Support Strategies for Parents

  • Written by Submitted by Jeffrey Woolley, Head of School, Dartmoor School

There is no doubt parental support is crucial to a child’s academic success. The obviousness of this truth, however, does not make it any easier to provide effective support for a child struggling with ADHD, learning disabilities, Asperger’s, ODD, or other complicating factors. Here are some basic strategies to implement that will allow you to construct a framework of meaningful support.

Understand your child’s unique needs. Observe your child in various settings. How does she act? How does she feel? How does she define herself? How does her behavior change between a setting where she thrives or is comfortable versus a more challenging environment? Are there behavioral or other complicating factors (low self-esteem, learning disabilities, hearing or vision problems, etc.)? The better you understand your child’s unique needs, the better situated you will be to help.

Know your child’s instructional level in core competencies. Do not assume your child is at grade level just because he progressed to the sixth grade. Progress in a traditional school relies more on seat time than mastery of concepts. Have a sense for whether your child is ready for fifth grade or algebra, etc. If he is behind, establish a plan for getting him up to speed. If he is ahead, establish an enrichment plan. Encourage awareness in your child so he becomes more cognizant of his own needs, strengths, and areas of difficulty. If the needs are complex, seek professional help from an educational consultant, neuropsychologist or other qualified professional.

Advocate for your child’s learning needs. Once you know your child’s needs and core levels, share them with her teachers so they can support her appropriately in the classroom. Good educators will welcome more information on your child’s needs as it will assist their efforts. Where possible, seek out teachers who understand unique needs and employ a variety of suitable teaching techniques. Work with the administration to ensure proper supports are in place. If the school does not provide for her needs, then assess whether her needs require supplemental help or another academic setting. Studies have shown that school culture and a student’s disposition to school are as crucial to success as solid teaching and basic skill acquisition. If your child does not feel respected or safe at school, then she will not thrive.

Encourage your child’s intellectual and personal interests. All children have an innate desire to learn and yet some children become disengaged from the formal learning process. This often happens because the instructional level or method is inappropriate to the student’s needs, but anxiety, depression, behavioral or social issues can also derail student progress. Not all students will have strong academic interests, but they generally will have some sort of interest such as athletics, music or a hobby. If a student is struggling with academics, then he needs an activity where he can succeed. Students who do not have a positive outlet might pursue negative behaviors instead. It is essential for students not only to learn how to solve algebraic equations and write five paragraph essays, but also to develop positive self-image and an ethos of lifelong learning and intellectual engagement.

Find a mentor for your child. Though it might seem unbelievable, your child (yes, even your refractory teenager) may listen to and respect a mature peer or adult role model in his life. Children, especially teenagers, tend to filter out parental input to a certain extent, but they often listen to a peer, favorite teacher, coach, therapist or other mentor. Encourage positive relationships between your child and people whom you trust and respect in your community.

Do not be afraid to ask for help. Sometimes the best way to maintain balance is to involve others. There are a lot of great individuals and organizations serving the Puget Sound region, including expert pediatricians, psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors, educational consultants and many other professionals as well as support groups and informational resources. One of the difficulties parents have is knowing where to start. The task is daunting but not impossible. Rather than reinventing the wheel, connect yourself to professionals and parents who have experience with your child’s needs. Start with your current network. Discuss your child’s needs with people you trust who can connect you to other services. A supportive educator, pediatrician or other professional who knows your child well is a good place to start. Organizations like Learning Disabilities Association of WA, ADD Resources, CHADD, and Northwest Autism Foundation all provide extensive resources free to the public and can help you become more aware of your local options. Dartmoor’s website has some excellent starting points for your own research: please visit for articles, links to organizations, and a bibliography of helpful books.

Maintain your perspective and sense of humor. Educating a child with special needs requires a lot of patience and many resources, but it also requires perspective and a sense of humor. Perspective reminds us what is important over the long term, that individuals require time and support to develop independence and skills, and that we all have different talents. Try not to take anything personally or allow your emotions to get the better of you. This is easier said than done, but a healthy sense of humor is perhaps the best strategy of all.

Tips for Success in Math

  • Written by Submited by AAA Tutoring

Mathematics is now more essential than ever for future opportunities in colleges and careers.

Many job growth industries such as health care, computers, and engineering depend heavily on technology and math.

Here are a few tips to make sure your child enjoys and becomes successful in the subject of math:

Make Practice Fun :)

Kids who enjoy math have a better chance of success, so make it fun!

•    Play together - Parents can create positive experiences playing games such as Monopoly, Yahtzee, Rummikub, Scrabble, cards, bowling and other sports (especially averages, stats, etc.).

•    Cook together - Try cooking together to practice measuring, fractions, and proportions - with the added benefit that you can eat what you make as a reward!

•    Shop together - Practice calculating percent discounts while maintaining a tally to keep things “under budget” while you shop.

•    Let the kids “keep the change” so that they will be motivated to figure out the most efficient use of their money(cost per pound) and acquire the most change possible. Then make a game of who can save the most at the bank.

All of these activities demonstrate how math is applied in everyday life.  It generates interest in the subject while answering the question “Why do we need to learn math?”.  It also develops life skills critical in a child’s development.

Use Graph Paper

25 percent of math problem errors are due to sloppy number writing and maintenance of number columns.

Have your child use graph paper to practice keeping numbers in line while adding and subtracting.

Check Your Work

Kids can also do self-checks to correct their own errors or perhaps play “teacher” and help a younger sibling with their math homework. Not only does this develop the student’s skills, but the process will instill a sense of confidence in the older child.

Test-Taking Strategies

During a math test, students should look over the entire test first and complete the problems that they know.  This will boost their confidence!  Then they can attempt the math they are less sure of, being careful not to spend too much time if they get stuck.  Show all work so the teacher can give credit as it applies. Practice timed math tests at home before taking a class test. All of these strategies enable students to get the best grade possible.

Don’t Delay

Remember that math is built upon what has been previously learned.  If there is a problem area, it will become magnified and compounded with time. Grades and self-esteem suffer, often producing anxiety in math. The way to prevent this from happening is to get help right away.  Encourage your child to ask their teacher or a knowledgeable classmate questions to clarify concepts.  Some students may need additional help to work on specific learning techniques which can be done by a parent or a private tutor.

Signs of Difficulties with Math

•    Struggles to understand the wording of directions

•    Unable to recall basic math facts, formulas or multi-step procedures

•    Makes lots of “little mistakes” such as copying problems incorrectly, wrong signs, etc.

•    Overloaded and “gives up,” avoids doing the homework

•    Anxiety with math tests, especially timing

•    Poor grades

Low self-esteem resulting from difficulties in math extends into other subjects as well as behaviors at home. As a parent, it is important to recognize and provide your child with the help they need to succeed on their path towards college and a fulfilling career.

Getting ready for preschool

  • Written by Maren Schmidt, M.Ed.


Mornings are cooler. The sun rises later. The excitement of school beginning wafts in the air. These are my memories when school started in mid-September. In two or three weeks, school resumes, and for many young children, it will be their first school experience.

The first day of preschool or kindergarten is probably more traumatic for Mom and Dad, than it is for our Emily’s and Eric’s. Preschool is our first big step in letting our children go, if only for a few hours a day. As parents, we wonder, "Will they do all right without me in a new situation?" The question we need to ask is, "Will I be okay when I leave them?"

Most children take to preschool like a duck to water. The children that have difficulty adjusting usually have parents that are having trouble making the change.

Betsy’s mom dropped her off with the parting words, "If your tummy hurts, Mommy will come and get you." It doesn’t take too much imagination to figure out which preschooler had a stomach ache every day for two weeks. Her mom said, "I guess she’s not ready for preschool."

Brewster threw a tantrum every day upon his 8 o’clock arrival to school. After a few days, I learned that this three-year-old had always slept to 8:30 each morning.

Tomas resisted getting in the car to come to school. After a phone discussion with his father, we discovered that his grandmother, who had lived with Tomas all his life, had moved away two weeks previously.

To make the adjustment into preschool easy on your family, ask these questions:

1. Are we emotionally ready to let go?

Do we have a plan of what to do with our time when our child is in school?

2. Is our child emotionally ready for a new situation?

Have there been any significant changes in our lives in the past two months, such as re-location or a new job that could affect the emotional center of our child?

3. Is our family physically ready for school?

Is our child on a sleeping and eating schedule that works with the school schedule? Also, be careful to not return from a week or two vacation a couple of days before starting preschool.

4. Is our child recovering from an illness or on medication that could make him or her drowsy, cranky or hyperactive? Some allergy medications and antibiotics affect alertness and energy levels.

All members of the family should be positive and excited about this first step into a larger world. A few days before school starts, arrange to take your child for a fifteen-minute visit to his or her school in order to meet teachers and become familiar with the facilities.

On the first day, exude the message, "I know you’ll have fun," by saying a quick goodbye and leaving with a smile, even if you feel like crying through every pore in your body. You’ll also need this advice in twelve to fifteen years when leaving children at college.

In my twenty-five years of experience, children cry when separating for less than two minutes. For a mom and dad, it’s a long two minutes, but two minutes just the same. If children cry for over five minutes, it is usually because they are running a fever, didn’t get enough sleep the night before, are hungry, or all of the above, which helps make a clear cut decision about whether to give a child more time to calm down or to send a child home.

After you leave your child at preschool, have a plan for that morning — join friends for coffee, grocery shop, go to work, etc. My project was to take a shower by myself for the first time in four years.

Enjoy being the parents of a preschooler. It’s exhilarating, exhausting and exceptional. Enjoy. Your preschoolers will be e-mailing home from college before you know it.

Kids Talk TM deals with childhood development issues. Maren Schmidt founded a Montessori school and holds a Masters of Education from Loyola College in Maryland. She has over twenty-five years experience working with children and holds teaching credentials from the Association Montessori Internationale. She is author of Building Cathedrals Not Walls: Essays for Parents and Teachers. Contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit Copyright 2011.

Getting ready for back to school

  • Written by Woodinville Weekly Staff

Local Evergreen Beauty Colleges (Everett & Bellevue campuses) are hosting a back to school event for the local families. Evergreen Beauty College will be providing free haircuts for all kids going back to school (pre-school to grade 12). They also will be providing free mini manicures for kids and their moms as well as free eye treatments in their spa for parents as well. Evergreen Beauty College has asked Bouncy House to donate 3 inflatables for the kids to be able to slide and jump around for entertainment. Applebee’s has generously donated 105 - $20 gift certificates for each campuses for the first 105 families that come for this fun event each day. We will have fun music, balloons, gift certificates, entertainment, haircuts & mini manicures and more for all the local families in the Everett and Bellevue area – and the best part is it’s FREE and outdoors!

The Everett campus will have their back to school event on Wednesday, August 17, from 12 – 3:30 p.m. and the Bellevue Campus will do it the following day on Thursday, August 18th from 12 – 3:30 p.m. Evergreen Beauty College will also have gift cards on sale for 50% off only that day for families that want to stock up. We have nearly 50 stylists at each campus eager to put smiles on our kids faces. Please help us get the word out and feel free to come out the event as well. It should be a great time for us and the kids and parents! All are welcome! For directions, you can go to or our address’ are below:

• Wednesday, August 17th, 12-3:30 p.m. Everett Campus: 802 SE Everett Mall Way, Everett WA 98208

• Thursday, August 18, 12-3:30 p.m.Bellevue Campus: 14045 NE 20th Street, Bellevue WA 98007

Protecting your kids from cyberbulling

  • Written by ARA
The days of the schoolyard bully who set out to take your lunch money or shove you in a locker seem like a dream to kids today. Today’s kids face bullies who utilize technology to take schoolyard antagonism to a whole new and oftentimes dangerous level.

Cyber bullying is the use of technology and information by a minor to torment, threaten, harass, embarrass and otherwise humiliate another child. The Internet, social networking sites, cell phones and other digital and interactive technologies are used to take the bully’s message to a greater audience than ever before, giving them more power to leave their victims humiliated on a global scale.

"It is much easier to bully online than in person," says Dr. Mirjam Quinn, assistant professor of clinical psychology at Argosy University, Chicago. "It is easier to reach a large audience online, there is less, if any, adult supervision governing online behavior and the Internet provides a — sometimes false — sense of anonymity that may lead individuals to behave more aggressively than they would in real life. It is also easier to dehumanize a victim online, since the bully doesn’t see, thus can ignore, the victim’s immediate emotional reaction."

"Victims who experience cyber bullying reveal that they were afraid or embarrassed to go to school. In addition, research has revealed a link between cyber bullying and low self-esteem, family problems, academic problems, school violence and delinquent behavior. Cyber-bullied youth also report having suicidal thoughts, and there have been a number of examples in the United States where youth who were victimized ended up taking their own lives," says Eric Kurt, academic director of the Web Design & Interactive Media program at The Art Institute of Indianapolis.

How do your protect your kids? Set appropriate boundaries and monitor their activity.

"The Internet really isn’t as anonymous as it seems — it is very much real life," says Quinn. "Your parenting rules in real life can and should very much inform the decisions you make about parenting rules regarding cell phone and Internet use."

"It is important that you have access to the technology your child uses the most," says Kurt. If your child has a cell phone, you should communicate that you can and will monitor the text messages that are received and sent. "It’s not a matter of privacy invasion, but of being a parent active in the life of your child," says Kurt.

"Parents should look at and set privacy settings on the sites their children are using. They should also have a list of user accounts that a child has created on the Web, along with the passwords," says Kurt.

Both Kurt and Quinn encourage parents to talk to their kids about appropriate behavior online. Teach them to never post something on the Internet or send a text message that they wouldn’t say to a parent or family member. "Once you send a message or an image out into the world via the Internet or text message, you have no control over where it goes and who will receive it," says Kurt. "Assume that anything posted can, and often will, be made public. If you don’t post anything disrespectful, irresponsible or vulgar, then you don’t have to worry about who is viewing it."

"If bullying ever crosses the line into intimidation or sexual harassment, or affects your child’s ability to feel safe when she is around the bully, then the other child’s parents, the school, community leaders and (depending on the severity of the situation) the police should be contacted immediately. Your child may initially become angry with you for ‘overreacting,’ but you are doing the right thing by showing him that you will take care of him and keep him safe no matter what," says Quinn.