Category Archives: Parents

Brenda discovers that she actually can learn the quadratic formula! (with a little help from the A+ Club)

Cartoon1_Panel2_bBrenda’s mom is upset about her grades and that she’s not doing her homework. Brenda thinks her mom is being too pushy. Like high school teens & parents everywhere, they’re both a little right — and also a little wrong.

Brenda’s mom is right to be concerned. And Brenda is naturally feeling stressed over doing something she is genuinely having trouble accomplishing. And that’s where the emotions get in the way.

This scenario plays out every day with high school teens and their parents.  Sometimes students just don’t know how to do their school work. Worse, sometimes they don’t know how to go about studying. That’s where we can help.

Quadratic Formulas & Other Troubles

Brenda is stuck on the Quadratic formula. She gets it when her teacher shows it in class, but when she has to do it on her own, she gets stuck. And then everything else becomes a problem, too. Continue reading

A Successful Assessment pt 3: how to take a test (or, reading instructions & not running out of time)

Test Prep help from the A+ ClubWhen a parent of a middle or high school teen worries that “my student doesn’t test” well, what’s missing is a combination of goal setting, preparation and execution.

As discussed in the previous posts on “Successful Assessments,” testing success consists of:

  • Identifying teacher/ test expectations (“no surprises”)
  • Preparing effectively (learning v. cramming)
  • Executing on test day (test taking strategies)

Test prep above all else

“Easy” tests are those students have or are effectively prepared for: if the student knows what to expect and prepares for it, the results will be strong.

That said, there are still a few things a student can do to better results on the test day.

A couple do-nots on test day include: Continue reading

A Successful Assessment pt 2: how to prepare for a test (or learning all along not just cramming)

Successful Test Prep from the A+ ClubParents concerned about their teen’s middle and high school exam and test prep might consider that studying isn’t just a matter of reviewing notes and study guides. Successful testing requires ongoing learning.

Here are some strategies for parents to empower their student’s exam prep and overall academic success.

In our series on  Successful Assessment: how to prepare for a test (or why doesn’t my child test well?), we are reviewing the essential parts of successful testing:

  1. No Surprises (identified teacher expectations)
  2. Student Prepared (successful learning)
  3. Student had time to finish (successful test execution)

This post regards student preparation. It’s one thing to know what will be on a test (see Part 1: Identifying Expectations) and also to understand it . But can you perform it yourself? Continue reading

A Successful Assessment pt 1: how to know what will be on the test (or identifying teacher expectations)

Successful Testing from the A+ ClubFor successful testing, students need to know what will be on the test. Sounds obvious, but parents don’t want to hear from their teens that there were “surprises” on a test or that they studied for the wrong thing.

This edition of the Successful Assessment will review how to help your teenage student identify what will be on a test.

As outlined in the introductory post, How to approach a test (or why doesn’t my child test well?), at the A+ Club, we help middle, high school and college students succeed on formal assessments, what we usually call “quizzes” and “tests.”  Our quick measure of a successful assessment means:

  1. No Surprises (identified teacher expectations)
  2. Student Prepared (successful learning)
  3. Student had time to finish (successful test execution)

No surprises!

“No Surprises” on a test means the student knew what to expect, knew what to study, and was familiar with every part or aspect of the test. Continue reading

Brenda & Her Mom Don’t See Eye-to-Eye on Her School Work

Brenda & Her MomMeet Brenda & her mom.

They both know that parenting a teen through middle and high school isn’t always easy. And being a teen isn’t always easy, either.

At the A+ Club, we provide academic coaching, mentoring & tutoring in order to help parents of middle & high school and college students track their work, get tutoring and homework help when needed, and engage in the positive processes of goal setting, problem solving, and academic self-advocacy. Continue reading

What do grades measure, anyway? How to make sense of grades and student learning

Student-Performance_Process-flow-chart_noheaderParents! If schools were meant for learning, why do we have grades?

In other words, if learning were the goal, wouldn’t every student have to get an A+ before moving on to the next level?

If, when a student gets a D, and it indicates the student met 64% of expectations, is there learning going on at that school? Wouldn’t a 100% grade represent true learning?

As long as there are grades less than an A, the point of schools, then, is not learning.

Worse, not all grades are equal. Does an A in PE represent learning as much as an A in math? They both count the same towards your GPA and both are required. Clearly, learning is not the only thing being measured here. Continue reading

What’s your student’s emotional IQ? Maturity, Emotional Intelligence & Salesmanship

So your child is that smart, a high-riding, high IQ, straight A’s academic cowboy!

Cool that, but how’s that maturity thing going?

The peak age for absorbing new information is age 18. The peak age for assessing the emotional state of others is 40.

It makes sense, as our developmental years are for learning, testing, and expanding our bodies and mind and testing how they interact with the outer world. Our adult years are for organizing and evaluating ourselves within the larger world.  (Here for How Intelligence Shifts With Age)

So perhaps we can measure our children a bit differently from ourselves?

Continue reading

Are you obstacle-minded or a problem solver? Goal setting & fixing mistakes

When we say, “Oh, well,” to a failure, we are more likely to repeat the mistake. Instead, correct forward rather than excusing backwards. Quite literally, this is “problem solving.”

There will always be obstacles and difficulties. Success doesn’t happen by itself. It’s all about learning from problems instead of resigning to them — or worse, using them as an excuse to give up on our goals. Continue reading

Next time your kids says, “summer’s so boring…” remind them why they actually enjoy school

“I’m so bored.”

Heard that one before over the summer holiday?

Write it down when they say it, record the date and time, and remind them of it when they complain about school in three weeks.

It always amazes me to hear from kids how summer can be “so boring.” Sure, some kids have extraordinary summers, but those experience are fun and memorable for the same reasons that other kids miss school: kids like success.

It is a good reminder for adults that kids do enjoy being in school. The primary thing kids miss is each other, of course, but they also miss the challenges, the excitement of stuff going on, and all the activity which makes their lives in school a speedway.

And what they really like most is success.

Kids enjoy what they do well, so it’s our job as adults to ensure that they stay on the path of accomplishment, that they stay excited and positive about school. When they do, it all seems easy and great.

When they don’t do well, and start wishing for the next summer — all the while forgetting how boring it was last summer — that’s when we really need to double down on positive.

When grades hit the bumps, when work piles up or gets difficult, we want to be reminding them of their successes. Find something that is going right — there’s always something going right — and reinforce it, support it, and repeat it. That little success will get bigger and bigger.

Here are some ways to keep kids on track and from missing summertime:

  • Speak accomplishments not problems
  • Relate short-term obstacles to long-term goals
  • Stay positive even in the face of obstacles or poor outcomes
  • Focus on solutions to process rather than reprimands over outcomes
  • Be consistent in your support

Reinforcing the positives won’t make the difficulties disappear, but it will make them seem less overwhelming. Improvement doesn’t come from reprimand, it comes from correction, and by staying positive we create a healthier attitude of improvement instead of resignation to failure.

It works only if it’s applied constantly and continually. Just as a diet won’t work if followed once a month, neither will academic support if it comes just now and then.

I wish you and your child an enjoyable and positive school year, even if it is full of challenges and difficulties. When your child meets them, school will actually be rewarding and maybe even fun.

– Michael

Parents, you rock!

Parents, thank you for your business, but most of all thank you for allowing us to help out.

Every month as I process payments from parents for A+ Club monthly student support service, I write:

Please find the attached invoice for A+ Club student support. We thank you the opportunity to contribute to your child’s academic success!

We mean it: we are so thankful for the opportunity to help out, to be a part of your children’s lives to help them academically, to support their dreams and your ambitions for them, and to help ease the pains of adolescent parenthood. Continue reading