Back to School

back to school

Summer is over and school has begun. Are you ready for the school year? Are your children ready for a successful new year? Here are some things you can do that will help your children have the great year you want them to have.

  1. Begin a routine right away. When will your children do homework? When will they play? When will you have family reading time? Once you have established a routine, stick to it as much as you can. Kids crave and thrive on routine so they know what is expected of them. For help establishing a homework routine, see my blog here.
  2. Ask your children questions about school so that you know what is going on in their lives? Be sure to ask open-ended questions as I have suggested in my questions blog so that you don’t just get yes/no answers.
  3. Establish a family reading time each evening and enjoy reading together. Reading is a life-long skill that will help your children now and in their futures.
  4. Be positive about new teachers, new friends, new classrooms, new homework amount, etc. Your children will follow your lead with their attitudes.
  5. Give your children time to play. Don’t overschedule them with extra-curricular activities. They work hard all day and they need a little downtime just like adults do.

Enjoy the new school year ahead! And, remember to check my blog for helpful hints, tricks, and information.


Free Typing Programs for Kids

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Do you know any free typing programs for kids?



Yes, definitely. Try the games on I tried a few of these games this morning and they are fun and interactive. I also like that the beginner level of each game has students typing using just the home keys. This is a good place to start when learning to type.

Why is typing important for your kids? Unlike the old standardized tests where kids used a number 2 pencil and filled in bubbles, the new standardized tests are all computerized. This means that your student needs to not only be able to read, interpret and answer the question, but he or she also needs to be able to type the answer on the computer. Knowing the location of the keys on the keyboard and how to navigate a mouse are very important skills for all students in elementary school.

Besides testing, children will need to know how to use a computer once they enter middle school and go on to high school and college. They will be required to type papers and find information on computers. Parent The more familiar they are with the keyboard and the mouse, the easier this will be for them.

So, start your kids off early on keyboarding skills with this fun online game.

Memos from your child


Memos from your child (unknown source)

1. Don’t spoil me. I know quite well that I ought not to have all that I ask for. I’m only testing you.

2. Don’t be afraid to be firm with me. I prefer it. It makes me feel more secure.

3. Don’t let me form bad habits. I have to rely on you to detect them in the early stages.

4. Don’t make me feel smaller than I am. It only makes me behave stupidly “big.”

5. Don’t correct me in front of people if you can help it. I’ll take much more notice if you talk quietly with me in private.

Making Mistakes


I don’t do much on Facebook, but I really like to read what other people write, especially when what they write is inspirational. Recently, a friend of the family posted this quote from Neil Gaiman. I think it is so important for adults and children to read and really take to heart what he is telling us to do. Here is the quote:


“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something. So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life. Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it. Make your mistakes, next year and forever.” ― Neil Gaiman


Most adults I know don’t like making mistakes, myself included. However, don’t you find your biggest lessons learned in life have come from making mistakes?

This is also true of children. A child learns how to become a better friend after they say something to a friend that hurts the feelings of the friend. They learn not to say that, how to say the right things, how to treat people the way they want to be treated.

This is also true in making mistakes in school. Children spend seven hours a day in school and then another hour or more at night doing homework and studying. In those eight hours, mistakes are bound to happen. As educators and parents of these children, we need to teach children that not only are mistakes going to happen, but that mistakes are an essential part of living life and learning new things.

As a private tutor, I push my students to do more than they think they can do. I know that mistakes might be made in the process, but I also know the great satisfaction the student feels when he/she was able to do something new that he/she had struggled with in the past. If my students are too afraid to make mistakes, they won’t ever become the learners I know they can be!

Model this behavior with your children. Let them see you make a mistake, and learn something from it. Talk with your children about dreams you have that you have tried, even though you might make a mistake in the process of fulfilling the dream. Ask your children what they are afraid to do because they might make a mistake, and then help them and encourage them to do that thing anyway, mistakes and all.

What a great quote for the start of a new year!!Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it. Make your mistakes, next year and forever.” Here’s to the “glorious, amazing mistakes” of 2015!

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it. Make your mistakes, next year and forever.” Here’s to the “glorious, amazing mistakes” of 2015!


Oh No, It’s Report Card Time

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You have gotten your child’s report card and he/she is not doing as well as you had hoped in some subjects. How do you help your child succeed in the remainder of the school year?

Here are six tips to help your child:

  1. Read every single day-You should be reading to and with your young child daily, including Saturdays and Sundays. Your child can do the reading, you can do the reading, or you can read together. Be sure you pre-read (predict what the book will be about), ask questions during reading (about the characters, setting, problem, events, and solution), and ask questions after reading (summarize or retell).
  2. Practice math facts every single day-Your child must know his or her math facts to make learning math concepts easier. Daily, your child should be playing a game with facts or working on flash cards for 3-5 minutes.
  3. Write something every single day-Your child should be writing daily. This could be writing a thank you note, a list for the store, a creative story, or about a book.
  4. Monitor homework-Depending on your child’s age, you should be sitting with your child while he/she is doing homework so you can help or you should let your child know where you will be if homework help is needed. Your child should be doing his/her homework alone, but you are there for guidance and support.
  5. Hire a tutor-If your child is struggling with a concept that you don’t understand, hire a professional tutor to help. If your child’s teacher suggests that tutoring might benefit your child, hire a tutor. Tutors can help your child feel more confident in learning as well as help with specific concepts and skills.
  6. Communicate with the teacher-Email or talk to your child’s teacher more than once a quarter at conferences. Ask your child’s teacher for specifics on what you can work on with your child. Ask the teacher for a progress report every couple of weeks so that you can stay on top of your child’s success.


Following these tips, will help you help your child succeed!



How much should I be correcting my child when learning something new?


I had a parent ask me this about her young child who is just starting to write letters. It reminded me that a lot of Kindergarten and first grade parents have asked me this same question over the years.

The answer I gave to the parents is that if you correct too much, your child will shut down and not try to do anything academically unless he/she knows it will be correct. So, you have to pick and choose what to correct.

For example, for a four year old just learning to write letters, I told the parent to just let her child experiment with writing and not to correct anything except the letters in his name. Learning to write your name is important so it’s good if those letters are all made correctly. The other letters will be written correctly over time.

Older students will be doing a lot of writing in different subjects. I always told the kids that if they were writing in science, I wasn’t correcting their spelling, but I was correcting their science knowledge. If your child is doing a writing homework assignment, tell him/her that you are going to correct the spelling and grammar only tonight. Then, if it is a long term assignment, the next night tell your child you will be correcting sentence structure.

Correcting children as they learn is vital, but correcting too much can do more harm than good in the learning process.

How do I instill confidence in young children?




A parent asked me this recently. It is a hard, but necessary job to instill confidence in young children both as young learners and young people. Off the top of my head, I told the parent to do these things:

  • Give them choices
  • Give them specific feedback and ways to improve
  • Be positive
  • Make them leaders in something

Young children need to be given choices to feel like they have ownership in decisions about their lives. The way to do choices is to let the child choose between two things you want them to do and make both choices things that the child actually needs to do anyway. You ask the child which one they’d like to do first and which one they’d like to do second. So, both tasks are getting accomplished, but in the order the child wants to accomplish them. This works both at home and at school. When tutoring, I put out two activities that I know I want the student to complete, and I ask which one we should do first. Giving choices will instill confidence.

Young children (and older children and adults) require specific feedback about their performance and they need ideas from the adult about how to improve. Saying, “Good work,” to a child doesn’t really tell them anything. Saying, “Good work on folding your clothes and putting them away,” shows the child that they did exactly what you wanted. Or, if the task was not done correctly, say “Good work on folding your clothes. Next time, remember that your shorts go in this drawer.” This way, the child gets a chance to do the task correctly and feel confident in a job well done.

Be positive about your child’s work at school and at home. Show your excitement about their good grades or their work on household chores. Share their successes with others in the family. Let your children know you are proud of their effort as well as their final performance.

Make your children leaders. This could be anything from a special paper passer job in the classroom to the table setter at home. Explain to your children that their job is important and that they need to be leaders and do the best that they can do. Allow your child to teach you something as a leader. This might be showing you a hard math problem and helping you to do it. Or, explaining the steps to making the bed.

I’m sure there are a lot more ways to instill confidence in young children, but start with these and watch your youngsters’ confidence build daily at home and at school.

Ask Michelle

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