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    Writing Tips and Strategies for Middle School Students

    At Think Tutoring, I get this comment every day. The student would say, “I don’t know where to start.”  She would be sitting at her desk, hand on her head, and tapping her pencil.  My response, “We need to create a graphic organizer.” 

    There are many graphic organizers available to students.   You can just GOOGLE it. My favorite is a web or cluster chart especially for middle school students.  This is the perfect graphic organizer to develop a well-written five paragraph essay.

    Tips/Strategies to Help your Child Write:

    1. Graphic Organizers:   Types of graphic organizers include webs, cluster charts, cause and effect charts, sensory charts, pro v. con, Venn diagrams, t-charts, and more. One of these is bound to help your child organize her thoughts.
    2. Outline: Outlines are rather boring for kids to do; however, parents know how to outline.  This is a very common strategy for teachers and parents.  You cannot go wrong with it.
    3. Make a Thesis: A thesis is the answer to your essay question.  I tell my students to make sure to add examples (paragraph topics) into your thesis statement.  You have now paved the way for a well-developed topic sentence and essay.
    4. Mind map: Can’t think of examples?  Use a mind map to write down everything that you know on a given topic.  This will help put the information down on paper for you to gather your ideas.

    Think Tutoring provides these tips and strategies in both our language arts and study skills programs.  Call today for more information on how we can help your child’s writing and organization skills. We would love to help.


    Engage your Child. Reading Time.

    I read to my two babies every night.  My first born just turned two years old.  My second born just turned eleven months old.  Our days are jammed packed with activities and I know that it gets worse as children get older.  Our kids are off to soccer practice, baseball, field hockey, CCD, language classes, play dates, homework club, tutoring, and more.  The list doesn’t stop.  However, one activity that needs to be on the to-do list every day is reading time.  We call it “book time” in my house.

    Here are 5 Ways to Incorporate “Book Time” into your Home.

    1.       Add to your nighttime routine.  My nighttime routine consists of making dinner, baths, pajamas, eating dinner, a little TV watching, and then “book time.”  This is my favorite part of the evening.  It is a special bonding time to have with your children just before bed.  I know that my kids are still babies, but I feel like reading is even more essential at elementary and middle school age.

    2.       A reading chair/corner.  Some kids need a little persuasion to read.  A reading chair or corner is a great idea to make reading fun.  A child can even decorate it how he/she wants.

    3.        Modeling. Sometimes a child finds reading very difficult and gets discouraged.  The modeling technique is the perfect solution to build confidence in reading.  You read a sentence to your child.  Then, have your child read the same sentence back to you.  He is now practicing his phonics skills and sight word vocabulary.

    4.       Reading games.  Again, we want to make reading fun.  My favorite reading game is to take blocks and make word dice out of them.  You tape the words to the blocks.  Roll the “dice”.  Now, you have a game.  Instead of boring flashcards, give this game a try.

    5.       Reading Apps/YouTube.  My favorite app and/or Youtube channel is ABC Mouse.  The App/website does have a monthly subscription fee; however, you can watch their YouTube Videos for free.  You can practice letters, phonics skills, and sight words.

    I encourage all of our students at Think Tutoring to have reading time in their home.  If your child needs more assistance with reading, we would love to help.  Call Think Tutoring for a reading assessment today at 973-593-0050.


    Feeling Overwhelmed This School Year? Time Management is Key

    It is back to school time.  Some parents love this time of year and others dread it.  Some students love this time of year and others DREAD it.  For some students, there is nothing more exciting than picking out new backpacks, school supplies, and clothes. A new school year is a new start.

    Organization and time management are keys to success during the back to school season.  Even if your child dreads the start of the school year, make sure he or she has the tools necessary to stay organized and focused on schoolwork and homework assignments.

    According to, “The key to teaching your child time management is knowing how long each task should take, according to Katherine Firestone, found of the Fireborn Institute, a nonprofit that focuses on parent training.”  You can put stickers on an analogue clock to show how long each task (or homework assignment) should take.

    We at Think Tutoring also offer our study skills program year round.  Tips and strategies such as color coding a calendar, color coding textbooks and notebooks, active reading, setting timers, and incorporating aspects of technology are just a few strategies that can boost time efficiency for your child.

    However, there are some students that are just so overwhelmed during the beginning of the school year.  At Think Tutoring, we also have certified teachers that can provide homework support for your child.  We can get them ahead in their textbooks and you can now have a child that is confident and motivated to succeed.

    Call Think Tutoring today at 973-593-0050 for more information.  We would love to help your child have a confident school year.


    Back to School Tips for Students

    With a few weeks of summer left, we are somewhat caught between the last days of our relaxing vacations and the hectic scrambling to prepare for another shool year.  Many parents are bogged down with paperwork, school shopping lists, and the impending fall extracurriculr activities.  In addition to parents organizing and preparing, students should be getting ready for a successful school year as well.  Here are some suggestions to start the school year off right:

    1.  Take control of organizing your supplies.  Even though Mom or Dad may be buying your school supplies, you should be making sure that they are put exactly where they need to be.  Notebooks, binders, and folders should be organized according to your specific classes.  Pens, pencils, and other such items should be in a secure pouch where they are easily accessible.

    2.  Get an agenda that works for you.  There are many tasks and assignments to keep track of once school starts.  You need to make sure you have a daily and monthly calander to organize short term and long term events.  Whether it is a paper agenda or an app on your phone, keeping track of your responsibilities is essential.

    3.  Start adjusting your sleep habits a week or two before school starts.  I know we all enjoy sleeping in on summer mornings, but that early alarm is not far away.  A bit at a time, start going to bed a little earlier and waking up a little earlier.  This will help your body get back into the routine of early school mornings and school nights.  Also, start to get back into your school morning routine.  Whether you shower in the morning before school, eat a bowl of cereal for breakfast, or need to plan for other siblings getting ready for school as well, start to get back into these habits before school starts.

    4.  Make a list of goals for this school year.  Your goals can be academic, social, athletic, or many other kinds.  Maybe you want to make the play this year or maintain a "A" average in most of your classes.  Whatever your goals may be, writing them down and developing strategies to reach these goals will give you a good head start for your successful school year.

    5.  Learn what type of learner you are.  There are many different ways to learn, and everyone is different.  There are three main types of learners:  Auditory, Visual, and Kinesthetic.  Knowing what type of learner you are can help improve your study habits and help you become a better student.  Each learning type has specific strategies to help make students more effecient in school and improve studying at home.


    Need a little help getting organized for this school year?  Maybe you could use some helpful guidance.  Here at Think Tutoring, we offer a comprehensive Study Skills program.  Our lesson topics include:  Note-Taking, Learning Styles and Memory Aides, Organization, Test Preparation, Test Taking, and more.  Many students benefit from getting a kick start to their school year by reviewing Study Skills strategies.  A prepared student is a successful student.


    Developing your Study Skills: Create a Test Attack Strategy

    Summer is the perfect time to master your study skills.  Without the stress of school work, homework, sports, clubs, and various extra-curricular activities, summertime gives students the opportunity to come up with a test attack strategy.

    5 Strategies to Improve your Test Scores

    1.        Know your Learning Style

    Think Tutoring’s study skills program allows students the opportunity to find out whether they are auditory, kinesthetic, or visual learners.  When you have found out your learning style, you can create a more effective study session.

     2.       Create a Homework and Study Schedule

    Managing your time is necessary to improve your test scores.  Cramming is the worst thing a student can do before an exam.  Creating a 5 day test preparation plan is your ticket to success.

    3.       Learn the Cornell System of Note-taking

    If it takes you three hours to create flashcards for a test, then you are wasting your time.  Your teacher will not care if you have a stack of flashcards ready before the exam.  Your teacher wants to see if you have mastered the content.  The Cornell System of Note-taking allows you to make instant flashcards with your notes and actively study.

    4.       Use Technology to your Advantage

    Websites and apps such as Facebook and Twitter are designed to waste a student’s time.  However, apps such as Quizlet, Evernote, and EasyStudy can help you to organize your time and create an effective study strategy.

     5.       Use a Mind Map

    The day of the test has arrived and you are anxious.  Create a mind map.  It is one page of making categories and linking the information together.  If you can do this before an exam, then take a deep breath.  You got this!

    Think Tutoring offers both study skills workshops and customized study skills sessions.  Summer is the perfect time to work on remembering information, organization, time management, note-taking, and test-taking strategies.  Call 973-593-0050 for more information.  We would love to help!