It’s that time of year again, where Spring Break is bliss and end-of-year exams loom heavily over the heads of 10th and 11th graders and their parents. Even if you are a relaxed parent by nature, it can be hard not to become anxious when your child is about to take exams that can affect his or her final grades in addition to the AP, ACT, SAT and SAT Subject test scores that will be part of his or her college application package.
The best way to help your child through this is by ensuring the availability of the support your child needs to feel prepared and confident going into his or her exams. This can mean planning extra time on campus to take advantage of teacher’s advisory periods or after-school hours, or peer tutoring sessions typically offered before school, at lunchtime, or after school.
Helping your child can also mean planning time to go over flash cards, chapter review questions, and test prep books together. If you feel your child would benefit from even more support, then you can arrange for a content-expert or test prep specialist to coach your child for one or more sessions as the test dates come closer.
The more your child is able to review and practice answering questions in the format that will be used on the test, the better he or she will perform the day of. Our primary job is to help our children carve out the time they need to prepare themselves. And if our children need help to prepare, then we need to arrange for or provide that help – whether it’s helping them access the resources available to them at school, hiring an expert tutor, or by lending a hand and a few hours to give your child the chance to practice demonstrating what he or she knows.
Franklin works with several content-area experts and test prep specialists who are available in the evenings and on the weekends. If you would like to discuss how we can help your child, please call 310.571.1176 or email FranklinServices@FranklinEd.com.
Rachel Fisher, MA
Some jobs require employees to relocate to another city, or even country, for a period of time. What should you do in this situation for your child, who may be in the middle of his or her school year? There are a few important items to consider, especially regarding the school of record, and the ability to transfer credit. We offer some options below on the best way to approach this unique challenge, as well as some key questions to start asking right away.
These are the steps to follow once you learn that your family may be relocating for a longer period of time:
Lastly, if you would like to discuss any of these options with us here at Franklin, we can help! We have homeschooling options and plenty of expertise in this specific field.
Director of Education
I just read a great article suggesting that we stop asking our children what they want to be when they grow up. The author, Adam Grant, wasn’t implying that our children shouldn’t dream or aspire to fulfill a personal calling. He was, however, bringing reality back into the equation.
Grant’s comment that asking children what they want to be when they are older forces them to define themselves by their career. This focus shifts defining a desirable adult path away from the characteristics we hope our children possess as adults (happiness, empathy, morality, nurturing) and can have regardless of the job they choose or may hired for.
To read the original works referenced in this blog visit:
Director of Special Projects
We have reached the midway point of the spring semester! It’s time to check in with your child’s teachers, confirm all assignments have been submitted, and evaluate which steps should be taken to ensure your child finishes the school year strongly.
If your child appears to be struggling in any area, this is the perfect time to request a meeting with your child’s teacher. If your child has overdue assignments, ask the teacher if they can be submitted for partial credit. This will help your child’s overall grade, but more importantly, it will demonstrate your family’s approach to helping your child fulfill his or her responsibilities as a student.
Collaborating with your child’s teacher should also help you target where and how you can provide support at home. If you are looking for additional tips and strategies for how to best help your child with schoolwork, you might want to consider reading the book recently published by New Harbinger Press and authored by our very own Daniel Franklin, PhD. The strategies are helpful for all parents and benefit any student having a hard time learning material, taking tests, and staying organized. The title is Helping Your Child with Language-Based Learning Disabilities: Strategies to Succeed in School and Life with Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia, ADHD, and Processing Disorders.
If your child appears to be sailing smoothly through the semester, then this is the time of year to evaluate how much time will need to be set aside to adequately prepare for end of the year projects and final exams.
Taking advantage of the opportunity to reflect and plan for the remainder of the school year will help both you and your child navigate the upcoming weeks as successfully as possible. You are nearing the finish line. Hang in there! And, if you need any help, we’re here to support you and provide academic and executive functioning support for all students. Our instructors work seven days a week and if you live in Orange County or the Greater Los Angeles area, we will come to your home or meet at a Franklin Learning Center.
Rachel Fisher, M.A.
You may have heard the buzz surrounding a new TV show based on the book titled The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, in which she visits the homes of families who are in need of getting their things – and life – in order. Marie’s philosophy is to keep only the things that bring you joy, and to discard or donate everything else. As a parent, you can’t always throw away the things that your children have accumulated just because they don’t bring you or them joy, but you can certainly help them to tidy up and declutter their school supplies and materials using the methods below.
First, start by looking at your child’s backpack. Are there any papers, notes or handouts, from last semester that aren’t needed anymore? What about old binders or notebooks from previous classes? Help your child come up with an organizational system in the backpack so that he or she knows exactly where to reach for any homework that needs to be turned in. It also helps to dedicate a space for heavy-use items like the iPad, calculator, or daily planner.
Next, look around your child’s room, especially at the work space. Are there any items encroaching from the sports equipment pile, the hobbies and interests pile, or the clothing pile? Help to declutter and organize these spaces better so that your child can see that his or her work space is a dedicated area to focus on schoolwork. Repurposing old shoeboxes or plastic food containers is a great way to keep track of those hard-to-find items, such as pencils, erasers, clips, sharpies and rubber bands. You can also find inexpensive plastic organizers with drawers for each category of school supplies at Target or Staples.
Lastly, take stock of the books that have piled up in your child’s room. Some of these may be books about interests, while others are old copies of books from last year’s classes. While we encourage parents to have books around at all times to foster encouragement for reading and writing, it is still appropriate to make space for new books and items that will be accumulating between now and June. You can donate used books to your local library, or post them on social media for parents who have younger children. It feels good to declutter while helping out other families at the same time!
Once you and your child have finished making space and organizing, it’s time to celebrate! Take him or her out for a treat to show that you are proud of him or her for taking the initiative to get those school supplies in order. These are valuable skills that will stay with your child for a long time.
John Posatko, M.A.Ed.
Director of Education
If you have a high schooler in ninth, tenth, or eleventh grade, applying to college can constantly be in the back of your mind. Especially at this time of year when high school seniors are celebrating college acceptances and your child’s standardized tests and spring grades are right around the corner. Private college counselors often encourage college planning to start in ninth grade, but it can feel premature. In tenth grade, discussing college applications, may easily generate more anxiety in your child than productivity. Eleventh grade seems like the right time to dive deeply into college application prep, but the year is already filled with pressure to achieve “high” grades and test scores.
So which grade is the best time to prepare for college applications? The answer is, all of the above. It’s impossible to prevent anxiety completely while applying to college, but a little planning can go a long way in managing the process overall.
In ninth grade and tenth grade, take two important steps regarding standardized tests. Register your child to take the PSAT and a practice version of the ACT with applicable accommodations, but without studying. This will show you which test best suits your child. If your child has learning differences, he or she may several months to prepare for standardized tests. You may want to consider beginning weekly prep sessions in the summer after tenth grade and registering for tests in the fall, winter and spring of eleventh grade.
You should also meet briefly with your child’s school counselor in ninth grade and tenth grade to plan which classes he or she will take all the way through graduation. SAT Subject Tests should be taken the same spring your child is enrolled in the corresponding classes, which could be as early as 10th grade.
The time to consider what type of college experience will best meet your child’s learning and social needs is in eleventh grade. A college advisor can expand your options and help narrow your choices. This meeting, and taking the SAT or ACT, are about all the college-related tasks your child can reasonably handle. Even then, it might be too much, if your child is highly stressed, shift these tasks to the summer. It is helpful to have all tests taken before twelfth grade, but it’s not a requirement. Preparing for, and completing, college applications should not make your child dislike school.
During the summer between eleventh and twelfth grade, it’s time to hit the ground running. This is when you should ramp up the focus on applications: draft common application essays and state college prompts. Good writing needs time to be well-written and well-edited. Finalize which colleges your child will actually apply to, confirm when their applications open, and when their applications are due. Then, mark your calendars to set aside blocks of time each week to work on college applications. Plan to submit applications at least two weeks before the official deadline. Doing this will avoid help you avoid any site crashes (which happens on deadline dates as everyone scrambles to submit on time) and allow for a little extra time to complete the applications if needed.
You’ll find there are a variety of spreadsheet templates online you can use to track application materials and submissions. Even if you are an impeccable record-keeper, give yourself a few days to review each application in its entirety with your child. The submit button can only be pressed once. When you and your child are ready to submit, throw on some music, and enjoy the moment. This is an exciting milestone in your child’s life and it should be celebrated.
Rachel Fisher, MA
One of the best ways you can help to improve your child’s time management and organization skills is to model effective time management yourself. By taking a goal and backwards planning, which is listing out all the steps necessary to achieve that goal and mapping out a timeline to achieve those steps, you can help your child take the anxiety and stress out of upcoming deadlines. A fun goal you and your child can work on together is getting preparing for summer break. After all, it is only three short months away!
First, you and your child can brainstorm what kinds of camps, extra-curricular activities, and academic enrichments programs he or she would like to attend. Many of these programs have important deadlines and applications that can take time to fill out. By doing some preliminary research, you can help your child create a calendar of application tasks and deadlines. It’s always important to keep in mind, “What will this experience provide for the next step in my child’s academic journey?” and for high schoolers, “How will this look on a college application?” Among the other considerations are enjoyment, cost, and time commitment. If your child needs to recover credits, help him or her find out which schools offer the exact class needed for credit, and do a little research to see what other families have experienced with that program.
Next, you can help your child prepare for the end of the academic year by noting all the finals for each class he or she is taking, and creating a study plan for each test. A study plan may take as few as two or three weeks, or may be something that starts right away, depending on the difficulty of the class. By simply committing to a little bit of study every day, many children can significantly improve their chances of performing well on a cumulative final.
Lastly, and this is the fun part, take some time to create a vision board for the summer. What are some travels that you would like to do as a family? Are there destinations your child learned about this year in school? What skill or hobby would your child like to add to his or her repertoire? Have fun with it by using multimedia and visual representations, and post this vision board in your child’s room, or in the family space. It’s never too early to start looking forward to, and preparing for, summer!
John Posatko, M.A.Ed.
Director of Education
If you have a child in high school who isn’t already a senior, you are probably already wondering whether he or she should be take the ACT or SAT college entrance exam. There are multiple companies that offer in-person and online tutoring for each exam. Even though the number of “test optional” colleges is rising, most college-bound high school students end up taking at least one test or end up taking both the ACT and SAT.
There are rumors that the ACT is kinder or easier, but in practice both tests are equally challenging. Deciding which test best fits your child takes a little time and two weekends. Have your child take a timed, practice version of each test without preparing. Take the SAT one weekend and the ACT on another. There are several online versions of each test and it’s important to select a practice test you can grade or submit for free grading.
After the practice tests, look at your child’s scores. Did he or she naturally perform better or prefer one of the tests? Discuss what your child liked about each test and what was challenging. This should give you a strong sense of where your child should put his or her time and energy into preparing. This is really the best way to choose, but if your child has taken both tests and you are still unsure, consider these factors:
If you are still stuck, consider creating a game plan for taking both tests – preparing for and taking them one at a time. This requires about 18 months so it’s not for everyone. Most teens need four-to-six months to prepare and another two-to-three months to officially take the exam twice.
There are lots of review books and group classes. But the most efficient way to boost test scores is by working with a skilled, one-on-one test prep specialist who can home in on the areas where your child needs help the most. Ultimately, the test is only one of many parts of a college application. Neither fully encapsulates a child’s current abilities or future potential. No matter which test your child chooses, he or she will have a full and fulfilling life after high school.
Rachel Fisher, MA
Recently the New York Times published an opinion piece on the benefits of “helicopter parenting” – when parents take a proactive role in helping their children throughout their academic journey. The term “helicopter parenting” has had a negative connotation, mainly because it conjures an image of hyper-anxious, authoritarian parents who won’t let their children just be kids in the hope that their ultra-attentiveness will translate into adulthood success. The reality of helicopter parenting, though, is that it can actually work. Helicopter parents are best described as authoritative, not authoritarian. The key difference between the two is that authoritarian parents demand children do things a specific way, whereas authoritative parents provide a framework for accomplishing tasks well, and allowing their children to experience success within that framework.
If you feel that you may be a helicopter parent, and are wondering if it’s OK, ask yourself: Is my child succeeding and happy about his or her performance in school (most of the time)? If the answer is “yes”, then it frankly doesn’t matter how you characterize that level of support you’re providing. Most students need a high level of support throughout their academic careers, whether from parents, tutors, friends, teachers, or mentors. If the answer to the above question is “no”, then ask yourself: What am I doing that isn’t allowing my child to express his or her individuality, and to make mistakes? Often the best learning experience is making a mistake and learning from it in the context of a positive interaction with a parent.
The New York Times piece referenced an important element of being a helicopter parent, in that to be a proactive, highly-involved and supportive parent, you will be working hard and experiencing moments of heightened stress. The most important thing will be to maintain your own life balance, as that will be the model that your child follows. Don’t forget to take the time to see the big picture, and realize that as long as you and your child are trying your best, you are succeeding.
John Posatko, M.A.Ed.
Director of Education
When children return to school after the winter holidays, they aren’t in school for more than a few weeks before being off again for a couple three-day weekends. These vacations, though merited, interrupt the pace of teaching which may lead to misinterpreting how quickly teachers will move through material during the spring semester. It’s not uncommon for a student who was thinking. “I’ve got this” in January and February to become overwhelmed or fall behind in a matter of days in March or April.
Feeling overwhelmed or falling behind can be prevented by implementing a few strategies now in these early weeks in February. It may feel strange, or even unnecessary, if school has been going smoothly. But if your child is learning material that isn’t easy or you’ve heard his or her teacher is a tough grader, preparing now can make a big difference in how your child experiences school. These strategies also help students who rarely encounter difficulties because they promote responsibility, organization, and attentiveness.
Taking these precautionary steps now will help both you and your child remain calm and feel well prepared to meet any challenges that come with the increased pace of spring semester.
Rachel Fisher, MA
The first step to promoting good reading skills is providing children a language-rich environment. This is an environment in which parents and other adults actively engage in verbal communication with a child from birth. Even the youngest child benefits from engaging in fun games of mimicking silly sounds and made-up speech. These games are most […]Read more