Nerves, Nerves, and More Nerves

testing nerves

Spring means warmer weather, sunnier skies, blooming flowers, fresher fruit, and testing for students in school.  All things spring are wonderful and the students enjoy the new season, except for the testing.  The testing leads to stress, nervousness, and even sleeplessness for many students.

As I was tutoring a fourth grader last evening, she kept mentioning different things that were making her nervous about beginning testing this week (although she insisted she was not nervous at all).  The things she is nervous about are all valid and I got to wondering if other kids are nervous about the same things, but they don’t express how they’re feeling.  Below are just a few of her “I’m not nervous, but what if….?” statements and my responses to try to alleviate some of her nerves.  Perhaps these would be good things to talk to your own students/children about.


  1. My teacher is really stressed about the testing.  This makes me feel even more stressed out.

My response-Yes, testing makes teachers feel a lot of stress, but it’s because they want you to do your best and show what you know.


  1. What if I run out of scratch paper?

My response-You can raise your hand and ask for more, but I’m sure your teacher will give you enough to begin with.


  1. What if my pencil breaks?

My response-You can raise your hand and ask for another pencil.  It’s a good idea to have 2-3 sharp pencils to begin with.


  1. What if I forget everything I have learned?

My response-You will not forget everything you have learned, even if you feel that way.  Relax, take deep breaths, do your best, don’t second guess yourself, enjoy showing how much you know!



  1. What if my computer stops working?

My response-It is unlikely that your computer will stop working, but if it does just raise your hand and the technology teacher or your teacher will help you.  The portion of the test you already did will be saved, so don’t worry that you’ll lose all that work.


  1. What if other kids are looking at my test?

My response-It might feel like the kids sitting next to you are looking at your computer test, but most likely they are too busy looking at their own screen to pay attention to yours.  Also, you’ll each have test questions that appear in a different order to prevent cheating.


I’m sure this little fourth grade girl is as nervous as every other student about to embark on yet another round of testing.  I hope I was able to reassure her that the main goal of school is to learn information you will use in your future daily life, not just to take a test.  However, since testing is here to stay for now, I hope I was also able to reassure her that she is smart and capable of doing her best and her best is what is expected.

Good luck to all students, teachers, and parents during this new season.


Happy New Year

happy new year 1

Wow! It’s 2016 already.  Time sure goes fast these days.  As we enter a new year, I want to thank you all for reading my blog tips and tricks for parents, teachers, and fellow tutors. 

Second semester will begin in a few days.  It’s important to get your kids back into a routine as soon as possible.  They will be tired, as will you, after the holidays, so an earlier bed time is a good idea for the first couple of weeks back to school. Re-establish homework routines, morning routines, and evening routines as soon as school starts (or a few days sooner if you can).  Give your kids, and yourself, a little grace as you get back into the swing of things. 

Here’s to a great year of learning and fun in 2016!

Snow Math


We’ve had lots of snow days here in Colorado lately.  Have you ever thought of doing a little math with your kids while they are out playing in the snow?  You could even sneak it in without your kids realizing they are practicing math.  Here are some examples for younger kids:

  1. Count how many snowballs you can each make.  Compare the numbers.  Who made more?  Who made less?  How many more?  How many fewer?  Write the numbers in the snow using a stick or your gloved hand.
  2. Make a snowman.  Measure the circumference (Around) of each snowball.  How big can you make the bottom?  How small does the top have to be? Measure the height of your snowman.  Is it taller than you?  Shorter than you?
  3. Going sledding?  How many seconds does it take you to sled down the hill? What could you do to make yourself go faster?  What could you do to slow yourself down?  How many steps does it take you to walk up the hill after you sled down?

Enjoy the snow and stay warm!

Responding to Text Questions using Evidence Based Terms

common core

Within the common core standards, students are expected to reference the text when answering questions. Each written response question they answer ends with, “Use evidence from the text to support your answer.” But, students don’t always know how start a text based evidence answer. Below are some examples of phrases students could use to start their answers to evidence based questions. (Some of these phrases came from a fellow teacher who uses a site called The Teacher Next Door.)


The author wrote…

According to the text…

In the text, it said…

One example from the text is…

Based on what I read…

On page___, I noticed…

In paragraph___, it said…

For example…

I know this because…


Responding to Texts in the Common Core

common core apple

Now that Common Core standards have taken over in the classroom, the questions students are answering about literature have changed dramatically. No more questions as simple as: Who is the main character? What is the setting? What is the problem and solution? Although I feel those questions are still quite valuable in determining whether the student understands the basics of a text, there are questions that are much more in depth that your students should also be able to answer. Below is a sample of fiction and non-fiction responses to text:

Responses to a Fiction Text

  • Summarize what you read today. What were the most important events? Did you learn anything new about the characters?
  • Is what you read believable? Why or why not?
  • Pretend you are interviewing the main character. What two questions would you ask?
  • Is there anything you would change in this story? What would it be? Why would you change it?
  • Would you like to be a character in this story? Why or why not? Which character would you be and why?


Responses to Non-Fiction Text

  • What is the main idea of the text you read?
  • Why did the author probably write this selection? How do you know?
  • How and where could you find out more information about the topic you read today? What else would you like to know about the topic?
  • Were there any text features (graphs, pictures/captions, headings, vocabulary) that helped you better understand your reading? What were they and how did they help you?
  • Did you find any interesting words while you were reading? What were they? Look up the definition of your words. Write the words in a sentences.


All this Testing


It’s the beginning of the school year and kids are doing A LOT of testing.  Some school districts even have special days set aside to test students.  This is a great way for teachers to get to know each student individually.  Sometimes parents get upset about the test scores their children bring home.  Please be reassured that these scores are just one piece of evidence of your child’s academic abilities and your child’s teacher will use the test scores to determine how best to teach your child the skills/concepts he or she needs to learn. If your child’s scores aren’t what you expected, definitely ask your child’s teacher to explain the scores to you.  Then, monitor your child’s progress.  If your child isn’t making academic gains, you might want to think about getting some additional help, like a private tutor.  The key is to remember that the scores are not a total picture of your child academically, but just one piece of the academic puzzle.

Positive Words

volunteer spot

I love this bulletin board that was shared on Facebook.  It was on a page called Volunteer Spot.  Although it’s a bulletin board for a classroom, I think it would be great to write these positive, encouraging thoughts on post-its and put them throughout the house.  What a great way to change your child’s attitude about things, and maybe change how you think about things too.  I know I will be looking back on this often as a reminder of the positive things I should be saying to myself, my family, and my tutoring kids.