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Monthly Archives: February 2018

Really Fix Higher Education

One member of our think tank told me not to be na├»ve, no matter what you do; “The system is not likely to change anytime soon.” Well, if that is the case, then we don’t need it. I can learn more online, faster and well enough without the $50,000 college debt, thank you very much, and I don’t have to go into economic enslavement to do it either. My think tank acquaintance agreed and told me:

I know, and that is the unfortunate point. The students of those professors who could not care less are the ones who pay the price in terms of wasting their time, tuition money, etc. Students might choose other profs (dedicated profs) classes, but their classes would tend to fill up fast, so that always some students will have no other option but to register for the terrible tenured professors’ course, in a given quarter or semester. So many students have expressed their disdain online and offline over the conduct and less than professional behavior of many of these “tenured” profs, and this will sadly, continue to be the case year after year… unless the system is overhauled, which again, is not likely to happen anytime soon, if ever. This is also unfair to the outstanding profs, because there are only so many spots open for tenured positions at a given institution, and that means that many of the best profs will likely be overlooked because some of the spots are already taken by the less than dedicated professors–I have known many professors in this unfortunate position. So I think that the most viable solution is to just get rid of the whole tenure system entirely–not that I think our society will go for it. But it is still the best way. Keep the good, highly productive, very dedicated ones, and fire the bad ones that exemplify none of that when they are on the job.

And mind you these comments above are coming from an academic insider, see, I told you academia is messed up. The kids are not that bright, I expect more – timid little creatures, not much ‘thinking’ going on, lots of memorizing. Sorry, I am not okay with academia. It’s not good enough, and all the reforms I’ve heard postulated won’t be enough either, runaway costs, it’s not working – just saying. So now what, how do we fix it? Well academia is about to get a new huge shot of financial support from the US government in the arm, but judging by what happened when our government entered the healthcare sector with ObamaCare, this new beginning could be the beginning of the end. Think on that.

Private Tutoring

Mano E Mano

As the name suggests, the greatest advantage of private tutoring is individual attention. Like we mentioned before, schools are overburdened with students. It is impossible for a teacher to provide individual attention to each student in class. Some school teachers may also be indifferent towards the child’s education, leaving it incomplete. Moreover, introverted kids may feel shy about asking questions in class. Private tutoring can provide your child with a comprehensive education, while you judge the tutor’s performance on a day to day basis.

You Know How You Get To Carnegie Hall, Don’t Ya?

The answer to the above question is practice. Simply going to school and doing your homework isn’t going to cut it in the real world. To truly excel at something, you need to practice it. Whether it’s playing the violin or solving equations, practice makes perfect. Daily tutoring ensures your child practices what he’s learnt in school. After all, if you repeat something a number of times, it becomes second nature.

A Chain Is Only As Strong As Its Weakest Link

You need not enroll your child for private tutoring in each and every subject. However, every student needs help somewhere, whether it’s Chemistry or Math. Private tutoring can help your child concentrate his efforts on a subject he’s struggling with; this can make all the difference in the world. After all, excellent grades require you to be perfect in all subjects, not just a few. In this way, private tutoring can be more of a ‘Plan B’ than a ‘Plan A’, when it comes to your child’s education.

Special Needs Require Special Attention

Private tutoring isn’t just a tool to improve scores; it can also help children with special needs. Children suffering from ADD or dyslexia may not receive the special attention they require in schools. This may be because teachers aren’t experienced with such children or they’re simply too busy. You can hire a tutor that specializes in children with learning disabilities, to help your child cope with his studies. Such a tutor will be on par with your child’s learning capabilities.

Child Flourish With Early Learning

Parents that are pre-occupied with their work 24×7 can always send their child to a good early education center. A good early education center can help your child partake in developmental activities and help increase the cognitive skills of a child. On the off chances you do find time out of your busy schedule you might still want to consider placing your child in an early education center, here are some reasons as to why to rely on a professional for the development of your child.

1. Institutions that specialize in offering good cognitive skills are professionals and experienced in offering an environment for a child’s positive development.

2. These institutions offer a child with a beautiful and fun learning environment that can help your child flourish.

3. A child is made available with a healthy interactive environment that can help a child better in socializing.

4. These institutions encourage children with curiosity.

5. This might be known to all but is still ignored by many, skills taught to us in early age later acts as an important factor in the learning process.

6. Learning and skills offered by these institutions will develop as we grow.

7. Children who have had the privilege of being in these institutions find it quite easy to adjust.

Learning Doesn’t Come Easy

I didn’t always feel that way though. After struggling to teach my daughter to read for 3 years with little progress I was getting pretty frustrated and so was she. Each school session ended in tears and some days started in tears with the mere mention of reading. She had always loved books and being read to and was excited to learn how to read by herself. So, why was it such a struggle? Was I just a bad teacher? Was she too easily distracted and not self motivated enough?

We finally decided to get testing done at age 7. I had noticed a lot of letter and word reversal while reading and writing as well as in math. She complained of her head and eyes hurting when reading (and a vision test found her to have 20/20 eyesight). I needed to know what was holding us back. I knew she was extremely intelligent in so many ways but we were hitting a brick wall. Since we homeschool, we decided to have her tested with a private therapist. It took 4 hours to complete and when finished we were told she had visual and auditory processing disorders.

I then went into mom research mode! And as I read and searched the internet and library, I became more and more confused and overwhelmed! There did not seem to be any truly helpful book or website and those I found seemed to tell me different things! We did decide to go to vision therapy, which of course is not covered by insurance, are any of us surprised? But we felt it was worth a try and worth the money. In therapy, she worked on re-learning phonics using A Time for Phonics. We also did assigned therapy at home. After 6 months she finished and I could definitely see a huge improvement! We did not do auditory therapy with the therapist because of cost, but I did use a program called Earobics for at home. I also found the book, The Out of Sync Child and When the Brain Can’t Hear very helpful.

My search continued to find other ways to help her learn in a way that fit her learning styles. You see, processing disorders and dyslexia do not have to be a roadblock! There are so many ways to learn. The point where I realized this was when I happened to find a book by Ben Foss, The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan. I encourage everyone to read it! Check out his website also! I kind of hate the word accommodations. It makes it sound like you need extra or special help, sort of like you are being allowed to cheat. There should be no shame in learning differently. Figure out what your child’s strengths are and harness those skills. Don’t focus on the standard way most kids are taught to read. I have been so incredibly thankful that we chose to homeschool because my daughter did not have to compare herself to others or be labeled in any way. But even if your child is in public or private school, remember your child is not broken, but the system may be. Advocate for your child to have the resources they need to excel and feel connected.

What resources can you use? Oh, there are so many! This is where I got overwhelmed! I am going to list some of the resources I felt were the best. But look around more and explore the options available!

-Audiobooks are your friend! Don’t get behind learning because you can’t read the material fast enough! If your child learns well by listening, give Audible a try. Amazon has audiobooks as well and so does your local library.
-A reading focus card. You can make your own or buy one. Also try printing your pages on yellow paper, or try other colors other than the usual white.
-Use a text-to-speech app such as Speak It or Talk to Me, and also a speech-to-text app such as Dragon Dictation. Another helpful app is Prizmo, users can scan in any kind of text document and have the program read it out loud, which can be a big help to those who struggle with reading.
-I love Snapwords for learning sitewords! There is also an app for Snapwords now!
-Fonts and background colors: Software that is regularly used in schools, such as Microsoft Word, is a good resource for fonts and background colors. Changing the background color to green, for example, can help with reading as can wearing green glasses. Fonts can also enable reading and understanding; teachers can download free specialist fonts, such as OpenDyslexic, which are free and can run on Microsoft software.
-All About Spelling, this curriculum is great for all children but the multi-sensory approach based on the Orton-Gillingham methods clicked with my daughter! We have not tried All About Reading but I would bet it is a good option.
-We used Rocket Phonics after we had finished vision therapy. It was developed by a dyslexic man, and it is fun! There are many games involved and interesting stories to read, not the usual boring books that are your typical easy reading.
-Math has been a struggle for us as well as reading. Memorizing facts is a challenge. I found a math program that uses learning by association, employing fact and process mnemonics called Semple Math.
-Get HANDS ON! Use clay, paints, blocks, magnets, etc. to practice letters, spelling, and sounds. Learn to write letters correctly first in sand with index finger, then move to writing with a pencil. Make it FUN! Use all the senses!
-Play games! Some we have used and enjoy are Sum Swamp, What’s Gnu?, Scrabble, Very Silly Sentences, Boggle Jr. even card games like addition war (lay down two cards each and add together), or Alphabet Go Fish (you have to say the letter sounds), search Pinterest and the internet for fun games to practice math facts and letter sounds or spelling and sight words. Even if your child is older, there are hands on ideas that are fun and multi-sensory

Moms (and Dads), my point in writing this is to give you some starting points. And to let you know that you are not alone! I know it can be disappointing at first to learn your child is struggling in some way. But it can also feel like a weight has been lifted to know how your child learns and that there are ways to help and empower your little one. I know if you are in a school setting, you will have to explain to your child why they may go to a special class or take tests differently than the other kids. You have to trust yourself to know how to talk to your child. There are books for kids that talk about dyslexia and learning issues in a positive light such as, Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco, The Alphabet War by Diane Robb, and for older children May B by Caroline Rose or Niagra Falls, Or Does It? By Henry Winkler (yes, Fonzie from Happy Days!)