Alexandra Mayzler, Executive Director, Thinking Caps
Despite the extensive training process our tutors undergo and their range of accomplishments, there is always more to learn. In an effort to provide professional development and formative educational opportunities that are hands-on and relevant for our tutors, we hold special connectivity events in both the fall and the spring. This past October, we were thrilled to have Dr. Laura Paret, PhD, join us at our Tutor Connectivity event. She spoke about anxiety, which is a topic familiar for students, tutors and parents alike. While there are many underlying causes of anxiety (as well as symptoms), Laura touched mainly on concrete tips for anxiety-reduction. These strategies are incredibly useful for encouraging kids to not only manage their anxiety, but also develop a deeper awareness of how and when they experience it. Some of Dr. Laura Paret's self-regulation tools that we know will be useful in and out of our meetings with students are:
Blue Zone (sad, sick, tired, bored, lethargic)
Green Zone (happy, calm, focused, ready to learn)
Yellow Zone (frustrated, worried, silly, squirmy, excited)
Red Zone (angry, mean, terrified, out of control)
We learned a ton at the fall event and look forward to the Spring meeting!
Jackie Giovanniello, Long Island Academic Director
Due to the broad range of areas included in elementary and high school science curriculums, students can find the subject daunting and difficult to grasp. Whether it’s the rote memorization, the integration of math, or the sheer abstraction of the material – many students don’t like science. Or at least they think they don’t like science. Here are 5 reasons students benefit from trying out simple science experiments at home:
1. Game Time: There are few things kids enjoy more than the stress-free fun of playing games that pique their curiosity and interest. At-home science experiments feel like games – putting pieces together, mixing solutions, watching homemade robots move around – without the pressure of an academic environment.
2. Real-Life Applications: At-home science experiments generally utilize common household items or concepts, giving your students tangible evidence that science is everywhere and everything. This realization will help them form connections between the scientific concepts they learn in school and their interactions and experiences outside the classroom; thus piquing their interest and investment in the subject matter.
3. Practice Makes Perfect: For students who continue to struggle with science academically, constant review of the material is critical. However, there’s nothing more unappealing to a student than re-reading the same school notes or dry textbook. At-home science experiments can help reinforce the concepts learned in school in a more enjoyable way.
4. Guard Against Brain Drain: A key to keeping your student engaged and intellectually stimulated is continuing their critical thinking processes outside the classroom. Whether on weekends or over the summer, too much down time spent bingeing on television or the internet can cause them to forget material they learned or become stagnant in their intellectual development. At-home science experiments are a great way to keep their brains working and their bodies moving.
5. Think Like A Scientist: One of the most valuable skills scientists possess is the ability to identify and assess a problem and then think critically about an effective solution. These are skills that translate into almost every academic experience and future career path. At-home science experiments will get young students to develop these skills early on, preparing them for difficult experiences and conundrums in the future.
Here are some great examples of at-home science experiments your students can get started on today!
A student asks: This year in English I really don't get along with my teacher. I liked English last year because my teacher made class fun and she understood us. This year our teacher is boring and I also disagree with her opinion a lot. This makes me not want to do work for her class, go to class, or write my papers, because I don't agree with her views about writing or my work. I actually like writing, and I don't want her to ruin it for me...I write my own way outside of class. Sometimes I get so upset with her that I don’t even do homework for her class. I feel pretty discouraged-what do I do?
Answer: This is a really good question. First of all, please know that it’s okay to not love your teacher every single year. Rest assured that you have many wonderful teachers in your future to look forward to. You will have even more freedom in college to choose your classes and professors, so that is something to feel excited about. Try to harness all the patience you can, and begin to think about getting along with your teacher as something to navigate strategically. It is a temporary situation, and you want to do well in the class. If you can accept that you and your teacher simply have different points of view, and that you don't have to internally change your opinions, then it will be easier to do things your teacher's way. Think of adapting as just another aspect of your assignment-to write in her style, with her requirements and guidelines-is just practice for adapting yourself when you need to. Outside of class, you can write however you want, and in the future you will likely have an English teacher who you are far more compatible with. Hang in there! Perhaps carving out some time each week or weekend to work on a personal project that you do your way, will make you feel like you're not entirely sacrificing your beliefs or preferences for the teacher. Lastly, try to be a good communicator. Chances are that even if you and your teacher don't get along so well, if you are calm, earnest and upfront about how you are struggling, she will provide you with enough guidance, empathy and information to at least get you through the rest of the semester. Don't give up, and use your motivation to do well in the future and the promise of a better teacher someday to keep you going. If you really want to turn a bad situation into a good one, you could pick one or two things that your teacher has criticized that you don't fully disagree with, and improve on those. If you can leave the class having just learned or improved one or two things-that is a victory.
A parent asks: My child is a 9th grader who is very smart and could do exceptionally well in school if he was more organized, studied more and kept track of deadlines and details. However, he doesn't seem to have those executive functioning skills, and as a result he is left a bit bewildered when he gets feedback from teachers and receives his grades. Content-wise he is very capable of understanding what's going on in class and the material is not too hard for him. However, because he has no organization or time management skills, and he's absent-minded, he's doing very poorly. It's terrible for me to sit by and watch him struggle this way, but he gets upset when I try to intervene-is there anything I can do?
Answer: Unfortunately, intervening is probably not the best solution. Although up until now, you may have seemingly your child on occasion by pestering him, reminding him of deadlines, organizing his materials and making sure he follows through, this interference is ultimately to his detriment. Not all students are born with executive functioning skills, and they need to dismantle their old habits and learn new ones. This process is incredibly difficult and takes time, along with support from a neutral tutor or education professional. By stepping in, you create the illusion for him that the status quo is just fine, and he will always have someone picking up his slack. Because he is already in 9th grade, these are skills he needs to learn before college when he is on his own, and that may mean standing aside while he drops the ball a few times. If he has the appropriate support system in the form of a coach or after-school teacher, then failing a few times is essential so he can see the necessity of making changes going forward. Lastly, once you back off, your son may shift his energy from fighting off your micromanaging, to realizing he is stressed and that some changes may actually be for the best. Many of these issues are psychological and should be treated with patience, perseverance and a clear view of the long-term goal of independence.
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