Improve Your SAT/ACT Scores Over the Summer

Summer is a great time to help your child prepare for the upcoming SAT or ACT. Without the added pressure of keeping up with their regular school work, many students find it easier to concentrate on the specific requirements for these tests over the summer. It can be a great way to boost their score and keep their minds more active over the summer.

June 3rd and August 26th are the next scheduled dates for the SAT. The next dates for the ACT are June 10th and September 9th. Early registration for both the SAT and ACT starts about a month in advance. At Academic Learning Labs, we’re offering intensive summer programs with small groups and individual tutoring available to meet your child’s specific needs.

If you have an incoming high school sophomore or junior  this year, you may also want to explore the PSAT.  This test not only is a great ice-breaker for students in their preparation for the SAT, but it also can set them on track for getting a National Merit Scholarship. The testing during a student’s junior year is the one that counts, and a great performance can set into motion the events leading to the scholarship. Winning a National Merit Scholarship can not only help pay for college, but may open more doors to a better college in the process.

We begin most students with a full diagnostic test to help us get a better starting point for our tutoring. We incorporate any specific areas of concern you may have and this guides us moving forward. Over the summer we’re offering intensive sessions from one-on-one to small group settings. You can choose the specific setting that you feel will meet your child’s needs best. You can let your student’s needs determine if a one week, two week, or ongoing tutoring will be a better match.  We’ll devote ourselves to your student’s specific needs, and we’re convinced you’ll be more than pleased with the outcome.

We will also be here all summer long for our regular tutoring sessions if your student will benefit from some targeted help with specific topics. Just as with the SAT and ACT, summer is an ideal time to overcome any struggles that may have shown up during the school year. There is a real freedom for many students away from the ongoing workload at school for them to dig in and overcome challenges. Give us a call at 949-645-0800, and we’ll be happy to answer any questions or schedule some tutoring time.

More Summer Learning Opportunities

Every year we spend some time during the weeks leading up to summer vacation outlining some great opportunities to keep kids engaged and learning over the school break. It can be a real challenge, but with the lost ground so many students suffer in the learning over summer, it can be a truly smart thing to do. Here are a few more ideas that may prove to be just what your kids can get excited about for learning over the summer.

Start a family garden

This is especially fun for many city-dwelling kids who may have limited exposure to the often magical world of a vegetable garden. Squash and zucchini are almost weed-like in their ability to grow and produce crops. Have the kids research different soil amendments and fertilizers and perhaps section off the garden to do your own tests. The kids will get to watch the wonder of growth and may learn a few things about the process along the way.

Keep a journal of your summer activities

This can be especially fun if your family goes on a vacation over the summer. Task the kids with chronicling the events by keeping an online blog going that can keep friends and family back home up to date on the fun. It can be as simple as keeping daily Facebook updates, or you you can start a family blog dedicated to the events. 

Get the kids involved in your community programs
Check out your local paper for summer opportunities both for service and fun. Soup kitchens and other charitable outreaches often welcome help of all ages. Many communities have summer programs that range from drama to crafts, and from sports camps to those devoted to learning coding.  Whatever areas interest your child, you will likely find a group or activity that will encourage your child to continue to grow

Tackle school problems, prepare for college
Of course, summer can be a great time to catch up for kids who may have finished the school year with more of a fizzle than a bang. Our tutors will be working all summer long to help your child start the new school year on par or ahead of their peers.  Summer is also a great time for your student to start preparing for the SAT or ACT.

At Academic Learning Labs, we are pleased to be a part of our students’ lives to help them prepare for these things. Some of our students just need a bit of help to overcome a difficult time in single school subject, and other students benefit from a more comprehensive approach to equip them with better study habits and across multiple subjects. We also help advanced students get the higher level challenges that are just not available in many classroom settings. Whether your child is ahead of their class, behind their class, or ready to start studying for the SAT/ACT, our tutors are here to help move them forward and equip them for the journey. Fore more details on how our tutors can help your child, give us a call at 949-546-0800.

Keeping Kids Engaged Over Summer

The end of the school year is rapidly approaching, and it can be a treacherous time for your kids and their academic progress. Numerous studies show that summer learning loss is a very real and measurable phenomenon. When students retreat from actively engaging in the learning process, it’s only natural that they begin losing ground.  Math is one of the hardest hit over the summer hiatus, and many students return to school in the fall at a level roughly equal to losing the last two months of instruction before summer. That’s a huge hit and one that teachers spend considerable time each fall working to regain.  You certainly want your kids to enjoy their time off, but there can be a balance that includes a few strategic moves to maintain their vacation but avoid some of the damage it can do to their schooling.

Parents can face some opposition from their kids in attempts to remedy the problem, but there are creative ways to get the job done. You know your personal family economy and traditions best, so a bit of brainstorming can produce some workable results that can make a huge difference in your child’s life. If your family is accustomed to rewarding good grades or achievements, it may be good to extend these beyond the school year into the summer break. Plan visits to the library, and challenge your kids to find a biography or book on a relevant topic that will keep them engaged. Math can be dry, but a well-written biography about a famous mathematician may perform miracles. Add an extra incentive for your child to write something regarding the specific area of that person’s expertise, and you can tackle both reading and math in a single visit. 
The opportunities are many, but it will take some forethought to find one that works well for your family. If your child ended the term with grades lower than you’d hoped for, that can also be a good reason to seek out some tutoring over the summer.  At Academic Learning Labs, we’re here all summer to help keep kids engaged in a fun way. Summer is also a great time to help prepare your high schooler for the SAT or PSAT, and we have proven programs for this. And unlike many tutors, our tutoring spans virtually all school topics, and we’ll address whatever subjects you choose utilizing whatever tutors are needed to meet your child’s specific needs. Give us a call at 949-546-0800 for more details.

College Preparation Beyond the Classroom

As you might imagine, discussions about preparing kids for college are something that we engage in frequently. Most families have a hope to see their children progress to college and succeed in a profession. For a large portion of our society, college is assumed to be a part of a child’s future. As these plans unfold, there are some important moves that families can make to prepare their children for this path.

Some of the basic elements in college preparation are the ones we handle in our tutoring sessions. Students should brush up on all basic courses and be prepared to move to the next level in each. Families that are unable to secure full scholarships or grants can see the benefits of these results quickly. Tuitions vary widely from one college or university to another, but preparing a child to hit the ground running can save both time and money. Bypassing a single remedial course in english or math can save thousands of tuition dollars and shave the time required to complete a degree. These are real-world benefits a family can realize simply by actively preparing their child for college.

But there are personal traits that many of the more prestigious schools value, and these are often not found in a school book or in course work. Elements of your child’s character and community involvement can speak volumes to an admissions officer who is faced with a group of academically-gifted students, and needs to find something that indicates one may be a better candidate than another. Some admissions officers are known to follow up an intriguing application essay by searching for a student’s social media presence. This can be a real minefield especially if your child has a bit of a wild side he or she tends to share openly with friends. If you’re serious about getting into a competitive school, this is an area you should address.

Schools may also be swayed by a student’s community involvement. There’s a tremendous personal benefit for your child to get involved in worthy charity work in the community. This not only can be life changing for your child, it can also create ties to the community that many schools highly value. There is never a shortage of opportunities. Learn the things that most compel your child, and you can usually find a good fit for volunteer service with a couple of Google searches. Your child’s involvement will benefit the charity, help them grow as an individual, and perhaps demonstrate the sort of character some schools hope to promote.

At Academic Learning Labs, we are pleased to be a part of our students’ lives to help them prepare for these things. Some of our students just need a bit of help to overcome a difficult time in single school subject, and other students benefit from a more comprehensive approach to equip them with better study habits and across multiple subjects. We also help advanced students get the higher level challenges that are just not available in many classroom settings. Whether your child is ahead of their class, behind their class, or ready to start studying for the SAT/ACT, our tutors are here to help move them forward and equip them for the journey. Fore more details on how our tutors can help your child, give us a call at 949-546-0800.

Race to the Finish

The first day of spring is just a few days away, and for many of us that signals a shift of season toward the end of the school year as well. Spring recess is fast approaching, and the end of the term follows quickly after that. In order to avoid any report card surprises, parents are wise to pay closer attention as the term draw to a close.

Many schools will hold open house early in April, and this can present a good opportunity for parents. Though most kids groan at the thought, a brief talk with your child’s teachers can offer valuable insight. A simple, “is there anything you’d recommend we work on?” can help you get a handle on any struggles before its too late to get a better grade.

This is also an important time to keep more open communication going with your kids about their schoolwork. Be sure to keep updated on pending quizzes, papers, and their schedule for finals. Some families find it helpful to keep a calendar in the kitchen with important dates marked, so there are fewer surprises. We were all kids once, and we know procrastination can be a real problem. Just keeping informed on important dates and deadlines will go a long way toward helping your child to allocate their time better and avoid some of the type of work that typically gets done at  the last moment.

This is also a time when the final SAT dates for the school year are approaching in May and June. Many students are at their best academically late in the school year, so these may be optimum dates for taking the test. The combination of good grades in school and good SAT scores can go a long way toward opening more college options for your child.

At Academic Learning Labs, we’re ready to help your student put their best foot forward. We have targeted tutoring available for all standard and advanced placement courses as well as language tutoring for Spanish, French, German, and Latin. Our SAT/ACT preparation tutoring helps your student get the best scores possible on these tests. We also concentrate on overcoming test anxiety, so the testing is less intimidating. Our tutoring is done one-on-one, so your student is the sole focus during your time with us. We’re open evenings and weekends, so we’re available to fit into your busy schedule. Give us a call at 949-546-0800 for more details or to schedule your tutoring.


How to Nurture Your Child’s Curiosity

Curiosity is a wonderful thing. It’s a part of our existence that motivates us to move beyond where we are and explore something new or unknown.  Some of the most popular books we read will end each chapter on an uncertain note that encourages us to dive into the next chapter rather than put the book down. It’s also something that can help direct and motivate learning in our children, so it’s important to find ways to encourage our children’s natural sense of curiosity.

Curiosity is not required for learning, but it certainly complements it. Our kids may not have a great curiosity to learn about some subjects at school, but we do them a service by creating circumstances that will spur their curiosity into these things.  Finding real-world applications for these subjects can move them from mundane memorization into the realm of actual application. Difficult elements of math can help defray the workings of everyday objects like our GPS and car’s speedometer. Much of history is the story of one circumstance or event that sets the stage for another that follows with often unforeseen consequences. Curiosity can become both the motivator and the glue that helps your child better comprehend the world around them and retain this learning in a more significant context.

Of course the real challenge is finding that element most relevant to the task at hand to inspire your child’s curiosity. This is one of the reasons that a big-picture approach can be of great value. Struggling with a concept in algebra can be the very essence of boredom for some students, but placing that concept in a larger context of engineering, computer sciences, or space travel may be a great help for your child. Solving a tough problem can be less than rewarding; understanding part of the process involved in computing a spacecraft’s trajectory may be something else entirely.

At Academic Learning Labs, we work with our students to help them capture the curiosity that makes learning easier and satisfy that curiosity with their academic growth. We tutor students in private 0ne-on-one sessions, so you know that each hour of tutoring is an hour devoted exclusively to your child’s needs. Our tutors are able to provide tutoring across all major subjects in school including language instruction in French, German, Spanish, and Latin.  We also offer personalized tutoring for the SAT and ACT.  We offer our tutoring at our convenient Dove Canyon location with evening and weekend hours to fit your schedule. You may reach us at 949-546-0800 for more information.

Four Signs Your Child May Need Tutoring

Parents are always on the lookout for ways to improve their children’s lives. It’s a part of parenting that can be very rewarding. As troubling as it is for a parent to see their child suffering, finding a real solution to resolve the struggle is a moment that cements the family bond, and benefits both the child and the parent.

There are several broad reasons why families seek out tutoring, and slipping grades is probably the most common. There are a number of more subtle indicators that may help parents realize a child could use some extra help. It’s always preferable to detect these struggles before they show up on a report card. Here are four of common warning signs you may want to watch for.

A student who starts withdrawing and seems depressed may be showing the effects of school struggles. The teen years are typically a time of greater transitions and emotional highs and lows, but if your child seems to have a tough time bouncing back, it will be wise to see if there are some problems at school causing it.

Another indicator can be the time spent on school tasks.  If your student previously would race through homework in order to get more time with friends or pursuing other interests, a shift to longer times on school tasks can be a sign of struggles. Part of this can show up as poor time management as a child avoiding homework will be easily distracted.

Is your child reluctant to go to school?  It’s not uncommon for kids to start their days slowly, but if your child is becoming increasingly difficult to get going on school days, there may be something more at work. Sometimes students will openly display the sense of dread they feel when preparing for school. If this is exaggerated or a new development, it can be a sign of struggles at school.

A change in one or both parents’ schedules can also contribute to school struggles. Many times our interaction with our children is subtle. We may not grasp the full impact we have by being a ready resource during homework until our work schedule changes, and we’re less available to help. Working overtime or frequent travel for work may be unavoidable, but it can cause a ripple effect with a student’s schoolwork.

There are other signs to keep an eye out for, but these are some that families frequently face. If there’s a silver lining to any of this, it’s that academic struggles are almost always something that can be overcome. At Academic Learning Labs, that’s one of the most rewarding parts of our work. We spend time with each of our students to understand the specific areas where help is needed. With improved school performance, there is usually a corresponding improvement in our students’ self-confidence and empowerment to meet the challenges ahead.

We also offer SAT/ACT preparation courses that will equip your child both academically and personally to do their best on these tests. With sample tests and recreating the test environment, we help students overcome some of their test anxiety as they prepare for these tests. For more information on our tutoring and to learn how we can help your student, please call us at 949-546-0800.


Overwhelmed With Homework? Take a Day Off!

There’s no argument that most of us live lives that are busy, and one of our most frequent complaints is often there’s just not enough time to get everything done. This workload often shows up with our kids as well. The volume of homework and study that pulls at our kids can be overwhelming. That’s why our recommendation in this week’s blog may seem a bit counterintuitive:

Take a day off.

Yes, that’s right. Take a day off. Though this thought is not usually part of our plan for conquering the workload in front of us, it actually can be a strategic element to make sure we both get everything done and keep ourselves happier in the process. Several university studies have confirmed the value of taking a break and avoiding uninterrupted work sessions.

The science of this is something we all see in our physical lives. We’re are not built to run a sprint for an endless period of time. Our bodies just won’t stand for that regardless of how healthy we may be. The same process applies to our mental endeavors. Our brains are computational miracles that devour quite a bit of energy as they work through our daily tasks. Just as we are weakened after a long stretch of physical exertion, our brains are subject to the same weakening. Mental fatigue causes us to struggle with simple tasks and often toys with our emotions in the process.  As with the sprinter, we just are not built for extended periods of mentally challenging work without taking a break.

Recharging ourselves by relaxing or napping can work wonders in several ways. Our efficiency increases as our mental acuity becomes sharper again. We’re also bothered less by the emotions and clouded thinking that can plague us during times we fall into a mentally fatigued state. This is why we can often see a net benefit of our time due to working faster and more accurately after a rest time.

At Academic Learning Labs we often see students close to burnout from their school struggles. We’re always excited to play a role in our students’ lives to help them get a better grasp on whatever subjects cause them difficulty. In the process, we often see them improve their study time and grades in the process.  When their studies get under control, we find other things follow suit. Sometimes taking a day or two off can help a student get caught up better than fighting fatigue and sleep in the struggle to get homework done.

We’re also here to help students excel with AP courses, prepare for the SAT and SAT, and offer personalized help with any school subject that will benefit your student. All our tutoring is done in a one-on-one environment, so you’ll know that each hour of tutoring with us will be a full hour of tutoring devoted to your child. Please give us a call at 949-546-0800 for more details.

Homework for Parents

We focus a lot on our children’s school performance. It’s a big day when the report cards come home, and we greet that event with joy or disappointment depending upon the grades we see. Many families get busy and feel like they have very little control over their child’s grades. In this week’s blog, we’re going to go over some of the things parents can do to create a home environment that will help their children get a better handle on their school work.

Our kids are leading increasingly busy lives, and it’s essential that they learn to get better organized. Keeping a family calendar in the kitchen or other open space can be a real help for a busy family. Have the kids post big deadlines like term papers, finals, and mid term exams. Add in their outside activities like music lessons, sports, and church events. Gathering all the information in a single place can help everybody in the family get a better sense for how to budget their time. Utilize free online calendars like that offered by Google, and you can program alerts to send you text or email reminders ahead of time when big events are approaching.

The calendar is a great tool to help your child develop the essential skill of thinking ahead. If a big paper is due next week, but the calendar is full of other events, your child can learn that meeting deadlines should not be dependent upon pulling last-minute all-nighters.  It also helps parents keep a more active role with their kids’ pending school events.

As you learn to better understand your child’s work habits, you can create a workspace that will help them use their time more efficiently. Some kids view homework as something they want to get done quickly, so they can get on with other things. These kids may work fine at a quiet desk in their room. Other kids will be more easily distracted by texts and emails. The time allotted for homework with these kids can stretch out significantly. Creating a workspace off the kitchen where you can more closely monitor them can help them get through their work more efficiently.

At Academic Learning Labs, we’ll team with you to help your child develop great study skills. In addition to offering subject-specific tutoring, we are experts at helping our students get a better handle on their overall school load. We’re a great resource for remedial help with school struggles, and we’ll help your child with skills to face challenges going forward. Our tutors are able to help with all school subjects including advanced placement and college courses. We also specialize in language tutoring for Spanish, French, German and Latin. Our SAT/ACT preparation tutoring equips students to get the best score possible. Call us at 949-546-0800 for more details.


What Should You Expect From Tutoring?

We see quite a few students each week and face a variety of challenges. Our interactions with our students range from helping them to get back on par with their peers to facilitating students who outpace even advanced placement courses. With this variety of students, there are a few elements that families can expect when they come to Academic Learning Labs.

Each student is tutored individually in one-on-one sessions

One of the most often-asked questions we get is, “how many students are in each tutoring session?” This is one of the areas where we will make a big difference with your child. Each of our tutoring sessions has just one student with the tutor. The advantages here are significant. In the long run, there is much better value in our tutoring than with tutors who divide their attention among several students in a session. An hour of group tutoring will necessarily yield only a portion of that devoted to your child. Results can take longer to achieve than with tutoring dedicated to your child alone.

We’ll work for a comprehensive solution with your student

Students who are struggling with their studies often have challenges in a wider range of topics than the one which appears to be the immediate problem. Math problems may be resolved both with a better comprehension of concepts and a new approach to organizing homework. A large workload from other classes may be impacting the time and attention afforded to a problem topic. Some students tend to procrastinate the more difficult work. We can help students develop greater confidence, so subjects get the attention needed to excel.

You’ll get a tutoring service that covers all subjects you choose under one roof

Finding the right tutor can be a daunting task. You’re often asked choose a specific topic and the number of hours you wish to devote to it before you even begin.  With Academic Learning Labs, the tutoring packages you choose come with great flexibility. If you start with one topic and wish to change to another, that’s included. If one of your kids begins tutoring and another has some difficulties arise, you can include that child in your purchased hours. It’s a level of freedom that makes sure your family gets the greatest benefit.

At Academic Learning Labs, we’d like to be your family’s resource for homework help, tutoring across all standard subjects as well as Spanish, German, French and Latin tutoring. We also specialize in SAT/ACT preparation, so your child can earn their best possible score. Our tutors are available with evening and weekend hours including Sundays. Please give us a call at 949-546-0800 for more details.