Broward Tutor

Scheduling for Working Parents by The Broward Tutor

I am so lucky to have made it through the challenges of raising kids as a working parent. Sometimes the guilt was almost unbearable. No, I couldn’t be a room mother. No, I couldn’t volunteer for Picture Day. No, I couldn’t chaperone a three day trip to New York City. Even afterschool activities were tricky!

When my girls were six and nine, I was offered a fabulous job as an art director in South Miami. The job came with a very high salary and great perks, including profit sharing and a 401k. After a terrific interview, I drove home weeping. I knew I couldn’t take the job, because I would be over an hour away from my girls’ school. At the time, I was recently divorced, and all I thought about was, “What if there was an emergency and my girls needed me?”  “Who would help them with their schoolwork?” I had so many regrets as I turned it down, but of course, my kids were tops for me. This decision changed my life, as it catapulted me in an entirely new direction. I went back to school, and soon began a new career as a teacher. I was able to enjoy being with my girls after school, without spending hours on the road worrying about them. They did their homework while I graded papers, and we were able to spend quality time together. Doesn’t this sound simple?

Scheduling after-school activities sure isn’t that easy for parents with their own businesses or more high-powered careers. As a tutor, I see how difficult it is for working parents to squeeze me in. Some of the students I work with are in after-care. Since it is against the law for tutoring to take place at an elementary school site, what are parents to do? I’ve been able to accommodate the needs of some parents by picking up the child, tutoring her/him at a local library, then returning the child to school. When I help children with their academics before their parents get home, it alleviates some of the exhaustion parents feel each evening. By six, seven, or even eight o’clock, many overworked parents can barely handle figuring out what to make for dinner, much less explaining difficult concepts to their kids!

Full time stay-at-home parents are rare in these lean economic times. Parents have their own work in addition to the responsibilities of family. Everyone is racing around dealing with their own children’s priorities, making it difficult to have as much time for friends as they once did. There are fewer and fewer parents waiting to pick up their children after school, or even carpooling. As a result, parents don’t even have that support system anymore to speak to each other about after-school options. Many kids are picked up by after-school vans or community buses. Many walk home alone. I visit one home where mom is happy to have me there with her son, even for an hour a few times a week. It helps put her mind at ease that at least there are one or two hours where she can be assured her child is not alone, and is getting the educational help that is needed.

Luckily for some parents, the extended family is able to provide loving child-care options. In many homes I visit after school, the grandparent is in charge.  It is unfortunate, however, that many well educated grandparents feel unable to help their grandchildren with schoolwork. In any case, while I tutor one child, grandma or granddad often leaves to pick up or drop off the other child/children at other activities. It really does take a village!

I’ve tutored at baseball games, outside a gym, and in a parent’s office conference room. Kids need help, and parents must use creative ways to fit in tutoring sessions any way they can. I don’t mind at all! In fact, after being in an institution such as a school for so long, it’s a refreshing change of pace for me.

I’ve regained my balance, my daughters are grown, and my (2nd) husband and I are empty nesters. My daughters still define me in many ways, but now is the time I can reach for those goals of mine. They are so different from my goals of the past, but exciting none the less.

It’s amazing how it all works out in the end!

If you have any stories to share about figuring out how to schedule after-school activities, (it could be sports, etc.) please comment below. You may be able to help others!

Best Regards,
Randi Gelfond
a.k.a.
The Broward Tutor

2012 Presidential Election by The Broward Tutor

One of the things that used to drive me crazy about my mom while growing up, was that I was required to accompany her wherever she went. She dragged me to rallies, political meet and greets, voter registration drives, and fundraisers for every charity under the sun. As I grew older, she would send me out on my own to get neighbors to sign petitions or give money to charity. Now that I look back on it, she was teaching me about
GETTING INVOLVED. Sorry for complaining, mom!

Thanks to my mother, I watch the democratic and republican conventions. I learn as much as I can about the candidates who might lead our country for the next four (or four more) years, and I especially enjoy the debates. I am an informed voter.

The 2012 presidential election is coming up quickly. There is still time for your whole family to get involved. Voting is a right, but it’s also a privilege. It wasn’t until 2005 that Saudi Arabians began holding local elections, but women still do not have the right to vote. In Brunei, no men OR women have had the right to vote since 1962, because it is governed by an absolute monarchy. The Peoples Republic of China, Iraq, Syria, Algeria, and many other countries are ruled by dictators.

As citizens of United States, we are lucky enough to be able to take part in the future of our democracy!

Chances are that by now, your child’s school has held Student Council elections. You can talk to them about the issues that concern them at school. What do the representatives and officeholders of their Student Council plan to accomplish? What are the traits they think make a good leader? This could lead to a discussion of the issues that concern them about our country and the world.

Together, you can compare and contrast the presidential candidates as you listen to televised speeches and debates. You will soon be receiving a sample ballot in the mail. Show your child what a ballot looks like, and discuss the choices you will be involved in making. On election night, you might allow your child to stay up late to watch the returns. On a U.S. map, your son or daughter can color in blue for democrat, or red for republican states as the returns come in. This might even lead to a bit of extra credit in school the next day. It’s certainly worth a try!

Other places to explore are:
h
ttp://www.timeforkids.com/minisite/election-2012  This is a fact and fun-filled site with bios of the presidential and vice presidential candidates, and fantastic features including an election site for kids, candidate interviews with kid reporters, and an electionary so they can learn election vocabulary.

Although they haven’t updated the following site since the ’08 election, this homepage has links to what a voting booth looks like, and you can click on ways the government affects you.  http://pbskids.org/democracy/

As you investigate these sites together, I guarantee you will learn a few things too.
It’s a great way for your family members to express their opinions on issues important to them.
So forget voter apathy, and embrace voter education!
Thanks again, Mom, for teaching me a great lesson.

Randi Gelfond
a.k.a.
The Broward Tutor

Microscope Science Activity from The Broward Tutor

Spark curiosity as you explore life through the lens of a microscope.  There is a world of wonder just waiting for you and your child. If you don’t have a microscope, you can buy a reasonably priced one on Craigslist, or at a local hobby store. You will be in for a treat!
Materials shown in the photo are:

  • a box of concave blank slides to prepare on your own, OR,
  • a set of prepared slides
  • eyedropper
  • tweezers
  • toothpicks
  • swabs
  • clear tape
  • Sharpie marker
  • samples (seaweed, bumble bee)

The activity sheet (shown in photo) is a simple one I created, and will share with you here.
The title is “Observation Log,” and here are the steps:
1. Describe the object in detail. Use scientific properties such as color, shape, size. . .
2. Use the microscope to focus in on a detail of this object, and draw it in the circle below (draw a circle here).
Be sure to fill the circle completely, and try to draw exactly what you see through the lens.
3. The object is ___________ .
4. What is one thing you are curious about when looking at this object?

Question #4 may lead to a more in depth research opportunity!

Quite a few of my elementary school clients are receiving enrichment lessons, and I have found that no matter what the age, children really appreciate the wonders seen under the lens of a microscope.
Investigations might include:

  • comparing the differences between pond water, ocean water, tap water, bottled water
  • examining insects and identifying body parts
  • observing cells within a piece of cork
  • viewing mold from old bread

Introducing science as early as possible will allow your child to have a base they can build on as they grow. The Scientific Method is a step by step process used in problem solving. Problems can be general or scientific in nature, and it’s as good a time as any to familiarize your child with some of the vocabulary used. The following vocabulary words will become necessary for your child to know by the time he or she reaches 5th grade: question (or problem), prediction, observation, hypothesis, procedure, experiment, data, results, conclusion. One way to incorporate the scientific method as you use the microscope is to ask questions such as, “Predict where we will see more living organisms, in the pond water or in the ocean water?” or “What conclusion can you draw from observing our sample?”

Please let me know if you have more ideas that can be shared with my readers.
Happy Exploring!

Randi Gelfond
a.k.a.

The Broward Tutor

Study Tips from The Broward Tutor

You may be surprised to learn that often, children are unsure of how to study. If your child has poor study habits, this may lead to low or failing grades, and feelings of frustration for your child (and sometimes the rest of your family)!

In order to develop independent study habits, children can begin even before the school bell rings. The following back to school tips and study strategies are written for your child. If you like them, call your son or daughter over to read this blog. You may also consider copying and taping them into your child’s planner/agenda.

Skills for Success:
Before Class

  • arrive on time
  • sharpen pencils
  • organize yourself & prepare for the day (put away what you don’t need)
  • turn in homework

During Class

  • write a heading on every paper
  • look at the teacher and think about what he or she is saying
  • record homework assignments
  • read directions carefully
  • when using workbooks, underline or highlight the keywords that tell you what to do
  • take materials out immediately when asked
  • ask for help when needed
  • use class time to work on assignments
  • check or proofread your work
  • erase mistakes neatly

Before Leaving School

  • make sure that you are taking home textbooks, notebooks, and workbooks (whatever is required for completing your homework and studying)
  • check that your agenda/planner is filled out

Whew, I’m tired from just writing about this school day!
Okay, you’re finally home. Kids have snacked, relaxed for a few minutes, and . . . you guessed it, time for homework and studying!

Study Strategy:
Preparing for Homework

  • find a place that is free of distractions (not near your little sister, brother, or a TV)
  • set aside an area in the kitchen or family room that has a table or desk
  • have materials ready BEFORE you begin. Examples: paper, pencils, highlighter, dictionary, thesaurus, math tools

Studying and Completing Homework

  • study and do your homework at the same time each day
  • don’t start too late, because you don’t want to fall asleep doing it!
  • work for 20 minutes before taking a break
  • take a 5 – 10 minute break to reward yourself (pet your dog, grab an apple)
    then . . . get back to work!

I hope these back to school tips help your child/children get off to a strong start in the new school year! Let me know what you think.
Until next time,

Randi Gelfond,
a.k.a.
The Broward Tutor

High Interest Reading Resources by The Broward Tutor

Forget about worksheets! Make reading more fun for your children. One way to increase motivation in reading is to use articles from children’s magazines that interest your child.

One of my third grade students is a sports enthusiast, so, the example (shown on left) began with a Sports Illustrated Kids magazine.  I made up questions from the sports cards  included with the magazine, and used the statistics to have my student compare and contrast the players. The article was used to teach many reading comprehension skills, including finding the main idea and details, determining fact and opinion, making inferences, and drawing conclusions.

Other great resources for reading are: National Geographic Kids and Time for Kids.

Randi Gelfond,
a.k.a.
The Broward Tutor

Fun and Easy Read Aloud Activity from The Broward Tutor

 

Here is a reading resource you don’t have to search for! Look around you. Are you in a car . . . in your kitchen? Most of the time, you are surrounded by literacy. This is a free reading game you can enjoy with your kids right now! Find a sign, package, magazine cover, etc., and have your child read it aloud with expression. Make sure to model this for him/her first, and don’t forget to enunciate your words. You can choose to read ANYTHING aloud using funny voices or silly accents. You can even imitate your Uncle Harvey!
This is great fluency practice for your kids.
Note: most packages (see Milkbone example) are written at a 4th to 5th grade level. The goal here should be fun and fluency.
Don’t forget to take turns around the dinner table to see who can get the most laughs!

Randi Gelfond
a.k.a
TheBrowardTutor

Summer Math Tip from The Broward Tutor

Summer is a stress-free time to work on measurement skills with your child. While in the pool, hand out empty plastic measurement containers of different sizes (gallons, half gallons, quarts, cups, pints, etc.). Have your child estimate how many quarts are in a gallon, how many cups are in a quart, and so on. Then have them measure with pool water to see how close they came to their estimates.

You’ll never be able to measure the amount
of fun you’ll have with your child!

Randi Gelfond,
a.k.a.
The Broward Tutor

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