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Are Your Children Getting Enough ZZZZ’s?

July 22, 2012

 

According to research, the answer may well me no. James B. Maas PHD, one of the nation’s leading sleep experts, says, “Almost all teen-agers, as they reach puberty, become walking zombies because they are getting far too little sleep.”

This is not only a teenage problem. Younger children are also at risk for the effects of sleep deprivation. According to the National Sleep Foundation, children ages 1O to 17 need 8.5 to 9.25 hours of sleep each night. Lack of sleep can have a big impact on children’s learning. Children’s brains continue to develop until the age of 21, and much of that “work-in-progress” brain development occurs while a child is asleep.

Students who do not receive adequate sleep are far more groggy and irritable during the day. Recent research also tracks an association between lack of sleep and poor grades. A survey out of Brown University Medical School, found that students who received C’s, D’s and F’s in school obtained less sleep than those receiving A’s and B’s. Not only does lack of sleep affect young people’s cognitive skills, behavior and temperament are also affected. Teens especially are more at risk for engaging in risky behaviors. It is believed that lack of sleep may decrease the teen’s ability to understand the consequences of risky behavior. In addition, many researchers have noted, there is a greater vulnerability to psychopathologies such as depression and ADHD, and to have more difficulty controlling emotions and impulses.

Some researchers are even encouraging schools to push back school starting times so that children can get more rest. Several states are putting forth legislative bills that would prohibit public schools from starting before 8:30 a.m.

There are things that parents can do, namely, setting reasonable bed time goals, especially for younger children.  Be aware of over-scheduling activities, limit television evening hours, internet use and cell phones in the bedroom. Teachers also need be aware of not requiring overly burdensome homework. As children become older, these goals become more difficult to enforce due to increasing social affiliations and academic pressures.

It is important for everyone to realize the importance of a good night’s sleep. Good sleep patterns need to be established early in life. The research that continues to link lack of sleep to cognitive development and emotional difficulties are too important to be ignored.

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Fall 2011

November 10, 2011

            

School is in session, and students are busy learning,
reconnecting with friends and adjusting to the new school schedule!

Four Points Tutoring is also in full swing this new school year.  We had a productive summer and focused on assisting students with writing skills.  We offered both in home tutoring and writing clinics taught by professional writers in the Austin area.  As we move into the school year we turn our attention to the need of basic study skills, time management, along with mastery of core subjects.  We are training tutors to support our very popular Academic Coaching (study skills), and hiring extra staff as our programs and tutoring are in high demand!

If your student is interested in learning more about Academic Coaching please contact us to learn more.  As our testimonials reflect, this has helped countless students meet with success in the classroom. There is nothing more frustrating for students than to not know how to study and achieve their true potential.

The importance of sleep

As students transition from the carefree days of summer to the demands of the new school year many find it hard to keep up with the new pace and still find time for a good night’s sleep!  In fact a recent study by the Journal of School Health found that 90 % of students are falling short. While most families look at the obvious culprits (school/ extracurricular activities) few are aware of the link between social media and sleep deprivation in teens.

Doctor Donna L. Hamilton stresses the importance of keeping an eye on your student’s texting/sleep. Teen Texting Taking a Toll: Lack of Sleep May Impact School Performance and Mood

For years pediatricians and sleep specialists have encouraged parents to keep televisions and computers out of their children’s bedroom in order to support optimal health and wellness.   The preliminary findings of a pilot study might add another piece of electronic media to the list: cell phones. The study, conducted by physicians at the Sleep Disorder Center at JFK Medical Center in Edison, NJ found that almost 80% of students who texted or used other electronic media at bedtime had persistent problems falling asleep.

Presented at the 2010 annual conference for the American College of Chest Physicians, the findings indicate that texting and surfing the internet impact more than teens’ ability to fall asleep. “Children who engage in pre-bedtime use of technology have a high rate of daytime problems, which can include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, depression, and learning difficulties,” said Peter G. Polos, MD, PhD, FCCP, lead study author. “This is in addition to nighttime problems, such as excessive movements, insomnia, and leg pain.”

To understand the effects of communication technology on sleep, Dr. Polos and colleagues studied 40 students. The average age was 14.5 years old.  In addition to sleep and performance effects, researchers also found a gender difference in technology use.  Girls preferred to talk and text after hours, while boys preferred to surf the internet and play video games. “One of the most surprising findings of our research was the average number of texts and e- mails sent per night. It is significant that these
children are engaging in stimulating activity when they should be in an environment to promote sleep,” said Dr. Polos. The average number of bedtime texts sent during a month was an astounding 3,404.

Though these findings are preliminary, they suggest bedtime use of communication technology might have a significant adverse effect on adolescent’s sleep and their general wellness.  They also indicate a possible effect on teens’ ability to function optimally during the daytime. “The prevalence of insomnia and other sleep disorders is cause for great concern, given their
potential consequences on a child’s ability to function in school,” said David Gutterman, MD, FCCP, President of the American College of Chest Physicians. Several studies already indicate the negative effect of daytime sleepiness on adolescent health.  The National Sleep Foundation highlights research suggesting inadequate sleep puts adolescents at increased risk for unintentional injuries and death, poor school performance, lower grades, and increase mood disturbances 1.  Some studies also reveal correlation between sleep loss and drug use 2, 3. Fortunately, parents can promote healthy sleep habits for their children.  In addition to creating a healthy sleep environment and creating positive sleep routines, they can discuss appropriate sleep-time technology use with their children. Dr. Polos also suggests parents enforce guidelines for using technology.   “Using cell phones or computers, or surfing the Internet, with all the graphics and rapid responses, is more addictive, seductive, and interactive than passively watching television, said Dr. Polos. “The sooner parents establish appropriate times for children to use this technology, the better. “Sleep is largely habitual in nature,” said Dr. Polos. “If children begin this type of behavior, they may set themselves up for the need for external stimulation before sleep later in life. The effects of this can include sleep-onse insomnia, insufficient sleep, and daytime sleepiness.

Creating healthy habits now can help your children experience greater wellness throughout their life!

We wish all students an excellent
school year and hope that you will remember that we are the place to come for
all of academic support!

 

 

 

 

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Summer 2011

August 17, 2011

Four Points Tutoring Summer Newsletter Image

Four Points Tutoring has had a busy summer helping students prepare for the upcoming school year, preparing students for the SAT, and aiding in summer school classes. While we provide first class tutoring in all these areas, our primary focus this summer has been developing students’ writing skills.

Writing is a key component of literacy, and a skill that most students have not mastered. In fact, according to recent results of the National Assessment in Writing only about 25% of America’s kids are considered proficient writers and just 1% advanced writers. Experts say, most kids barely write above a basic level!

We tackled this need and created many avenues for students to improve this essential skill with the support of one of the top writers in the Austin area. We teamed up with our own Four Points tutor Justine Tal Goldberg: author, professional writer, owner of WriteByNight. http://www.writebynight.net/

We kicked off the summer by hosting writing workshops for middle and high school students. The instructor taught students the tools for essay construction including:

  • Brainstorming ideas
  • Organizing thoughts
  • Outlining
  • Drafting

In addition to writing seminars, numerous students participated in one-on-one tutoring where we provided aid in:

  • Creative writing
  • College essay preparation
  • SAT writing
  • Basic grammar
  • Academic refreshers

We are proud to say that we’ve helped many students prepare for the new school year! Here, we present a few examples of student works. Thank you to Camille Sweeney for sharing the beginning stages of a novel, and Jason Sherwood who will submit the essay below to Senator John Carter for nomination to be admitted to the U.S. Naval Academy.

Camille
Sweeney – Novel Excerpt

We were always outcasts. Nobody cared, nobody wanted anything to do with us, and nobody listened to us. It was like we were invisible. The feeling was terrible. On cold nights, much like this one, we struggled to survive. Me and Alexandra were a team. So close, as a matter of fact, we never called each other you. It was always we. We were abandoned by both our parents after their untimely demises, and were left with little supplies … not even blankets or warmth. In the night we would huddle together to stay warm, desperate and lonely. People gossiped about us. They would ignore our pleas. We don’t trust people anymore. That’s what most people call us. They point at us with crooked fingers and laugh. We don’t care. We stay strong no matter what. Winter is what we fear the most. The month with deathly cold temperatures and howling winds. Winter, the month of sorrow … when we lost our parents.

Jason Sherwood – Nomination Essay

Recently, I attended a pinning ceremony for my uncle who was being promoted to colonel in the Army. In front of 30 soldiers in dress uniform, my uncle received praise from his commanding officer for a job well-done and offered thanks to his CO, subordinates and family. Then my uncle’s CO and my aunt stepped forward to pin those silver eagles, the symbol of his new rank, on his shoulders. In that moment, standing beside my uncle who had come so far and done so much, I couldn’t have been prouder to know him. I also wanted nothing more than to be in his place. I can’t think of a better way to become so accomplished than through the Naval Academy.

I made the choice to pursue a career in the Navy very conscientiously. I chose this branch for two main reasons the first of which is that my father was a commander in the Navy. As a result, the values that he learned from his years of service—honor, courage and commitment—were instilled in me. The value that is most prevalent in my life is commitment. I’m captain of my lacrosse team and the third highest ranking officer in my Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corp (NJROTC) unit. I’ve also held a steady job as a lifeguard for a year and a half. My boss considers me an asset to the team. I’m always on time, adherent to rules, and fully committed to my role despite my youth. As a result, I am about to be
promoted to supervisor.

The second reason that I chose the Navy is because of the SEALs, the Navy’s special warfare unit. I aim to become a part of that elite group. My interest was sparked by a book I read, Lone Survivor, in which former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell recounts his career in the Navy all the way from BUD/S (the SEALs basic training). I was enthralled. The commitment and
perseverance Luttrell demonstrated inspired and motivated me. I also want to push myself to the limit and beyond to see what I am capable of. I’m not one to just coast through life; rather I am a person who seeks to discover just how far I can go. In school, for example, I do not settle for the classes I need to graduate. Instead, I take high level courses that test my intellect, such as Calculus, 4th-year Latin and AP Chemistry. I was recently accepted into the National Honor Society (NHS) which requires more than impressive grades. I was selected because I exhibited good behavior, participated in
extracurricular activities, performed community service, and demonstrated leadership.

Attending the Naval Academy will be a great way to begin my adult life. I feel strongly that the academy’s discipline, leadership training, academic rigor and, eventually, job security will put me on the road to a successful life. I look forward to a satisfying future of service to my country, my main concern: being the best person and Naval officer I can.

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Spring Newsletter 2011

April 7, 2011

SPRING/SUMMER 2011
The end of the school year is soon upon us, how fast the year has gone! However, this is the time of the year when TAKS tests are being given, and decisions are being made for summer classes. Our tutors are available to carry your son or daughter through the year as well as to tutor during the summer months. In addition, Four Points Tutoring will be offering a series of very excellent writing workshops this summer for middle and high school students. Read the descriptions below and mark your calendars for these summer opportunities! Each workshop will be presented by Justine Tal Goldberg, professional writer and editor.

Summer Writing Clinics

Creative Writing Workshop for Middle School and High School Students:
June 2011
If your son or daughter has a knack for creative writing, this is the workshop for you. This interactive seminar educates
students on the short story form, trains them in the necessary elements of craft such as plot, characterization, dialogue, setting, and point of view, and provides the opportunity to share their work with the group and receive constructive feedback from their peers. Students will leave the workshop with an original short story, useful information on how to pursue their literary dreams, and a group of new friends who love to write as much as they do.
How to Write a Stellar College Essay for High School Juniors and Seniors
July, 2011
College applications are at an all-time high, and the rate of acceptance is decreasing. With so much competition, it’s imperative that high school juniors and seniors with their sights set on higher education acquire the tools necessary to write a college essay that will turn heads. In this discussion-based seminar, students learn the five characteristics of a
stellar college essay, brainstorm essay topics, and help each other to develop these topics into prose that sings. Students will leave the workshop with at least one fully outlined essay, and step-by-step instructions for how to proceed on the path to essay-writing success.
Writing for the SATs for High School Juniors and Seniors
August, 2011
Performing on standardized tests is as much about understanding the test as it is about the knowledge you bring to it. Join us for an in-depth look at what the SAT writing section is all about, and what the scoring board looks for in a successful essay. Students get hands-on practice in writing essays that meet the test’s criteria, and learn from their peers’
successes as they share their attempts with the group. Students will leave the workshop with a better understanding of the test itself, a toolbox full of tips and tricks for mastering the writing section, and the confidence to tackle any
essay topic they might encounter.
About Justine Tal Goldberg
Justine Tal Goldberg is a professional writer and editor of both fiction and non-fiction. Her short fiction has appeared in Whiskey Island and Fringe Magazine, among others; her journalistic work has appeared or is forthcoming in such local
publications as Austin Monthly and the Texas Observer. She holds a M.F.A. in creative writing from Emerson College in Boston, and has provided writing instruction at Emerson College and Vassar College. Currently, she owns and operates WriteByNight, LLC, a writing center and writers’ service in Austin (www.writebynight.net).

Education in the movies -The Race to Nowhere

There has been much debate about how much to push students and the compromises we make when we choose to or not to.  Are we preparing our students to become successful leaders or robbing children of their childhood and creating disheartened youth.  If you are a parent or educator this is a film that you don’t want to miss!

Race to Nowhere according to Vicki H. Abeles the films director the film features the heartbreaking stories of young people across the country who have been pushed to the brink, educators who are burned out and worried that students aren’t developing the skills they need, and parents who are trying to do what’s best for their kids, Race to Nowhere points to the silent epidemic in our schools: cheating has become commonplace, students have become disengaged, stress-related illness, depression and burnout are rampant, and young people arrive at college and the workplace unprepared and uninspired. Race to Nowhere is a call to mobilize families, educators, and policy makers to challenge current assumptions on how to best prepare the youth of America to become healthy, bright, contributing and leading citizens.In a grassroots sensation already feeding a groundswell for change, hundreds of theaters, schools and organizations nationwide are hosting community screenings during a six month campaign to screen the film nationwide. Tens of thousands of people are coming together, using the film as the centerpiece for raising awareness, radically changing the national dialogue on education and galvanizing change.

Book of the month – Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

The recent parenting book that caught the attention of many Western parents, “Tiger Mother” raises the issues of lax Western parenting v.s. the high standards of Eastern parenting. In a Wall Street Journal essay, a “Today” Show appearance, and a now best-selling book, “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” Chau argues that Chinese mothers work their kids harder, expect more out of them and are generally rewarded with offspring that excel in school, careers and life. Western parents who worry whether “learning is fun” and fret over damaging their children’s self esteem, Chau says, are really just damaging their children’s chances for success. “Chinese parents demand perfect grades because they believe that their child can get them. If their child doesn’t get them, the Chinese parent assumes it’s because the child didn’t work hard enough,” she wrote in the Journal. “That’s why the solution to substandard performance is always to excoriate, punish and shame the child.” Chua knows a thing or two about achieving. She is herself a graduate of Harvard Law who teaches at Yale and has two previous books under her belt. She’s also quick to point out that she’s not all strict; successful children are also lavishly praised and rewarded. Chua says the book is more self-deprecating and even- handed then her controversial article. Still, Chua has taken heat from all corners: angry moms, huffing talking heads, and of course, many of those “lax” parents she berated. Maybe some of them weren’t so lax after all.

Order here

Thoughts on Budget Cuts in Education:

Everyone who has children or is involved in some way with education is aware of the crisis facing our public schools in Texas. The Texas House plans to cut $100 million in funding for Austin schools. When we consider the entire state of Texas, it is estimated that cuts in public education over the next two years could reach $10 billion. While cuts in budgets are necessary, cutting money for our schools could have a drastic impact on our children’s education. Quality in education should be a foundational value in our state. Our future depends on the quality of education we give to our children today. Texas ranks 37th in the country in terms of expenditures on per-pupil instruction. Making budgetary cuts can only worsen an already compromised system.Legislators need to exhaust all possible sources of revenue before making cuts in education. Parents and citizens need to do what is necessary to “press” our lawmakers to do the right thing by our children and that is to not compromise quality education in our state.
What can we do?
  • Write a letter to your state representative
    to encourage them to keep education a priority in our state. Find out who represents you by going to
    www.capitol.state.tx.us
  • Write a letter to the editor expressing
    your concerns.
  • Be informed. Vote for candidates who are
    advocates of quality education.
  • Become involved in your local school
  • Work closely with your children’s teachers to
    give the best support we can to our children.
The 8.4 million school children in our state deserve
the best we can possibly give them.

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December Newsletter 2010

December 22, 2010

The first semester is over, and winter break is upon us. This is an ideal time to evaluate how your student feels about their academic progress.  Parents can take advantage of this down time to address challenges and set goals.  Students that have struggled academically thus far can evaluate the type of support they need to be successful and those that are thriving academically can raise the bar higher!

Each student has his/her unique strengths and weaknesses, but the most common areas of need have been in math.  We have had an inordinate number of requests for high school geometry tutors this year.  Another high demand area has been in the area of Academic Coaching.  Our tutors have successfully aided student that struggle with organization and lack of initiative in their academic endeavors.

Whatever area your student is struggling in make it a point to address it now before the hustle and bustle of school begins next month.

Education in the Movies – Waiting for Superman

The movie educators,students, and parents have been waiting for hit the big screen this fall.  The controversial documentary by Oscar winner Davis Guggenheim examines why so many public schools are failing and how it affects five students and their families. The documentary outlines the need to dismiss “bad” educators, the break-up of teachers’ unions, and the benefits of privatization.  It also emphasizes the startling statistics that the United States ranks 25th in math and 21st in science, compared to students in 30 developed countries, and children living at poverty level are most affected by the system’s failure.

To learn more about this movie visit this site Waiting for Superman

Christmas gifts that are educational and entertaining

Are you looking for a Christmas gift that will be both educational and entertaining?  There are many educational gifts that focus on academics but are so fun your child won’t even know that he/she is learning!  One of the best gifts we gave our children was a Leap Pad when they were younger.  They played it frequently and we witnessed academic results from their “so called” game.

Here are a few ideas that will bring a smile to their face this Christmas:
1. Ant farm and insect kits This is great for younger children and a great educational gift.  They will watch ants go about their jobs!  Or, watch the full transmogrification of live ladybugs from small larvae to adults.  There are many interesting ideas to explore on this topic.
2. Science Kits Choose from several fun science kits that will interest children of all ages.  The younger child may want to explore how bubbles are formed while the older youth will be fascinated with a Hydro – Wind kit.  The options are endless and a fun way to interact with science.
3. Leap Pad Is a talking book that comes with an interactive “magic pen” that works like a hand-held computer mouse.  It’s an excellent source for those wanting reading help as the computer will incorporate activities that develop vocabulary, spelling and phonics awareness.  They also offer other books that introduce geography, math and other academic venues.
4. Board games: There are numerous education related board games on the market.  Choose games that require tactical maneuvers and well planned strategy, such as, Checkers, Chess, Qwirkle, Flip 4, and Blokus, Scrabble and others.

Final Exams in December

Families please keep in mind that final exams are mid -December.  It’s a good idea to start preparing early!

Final exam preparation:
1. Start preparing early: Make a commit to spending time each night preparing.  This will prevent last minute cramming and ensure a better grade.  It will also allow the opportunity to ask questions that may present as you are preparing.
2. Know what to study: By determining the type of final you will be taking will dictate  your approach to studying.  Will the exam by comprehensive, covers all of the information for the semester) or will it be a non- comprehensive final, (information from the last exam).
3. Study hard subject first:  Focus on subjects that are challenging first.  You will want to be as alert and energetic when studying subjects that you find difficult.
4. Use the 3R system: Read – Recite – Review has proven to be effective.  Read through the section once, then look away and summarize the section in your own words, then read through the section again to see if you understood everything.
5. Use flash cards: Educators encourage students to make use of flash cards, these are an excellent way to review.  When preparing them the student uses multi -senses which reinforces the material.
6. Make a schedule: First you will need to figure out your time line and estimate how many hours you will need to spend studying for a particular exam.  Next, decide how much time you have to study each day.  Finally, make a schedule using the estimated number of hours you’ll need to master each subject.  You will need to take into account that there will be numerous activities that will arise that sound a lot more fun the studying, but by consciously making the decision to study and follow your schedule will pay off in the in.  For a short time studying will need to take precedence over other activities.
7. Review old tests: Students should review tests and homework to identify errors to see if there are patterns of weaknesses.

We hope that you have a wonderful holiday season and thank you for using Four Points Tutoring!

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