“It’s Just Preschool”

February 18, 2013

It’s just preschool…”say lots of people all the time.

Well, it is NOT just preschool!  Over the years, I have heard this phrase from friends, parents and educational professionals.  I heard it again this week from a preschool teacher.

I firmly believe our educational system is broken and backwards.  Why do we try to fix children from the top down?  Why do we wait until we have lost a child to crime, dropout rates or teenage pregnancy? What would happen if we have children a strong preschool education?  Would crime rates among teens and young adults decline?  Would children be more inclined to stay in school because they have a solid foundation and understanding of the concepts being taught in the classroom?  Would they stay in school so they could make a better life for themselves?  If we provided a solid preschool education to children we would see these statistics change drastically.

Here are the facts about the benefits of a HIGH QUALITY PRESCHOOL education:

  • 80% of a child’s brain is developed by the time they are five years old.  Some research suggests the number is as high as 90%!
  • Children who attend a high quality preschool enter Kindergarten with better pre-reading skills, richer vocabulary and stronger basic math skills.
  • Multiple studies have shown the lasting outcomes of preschool include higher academic achievement, higher employment rates, lower rates of welfare use and lower criminal activity from children who attended a quality preschool.

High quality preschool education is programming led by professionals who are formally educated, trained, responsive and nurturing to young children.  The classrooms have a small student to teacher ratio.  The curriculum is developmentally appropriate and stimulates the children’s cognitive, physical and emotional development.

Preschool, most importantly, teaches children about interacting with others.  Children in a high quality preschool learn to wait for their turn, participate in turn taking games and activities, are expected to follow general classroom rules and routines to foster independence, and are taught how to listen and learn the social skills necessary to interact with others in a positive manner.  These are life long skills that are essential and should not be taken lightly.

Preschool should also provide a solid foundation of academic learning where children are exposed to literature, music, math, science, world culture, fine motor and gross motor experiences; classrooms should be full of rich language experiences, too.  These skills may not be obvious to everyone because it should not be a “drill and practice curriculum.”  If you look carefully at what children are doing in the classroom you will discover they are engaged in structured play and hands on learning.  You will discover a child learning about:

  • fractions in the sand box
  • gravity at the water table
  • the water cycle in a container garden
  • patterns at snack time
  • story structure as they reenact “Going on a Bear Hunt”
  • good pencil grip with a LightBright

I know this sounds like an abundance of play time, but children learn through play.  These are deliberate activities planned by the teacher to create a well-rounded learner who is prepared for the challenges of school, and possesses the skills necessary to be a contributing member of society.

So if you are looking for a place where your child will be an engaged thinker while developing their social skills…..it is preschool!


Learning Styles and Tips

December 2, 2012

Most people have a preferred way to learn. Some learn best by listening, some have to observe every step, while others have to  complete a task themselves to learn it. The fact is that individuals need all three modalities to truly commit information to memory: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. While most are typically stronger in one area than another, the trick is figuring out the preferred modality and capitalizing on its strengths. By knowing your child’s learning style, you can reduce homework frustration, make communication easier, and build confidence.  It is important to know that a child’s learning style can change over the years.

There are three basic learning styles:  Auditory, Kinesthetic and Visual.

Auditory learners learn by HEARING and comprise 30% of the population.  Auditory learners:

  • Enjoy listening to explanations
  • Study by reciting information aloud
  • Like to listen to themselves read out loud
  • Like to give oral reports
  • Participate in class discussions
  • Explain things readily
  • Remember names and facts
  • Notice sound effects in movies or plays
  • Enjoy music
  • Tend to be good at grammar and foreign languages
  • Read slowly
  • Follow oral directions well
  • Have difficulty keeping quiet for long periods of time
  • Enjoy acting
  • Good in study groups

Kinesthetic learners or sometimes referred as Tactile learners; those who learn through DOING THINGS. They make up 5% of the population.  Kinesthetic learners:

  • Learn by doing and touching
  • Like to stand while working (they often have trouble sitting still)
  • Need to write information down
  • Must do hands on lessons
  • Enjoy lab work (science or computer lab)
  • Need to type information to reinforce it
  • Enjoyrole playing
  • Good at sports
  • Not  good spellers
  • Poor handwriting
  • Like loud music, especially when they are studying
  • Like to read adventure books
  • Need study breaks
  • Fidget during a lecture

Visual learners learn by SEEING or having material shown to them. Visual learners constitute 65% of the population. Visual learners:

  • Process information by reading and looking at graphics
  • Like to watch demonstrations
  • Shut down during lectures that don’t have visual components
  • Forget names, but are good at spelling
  • Need a quiet environment to study
  • Need to think before understanding a lecture
  • Like colors and art
  • Dreams or visualizes in color
  • Understands charts
  • Good with sign language
  • Like written instructions
  • Needs colors to organize materials (highlighters, colored tabs, folders)
  • Use lists
  • Use graphics
  • Use visualization to memorize material
  • Like to draw
  • Become impatient with a lecture

 There are specific strategies that help each type of learner with homework and school work.  Here are a few of our favorites!

Strategies for the Auditory Learners:

  • Study with a friend, parent, or group so you can discuss and hear the information.
  • Recite out loud the information you want to remember several times.
  • Recite information into a voice recorder.
  • Make your own audio tapes of important points to remember and listen to it repeatedly. This is especially useful for learning material for tests.
  • Use grid paper to help set your sums out correctly and in their correct columns.
  • Use different colors and pictures in notes, exercise books, etc. This reinforces the content and categorizes it.
  • Word associations to remember facts (BECAUSE-big elephants can always understand small elephants )
  • Record lectures or class talking points.
  • Books on tape!
  • Have questions read out loud.
  • Oral instructions!

Strategies for the Kinesthetic/Tactile Learners:

  • Pace or walk around while referencing your notes and reciting to yourself.
  • Use the Wikki Sticks or a stress ball to relieve fidgets.
  • Try studying in alternate spots as opposed to a desk, such as lying on your stomach or back on a comfortable lounge chair.
  • Go outside and shoot hoops to discuss a book or take a walk around the block to review math facts.
  • Study with music in the background (instrumental music is best – as opposed to heavily rhythm-based music).
  • Take frequent breaks. A reasonable schedule would be 20-30 minutes of study, and 5 minutes of break time.
  • Play Banagrams to study spelling words.

Strategies for the Visual Learners:

  • Try to work in a quiet place.
  • Wear earplugs to tune out background noise.
  • Work alone.
  • Take notes and write down lots of details.
  • To recall material, write out notes, cover your notes and then re-write them. Rewriting will help you remember better.
  • Use color to highlight main ideas.
  • Before reading a chapter or a book, preview it first by scanning the pictures, headings, terms in bold, and so on.
  • Before answering test question from a cold read, read the questions first.
  • When creating flashcards, always add a picture cue to aide memory.
  • Draw a map/timeline/picture of vocabulary words to study.
  • Make outlines of content areas.
  • Copy what’s on the board.
  • Provide visual cues (checklists).
  • Make a list!
  • Watch videos.
  • Color code material.
  • Utilize Post it notes for reading material.

It’s important to remember that everyone learns differently. Sometimes  parents make the mistake of thinking that their child learns as they do, but this is often not the case. Many adults learn well by auditory means, but children frequently need visual and kinesthetic methods. Don’t be afraid to try novel approaches when assisting your child!

Our teachers firmly believe in teaching children in the way that they learn best.  To find out more about how we complement your child’s learning style to build their confidence and scholastic skills, please contact us at sjefferson@littlescholarsllc.com.

8 Ways to Deal with a Bad Grade

November 5, 2012

Your third-grader brings home a reading test for you to sign, and your heart sinks when you see the red F at the top of the paper, and “how did you study for this test?” underlined with big, bold letters. Your child is crushed as he shows you the paper. Your first thought is to reassure him and then ask: What’s going on here?  Is the work really too hard? Does he need extra help? How will this affect his confidence? Will he lose his motivation to do well in school?

Below are eight simple questions and strategies to get your child back on track:

1. Is there an emotional reason for your child’s dwindling performance? If your child’s performance suddenly deteriorates, as opposed to a gradual decline in grades, it is important to recognize that something significant may be happening to your child socially or emotionally. Triggers such as bullying, problems with a friend at school, or an illness may be the cause. An assessment by a professional or a conference with the guidance counselor may be necessary.

2. Has your child “fallen through the cracks” at school? Has the work load become too difficult? Does your child understand the content of the material? Is he struggling to learn part of the material? Being left behind happens quite often in classroom situations. The teacher has moved onto a new topic and your child is now lost because the information she taught previously was needed to build upon for the next lessons. In a typical classroom with 20 or more, children can quickly get bogged down and the teacher does not have the time or resources to go back and re-teach to your child. One-on-one remediation is essential in this situation in order to go back and learn the concepts he missed.

3. Be aware of your child’s strengths and weaknesses are in school. We do want to challenge our children, but we don’t want them to simply give up because they don’t understand the material. If your child truly can’t do the work, schedule a meeting with the teacher to ensure your child is being given work at his level.

4. Know what subjects are struggles for your child and be prepared to review the material often. Subjects, like math, where concepts build upon each other, may cause trouble for the rest of the school year if you miss one essential concept.

5. Become a study partner with your child. Sit down with your child and review the vocabulary words. Many children need to participate in a discussion with a peer or an adult to grasp and retain information.

6. Provide a consistent place where your child can focus and do his homework and study. Some children need to sit at a desk, others do better on a yoga ball, and some kids like to lie on the floor while working.

7. Ask your child’s teacher if these grades are consistent with his classroom performance. What recommendations does she have to improve the grades? Does she see a learning issue? Tell the teacher what you see going on at home and where you see your child’s struggles.

8. Ask your child why they think they are struggling…they usually know the answer.

Bad grades can ruin a child’s confidence and put a damper on going to school. Take steps in the right direction to help your child improve their grades. If you are looking for help, Little Scholars is available to provide one-on-one tutoring to improve your child’s grades. Contact Little Scholars at www.littlescholarsllc.com/contact-us/.

The Benefits of Tutoring

July 4, 2012

A parent recently told me he would have never made it through school without his tutor. He was not a poor student by any means; he actually graduated near the top of his class from a very prestigious school in Richmond, Virginia and went on to a top-notch college. When I asked him why his tutor was essential to his education, he said “she knew how I learned and was able to teach me to see things in a different way, different from how the teachers at school were teaching me.”

Every child learns in a different way. Some take a little more time to pick up the information being taught at school while others need a challenge. Whatever the reason, tutors are vital to the educational process because they go beyond the attention given to a student in a regular classroom setting. A good tutor provides a sense of competency to their students, encourages higher level thinking, re-teaches material as needed in a non-threatening environment, teaches to one’s learning style, is knowledgeable about the content material, provides empathy to the student, is an excellent resource to the parents, and coordinates with the child’s classroom teacher.

When looking for a person to work with your child you should look for the following characteristics:

• Enjoys working with children and can establish good rapport with the child.

• A person who is patient, kind, understanding and fair.

• Can teach alternative methods to solving a problem and making necessary accommodations.

• Has the ability to see what needs to be done to help the child and can initiate a plan of action.

• Enthusiasm!

• A good communicator who easily talks to the parent and classroom teacher.

• Reliability as a worker: Punctual, dependable, steady.

Our approach at Little Scholars has been especially successful because we are professionals who follow developmentally appropriate practices and are committed to knowing the children we teach by creating experiences that will peak their interest and reach how they learn most effectively.

Our teachers are different! They are the best of the best! Our teachers give your child a fresh and energetic mind because they have not been in a classroom setting all day or in a cubical with a variety of other children. Little Scholars teachers provide you with an unbiased approach and optimistic attitude. We do not put a band-aid on the problem by giving your child a program that is generic. Little Scholars believes each child is different. What works for one child may not work for another. We pull multiple approaches and curriculums together to best meet the needs of your child. We are constantly analyzing our approach to best meet your child’s needs.

Because children do not always work well with their parents, we also offer our help to children to get through homework assignments and turn that from a tedious daily chore into a fun learning experience.

For questions about how Little Scholars can design a program especially for your child, please contact us at 804-241-6006 or sjefferson@littlescholarsllc.com


Summer Learning Loss

April 30, 2012

Summer Is Here!  Are you ready?

Believe it or not, summer is around the corner!  This is the time of year we all look forward to some unstructured, downtime with thoughts of school a million miles away.  As you think about the plans to take a break, studies show that this is not a good idea. Here are the facts:

  • Students can lose up to 15% of their academic ability over the summer if they don’t read, write, or practice math.
  • Some children lose as much as three months of academic progress over the summer.
  • Learning loss is inevitable when kids take the summer off from educational activities.
  • Over 50% of children seek to build their education skill set and prepare for the next grade by participating in educationally based summer programs.
  • Teachers spend the first four to six weeks of a new school year re-teaching and reviewing last year’s material due to summer learning loss.

What can you to make sure your child does not regress over the summer?

  1. Ask your child’s teacher for suggestions on books and activities for summer learning specific to your child. If your child is struggling in a particular subject, summer is a great time to go back and remediate.  This can bridge the learning gaps and build their confidence.
  2. Make summer learning a part of your schedule.   A good rule of thumb is twenty to thirty minutes three days per week should be spent on summer learning.
  3. Continue to read EVERY day!
  4. Even the best parents can become overwhelmed and exhausted with a long, unstructured break.  Consider hiring a tutor who can create an individually tailored plan to keep your child’s summer packed with educationally stimulating activities. Many students work better when the teacher isn’t mom or dad.
  5. Paper/pencil tasks are not best for all children.  Consider apps and educational games to keep your child engaged.
  6. Make summer learning fun…cook with your children, plant a garden, have a family book club, make a summer scrapbook!

Give your child an opportunity to focus on the skills they need to be successful and confident for the upcoming school year.  For more information on how Little Scholars can help your child reach his full potential this summer, contact us at sjefferson@littlescholarsllc.com.


March 25, 2012

You know how I always say there seems to be waves of issues plaguing our children.  From Preschoolers to 5th graders, this spring the overwhelming issue has been handwriting.   Handwriting has taken a back seat in education for some time now, but it is making a comeback and personally, I am glad.  Handwriting has a significant place in the educational setting.   Handwriting fluency is a fundamental building block of learning.  Handwriting issues are linked to spelling, writing, math, study skills, and test taking errors.  From kindergarten all the way to fourth grade, children think and write at the same time. As children mature the two become separate. If children struggle when remembering how to make their letters, then their ability to express themselves will suffer. The motions have to be automatic.  How can you help your child at home to improve their handwriting to improve automaticity and fluency?  Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Pencil GRIP is very important!  A classic grip is holding the pencil between your thumb and index fingers.  A tripod grip is using your thumb, index and middle finger to grip the instrument.  Grip is extremely difficult to change if you do not address it early!
  2. Find a good space with an appropriate size chair or yoga ball to help with posture and control.
  3. Place your child’s paper on a SLANTED surface such as a three ring binder for the most effective writing surface.
  4. Use the right tools. Is your child’s regular pencil not doing the trick? Try a smaller or shorter, kid-sized one or even a fat chubby one.  A good eraser is key so he’s not afraid of making mistakes.
  5. Make practicing fun. Get cool pencils and pens and play with them.  Make rainbow words (tracing over a letter or words in multiple colors), play word puzzles, anagrams, hangman or doodle outside with sidewalk chalk!
  6. Encourage drawing…get some tracing paper for your child if they are not confident in their drawing capabilities.
  7. Keep an alphabet chart handy so your child can double check herself.
  8. If your child is having trouble staying in the lines use wiki sticks on the top and bottom lines so they will stay within the lines.
  9. Highlight the margins if they indicate where to start a sentence or so they don’t cram too many words on a page.
  10. A popsicle stick is a great tool for teaching spacing between words.

These are a few handy tricks of the trade, but if you are still concerned about your child’s handwriting, Little Scholars has teachers who can assist your child in building their handwriting confidence and improving their school performance.  We are also offering several classes this summer to address handwriting issues.  For more information, please contact us at 804-241-6006 or sjefferson@littlescholarsllc.com.

Ready, Set, Go to Kindergarten

March 6, 2012

Many parents ask this question  every spring, “Is my child ready for Kindergarten?”  I think the real question should be, “Is my child ready for school?” Kindergarten is the first BIG step for many children into formal education.  Kindergarten is chalked full of many social expectations, but add to that reading, math, handwriting and content area subjects, and the demands on your child begin to mount.  Making sure your child has a solid foundation to build upon is essential in deciding if this is the year to start Kindergarten.   As you think about your child’s school readiness, it is important to consider some of these following questions:

.  We need to ensure your child has a solid foundation to build all these new skills.  It is important as you think about your child’s school readiness to consider some of these following questions:

  • First and foremost, your child MUST be five years old by September 30th to be eligible for Kindergarten.
  • Can they take care of their personal needs?
  •  How does your child handle their emotions, specifically anger?  Do they choose words or do they act out physically?
  • Can your child follow two-step directions without constant reminders?
  • Does your child ask questions about the world around them?
  • Does your child play well with others?  Does he share?  Does she take turns?
  • Can your child hold scissors properly and cut on a designated line?
  • Does your child hold a pencil correctly?
  • Can your child draw a person?
  • Does your child write his first name independently?
  • Does your child run, jump and hop?
  • Can your child throw a ball?
  • Can your child attend to an activity for 15-20 minutes?
  • Can your child complete a simple pattern?
  • Can your child tell a story?  Does it have a clear beginning, middle and end?
  • Can your child count to ten?
  • Can your child write their name in order starting on the left side of the paper?
  • Does your child speak in complete sentences?
  • Can your child retell the general story line of a book?
  • Can your child correctly label at least five colors?
  • Can your child label at least four shapes?
  • Can your child recognize in isolation AT LEAST the letters in his/her name?
  • Can your child ask question and answer questions appropriately?
  • Can your child complete a simple rhyme: bat, rat, cat….?
  • Does your child speak in complete sentences?
  • Does your child recite a simple nursery rhyme or song?

Ask yourself these questions and be honest with yourself.  Answering “no” to a few of these questions may raise some red flags for your child’s school readiness.  If you are concerned about your child’s readiness, Little Scholars offers Kindergarten Readiness Testing to give you the confidence you need to help you make an informed decision about your child’s school readiness.

Click here for a complete Kindergarten Readiness Checklist.

To find out more about our Kindergarten Readiness Assessments, please contact us.