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TFALC Blog - The Family and Learning Center

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  • (858) 454-7303
  • Bonnie Weiss
  • September 21, 2018 11:33:19 PM
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A Little About Us

The Family & Learning Center provides a unique type of one-on-one tutorial intervention called Educational Coaching. Our blog provides educational tips to improve your child’s study habits.

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  • Annual Regular Membership: 1 Year Term 2019-09-21 23:33:19 (211 days left)
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    Board Games Build Critical Thinking Skills

    Critical thinking strategies are some of the tools we teach students here at TFALC to improve executive function skills. These strategies help with problem-solving, organization, and self-reflection. Playing board games gives children the opportunity to apply critical thinking strategies and see a direct benefit. You can make the most of […] The post Board Games Build Critical Thinking Skills appeared first on The Family and Learning...

    Build Critical Thinking Skills During Family Game Night

    Critical thinking strategies are some of the tools we teach students here at TFALC to improve executive function skills. These strategies help with problem-solving, organization, and self-reflection.

    Playing board games gives children the opportunity to apply critical thinking strategies and see a direct benefit. You can make the most of family game nights by modeling some of your own thinking out loud and asking your kids about their decisions in the game. Here are some of the critical thinking strategies you might use playing board games!

    Before Starting a Game

    Brainstorm what board game to play. If you don’t have the time for everyone’s favorites, encourage flexibility and suggest saving some favorites for the next game night or trying out a new game instead. When learning a new game, help your kids read the directions and say them in their own words or demonstrate how to read and paraphrase directions.

    Before Making a Move

    As you start playing, consider which details are the most important and comment on paying attention to these details. If it’s a strategy game, remind your kids to stop and plan before making a decision. You can also say what you’re thinking as you stop and plan your own move. You might brainstorm potential consequences of your choice or talk about finding patterns in the game. For memory games, you can model how to form chunks by sorting objects into groups or splitting large items into smaller pieces. You can also suggest visualizing to remember key information.

    After Making a Move

    Reflect on your decision as you see the results begin to take shape. You can ask your kids why they made a move or what they think is going to happen next. Board games activate connections in players’ brains to help them learn, and reflection can help them learn how to problem-solve using critical thinking strategies.

    There are many ways we can incorporate critical thinking strategies into daily routines. Click here to read a blog post with more ideas about how to reinforce strategies at home.

    If your child would benefit from further developing his/her critical thinking skills, contact The Family & Learning Center today to learn how we can help!

    The post Board Games Build Critical Thinking Skills appeared first on The Family and Learning Center.


    Math Fact Fluency: Creative Ways to Practice Math Facts

    Every brain is unique. Some brains absorb math facts easily and can recall them at a dizzying speed, but other brains take longer to learn math facts and might start creating a label…“not a math person.” Math fact fluency is an essential aspect of long-term math mastery. Young students pick […] The post Math Fact Fluency: Creative Ways to Practice Math Facts appeared first on The Family and Learning...

    Math Fact Fluency

    Every brain is unique. Some brains absorb math facts easily and can recall them at a dizzying speed, but other brains take longer to learn math facts and might start creating a label…“not a math person.”

    Math fact fluency is an essential aspect of long-term math mastery. Young students pick up on its importance as they are drilled on addition worksheets and times tables. However, rote memorization of facts leaves out a key piece of procedural fluency.

    The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics defines procedural fluency as “the ability to apply procedures accurately, efficiently, and flexibly.” A student might know 78=56 without realizing that 567=8 or that seven 8-count packs of gum have 56 total pieces of gum. Those conclusions require number sense.

    The Research on Math Facts

    Number sense sets up a foundation for both conceptual understanding and fact memorization. Developing number sense simply means supporting a student’s understanding rather than just automatic recall. Does the student understand the purpose of multiplication? Can he use the multiplication facts he knows to figure out ones he has not yet learned? Does he see the patterns in each fact family? Research shows that high math achievers don’t always know more math facts. They are just more comfortable using what they know flexibly. Improving this sense of how numbers work is one aim of the math curriculum in America.

    Many math educators are concerned that timed tests on math facts lead to math anxiety and prevent students from demonstrating their full understanding. Although these types of assessments might be useful in individual progress monitoring, there are many other activities we can use to practice math facts in a more flexible and productive way. Students should be thinking about the relationships between numbers, and then automaticity will come with time and practice.

    Math Facts Games to Develop Fluency

    Let’s not allow a bit of a challenge in remembering math facts scare young students away from exploring math! Here are some games students can play at home that guide them to think about math facts more flexibly and develop fluency:

    • Go Fish: This card game classic can be easily adapted to practice addition and subtraction. Use a normal deck of cards with face cards removed. Choose a featured number and then challenge players to create pairs that add or subtract to create that number.
    • Math fact cards: Stanford University’s Youcubed website suggests a number of conceptually focused math fact activities, including these “math cards” with various representations of multiplication for students to match up.
    • Concentration: Match up visual representations of values with math facts by playing a memory game. Click here for a link to an online version or here for fraction and decimal practice.
    • Multiplication Tic-Tac-Toe: Click here for this student favorite that requires thinking carefully about factors.
    • Have fun!

    If your child would benefit from further support in building math confidence and thinking flexibly with numbers, contact The Family & Learning Center today to learn how we can help!

    The post Math Fact Fluency: Creative Ways to Practice Math Facts appeared first on The Family and Learning Center.


    Carolyn Cowen & Eye to Eye Diplomats

    The Family & Learning Center would like to share an upcoming event with you. The International Dyslexia Association – San Diego presents: Carolyn Cowen & Eye to Eye Diplomats This event is open to everyone, and specifically designed for young adults who learn differently and their parents. Recommended minimum age: […] The post Carolyn Cowen & Eye to Eye Diplomats appeared first on The Family and Learning...

    The Family & Learning Center would like to share an upcoming event with you.

    The International Dyslexia Association – San Diego presents: Carolyn Cowen & Eye to Eye Diplomats

    IDA Conference infographic: Carolyn Cowen and Eye to Eye Diplomats
    This event is open to everyone, and specifically designed for young adults who learn differently and their parents. Recommended minimum age: Middle School. Lunch and snacks are included. For more information visit: https://sdcal.dyslexiaida.org/

    • Location: Marina Village Conference Center 1936 Quivira Way, San Diego 92109
    • When: Saturday, January 26, 2019
    • Time: 10:00am – 3:00pm

    Click Here to Register

    IDA SD 2018 Speakers Series – Parents

    Carolyn Cowen, Ed.M, is an educator and social entrepreneur known for developing and managing programs and initiatives that improve the teaching-learning landscape for people with learning differences, particularly those with dyslexia. She earned her masters degree in reading education and learning disabilities from Harvard University.

    Eye To Eye Diplomats are established leaders, trained speakers who share inspiring stories and strategies for success, walking the audience through their journey of educational and personal change, providing a new understanding of LD/ADHD and learning itself. At the core is a message of personal empowerment, academic success, and educational revolution for people who think differently.

    Come prepared for honest, motivational discussions, and be ready to consider your own journey, both the paths you’ve followed already as well as the various paths from which you’ll create your future..

    The post Carolyn Cowen & Eye to Eye Diplomats appeared first on The Family and Learning Center.


    Explore the Benefits of Rereading this Holiday Season

    “And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags.” “‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, […] The post Explore the Benefits of Rereading this Holiday Season appeared first on The Family and Learning...

    Benefits of Rereading

    “And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags.”

    “‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse…”

    The words of classic holiday stories resonate in our minds from reading and rereading the tales with our families each year. Setting up a tradition of reading holiday stories over and over again with our children is a great way to celebrate the season and to develop reading fluency at the same time.

    Read on to learn more about the benefits of rereading.

    Read and Read Again

    Many of us have heard about the importance of daily reading time for our children. For some, curling up with a favorite book is one of the greatest joys in life. For others, reading feels like a battle with their mind — and with anyone who asks them to read. But once any kid has made it through the first reading, we can support her by encouraging her to read it again.

    Benefits of Rereading

    For an enthusiastic reader, rereading provides an opportunity to dive into the meaning of the text. In a second or third time through the text, she can pay more attention to details and see how the author shapes the story through language. Repeated reading also allows the reader to connect with the story and better understand the characters.

    Rereading is an essential piece of reading fluency for a growing reader. Now that she has sounded out the trickiest words in the passage, she can work past choppy reading and into more expressive reading. After a reader decodes a word, she needs repeated exposure to establish automatic word recognition.

    In a review of 51 studies on oral reading fluency instruction, the National Reading Panel found three essential features of improving fluency: reading aloud, rereading, and receiving one-on-one feedback. Rereading to build fluency is most effective when someone provides encouragement and feedback, which is a great reason for us to spend time reading aloud to children as well as listening to children read.

    Finding Something to Read Again

    We can motivate children to read texts multiple times by helping them find interesting reading material. One of the best ways to discover a fun book is by exploring the local library! Scholastic also provides a variety of book lists covering different topics. Or check out Newsela for news articles adapted for different grade levels. Somewhere out there is an engaging reading passage to inspire each student to keep reading.

    The post Explore the Benefits of Rereading this Holiday Season appeared first on The Family and Learning Center.


    Time for Practicing Gratitude

    With an early Thanksgiving just around the corner and holiday music already playing on the radio, it feels like the next few weeks are about to fly by in a whirlwind of vacation days, pumpkin pies, and jingle bells. Here at TFALC, we’ve tried to slow down and spend some […] The post Time for Practicing Gratitude appeared first on The Family and Learning...

    Time for Practicing Gratitude

    With an early Thanksgiving just around the corner and holiday music already playing on the radio, it feels like the next few weeks are about to fly by in a whirlwind of vacation days, pumpkin pies, and jingle bells.

    Here at TFALC, we’ve tried to slow down and spend some time thinking about what we are grateful for this holiday season. It turns out many of us are grateful for the same things: our families, our friends, and our students!

    Having a time set aside for giving thanks is a helpful reminder to make gratitude part of our lifestyle year-round.

    Practicing Gratitude Transforms Us

    When we intentionally think through what we appreciate, we tend to become happier and more optimistic. In fact, research on gratitude links it with improved emotional, mental, and physical states. Brain scans of people who practiced gratitude for eight weeks revealed that they built stronger mental structures for social cognition, empathy, and reward processing.

    When we work on being grateful, we equip our brains for more meaningful interactions with those around us. At the same time, our strengthened reward center gives us positive feedback, making us happier and more productive. Practicing gratitude also leads to greater attentiveness, persistence, and energy.

    This means that we work more efficiently and effectively when we take the time to feel and express gratitude. Other research even connects gratitude to exercising more and going to the doctor less. We can all benefit from practicing gratitude as we work towards our goals.

    Making Gratitude a Habit

    All of us have different natural temperaments that impact how we experience and express gratitude. However, we can develop it just like any other skill. Here are some ideas for how to develop gratitude and turn it into a habit:

    • Keep a daily or weekly gratitude journal.
    • Put a sticky note reminder on your desk or mirror (e.g. “I’m grateful for…”).
    • Write a thank you letter each month to someone who has positively impacted you.
    • At the dinner table, have each family member share something he/she is grateful for.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    The post Time for Practicing Gratitude appeared first on The Family and Learning Center.


    Retrieval Practice: Embracing an Uncomfortable Study Habit

    None of us enjoy failing. We put a lot of energy into looking and feeling successful every day, and our moments of success motivate us to keep working hard. At the same time, it is impossible to learn without making mistakes, which is why having a growth mindset is essential […] The post Retrieval Practice: Embracing an Uncomfortable Study Habit appeared first on The Family and Learning...

    None of us enjoy failing. We put a lot of energy into looking and feeling successful every day, and our moments of success motivate us to keep working hard. At the same time, it is impossible to learn without making mistakes, which is why having a growth mindset is essential for progress. Successful people embrace mistakes and use them as opportunities to learn something new.

    New Skills Require Practice

    Retrieval Practice

    One of the best ways to build learning opportunities into our studying is retrieval practice. Research tells us that retrieval practice, also known as recall, helps us transfer information from short term to long term memory after we are introduced to a new concept.

    Instinctively we know that learning a new skill requires practice, not just observation. Watching the World Series does not turn anyone into an MLB All Star. Any young baseball player knows that he is much more likely to improve his batting average by working hard at baseball practice and putting in extra time at the batting cages.

    Academic skills similarly benefit from consistent practice. Many students miss out on opportunities to apply retrieval practice because they look at their notes or find an example before trying to recall information on their own. They should flip the order.

    Recall the information, and then check it. By taking one extra moment to practice finding information in their own mind, students can strengthen the neural pathways connected to that knowledge. Even if they remember the concept incorrectly, retrieval practice helps them better remember it correctly in the long run.

    How to Do Retrieval Practice

    Retrieval practice can feel hard because it leads to mistakes, but setting it up is easy.

    Students can tell someone a summary of what they learned in class that day and then double check their notes to see if they recalled the most important details. They can draw a quick visual summary. They can review the main ideas and quiz themselves on the details using Cornell style notes. They can try answering textbook questions from memory before finding the answer in the text. They can use flashcards, create concept maps, or just write out everything they know about a topic. The important part is that they recall the information first and then check their work.

    The post Retrieval Practice: Embracing an Uncomfortable Study Habit appeared first on The Family and Learning Center.


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