Ready to Catch Up or Get Ahead? How to Get Back on Track Now!

Ready to Catch Up or Get Ahead? How to Get Back on Track Now!

Even if your school has done a great job with its virtual/hybrid classes during the COVID-19 year, getting real academic progress in a hybrid classroom where the teacher has virtual students as well or while at home can be a challenge. Mom and Dad need to work, the dog is barking, and the baby is crying. It is hard enough to teach every child well with in-school ratios of 25+ students to 1 teacher. Video conferencing, with its distractions and those ratios, can be especially difficult.

Researchers found there was a ‘COVID slide’ by fall 2020 for math. This is similar to the commonly known ‘summer slide’ where the student loses ground on the academic progress made due to no learning for several months. And if we combine a weak spring semester with an inactive summer, you will have a difficult next fall semester on your hands. Don’t let this happen to your child.

In almost all grades, most students made some learning gains in both reading and math since the COVID-19 pandemic started. However, gains in math were lower on average in fall 2020 than prior years, resulting in more students falling behind relative to their prior standing. LINK

If you are wanting your child to get up to grade level or beyond, there are several things you can do to get back on track NOW.

1) Memorize math facts through daily practice. – Download our FREE oral fact sheet cards here.
2) Read daily with your child and emphasize any phonetic rules he or she hasn’t internalized.
c) Find a program that can fill in any specific holes and gaps your child has through daily practice.

A weak foundation from just one year can create struggles in next few years, and if not addressed, into high school and beyond limiting your child’s opportunities.

With low student to teacher ratios of 2:1 and 4:1, Gideon’s individualized, self-paced math and reading programs solidify students’ foundations step-by-step and build confidence through mastery. A solid foundation will propel students through high school and college allowing them to pursue their dreams.

When students have a solid foundation in math and reading, they are more likely to succeed in school and beyond.

The good news is you just need to get started.  Get back on track with Gideon.  Find your location now!

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Contact us today to receive more information about your selected center. That’s one step closer to mastery!

Stronger Math Students in 5 Steps

Stronger Math Students in 5 Steps

We hear that having good math abilities leads to more opportunities and higher salaries. But did you know there was an actual study done that confirmed that households with solid math skills had an enormous net worth advantage over those who didn’t? Not surprising.

“A study by the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit think tank, showed a direct correlation between numeracy (a fancy word for math skills), delayed recall (the ability to remember something you’ve seen after some delay) and your future wealth (net worth). Researchers gave a basic numeracy test to participants, and matched scores to household wealth. The results were stunning. For households where both spouses scored zero correct answers on the test, the average wealth (net worth) was $200,000. For households where both spouses got all of the answers correct, the average wealth was $1.7 million. That’s an 850 percent increase for the highly numerate families compared to the innumerate families.”

Many people believe they just ‘aren’t math people’. We would disagree. Learning math is just like learning a sport or an instrument. While some students will have more natural ability, it doesn’t mean others can’t learn the skill as well.

What is required to master anything? Usually you’ll need general knowledge to be memorized, direct instruction on how to improve, and practice, practice, practice. Oh, and more practice. We see struggling students every day who are only struggling because they haven’t repeated the operation enough to know it well. Gideon works because we place students into the area they need to master and then let them practice until they do. Some parents wait too long to get help for their children. High school can be tough for remediation with all the material needed to cover, and many schools are removing those classes. The best time is in elementary school. However, it is never too late to get started on a solid math foundation. Here are some ways to improve at any age:

1) Memorize the 4 basic operations.

If basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division facts are not memorized, all the other higher operations will suffer. The time it takes to do 20 homework problems escalates quickly if thinking through each step is required. How can you learn fractions well if you still are unsure what 8 x 9 is? How can you score basketball goals regularly if you struggle to dribble? Memorization frees up brain space for the more complex items needing to be learned.

2) Do repetition – oral & written and not just on a computer.

Practice until it is mastered. Until the hesitation is gone. Until it seems easy. Until the facts come as quickly as your name. Also handwriting aids in memorization. Forget the grocery list at home? If you hand wrote it, you are much more likely to remember the contents. Pushing a button on a computer, while more fun, does not. Many phone and computer games can engage the students with interactive graphics but will fall short of the goal – mastery – due to lack of writing. We also have students warm-up their brains by using oral facts, which are similar to flash cards, but have all the problems listed together. We have seen great success in using these two methods.  Download all our oral facts cards here!

3) Ensure accuracy. The right answer does matter!

Corrections. No one enjoys them. However, everyone benefits from doing them. Simply being told what the correct answer is does not help either. Students do best when required to figure out the right answers. While revisiting the problem, they have to think through where they have gone awry. This aids in remembering for the next time the problem is encountered.

How can we encourage a growth mindset in students?

“The main way is to help students value MISTAKES. They — and we — need to see MISTAKES as something very valuable for math learning.”

4) Encourage.

Have a student who has no confidence in math? Start to encourage regularly. Praise the effort in the wrong answer and the correctness in the right answer. Start just before the student struggles in order to build up confidence and to advance at a pace comfortable for him. Show your belief in his ability to master the subject even if frustration has overcome him for a moment. Then recognize his growing skills to promote more interest. A study showed that students who pursued math later did so due to acknowledgement they were excelling.

“Participants included over 9,000 college students enrolled in calculus courses across the country.  Researchers discovered that students who were enrolled in higher-level courses were doing so mainly due to an interest in the subject that evolved from some form of recognition of their abilities previously given to them, as well as finding the topic interesting.”

5) Practice daily.

Most people don’t become pianists by playing the piano once a week. With homework becoming less common, ensure your student is getting practice every day – especially if they are struggling. There are internet resources abound, or simply buy a workbook at the store. Anything is better than nothing. This avoids becoming rusty and having to relearn skills constantly. Brains perform better with short periods of rest.  However, a month break does more harm than good.

Use these suggestions on your own or contact a local Gideon Math and Reading center. At Gideon we apply all five of these methods (and more!) to creating confident math students through our step-by-step mastery learning program. We offer free diagnostic evaluations to determine where your student would start in our expansive, well-organized curriculum ranging from learning numbers through high school geometry. Our goal is always to take your student beyond grade level at his or her pace to learn new concepts in a stress-free environment.

Ready to get started?

Contact us today to schedule your child’s free placement testing!

10 Ways to Avoid Summer Slide

10 Ways to Avoid Summer Slide

Summer slide is the term used to describe the loss of skills many students experience during the time off from school. This article reports that a Duke University professor’s study found students may lose one to three months of learning.

Cooper’s study also showed that summer loss was greater in math than reading and had the biggest downward trend in math computation and spelling.

If your student is currently attending a Gideon Math and Reading center, you are already ahead of the game and keeping his or her brain sharp!  We can make incredible gains in just a few minutes each day.  If not currently enrolled, we consider summer a great time to address issues from the year before OR to get ahead as the stresses from the normal school year are eliminated.  If you are off on vacation or looking for other ways to engage your children, check out our links below. (more…)

Ways to Make Your Children Smarter

Ways to Make Your Children Smarter

In this article on Barking Up the Wrong Tree blog, the author gives a great list of ways to improve your child’s academic performance.  Here are a few.

1) Get Good Sleep
While this may seem like basic knowledge, many students today are doing more and more activities which leads to staying up later to do homework or to spend time online.  Losing 1 hour can pull him back 2 grade levels while averaging 15 more minutes daily can make her more likely to get A’s.

Missing an hour of sleep turns a sixth grader’s brain into that of a fourth grader.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends 10-11 hours for ages 5-12 and 8.5-9 hours for teenagers.  Get into a good bedtime routine.  Ensure quality sleep by keeping the room cool, dark, and quiet and free of screens (tv, computer, phone, etc).  Read more about the importance of sleep here and bedtime routine tips here.

Another benefit of well rested students is feeling happier.  Happier students also do better than those who are unhappy.  Also happier kids come from happy parents so get your sleep too!

2) Engage in Active Learning
You can read basketball rules, tips, and strategies, but you won’t get better until you start actually playing.  The Gideon program is only active learning with the student always working on his individualized program based on his previous performance.  When the student needs to memorize +4 facts, he will practice them orally, write them over and over, and then be tested to do it within a certain time.  All these things are actively engaging his brain as opposed to having him simply read them on the page.

Along this same thread is to have your student read WITH you instead of you just reading TO them.  When reading a book together, point at the words as you read them, and later as they are able, have them read to you.  Ask questions about what is happening in the story to ensure comprehension.  Have her repeat any sentences she struggles with to aid with comprehension and confidence.

…when shared book reading is enriched with explicit attention to the development of children’s reading skills and strategies, then shared book reading is an effective vehicle for promoting the early literacy ability even of disadvantaged children.

3) Create Good Habits

From Charles Duhigg’s excellent book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business:
“Dozens of studies show that willpower is the single most important keystone habit for individual success…Self-discipline predicted academic performance more robustly than did IQ. Self-discipline also predicted which students would improve their grades over the course of the school year, whereas IQ did not.”

Create good habits for you children while you can.  Decide which goals are important for your family and strive for them.  Do not give up with things get hard.  Teaching your children to persevere is a life lesson and will help them through adulthood.  Being great at something usually does not come naturally.  Mostly, these are well developed skills.

At Gideon, we stay on the needed topic until mastery is reached.  We believe each student can reach the mastery standards given extra practice.  Some students need more help in +4s but may need less in -4s.  Each student is different, but we never give up and assume he cannot do it.  He learns a lot about himself and hard work when he does reach that goal.  He needs to see that extra effort does make a difference whether he believed it or not originally.  This will aid him when he has challenges in his career and his personal life.

Listen to this TED talk about how grit was the determining factor for success in many different arenas.

Barking Up the Wrong Tree has another great post HERE about increasing self-control and willpower.

4) Believe in Your Children
We cannot agree more. If you believe your student is capable of more, you will push and ask for more.  This, in turn, will create a better student as she also will believe she can do more.  Don’t be in a hurry to move on.  Wait and let your child prove to you she can do it.  Children absorb what we tell them – good and bad.  They really hear you when you say, ‘I KNOW you can do it.”  And better yet, they believe you.

Read the other tips and rest of this article HERE.

Mistakes Can Create Success

Mistakes Can Create Success

Intelligence is the measure of the brain’s ability to acquire and apply certain knowledge and skills. We know the human brain can grow, change, and even rewire itself to meet new standards. This ability of the brain is called brain plasticity. By correcting mistakes, our knowledge is able to extend further than previous limits. At Gideon, we highly value mistakes (and the correcting of!) to help students persevere through challenges and think like champions. We see brain plasticity in action each day!

Success, in many areas, depends on (more…)

Intelligence is NOT fixed

Intelligence is NOT fixed

Many people wrongly believe intelligence is fixed at birth.  Many factors will affect school performance such as stable family life, proper nutrition, and parent involvement in studies, but genetics is usually NOT one of them.

This article at Quartz written by 2 professors focuses on the math ability aspect of the intelligence is genetic theory and how it becomes a “self-fulfilling prophecy.”  After working with math students through teaching and tutoring for years, they discovered this pattern:

  1. Different kids with different levels of preparation come into a math class. Some of these kids have parents who have drilled them on math from a young age, while others never had that kind of parental input.
  2. On the first few tests, the well-prepared kids get perfect scores, while the unprepared kids get only what they could figure out by winging it—maybe 80 or 85%, a solid B.
  3. The unprepared kids, not realizing that the top scorers were well-prepared, assume that genetic ability was what determined the performance differences. Deciding that they “just aren’t math people,” they don’t try hard in future classes, and fall further behind.
  4. The well-prepared kids, not realizing that the B students were simply unprepared, assume that they are “math people,” and work hard in the future, cementing their advantage.

What the difference they see? The preparation!  At Gideon, we completely agree.  You can get ahead early or catch up later, but you have to put in the work.  The addition facts don’t memorize themselves.  Starting with struggling older students is harder as you have to change their attitude into believing they can succeed and they have more work to cover to catch up, BUT it is very possible and we do it every day.  You simply have to put in the time.

This doesn’t just apply to math but to all areas.  The article continues to discuss how many studies have been done showing how attitude is critical in high achievers.

Psychologists Lisa Blackwell, Kali Trzesniewski, and Carol Dweck presented these alternatives to determine people’s beliefs about intelligence:

  1. A-You have a certain amount of intelligence, and you really can’t do much to change it.  OR B-You can always greatly change how intelligent you are.

They found that students who agreed that “You can always greatly change how intelligent you are” got higher grades. But as Richard Nisbett recounts in his book Intelligence and How to Get It, they did something even more remarkable:

“Dweck and her colleagues then tried to convince a group of poor minority junior high school students that intelligence is highly malleable and can be developed by hard work…that learning changes the brain by forming new…connections and that students are in charge of this change process.”

The results? Convincing students that they could make themselves smarter by hard work led them to work harder and get higher grades. The intervention had the biggest effect for students who started out believing intelligence was genetic. (A control group, who were taught how memory works, showed no such gains.)

But improving grades was not the most dramatic effect, “Dweck reported that some of her tough junior high school boys were reduced to tears by the news that their intelligence was substantially under their control.” It is no picnic going through life believing you were born dumb—and are doomed to stay that way.

Americans don’t like being compared to Asians – especially in math, but the reality is our views tend to be very different with education.  With their longer school years and attitudes of “persistence in the face of failure”, they continue towards their goals, while some Americans argue we don’t need Algebra I anymore.  Or if a child is struggling to read, baseball practice should not come first.

One way to help Americans excel at math is to copy the approach of the Japanese, Chinese, and Koreans.  In Intelligence and How to Get It, Nisbett describes how the educational systems of East Asian countries focus more on hard work than on inborn talent:

1. “Children in Japan go to school about 240 days a year, whereas children in the United States go to school about 180 days a year.”
2. “Japanese high school students of the 1980s studied 3 ½ hours a day, and that number is likely to be, if anything, higher today.”
3. “[The inhabitants of Japan and Korea] do not need to read this book to find out that intelligence and intellectual accomplishment are highly malleable. Confucius set that matter straight twenty-five hundred years ago.”
4. “When they do badly at something, [Japanese, Koreans, etc.] respond by working harder at it.”
5. “Persistence in the face of failure is very much part of the Asian tradition of self-improvement. And [people in those countries] are accustomed to criticism in the service of self-improvement in situations where Westerners avoid it or resent it.”

We certainly don’t want America’s education system to copy everything Japan does (and we remain agnostic regarding the wisdom of Confucius). But it seems to us that an emphasis on hard work is a hallmark not just of modern East Asia, but of America’s past as well. In returning to an emphasis on effort, America would be returning to its roots, not just copying from successful foreigners.

Read the rest of this article HERE.

While some aspects of an Asian culture of education such as daily routines of nothing but school, homework, and private tutoring should be tempered with downtime, hobbies, and play, there are lessons to be learned from their success.  We should not simply excuse some kids out of basic subjects if they struggle.

At Gideon struggling indicates a weak foundation rather than an innate lack of ability.  We find the cracks and fill them!  A great example of this model at work is with one of our gold stars, Avery.  She was struggling with math in kindergarten.  Her parents knew that with some extra practice she could improve.  To say she’s improved is an understatement.  In just 5 years through daily practice of 20-30 minutes with Gideon, she has excelled all the way to pre-algebra as a 5th grader which is typically a 7th Honors or 8th grade subject and continues to do well.  She put in the time and effort and has received her reward!  Watch her interview below.