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Date: 3/23/2018 7:59 AM PDT

Let's face it. Though it's not always our favorite thing to do, sometimes giving our kids the tablet, iPad or phone is the best way to get that one 5-minute thing out of the way. Whether it be changing the laundry, unloading the dishwasher, or heck! even checking Facebook.

But what if you had some apps that would make you feel way less guilty about having your kid stare at yet another screen. Well luckily for us, with today's booming tech industry we can do just that. There are so many educational apps out there, but it's hard to weed out the mediocre from the amazing. Today I'm going to tell you about the top 5 Must-Have Apps for your kiddos. 

Elementary & Middle School Reading

This App is a great way for students to read about current events. Text is available in English, Spanish, and French and covers a wide range of reading levels (K-8 to be exact). The App gives students 5 articles a day to read. And should you have an avid reader, they can scroll through to read the previous days' articles. The articles cover a variety of topics from government and current events to science. With each article that they read, students can also see pictures that the article is based on and a video. If you have a beginning reader, there is also an option to have the article read to them. Overall, this is an excellent app to get students reading and interested in current events.

Elementary & Middle School Reading

Like News-O-Matic, Newsela is another app for students to read news articles about current events. Each article can be adjusted to 5 different reading levels based on your student's ability. Students can search for these articles by topics. So if your kiddo is interested in dinosaurs, they can search for dinosaurs and find a bunch of different articles on that topic. After students have read the articles, they can take a quick quiz to check their comprehension. As they read and take quizzes, the app will not only keep track of their progress but it will also adjust the reading articles to keep them engaged and challenged. Again, this is an awesome app to get students reading about current events and keep track of their progress as they go. 

myBlee Math
Elementary Math (K-6)

myBlee Math was developed by teachers and covers a variety of math topics, including but not limited to geometry, mental math, logic, graphs and data, the four operations, and fractions. There are thousands of exercises, manipulatives, and video lessons for students to work through. But one of the coolest features is that it gives students feedback as they go. The lessons are based on a variety of common core standards that are relevant with your child's schooling. If your child loves math or if math is an area of growth for them, I would definitely recommend checking this app out. 

Middle School & High School Writing

Prompts is an app designed to get students writing. It is an excellent tool for those students who may be suffering from writers block and need a little push to get started. When you open up Prompts it gives you a couple of words to help you get started. As students write, if they get stuck, they can tap the button at the top of the screen that looks like a lightning bolt, and it will give them ideas of what to add to their writing saying things like "frame a silly point of view." Additionally, if you turn on notifications, it will encourage students to write a little bit each day so that they constantly improve in their craft. This app is an excellent tool to encourage students to practice writing each day and to explore different styles of writing. 

Khan Academy
Elementary, Middle, & High School All Subject Areas

I'm sure many of you have heard of the website Khan Academy, but they now have an app too! Students can study grammar, science, math, history, economics, and so forth through videos, interactive practice lessons. All of the skills taught through Khan Academy are common core aligned so they are relevant to your student's education. I especially like this app when learning new math or science concepts. This is an excellent app to have on hand to support your student's learning. 

Posted by Meagan | Post a Comment

Date: 10/11/2017 8:57 AM PDT

Writing is one of those subject that students either love or hate, and unfortunately their opinion of writing is often hard to sway. Let's be real, writing can be incredibly challenging. Not only are there an immense amount of punctuation and grammatical rules, but there are also exceptions to these rules. It is a subject of trial and error, that often entails a lot of trial and even more error.
Unfortunately, however, writing is also a skill set that is a necessity for students. It is something they will be expected to use their entire lives, regardless of the career path chosen. Teaching students to love, or at least tolerate writing, can be arduous, but it is not impossible.
Here are 6 ways to get your student to enjoy writing.

1. Have them write about what they want. 

The next time your kiddo tells you that they want something, have them write about it. Encourage them give you at least 3 reasons why you should get them that new toy, game, or movie. Not only does this tactic get them to start writing, it also gets them to start thinking like a writer and will help them to see how easy it is to support a topic that they are passionate about.  

2. Have them write their opinions. 

Have your student write about all the reasons they hate Brussels sprouts or love their new video game. You could have them actually write a passage on it or simply make a list. Make this a fun activity though. The more kids laugh and enjoy the writing process, the less reluctant they will become. 

3. Let them illustrate their writing

Although they may hate the process of writing, having a silver lining at the end of the workload may be all your kiddo needs to work throughout that dreaded method. Not only is illustrating their writing fun for them, it also allows them to be creative and demonstrate comprehension. You can further their understanding of writing terminology by prompting to illustrate the climax, the rising or falling action, or a picture of the protagonist and antagonist.

4. Recognize their writing

Sometimes recognition is all that is needed to encourage your student to write. Let them know that what they have written is great and that you appreciate all the hard work and effort they put into their piece. Even if they have not done their best, hearing you say how proud you are of them will be encouragement enough for them to do better next time.

5. Create comic strips

This is one of my favorite ways to get students to change their opinion of writing. Having them create comic strips forces them to think of their writing in a logical sequence including a beginning, middle, and end. It also makes them think about those little events and cause/effects that occur throughout their storyline. Furthermore, thinking of dialogue for their characters is a great skill to have. The possibilities of learning while creating and writing comic strips is endless.

6. Create Pen Pals

Pen pals are an excellent way for students to practice writing regularly. Kids love to receive mail, so creating pen pals is an excellent way to make that happen for them. You can set up pen paling with a friend or a family member and encourage them to write back and forth weekly or monthly. Other great sources for finding pen pals for your student include:
· – write with other kids your age from around the world
· – write to a US military soldier who is serving overseas
You can also conduct a Facebook search for “Pen Pals for Kids.” There are all sorts of pages out there dedicated to parents trying to set up pen pals for their kids.

7. Try typing

And sometimes the best thing you can do is to teach your kiddo to type. This is a skill that they will need to have eventually, so why not teach them early. A lot of times kids hate writing because it is physically strenuous. Allowing them to type can help them get past that boundary. Some great resources for teaching your student to type are, Dance Mat Typing,, and

Posted by Meagan | Post a Comment

Date: 9/4/2017 11:21 AM PDT

School has started and your kids are beginning to develop their daily routines. But one thing still haunts us day after day, week after week - the dreaded "Homework War". There is not greater struggle in households across America than the continuous battle of homework completion. 

While there are tons of books out there with section after section describing in depth the magical solutions to end the battle, let's be real, many of us don't want to read novels that go into depth about how to create a zen zone and meditate over your kiddo's homework. We want solutions that work. 

It is for this reason that I have created a compilation of tips and tricks to assist you in coming up with a plan for mastering homework in your household. 

1. Play to Their strengths 

Draw on parallels - if your kid is really great in soccer then play on that and encourage them to kick the homework ball into the net. Building on your student's strengths not only helps them build confidence, but it also gives them the ability to develop more areas of confidence at a quicker rate. When kids feel more confident in their ability, they will be able to face challenges, such as homework, with even more resilience. 

2. Resist the Urge to Punish 

Never pair negative feelings with something like homework. It will create a Pavlovian response, creating an even bigger battle when it comes time for homework. Instead, rewarding your child, as mentioned below, will encourage your student to get homework done more efficiently. 

3. Set the Place 

Dedicate a place in your home for your kiddo to do homework. Make sure that this space is fully loaded with the supplies that they will or could possibly need. This way your kiddo is procrastinating by needing to find glue and scissors. 

4. Set the Time

Some kids need a break and a healthy snack before getting straight to work. Others prefer to get to work right away and just get their work over with as soon as possible. This is something that you need to determine with your kiddo so that you can figure out what works best for them. Either way, this needs to be a time that your young scholar can maintain throughout the week. 

5. Develop a Reward System

I don't mean for you to pay your kids to do homework, but it's a fact that people work more efficiently if they know they will be rewarded for it. Perhaps their reward is watching TV, playing video games, or going to a friend's house. No matter what the reward is, though, it is imperative that they not get it until their homework is done, and done to the best of their ability - not rushed!

6. Give your child the responsibility 

It is natural to want your kid to their best on their homework, but it's also important for their teachers to see what they are retaining each evening when they go home. Allowing your student's teachers to see their mistakes or incomplete work is important so that they can address these areas. By all means review their work with them, but if they make mistakes in their work understand that it's okay!

7. Break it down 

Many times the homework war stems from students looking at a huge pile of work and having no idea where to begin. You or your child's tutor should help your student break down the pile into more manageable pieces. Allow them to choose if they want to tackle the hardest task first or if they want to save it for the end. Giving them the skills to accomplish things piece-by-piece will transfer into other facets of their life, and give them the management skills needed to succeed later on. 

8. Recognize and seek help if needed 

It's okay to not understand your child's homework. With ever changing theories and practices it is nearly impossible for you to keep up with the newest multiplication methods. Talk to your child's teacher about resources you can review so that you are better equipped to help your kiddo. Sometimes hiring a tutor to help your child further understand the information they are being taught at school is the best thing you can do for them, as well. Tutor's often experience less pushback when it comes to doing homework and they have the ability to teach your student new methods that may be more appropriate or more easily understood by your student. 

9. Be consistent

No matter what methods you decide to use, or not use, make sure you are consistent. I can not explain how key consistency is. The days that are hard and when you just want to throw in the towel, those are the days that you need to especially maintain the routine. Although it is difficult, it is vital for your child's success. By maintaining these routines, you are creating guidelines for your child that will leak over into other areas of their life and their future. Remember, although you are just battling homework right now, your are also setting them up for success in college and in the future career. 

Posted by Meagan | Post a Comment

Date: 7/17/2017 6:10 PM PDT

When I was growing up, the thought of my parents hiring a tutor for me was a faux pas, to say the least. I thought the only kids who had tutors were the ones who struggled in school. Looking back, however, I often wonder if I could have been more successful and comfortable with math and science had my parents hired one for me.
Hiring a tutor for your student is not necessarily a cheap investment, but it is one that can have many benefits for your kiddo and their future. So, here are -

1.   Establish an Early Foundation

Did you know that you can hire a tutor for your kiddo at as young as three years old? In fact, many studies have shown that teaching your toddler to read can help them reach a first-grade reading level by the time they are in kindergarten. In this day and age of such extreme competitiveness, it is incredibly important to help your child establish a strong foundation at an early age. 

2.   Maintain Skills Over the Summer

Summer is a great time for students to relax, and catch up with friends and family. But why not have them catch up on their sweet skills, too? Was there a particular topic that your kiddo had difficulty with throughout the last school year? Is there a subject you want your student to get a head in? Is there a new skill set (IE. handwriting, cursive, underwater basket weaving) that you would love for your child to learn? Hiring a tutor for over the summer can allow students to fine tune their academic knowledge and get ahead prior to the next school year. 
3.   Personalized One-on-One Support

Today's classroom populations are getting larger and larger. Although there are many wonderful and dedicated teachers out there, having a class of 30 plus students does not permit much time for one-on-one instruction. Hiring a tutor for your student can offer them that much needed, individualized instruction. In such a setting, students can learn in the way that best suits them, whether that be visually, aurally, kinesthetically, or some combo of the three. Furthermore, a tutor has the ability to make even the most boring subjects somewhat interesting to your child by personalizing it to meet your child's interests and needs. 

4.   Boost Confidence

By getting that one-on-one individualized support, your students confidence is sure to soar. Although they may be embarrassed at first that you actually hired a tutor for them, as their teachers begin to note and compliment their gains and successes that spill over into the classroom setting those feelings of humility will soon subside. 

5.   Avoid the Homework War

Ah, the dreaded homework war... when one worksheet can turn your home into a combat zone. Let a tutor handle the homework. Not only are students less likely to argue and say "no," by allowing a tutor to do homework with your student gives them more insight as to what and how your child is learning at school so that they can gear their lesson towards similar concepts. 

6.   Free from Peer Pressure

Students are faced with so many challenges in the classroom. From less than thrilling topics to crowded classes. One of the biggest challenges faced in the classroom, however, is that of peer pressure. No one wants to be the kid who is called on and doesn't know the answer. For fear of looking "dumb" in front of their friends, students often don't participate in class or ask the questions needed to really learn the subject. At home tutoring eliminates those pressures and allows students to really delve into learning. Tutoring allows students to make mistakes and ask "silly" questions, without the fear of what their peers may think. 

Posted by Meagan | Post a Comment

Date: 6/24/2017 1:23 PM PDT

One of my favorite things about working in the school that I did was the people I got to work with. Sure, the kids were awesome and the feeling that I got when they finally grasped a concept I had been teaching was indescribable; but there’s nothing like getting to work with your closest friends. 

One of my favorite activities that we did during the school year was Shaving Cream Cursive. If you haven’t tried this with your kiddos yet, you NEED to! Not only is it fun for the kids because they feel like they’re making a mess by spreading shaving cream all over and then getting to draw/write in it, but it also helps to clean the desks. Seriously! All that mysterious and unmentionable grime gets cleaned away when you wipe off the shaving cream at the end of the lesson, and it makes the desks nice and shiny. 

Without fail, my kiddos loved this activity every time we did it. Often one of my co-teachers would come in and join in on the fun. We would go around and write on the kids desks in cursive and then we’d have them read it to us. I had them spell their spelling or vocabulary words in it. We would help them draw pictures. It’s just a super fun tactical and kinesthetic activity. Especially when the shaving cream fight ensued. Check it out below.

*Please note: No teachers, students, or clothing was harmed during said shaving cream war. A good time was had by all involved. 

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Date: 6/23/2017 4:54 PM PDT

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Date: 6/23/2017 4:23 PM PDT

I was working with a student today on their sight words. We were working on quick word recognition through a game I call "word search" - we scattered sight word cards all over and when I called out a word they had to find it. Not only was I tickled pink when they told me, "This is the most fun sight word game!" but their mom also informed me that their fluency went from 29 words per minute to 40 words per minute in two weeks!! I am incredibly proud and love seeing my kiddos building bridges to success.

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Date: 6/23/2017 4:20 PM PDT

This morning I was working with a kiddo who told me that this problem was the "hardest problem in the world." As a visual learner, seeing all these numbers in black and white was completely overwhelming. After rewriting it in a color coded format and some slight coaching he was able to solve it all by himself! So proud of my kiddos and the bridges they continuously create!

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