Category Archives: How to Set Up Tutoring

Middle School Admissions Preparation

Evolved Education Middle School Admissions Preparation

By: Mary Miele, Founder of Evolved Education & Meredith Godsall, Admissions Preparation Teacher at Evolved Education

Who is this preparation for? NYC Students applying to middle school

What do they learn? Students learn the skills needed to showcase one’s personality, academic skills and individuality during an admissions interview and skills assessment

Interview skills

 Students learn how to

  • how to listen and respond to questions (including how to interject in a conversation, how to politely respond, agree or disagree, how to work as a group toward a common goal)
  • overall communication (body language, eye contact, facial expressions, annuciation and volume, poise, etc
  • learn about how to read your audience

On-demand, on-site math and reading/writing prompts

Often at school interviews, students must complete a math and/or reading/writing assessment on site. In Evolved preparation,  students learn how to

  • think and create solutions on the spot
  • best showcase their knowledge
  • conquer the “what ifs”

At Evolved Education, middle school admissions preparation is offered in two ways

2. Group Work 

Click here to register for the group class.

The benefits of this are that students will learn:

  • The skills within a peer group
  • How to interview and assess within a group
  • How to work as a team to solve a group problem
2. One-to-One

Click here to register for one-to-one lessons.

During one-to-one preparation, students will learn:

  • How to have a interpersonal conversation as opposed to group one.
  • How to feel comfortable within an unfamiliar situation.
  • To address individual challenges that a student may have with public speaking and on-demand assessments

Where? At Evolved Office: 364 East 69th Street, NY, NY 10021

When? Saturday, 10/28, 11/18, 12/2, 12/9, 12/16 from 9:00-10:30AM

Why Is this Preparation Beneficial? 

Evolved Education has been working intricately within the middle school admissions and academic support process for years and we have found there to be tremendous benefits in appropriately preparing children for the middle school application process.

Most 5th graders have not had interview and “on the spot” academic assessment experience.  Evolved Education finds that the preparation increases students chances of getting admission to their top choice school.

The Blessing of a Whole Child Tutor

These days, I am talking with many mothers and fathers who are working hard at parenting their school-aged children and I am always amazed with all that they pack into a day, a week, a year– there is so much to do when it comes to supervising and staying current with your school-aged child.

Take Marge*, a stay-at-home mom of soon to be three children.  Marge gets up each day at 6am.  She walks on her treadmill for 20 minutes, takes her shower, gets ready to go and runs upstairs, usually to find her two children already awake sitting in her living room.  She ushers them to the breakfast table, feeds them breakfast, packs their lunch, ensures they are dressed, have teeth brushed and bags packed.  They are out the door and off to school by 7:30am.

After drop off, Marge spends some time volunteering in the PTA office before she heads home to handle the paperwork for her family’s health care, do some laundry, go to a doctor appointment, prepare dinner and clean her own room before heading back out to the get the children from school.

After school, Marge travels to soccer practice and ballet class before she heads home to ensure that everyone does homework, which is now 20 minutes per class (so about an hour and a half for her 4th and 5th graders).  There were once gripes about doing homework almost daily and Marge realized that she really did not know how to help her kids with anything that they were learning in school.  On our call, she tells me, “I have no clue what they are doing [in school] anymore.  If they have a question I have to send them to school with it, but their teacher has 30 kids in the room, so I can not always be sure that the questions are getting addressed.  My oldest won’t go to school with questions anymore.  He is embarrassed and does not want his friends to know he has a question.  It is really hard on him to not be 100% with his work. ”

“This is where Judy has come in,” says Marge.  “For us, Judy is a saint, a blessing.  She comes in 2x a week for an hour and just checks in with both of my children and ensures that they are following their afternoon homework/study routine and that they are are understanding all that they are learning.  She set up their routine with them and now they have a great framework for how to do their homework and study.  She helps them to learn to learn–if they have questions, she often asks them to look at their notes or in their books.  She even helps them to search online for more information about what they are learning.  Judy is also a writing teacher and she has also given both kids some more structure to their writing and review of important writing skills.”

It is clear to me and to Marge that Judy has made a big difference in the lives of these children. Judy seems wonderful.  Marge is moving to NYC in a month and her children will be attending a new school.  She called EEC to get set up with a tutor before they made the move, because as she said, “tutors are a blessing and please, I would love one of yours.”

Marge said it was ok for me to write about her using a different name–I told her that I was just starting on my next blog when we first spoke.  I wanted to write about tutors and Marge happened to give me a great lead into my message–that whole child tutors can mean so much to a child and a family.   Here are five specific ways that a great tutor, who is also a whole chid teacher or a specialist, can become a blessing to your child or family:

1) They are an authority that your child can understand.  

Teachers who tutor can typically come into the home and say to a child, “You must follow the directions carefully and write neatly,” and the child will respond.  The parent may have said this same thing 20 times, to no avail, but because the message comes from a teacher–someone who has the authority on homework and school work–the child will likely not question this type of request.

2) They give structure to a sometimes unstructured situation. 

There is not a manual for how to structure your time at home with your children.  Every family will do this very differently.  I have been in and out of so many homes over the course of my career and I can say that no two homes are exactly alike.   A good, whole child tutor can find a way to structure your child’s homework time in a way that works for your child and your home.

3) They ensure that questions are answered and review/study happens.

Great tutors are great teachers or specialists.  They know how to help a child to learn what they don’t know.  This does not mean that they will do the work for them or help them along. These practices give tutoring a bad reputation and are never good for the child.  Great tutors construct learning opportunities and help students to develop and practice organized, active study practices. They, when possible, speak to teachers in your child’s classroom to create the home-school connection.  Otherwise, they will look through notes and homework assignments to do their best to seam the practices at school to home. Great tutors are teachers-and so they can find ways to instruct and provide your child with meaningful learning experiences.  It is not for the test we learn, but for a life full of learning.–Mary Miele

4) They connect and attend to your child for an intense hour or two a week. 

What a powerful experience for any child-to sit with a smart, enthusiastic teacher for an hour or two or more a week!  To have an adult spend that time with your child–thinking about, discovering, engaging with your child–it is a very powerful experience.  Here at EEC we employ a whole child paradigm of tutoring–so all of our tutors work on areas of challenge, while noticing and developing all aspects of a child.  Children who have adults who are invested in their overall growth and well-being are certainly going to have more opportunity in their lives.

5) They become your child’s advocate.

Tutors, by their very nature, are working for the good of one child.  They can point out areas of concern that may have gone unnoticed in the classroom or areas of strength that need to be nourished.  They can look out for the overall well-being of a child and his or her overall role as student. The lessons that a parent can learn from someone who works in this way are bountiful.  I recall working with a student years ago who was struggling to get through homework each week.  I remember I told her mother that I felt the best thing for her, after  a hard long week of work, was to take Fridays off and go have some fun with her parents for the evening.  The mother took my advice whenever she could and years later I ran into her on the street. She told me how much those nights out meant to her, although she didn’t realize how helpful they were at the time.  Her daughter, her husband and she had a wonderful time on those Fridays together and she shared, years later, that she was thankful to be able to look back at that time and not just remember the hard work it took for her daughter to get through school.

The message is clear–tutors, who are great teachers, and who view the child as a whole–are blessings to our children and families.  When we find someone to connect and care and teach our child, a be partner in the education of our child, we should take a moment to realize the blessing that we have found, for we know the gift this person is to our child.

*name has been changed for this blog

 

When you value a child…

I’ve been tutoring for a long time–so long that students who have finished college are coming back around to prepare for business school–you know who you are:)  I love when I get to catch up with students of mine after time has passed.  It is really only in these moments that the fruits of my labor long ago bloom.  I am able to see these individuals as the wonderful mature selves that I imagined years before–confident and smart, they are pursing dreams and ambitions, rolling with life’s ebs and flows–these are the adults that we are blessed to have in this world.

As I begin the school year with my children and the children in our company, I am reminded about how blessed we are to have each child–and that it is our responsibility to nurture them and to prepare them for life.  For when they are older, we want them to have the skills they need to seize opportunity, to be successful with a variety of people and places–to deal with what life throws at them whether it be challenges with health, relationships, finances, or career–to balance work with fun, to ultimately contribute to this world in a positive, meaningful and unique way.

In this day and age, raising children to be themselves can be truly challenging–especially in the one-size fits all, competitive education climate that we now exist.  Even so, I have not lost hope for a better system and I believe that I am doing my part to make a difference in the lives of many families and children–bringing what I know matters most into each and every home–and that is not only a more accessible way to gain necessary education–but also awareness for the unique value that every child brings to this world.

I know that parents everywhere have a choice of education support and I can only say that I appreciate the support that so many parents and students have given to my endeavor to create EEC, a company that stands for children in the realm of tutoring.  I am thrilled to offer a community and work for those teachers who believe in our mission- to nourish the minds of each individual child and inspire their creative energy.  I love to support other companies and schools who also share our purpose.  For my hope for this world is that we figure out a way to provide education in a manner that reaches all students–in a manner that also values that which every child brings to this world.

So as we set forth to teach our children various facets of this world, I wish for them to also learn the very aspects of themselves that make them truly unique and wonderful.  Sure, learn math and reading and French and Spanish–ace your SATs, go to a fantastic college, but fit in that which you love too–and then, after experiencing some of the big wide world, come back around and tell me all about it while we learn some more math!

 

Independence

I was recently in a summer meeting with a bunch of teachers and I took the opportunity to ask them a question, “If you could have parents do anything with their children during the summertime, what would you ask them to do?”  A few said to read, do some math, please don’t stop writing, but the overwhelming response was a little surprising to me, “Anything parents can do to foster independence in their children would be helpful.”

This got me thinking–what am I doing as a parent and educator to foster independence for children?

And so I began to think, reflect and research.  I LOVE this blog–It really renewed my dedication to teaching my own children how to be independent and I am excited to inspire you to move in this direction too..I am also working on a series on this topic in which I explore what tutors can do to foster independence..so stay tuned and read on….

Here are my  top three suggestions for parents on the quest to foster independence for children:

1) Read Jim Taylor’s article in Psychology Today from 2010.  It really helps to define what independent children are, and it gives advice on how to foster independence at home.

2) With the start of school coming–create checklists with your school-aged children to help them to be responsible for the tasks that need to get done in the morning and in the pm.   Start at least two weeks before school starts.

Here is how to put together your am and pm routine:

Screen Shot 2014-08-02 at 12.30.47 PM

Here is my am checklist for our boys, age 7 and 3. Even though my 3 year old can’t read, he has learned this list and follows it regularly (with some reminding, of course!)

AM Checklist
AM Checklist

3) Stay out of the homework!  My mantra is–provide the frameworks for your children to do their homework–in other words, teach them how to get it done, but don’t go doing the work for them.

Here is what I’m talking about…

How to work with your child on homework—

 

1. SET UP A QUIET, EFFECTIVE STUDY SPACE!!!

How to set up the study space!
How to set up the study space!

 

2. GIVE YOUR CHILD ADEQUATE TIME IN HIS OR HER SCHEDULE TO DO HOMEWORK.

Be realistic!

  • According to guidelines from Harris Cooper of Duke University, teachers should use the “10-minute rule”:

 

    • This means a child should be working for 10 minutes straight at a time per grade—so if you are in 1st grade your child can sit for 10 minutes at a time, and 2nd graders can sit for 20 minutes at a time, 3rd graders can sit for 30 minutes at a time…and so on.

 

    • Of course, schools tend to require more homework than what the 10-minute rule allows for—so just give your child a break and get back to work in between!

 

    • Don’t cram the work in—its so much better to do the homework OVER time—a little each day than to do it in a short period of time!  So many kids have summer work–and the summer is winding down–be realistic about getting that homework done..do a little each day!

 

Here is a sample calendar for a student’s summer work (3rd grader)

 

A sample calendar for a third grade student who is completing summer work.
A sample calendar for a third grade student who is completing summer work.

 

 

3. BE SURE YOUR CHILD KNOWS WHAT TO DO FOR THEIR HOMEWORK! 

Go over the direction, but don’t tell your child what the directions are, rather ask them to tell you what to do for the assignment.  If he or she gets the directions wrong, ask some more questions, such as, “read it again, is that what it says?” or “This is what you just said _______, is that what you meant to say?”  Anytime you can make your child active in the process of doing homework, instead of passive, that is helpful in fostering independence!

Screen Shot 2014-08-07 at 10.15.34 AM
Ask your child to explain the directions of the assignment to you!

4. IF YOUR CHILD HAS QUESTIONS, MARK THOSE PROBLEMS AND EITHER SEE IF YOUR CHILD CAN FIND THE ANSWER, SAVE TO ASK THE TEACHER OR ASK A TEACHER/TUTOR. 

Here is how a student can mark up his/her page with questions for a teacher or a tutor.

How a child might mark his or her paper with questions for a teacher or tutor.
How a child might mark his or her paper with questions for a teacher or tutor.  Created by www.evolveded.com

For older students, he or she may be able to go to his or her notes to find answers or even look online, but it is always a good idea to ask a teacher or tutor the questions. Believe me, you don’t want your child to go along without getting his or her questions answered by the professionals!  This is what my company is all about–we employ TEACHERS as TUTORS to help students–so the people who work with our children at Evolveded.com know how to teach and help our students!

5. ENSURE THAT YOUR CHILD KNOWS HOW TO FOLLOW A PACK UP ROUTINE.

Use a checklist!   Teach your child how to check off that he or she has all of his or her belongings back in his/her backpack.


Screen Shot 2014-08-07 at 10.55.12 AM

You will have to cater the pack up list to your child’s backpack and supplies.  You may also have to have your child check off each homework assignment listed in his or her planner in order to ensure that all homework has been done and packed up.  Again, enlist a teacher or a tutor to help if packing up and turning in homework become difficult for your child to do independently on a consistent basis.

Bottom line—remember, your job as a parent is to teach your child the skills he or she needs to know to be successful in school.  That means that you need to facilitate getting homework done and facilitate independence.  Give your children structure and teach and remind them of that structure, but allow him or her to navigate independently within that structure.  Follow this advice, and your child’s teacher will thank you!

Here is a PS from me to you…–Read this NY Times article about Homework Help, Titled, “But I Want to Do Your Homework“–which explains how helping without a teaching license can hurt–which is why it is better to leave the helping to the experts!

 

Picture taken from NY Times article 'But I Want to Do Your Homework'
Picture taken from NY Times article, ‘But I Want to Do Your Homework’

 

Stay tuned for the next installment of this series on independence….Coming soon and thank you for reading this blog!

 

 

How Being a Concerned Parent Informs Your Work As An Educator

I was called in to speak to my son’s 1st grade teacher a while ago because he is still not able to fluently decode multi-syllabic words. It’s a real problem, his teacher says, because he cannot move past level H in reading — and the benchmark is on I, J, and K by the end of the year. We had only 2 months to go til summer.

As the owner and director of Evolved Education Company — an individualized tutoring company — one that prides itself on helping families through situations just like mine, I feel better equipped than most to handle the worry and stress that goes along with the news that my child is struggling in school — but that does not mean I don’t have the same feelings as many of my clients.

I, like so many of the parents I serve, sat there listening to my son’s teacher as she explained the situation and finally got to the words, “I’m concerned.” My response — a wave of parental panic, like a fist to the stomach, that I have seen a million times — slammed into me. My reply came slowly as I digested what my son’s teacher was telling me: , “…Ok, ok, ok….gotcha….you are concerned. Ok great, thanks for telling me…..ok, ok…. I can see what you are saying. Ok ….what should we do about this?” My response was textbook. I’ve witnessed it a million times. But always from the other side of the table.

Parents often tell me thathearing the concerns of a teacher feels like being punched in the stomach — like being blindsided with a slap to the face. No matter if you know it’s coming or not, you are startled anyways and you feel a wave of panic and worry until you eventually, and hopefully come back to a place of reason, but the worry never really fades and as your child works through the struggle, your feelings about that are difficult to manage.

So there I was, the panic wave had hit me and I was back in a place of reason — I actually do reasoning for a living so I’m good at it. What should we do to help this child — my child? Is there a reading specialist we could have him meet with? Yes. Ok great. Let’s get that going. He already has a tutor he works with and comes to extra reading help in the morning. Let’s get everyone together to talk about the work to be done. Let’s get on the same page.

I feel better now that we have people helping and a plan for him, but I still feel worried and I think about his struggle often throughout the day. The questions enter my mind–am I doing enough? What other research is out there on this? What if he has a disability? Should I get him tested? Does his teacher really know what she’s talking about? Maybe this is developmental. I hear all of the questions that parents ask me all of the time — except this time they are in my head and about my child. It feels awful. I want it to go away.

I am left feeling pretty helpless. I hope that the people who are helping my son are as good as I am with my students. I hope that they show up each time prepared and full of energy and with a really organized lesson plan. I want my son to make progress. I hope they rise to the occasion.

My feelings, the feelings of a parent of a child who is struggling, are normal, I know. I have to face them and go through them. I realize I cannot avoid them as I had hoped. This won’t be my child’s last struggle. Struggles are a part of life. They form character and resolve. Struggles are important. I went to work the other day and spoke to a mom who was just called into her son’s school to talk about how he is struggling with math. In the entry way of her home, she tells me how awful it was to listen to the teacher and how she is so upset. I tell her I know.

She says thank you and that she is glad I’m there to help her son. I tell her I know. She has tears in her eyes when she says that she thinks she could have done more to make him memorize his facts and how she is going to do everything she can to help him with this. I tell her I know. I was a teacher long before I was a parent, but ever since I had my own kids and now have my son struggling with something in academics, I can relate on a whole new level with parents as they undergo the ups and downs in their child’s education career. My message to all parents is that you are not alone — your feelings and your child’s struggles are happening in homes all over the world. Nothing will make you feel less worried or upset when you hear the teacher say she or he is concerned about your child, but it helps to have the support of other parents and educators who will help you and your child to navigate life’s challenging moments.

Here are some practical suggestions:

1. THE PANIC ROOM

Don’t panic in front of the child, no matter how bewildered you might. trust me, they are feeling worse than you!

2. NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK

You’re not alone. There are plenty of parents out there who have gone through this process. Get in touch, stay in touch and be in touch. Just think, years down the line, they will be coming to you for advice….

3. SOCIAL ME-DA-YOU

Get involved, get educated, get a perspective.

4. CONTACT SPORT

Education is a contact sport. This process requires you to be involved in the process and make lots of important decisions so that this becomes more manageable — sort of like the QB in football, the pitcher in baseball, etc.

5. ASK FOR HELP

Many options are available to you, depending upon your child’s needs and your budget. Investigate what resources ar available at your school or check out the many fine private tutoring companies in your area. The hard part is over — you’ve identified the problem — now get the help or assistance you need to help make your child a great student!

Top 3 Tips — How Great Parents Enlist Great Educators

It’s hard not to focus on the challenges your child faces. Whether those challenges result from a normal weakness in subject or a diagnosed disability, as a good parent, you want your child to avoid confusion and thrive. Most of all, you want your child to feel well and to have the confidence and aptitude to excel, make a difference in the world. Good parents have great dreams for their children.

The dreams we have for our children; however, can sometimes keep us from realizing who our children are and what their potential is for this world. Every child is born with something amazing and fantastic, and something that is innately his/her passion or strength.

My feeling is that it is our responsibility as adults to figure out what is special about our children and foster that while also using it to boost that which is challenging. Every child benefits from adults in his/her life who can see this potential.

I reflect on a student I was recently working with whose mother was at her wits end struggling to see the positive because of her child’s willful and disrespectful behavior. This mom, a good mom, was wrapped up in thinking about and working with the child’s struggles so much so that she had lost sight entirely of anything positive about her child. The home life, as you can imagine, was suffering. There was negativity and stress in their relationship. This is a hard pattern to break. I came in, hired to work on this student’s writing, but saw a need for more than just grammar and semantics.

As we worked on the writing, I gave mom some language to use with her daughter. I gave the daughter positive feedback and wrote it down for her. I reminded mom that she was a good mom, who had been thinking about a real problem, but that problem was not the only aspect of her daughter. I gave this mother some activities to do with her child where they could have fun again and where her mother could see her in her element — in her musical element. Turns out this student had a passion for the guitar and never really had time to pursue it. As I worked on her writing skills, I gave mom and her more time to play together and suggested that they go down town to listen to a musician at the Blue Note. They took me up on it and went. It’s been a full academic year now, and mom is still really nervous about her daughter’s writing and reading, and hasn’t completely given up her worry; however, their relationship has become more balanced — not perfect — but there is not only stress in the home, but also respect and playfulness.

My message here is that great tutors and teachers are ones who can see a child and determine what it is about him or her that will accentuate the positive. When you look for a teacher to come into your home — look for these three things:

1. THE SMILE FACTOR

Does this teacher smile at my child and make eye contact? A great teacher will get to know your child and in doing that he or she must be friendly — able to connect in a warm, nurturing manner.

2. THE WHOLE CHILD

Does your teacher think about your child as a whole? Your child may be having reading or writing difficulty. If you hire someone to come into your home and just have him or her teach writing, your child may not excel in the same way as if that person is completely invested in the overall wellbeing of your child. A one-to-one teaching experience is extremely personal and children who feel cared for, understood and appreciated are much more able to respond to instruction than those who are simply taught skills without personal connection.

3. TEAMWORK, TEAMWORK, TEAMWORK

Does the teacher talk to you as the parent and include you in the process of individualized instruction? Your child needs to see the one-to-one instruction as something that the whole family is involved in. The parents need to team up with this teacher and everyone has to be on the same page. This can be done differently for each family — some parents want a quick text message about what happened during a session, other parents want to chat, other parents want to do work with children in between sessions. Great individualized educators find ways to involve parents in the work done with their children in a manner that best suits the entire family.

Good parents help their children with challenges, and great parents do this in a way that helps them to not only work through their challenges, but also realize their strengths and talents. Great educators connect with your child, see them as a whole and work with you in the process of working through challenges. Come to www.evolveded.com to read more about the Whole Child paradigm of tutoring.