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Tutor Doctor Granada Hills, Chatsworth & Porter Ranch

All subjects, all ages in the comfort of your home.
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What Parents Say About Their Lazy Students

Hi everyone! Today’s blog is going to be highly anecdotal. I’d like to share some of the most common remarks I’ve received from parents over the years while working with students. Laziness is common with unmotivated students, and I’ve witnessed many consistent behavioral patterns. Many students are simply lazy due to boredom, but other factors Read More

Four Great Summer Portfolio Projects

Ah, the Internet. The source of so much stuff we dislike: bullying, trolling, false information, and material that’s just plain objectionable. But there’s a lot of wonderful content out there as well, and the really great thing is that yo…

All About the Fidget Spinner Craze

What are fidget spinners? They’re small devices, around three inches across, that you hold in your hand and, well, spin. They basically just sort of whizz around on their bearings (and you can make them spin pretty fast) but they serve no real …

Four Great Outdoor Hobbies for Young People

The summer holidays are swiftly approaching, which means it’s time to start coming up with things to do for your youngsters. While reliable activities such as summer camp, day camp or just plain loafin’ are always there, other possibilities beckon — possibilities that, while being fun, can also be educational.

 

1. Model Rocketry

This hobby has been around awhile, but it’s tons of fun. The way it works is simple: you assemble a rocket (mostly using glue and stickers), insert a standard-sized rocket engine, then insert an igniter into the engine, and then launch it from a simple launch pad using an electric trigger-switch. The rockets and engines vary in size and capability; they can be small and simple or huge and high-flying. Make sure you have access to a very large open field, as the wind can really catch these (especially during the parachute phase). If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, you can attach experiments, sensors or video cameras to your rocket. Watching them soar into the sky at top speed will thrill your kid every time!

 

2. Geocaching

One of the best uses possible for your kid’s smartphone, geocaching combines socializing, competition, the thrill of the hunt and, of course, high technology. Geocachers leave small items for others to find out in the world. Using coordinates and GPS technology, the goal is to find those items (which only have a token value if any at all). It’s also standard to include a logbook so people can add their name to the list of those who have found it. Now it may sound geeky, but it’s tons of fun and there’s a massive online community of geocachers — chances are there are targets to find near you.

 

3. Gardening

Planting and nurturing flowers and vegetables is both dead simple and incredibly complicated. Plant, water, prune, weed. Pretty straightforward. Except that some plants require more sun exposure than others. Different flowers bloom at different times in the growing season, some plants can only grow in specific climate zones, water demands can vary … things get more complicated the more you do it. But really diving in, starting with plans, keeping a garden journal, and best of all watching life spring from the soil, can be tons of fun. You don’t even need land, a few pots will do.

4. Stargazing

It’s not crazy to think that looking at the stars “properly” requires a hugely expensive telescope equipped with a high-tech motorized mount and an aperture wide enough to drive a school bus through. The truth is, however, such costly tools, while desirable, are not at all necessary. Cheap refractor telescopes, your grandfather’s old binoculars and even a set of opera glasses can reveal amazing sights in the night sky. Even in cities where light pollution renders much of the heavens invisible, it’s still possible to observe the moon, our solar system and even orbiting objects like the International Space Station. There’s tons to see right above your head — just remember to be careful when you’re out at night, and never to look at the sun!

 

3 Benefits of Summer Learning

Summer learning loss is a serious issue for many students that don’t engage in educational activities throughout the summer months. According to studies, summer learning loss can leave a student months behind when entering the new school year, as material is often forgotten over the summer. In more difficult subjects like mathematics, students average 2.6 Read More

How much does college really cost?

It’s no surprise – college students are in debt. In fact, college students currently owe 1.4 trillion dollars in loan debt – 620 billion more than the total US credit card debt. So how did we get here? Did colleges really get more expensive? Well, first, let’s take a look at some of the 2017 tuition costs for Read More

6 Simple Test Taking Tips

On today’s blog, I’m going to be discussing 6 easy test taking tips. There are many articles out there with great tips, but this list is going to focus primarily on what you can do when you’re actually sitting at the desk, taking the exam. In other words, I won’t be going over some of the Read More

The College Essay That Conquered the Ivy League

Applying for college is a long, difficult, even painful process. Young people work so hard to paint themselves as desirable candidates for universities that are all but guaranteed to receive far more applicants than than they can ever hope to approve. Indeed some schools only accept fewer than 10% of qualified applicants. This is certainly the case in the fabled Ivy League, the elite assembly of schools with an admissions process so notoriously difficult as to be effectively out of reach for most young people. Well, wait a minute! Maybe that’s not true. One amazing teen in the Los Angeles suburb of Walnut, managed to gain acceptance to the entire Ivy League — plus Stanford and UC Berkeley. The key to her achievement? A dynamite admission essay.

Cassandra Hsiao is a first-generation immigrant to America of Malaysian/Taiwanese heritage. As a recent arrival, she has struggled to fit in. She has had to learn a new language, of course, and this involves not just vocabulary and grammar but cultural context and slang, which can be so very difficult to grasp. There is also the effort required to adapt to new ways of performing basic tasks we so often take for granted, ranging from banking to driving to doing well in school. And if all this wasn’t enough there is the contrast between daily life out in the world and daily life at home, where older cultural and linguistic norms often stick around for years.

This struggle, and the resulting feelings of alienation, served as the topic of Ms. Hsiao’s admissions essay:

“We were both crying now. My mother asked me to teach her proper English so old white ladies at Target wouldn’t laugh at her pronunciation. It has not been easy. There is a measure of guilt when I sew her letters together. Long vowels, double consonants — I am still learning myself. Sometimes I let the brokenness slide to spare her pride but perhaps I have hurt her more to spare mine.”

Ms. Hsiao really knocked the socks off the admissions officers who read it. Worth noting, however, is the fact that Hsiao is no ordinary high school student. Though still only seventeen years old, she is a practicing entertainment journalist, and has interviewed movie stars. In other words there’s more to her applications than just the essay.

The bottom line, however, is that her applications were accepted on their merits — she had no strings to pull. This is worth considering for ambitious students who might be too intimidated to aim for the top. The truth is, you never know what might happen.

Read the full essay here.

6 Simple Math Tips for Students of All Ages

On today’s blog, I’d like to share 6 easy math tips that are great for students of all ages! You don’t need to be a math whiz to teach your kids these tips, or use them yourself! #1: Write as neatly as you can. Although this might seem obvious, I can’t tell you how many times Read More

Autism: Toward a Deeper Understanding

Autism and autism awareness are important topics, in society at large as well as within educational circles. However a great many people may have an incomplete or outdated understanding of what autism is, where it comes from and what it means for parents, teachers and the community. So without further ado let’s jump in.

 

What exactly is autism?

 

Previously, autism was perceived as a collection of vaguely-connected disorders, or as varying points on a spectrum. Nowadays, however, it’s viewed quite differently. A diagnosis of autism includes three key disorders:

 

  • Impairments in social interaction

  • Impairments in communication

  • Restricted interests and repetitive behavior

 

Those are the three characteristics that lead to a diagnosis of autism. The thing is, it’s now known that huge differences can exist between children with autism, and that is chalked up to the fact that it affects people in unique ways. It can be mild or intense, or include any number of a basket of behaviors or symptoms that can range from picky eating to sensory abnormalities to unusual abilities, such as superior memorization and perception. In other words, the effects of autism depend heavily on the individual.

What causes autism?

The days of “we have no idea” are over, but there is still a lot of uncertainty when it comes to specifics. For instance, there is definitely a genetic component, but the exact mechanism is unknown. There is no “autism gene,” so it is not inherited. It seems likely that certain genetic changes can happen in utero, caused by external influences such as the mother getting a serious infection or doing drugs while pregnant, and these genetic changes can affect brain development. Mothers who have been exposed to serious air pollution run a higher risk of having kids with autism, but researchers have been unable to find a direct, specific cause-and-effect link between any one cause and the creation of autism.

It’s currently believed that autism is the result of problems with neurological development very early on, soon after conception. It seems to be the result of a confluence of events that involve external factors, stress in the womb and genetic risk factors. There is no single source of prevention, but it appears that prioritizing maternal health can reduce the odds of the development of autism.
 

How soon can autism be diagnosed?

In most cases, parents begin to notice unusual behavior in toddlerhood, but sometimes the symptoms are spotted even earlier. Diagnosis is based entirely on behavior; there is no blood test or scan that can find it. We now know that the sooner intervention is carried out, the better the outcome. However at present there is no “cure” for autism. Sadly, treatment is likely to be very expensive.

What does the future hold for autism?

Young people with autism have long struggled with acceptance in society. Their difficulties in socializing make emotional connections harder to achieve, which makes it easier for them to be dismissed, ignored or judged. The good news is, acceptance is growing as awareness increases. There may yet come a day when autism is viewed as just another exceptionality.

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