Category Archives: Whole Child Education Blogs

Camp is over – How to prepare for a successful September

Camp is over – How to prepare for a successful September

And Why Early Bedtimes Matter

By Mary Miele Learning Specialist and Founder of Evolved Education

I never went to sleepaway camp, but when I was in college, I came home for a summer to work and stay in my childhood home. The transition back home after living away and on my own for the year at school was tremendously challenging. I remember having a hard time communicating with my parents and siblings. I had to account for family member’s routines and needs. I was asked to help around the house and with the care of my sisters. It was hard to live away from home and then come back to live there.

I can only imagine how the transition back home after sleep away camp is for our young students. Camp requires a level of independence and all children will change and grow over the course of time, so who you dropped off at the start of the summer will be different than who you pick up. Adjusting to the changes which happen over 4,  6 or 8 weeks requires some time. The transition won’t happen overnight.  In addition, camp is exhausting. Children tend not to put their guard down and relax completely until they are home. This is normal. A mother I spoke to yesterday let me know that her ten year old son has been sleeping and playing video games ever since he got back. He seems “out of it”.  Sleep and rest seem really necessary all of a sudden.

When I write these kinds of blogs I consider what our clients are struggling with and try to offer some perspective and expertise to help. So, if your child is transitioning into school again (and yes, that transition starts a few weeks BEFORE school begins), here are some nuggets of advice that could help you navigate the transition with your child:

  • Get into the routine of school again. My pediatrician and I were speaking yesterday about my son’s sleep. He’s 10 and can’t seem to get enough of it. I had been letting him sleep in, but she let me know that “sleeping in” is terrible sleep. The better way to get better sleep is to get to bed early. I proposed an early bed time to my son this week – he was shockingly fine with it! So, at 7:45, we are all settling in. He can read, he can relax, but he’s in his bed, with no electronics and no TV. It’s complete down time. He has to be up at 7 for his activities during these weeks, and that is still a little tough for him, but the early bed time ensures that he’s getting enough sleep to function, and I just started this with him–I know through experience that it’s important to give new routines at least two weeks to make a difference. So my advice to you is to stick with the changes over time until you make a judgment call that they are working or not.


  • Involve your child in the transition plan. Yes, I did say “plan”. It’s important for children to learn how to plan ahead and parents in this day and age do not typically give their children enough opportunities to be in the driver’s seat to make these plans. I’m guilty too – it’s so much easier just to take the reigns myself. I’m great at planning. I’ll make some playdates and go to the library. School will be here in no time. This approach is not the best for any child, though. It short circuits their opportunity to activate neurons in their brain. Instead, sit your child(ren) down and ask them what they need to do to transition back to school. Mention the idea from the pediatrician about an earlier bedtime. Talk about what options the children have for activities during their daytimes. Show them a calendar so they can see how much time they have until school begins. Involve your child in creating a list of action items everyone will do to prepare for the transition. Parents with teenagers may need to involve a professional to run interference to help with the planning. I find that most teenagers resist the advice of their parents and outsourcing the creation of these plans to a mentor, tutor or education professional can be extremely helpful. One student of ours was just set up with this kind of support — she was procrastinating doing her summer work. Her mother was getting very stressed about it and called us for support. We sent over an Evolved Education ELA teacher who worked with her child on getting the assignment started and mapping out a plan. Since we are a whole child company, the teacher also talked with the student about her overall transition plan — when she would get supplies, what clothes she needed to get for the start of school, what her am routine would be like (she’s starting high school in the fall), what her feelings were about the start of a new school and grade 9!! The ELA teacher partnered with our student’s mother to bridge communication and help with ways to effectively support her daughter.  The ELA teacher Skyped with the student over the course of last week and will do so this week to check in and to provide accountability to be sure the work is getting done. This sort of support allowed the student to become prepared and her mother to relax and focus on enjoying some time with her daughter instead of fighting over the summer work assignment. For some teenagers, there are preferred ways to receive support from parents, and our teachers have an understanding of how to help parents understand how teenagers need to be supported. The transition to middle, high school and college are transitions for parents as well – in many ways parents are all undergoing great changes as school begins.


  • Trouble shoot challenges and get support before they snowball. A client of ours called in to discuss a common challenge for our middle, high school and college age students and that is to complete summer work. Most students have to leave this work to the last few weeks of August because of camp and travel. Students get overwhelmed when they look at a 300 page book that has been mandated to read. Starting is hard and keeping the stamina going to really read something with great focus and attention to detail is tiring — if you don’t believe me, try it along with your student. It’s a great exercise to do. Help your child by doing some paired work (you work while they work). Read the book aloud to your child and be sure they take great notes — this causes them to be very prepared for the start of school. The more prepared a student is for the start of school, the happier they are to be there!


  • Know that transitioning is a process. This process will begin now, but it will not end when school begins. Often students are on a high during the first week of schoool– there is excitement in seeing friends and teachers again, in getting the supplies and starting a new grade. About a week or so into school, children can experience some anxiety, sadness, or stress. This is usually very normal and it is also where early bedtimes, strong support systems, and plenty of parent-child face time can be helpful.

If you have an issue that you are concerned about, email me to book a call at  When you plan and work in a supportive way through the back to school transition, it can be a magical time!

Call to Action

Call to Action

by: Mary Miele
When I saw Time’s latest cover “Anxiety, Depression, and the American Adolescent,” I felt the urge to have a call to action to discuss, deal and demand changes in our systems and approaches to supporting children in school.
First, I am so very glad that we are having a discussion about anxiety and depression. To help students and families, we need to open lines of communication and create a culture which allows for students and families to comfortably seek help.
This dialogue around anxiety and depression is erupting in the education field —- erupting as a volcano might. The conditions of anxiety and depression are nothing new to the experiences of many people and students, but we see more dialogue around them as of late. Just as the lava hangs out below the surface, hiding from plain view, hot, sticky and painful, before bursting out into the open, these conditions have emerged into our conversation and stories, and treatments, ideas and cautionary tales have become the new hot topic in education right now.
I am here to say that we need to steer this dialogue into a call to action — to deal with this issue head on. Our children need to talk and to share what they are worried and anxious about. Our families need support too — schools need to do a better job of educating families about how to support their children during a very noisy time in our country’s experience.
I want us to demand changes in the landscape of education and in supporting our young people, educators and families.
Our current emphasis on academic achievement and results-based evaluations do not allow for students to THRIVE within the process of growing, developing and becoming educated.
The very notion of “you are absolutely amazing just the way you are,” has been lost in our society and in many schools who are pushing students to work even more within the confines of their own institutional paradigm.
We need to celebrate students using a whole child paradigm. Learn about a child’s academic history, learning style, school environment, family environment and social, emotional and physical development and we can uncover the very aspects of each child worth celebrating and promoting.
I’m all for academic rigor and standardized tests (when constructed in collaboration with educators and with transparency), but we really need parents and educators to come together along with policy makers and school boards to carefully examine the balance and ability each child has to be celebrated within their TOTAL EDUCATION PROCESS.
I wage to bet that if we begin to view each child in this way — and partner with parents and educators to support each family and student, that we will begin the very important work we need to do to support our young people during a very uncertain and noisy time in our country’s experience.
I know for a fact that our students, families and educators are worth it.
To learn more about the whole child paradigm mentioned in this call to action, please read Supporting School: A Guidebook for Parents and Educators by Mary Miele and Deanna Hyslop

Test Preparation and Supporting School: Especially for Middle School Families

EEC’s Presentation for Middle School Families

By Mary Miele, Founder and Learning Specialist

At our presentation for parents of students in Middle School with NYC Admissions Solutions and Maurice Frumkin, information on three aspects of supporting school was given. First, parents can support their children through test preparation. Second, parents can learn productive ways to ensure their children thrive in their role as student during a crucial academic time. And lastly, parents can learn the timeline for next steps as students enter high school.

I. Three steps to support your child through test preparation.

  1. Learn about your child’s testing opportunities and the tests.

ISEE is the Independent School Entrance Examination. A student can take this exam only once during the admission cycle. The verbal reasoning section of the ISEE contains synonyms and sentence completion questions. The quantitative reasoning section of the ISEE contains quantitative comparisons.

Sub Test # of ?s Time
Verbal Reasoning 40 20
Quantitative Reasoning 37 35 min
Reading Comprehension 36 35 min
Mathematics Achievement 47 40 min
Essay one prompt 30 min
Total Time 2hrs 40min

SSAT is the Secondary School Admissions Test. A student can take this exam as many times as he or she prefers to during the admission cycle. The verbal reasoning section of the SSAT contains analogies.

Sub Test # of ?s Regular Time 1.5 Time
Verbal Reasoning 60 30 45
Quantitative Reasoning 50 60 90
Reading Comprehension 40 40 min 60
Experimental 16 15 min not provided
Essay one prompt 25 min 40 min
Total Time with break 3 hours, 5 min 4 hrs, 10 min

SHSAT is the Specialized High School Admissions Test. A student can take this test only once during the admissions cycle—typically in late October. SHSAT Class begins Saturday, April 2nd! Sign up by emailing

Sub Test # of ?s Total Points Total Time
Scrambled Paragraphs 5 10
Logical Reasoning 10 10
Reading 30 30
Math 50 50
2 hrs 30 min

ELA is the English Language Arts Test.

Day One tests only reading. This part of the test will entail multiple-choice questions on a set # of literary and informational reading passages, which will vary in length depending on grade level.

Day Two is split equally between testing writing and testing reading. This part of the test will entail multiple-choice questions based on a passage and one extended response and 3 short-responses based on two passages.

Day Three tests writing. This part of the test will entail an extended response and short response questions on reading passages.

This test is untimed, but students should finish with enough stamina to perform well. Partial credit is given on short and extended responses. It is important that your child know the rubrics for grading.

For Grade Six and Seven ELA: Click here for 2016 Information on the ELA Test. See below for the rubrics for the short and extended responses.

ELA Grade Six Short Response Rubric

ELA Extended Response Rubric

NYS Math Test is the New York State Math Test.

Day One has multiple-choice questions.

Day Two has multiple-choice questions

Day Three has short-response questions and extended-response questions.

This test is untimed, but students should finish with enough stamina to perform well. Partial credit is given on short and extended responses.  It is important that your child know the rubrics for grading.

For Grade Six and Seven NYS Math Test: Click here for 2016 Information on the NYS Math Test. See below for the rubrics for the short and extended responses.

NYS Math Test Short Response Rubric

NYS Math Test Extended Response Rubric

CTP-4 is the Comprehensive Testing Program. It is a rigorous assessment for high achieving students in various content areas. Many private, independent and parochial schools use the CTP-4.

Verbal Reasoning

Quantitative Reasoning

Math Achievement

Reading Comprehension

Writing Concepts & Skills

Writing Mechanics

Listening Skills

2. Learn about what creates successful test preparation, generally speaking.

Strong Plan that accounts for a child using whole child paradigm.

Commitment and Consistency

Tutoring or classes that not only instruct, but also provides opportunities for plenty of practice (homework), practice tests, as well as opportunities to be in the driver’s seat with regard to mastery of skills, concepts and strategies.

Attention to the Social-Emotional-Academic Quotient.

3.  Create a test preparation plan.

Your child’s …

Academic History

Learning Style

School Environment

Family Environment, Values, Goals

Social-Emotional Connection or SEAQ (Social-Emotional-Academic Quotient)

Your budget …

Your calendar …

Schedule a Test Preparation Consultation with EEC and take the guesswork out of the planning work! Email us today at or call 917-388-3862.

II. Four Ways Parents can Support School so Students Thrive.

1. Be Informed — Remember the Whole Child Paradigm?

Keep track of your child’s academic history. Learn about your child’s learning style. Understand your child’s school environment—both what works for your child and what does not. Be aware of your family’s environment, values and goals. Determine your child’s social-emotional-academic quotient.

2. Teach and Require Skills for the Job — Classwork, Homework, Studying, Executive Functioning

Know what skills your child needs to have to thrive within classwork, homework, studying and executive functioning.

In the classroom, the student needs to understand the way information is being communicated. What is the syllabus? What is the teaching style? How should the student participate?

For homework, the student needs to have a system for knowing what needs to be completed, for taking the classroom experience and applying it to homework, calendaring tasks into a planner, and having a system for handing in assignments.

For studying, the student needs to have a system for on-going studying, an effective way to acquire information and skills (often avoiding phone or Internet time or social media) which should involve active studying, a way to use weekend time for review.

For executive functioning, the student should be aware of his or her strengths in the eight main functions: Planning, Organization, Self-Monitoring, Working Memory, Initiation, Emotional Control, Shift, Inhibition/Impulsivity and employ strategies to compensate for areas of weakness.

Schedule an Education Consulting Session with EEC to help you and your child to perfect these important skills using our whole child paradigm. Email us at or call 917-388-3862.

3. Communicate & Problem-Solve

Students and families need a way to communicate on a weekly basis. The communication should include a review of school feedback, a look ahead at upcoming tests/projects, a review of the family calendar, and include contracts, goals with specific attention to actions and consequences.

4. Outsource

Families should outsource support by first going to classroom teachers, guidance counselors, or principals at the school. Parents should stay informed about curriculum, how their child is performing in school and the landscape of education going forward. Parents should find education consulting, classes and tutoring which supports the student so he or she can THRIVE in his or her role as a student.

III. Looking Ahead to High School

Parents can learn about the high school timeline to ensure their child is afforded every opportunity to THRIVE within the high school experience and college search and admissions process.

Email our college counselor, Molly Lieberman with specific questions about the high school process at!

Freshman year

Take rigorous courses that ensure best grades possible (do all four years).

Take part in extra-curricular activities of interest (do all four years).

Sign up for a College Board account, apply for extra time for standardized tests, if needed.

Sophomore year

Take PSAT in fall for a baseline grade.

Take an SAT II test in the spring.

Visit some colleges in spring or summer of Sophomore year.

Explore career interests & get a job or internship.

Junior year

Take PSAT in fall.

Prepare for ACT & SAT.

Continue to visit colleges.

Take SAT II Tests.

Create Common Application account in summer—take SENIOR SUMMER with EEC!

Senior year

Finalize a well-balanced 5-8 school list.

Take SAT & ACT.

Work closely with your school’s college counselor.

Submit applications & Finish School Strong!

EEC ‘s Spring Consulting Services and Classes

SHSAT Class begins Saturday, April 2nd! Sign up by emailing

Consulting for Test Preparation Planning, Student Plans, or Summer Education Opportunities available. Sign up by emailing

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



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 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—



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



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 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.




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!


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

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 know how to teach and help our students!


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!