result, many students are feeling anxious and worried.

But has anxiety ever made anything better?

It’s important to remember that, though they may have ground to make up, kids also need a break. We as parents may be a little too focused on pushing our kids without allowing for the mental and physical fatigue that can result.

Taking Breaks Results in Better Performance

In “The Science of Taking a Break” researchers in various studies looked at the effectiveness of prolonged work or study periods without a break. One study had students perform the same repetitive, computerized task for 50 minutes. Not surprisingly, students who took breaks and had diversions from their studying actually fared better than students who didn’t take breaks.

Another study on “overlearning” showed that students who studied for a vocabulary test were divided into two groups. One group read the list five times. The other group read the list ten times. Students were given study breaks from five minutes to one month. Initially, students who took a one-day break had the best scores after 10 days. But after six months, the students who took a one-month study break performed best on the vocabulary test. And students who read the vocabulary list five times had the same results after six months as the ones who read the list ten times.

eLearning Inside presents four great reasons to take study breaks:

  1. To improve attention
  2. To improve productivity
  3. To retain information
  4. To reduce stress

The Right Way to Take Breaks

Whether it’s homework, online school, reading, or studying, it’s important for kids to take a break before frustration sets in. For grade-schoolers that is typically after 10 to 15 minutes of work. Middle schoolers and high schoolers can work for longer, 20 to 30 minutes without a break. This doesn’t mean it’s time to start playing and quit for the day.

  • A few minutes of stretching and deep breathing can help reset the brain and get students back on focus. Sometimes having kids listen to music or take a “dance break” is just the right reset button.
  • After longer periods of study, longer breaks are helpful. Given a choice, most students would spend their breaks on social media, or texting friends. And while it might be enjoyable, a recent survey by Huffington Post found that these activities can actually increase stress. And some really fun distractions online (like googling cat memes) end with kids being sidetracked for way too long and finding that study time has been wasted. Setting an alarm might be a good way to remind the student to get back to studying.
  • Exercising the body a bit during a break is a great alternative to getting (or staying) online. According to the Mayo Clinic, meditation is another way to lower anxiety and boost personal health. And many students (not just the kindergarteners) can benefit from a 10- or 20-minute nap.
  • Having a healthy snack break is also a great way to improve concentration and help enhance brainpower. Fruits, nuts, lean proteins and other healthy options are better than soda, chips, and junk food which can actually cause a crash.
  • Even picking up a physical book or magazine or newspaper can provide a helpful break that not only refreshes the mind, but also give eyes a rest from staring at an electronic screen.

Every student is different, and the type and duration of break time depends on the student’s age and individual needs. But incorporating breaks is an important part of studying for all students.