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Why 1-on-1 Attention is Important to Coronavirus-Effected Students

Sep-17, 2020

child on laptop, distance learning, online instruction

As students have returned to distance learning this fall due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many parents are facing the reality of an online curriculum which falls short of in-person classes. After a rocky spring, the consensus among many parents was that distance learning had proved ineffective and stressful for the whole family. The efficacy of online education has been a hotly debated topic in recent years as many higher learning institutions had made the transition to distance learning for some subjects. While there are many benefits to online learning, many of which we have discussed on our blog, it is clear that not every online learning program is the same as any other.

We found what distinguished an exceptional online program was, among other things, live, face-to-face interactions between teacher and student. Of course, this make perfect sense. Research suggests that there is a negative correlation between class size and student satisfaction. That is, as class size increases, satisfaction decreases. A large class size discourages individual discussion, asking questions, and prevents instruction moving at a pace where all students are keeping up. And while large, lecture hall-style courses remain relatively the same when transferred from an in-person to an online format, going from a primary or secondary classroom setting to a group video call can have a very negative effect on how a teacher is able to interact with their class, and how individual students are able to participate in schoolwork.

While the flaws in distance learning offered by most public and private schools this year are obvious and frustrating, it is important to understand the limitations put in place by circumstance due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. We must remember that teachers for the most part are doing their best with what they are given, and want to do everything in their power to create the best learning experience for the kids in their classes. If given the choice, most teachers would prefer to give personalized attention to every child. But good intentions are not always enough.

To that end, many parents have been turning to supplemental education to provide their children with 1-on-1 support. While pod programs and tutoring can be effective to limit exposure of students to COVID while still providing individualized support, they can also be staggeringly expensive. More affordable programs can cut corners by employing unqualified staff who behave more like study hall monitors than actual educators. When choosing a supplemental education program, look for a reasonably priced program which employs certified teachers and utilizes a proven curriculum.

The most important thing to remember as a parent is that you are not alone. You have options, and there are people who are eager and qualified to help you and your children achieve academic success!


Is Online Learning Effective for Kids?

Aug-07, 2020

brother and sister, kids on laptop, learning from home

This year, millions of students from around the world experienced firsthand a completely online curriculum. While many were caught off-guard, online learning is nothing new. In fact, in recent years there has been a surge in eLearning avenues, from supplemental education, to online colleges, to Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, which are designed to support thousands of students at once. But how effective is this form of learning over face-to-face instruction? How do we measure that success? And, most importantly, is one online learning program the same as any other?

First of all, we must assess what we think of as a "successful" program. For example, online learning in any form can be cost effective and good for the environment. Students learning from home rather than commuting to and from school save their families money on gas and car maintenance, as well as cutting down on emissions. Online programs which rely on pre-taped lectures and digital classwork downloads also save money for the institutions which support them, and immensely reduce their paper usage.

But does this translate to success on a report card? Not necessarily. Researchers Spiros Protopsaltis and Sandy Baum have been critical in recent months concerning online education, arguing that students enrolled in online education tend to underperform when compared to their face-to-face counterparts. They also argue that online education does not in fact represent any benefit to the costs of education, and does not provide an adequate return on investment.

However, it's not all gloom and doom. They do point out an important factor that changes online learning from a novelty into a true success story: Regular and substantive student-instructor interactivity. Now while some disagree with Protopsaltis and Baum's assessments, one cannot deny the truth in their conclusion. Virtual learning should at its core seek to emulate all the best parts of face-to-face learning, regardless of circumstances.

So, what does an effective online educational program look like?

  • Offers live, face-to-face instruction over a digital medium (Skype, Zoom, etc.)
  • Provides engaging materials to hold students' interest
  • Allows students time to work at their own pace
  • Interactive component with instructors to allow for questions and answers

The question going forward is: will traditional schools be able to provide this level of quality online education for students in the upcoming school year? Again, there is no consensus, and parents are already taking steps to ensure that their children have a successful 2020-21 school year. Are you prepared for the future? Know your options now.


What is the CogAT?

Jul-06, 2020

students, classroom, test, standardized test

As parents, we are always looking for ways for our children to get ahead, prepare for college, and enjoy learning as much as possible. To that end, gifted and talented programs make students feel engaged and excited at school. Because of this, there can be some very difficult competition in order to qualify for these programs. To that end, many schools have turned to an assessment called the CogAT, or Cognitive Abilities Test, to determine which students to enroll in these programs each year.

The CogAT was developed by Dr. David F. Lohman and Dr. Joni Lakin and is implemented across the country. The test itself can be administered at any grade level, K-8, with different versions of the test for different grades. Unlike a traditional standardized test, the CogAT measures reasoning, puzzle-solving, and logic. It's designed to test how a child thinks, as opposed to what a child knows. It's important to note that different states may implement the test in different ways, so it's important to communicate with your child's individual school to learn exactly what is expected of the students.

If a child is not expected to learn facts or figures, how can they prepare for a test like this? Using a CogAT preparatory program, students are introduced to the test concepts, take practice versions of the test, and learn to think more abstractly. CogAT prep courses not only help students before taking the CogAT, they also strengthen the skills the CogAT itself is testing for, which has huge benefits for your child's education in general!

Are you interested in signing your child up for CogAT test prep? Find a local center offering the program today!


Is Summer Education a Good Idea?

Apr-28, 2020

Two smart girl students with glasses

Photo created by jcomp www.freepik.com

Summer is traditionally a time when kids get to relax, play, and pursue non-academic pursuits. But summertime just might be the best time of year to focus on education. What makes summer education so appealing? Let’s take a look.

Summer Learning Loss

It’s a quantifiable fact that children do forget Math and English skills over the summer. This can lead to several weeks at the start of each school year working back up to the correct level. Over a period of years, this extra time can add up. Not to mention the extra frustration during an already stressful back-to-school season. Continuing Math and English studies over the long break combats summer learning loss and positions your child ahead for the next school year.

Routine

While every student deserves to relax and enjoy their summer break, this does not mean that abandoning all routine is healthy. Without structure, days and weeks can blend together. Not to mention, summer assignments like novel reading become easy to ignore, leading to cramming in preparation for back-to-school. Keeping a schedule that includes summer education keeps your child’s mind engaged. The comfort of a routine balances work and play and allows us to appreciate both.

Good Time Management

Without huge blocks of time in your child’s schedule taken up by school, summer break can be an excellent opportunity to let your child create their own schedule. What do they need to accomplish each week? What times of the day are available to work towards that goal? Let your child self-guide their own education, with your supervision and advice, and use the summer break as a way to learn responsibility and time management skills. Your child will be ready to go back-to-school calm and confident, knowing that they are fully prepared. Summer education gives your child weekly goals to work towards, and the extra time with educators can mean extra advice for your whole family.

As you can see, pursuing summer education for your child still allows plenty of fun and enjoyment of the long break between the end of one school year and the beginning of another. But the benefits to your child’s overall education and growth are many. Want to learn more about your options for summer education? Follow this link to set up a meeting with a qualified education provider in your area! www.bestbrains.com/locations

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Top Educational Toys for the Holidays

Nov-26, 2019

Top Educational Toys, Games, and Activities for the Holidays

Photo Credit: Designed by Freepik

Educational toys, games and activities are great gift ideas to keep your Brainiacs learning and having fun. Here are a few recommendations for the upcoming holiday season:

Early Development

It all starts with “building blocks’ and setting the foundation for learning. “The Letter and Number Blocks Set by Hey! Play!” are designed with a combination of numbers 0-9, the wonderful letters of the alphabet, punctuation signs, math signs and of course, cute pictures to keep any young learner engaged.

Early Development

Young Readers

Help your child explore words daily with this collection of site word books, activity workbooks and a tote bag. Sight Word Reader Library by Scholastic is the perfect gift for students learning how to read and write.

Young Readers

Science Kits

We love SLIME! And we love helping children make slime. Now you can bring the science of making slime home for your children to love too with “It's Alive! Slime Lab” by Smart Lab.

Science Kits

Geography Globe

Illuminate the great wonders of the world with “Discovery 2-in-1 Globe Light with Day and Night Illumination” by Discovery. Children will enjoy the changing LED lights representing different geographic data like major cities, boundaries, rivers and waterways.

Geography Globe

Astronomy & Telescope

Expand your child’s universe with the “G-860BG Refractor Telescope with SmartPhone Photo Adapter” by Galileo. Combining the reach of a telescope and functionality of a smartphone, your child will discover that knowledge is expansive and intergalactic.

Astronomy & Telescope

Botany & Nature

Help your child grow in love with nature and plants with “Botany - Experimental Greenhouse Kit” by Thames & Kosmos. This is a great learning kit for the kids that love to get their hands dirty to learn.

Botany & Nature