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get the most out of homework

Homework: Many students try to avoid it, but teaching and learning research indicates that children who spend more time on regularly assigned, meaningful homework, on average, do better in school, and that the academic benefits of homework increase as children move into the upper grades. Parents and families play an important role in the homework process. Together, families and teachers can help children develop good study habits and attitudes to become lifelong learners.

Q—Why do teachers give homework?
A—Teachers use homework…

*    To help students understand and review the work that has been covered in class.
*    To see whether students understand the lesson.
*    To help students learn how to find and use more information on a subject.

Homework is also the link between school and home that shows what children are studying.

Research shows that when homework is turned in to the teacher, graded, and discussed with students, it can improve students’ grades and understanding of their schoolwork.

Q—How much time should my children spend each night on homework?
A—Most educators agree that…

*    For children in grades K-2, homework is more effective when it does not exceed 10-20 minutes each school day.
*    Older children, in grades 3-6, can handle 30-60 minutes a day.
*    In junior and senior high school, the amount of homework will vary by subject. Most older students will also have  homework projects, such as research papers and oral reports,  that may have deadlines weeks away. They may need help organizing assignments and planning work times to make sure  homework is ready to turn in on time.  Your children’s teachers can tell you how much time they expect students to spend  on homework.  Place most concern on whether the homework is meaningful and whether over a period of homework is assigned in all of the student’s subjects.

Ask your principal if your school or school district has a homework policy. If it does, make sure that you and your children know and understand that policy.

Of course we can certainly help with most challenges your child may face. For these and other similar topics please stop by and pickup our monthly newsletter. You may even email us for an electronic  copy.

Tutoring Center – Wilton

Is Bigger Better?

Recent Wilton Travel Tapas post by Judy White:

WTT is a firm believer that bigger is not necessarily better.  And we wondered why OCEANIA Cruise Line thought it had to build a bigger ship when it has already done a great job of capturing the market with it’s 3 ships, the Regatta, Insignia and Nautica.  So when the Marina sailed into New York recently, we gladly accepted an invitation to do a ship inspection and have lunch on board.

Oceania Marina
Oceania Marina

The Marinas executives were very involved is her design, for the first time able to create a ship to be built with their design, taste and style.  (the 3 Regatta class ships were formerly the bankrupt  Renaissance Cruise ships) The 1500 pieces of art are but one of the many illustrations of the incredible attention to detail throughout this 1250 passenger stunning new mid-size ship. (continue reading)

The Priority List


“He’s making a list, and checking it twice … “

                                                                                 ~ J. Fred Coots, Henry Gillespie ~

Everyone makes lists.   Some lists have 150+ items on them.  That might be okay for some people (see above) but if your list gets that long, it will not serve you well.  There is, however, an efficient way to manage your lists. 

Start with a Master To-Do List.  You can have as many items as you want on this list.  It is simply a recitation of everything that you want/need to accomplish.  File this list on your desktop for easy access and add to it as needed.  You might consider categorizing the items for easier review.

Each day, identify the three or four most important items on that list.  Not completing these items could jeopardize completing a project, meeting a deadline, or billing for your services on a timely basis.

Once identified, focus all your attention on these priority items, moving them forward to completion.  If you finish them before the end of the day, select the next most important item from your to-do list and begin work on it.

Don’t forget to check off completed items from the Master List.  It feels so good!

Required Reading for Creating Compelling Content

If you’ve read some of my posts here, you know I follow Hedi Cohen who generates a blog post everyday and every one of them is packed with good thoughts. Recently Hedi listed ten tips for creating strong internet content, see 10 Points to Create Compelling Content.

If you create (or want to) content for internet delivery, this list of 10 tips is Required Reading. It doesn’t matter whether you are writing for a blog, an email newsletter, a web page or even Facebook, these 10 points are worth reading. And maybe taking them to heart.

Give them a quick read, it will only take a few seconds. Let me know if you don’t agree that these make a lot of sense. You can even let me know if you agree with me. I enjoy all comments.

  1. Know your audience. Look beyond the basics of your audience’s demographics, psychographics and past behaviors to understand what they’re seeking from your content. Marketing personas, a composite of reader attributes, enable writers to visualize the person for whom they’re writing. If you’re writing for an established online outlet such as a blog or a website, past content performance can serve as an interest indicator. Alternatively, use comments and social media actions for insights. Lastly, ask readers what they want.
  2. Start with a powerful headline. This is the hook that lures readers in and gets them to read the article! It must be consistent with the information you’re presenting or they’re gone. Additionally, use one or two relevant keywords, preferably at the beginning. While you don’t have to start with the title, revisit your title and revise it once your content is finished to ensure it’s as strong as it can be.
  3. State your case in the first paragraph. The initial paragraph is the workhorse of your piece. It has to follow through on your title’s promise and draw readers further in to keep them engaged enough to find out more. Additionally, it must support your search optimization.
  4. Tell a story. You can’t jump into your piece with setting the stage nor can you stop writing when you hit your word count. Your writing needs a beginning, a middle and an end. The easiest formula is to state the issue you’re examining, give the evidence to support the problem’s answer, and finish by clearly showing how you answered the issue.
  5. Speak your readers’ language. Sound like a real person, not corporate gibberish. It helps to use your audience’s way of talking and vocabulary. This validates that you know what you’re talking about.
  6. Provide useful information. Readers are time-crunched. Unlike your boss, they don’t care how much work you put into the article. All that matters to them is “what’s in it for me?” The content must help, educate, inform or entertain them.
  7. Show your readers. Give readers concrete facts to illustrate your points. Use your nursery school show and tell experience to demonstrate your points with examples. Go a step further and use photographs, illustrations and/or videos to make your point.
  8. Make your writing quick to read. Remember your audience is most likely consuming your content on-the-go, in short spurts of time between other activities, or while they’re doing something else, so they’re not fully focused on your content. So make it easy to scan quickly. Therefore, less is more. Use simple words so readers don’t skip them (or your column). Write short, direct sentences. Where possible, use the active voice and keep paragraphs short with three to five sentences since blocks of text are intimidating.
  9. Guide readers with bolding and lists. Highlight or italicize important phrases. Create lists to help readers quickly consume your content. This makes your information visually inviting.
  10. Edit, edit, edit. Go through your finished piece to check for misspelling and poor grammar. Nothing takes away from your content faster than poor writing, including foul language. Get a copy editor to help and give your writing a fresh set of eyes. This is particularly important for businesses where these errors reflect poorly on your brand.

Interesting post by Rob Petersen

Rob Petersen, who recently gave a presentation at the Library/Score business lecture series (and in my opinion, probably the best in my 2 or 3 years of attending these events), had a recent post on his blog, BarnRaisers, about why people in general use social media, and in particular some insights about teen use. For a source he used a survey done by the Pew Research Center, which is known for producing unbiased and reasonably accurate measures of public opinion. You can read Rob’s post here.

A few takeaways for me:

  • The phenomena is aptly named, people use social media to be social. The survey found that the most important reason cited for social media use is staying in touch with old friends, followed by staying in touch with family.
  • Contrary to much “common wisdom”, it is not a young person’s “game” only. The fastest growing segment of social media users is 65+!
  • It is not all fun for teens. There were some what I would consider serious implications with how social media is viewed by teens. My personal thought is that any parent of a teenager should be tuned into how their young person is affected by it.

Most of what I see on Social Media, etc. is focused on the details of how to use it, how to create effective content and so on. And that’s important. But it is also good to read a good piece about how this incredibly fast growing and powerful phenomena is affecting society in general. My guess is that we’ve never had any thing like it sweep through the public with the speed and impact that Facebook, Twitter, Texting, YouTube, and all rest have exhibited.

Even I went over to the dark side and now have a smart phone. How about you? Has all this affected you, or your family?

parent teacher conferences

We are at the juncture of parent teacher meetings. Test results are out and teachers are meeting with parents. No matter what you think of your child, the teacher or the school, it’s important that your attend these meetings.

When the time comes for a parent-teacher conference, some parents may wonder what they’ll talk about, and other parents might even skip the meeting altogether because they’re nervous about the encounter. With the right preparation, though, parents will not only eliminate some of their apprehension, they’ll likely get more out of the conference and gain a better understanding of what they can do to help their child succeed. Careful preparation will also help parents set the stage for an ongoing relationship with the teacher.

Starting off on the right foot:
Initially, parents should work to establish rapport with the teacher. As an icebreaker, parents may take notice of something that reflects well upon the teacher. For example, thank the teacher for having made thoughtful notes on your child’s homework or for the special attention in helping your child learn to multiply. Often, at parent-teacher conferences, teachers will give parents examples of the student’s work and possibly a report card. This is a good time to have a conversation about teaching methods and how student progress is measured. Are students assessed through tests? Portfolios? Class participation? Projects? Parents may also ask the teacher to clarify any non-academic school policies.

How Is My Child Doing?
Since the average parent-teacher conference is about 20 minutes, parents should plan on covering only a few topics. When putting together a list of questions, parents are advised not to leave the most important ones for last.  Parents may consider asking some of the following questions about their child:

  • What is my child like during the day? Does he or she participate in class discussions/activities?
  • What are my child’s best/worst subjects? How can I help him or her improve in the areas that need work?
  • What are the standards for my child’s grade level?
  • How does my child interact with other children and adults?
  • How much help should I provide on homework assignments?
  • Is my child in different classes or groups for different subjects? How are these groups determined?
  • Is my child trying as hard as he or she can?

Including the student:
A growing number of middle schools and high schools are finding that including students in parent-teacher conferences gives the child a greater sense of responsibility for his or her learning. During the conference, students will often discuss portfolios containing pre-selected pieces of work. The student describes to the parents and teacher what is good about the work, what he or she learned, and where improvements can be made. If the student is not participating in the conference, parents may ask their child beforehand if he or she has any concerns about school. Also, parents may wish to ask the child what his or her strengths and weaknesses are, and what some favorite and least favorite subjects are. It will save time during the conference if parents have already discussed books, classes, and schedules with their child.

Parents may consider telling teachers about any significant changes that have taken place in the child’s life (such as the death of a pet, a grandparent who is ill, parents who are divorcing, or a family move), or important activities in which the child is involved (The Tutoring Center, 4-H, scouts, Karate, community service, an after-school job)

For more tips like these and others, please stop by and pickup a copy of our Newsletter. If your child is attending any of our centers, you should be getting a copy if not speak to your Center Director.

Happy Thanksgiving

This post is aimed at my fellow Leads Group colleagues, but is for everyone. May you enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday filled with family and friends.

I think Norman Rockwell expressed it best, as he did with so much of our national culture.



OK, this is both a confession and, hopefully helpful, hint on the path toward total dependence on technology.

First the confession; I haven’t found it necessary until very recently to carry a cell phone, much less a smart phone. To be brutally honest, I didn’t even remember my cell phone number. I did carry my “Model A” phone with me on trips and very occasionally around town, but very, very  occasionally.

Without going into detail, the recent snowstorm created a urgent client situation. They were trying to get a hold of me and, because of the power outage and the fact they had no idea of what my cell phone number might be, they had a great deal of difficulty. Eventually they reached me and the crisis was dealt with.

So, now I am the proud owner of a new Droid based smart phone. I haven’t mastered it yet by any stretch of imagination. Today in the midst of another power outage (which is the basis of another post some day), my new, proud, hi-tech possession went dark. “What the hell is this?” One of the important benefits of such technology is that it functions when the land lines of power and connection cease to function.

Luckily, the Verizon store was still open and I carried my comatose “wonder-of-the-ages” smart phone into their ER. The fix was simple. Open it up, remove and re-insert the battery, and walla, the face lit up.

I guess the OS wanders into a dead end and the battery removal/insertion triggers a re-boot of the OS and everything is cool.

So my hint is this, if your smart phone hangs up (no pun intended), open up the little devil and do a faux battery replacement. It may resuscitate the rascal.

That’s it. A simple confession and equally simple hint about our technology dependence. How about you all, anyone got a another tale of “confession” and/or technical peculiarities?

Overseas Travel with Electrical Apparatus

New post by Judy White on Wilton Travel Tapas:

A frequently asked question from those about to travel abroad is whether or not their electrical devices will work.  And the answer is yes and no.

Obviously it depends on where you’re going.  North American operates on 110-120 volts while most of the rest of the world uses 220-240V.  Plugging in a device without checking the voltage can result in the destruction of your apparatus or even damage the operating system of the outlet you used.

First of all, do you really need it?
We all are such creatures of habit and when packing for a trip tend to think we need to bring more than we actually need, especially personal appliances such as a hair dryer, travel iron, clothes steamer and beverage heater (check to see if they are dual voltage).  In this day and age, most hotels provide these as standard in room amenities, so we have second thoughts about this added baggage weight. (continue reading)

Control Your Time to Avoid Being Overwhelmed

Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs.

                               ~ Henry Ford ~


Today is going to be a tough one.  You have a project due at 3:00 which requires about two hours of your time.  You have meetings at 10:00 and at 12:00, neither of which can be moved.  First order of business: recognize that you only have as much time as you have.  With that in mind, create a schedule that accommodates both the project and the meetings and gives you the clarity and control to avoid being overwhelmed.  An example:

  • 9:00 to 9:10             Break the project into segments
  • 9:10 to 9:50             Work on segment A (40 minutes)
  • 9:50 to 10:45            Prepare for and attend meeting
  • 10:45 to 11:45          Work on segment B (60 minutes)
  • 11:45 to 1:00            Prepare for and attend lunch meeting
  • 1:00 to 1:30              Work on segment C (30 minutes)

You still have an hour and a half before your deadline.  Take time now to review the completed project and make any necessary adjustments or improvements.  The schedule you created allows time for unexpected interruptions.  Take care of them now too.   At 3:00, you turn in your project –  right on time.  Nice!