5 Painless Parenting Strategies to Make Helping With Homework a Breeze

From elementary through high school, many parents get stressed over homework as much as their kids do. You want your kids to do well and get homework done without either of you having to deal with the headaches that come along with it. Homework doesn’t have to be a hassle, though, when you use a few strategies to make it painless for everyone.

Set a Homework Schedule

Your child’s workday at school is structured, so homework time should have some structure too. Most kids need a break when they first get home from school. Make sure your child gets a snack then and has a little time to unwind. HuffPost recommends chatting with your child during snack time. This gives you a sense for how your child is doing as well as what’s going on at school, which helps you troubleshoot any homework issues.

In general, once snack time is over, getting homework done earlier is better. Kids who are old enough to take on a little more responsibility may like having a timeframe for starting on homework. Having some flexibility in their homework schedule helps kids feel more empowered rather than feeling like they’re unwilling participants.

Set Your Child Up for Success

Along with having a homework schedule, set your child up for success by creating a designated homework space. This spot can vary depending on your child’s personality and learning style. For example, some children enjoy having a desk in their room, while others would be distracted by things in their room and would do better at the kitchen table. Wherever this spot is, set it up with all of their school supplies so everything they need is right at hand.

Adapt as Needed

Setting structure and routine is essential for homework to become a regular part of home life so kids know it’s expected. Within that structure, though, you will have more success and a happier kid if you’re aware of their needs and recognize when it’s best to shake things up. Scholastic recommends some strategies for dealing with specific situations. For example, if you have a child whose mind tends to wander, they may benefit from a change of scenery. Meanwhile, a child who procrastinates may respond well to a challenge to beat the clock against a timer.

Help for the Helper

You can make homework time easier by knowing what subject your child is working on and having some strategies to help as they need it. This goes for all grade levels, but younger children naturally need more assistance from you than older kids do. For example, emerging readers need to practice reading with you, and you can help them figure out words they don’t know by brushing up on some word-solving tips. Your older child will benefit more from having some space but knowing they can turn to you for help when they need it. Your job is never to do it for them but to help point them in the right direction. One strategy may be to consult a website as a resource, especially if you aren’t familiar with a method the teacher uses.

Build the Right Motivation

Keeping kids motivated to stick with homework can be tough, even when you do all the right things. Parents Magazine recommends being mindful of how you approach rewards for homework. Rather than using financial rewards, kids will be more likely to stay motivated if you focus on praising them for hard work and help them appreciate a sense of accomplishment. Kids also respond well to having something fun to look forward to. When the weather is nice, plan on doing some fun outdoor activities together after they finish homework. You can even pick up a new hobby together, such as birdwatching in your backyard.

It’s normal for kids and parents alike to get frustrated with homework. This frustration isn’t inevitable, though. Developing these strategies to help takes a little more effort from you upfront, but the time and tears saved will be worth it in the end!

Side Gigs for Summer That Teachers Can Keep During the School Year

Many teachers around the country find that when summer rolls around, they need an extra job to make ends meet, and even during the school year, it can be hard to stay on track financially if you have a family to support. It’s a shameful reality that teachers don’t get the wages they deserve, and when school is out of session, it can put a real hardship on many families.

Photo via Pixabay by Alexas-Fotos

Fortunately, there are several side gigs that teachers can pick up during the summer that can be taken all the way into the school year if necessary. These are mostly jobs that can be done from home on your own time, and many of them are related to the topic of teaching so you don’t need any special experience to do them. Keep reading for some great tips on how to find a job that will earn you extra money this summer and well into the fall.

Sell Your Lesson Plans

Got a great lesson plan that’s been proven to bring success in the classroom? Give it a great design and sell it on Teachers Pay Teachers, where you can share your ideas and get paid for them. You can also download plans if you’re looking for something fresh next year.

Become a Dog Walker

While this one isn’t teacher-related, it’s a job you can do any time of the year, and you can stay close to your own home if you wish. Look online for dog-walking jobs nearby and take on as many as you can handle, or just a couple to start out with. The great thing about this job is that not only do you earn extra money, you can also do it while spending time with a sweet pup!

Try Tutoring

Tutoring isn’t for everyone, but if you’re knowledgeable in many subjects and have the time to do it, you can earn quite a bit of cash while helping a student progress in their studies. This can be done any time of year; talk to your parents before school lets out for the summer to get the word out about your services.

Start Blogging

Many teachers have their own blogs, and while this one can take some patience, it could pay off in the end. No matter what you’re knowledgeable about, there are likely many other teachers or parents who homeschool who could use your valuable advice, and bloggers can make revenue by selling ad space. The key is to garner quite a few followers so you’ll get more page views and, by extension, ad clicks.

Create an Online Shop

If you have a creative side or a great eye for vintage or antiques, consider starting your own online store. There are plenty of marketplace storefronts on the web; you just have to find the right one for your needs. Whether you want to sell your artwork or start a vintage shop, all you need is internet service and a good workspace. This is crucial, so clear out an area at home where you can concentrate distraction-free. Click here for some great tips on how to get started.

No matter what you choose to do to earn extra cash, it’s important to remember to take care of yourself to prevent stress from overwhelming you. Taking on a second job can be rough, especially if you have a family and other responsibilities at the same time. Make sure you take time to relax, focus on your needs, and ask for help when necessary so you don’t burn out.


Misplaced Modifiers


Misplaced modifiers are a major nuisance that can completely change the meaning of your sentence!  Modifiers should be placed directly next to the word or words that they modify.

Watch Hayden explain in the video below!


Why the PSAT, the SAT, and the National Merit Scholarship are the secret ingredients!

Have you ever wondered if you are doing enough to prepare for the SAT and what scholarships you can earn from a good score? You are not alone. We have broken down the basics of the tests to help you chart a course that is right for you!

The PSAT 8/9 is designed with eighth and ninth graders in mind to experience college entrance exams and to practice different question types. This test, like the regular SAT, includes math, reading, and grammar. The sections are shorter and age appropriate. This test is scored for both sections, the reading and grammar section, and the math section. Both sections will be scored within the range of 120-720 with an overall score in the range of 240-1440. This test is taken through the school district, and colleges will never see the results. It is a great way to assess strengths and weaknesses.

The PSAT 10 is another practice test with sophomores in mind. This test provides more information for parents and students to determine any further strengths and weaknesses. The scores for this test are not sent to colleges but may be used for scholarship information.

The PSAT/NMSQT is the same test as the PSAT 10 except the scores are used for qualifying for the National Merit Scholarship. This test is designed for 11th graders. Top scorers eventually earn a $2500 scholarship. Scores from this test can also qualify students for scholarships from companies. Nearly 15,000 students qualify as National Merit Finalists and about 7,500 students receive the award money.

The SAT scores are sent to universities with applications. You can take this test multiple times a year, and some universities will super score the test, which is combining the highest score from each section from multiple tests to create one score for the student.

It is never too early to start preparing for the SAT.  By knowing your strengths and weaknesses, you can chart a course to study and to maximize your scholarship earning potential!

The Day Before the Test

Here is a quick checklist of things to do the day before the test:

1) Don’t do anything new – no last minute cramming, no new passages or problems

2) Review – Go back over old problems that you missed in practice. If you’ve done your previous work on a separate sheet, then you can just write down question numbers and go back and rework them as if they were new. If your old answers are right there in front of you, then try explaining why the correct answer is right and why your old answer was wrong (as if you were explaining it to another student).

3) Get your stuff ready – Put everything you need for tomorrow together in one spot (ID, ticket, pencils, calculator, snack, drink, etc. Even consider setting out your clothes. Make sure you bring a snack and drink for the break.

4) Gameplan – Spend about 10 minutes visualizing the test in your mind. What time are you going to wake up? What are you going to do when you wake up? What time will you leave the house? Do you know where your testing center is? Visualize standing in line, sitting down, filling out your personal information. Visualize each section of the test, in order, including breaks. Remind yourself of the pacing for each section.

5) Sleep – Go to bed at a reasonable time for you. If you usually stay up until midnight, don’t suddenly go to bed at 9PM. Go to bed on the early side of when you would normally go to bed anyway (maybe 15-30 minutes earlier than usual).

Morning Of

6) Do a light (10-minute) workout, just enough to get the blood flowing and wake you up. Physical and mental are linked. You cannot perform up to your mental potential if your body is not awake. Get the blood flowing. If you want to do more, do more, but not if you don’t normally workout in the morning. Again, you don’t want to change up your normal routine too much.

7) Eat Breakfast – Eat the healthiest thing that you would normally eat for breakfast. Don’t go get the Waffle House All-Star Special if you normally don’t eat breakfast, but do eat something.

My Experience with the New SAT

Yesterday, I dragged my old self down to the local high school to find out what this new SAT is all about. I got out of bed around 7, got dressed, and did a couple of stretches and exercises (an abbreviated version of the workout I do every morning). After eating a bowl of cereal, I grabbed my calculator, #2 pencils, and admissions ticket, all of which I had set out the night before. I hopped in my car and made the quick 8-minute drive from my house to Peachtree Ridge High School.

My admission ticket said to arrive by 7:45, but I probably didn’t walk in the door until closer to 7:50. There was a long line, so I queued up along with the rest of the students taking the test, trying my best to look 17 years old! I got to the classroom at 8:15, but sat there for another 30 minutes waiting for kids to trickle in before finally getting the go ahead to start. I believe we were one of the last rooms to get started at nearly 8:45.


The reading section was first: 5 passages, 52 questions, 10-11 questions per passage. We had 65 minutes to complete. The time pressure was way less intense than it is on the ACT. On the ACT, you have 35 minutes to do four 10-question passages; here you get 65 for five 10-11 question passages—almost double the amount of time for only a 25% increase in questions. One passage was fiction, the other four were nonfiction. The topics of the nonfiction passages ranged from women’s suffrage to the environment to studies about the brain. None were overly boring; some I even found interesting. I finished the section with about five minutes to spare, and took the remaining time to review a couple of the more challenging questions I had marked earlier (Tip: use your test booklet to star tough questions to come back to if you have extra time).


We got a 10-minute break after the Reading. I got up went to the bathroom and spent the entire 10 minutes outside the classroom. (Tip: don’t stay in your chair during the break. Get up and do something.) The writing was very similar to the English part of the ACT, albeit shorter (35 minutes, 44 questions vs 60 minutes, 75 questions). This section was a little bit of a blur to me. It was divided up into four passages, 11 questions each. I know I finished on time. For the most part the questions were the same as the ACT English, but there were a few that were different. At least two questions dealt with looking at a graph (almost like the ACT science).


After writing, we dove right into Math-No Calculator. This was a short section, and the one I came closest to running out of time on. I hit one question toward the end of the multiple choice that I didn’t know how to do and took me a while to figure out. In fact, I guessed on it after I had wasted a lot of time. I quickly breezed through the grid-in section, but there was a hard one at the end of that, which also took me some time. I ended up with only a minute to go back and look at the one I had guessed on earlier. I thought I was right but wasn’t sure.

Before the Math-Calculator section, we got a 5-minute break. I spent the time thinking about the question I was unsure of and eventually figured out that I got it right (Yay!!). I found the next math section super easy. I finished it with over 8 minutes to spare, and had over 5 minutes left even after double checking all of the questions I thought had potential for careless mistakes.


I thought the test was over at this point, but the proctor said there was a fifth section. Even she seemed confused by it and asked us if our books really contained such a section. Once we confirmed that it did, we all hunkered down for an extra 25-minutes. Our experimental section was math. I wasn’t on my A-game on this section, and I know I missed at least two. One I figured out right after time was called and realized my answer was wrong; the other was a grid-in that I skipped and never got to come back to.

By the time the proctor collected answer booklets and test booklets and dismissed us, it was 12:35, nearly four hours after it started and nearly 5 hours after I reported to the center.

Overall Impression

I found the test much more fair than the old SAT. I even liked it better than the ACT because of the decreased time pressure. Some of the questions were still tricky. You still need to know your stuff. I know a lot of bad things have been said about this new test. I, myself, wanted to hate it, but in reality, I think it could provide a great alternative to the ACT for slower test takers. Additionally studying for one test (ACT or SAT) will now help you on the other much more than it did before.

Raise your ACT English – easy trick #2

Raise your ACT English – easy trick #2

September 16, 2015

The next easy trick to raise that English score: favor simple verb tenses over complex ones. I’m not going to get into all the grammatical details regarding verb tenses for two simple reasons:

1. You don’t need to know this to score well, and

2. I’m not an expert on grammar.

Here’s the deal: On the ACT, a simple verb is almost always better than a complex verb phrase. What exactly do I mean by this. I mean always choose a one word verb over a verb phrase. So for example, “He walks to school” or “He walked to school” beats “He [is walking, has walked, had walked, etc] to school” almost every time.

Does that make it sound too simple? Well there is one exception. I have seen a “perfect” verb tense (i.e. a verb phrase starting with has, had, or have) beat out a simple verb tense. But the only time i have seen this happen is when the simple tense had a subject-verb agreement problem. So, bottom line, easy trick #2 is subordinate to easy trick #1. Always make sure your SVA is in order first, then use easy trick #2.