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Feb 15, 2012 | Cary
Today's Blog - So you’re taking Geometry…
02/15/2012
By Caitlin Corkery, Director

I’ve seen it semester after semester, year after year. Naïve, bright-eyed underclassman, freshly out of Algebra I, strolling into Geometry fully expecting to get an A. “I’ve always gotten good grades in math, algebra wasn’t bad at all.”

I don’t want to scare any blossoming scholars out there, I just want you to be informed and prepared.

You have to attack this class differently than any other math course you've taken. A lot of people don't have to study for algebra or the earlier maths because they are performance-based and don't require a lot of memorization. Geometry is different. It's NOT enough to understand the concepts and know how to use the formulas. You have to be able to recite the exact wording of the theorems and definitions from your book/notes. Most rising geometry students have never done proofs before and just getting the idea of how the proof works is not going to score you any points on a test. Your teacher will literally be looking for exact wording.

Every single student should be making flash cards on theorems, definitions, postulates and common proofs. You have to be willing to put in the time outside of class; a minimum of an hour a night, even if there is no assigned homework. Some of you probably feel like you're studying a lot, but staring at your book/notes for an hour or two isn't very effective. You need to be doing ACTIVE studying -- writing flash cards, actually working through proofs (meaning fully writing them out without referring to your notes), finding practice questions in your text book to test yourself. Another good option some students do is study groups -- get together and quiz each other. Teaching someone else is often the best way to learn.

You can do it! With the right attitude and approach, you CAN get that A in geometry. The key is beginning with the right study habits from day one and asking for help when you need it!

If you need help with Geometry, contact the math learning center nearest you. We have locations in Apex, Cary, North Raleigh and Brier Creek.
Motivating Your Kids to Study
02/20/12
Tired of arguing, nagging and struggling with your kids to get them to do homework? Are you discovering that bribing, threatening, and punishing don't yield positive results? If so, this article is for you. Here you will find the 3 laws of homework and 8 homework tips that if implemented in your home with consistency and an open heart, will reduce study time hassles significantly.

The First Law of Homework: Most children do not like to do homework. 

Kids do not enjoy sitting and studying. At least, not after having spent a long school day comprised mostly of sitting and studying. So give up your desire to have them like it. Focus on getting them to do it. 

The Second Law of Homework: You cannot make anyone do it. 

You can not make your child learn. You cannot make him hold a certain attitude. You cannot make him move his pencil. 

While you can not insist, you can assist. Concentrate on assisting by sending positive invitations. Invite and encourage you child using the ideas that follow. 

The Third Law of Homework: It's their Problem. 

Their pencils have to move. Their brains need to engage. Their bottoms need to be in the chair. It is their report cards that they bring home. 

Too many parents see homework as the parent's problem. So they create ultimatums, scream and shout, threaten, bribe, scold, and withhold privileges. Have you noticed that most of these tactics do not work? 

Our responsibility as parents is to provide our children with an opportunity to do homework. Our job is to provide structure, to create the system. The child's job is to use the system. 

Tip # One 

Eliminate the word homework from your vocabulary. Replace it with the word study. Have a study time instead of a homework time. Have a study table instead of a homework table. This word change alone will go a long way towards eliminating the problem of your child saying, "I don't have any homework." Study time is about studying, even if you don't have any homework. It's amazing how much more homework kids have when they have to study regardless of whether they have homework or not. 
Tip # Two 

Establish a study routine. This needs to be the same time every day. Let your children have some input on when study time occurs. Once the time is set, stick to that schedule. Kids thrive on structure even as they protest. It may take several weeks for the routine to become a habit. Persist. By having a regular study time you are demonstrating that you value education. 

Tip # Three. 

Keep the routine predictable and simple. One possibility includes a five minute warning that study time is approaching, bringing their current activity to an end, clearing the study table, emptying their back pack of books and supplies, then beginning. 

Tip # Four 

Allow children to make choices about homework and related issues. They could choose to do study time before or after dinner. They could do it immediately after they get home or wake up early in the morning to do it. Invite them to choose the kitchen table or a spot in their own room. One choice children do not have is whether or not to study. 

Tip # Five 

Help without over-functioning. Only help if your child asks for it. Do not do problems or assignments for children. 

When your child says, "I can't do it, " suggest they act as if they can. Tell them to pretend like they know and see what happens. Then leave the immediate area and let them see if they can handle it from there. If they keep telling you they don't know how and you decide to offer help, concentrate on asking than on telling. 

Ask: "What do you get?" "What parts do you understand?" "Can you give me an example?" "What do you think the answer is?" "How could you find out?" 

Tip # Six 

If you want a behavior you have to teach a behavior. Disorganization is a problem for many school age children. If you want them to be organized you have to invest the time to help them learn an organizational system. Your job is to teach them the system. Their job is to use it. Yes, check occasionally to see if the system is being used. Check more often at first. Provide direction and correction where necessary. 

If your child needs help with time management, teach them time management skills. Help them learn what it means to prioritize by the importance and due date of each task. Teach them to create an agenda each time they sit down to study. Help them experience the value of getting the important things done first. 

Tip # Seven 

Replace monetary and external rewards with encouraging verbal responses. End the practice of paying for grades and going on a special trip for ice cream. This style of bribery has only short term gains and does little to encourage children to develop a lifetime love of learning. 

Instead make positive verbal comments that concentrate on describing the behavior you wish to encourage. 

"You followed the directions exactly and finished in 15 minutes." 

"I notice you stayed up late last night working on your term paper. It probably wasn't easy saving that much to the end, but your efforts got it done." 

"All your letters are right between the lines. I'll bet your teacher won't have any trouble reading this." 

"I see you got the study table all organized and ready to go early. Looks like initiative and responsibility hooked together to me." 

Tip # Eight 

Use study time to get some of your own responsibilities handled. Do the dishes, fold laundry, or write thank you notes. Keep the TV off! If you engage in fun or noisy activities during that time children will naturally be distracted. Study time is a family commitment. If you won't commit to it, don't expect that you children will. 

If your child is struggling with math in particular, contact us today. 
Building Math Skills at Home
 
Use these tips to build your child's math skills. 
Positive attitude about math 
Do you like math, or does it make you anxious? Your feelings about math can greatly influence your child's perception of math. Help your child enjoy math by talking about it in a positive manner. Think out loud when you are using math skills so your child will hear your thinking process. Let her know that there are multiple ways to solve problems. 
Problem solving with real-world math 
Math has evolved from the computation we most likely experienced in math class to an emphasis on problem solving. Computation is still important, but it is used to solve real-life problems. The emphasis is generally on math processes that enable your child to learn multiple strategies to become a proficient problem solver. Model the importance of math in the real world and encourage your child to help when you: 
- Balance your checkbook 
- Pay bills 
- Estimate the cost of the groceries in your cart 
- Determine how much food to buy or make for a party 
- Double a recipe or cut a recipe in half 
- Figure the cost of lunch at a restaurant 
- Calculate the cost of school lunch for the week or month 
- Determine how long your child will need to save his allowance in order to buy a particular item 
- Determine the number of miles driven in X hours 
- Determine how long it will take to drive home going X mph 
- Figure the cost of X number of minutes of cell phone use if you pay X cents/minutes 
- Determine how many gallons of gas you can buy with X dollars 
- Determine how many chocolate chips are needed if X number of cookies each has three chocolate chips 
Games that build number sense 
Play games with your child to reinforce number sense. Try "Racko" by Hasbro. This game involves putting numbered cards in order from greatest to least. "Yahtzee" is perfect for working on multiplication facts and reinforcing addition skills. There are many fun card and dice games that utilize math skills. 
Practice multiplication facts 
Your child is expected to know multiplication facts. Have your child bounce a basketball as he says the multiples of different numbers. For example, he can practice the multiples of nine for each bounce (9, 18, 27, 36). Then he can say them backward (81, 72, 63, 54). Research shows that kinesthetic movement helps the brain learn facts. 
If you have tried helping your child in math and he or she is still struggling, contact our math learning center. We have locations in Raleigh, Apex and Cary. 
Coping With Bullying
 
Bullying can affect not only your child's psyche but his academic performance. If your child is struggling with math because he is being distracted by bullies, we can help. Contact our math learning center today. At home, you can teach your kid to cope with teasing and bullying with these helpful tips. Empathize with your child and let him know that you take the teasing seriously. Help your kid come up with ways of dealing with the teasing, such as removing himself from the situation, when possible. Help your kid understand that reacting to the teasing is exactly what the teasers are hoping for. If your child can refrain from becoming upset, the teasers have less of a payoff. If appropriate, encourage your kid to make a joke of the teasing to the teasers themselves. It may help him feel more in control of the situation and make him look and feel funnier and smarter than the teasers. If your child is the one doing the teasing, remind him that words can hurt people's feelings and get him to put himself in the shoes of the person he's teasing. Remember, there's a fine line between teasing and bullying. Remind your child of this, as well, so he can avoid becoming or becoming the victim of bullying.
Children and Learning Disabilities
 
What Are Learning Disabilities?
For someone diagnosed with a learning disability, it can be a little scary. But a learning disability doesn't have anything to do with a person's intelligence — after all, plenty of successful people such as Walt Disney, Alexander Graham Bell and Winston Churchill all had learning disabilities. 
Learning disabilities are problems that affect the brain's ability to receive, process, analyze or store information. These problems can make it difficult for a student to learn as quickly as someone who doesn't have learning disabilities. 
There are many kinds of learning disabilities. 
Most students affected by them have more than one kind. Certain kinds of learning disabilities can interfere with a person's ability to concentrate or focus and can cause someone's mind to wander too much. Other learning disabilities can make it difficult for a student to read, write, spell or solve math problems. 
The way our brains process information is extremely complex — it's no wonder things can get messed up sometimes. Take the simple act of looking at a picture, for example: Our brains not only have to form the lines into an image, they also have to recognize what the image stands for, relate that image to other facts stored in our memories, and then store this new information. 
It's the same thing with speech — we have to recognize the words, interpret their meaning, and figure out the significance of the statement to us. Many of these activities take place in separate parts of the brain, and it's up to our minds to link them all together. 
If, like Noah, you've been diagnosed with a learning disability, you're not alone. Nearly 4 million school-age kids and teens have learning disabilities, and at least 20% of them have a type of disorder that makes it difficult to focus. 
What Are the Signs of Learning Disabilities? 
You can't tell by looking that a person has a learning disability, which can make learning disabilities hard to diagnose. 
Learning disabilities usually first show up when a person has difficulty speaking, reading, writing, figuring out a math problem, communicating with a parent, or paying attention in class. Some kids' learning disabilities are diagnosed in grade school when a parent or a teacher notices the kid can't follow directions for a game or is struggling to do work he or she should be able to do easily. 
But other kids develop sophisticated ways of covering up their learning issues, so the problem doesn't get addressed until the teen years when schoolwork — and life — gets more complicated. 
Most learning disabilities fall into one of two categories: verbal and nonverbal. 
People with verbal learning disabilities have difficulty with words, both spoken and written. The most common and best-known verbal learning disability is dyslexia, which causes people to have trouble recognizing or processing letters and the sounds associated with them. For this reason, someone with dyslexia will have trouble with reading and writing tasks or assignments. 
Some people with verbal learning disabilities may be able to read or write just fine but struggle with other aspects of language. For example, they may be able to sound out a sentence or paragraph perfectly, making them good readers, but they can't relate to the words in ways that will allow them to make sense of what they're reading (such as forming a picture of a thing or situation). 
And some people have trouble with the act of writing as their brains struggle to control the many things that go into it — from moving their hand to form letter shapes to remembering the correct grammar rules involved in writing down a sentence. 
People with nonverbal learning disabilities may have difficulty processing what they see. They may have trouble making sense of visual details like numbers on a blackboard. Someone with a nonverbal learning disability may confuse the plus sign with the sign for division, for example. Some abstract concepts like fractions may be difficult to master for people with nonverbal learning disabilities. 
The behavioral condition attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is often associated with learning disabilities because people with ADHD also might have a hard time focusing enough to learn and study. Students with ADHD are often easily distracted and have trouble concentrating. They may also be excessively active or have trouble controlling their impulses. 
What Causes Them? 
No one's exactly sure what causes learning disabilities. But researchers do have some theories as to why they develop, including: 
Genetic influences. Experts have noticed that learning disabilities tend to run in families and they think that heredity could play a role. However, researchers are still debating whether learning disabilities are, in fact, genetic, or if they show up in families because kids learn and model what their parents do.
Brain development. Some experts think that learning disabilities can be traced to brain development, both before and after birth. For this reason, problems such as low birth weight, lack of oxygen, or premature birth may have something to do with learning disabilities. Young children who receive head injuries may also be at risk of developing learning disabilities. 
Environmental impacts. Infants and young kids are susceptible to environmental toxins (poisons). For example, you may have heard how lead (which can be found in some old homes in the form of lead paint or lead water pipes) is sometimes thought to contribute to learning disabilities. Poor nutrition early in life also may lead to learning disabilities later in life. 
How Do You Know If You Have a Learning Disability? Just because you have trouble studying for a test doesn't mean you have a learning disability. There are as many learning styles as there are individuals. For example, some people learn by doing and practicing, while others learn by listening (such as in class) or prefer to read material. 
Some people are just naturally slower readers or learners than others, but they still perform well for their age and abilities. Sometimes, what seems to be a learning disability is simply a delay in development; the person will eventually catch up with — and perhaps even surpass — his or her peers. 
But many people with learning disabilities struggle for a long time before someone realizes that there's a reason they're having so much trouble learning. For most people in their teen years, the first telltale sign of most learning disabilities occurs when they notice that there's a disconnect between how much they studied for a test and how well they performed. Or it may just be the feeling a person has that something isn't right. If you're worried, don't hesitate to share your thoughts with a parent or a teacher. 
The first step in diagnosing a learning disability is ruling out vision or hearing problems. A person may then work with a psychologist or learning specialist who will use specific tests to help diagnose the disability. Often, these can help pinpoint that person's learning strengths and weaknesses in addition to revealing a particular learning disability. 
Coping With a Learning Disability 
Although a diagnosis of a learning disability can feel upsetting, it's actually the first step in resolving the condition. 
Once a person's particular problem has pinpointed, he or she can then follow strategies or take medicines to help cope with the disability. And taking steps to manage the disability can often help restore a student's self-esteem and confidence. 
Some students who have been diagnosed with a learning disability work with a special teacher or tutor for a few hours a week to learn certain study skills, note-taking strategies, or organizational techniques that can help them compensate for their learning disability. 
If you've been diagnosed with a learning disability, you may need support just for the subjects that give you the most trouble. Your school might have a special classroom with a teacher who is trained to help students overcome learning problems. 
Some schools develop what is called an Individualized Education Program (or IEP), which helps define a person's learning strengths and weaknesses and make a plan for the learning activities that will help the student do his or her best in school. A student's IEP might include sessions with a tutor or time in a specialized classroom for a certain subject, or the use of special equipment to help with learning, such as books on tape or laptop computers for students who have dyslexia. 
Medication is often prescribed to help students with ADHD. Several medicines on the market today can help improve a student's attention span and ability to focus and help control impulses and other hyperactive behavior. 
There's no cure for a learning disability. And you don't outgrow it. But it's never too late to get help. Most people with these disabilities adapt to their learning differences and find strategies that help them accomplish their goals and dreams. 
If your child has a learning disability and is struggling with math, we can help. Contact our math learning center today. 
Getting Your Child Excited About Math
 
Math is the most dreaded word in the English language for many kids. Often this is because it doesn't come as easily to the child as other topics, such as Language Arts or Social Studies. Some children are more verbal or artistic, while others are more logical or linear. If your child doesn't have a natural inclination toward mathematics, don't worry. These 8 tips will help your child become more enthused about math. And when a child is excited about a subject, he will want to learn more about it. 
Be an example. Are you one of those adults who hated math in school? If so, be careful that you don't communicate that attitude to your child. Help him improve his own attitude toward math by showing him that you are confident when completing routine tasks, such as counting money from a school fundraiser, balancing your checkbook or completing your tax return. You can also point out the importance of math in different professions, including architecture, medicine, fashion design, restaurant management and computer programming.
Help your child use math every day. Encourage your child to solve problems involving math outside of school. In the grocery store, ask him to figure out the price of four cans of tuna fish. In the car, ask him how long it will take to travel to your destination based on your speed. In the toy store, ask him to calculate the price of a toy that is on sale and how long it will take to save up his allowance to buy it.
Familiarize yourself with learning standards. It's important to know what math skills your child should learn in his current grade. You can access the learning standards for your child's grade on the website for N.C. Public Schools or ask your child's teacher to outline them for you. If you know what your child will be learning, it will be easier to complement those skills with activities at home.
Monitor your child's math homework. Do your child's math assignments only call for rote work or does the teacher include a creative "problem of the week" that tests students' understanding of mathematical concepts? Ask your child's teacher which techniques he uses to help students become more comfortable with math.
Pay attention to details.You can help your child with math homework by making sure she shows all her work when solving equations and check for correct calculations and answers. It's a good idea to limit distractions and set aside the same time every day for homework.
Play math games at home.There are many games your child can play that involve math. Beginning in the elementary years, students can learn to enjoy math by playing games such as chess, dominoes, cribbage, checkers, Yahtzee and backgammon. Read books that encourage math. More and more schools are starting to integrate diverse subject areas in the curriculum so that students can make clearer connections. But how do you include math in a history or English class? One way is to read books in which the main characters solve a problem using math or logic. Examples include One Hundred Angry Ants by Ellinor J. Pinczes, The King's Commissioners by Aileen Friedman and Socrates and the Three Little Pigs by Tuyosi Mori.
Contact a math learning center. At our math learning center, we specialize in teaching kids math the way that makes sense to them. Using our time-tested proprietary method and curriculum that has helped thousands of students, we are committed to helping your child catch up, keep up and get ahead in math. In fact, your child will jump one grade level. Our team of highly skilled instructors is passionate about math and helping kids. 
We naturally encourage our children to read, write and speak outside of school, but often leave learning math skills to 45 minutes a day in the classroom. Like everything else, your child's skills and confidence in working with mathematical concepts will improve with daily practice, support and encouragement.
Can Playing Music Increase Kids' Math Scores?
 
Music, it’s said to soothe the savage beast. But did you know that musical training can increase math scores, social development and success in life? 
Researchers found that students who report consistent high levels of involvement in instrumental music over the middle and high school years show significantly higher levels of mathematics proficiency by grade 12. This observation holds regardless of students' socio-economic status, and differences in those who are involved with instrumental music vs. those who are not is more significant over time.* 
It’s been identified that music in a curriculum improves a student’s ability to be educated, with improved cognitive and motor skills. 
“Fourth graders who received two years of piano lessons scored higher on a spatial test than children who did not receive lessons,” reports schoolmusicmatters.com. So don’t be afraid to start a child in musical creativity early. 
“You want to engage a child, they are sponges, the more you teach them early the more they will appreciate it,” said Frank Degler, an international concert pianist and versatile musician playing 11 instruments. “If they have difficulties in coordination you can overcome that in an early age. It’s easier to start playing and learning at an early age.” 
Degler started playing early, was declared a music prodigy at age three and was a pianist for colleges as a middle school student. Not everyone will see such musical success, but music will increase educational, social and emotional successes. 
“It takes coordination of motor sensory skills to play an instrument,” said Degler, likening music to vegetables. If you don’t try it, you won’t know that you like it. And like vegetables are to being healthy, so is music. 
“Everyday that you don’t open the door to music or dance you are holding her back, let her run with it. Students that have that ability, their life is much more colorful (with music),” said Degler. “If you don’t open it up for them they’ll never know (if they like it).” 
Even adults can be taught how to play instruments. “It’s never too late. People expand their horizons in many, many ways,” said Degler. “These are social skills, not just math skills, that went up by 47 percent, but the social environment and the community benefit.” 
Just like age is not an obstacle with learning music, neither is money. 
“There are community programs, community outreach opportunities. When I have students that need to practice more, I tell them to join a church choir or a community choir. It’s free, you get all that (training) for free, you cannot beat it, that’s where they learn,” said Degler. 
Also, take advantage of school music programs. Students can learn about music, the classics and even gain the opportunity to play instruments. 
“If you have a child, aren’t you going to give them any benefit you can? If I have a 50 percent chance of improving their math skills or IQ, I will give them that advantage,” said Degler. 
And encourage regular practice. By setting specific days/times to practice, a child is more likely to take ownership of that responsibility. “There’s a sense of accomplishment, they are patting themselves on the back,” said Degler. 
So don’t delay. Experiment with instruments and let your child have fun learning how to play music. Not only can it give them an outlet for their own creativity, but you are helping their education too. 
If your child is struggling in math, contact our math learning center today!
Tips for Math Class
 
For many kids, math class is there least favorite part of the day but it doesn't have to be. Here are a few helpful tips to help you get the most out of math class and enjoy it more. 
Review yesterday's notes before class. 
In the minutes before class starts, look over notes from yesterday. Determine if there are any sample problems or concepts you should ask about. 
Record lectures. 
If the teacher allows it, record your class. You will often find that you miss small steps in your notes or you don't quite pick up on an explanation that the teacher gives. A class recording will pick up everything. Auditory learners will really benefit from listening. 
Remember, just because your math class lasts 45 minutes, don't think you're going to end up with 45 minutes of lecture to listen to. You'll find that the actual talking time is about 15 minutes. 
Ask for extra sample problems. 
Ask your teacher to solve sample problems. That's a teacher's job! Don't let a topic go by if you don't get it. Don't be shy. 
Draw anything the teacher draws. 
If the teacher makes a drawing on the board, you should always copy it. Even if you don't think it's important at the time or you don't understand it at the time. You will! 
If you are paying attention in class and still struggling contact the our math learning center with locations in Cary, Apex, Brier Creek and North Raleigh.