Q & A With Teacher Terry

IMG_3187I get many questions from parents in regards to curriculum, school placement and so much more. Since so many people have the same questions i’ve decided to publish some in a series. Q&A with Teacher Terry!

Thank you S.S. for writing in with this question:

Q: Why is my child working on fractions in math book at school and on decimals in his math book that you use for your programs curriculum?

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Answer: In school there is not enough time to do every chapter in a math book. The average math book between grades K-2 has 22 chapters and between grades 3- high school the average textbook has 19 chapters. The amount of time each day does not allow students to do each chapter in their book. Pages are often skipped sometimes entire chapters are skipped. The chapters chosen are based on teaching standards for each grade as well as teaching the chapters that will be covered on the standardized testing.

Additionally, the textbooks are often not done in sequential order. I’ve had many parents express their confusion and frustration as to how their children could be on chapter 3 in their textbook one week and chapter 9 the next.

Our programs are based on the individual student. While it is true that a student will often skip a chapter in our math textbook, this is because they have demonstrated a mastery of this particular chapter. The have demonstrated an understanding of the vocabulary, concepts and procedures of the chapter.

Additionally, math is like a ladder, skip a rung and you can often slide back down. You need to have one foot firmly planted on a rung before you start climbing. Math builds upon itself; you need to have one concept understood before building or adding to that concept. This is why we do our math textbooks in sequential order. Pick up a math textbook sometime and you will see that the book has been arranged this way, concepts were not just arbitrarily assigned, but actually carefully plotted out and organized as parts to a whole.

Yours In Education, Terry LaRocca

As Your School Search Begins…

As the end of 2017 draws closer, many of you are beginning the school search. It can be overwhelming at times to even decide what schools to apply to, never mind the paperwork that goes along with each application.

Parents are often unsure of schools they should apply for or are so decided on one school, that they don’t consider the need for a back up plan.

While I don’t suggest applying to a school that you wouldn’t be satisfied having your child attend, I do recommended not only applying to your child’s dream school. Especially because many times as your child attends their school interviews and play dates, you find that your dream school doesn’t match theirs.

Additionally, as many parents start to spend time at various school campuses, they find the school which was their front runner is now moving to their second choice, or even off their list.

I recommend parents apply to three schools. Statistically from what I’ve seen in the last 8 years in doing this, it’s a fairly safe bet that you will be accepted to 1 or 2 out of the 3 schools you’ve applied to. This allows you to then examine each school more closely and really evaluate your child’s needs with what the school offers.

Feel free to email us with any of your school placement needs. With our students attending various private schools throughout the area, we are happy to share our experiences with you and answer any questions.

-Terry’s Tutoring Team

Upcoming Teacher Conferences

Parent conferences are coming up for many students and parents often think about how to get the most out of those precious minutes when they are one on one with their child’s teacher.  Below we’ve compiled some tips to help you.

First, when greeting the teacher, it’s nice if you also thank or acknowledge them for their work with your child. Teachers, and people in general don’t get validate often enough for the positive things they do. Something simple, such as, thank you for spending this time with me or I really appreciate all the work you do with John. This also allows the teacher to observe and understand what approach or feelings you are coming into the conference with.

Secondly, always take notes. I cannot tell you the number of times that parents felt confident in recalling data, only to not have specific enough data to relay to me regarding their child’s progress.  Taking notes also shows the teacher that you are dedicated to reflecting on and following through on the points discussed in the conference.

Typically, in a conference, the teacher will be the one to do a majority of the talking. Let that happen. Often parents will initiate the conversation with bringing up a concern before the teacher has the opportunity to share their view on it, or offer information on how it’s being addressed and what you can do at home to further support your child.

Additionally, it is always wise to ask a teacher what you can do to further support your child in any areas at home where improvement is needed. Also, ask when you can check in with the teacher again, either by conference or email to see how your child’s progressing and if the extra support at home is effective enough. Sometimes more strategies or support end up being necessary.

Feel free to email us if you need any other support. We are happy to discuss with you things you want to bring up to the teacher and how to do so, or even attend the conference with you.

Best,
Terry

Choosing a School For 2018

Choosing a School for 2018

As the end of 2017 draws closer, many of you are beginning the school search. It can be overwhelming at times to even decide what schools to apply to, never mind the paperwork that goes along with each application.

Parents are often unsure of schools they should apply for or are so decided on one school, that they don’t consider the need for a back up plan.

While I don’t suggest applying to a school that you wouldn’t be satisfied having your child attend, I do recommended not only applying to your child’s dream school. Especially because many times as your child attends their school interviews and play dates, you find that your dream school doesn’t match theirs.

Additionally, as many parents start to spend time at various school campuses, they find the school which was their front runner is now moving to their second choice, or even off their list.

I recommend parents apply to three schools. Statistically from what I’ve seen in the last 8 years in doing this, it’s a fairly safe bet that you will be accepted to 1 or 2 out of the 3 schools you’ve applied to. This allows you to then examine each school more closely and really evaluate your child’s needs with that the school offers.

Feel free to email us with any of your school placement needs.  With our students attending various private schools throughout the area, we are happy to share our experiences with you.

–Terry

 

When Looking For A School

I recently went to meet with my admissions counselor. (Yes, even Teacher Terry is not immune to the process of school applications.)  After taking nearly 2 years off from school while taking care of Benson, it was time to get back into the swing of things.
Benson was fortunate enough to come with me. I’m convinced that dragging my kids to my college campus any chance I can will somehow instill in them the passion and desire I have to learn. Plus, I’m competing with their Papa who takes them to concerts, so I have to take some kind of action! When we met with my counselor, Benson was doing his usual thing, talking, counting his cars, pointing out things in the room.
After we finished talking and my counselor was walking me out she told me that I had a really special boy. She went to say, “He’s very bright…he’s honestly probably gifted.” I smiled at her and we continued to chat as our conversation turned to the recent shooting in Las Vegas. As we were talking, I started to reflect more on her comment about Benson and I felt compelled to share with her, “You know what I realized talking to you right now? I don’t care if Benson is gifted or not. I just want to have a kid who’s nice, a kid who has compassion and cares about other people. That really, in the end, is so much more valuable than anything else I could wish for him.” She hugged me and we both shed a few tears. I didn’t realize some of the emotions I was hanging onto in light of the recent events in the world. It was relieving to share them with someone who understood.
My number one suggestion to you, as parents, when looking for a school is the same. Don’t look for what school is the most popular among your friends, or the most highly academic or most progressive. Look for a school that is going to nurture your child. Look for a school that is going to help your child be the best that they can be as a whole person. A school that shares the same the values that you have as a family and that feels like an extension of your family. I really believe that if you put that as your priority when searching for schools, everything else will come into place.
We are always here to answer questions and support you in anyway we can with your school journeys.
Sending love and peace

School Placement Services

Did you know our Educational Director, Terry LaRocca, provides school placement services?

We’ve successfully helped students place into: (partial list)

Chandler School
Poly School
Wildwood School
Westridge
Waverly
Mayfield
Notre Dame
Sequoyah
Benjamin Franklin Magnet
New Jewish Community
Harvard-Westlake
St. Bede
Berkeley Hall
Campbell Hall
Buckley School
Mirman School
Our services include:

*Meeting with Terry to discuss and review school options and receive recommendations

*Research into choosing top 3 schools that best for your child

*Preparing students for their placement tests (ISEE/ILS) and interviews

*Assistance and completion of applications

*Completing applications for schools of your choice

*Assessing learning styles and recommending schools that match these

*Preparing for school interview/play date

Call us at 818-957-1514
or
email terrystutoringteam@yahoo.com
for more information.

Another School Year!

   Welcome back to another school year!  I thought it would be helpful to cover some tips for transitioning from the summer and into the school year. Many students spend their summers at camps, visiting relatives and taking vacations, making “getting back into the grove of things” a little more difficult.  Below is a list of some tops that I’ve complied to help make this transition easier.

1.   Keep the lines of communication open because you want to be the first to know of a situation that is bothering your child. It is important to remind your child that you are there for them. Additionally, take the time to personally introduce yourself to your child’s teacher. Instead of starting off asking the teacher for something, let the teacher know that you are available to speak with at anytime and welcome his or her input. Teachers are often overwhelmed at the beginning of the school year, trying hard to establish their own line of communication with each student.  Let your child’s teacher know if there is a particular way that is best to communicate with your child. For example, “my child is able to listen better when seated at the front of the classroom”, or “my child often needs directions repeated more than once.”  The teacher will appreciate your insight and this will go a lot further in developing your relationship with your child’s teacher than approaching the teacher with something like, “Why do you send so much homework last Thursday?”

2.   Reinforce your child’s ability to cope. Give him/her a few strategies to manage the situation on their own, but also encourage them to tell you if the problem persists or worsens. You can do this is several ways. Ask your child what they believe the best way to deal with the situation is. Tell the child how you would personally deal with the situation. Ask your child what would happen with regards to the situation if they could wave a ‘magic wand’ and have things fixed, and then come up with different ways to achieve the ‘magic wand’ results.

  3.   Resist the urge to fix the problem. Yes, there are times when you must step in to fix a problem, but there are also times when your child must solve the problem on her own. This will help her cope with similar issues in middle school and high school. Don’t insist that your child handle the situation your way, let them use some of your advice as well as their own. 

 

Here’s to a successful and fun filled year of learning and academics! Please feel free to email us with your academic questions for a future email!
                                                                                        Yours in Education,
                                                                                       Terry LaRocca

A View I Have On Children

Recently in a parent-teacher conference, some points came up which reminded me of a very important view I have, which I hope we all have, on how to treat people. It’s really what I founded the company on and what I aspire to live by. It can be easy to lose sight of. I enjoyed revisiting this belief recently and feeling revitalized in applying it…….
I wanted to share a view with you all that I have on children. I have this view, really, on all people, but in particular I feel very strongly about how it applies to children.
The moment that you stop looking at a person as an individual, you will cease to be able to help them. You will no longer benefit them. Once you decide to clump them into a category with others, you are giving up to some degree, on seeing it through that they get the help they need.
It’s very easy to put a person into a category. “They don’t get math, they just don’t understand”. Ah…your problem is solved as the teacher now. You think you know what to do or not do with them because books and ancient theories tell you what to do with “these” types of people.
I have found this belief and system to be incorrect. Clumping a person into a category doesn’t help. If it did, then the person would recover once assigned to the category 😉
Our students are already being taught according to a category in school and if that were working, they wouldn’t need us as they do.
Instead, find out what works for that person. And please know, there isn’t any one thing. John has auditory processing issues so he does well with visuals, but Karen with the same issue does not. Try out suggestions, but don’t be married to them. Work with the individual who you have in front of you. Use what works, try things, even things that are not supposed to work with “those” types of students.
This is not to say that you won’t find students or people, who fit down to every detail, a certain personality of learning style. Many of the things prescribed for that personality of learning style may work beautifully. Don’t stop there though. Don’t start thinking the person is that thing. Please always recognize them as who they are, an individual.
Thank you for your continued dedication in all you do to help children! Have a great night.
Terry LaRocca
Terry’s Tutoring Team
Educational Director

Math Ladder

Thank you S.S. for writing in with this question: Why is my child working on fractions in math book at school and on decimals in his math book that you use for your programs curriculum?

Answer: In school there is not enough time to do every chapter in a math book. The average math book between grades K-2 has 22 chapters and between grades 3- high school the average textbook has 19 chapters. The amount of time each day does not allow students to do each chapter in their book. Pages are often skipped sometimes entire chapters are skipped. The chapters chosen are based on teaching standards for each grade as well as teaching the chapters that will be covered on the standardized testing.

Additionally, the textbooks are often not done in sequential order. I’ve had many parents express their confusion and frustration as to how their children could be on chapter 3 in their textbook one week and chapter 9 the next.

Our programs are based on the individual student. While it is true that a student will often skip a chapter in our math textbook, this is because they have demonstrated a mastery of this particular chapter. The have demonstrated an understanding of the vocabulary, concepts and procedures of the chapter.

Additionally, math is like a ladder, skip a rung and you can often slide back down. You need to have one foot firmly planted on a rung before you start climbing. Math builds upon itself; you need to have on concept understood before building or adding to that concept. This is why we do our math textbooks in sequential order. Pick up a math textbook sometime and you will see that the book has been arranged this way, concepts were not just arbitrarily assigned, but actually carefully plotted out and organized as parts to a whole.

Respecting And Loving Children

“I am taking your place and that responsibility is very great” I said every year, for 10 years at back to school night while teaching kindergarten. Some parents didn’t like the way that sounded. “I wouldn’t say you are taking my place” one woman shot back, “it’s more like helping me when I’m not here…” And she was right. I never meant I was actually taking the place of any parent with their child, I just really wanted parents to know that I wholly understood the responsibility and trust they placed in me when they dropped their child off to me each day.

Once I had my own child, I learned how truly difficult it was to hand out that trust. Yes, I’m that nutty parent who will drop my kid off at a parents night out and call an hour later to “check in”. I’m also the parent who takes off work to go on every class field trip, and not just because I want to have a day of fun, there’s the matter of trust in there too.

I also really found the more responsible I felt for the children in my class, the more I loved them, nurture them and treated them like my own. I remember one day when my daughter was little and I was still nursing her throughout the night. I also was taking a brush up course in one of my child development classes. Needless to say I wasn’t getting a lot of sleep and feeling less patient than usual. My kids seem to pick up on this and were driving the limits of the number of times I could politely ask them to stay in their seats and find a way to keep their pencils from rolling off the table while we worked on tracing and writing exercises. When the next pencil fell and I heard a tiny voice call out, “cool!” I was ready to put on my most stern voice, the one I used for serious offenses, like playground fights. I paused a moment. This is my child I thought to myself. My child is naturally curious about the rolling and spinning of pencils. I’m tired. Would I want my child yelled at for curiosity at what’s considered an inconvenient time? Nah. “Okay guys, if we can finish our worksheets before recess without any more playing around we can then build things to roll our pencils off! We can test out rolling our pencils from different things, even my desk!” Cheers filled the room.

Okay, I’m not taking the place of a parent but I’m going to be the most responsible substitute I can be. I am going to remind myself constantly that I am helping someone else raise their child and the responsibility is very great, and like all great things, brings years of joy, tears, frustration and memories.