Back To School…Are You Ready?

Summer flew by and now you are wondering where the time went.  Are you ready to meet the demands of the new school year?  Read ahead and see if you have what it takes this upcoming school season.

Skills Review

Before you set foot in the door of your new classroom, ask yourself if you have read a book.  If the answer is NO, drive yourself to the nearest local library.  It’s never too late to get yourself a library card.  They are free and the benefits are amazing.  Look at the recommended book lists they have posted and grab yourself a copy.  A classic novel or read aloud will stimulate and recharge your mind.  While you’re at it, check out a skills review workbook, SAT or ACT prep, math review, or even phonics.  The library has FREE resources and who doesn’t love FREE?  It’s worth the time the drive to your local library today.

Routine Practice

Are the kids staying up late every night and sleeping in late every morning?  Get into the new school routine soon. Start re-implementing your regular routines gradually in August little by little.  If you strategize correctly, the children will be back to their nightly routine and rituals when the school year begins.  Some children have a hard time transitioning so it’s important that you “rehearse” the routine as you would like to experience it.  Practice making lunches the night before, be able to locate book bags and shoes in an available location, and know where your school bus stop is located.  These routines will save you time if they are practiced and ready to implement day 1. 

Get Organized

Has your child had all their immunizations?  Are their yearly check-ups all to date? Is all the necessary paperwork into the school?  If your child is playing athletics in school, have you signed all waivers?  Now is the time to make these appointments and start getting yourself physically ready for school.  Many districts across the country won’t allow kids to enroll without vaccinations being done.  Take a minute to investigate. 

Take some time to filter and organize your closets.  Throw out or donate old clothes, shoes and bags.  The close of the summer is the perfect time to start revamping the wardrobe and making room for new clothes and accessories this fall.  This is a great time to look at old jackets and sweaters that have been outgrown.  Sometimes the clothing is worth taking to a consignment shop.  If not, Goodwill is a great solution.  Either way, purging old clothing, shoes and bags is a great way to ready yourself for this school year.

Through preparation and organization, you can ensure that your child will have a smooth transition to the start of the new school year. By doing so, you and your child can enjoy the rest of your summer break and have a great start to the new school year.

The Best Way To Learn a Language

Language can best be viewed as a communication style. When asking ourselves how to approach a language we need to first understand how to communicate. The main areas of communication are speaking, listening, reading and writing. You likely already possess communication skills and now we will discuss how to take these skills and apply them to another language.


Undeniably, speaking a new language is going to be a challenge for many reasons. Every new language has new sounds that your mouth is not familiar with. What should you do? The first thing is to identify all the foreign sounds. Use google and search “What sounds exist in (target language) that don’t exist in (native language)?” Once you have this list, practice making these sounds and have a native speaker listen to you and give you feedback. The second thing is to improve your listening skills. Why is that important?


The way you hear a language will influence your speech. This is why people have accents. Often a person learning a language will not be able to say a sound correctly because they are not hearing the sound correctly. You must listen until you can hear the correct sounds. A guitar player who has played long enough can hear when a string needs to be tuned. If you are saying a word that is “out of tune” and you don’t know why, the reason is because you can’t hear it. The more you listen to a language the easier it will become.


Reading in a foreign language can boost and destroy your confidence all at once. The best approach is to take the “Bedtime Story” approach. Just as a mother reads stories to her children in a clear and slow voice, you should find audiobooks that do the same. Over a few weeks you will find yourself recognizing words. It’s possible that you won’t understand much, but focus on what you do understand. Using your finger and following along with the narrator will help boost your reading tremendously. It’s okay to read the same passage more than once, but do not get stuck on catching the meaning of every single thing.


Keep it simple. The shorter your sentences are, the less likely you are to make a mistake. Another rule to follow is to only use words that you are comfortable with using. The benefit of living with the internet is that everything we write can be proofread by another person. Writing doesn’t have to be scary and you don’t have to tackle it alone. Find someone that is a native speaker that will correct your mistakes when writing. Once everything is corrected, you can go back and compare it in order to learn from your mistakes.

If you struggle in any of these areas in your native language that may come across in your target language. As you actively improve your foreign language, your mother tongue should also not be forgotten. Learning a language is strenuous but the joy of communication outweighs the learning process.

Combating the Summer Slide with Learning Programs

According to the National Summer Learning Association, nine out of ten teachers spend the first three weeks of the school year re-teaching lessons. That means that students are performing about a month behind where they left off the previous year. This is largely due to what is referred to as the Summer Slide, which is a steady decline of learning and retention in the summer months. Fortunately there are affordable ways teachers, administration, and parents can work to avoid this.

Summer programs are offered through public and private schools, colleges, independent organizations, tutoring services, churches and even online. Programs offered through a child’s school is ideal because it can be more affordable than a private program. Often these district programs include camps in the areas of science, creative arts, athletics, STEM, etc. Sometimes they fill up quickly so forward planning is crucial.

Many districts have a calendar of summer events posted online. If a month-long camp is too much of a commitment for families, they can opt for a day activity now and then. If available, parents should get involved and volunteer at programs of interest. This sets a shining example of the lifelong learner all parents want for their children.

Although many districts do offer these programs, they really should be made more of a priority. Staff can ultimately save resources for the upcoming year, not to mention the potential benefit of increased test scores. The low cost of district-offered programs benefit low-income families who are the main victims of the Summer Slide. Parents can contact local school districts to advocate for summer programs in their neighborhood. Educators can talk to administrators to affirm the important of these programs.

For middle and high school-aged students looking to stay engaged and proactive during summer, nearby community colleges offer a wide selection of courses– albeit at a price. This is a great opportunity for adolescents to expand on their skills or pursue a possible career interest. The Best College Reviews Organization compiled a list of impressive summer programs in various colleges around the United States. Teachers and parents can research to find out what is offered in their area.

If price is a concern, an often cheaper option for summer learning is online programs. Some programs are free and others are offered at a low price. These cater to all age groups, but may be more suitable for older students with a substantial attention span. Online schools and organizations offer credit recovery courses, interest-based courses, foreign language courses and many other choices. For families with busy schedules, this is a more flexible option.

Parents, teachers, and administrators should advocate for and support summer programs that benefit students. These programs can serve as a way to prevent summer learning loss and narrow the achievement gap overall. Come fall, students and teachers alike will benefit from the summer learning.

How Challenge and Failure Coexist in a Classroom and Make Our World Better?

As a teacher, we look at the word “challenge” through so many different lenses that it is hard to clearly define what failure is and is NOT in education. Some argue that you have to fail to learn, but any parent who has watched the soul of a sweet child crushed before their eyes when they witness the heartache of “not getting it right” over and over again might disagree. The implications of failure are far deeper than just an opportunity for learning or a challenging lesson that is received.


So how do parents weigh in when a teacher is rejecting the idea of failure, or in fact, celebrating a child that has not only failed at something but in fact, gained knowledge while doing so? Is challenge a sign of failure or a sign of learning? For generations, parents have frowned, punished and issued consequences for failing grades. In the last decade or so, the shift in grading has also shifted our thinking in passing, failing and mastering lessons in the classroom. The term “proficient” has been coined to casually imply that the child can understand and use most of the content. The phrase “College and Career Ready” is a step above proficient and its wordiness is enough to get parents buzzing about what their child’s educational goals may implore in the near future.

With the shift in mindset, grading, testing, and academic competition, there is a newly vocal group of parents expressing the need to authentically challenge their children. These parents truly want their children to be engaged in learning that is meaningful and asks youngsters to solve their own problems. The curriculum, test preparation, and textbooks are disconnected from the skill set that a young adult needs to be “College and Career Ready.” In the last two years, I have worked with parents of six, seven and eight-year-olds that are explicit in asking me, as the teacher,  to make things uncomfortable for their children when learning. Their motive is to ensure that their child not only knows what it feels like to make mistakes, challenge ideas and question presentation, but also how to solve their own problems when they do fail. They have repeatedly said that they want their child to feel “challenged.”  This idea is much different from telling a child that they did not spell a word correctly or followed the steps to a math equation incorrectly.


A challenging teacher springs inquiry. This teacher develops not only the questions that go beyond the surface to foster engagement but the questions that don’t have answers.  When teachers ask children challenging questions,  “I don’t know” is no longer an option for a response. Instead of yes, no, true or false, teachers probe with “why” or “why not” and the problem-solving unravels.

Parents want their children to question and problem-solve because it fosters independence, as well as open-mindedness. Our world is not one dimensioned, and neither should our education system. Technology integration has stupefied learning and parents don’t have the time or energy to enhance the minutes lost in a classroom where the child is showing proficiency, but capable of so much more. By pushing children, allowing them to fail and then helping them problem solve towards their own successes and answers, we move past proficient and onto a skill set that is needed for careers, parenthood and beyond. Google can give a one-line answer with YouTube video supports and visual aids, but what happens when we lose the WI-fi signal?

In our next set of college and career prep courses, students will have to be reconstructors and innovators. This generation is counting on the incoming to help solve technology problems today that they couldn’t have predicted by anyone twenty years ago. This gives the teaching job another unique dimension, but it also allows education to redefine failure, growth, and learning in a world that badly needs refining of all these factors as we walk today.  Parents are being challenged to problem solve on their own, they now want to plant the seeds for our future sowers.  The positive cycle of “challenge” will change and mold our next set of graduates, who are in turn our future parents, future teachers and in the end, future of the world, which is precisely what we want, since we are all seeking for that greatest ‘good.’

Speaking of Summer – A Summer Presentation to Help Public Speaking

The Public

When most parents reflect on their high school summers, they often remember their summer jobs. Whether babysitting, lifeguarding, or scooping ice cream, most high schoolers used to work at least part-time during summer breaks to earn extra money, work experience, and often a reason to get out of the house.

However, the current tendency for summer high schoolers is to not work outside the home. There are many reasons for this trend, but the primary one may be surprising. Teenagers are not less responsible or motivated to work than their parents. The main reason high schoolers report for not getting summer jobs is that they don’t want to speak in public.

The Fear

Nearly everyone has a fear of public speaking. This brings to mind the old joke that people fear death less than public speaking and would rather be in the casket than giving the eulogy. While this is an exaggeration, for high school students the fear is real and it’s getting worse. A majority of teenagers would rather communicate through text or social media than speak directly to people they don’t know.

As students get older, they naturally become more fearful of public speaking. This current escalation may not only interfere with part-time summer employment, but also academic performance when school is in session. Much of high school and college curricula is moving toward class presentation as a means of assessment. In addition, many universities are adding personal interviews to the application process as part of admissions.

Ironically, as the fear of public speaking rises in high school students so does the need to develop such skills. Summer break is an ideal time for students to hone their public speaking skills, and parents can help them do so right at home.

The Pitch

Fear of public speaking is strongly reduced through preparation and practice. Parents have the opportunity during summer break to help their high schoolers through the process. Teens may resist the idea at first, but with support, direction, and potential reward, they will eventually embrace the chance to conquer their fears.

Parents can help their teens set a goal and a timeline for creating a presentation to be given to the family and/or friends. This may seem like a strange assignment for summer but following a step-by-step plan will lead to success for everyone involved.

The Plan

  1. Establish that this summer presentation is for practice only, and that the audience is without judgment. Ideally, all family members could share in the public speaking by creating their own presentations, so the spotlight is not on just one person.
  2. Allow freedom in choosing a topic, and make sure that the presenter is interested and enthusiastic about it.
  3. Set goals for what the presentation should achieve. Should it be informative, entertaining, persuasive? Don’t forget to set and keep a deadline.
  4. Allow each presenter to prepare and organize their material, research if needed, and format their speech.
  5. Encourage use of multi-media visual/audio aids to enhance creativity.
  6. Establish practice sessions to increase confidence.
  7. Set up a reward for completing and delivering the presentation—whether it’s a gift card or another acknowledgement of public speaking success.

The Result

One summer presentation to family and/or friends is probably not enough to eliminate public speaking fear altogether in high school students. However, the preparation and practice can help them reduce future presentation and speaking jitters. With family support, direction, and potential reward, students will be more confident and experienced in public speaking, which will have lifetime benefits.

Summer Card Sharks – Simple Games to Stop Brain Drain

Lazy, Hazy Days

Nearly everyone looks forward to summer, especially elementary school kids. For grades K-6, summer generally means splashing, swinging, and staying far away from academics. Though vacation is a healthy break, it can unfortunately cause what educators call “brain drain” or skill loss.

This skill loss means that on long breaks, most students lose or forget the skills and material they learned during the school year. As a result, they enter the next school year behind grade level and needing to catch up. Many elementary students are likely to read some books over the summer for enjoyment, yet few are eager to sit and do math problems for fun. Therefore, summer math skill loss is nearly double that of reading.

Parents who are motivated for their children to practice math skills over summer often go about it in ways that are expensive, uninspired, and ultimately ineffective. Math camps are costly and tend to undermine the academic freedom that summer brings. Typical summer workbooks mirror the drudgery of homework. And math video games, while fun, add to screen time while also teaching players more about how to “beat” the game rather than actual math skills.

However, the lazy summer days don’t have to make for hazy math with elementary school kids. A simple deck of cards can provide numerous opportunities for students to maintain their math skills and have fun doing so.

Card Games

Card games are an easy and enjoyable way for elementary school kids to enhance their math skills over summer. There are many card games for all ages to enjoy, and parents can incorporate these games during family time. Once kids get the hang of the games, they can play with siblings, friends, or even by themselves in some cases.

Here are some card game suggestions that incorporate math skills for almost all elementary learners to enjoy:

  1. Memory: Playing “Memory” with young children using a deck of cards helps them identify numbers as concrete representations. By matching number pairs, children practice number recognition and visual memory. This game can be single or multi-player and can be varied depending on players’ ages.
  2. War: Using a deck of cards to play “War” with elementary school children helps them retain number values, understand the concept of greater-than and less-than, and even presents an introduction to mathematical probability.
  3. Crazy Eights: “Crazy Eights” is a multi-player card game that encourages addition skills and mathematical critical thinking through strategy. Players try to eliminate their hand of cards by matching either the number or suit of the card on the table. The losing group of players must tally their remaining cards to give points to the winner of each round.

Card Activities

A deck of cards can inspire many activities for elementary school kids, not the least of which is card tricks. Many “magic” card tricks are based more on math principles than sleight-of-hand, which makes them fun and simple to perform if math skills are sharp.

One magic card trick that is easy to master and requires operational math skills is creating “tens.” With face cards and tens removed from the deck, an “audience” member chooses one card from those remaining. The “magician” then lays down the remainder of the cards and pairs them up to create values of ten: ace and nine, two and eight, etc. The one card remaining for the magician is the pair to the audience card to create ten. Therefore, the magician can subtract the value of the remaining card from 10 and “guess” the value of the audience card.

Many operational math skills can be practiced with a deck of cards. Parents can safely check the internet for tutorials and share them with their kids.

Card Sharks

A deck of cards is an easy, portable, fun, and almost unlimited way to encourage math retention and development in elementary school students during the summer. Whether playing card games or demonstrating magic tricks, a card deck fosters non-screen entertainment with family and friends. A deck of cards encourages creativity in kids as well as critical thinking, operational strategy, and math readiness for the new school year.

Summer Clean-Out | Creating Memories that May Last Longer than Most Possessions

Pile Ups

Summertime can be a difficult balance for families between relaxation and activities. Most kids are resistant to doing work in favor of having fun, but boredom can quickly set in. And most parents want their kids to be somewhat productive in the summer, yet still enjoy the freedom of a long break.

One way to avoid these conflict pileups is to actually make some piles. Summer is an excellent time for family members to clean out some possessions that have lost their use or value and pile them up for re-purpose or donations. This is an opportunity to encourage a sense of community, volunteerism, and environmental awareness for everyone involved.

Getting Started

Beginning any project can be difficult, so it’s important to set goals and a timeline. Parents and kids can research community organizations, and which donated items they are seeking. For example, some police departments accept donations of gently used stuffed animals to give to children in high-stress situations. Other rescue groups may encourage donations of household goods or clothing.

Families can choose one or more “categories” of belongings to donate as a means and goal of community support, gather items to give, and then set a donation day to deliver and celebrate. This can be the start of a summer tradition of contribution and awareness of how much “stuff” people acquire that isn’t highly valued or used.

Tough Going

Getting rid of possessions may be challenging for people of all ages. Little ones may not understand the idea of donating to those less fortunate. Adolescents may be reluctant to give away their things, especially if they feel attached to them. Even adults can be overwhelmed with sentimentality or the idea that they “might need it later.”

This type of summer clean-out is a learning process for everyone. It’s important to start small and keep in mind the ripple effect of contribution. One way to make the tough decision of what to donate easier is to assign a “value” system. For each category of items, family members can assign a numerical value that reflects importance, necessity, or sentimentality. If the number value of an item is high, then it stays. If the number value of an item is low, then it goes.

For example, if a family wishes to clear out some board games for donation, they can take each game and value it with a number. If a game is played often and brings back fond memories, the number value would be high, and the game would stay. However, if a game has been outgrown and is rarely played with, the number value would be low, and the game could be passed on to another family rather than just taking up space in the home environment.

Big Reward

Hopefully, most family members will feel internal reward for giving to others and creating more breathing space in the home. However, like the value system for donations, it’s also important to have a tangible reward that everyone can remember and enjoy. This reward could be going out for pizza or ice cream on donation day, or even creating a small scrapbook page to mark the clean-out tradition. Family members could write their thoughts in a shared notebook about the experience of working together, helping the community, and reducing unneeded or unwanted possessions.

Recording and commemorating the summer clean-out will create memories that may last longer than most possessions, and hopefully inspire future community contributions and volunteerism.

Virtual Summer Trip | One Day May Become a Reality

Vacation Planning

One of the best aspects of summer break is the chance to get away from home. Yet not everyone can afford to travel extensively or take big summer vacations. Instead of a disappointment, however, this can be an opportunity for kids to plan a virtual summer trip to anywhere on the globe and share their vision with the family.

Visiting other places is a chance to learn geography and culture. Travel is almost universally appealing, and with internet research almost any city or country can be virtually explored. Encouraging kids of all ages to expand their awareness of other places can inspire future travel goals and a sense of what it takes to go.

Planning a vacation has its own benefits and rewards, apart from taking the actual trip. It’s exciting to make decisions about where to go, how to get there, and what to see. Parents are often the planners when it comes to summer vacations. This is another reason to encourage students to spend part of their summer planning a virtual trip. They can be in charge of all the decisions and reveal everything to their family and friends through a presentation.

Choosing Location

The best way to begin a virtual summer trip is to select the location. Younger children can keep it simple by choosing a city they’ve heard about, or even a popular spot such as Hawaii or the Grand Canyon. Older kids might think of more exotic or remote locations, such as China or Egypt.

To keep these virtual planners from becoming overwhelmed, parents should encourage “limits” in either time or place. For example, if a high school student decides on Europe as a location, parents can narrow the virtual vacation to two weeks in order for the presentation to have focus and realistic material.

In addition to location, kids should incorporate means of travel in their planning and where to stay. This would help them understand geography (if planes, boats, trains, or cars are required) as well as travel economy. Older kids can work with an imaginary travel budget and learn the different (and many) costs of taking a vacation.

Exploring Culture

Every travel destination, no matter how close or far, is a chance to explore different culture. Planning a virtual summer trip is an excellent way for kids to learn about different regions and their people, languages, weather, food, music, landmarks, art, architecture and more.

For younger travelers, parents can help them find fun and educational activities in the location they choose. One example would be animal habitats in the area they would like to visit. For older kids, parents can suggest incorporating local museums, restaurants, and famous sights in their presentation.

Overall, planning a virtual trip is a chance for kids to learn about other places and people as well as what to see and do. This gives them a sense of wonder as part of a global community.

The Virtual Tour

The reward of planning a virtual summer trip and learning about travel, geography, and culture is sharing it with family and/or friends. Young children can draw pictures of their virtual vacation and explain their findings by describing the trip. Older kids can create a multi-media presentation, including maps, charts, pictures, and slides for others to learn and enjoy.

Parents can encourage their virtual vacation planners to incorporate regional music as part of the presentation, or even help make a food dish to represent the regional culture.

The overall result of this summer project is learning and enjoyment. Planning even a virtual vacation takes organizational skills, research, and attention to detail. Presenting the virtual vacation is a way for summer students to showcase their creativity and vision. And perhaps the virtual vacation will one day become a summer trip in reality.

A Balancing Act: How Teachers Can Make the Most of Summer While Preparing for Fall

Opening the school calendar in summer to plan next-year’s lessons can be a daunting task, but it is ultimately beneficial for educators to get a head start on the year ahead. While it is crucial to make time for rest and relaxation, completing work during the summer months can reduce stress in the upcoming year.

Here are some ways teachers can get the most out of summer while maintaining a work/life balance:

First and foremost, self-care

Failing to self-care is a prevalent issue among teachers and can lead to burnout. The National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future (NCTAF) claims that half of teachers leave the profession within their first five years. Educators expel an overwhelming amount of much physical and emotional energy in their careers daily. If self-care is not a priority, teacher turnover can continue to devastate many school districts in the United States.

Self-care can be simple and look like reading a non-curriculum book, taking a workout class, or cooking a healthy meal. It helps to make a list of self-care activities and check them off one by one. Educators should make this a priority that ranks as highly as their careers.

Avoid procrastination

For teachers, summers are all about balance. That involves maintaining physical and mental health while structuring time to plan for the upcoming year. When it comes to planning, it helps to set an attainable goal. For example, starting in mid-July, dedicate two hours per week to lesson planning and one hour per week to organizing the classroom. When the first day arrives, teachers will feel refreshed and ready instead of blindsided and buried.

Get excited about the upcoming year

For many teachers, lesson planning is the best part of the job. Summers allow for time to focus on creative planning without the distraction of grading or discipline. It helps to research grade-level projects and adopt one or come up with an original idea and plan it start to finish. Many educators employ backward design and begin with a Driving Question that will guide their planning.

Colleagues can be a great resource when planning projects or units. Teachers often do not consider collaborating with other departments, but this can lead to valuable interdisciplinary work. In-depth projects that require skills from several subjects, such as a hands-on research project about a current issue or a community involvement project, can be the most fruitful.

Become a student yourself

Another great way to pass the time is to take a class at a local college. This can be simply a creative outlet or a topic that furthers your career. Additional courses are beneficial because many schools increase compensation based on collegiate units.

Another great benefit of getting behind a desk is that it encourages empathy for students. Becoming a student again serves as a reminder of the otherwise overlooked challenges they face. Teachers will be better equipped with how to combat these challenges.

Whether summer days are spent catching up on much needed sleep or being active in the community, it is important for teachers to stay enthusiastic and not fall too far behind. Striking a balance in summer can make for a more enjoyable, enthusiastic upcoming year.

The Real Reasons Why Students Might Need Standardized Test Prep

There is a lot of negative discussion surrounding standardized testing in schools. Administrators use these to score and rate their teachers, schools expend this to improve themselves, while states and districts use these numbers to grade schools and support disconnections in academic performance. Parents use these scores when they are looking to buy houses. Realtors get to know these numbers to help home buyers and political figures recognize need when they connect a failing school and its neighborhood test scores. Are any of these reasons why a child needs to go through a rigorous unit of test preparation? Not exactly, but the need and the results do have some implications that are significant in our educational world of operation and our future.

Why Test Preparation Matters

Creating and designing a test prep unit or Bootcamp is no different than giving everyone a full day to practice swimming before they are expected to take a swim assessment at camp. Every child comes from a different story and by providing children with a level of practice before the state standardized test, you give some of the “have nots” a chance to perform right alongside their “haves.”  Students are bright, and circumstances do not take that away, but testing is a skill that sits beside foundational knowledge.  Some students don’t have the same access as others and if testing isn’t explicitly designed and utilized, it could make school scores plummet.

Test Preparation Can Alleviate Test Taking Anxiety

There are students in this world that can produce any kind of project, argument or paper that shows understanding and application of content knowledge. When it comes to a multiple-choice test, however, they freeze under pressure. Students talk themselves out of correct answers, bubble incorrectly, and even have their first true panic attacks which can set themselves up to fail at their very best subjects. Simply by letting students walk through practice tests out loud and by simulating a testing session, students become more at ease with the actual assessment on test day. Even the brightest student, given the opportunity, star tutor and best school, may still fall victim to testing anxiety, which is why teachers can make it a moment to strengthen each child’s mental health as well as their academic output.

Test Preparation Prepares Students for Adulthood

How do people get driver’s licenses?  They pass a standardized test. How do students earn scholarships or get into college? They score well on standardized tests.  How do doctors and lawyers practice in their fields? Many, many hours of standardized tests. Instead of it being taboo, maybe test-taking preparation is just another facet in our classroom. We are getting better at something that we will use later in life.  Test preparation, testing Bootcamp, testing as a genre, can all be useful elements, starting at a very young age. Our approach as educators should be to separate the actual test and the pressures that it puts on politics and policy in order to show our students how to use the tools we have given them all year to outsmart the wrong answers. Through unique, individualized and well-developed test prep, our supported students will succeed.  Youngsters taking these tests year after year will become stronger and their approach will work in their favor as they understand that they are developing skills needed as soon as they are of driving age.  If teachers can change the delivery of the message then the stigma and results will turn towards the positive and standardized tests will just be another norm in developing and educating the whole child.