Manage Your Time, Manage Your Life: 10 Simple but Effective Tips for Time Management

What is Time Management?

Time, unlike other resources such as money, is finite and cannot be gained; moreover, everyone has the same amount in a given day or week. Time is a funny thing- it inevitably passes whether we want it to or not, whether we are ready or not. While some people seem to have more time than others, they do not- they are simply using and managing their time in a more efficient and desirable way.

Time management is a commonly used term and essentially refers to a person’s ability to plan and execute short-and long-term tasks in order to efficiently utilize one’s time. Since success in all domains of life hinges on getting things done and getting where we need to go within given time frames, time management is clearly an important skill set for personal and professional success.

Consequences of Time Mismanagement

Some people intrinsically have a better handle on time and know how to prioritize, plan, and execute tasks to meet internal and external deadlines and demands while others struggle every day. Unfortunately, being chronically late and mismanaging one’s time invariably carries various negative consequences such as poor grades, job loss (or lack of promotion and success), and relationship failure. Since time management is essentially task-management, those who struggle with these skills also end up suffering by simply never getting to the things they want to get to, despite having the same amount of time as the rest of us. This is a sad state of affairs; we all work hard and deserve to maximize the fruits of our labors, yet time mismanagement frequently prevents people from being able to achieve their goals and fully enjoy their lives.

Managing one’s time is therefore essential for managing one’s life; I have yet to meet an adult who struggles with time management and timeliness but doesn’t struggle with other aspects of managing their lives (i.e. money, job/career, friends, family, and romantic relationships, maybe even health). Again, a successful life (in whatever way one defines success) requires an ability to realistically plan and execute tasks in an efficient and timely way.

While people who naturally struggle with time management may always have to actively work on these skills to achieve success, with purposeful practice via strategies and internal and external reinforcement, vast improvement can be made. Some of the best strategies are the simplest – as they say, you cannot reinvent the wheel! So find the ones that work for you and stick with them.

Strategies for Successful Time Management

1.Wear a timepiece (Obviously! Your phone does not count- it is not on your body and can’t always be easily glanced at)

2. Set alarms:

  • Use multiple alarms if needed for various short and long-term tasks, as well as checkpoints and reminders

3. Make a schedule and stick to it…but know when to be flexible

  • Create a calendar and block out the time you need to complete a given task. If you tend to run late or behind in finishing, know thyself and build in extra time!
  • Flexibility is a must as life throws curveballs constantly- if one task or scheduled chunk of time gets interrupted, make sure you realistically look at when you can finish that task and reschedule time right away

4. Stay focused on the task at hand until it’s completed

  • One problem I’ve observed with people who are chronically late and mismanage time is that they will “bounce” from task to task, never really finishing one but starting several
  • This creates chaos and disorganization because several balls are now in the air, causing focus and efficiency to become lost
  • Use checklists to physically mark off each task as it’s completed and don’t allow yourself to get sidetracked

5. Use task analysis

  • This consists of breaking down larger tasks into smaller, manageable steps that can be done individually
    • This allows us to complete a micro task and move on, rather than get mired down in the larger task which can cause us to lose focus and work inefficiently
    • Ex. Instead of “write research paper” as the task, break this large process/action into several smaller ones.
    • Again, this may seem obvious, but many people don’t break down these large projects into micro tasks, leaving them feeling overwhelmed with the large task and either send them into avoidance/procrastination

6. Keep a “Time Journal”

  • This is like a food journal and requires one to honestly track and record their usage of time to maintain accountability and notice patterns
  • (“Oh, I WAS 15 minutes late to that meeting…”)
  • Identifying our patterns allows us to find solutions and strategies to overcome
  • I.E. If you’re consistently 15 minutes late to meetings or events, start making your leave time 20 minutes earlier

7. Don’t over promise or overreach your ability to be timely

  • Overestimate how much time it will take you to get somewhere or complete a project and set low expectations for those you are meeting. Better to be early than late!

8. Consider those around you

  • This may sound like an odd strategy, but people who are chronically late often seem very focused on themselves and their own concept of time without really considering how social our world is and how hindered our ability to function becomes when we can’t seem to get things done and get where we need to be on time.
  • By thinking about how one’s lateness affects family, friends, coworkers, etc… we may feel an additional layer of motivation to implement the strategies that will help us become more timely, thereby making those around us feel more valued, respected, and satisfied.

9. Use friends, family, and professionals as accountability

  • Recognize enablers and ask them to instead keep you accountable
  • Set consequences for yourself
  • Heed natural, external consequences (“Oh, I missed hanging out with my family at the event because I was 45 minutes late, and that’s on me. Next time I need to be more timely and I’ll get what I want out of the situation- to spend time with the people I love”)
  • This sounds simple and obvious, but many of us don’t make the explicit connection between our actions and outcomes, and metacognitive messages like this can help us repattern our behavior and reinforce positive behaviors

10. If you realize that you are behind and will run late for a meeting or deadline, be proactive and let people know in advance

  • Lateness will still happen sometimes, even with the most effective strategies to mitigate time mismanagement.
  • Everyone knows they are running late or will be unable to meet a deadline before it actually happens, so let people know as soon as you see this happening. On a personal level, this allows people to modify their plans and expectations, alleviating potential upset. In regards to professional or academic situations, providing the advance notice can actually give you some breathing room to get done what you need to, such as receiving an extension on a paper or project due date.

No one is a perfect time manager, but if you find yourself chronically and consistently misappropriating your time and running late for life, there is hope! By implementing these simple strategies, and reaching out to a coach for help if needed, we can all achieve more productive and happy lives.

Common Core Testing: Should You Opt-Out?

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the Common Core Standards as they have been widely implemented over the last few years. Parents and educators are gravely concerned about the over-standardization of learning and the overemphasis on testing at the expense of learning, and rightly so. This week in New York and elsewhere across the country begins a days-long process of ELA and math testing for students in grades 3-8.

The Common Core Conundrum

Generally speaking, standards in education are necessary but must be flexible and take into account the individual nature of students and their needs. The Common Core Standards were developed largely by politicians and educational publishers, whose interests may not be aligned with those of students and parents. (Read more about the history and development of the Common Core: http://www.usnews.com/news/special-reports/articles/2014/02/27/the-history-of-common-core-state-standards)

The Common Core test questions are often confusing and frankly take tasks that are already slightly complex in nature (such as reading and answering questions, and solving multi-step word problems), and make them more complex to the point of confusion. To be perfectly honest, I’ve been befuddled by some of the questions I’ve seen on the ELA practice exams for NYS, so you can imagine a 7th grader being completely stumped on how to answer questions that are so badly worded that English teachers are having difficulty. I have honestly grappled with the opt-out issue as I so strongly believe in providing students with a high quality, individualized education that’s not rooted in “sameness” or standardization.

The Opt-Out Option

All of this said, I think that the opt-out movement has taken on a life of its own and parents who choose to go this route may be a little misguided and influenced by other interests. Read more about the national opt-out movement: http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2015/03/10/as-students-opt-out-of-common-core-exams-some-say-movement-is-not-about-testing

The Opt-Out Movement in New York and Special Interests

In states such as New York, where proposed teacher evaluations would be based heavily on these test scores, the teachers unions are understandably going after the Common Core and testing, and are widely encouraging parents and students to opt out of the state tests. While I do not support teachers being evaluated and paid based on standardized test scores, I also do not support parents keeping children from taking the tests simply because they are blindly following advice that’s been disseminated by teachers’ unions or other special or political interests (or their neighbors). Check out this piece that discussed in-depth the issues surrounding Common Core and the opt-out movement in New York State: http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/2015/04/07/opt-movement/25433719/

When to Opt-Out

There are exigent circumstances under which I think it is completely appropriate for a parent to opt-out of their child being tested. I understand and support opting-out in situations where a child may have special needs that are very different from the generalized population. A good example of such a case would be a child with a disability or a language barrier that would markedly impact their ability to take or perform reasonably on such a test or who is not yet receiving accommodations that include alternate assessments. Or, for instance, the case of a child with such extreme testing anxiety that making the test mandatory would actually cause them undue harm or distress.

Testing is a Reality

Beyond these more extreme situations, testing is a reality of life that almost every person in every generation has had to go through at different points in their education, and will continue to have to, even if the Common Core standards do not survive long-term. If students want to go to private school, college, graduate school, or the military, or get certified to be a professional in any number of industries, they will undoubtedly be required to undergo a variety of tests in order to achieve that goal. And on another note, to parents who are opting out simply because they think that their child will not perform well, I say that every child is being held to the same standard here and when a question is badly worded or even incorrect, most students will not do well. It’s not so much about the grades and scores in younger grades; it’s about the experience of taking a test and practicing the many skills (focus, reading, following directions, writing, problem-solving, self-monitoring, time-management, and many more) that students must learn if they are going to consistently perform well on tests.

And as we all know, it is harder to acquire new skills and to feel comfortable in new situations as we age, so by not exposing students to these tests while they are young and the pressure is less, we may be setting them up for disaster in testing situations later on- when it actually counts towards their future. What is the student who opted out now going to do when she must take Regents, APs, and ACTs/SATs in order to gain admission to college? Testing anxiety is an unfortunate reality that many students of all ages face, but it can be greatly mitigated through practice, instruction, and good use of study, testing, and metacognitive strategies. In fact, subjecting students to a barrage of unnecessary tests now may have the unintended but desirable consequence of desensitizing students to these high-pressure testing situations later, so that they can perform better when it truly matters. This is not a defense of the Common Core, rather a practical choice to turn what is a negative aspect of our education system into an opportunity to help students acquire life skills.

Lessons to be Learned from Common Core Testing

The most important point of not opting out is this: Teaching students that “opting-out” of a task or assessment which virtually all of their peers are taking, just because it may be difficult or even a little “unfair”, is a questionable lesson to be teaching our youngsters. Is this going to be a generation of children who, when the going gets tough in life, simply “opt-out”? There is something to be said for teaching lessons of social justice via education and protest, which perhaps many parents think they are doing by opting their children out of testing. And maybe parents who opt-out are accomplishing just that: the beginning of the end of standardized testing. But sadly, I don’t think that’s going to happen at all, as we are heading further into an era of standardization of everything and data-driven everything. So in fact, this opting-out movement may accomplish very little at all, while the children who are not participating in the testing may be missing out on an invaluable experience.

Taking a test is not necessarily the most “academic” of experiences or even one that should be so valuable; but it is a worthwhile and necessary experience because we are pragmatists living in the real world, and assessments of all kinds are real. As we all know, tests are necessary to have options in life and in one’s career. Opting-out in the adult world is generally impossible or will result in negative consequences or missed opportunities; doing one’s best, even when the task at hand is not easy or straightforward, is a life lesson that we can always be learning and reinforcing. That’s the teachable moment here: We live in a world that is not set up just for us, so acquiring a certain amount of mental fortitude and perseverance, (in addition to some actual test-taking experience), is invaluable.

Does This Make Sense? A Thinking and Reasoning Strategy

Some of the best strategies to help students get motivated and become more focused are the simplest. As they say, you can’t reinvent the wheel! I strongly believe that metacognitive strategies are very effective as they get students thinking about their way of thinking. Research shows that being able to define objectives helps individuals improve in key areas such as decision making, planning, and any action that has a purpose (which is, or should be, most of them). One simple strategy that gets students to focus directly and deliberately on the intentions behind their actions is AGO: Aims, Goals, Objectives; this strategy was developed by Edward de Bono, the father of lateral thinking and one of the most celebrated intellectuals of our time. AGO is a simple strategy that “makes sense” while teaching students to think about what they’re doing and if it “makes sense” (and of course if it does not, we teach them how to make decisions that are in line with their AGO). This is one of life’s most basic yet underutilized lessons and one of the reasons, I imagine, why de Bono is a major proponent of teaching thinking skills in school.

For a quick semantic clarification: Since aims, goals, and objectives are closely related and often used synonymously, this strategy defines Aim as one’s general direction, Goal as an ultimate destination, and Objective as a recognizable point of achievement along the way.

One critical role of a coach or parent is to help students concentrate on the general idea of “purpose”, since without a sense of purpose, all actions are either reactions to a situation or matters of habit or imitation. When I reflect on all of my students, past and present, the ones who have been most aware of their AGO (even if we have not explicitly engaged with this specific strategy) are the most motivated and vice-versa, and therefore are generally the most successful. The intention of this type of strategy is to directly instruct students on how purpose is distinct from reaction and habit and how by acting with intent, we can create our own success. Our educational system is unfortunately structured so that students are often looking to adults, or the “authority”, for the “correct” answers or ways of doing things without doing any thinking of their own, regardless of whether there is a single solution or correct answer. Teaching and modeling metacognitive and other thinking skills promotes just that: thinking. Developing thinking skills enables us to become rational, resourceful, purpose-driven, problem-solving human beings. Students will not only be able to correct their own thinking and behavior through this type of strategy, but they will be able to develop stronger interpersonal connections as they begin to understand what guides people’s actions in general. People who engage in metacognition are more able to identify what is guiding others’ actions (are they behaving rationally and with AGO in mind?) and choose their actions accordingly.

I once believed that due to the complex metacognitive nature of this strategy, it was best applied with students in older grades – when they can understand what it means to let purpose direct their actions. I have since changed my own line of thinking as I’ve implemented this strategy with children as young as seven and eight years old. I obviously modify my language to be age-appropriate and relatable for a younger audience, but I’ve found that children are very receptive to being empowered to think in these ways. While it takes some time to develop these thinking and self-monitoring skills, the younger we start students on purposeful behavior and decision-making, the more successful they can be. This strategy teaches students of all ages how to literally develop and maintain a rationale for their behaviors, which leads to rational behavior and goal-oriented decision-making.

DeBono’s Six Thinking Hats (1985) recommends the AGO strategy be taught via a series of simple steps:

Step 1: Introduce the idea of metacognition.

•   Discuss with students that as individuals, we must always be thinking about how we’re thinking, making decisions, and taking action.

Step 2: Define and discuss Aims, Goals, and Objectives with students.

•   Discuss the general idea of “purpose” and that aims, goals, and objectives are all benchmarks and indicators of purpose. Don’t let students get hung up on the semantics of each word.

Step 3: Whenever we go to make a decision or take action in some way, we must be doing so for a reason and with AGO. Direct students to always think: What is the purpose of their action/decision? What is the aim, the goal, and objective?

•   Discuss with students that decisions without a purpose or without thought to AGO often end up being detrimental to both the decision-maker and others (in small and/or big ways).

•   Hasty decisions often haven’t been reasoned through. Teach students to think about AGO even when they feel pressed for time because time is saved and efficiency is gained when we behave in ways that make sense because they are in-line with our goals.

•   If someone does not have or can’t state the reasoning/purpose behind their action or decision, they shouldn’t do it! Tell students to go back to the “drawing boards” in their head and re-thing the purpose of their action or get rid of it all together because it is a habit or reaction to something else.

•   The ONE QUESTION that I always have students ask themselves is, “Does this make sense?” They always know the answer and often can correct their behavior or thinking with little support once they have become stronger thinkers.

Step 4: Reinforce and keep practicing and modeling this effective strategy!

How to be a Parent Advocate

Last night I presented a workshop on the topic of “How to Raise a Successful Student” at the Briarcliff Manor Library after which I received particular interest in my advocacy tips and techniques. I’ve also had many conversations over the years with parents who are involved and invested in their child’s academic career, but who don’t necessarily have the proper strategies with which to effectively advocate for their child when it becomes necessary (and it almost always does at some point!). The topic of parent advocacy has long been a passion of mine, as effective parent advocates raise students who are more successful learners. Yet many barriers to participation and advocacy exist and prevent parents from harnessing their full power.

Why Advocate?

Research of the last several decades has shown that parents who advocate for their children and participate in their children’s education to a high degree raise students who perform better in school and achieve greater success. (Read a Research Summary that I authored that goes into greater detail here). It is thus only appropriate that parents, especially of struggling learners, know what is going on in the classroom and what their child is doing in school. Too many parents are “shut out” of the learning process by being inadequately informed of what is being learned, how it is being taught and assessed, how your child is performing, and what you and the school can do to increase student learning.

And many parents seem to be held back by fear of asking too many questions or of “bothering” schools, administrators, and teachers. While I respect and admire the humanity and compassion that parents have for teachers that causes them hesitation prior to sending an email or making a phone call, the reality is that that is part of the job that education professionals sign up for. And good teachers figure out a way to communicate regularly with parents, whether through an e-board or classroom newsletter, blog, or other media, between in-person conferences.

You Are Not the School’s Keeper                                              

As a parent, your first obligation is to your child and family. Parents are not responsible for the well being of the school, rather schools are responsible for the well being of students! As such, you as a parent are entitled to ask as many relevant questions as you need and are also entitled to know what is going on in your child’s classroom and what their learning experiences consist of. Parents of students who attend public schools are paying for their child’s education with their tax dollars while parents of students who attend private school are paying for their child’s education with their tuition dollars. It is only appropriate then, as consumers of education, that parents should be able to know what they are paying for.

“The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Oil”

If there are specific teachers who you want for your child the following school year, request them! Again, many parents are hesitant to “bother” schools by asserting what they want for their child, be it a specific teacher/classroom, services, or simple answers to questions. This creates a situation in which there are a limited number of vocal parents, with districts generally more willing to acquiesce to those outspoken parents. In my personal and professional experience, parents who ask more questions and are more insistent get better results for their children.

Here is a list of questions that parents of students, specifically in a K-5 classroom, should have answers to or should ask of their school administrators and teachers (or themselves-i.e. Has work been returned?), especially in the case of struggling or underperforming students:

– What is the student’s reading level? Specific areas of weakness?

– What content is being taught in all subject areas?

– What curriculum(s) are being used for each subject?

– How often is student assessed and how? Do assessments vary? (i.e. not just tests)

– Is work being returned in a timely manner with feedback?

– How are any learning challenges addressed? What strategies are being taught in those situations?

– How often is student getting small group time with a teacher for a specific subject (i.e. reading)

– What is/are the classroom routines, rules, and expectations? Systems of management and discipline? I.e. Individual reward chart, whole-class system, etc…

– How is the day structured? How much time spent on each subject and in “specials”?

– How much time for independent reading each day?Guided reading? Shared Reading? Read-alouds?

– How and how often is reading progress monitored and assessed? How often do students confer with their teacher?

– What leveling system for books does the school use? (i.e. Fountas and Pinnell, Lexile, Reading Recovery, etc…)

– How do students learn to check out/pick“ just right” books for themselves?

– How often do students get to go to the library and check out books?

–    What does the mathematics curriculum consist of?

– Are games incorporated into the learning? Technology?

When to Seek Outside Help

Most parents can effectively advocate for their children once they know their goals, the right questions to ask, and their legal rights.  However, families dealing with school districts that are attempting to circumvent the law may need the help of a professional to get the school to adequately serve their children. In those cases, it is a good idea to contact a non-attorney advocate, such as myself, to act on your behalf or in concert with you. In extreme cases, a special education lawyer may be needed, though I have managed to accomplish what lawyers have not been able to, in terms of getting schools to provide accommodations and or services to students and families.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for Part 2 of How to be a Parent Advocate, in which I will describe the exact steps for parents to take when advocating as well as some additional resources! Feel free to post a comment on how you have handled a situation with a school as a parent or an advocate!

The Stigma of Lazy

Parents and other adults who interact regularly with children and teenagers throw around the word “lazy” so often that I think we have collectively forgotten what the word means and connotes to those whom we label as such.  The word lazy is defined by Oxford Dictionaries as “unwilling to work or use energy.” I have never met a child in all of my years who fits that definition. Children innately want to work, learn, explore, engage, and be active. Some of the best anecdotal evidence of this can be seen at the beach, where children can be readily observed eagerly shoveling sand, filling and lugging buckets of water, painstakingly sculpting sand creations, practicing swimming skills, and digging holes to reveal different layers of sand, all the while working cooperatively towards their objectives. This is hard work! Yet children naturally gravitate towards such work, which of course goes against the very nature of being “lazy”.

Why, then, do so many loving and well-meaning adults call children lazy on a frequent basis? I suspect that most parents don’t fully realize that they’re essentially “name-calling” when they tell their child that he or she is lazy. Calling another person “lazy” is vague and does not let them know what you want them to do; it does, however, send a powerful message that they are somehow lacking in value, as the word lazy applied in this way carries the connotation of worthlessness. In general, it is more productive to call out behaviors than to make blanket statements about someone’s person or character (i.e. “I think you could make more of an effort to read everyday” vs. “You’re lazy because you don’t read enough”). Read more about the dangers of general name-calling at home here. And sometimes what appears to be “lazy” behavior is masking a student’s challenge in a particular area, and additional support in that area can generally alleviate this struggle.

Research shows that calling children a name, be it “lazy” or “dumb”, is counterproductive and actually can be damaging and stigmatizing. (Read more about the psychology behind the personal and social stigma of lazy at Psychology Today). A more effective and rational route is to instead set reasonable expectations for children, then model and communicate them appropriately.  For instance, if you want your child to read more and spend less time hooked up to a computer or device, do the same yourself! Children love and look up to their parents, and they want to emulate you, so the more you do what you want them to do, the more likely it is that they will do it.

Obviously when we call children (and older students) lazy, what we really mean is: “I think you can spend more time on your homework” or “I wish you would apply yourself more” or “I know you can work harder and produce better quality work” or something to that effect. As adults with extensive vocabularies, we can and should do better by saying what we want children to do (along with modeling expected behaviors) and why, in appropriate and straightforward ways. This also teaches positive and productive communication skills! The other side of this, of course, is that our expectations of children and teens must be reasonable and it is the responsibility of parents and teachers to create opportunities for learning to be fun, stimulating, and interactive, so that children want to learn more. This creates a cycle of positive feedback and reinforcement for learning and can set children up to be lifelong learners.

So next time you catch yourself about to call your child or teenager lazy, stop and think for a minute about what you do want from your child, whether or not it’s reasonable, (and assuming it is) how you can facilitate that task or behavior in a productive way.  And while most parents can accomplish this at home with regards to engaging children in essential academic skill building, in some cases parents need the help of a tutor or coach to help children learn and improve in critical skills such as reading, writing, and math. Older students may benefit from help with organization and time management skills while some may need support in certain academic areas.  With a little thought, effort, and support when needed, all parents can assist their children in becoming activated learners!

The Power of Games

Parents and educators sometimes forget that games are some of the best teaching tools that exist. While no widely agreed-upon definition of game exists, to me a “game”, in its most primitive form, is a teaching tool. Ancient societies used games to teach essential skills to their youth; many of these early games may have focused on developing hand-eye coordination critical for hunting, fighting, or weaving. Games are interactive, multi-sensory, engaging, and often fun. This is why humans have been using games to teach children for millennia.

Yet in our modern times in which we focus heavily on standardization of learning (especially with the new Common Core Standards) and rote, memory based tasks, we seem to be moving away from and forgetting about the great power of games to teach critical reading, math, thinking, and life skills to students.  Educators and parents, especially those struggling to reach disengaged or seemingly unmotivated learners, must remember that games can help students develop many types of skills, from social and interpersonal lessons of cooperation and teamwork to math operations, problem-solving skills, and early literacy development.

I especially like to use games with younger students and find them to be some of the most effective learning tools that exist. Children enjoy the very idea of playing a game; whether it’s rolling dice, picking cards, moving pieces across a board, earning points, moving one’s body, or placing tiles in spaces, the various aspects of playing a game are exciting and interactive. Games require the use of many modalities: players have to manipulate physical parts and pieces, communicate with other players, record data and/or scores, mentally solve problems, and visually keep track of players’ progress, to name a few. I commonly use simple board, card, and dice games to teach and reinforce elementary math concepts and phonics skills; children often become so engaged in the game that they forget that they are learning!

In fact, I do have one very clever 2nd grader who figured out my ploy and recently said to me, “I see what we’re doing. We’re playing a game but we’re still learning reading.” Nothing gets by this one, and how right he was! I asked him if he still thought the game was fun and wanted to continue playing, and he replied in the affirmative!

Many learning games are quick and easy to make up or put together using common household items such as flash cards, dice, a deck of cards, dominoes, paper and pencils. It is simple and easy to turn a boring, rote task, such as memorizing multiplication tables, into a fun and exciting game that will teach and reinforce the same skills. For example, I turn memorizing times tables into the popular game of War by using multiplication flashcards instead of a deck of traditional cards. Here are two websites with additional game ideas to get you started:

http://www.granby.k12.ct.us/uploaded/faculty/wyzika/Dice_and_Card_Games_to_Practice_Math_Facts.pdf

http://www.education.com

While I also like to recommend computer-based educational games for parents to encourage students to play instead of, say, watching TV, one of my favorite aspects of simple, non-computer based games is that they require us to unplug from technology and learn, connect, and have fun in a simpler and more hands-on way.

There are countless word, letter, number, and problem-solving games that will help students acquire essential academic skills, and I imagine it is a lot easier for parents to get their children to sit down and play a game than to sit down and complete a worksheet. So now that summer is upon us, use the power of games to keep learning over break and all year long!

“Patient, understanding and very supportive …”

Having Alex as a tutor was amazing. She is patient, understanding and very supportive in many ways. Alex not only helped our son with his writing and vocabulary, she helped him organize his thoughts and strengthen his study skills. I highly recommend Alex as a tutor.

–Celina M., Greenburgh, NY
“Personalized teaching style, depth of knowledge, attentive manner”

When there are so many great things that can be said about a person, it is hard to find the right words that truly satisfy that person’s character. I first began working with Alex when I was a freshman in high school. Not having success with previous tutors, I concluded that tutors simply are not for me. However, Alex showed me otherwise; her personalized teaching style, depth of knowledge, attentive manner, and even sense of humor is above any tutor I’ve ever encountered. Beyond the skills that make Alex an effective yet enjoyable tutor, she also provides insight and guidance to those who are struggling in certain areas of their life. I have sought Alex’s help with challenges both big and small, and she always steers me in the right direction while teaching me important life skills in the process. As I am now approaching my senior year, I am overwhelmed with feelings of confidence and excitement because I know that I will have Alex by my side.

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“Effective, Articulate Advocate”

I hired Alex to help me obtain a private school placement at the district’s expense for my 3rd grader, who is nonverbal and autistic. After hiring an ineffective attorney for the same purpose when my son was in first grade, Alex was able to accomplish this goal and got my son a placement in a specialized, private school program. While this endeavor took months of work, meetings, emails, and school visits to accomplish, my son is now in an appropriate program where he is able to learn and thrive. Additionally, Alex was able to get the school district to provide every single service, accommodation, and technology that I was requesting for my son. Alex is assertive, articulate, and knows the law and best educational practices. As such, she effectively and vociferously advocated on my son’s behalf and accomplished all of my goals. I highly recommend her to anyone in need of an advocate!

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-Wendy D., Tarrytown, NY
“Knowledgable and Dedicated”

I must admit that I was absolutely fortunate when I stumbled upon Alex’s website during my internet search a year and a half ago. I was desperately looking for someone to proof read my papers and assist in guiding me throughout the pursuit of my doctorate degree. With the guidance, support, and constructive criticism from this very knowledgeable, insightful, and patient individual I received As in all my courses. I truly enjoyed working with Alex.

-Jessie M., White Plains, NY
“The Best Tutor”

Alex is very well-versed and knowledgeable about many subjects. I have not been in school in over 20 years and now I am back to obtain my doctorate degree. Alex has helped me get organized and has assisted me with my APA citations, grammar, and word choice. My writing skills have improved significantly and every one of my papers has received an A. Alex has provided me with the skills I need to continue my studies. I am so lucky to have met Alex.

– Renee C., Yonkers, NY
“Awesome Teacher and Person”

Amanda: I am a student of Alex’s. I would recommend Alex to other students because she pushes you, gives you confidence, and she has a great sense of humor. She turns around any of your negative feelings into positive ones so you can believe in yourself to succeed.

Doretta: I am Amanda’s mom. Alex has a tremendous amount of patience. She is creative, funny, and very knowledgeable of her material. Alex tutored my daughter to obtain a driving permit. This was a major challenge for Amanda. Aside from needing help to learn the material, Amanda also has severe test anxiety. Amanda also has had many many tutors throughout her life. Alex not only helped Amanda learn the material and prepare for the test, but also made her believe in herself and decreased her anxiety. She is truly an awesome teacher and person. I highly recommend her to any struggling student.

– Amanda and Doretta Tarangioli, Eastchester, NY
“Hardworking and dedicated”

Alex is a hard working and extremely dedicated person. Not only is she able to help me better understand what I am studying but she also has a way of inspiring me to learn more. I have had many tutors and I know for a fact that Alex is by far the best. She pushes me to better myself and helps me become increasingly more interested in school. Alex helps me with whatever I need to improve on and is always the first and most excited to congratulate me on my accomplishments. After studying with Alex my grades have dramatically improved. This made it possible for me to get into a high honors English class after years of special Ed. Also with her help she made looking and applying for colleges an enjoyable experience. She is an amazing tutor and person and I can go on forever stating how much she has helped me become a confident student.

– Nicole L., Armonk, NY
“Extremely knowledgable about the admissions process”

My daughter struggled with writing her college application essay. We were fortunate to meet Alex who not only helped our daughter select the appropriate subject matter and prepare a well-written essay, but minimized the stress and drama that comes with this process. Alex has great writing skills and she is very creative and extremely knowledgable about the admissions process. Alex is a pleasure to work with.

–John S., White Plains, NY
“Knowledgeable and Helpful”

Alex helped me with my personal statements for graduate school. It was helpful to brainstorm ahead of time because it made our sessions more productive. However, we brainstormed more throughout our sessions. She made me feel confident in my writing and the writing process less stressful. She took notes as we talked and cares about making a connection with her students. I definitely recommend her assistance! It was such a pleasure to work with her and I will be sure to keep in contact with her for future assignments!

– Desiree, R., Homer Glen, IL
“Far exceeded expectations”

Alex has worked with my son for three months and the improvement we have seen has been tremendous. My son went from failing in math to exceeding his peers in class. He enjoys his sessions with Alex and as a matter of fact, looks forward to her coming to tutor him, he refers to it as “so much fun and interesting”. Alex provided our son with the necessary strategies to apply to solve math problems and we can see him applying those strategies in his homework assignments.  Our son went from 60’s and 70’s to 95 in scores for his math tests.  We are incredibly lucky and grateful to have found Alex. She has done wonders for our son and has been able to teach him in a manner where he understands and retains the information.  She has far exceeded our expectations in so little time.

–Nadira B., Scarsdale, NY
“Insightful, inspirational, and enthusiastic professional”

Alex has been working with our 2nd grade daughter for over a few months now, and she has had an amazing, positive impact on her. Alex is knowledgeable, hardworking, and extremely patient with our daughter who has been having some challenges reading. Alex was able to identify our daughter’s weaknesses and help provide the necessary strategies and techniques to help her improve her reading skills. Alex is an excellent tutor who my daughter says “makes reading fun”! She eagerly awaits and looks forward to her sessions with Alex as Alex never fails to have a clever game and fun worksheets for them to work on together. With Alex’s help, our daughter’s confidence has really grown, and her reading has significantly improved –she will actually read aloud now! We are so grateful to have found Alex – she has truly been able to teach our daughter in ways that she can understand and learn. We can’t thank Alex enough for all her hard work, and would highly recommend her. If you’re looking for an intelligent, dedicated and incredibly responsive tutor, look no further!

–Eileen B., Tuckahoe, NY
“Dedicated, professional, reliable”

Alex is an inspiring tutor, full of enthusiasm and knowledge. Her lessons are always personalized and tailored specifically to my daughter’s needs.  My 5th grade daughter always looks forward to meeting with Alex, as Alex always includes activities and games that make learning fun for her. I noticed her increase in confidence and it showed through her improvement in grades. Dedicated, professional, reliable – what more could you ask for! I would highly recommend Alex without any hesitation. Thank you, Alex!

–Jen A., White Plains, NY
“Excellent tutor, very helpful”

Alex worked with me very diligently and helped me with several college supplemental essays. Alex knew exactly what college admissions officers were looking for which helped me include critical information in my essays. Also, I was able to engage in conversation with Alex about how to go about revising my essays. She approaches the essay sentence by sentence and makes sure that the essential question: “so what?” is always answered within the writing. I recommend Alex as a tutor for anyone in need of help for any piece of writing.

–Brian W., Greenwich, CT
“Professional, effective tutor and advocate”

I hired Alex as a tutor and an advocate to help me prepare and receive accommodations for an NASM personal training exam. Alex was critical in helping me successfully study and prepare for the test by teaching me effective study skills and test-taking strategies. Alex was able to get NASM to provide me the full extent of accommodations that I was legally entitled to. She also made sure that the reader for my test was competent and prepared by personally escorting me to the testing center to make sure that they were following the appropriate procedures. I am extremely thankful to Alex for her dedication to my success and for helping me pass the exam.

–AJ Sauer, Tarrytown, NY
“Terrific tutor”

Alex is well prepared and detail-oriented and works hard during the sessions to make sure my son understands what she is working on with him.

–Bonnie Y., Scarsdale, NY
“Professional problem-solver”

My adult brother has been working with Alex for the past few months. She is amazing! I have never known someone in this profession to be so patient, insightful and so good at breaking down challenges into pieces of a puzzle in order to find the best possible solution.

–Andrea Weinberg, New York, NY
“Competent, knowledgeable, and committed”

Alex was able to help me improve my study and test-taking skills and I’m so glad I hired her! I am a nursing student in a competitive program and I felt lost given the vast amount of material that I had to study. Alex helped me use recall strategies like mnemonics to remember difficult terminology for exams. She was also helpful in teaching me metacognitive strategies for focus and self-monitoring during testing. I am especially grateful to Alex for helping me navigate through the difficult “red tape” of my program. She taught me effective self-advocacy techniques so that I was able to attain the outcome I was seeking by being assertive about my rights. I am now much more confident about going into my next semester of school and feel like I have the necessary skills to succeed.

–Sam Kudelka, Pleasantville, NY

TESTIMONIALS