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Archive for the ‘Homeschooling’ Category

Parents Influence Student Reading Skills

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

The importance of parental involvement in their child’s reading activities does not diminish because of the prevalence of computers and technology.  School-age children still enjoy listening to a good story.  A child’s entrance into a learning program should not mean the end of a parent’s reading to the child.  Early learners like fairy tales and books that have corresponding puppets or other toys.  First graders like easy readers because they can recognize some of the words; they also like picture books with strong characters and a solid story.  At the second and third grade level books should be somewhat above the child’s current reading (but not emotional) level.  Nonfiction works, “How to Do It” books, nonsense books, and riddle books are popular with children in these grade levels.  As with pre-school children, parents should encourage active participation when they read to their school-age children.

At some point, a child may want to read independently.  Many times, however, when the parent stops reading to the child, the child stops reading.  Studies have shown that students who read at home, not surprisingly, improve their reading ability.   A closer look at the home reveals that parents and siblings in the home also read during their leisure time.  There are books available in the home, or there are trips to the library.  Television and computer use is limited.

If a home does not have books for children, and if there is no library close to the home, a parent can use a newspaper, catalog or magazine to encourage a child to read.  Parents often are seen reading a newspaper or a magazine, so that role model is ready-made.  Not only is a newspaper or a catalog inexpensive, but it has something of interest for nearly everyone.  A parent might clip a news article and ask the child to read the article to him or her.  Pictures can be chosen, and the child can either make up a story about the pictures or list descriptive words that tell about the pictures.  An appealing news or magazine story can be clipped into paragraphs; the child can read the paragraphs and put them into the correct sequence.

To keep reading skills sharp, a child should read for at least fifteen minutes a day.  Reading also can be built into everyday activities.  A chid can help a parent prepare a meal by reading recipes to the parent.  Locating names, emergency numbers, or ads requires reading.  While grocery shopping, a child can find specific items on shelves or read label information.  A child can read a restaurant menu to the parent.  If the family is planning a vacation, the child can read maps and tour guides.

Parent involvement means instilling the values of self-discipline, hard work, and responsibility in children.  It means an emphasis on the importance of learning.  It means stepping away from electronic devices in order to provide your child opportunities to practice reading skills.

High School Students Meet With Success Online

Monday, November 12th, 2012
Choosing a strong online instructional program at the high school level is a challenge. Parents and students need to find a virtual program that offers an accredited diploma and provides academic support for students from a certified staff.

Whether looking to catch up, are unable to attend school for medical reasons, are pursuing a GED or simply want a quality high school education, the combination of an accredited curriculum with online tutors ensures a quality education that is recognized across the nation.

While we believe that this is a winning formula, online instruction is different from traditional schooling in some important ways. There is no driving to campus and fighting for a parking space, because students aren’t meeting in a classroom at a regular time and place. Communication with the tutor will take place online, not in person. Without an instructor reminding the student of what is due in class each week, the student will have more responsibility for their own learning. Students will need basic computing skills and convenient access to the Internet.

The skills the high school student needs most to be a successful online learner are the same ones needed in traditional schooling: preparation, organization and self-discipline. The difference is in how these are applied.  The best programs are designed to help students get the most out of their online instructional program.

As an online learner, there are things the student can do to make their learning a successful, rewarding experience. Some are common sense, like being prepared and getting work done on time, while others are less intuitive but important. The following may help the student get the most out of an online learning experience.

Get Comfortable

Spend time at the computer and on the Internet everyday, getting comfortable with the equipment and surroundings. Practice computing skills until confident the online instruction can be fully completed.

Be Prepared

Read instructional material carefully. What activities need to be completed? When are assignments due? How can the student contact the tutor? How can the student get help if needed? Mark important dates on a calendar.

Plan Ahead

Read the instructional guides and handbooks before starting the program. Practice using the online program.  Find out if the computer, to be used, has a firewall. Will it prevent the student from accessing particular web sites or using browser plug-ins to view resources included in the instructional program? Learn how to get around before starting, so that connecting to learning is easy and ready for the learner.

Get Organized

Set aside a significant amount of time each week for online learning. We recommend at least twenty hours. Online learning requires as much time and effort as regular schooling. Develop a schedule and stick to it. Without the structure of weekly class meetings, the student may be tempted to put off assignments and instruction until the last minute. Instead, the student should give himself extra time to do the work, because technology can slow down the process.

Be Dependable

Without an instructor and fellow students nearby to offer help and support, the student will be relying on himself more than ever. One way, is to use the resources that are available in most programs, including online help, tutorials, handbooks and the Internet. Another is to monitor progress by knowing where the student is in each subject; which assignments have been completed? Which lay ahead?

Develop Good Habits

One way to be a successful online learner is to develop good habits early. Email will be the main form of communication in most programs. Get into the habit of checking email at least once a day.

Six Transition Tips For Students Moving to Online Learning

Thursday, October 4th, 2012


Online learning represents a new kind of challenge for students.  Expectations vary widely and the online program response may not always meet expectations.  There are some things all students should expect, however.  Students should be expected to be challenged academically.  They should expect not to understand everything they experience in their online educational program.  They can expect to not always see the relevance of what they are asked to do.  But, they should expect that resources will be available to help them.  lIn order to help your child embrace the online learning program they have chosen:

  • Empower your student to take the initiative and solve his or her own learning problems within reason.
  • Familiarize yourself with the online instructional program and resources in the event you will need to assist your student in them.
  • Advise the instructional program if you or your student experiences difficulty
  • Remember that students often change their minds and this is okay
  • Avoid too much advice, too much supervision, solving their problems, and second-guessing your student
  • Stay positive

Eight Standards Guide Internet-Based Learning

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

Online Instructional Model

An effective online instructional program integrates innovative, research-based components.  eTutor began conducting research in the fall of 1997 and determined that online instructional programs should be guided by the following standards:

  1. Instructional lesson format needs to be consistent
  2. Immediate feedback is necessary for both student and parent
  3. Instruction should be customized to student progress
  4. Parents need to be part of the teaching-learning program
  5. Instruction should be linked to National and State Learning Goals
  6. Appropriate Internet links need to be an integral part of each instructional lesson
  7. Instructional lessons should be available to students from grades K – 12
  8. Students should learn the value and appropriate use of the Internet while completing instructional lessons

Beginning in 1998, eTutor established a new, higher standard for delivering fully integrated, superior learning over the Internet for grades K through 12.  eTutor accomplishes this by incorporating the best of current instructional practice with the power of the latest internet technology.

Learning From Teenagers

Friday, September 28th, 2012

What are the specialized needs of young adolescents ages 10-15? Why do we need to develop curricula and educational programs tailored to those unique needs? Researchers have found that young adolescents have the following developmental needs

  • positive social interaction with adults and peers
  • creative expression
  • structure and clear limits to physical activity
  • meaningful participation in families and school

Programs which meet the developmental needs of young adolescents use a variety of activities and strategies. As young adolescents have an orientation toward peers and a concern about social acceptance, work in small groups and advisory programs promote opportunities for interaction with peers and adults. Interdisciplinary team organization fosters feelings of belonging while advisory groups allow time and a small group for discussion of issues.

Achievement and competence is achieved through authentic assessment based on personal goals, challenging intellectual material focused on relevant problems and issues, and with recognition by peers and adults. The increase in the desire for autonomy can be addressed through learning strategies involving choice, a curriculum based on social and individual interests. Service projects and project based learning capitalize upon young adolescent’s creative expression and need for meaningful participation.

Is Your Child Ready for Schooling?

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

Learning was on the minds of everyone this month as the children in the neighborhood started school again. Backpacks bulged with new books and supplies, girls wore the latest fashions and boys found the baggiest jeans. Happy faces and anticipation as the little ones trooped off to catch the bus.

A neighbor stopped over and asked about her child who is three. With a birthday in September, she has been told that it might be better if she holds him back from attending school a year. Her concern is that he will be the youngest child in the class and may be immature and not do well in the school. This is a difficult question for me…..my own children have October birthdays and I did not hold either back. I know they struggled not only through elementary and high school, but college as well. Nevertheless, they both were bright enough and I didn’t see the problem as theirs, but that of the schools. In hindsight would I have done things differently….probably not. It is painful, though, as a parent, to see your child struggle.

So, my response to my neighbor was “wait and see, he is still young.” My children are adults now and there weren’t as many options then. However, it saddens me to think that a parent has to even consider this question today. Many parents choose to keep their children home for schooling, but others are unable to do this. So, do they have to worry that their child may not be ready? “Who is not ready, the child or the school?”

TEN Ways to Make the Most of STUDY TIME!

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

Relax a bit after school before doing homework. Then….

1. Find the best time to study

After school, after dinner…..homework should have a definite start and finish time. If the homework is finished early, the remaining time should be used to double-check and review.

2. The best place to study

Homework headquarters should be away from television,  phone, and other distractions. A writing surface and good light are necessities. A small table may be the best place for a young student, while a desk or table, even the floor or a bed, may work for an older student.

3. Be prepared

Have all the materials needed to complete assignments. Pencils, sharpener, eraser and paper for younger students, a pen, ruler, dictionary, thesaurus, and more may be necessary for older students.

4. Make a homework list

Make an easy two-part homework checklist:

______ List homework assignments in each class each day as they are made.

______ Check over the list at the end of the school day to make sure you have all the materials necessary to take home.

Show the assignment sheet to educators. They can help to see that you have everything to complete assignments at home.

5. Keep a homework calendar

Record due dates for major long-range assignments on a special calendar brings the task into focus. Work backwards, identifying all the steps along the way to completion of the assignment.

If a short paper is due on Friday, the last step is to write the final draft on Thursday.  The first step is to begin reading and note taking on Monday.

6. Study rhythms

Tackle the most difficult assignments when you are most alert and save easier tasks for off-peak times. Schedule several smaller segments of time for memorization. It is easier to learn in short stretches than at one long session. Try using an easier assignment as a break from something more difficult.

7. When you get stuck – Ask these questions…..

  • Have you read and followed directions carefully?
  • Are you taking short cuts that are confusing you?
  • Are you using your book properly?
  • Read the directions aloud….now do they make sense?
  • Have you tried making a picture, table, graph, or diagram to represent the known facts and relationships?
  • Have you tried to sold a similar, but less difficult problem?
  • Have you checked the glossaries, the table of contents or the indexes for help?
  • Did you copy the words or numbers correctly?
  • Are you trying to do too much of the work in your head?
  • Have you checked for careless mistakes?

Still stuck? Do other homework assignments for awhile. Go to learning program early and check with the educator. Remember…..educators want success from their students.

8. Ask for help

It is okay to ask for help. Ask parents, older brothers and sisters, just ask.

9. Take a break

Schedule one or more short breaks during the study time. Stretching the mind for an hour, calls for stretching the body for a few minutes. Do jumping jacks, play ping pong or the drums…..get up and move.

10. Book bag at bedtime

Create a fail-proof method for getting completed homework assignments to school on time. A good slogan is “homework goes in the book bag at bedtime.”

The Showcase of Learning, A Portfolio Primer

Friday, August 31st, 2012

Portfolios are powerful because they help students learn about their learning.  They provide an opportunity for students to share the responsibility for collecting proof or evidence of learning.  Portfolios are worth doing well because they are a rich resource for reporting…they help student and parents see the results of student learning for themselves.

All portfolios are a collection of evidence of student learning.  They become powerful when they have a purpose.  There are three major purposes for portfolios:  to display student work around a theme or subject, to show the process of learning and to show growth or progress.

e-Tutor provides a portfolio for each student that the parent can access.  The portfolio gives a report of the lessons completed and the results of quizzes and exams.   We also encourage our students to keep their own  progress portfolio.  We suggest that the student create a folder for each one of the major curricular areas: Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies.  As the Activity and Extended Learning sections are completed for each lesson,  these are placed in the folders.  Parents know where to find their child’s work, they can review what their child has done,  the child can refer back to what has been achieved and they provide a basis for discussion.

As time goes by other things can be added to the portfolio, such as a time sheet to record the time the child began and ended a learning session.  Parents can add copies of the e-Tutor portfolio, so that comparisons can be made between accomplishments in  the two types of assessment.

Such a portfolio showcases the learner and his or her own learning, rather than who they could be by making comparisons with others.

Seven Steps to Increase Brain Activity

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

The brain and skin are the first organs to develop in a fetus.  They emerge simultaneously out of the same layer of embryonic tissue.  The skin is often called the outside layer of the brain.  Let your child “experiment” with touch as a sensory system of the brain.

  1. Gather 16 samples of different textures….sandpaper, cloth, carpet, wood, etc.  and two large pieces of cardboard.
  2. Cut two, 2-inch squares from each of the textured materials so that you have two identical sets of 16 pieces.
  3. In rows of four, glue one set of 16 onto each  cardboard.  Be sure to arrange the textures in different order on each cardboard.
  4. Blindfold your child.  Ask your child to use his/her fingers to find four matches on the two cardboard sheets.  Time how long it takes to find four matches.
  5. Let your child use their palms or elbows.
  6. Involve other members of the family to see who has the fastest speed.
  7. Have a family discussion about the experiment and what was learned.

Home as the Learning Place

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012
  • Provide a quiet appropriate place to study.
  • Encourage children to complete homework assignments by providing help and by answering questions.
  • Monitor television and computer time and contents.
  • Set consistent bedtime and wake-up schedules.
  • Engage your children in discussions on a variety of subjects…..current events, hobbies, nature, sports.