Get Ready for Some Summer Fun and Learning!

I always love summer time! The sun shines, the kids are home and we get to spend time together! It is such fun! But, as the summer goes on, it seems like we run out of ways to keep the kids busy and then we are counting the days until they are back at school. How about considering planning for summer now, so you know you have a much better summer and you can feel confident that you have some tools in your toolbox so it will be a fun experience for the entire family!

This blog post will include some opportunities that I am offering but also some ideas that you can do on your own! 

I am working with Kelly Michelle Dhramashi from The Reader’s Club on Facebook. She has invited me to be a part of her FREE Parent Workshop Series. She is providing four parent workshops to provide ideas for parents of children in Kindergarten through third grade. She is giving ideas about things you can do as a family to stay engaged in summer learning. Here are the links to the first three in her four part series. I will be a part of her second workshop. I will be sharing fun and engaging ways you can keep your child engaged in math over the summer! Did I mention it is free??? Sign up to be a part of this fun learning opportunity!

Here is the information:

Kelly Michelle Dharamshi, M. Ed. is the founder of The Reader’s Club. She will be teaching you how you can help your Kindergarten or Grade 1 child strengthen their foundational reading skills, and share resources you can use to help your chid.

The workshop, Help Your Child Become a Great Reader, is on May 11 @ 6:30 pm ET.

You can register by clicking here. 

Sheryl Uehling is the founder of Tutoring With Sheryl and a veteran math teacher with over 30 years of experience! She will be showing you how to use games and fun activities to strengthen your Kindergarten or Grade 1 child’s foundational math skills.

The workshop, How to Support Your Early Math Learner Over the Summer and Build Momentum for Fall Success, is on May 18 @ 6:30 pm ET

You can register by clicking here. 

Beth Dangerfield is the founder of Spark Education Services and co-founder of Flouish Pediatitric Hub. Beth uses a direct instruction literacy intervention program to help kids who are struggling readers close the gap and read at grade level and beyond. Beth helps many learners who are neurodiverse, particularly students with ADHD. 

The workshop, Academic Success for Kids with ADHD, is on  May 23 @ 12:00 pm ET

Click here to register. 

Other learning opportunities that I am providing are summer math and reading adventure camps! I am offering small group sessions on Thursdays in June and July. We are going to do fun activities with math in June and reading in July. Follow this link for the details! You won’t want to miss out on the fun!

Here are some other FUN things you can do this summer to keep the learning going!

Language Arts:

Journaling is a great way to get your kids writing and thinking about the world around them. And, who doesn’t want their child writing during the summer? 

Junk Journal: It is like a scrapbook that you create by using pictures from newspapers, magazines, or print outs. Kids add drawings or other items to the pictures and then they write about them. They can tell a story about them or even create poetry. 

Gratitude Journal: Kids get to write about what they are thankful for. Those kiddos who love to draw can illustrate their feelings or thoughts. 

Practice Typing Skills: 

At some point, all kids need to learn to type. There are some free websites that will support your child as they learn to type. 

education.com (With a subscription, your child can learn to type using the Brainzy gaming system that is built into the program.)

www.typing.com  (You can get the free edition and your child will get to to play some games. If you purchase the premium edition for teachers, but that may also be available for homeschoolers. It may be worth a peek!)

www.typingclub.com  This is a free website. It is super simple, but it will provide you with an accuracy score as well as a word per minute. I thought I typed faster, but I guess I only type 28 words per minute! Who knew?


Reading: Reading challenge for each child and then do a Read-Aloud as a family.

Give a prize at the end of summer for the winner! (Affiliate Links)

Some great summer reads for the family include: The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies (she has several other great books like, The Magic Trap, The Candy Smash, and The Bridge Battle)

And, who doesn’t LOVE Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White


Games are the big go-to for summer! (Affiliate Links)

Checkers or Chess are solid games for your child to learn that will teach them problem solving and strategies for analyzing situations! You can pick boards up at garage sales and discount stores. 

Make a number line on the sidewalk using chalk, use a foam dice and have the kids roll the dice. Then they get to hop that many spaces. They can hop forward and backward on the line. Make up your own rules and have fun exercising and counting forward and backward!

Frisbee Number Toss

Take a marker and write numbers around the edges of the frisbee. When the frisbee is caught with both hands, look to see where the thumbs are closest to. The player who threw the frisbee yells out the operation (add, subtract, multiply, divide) and then the player who caught the frisbee announces the the numbers and shouts the answer before throwing the frisbee back. 

Create a lemonade stand! Engineering and design, and then have them sell some from your driveway! 


Science Experiments for kids  

A big shout out to Coffee Cups and Crayons Blog! This is a haven for awesome science labs your family can do together, learn, and have fun! Be sure to check this website out!


Not into online websites for ideas and you prefer a book with ideas instead? Here are few to take a peek at! (Affiliate links)

Awesome Experiments for Kids

Awesome Physics Experiments for Kids


Start a garden with your kids! If you don’t have space, try container gardening. Here is a great video that shows what you can do with a small outdoor space!

No room to do this outside? How about an indoor kit? My grandaughter (2 years old) has one similar to this at her home in Chicago, and they LOVE it!


If you have little ones, get an empty container, fill it up with some water. Grab some paint brushes of different sizes and go out to the sidewalk or other cemented area (your deck works as well) and let your child paint with water! This is great for motor skills and creativity. 

Driveway Art:

If you aren’t opposed to some chalk on your driveway, give your child a theme (dinosaurs, farms, zoo animals, anything goes!) and let your kids get creative! Chalk is inexpensive and you can clean it up with a garden hose! 


Four Square

Classic game of four square! Use chalk to create a 2 by 2 box where players can stand. Get a rubber ball that is large enough to throw and catch for the size of the child. Players will take turns hitting the ball into the box using 1 or 2 hands (much like you would do with tennis). The other players will return the ball to another opponent’s box. If the opponent misses the ball, they step out of the boxes until one player is left. This will get the kids outside and moving!

Jump Rope

So many kids don’t know how to jump rope. Bring back this classic! Keep track of how many times your child can jump. Set goals and see if they can beat their last attempt. Try to learn double dutch. That involves at least three kids and two sets of rope. Here is a link to a YouTube video where you can watch it and try it out for yourself!

I hope these ideas will get you motivated to think about summer learning and keeping your children’s minds active and learning! For more information about Tutoring with Sheryl, be sure to visit https://midwesttutor.com/home-2


5 Simple Steps You Can Take When Your Child Tells You They Hate Math

What do you do when your child comes home and tells you that they hate math? I know at some point, your child will tell you that they hate a certain subject and the way you react may be a gamechanger for your child. 

You can talk negatively about school or learning in general. You can tell stories about how horrible your experience in school was. You can call the teacher and yell and scream that they are just too hard on your child. You can complain to all of your friends. You can tell your child to skip the assignments because it isn’t important. You can do all of these things and fill your child with all kinds of negative thoughts, or…

You can listen intently. Restate how your child is feeling. Ask a few questions that will lead you to discover where the frustration comes from. Then you can look for solutions. This is the path that may feel a LOT like running a marathon without training-it can be painful for your child and you at the same time. Our first instinct is to protect our child. We don’t want our child to be frustrated and find things difficult. We didn’t like it when we were growing up, so we want to protect them. The thing is, life is full of struggles and even though this isn’t fun, it can be an amazing experience for both of you. 

What? Amazing? I thought we were talking about hating a subject at school? Yes, we are. Now we are going to talk about actionable steps you can take to help your child get a better understanding of the subject they are struggling with. What is so amazing about this? Your child gets to see you as a person they can depend on to help solve an issue. Your child will get to see you working with them to discover techniques that they can try to help them deal with struggle. And, your child will know that they can come to you with their problems and you will be supportive. I see this as a win-win. But, a cautionary tale is to remind you that even though you are helping your child, you’re not the one doing the work. Your child needs to do the work. If they are not actively involved, they won’t learn how to do this on their own. 

Step 1

Find out where the problem is. Is the problem that your child has an underlying issue with something that is keeping them from moving forward? In math, many times kids don’t have a solid understanding of their math facts and this is what is keeping them from moving forward. If this is what the problem was, then you should use this to guide our next steps. 

Step 2

Research methods to help your child with their problem. For instance, if your child is struggling with their math facts, you will want to read about methods that work for children as they are learning their math facts. 

Step 3

Begin trying the methods that are suggested to help your child learn their math facts (or other subject area problem). Be sure to try several out. Once your child begins to show confidence with a method, they can decide which one they want to stick with. Don’t give up, just keep going. Stopping too soon won’t help. 

Step 4 

Celebrate success as they begin to show confidence and they recall the information they are learning. 

Step 5

Remind them to use their new skills. 

These are just five simple steps you can try as you support your child on their learning journey. However, if you discover these don’t work, don’t waste time and continue with the struggle. Sometimes the fastest path to success is to find a professional that can help. I know that parents get concerned with the cost of private tutors, however, most parents are so relieved when their child finally “gets it.” They can clearly see that the benefits outweigh the cost, and in the end, their child is moving forward and is having success.  

I hope this will help support your child on their learning journey. For more information about Tutoring with Sheryl, be sure to visit https://midwesttutor.com/home-2/ or https://linktr.ee/sheryluehling


How Parents Can Support Math Learning at Home

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Parental Involvement in their child’s learning is powerful. When parents take the time to do things at home to support their child, their child can build not only in their understanding of the topics learned at school, but in their confidence. 

According to Annie E. Casey Foundation, “Parental involvement is the active, ongoing participation of parent or primary caregiver in the education of a child. Parents can do this at home by:

  • Create a home environment that encourages learning
  • Communicate high, yet reasonable, expectations for achievement
  • Stay involved in your child’s education at school”

The article went on to address the benefits to the students when parents get involved in their child’s learning: 

“Children whose families are engaged in their education are more likely to:

  • Earn higher grades and score higher on tests
  • Graduate from high school and college
  • Develop self-confidence and motivation in the classroom
  • Have better social skills and classroom behavior”

Children’s Corner Learning Center has 10 tips for Parents

“Parents are a child’s first teachers and the home is a child’s first classroom. As key resources for learning and growth, parents help to shape a child’s social, emotional and physical development so that he/she can thrive in school and beyond.

10 Tips for Parents

  1. Set up a daily family routine, including healthy eating and sleeping habits
  2. Provide a place and time at home for homework
  3. Check on assignments, homework and projects
  4. Talk each day with your child about his/her activities
  5. Promote literacy by reading to your child and by reading yourself
  6. Limit and monitor TV watching, gaming, social media and computer time
  7. Express high expectations and standard for your child’s learning
  8. Attend parent-teacher conferences, Open House and Back-To-School events
  9. Participate in decisions that affect your child’s education

    10.)Tap into community resources with visits to a library, museum, zoo or theater and       encourage participation in after-school clubs, sports, and art activities”

I think we can all agree there are a lot of other ways we can get involved with our child’s learning, but these two authors have given great advice. Now, if we consider the ways that parents can get involved with their child’s math journey, it is probably going to look a lot like their reading journey. I feel the number one thing that you can do to support your child with their math is to spend time with them learning together! 

Here are some of my ideas about how I feel parents can help their child with the learning and how this will support their successful journey with math:

  1. Read stories together! Yes, reading is a part of math! If your child learns how to read well, then they will be able to understand the complex vocabulary that is learned in math class. They will know how to read a mathematical expression because those are also read from left to right just like a sentence. 
  2. Play games. Learning to play games helps your child learn vital skills for math. They learn to listen and follow directions and steps in a process. They learn to problem solve and make decisions. They learn that there are many ways to solve a problem. 
  3. Learn math facts! If you have followed me anywhere, you know that it is important that your child knows their math facts. Be sure to look back at my blog article on that for tips and tricks to help your child. 
  4. Cook and Bake! This is a great way to follow steps in a process and learn about measurement of solids and liquids. 
  5. Measure things! Use rulers and tape measures so your child knows how to use them. 
  6. When helping with homework, be patient and let your child know that there is more than one way to solve a math problem. If they cannot solve the problem the way the teacher expects, but you can show them a new way, then do it! It might be just right for your child!
  7. Use educational websites that offer support with math skills that you do not know how to teach your child. I always recommend khanacademy.org because it hosts countless lessons and videos that your child can use to understand math concepts. They have built in math practice on those concepts. 
  8. Use YouTube! Yes, look up keywords and find qualified educators to “show” you how to do math topics.
  9. Stay positive! Don’t talk negatively about math. When you speak in a negative tone or get frustrated and angry, your child associates those feelings towards math. If you want them to be successful, you should be neutral or positive about math. Encourage them as much as you can, but if you are really stuck, get help! 
  10. Have fun and keep learning right along with your child. 

Annie E Casey Foundation: https://www.aecf.org/blog/parental-involvement-vs-parental-engagement

Children’s Corner: https://www.childrenscornergroup.com/promote-childrens-learning-at-home/

For more information about Tutoring with Sheryl, be sure to visit: https://midwesttutor.com/home-2/ or https://linktr.ee/sheryluehling

For support with games to play with your child, be sure to visit Tutoring with Sheryl on YouTube.


Benefits of Using Manipulative for Hands-On Learning

(Resources List)

As I was thinking about what I knew were the benefits of hands-on learning and what I knew to be true, I wondered what others thought. Listed below are some other resources and their ideas about it. Be sure to check out the links and get additional information and ideas. 

As a former classroom teacher and current online elementary math tutor, I know that it is vital that children are engaged in their learning. I have always noticed this to be true, and have always taken time to add engaging activities to my lessons. I have always seen big results from actively engaged students. Not only are they actively discussing what they are learning and doing, but they are having fun. When children associate play and fun with what they are doing in the classroom, they typically pay more attention and most times the teacher will see positive results on their assessments. This is not a guarantee that all students will be successful, but it certainly makes the lessons more engaging. 

I will be their first person to tell you that you do not have to do a game each time, but you should try to do something that is engaging. 

Since I don’t have all of the research and I certainly don’t have all of the answers, here are a few other experts and what they think about hands-on learning and what it can do for your child as they go about their learning process. All of the websites have been listed and these are quoted texts. Please visit their full websites for all of the great information and their resources. They all offer wonderful information and insights into the idea of hands-on learning. I hope you find this information helpful. I would like to give a big shout-out to these websites for producing great information and being willing to have it out there on the web for others to read, learn, and benefit from. 


Students Retain More

Hands-on learning better engages both the left and right sides of the brain. On the left side of the brain, listening and analyzing processes occur. The right side handles visual and spatial processes. By using multiple styles of learning, the brain creates better connections and can store more relevant information.

Brain scans also indicate increased activity in motor-related and sensory parts of the brain when thinking about concepts they learned through hands-on experience.

Improved attention during a long lecture, there’s nothing a student is paying attention to more than the clock. Hands-on activities get students up and moving. Students’ blood starts pumping, and their mind becomes more alert. Students have to stay attentive to listen to instructions to understand how to overcome a challenge or complete the next step.

If you asked your child if they would rather sit down and listen to a lecture on the science of hand coordination or learn how to juggle, which do you think they would prefer? Making learning fun increases a love for knowledge, which is an attribute they will appreciate the rest of their lives. Through hands-on learning, students have the opportunity to interact with what they are learning.

https://hellolearningres ources.com/benefits-of-math-games/

 Student Engagement

Let’s face it, math games are way more fun than a worksheet. Even if you use the same questions and put them on game cards instead of a worksheet, students will be way more interested in solving the math problems when they are in a game format. When kids are having fun, their engagement in learning drastically increases. When students are engaged in learning, they learn more, and what they learn sticks with them longer. Kids love games and math games can be a great motivator for even the most reluctant student.

Math Games Provide Low Risk Competition

Math games provide a low-risk form of competition for students. The best math games combine skill and luck. The highest math student will not always win when there is an aspect of luck or chance involved in the game. This can be as simple as a “lose a turn” card or spaces on the game board that direct students to move ahead or back a given number of spaces. The math games I like to use with elementary students use game boards with spaces that direct students to move ahead or back and given number of spaces, and include question cards that vary in how many spaces students move ahead if they get the question correct.

Math Games Reduce the Fear of Making Mistakes

Another benefit of using math games with elementary students is that they help reduce students’ fears of making mistakes. Many students are hesitant to participate in whole-class activities because they fear making a mistake in front of their peers. Math games provide a small group or partner setting where making a mistake doesn’t feel like such a big risk, and the consequences of making a mistake are very low since it is just a game. When students build confidence in a small group or partner setting it is often transferred to the whole group setting over time.

Build Math Talk and Communication Skills

Math games help promote math talk and communication amongst students. Students use math vocabulary and discuss solution strategies and justify their solutions as they play the game. Students who may be hesitant to speak up or ask questions in a whole class setting are much more likely to participate in math talk and communication when they are with a partner or in a small group.

Build Social Emotional Skills

Social-emotional skills are practiced and strengthened while playing math games. Skills like taking turns, being patient, cooperating, following a shared set of rules, and winning and losing respectfully are all practiced with peers when playing math games.

Reinforce and Strengthen Math Skills

Choosing a math game that focuses on a particular skill helps to reinforce and strengthen concepts students have been working on in class. Practicing skills is much more exciting in a game format than it is in a workbook or on a worksheet. Math games can be used as a practice opportunity that kids will want to participate in and even ask you for more of! Win!

Student Independence

A huge benefit of math games is that once the rules and playing procedures are learned, they can be played independently of the teacher. When students are fully engaged in a game with their peers the teacher has the opportunity to observe students or pull small groups for instruction or extra practice. By using math games that have a similar format throughout the year you will be able to provide the rules and instructions the first time the game is played, instead of before every new game that is played, building student independence with each game. The math games I like to use all follow the same setup, rules, and format, but the question cards for each game focus on a different skill. Students can independently play the games without having to ask questions about how to play.

Learning From and Teaching Peers

Math games allow students to learn from their peers. There is something special about students teaching and coaching each other and explaining their thinking to each other that provides huge learning benefits. Students can sometimes explain how to solve a problem in a way that is different than the student has heard before, and might be the explanation that makes the concept stick!

Strategic Thinking and Problem Solving Skills

Math games help build strategic thinking and problem-solving skills. Students learn to solve problems together, think strategically about what moves to make, and how to be successful in playing the game. Throughout a math game, students make a lot of strategic decisions as they problem solve and plan their next move.

Math Games Build a Love of Math

Games help foster excitement about math and build a love of math in our students. Games are fun and engaging for students. The greatest learning happens when our students are having fun and are engaged in the learning process. Elementary students need to see that math is more than a series of problems in a workbook. Allowing them to get excited about math through games will help them to build a lifelong love of math.


Reaches a Different Learning Style

Math, like all subjects, can be hard to understand if you have a certain learning style. Bringing in math manipulatives reaches a few different learning styles. When you are using math manipulatives, you’re getting some visual understanding. In addition, you’re getting hands-on work as well. Because students get these new perspectives, they will have a better chance to understand. By adding in the different learning styles into your instruction, you are helping those who don’t understand and deepening the understanding for several other students as well.

Visualizes Problem Solving

Because math is all about solving problems and using various methods to get there, manipulatives can be a game changer. Students often struggle to problem solve, especially if it is a difficult task. Math manipulatives allow you to put ideas together and take them apart over and over again. This helps students see all the different ways a problem can be solved as well as what doesn’t work.  

Student Confidence Grows

In the years before teachers regularly used manipulatives, students were left waiting to hear from an adult if their math work was correct or incorrect. Now with items on a child’s desk they can physically confirm their reasoning with the evidence in front of them. This can give students a powerful feeling that they are in control of their learning.

Ask your child about math manipulatives s/he uses in class. I think you will be surprised to see how far your child’s learning can come using these items under the guidance of our teachers. Here are a few resources about further benefits that manipulatives create in the classroom.

Chatgpt open AI results:

When using hands-on math activities, here are some best practices to keep in mind:

  1. Plan ahead: Make sure you have all the necessary materials and a clear understanding of the activity before presenting it to your students.
  2. Clearly communicate instructions: Take the time to explain the activity clearly and demonstrate it if possible. Ensure that students understand what is expected of them before they begin.
  3. Allow for exploration: Encourage students to explore and experiment with the materials. This will allow them to develop problem-solving skills and learn through trial and error.
  4. Provide opportunities for collaboration: Hands-on activities can be an excellent way to foster collaboration and teamwork. Consider grouping students together or encouraging them to work together to complete the activity.
  5. Make connections to real-life situations: Help students understand how the math concepts they are learning apply to real-life situations. This can make the learning more meaningful and relevant to them.
  6. Encourage reflection: After the activity, provide time for students to reflect on what they learned and how they approached the problem. This can help them develop metacognitive skills and deepen their understanding of the math concepts.
  7. Differentiate instruction: Consider the needs and abilities of your students and adjust the activity accordingly. Provide additional support or challenge as needed.

By following these best practices, you can create a meaningful and engaging learning experience for your students through hands-on math activities.

For more information about Tutoring services for your child, be sure to visit https://midwesttutor.com and inquire how Sheryl can help support your child on their learning journey.


How to Build Math Fluency, A Recent Conversation with Another Professional Tutor Leads Me to More Questions Than Answers 

I was a recent guest to Esmy Lozano (a reading tutor and online tutor coach) at Online Tutors Grow (on Instagram). Esmy was my tutoring coach and she and I still partner up on projects. We decided to do a mini-series on her Instagram Live where we talked about math. Why? She also gets students who need support in math, even though she is a reading specialist. I get students who need support in reading, and I am a math tutor. We decided we would compliment each other well, so we embarked on this journey together. She asked me to bring my expertise to express my thoughts about math fact fluency and the importance of it. 

Having been in the classroom for 32 years, and now working as a full-time elementary math tutor, I knew it was vital to have knowledge of math facts. What I didn’t necessarily have was expertise (research-based field work) to state why this was so important. I had field experience, but I hadn’t taken notes and done the challenging job of putting it all together into a researched thesis. Thus, I went on a fact-finding mission and discovered a few important pieces of the puzzle. 

As I was searching around for this information, I kept thinking to myself, “Why isn’t this an emphasis in the math books that are purchased and used by most school districts?” I knew I had only had one math book in my entire teaching history that had an emphasis on math fact fluency, and that was Saxon Math. I had never used another tool that was provided by my district that had math fact practice built into the program. When our school district pivoted away from Saxon Math (mostly because it was very rigorous and the lower elementary teachers didn’t like the structure of the lessons) our school district purchased a separate curriculum that we were asked to use. I honestly don’t remember the name of it anymore, but it had math fact fluency sheets and repetitive songs and verses that students were to use to remember their facts. We also had this huge number line that went around the room and we were to place dots on it to show the math facts of different groups. I remember it took me HOURS to put all of this together. (I am not exaggerating!) I hung it up, and used the program, but it didn’t have the impact that Saxon Math had provided for my students. Maybe it was because I wasn’t a huge fan, and my enthusiasm may have been a bit of production, rather than true love for that part of the math program. It just didn’t work for my kiddos like Saxon Math had done. Saxon Math had the math fact fluency built into the program, and it did a spiral review of concepts taught to the students, so you kept coming back to math concepts that were already taught at the end of each lesson. And, if you didn’t teach a lesson, it backfired on you because you had to have that information to move forward with the lessons. As a fifth grade teacher, I loved the structure and all of the features this program provided. 

I had taught long enough and used enough math books that I was able to recognize the value of a strong mathematical program and unfortunately, we no longer had it in my district. It was now left up to the teacher to pivot from large group instruction to small group instruction, rather than large group instruction with small group support. We no longer had the math fact review in our math program, it was an add-on. With the switch to small group instruction, and having to have a mini-lesson and then meet with 4 or 5 small groups during the hour to hour and a half of math time, we simply could no longer use the teacher directed program the school district had provided. There wasn’t enough time in the day to fit EVERYTHING in! 

I know that I am preaching to the choir when I explain this. Teachers all over the United States, and I am sure in other areas of the world, are confronted with too much to do, and too little time to do it! Yet, the powers-at-be like to keep adding to the LONG list of things teachers are supposed to fit into their very busy day. They are expected to teach an incredible amount of information in the school year, and sometimes, the teacher is forced to cut short or even cut out something they can no longer fit in. They are being told by their administration to teach in small groups because it is good for the kids. And, if a skill is not explicitly stated in the state’s math standards they may not touch upon it.  And, some schools write their own math standards and get the state school boards to okay their standards. If the state says that students are to have mastered their math facts at the third grade, that standard may not actually show up past that grade level. The teachers are expected to teach what is written on the approved standards, so they may be forced to skip something like math fact practice or provide time for their students to work on them independently. But, what happens to the students who cannot teach themselves while the teacher is doing small group instruction?

I had this problem throughout the end of my teaching career in public schools. What I described literally happened to me! I valued the need for my students to learn their math facts, but I simply couldn’t fit everything into our day! So, I would provide time into our school day for students to practice their math facts while I was working with 4-6 kids at a time (with my class sizes ranging anywhere for 18-24, 25, or 26 kids). But when the students were not able to conceptually understand the math facts, they simply didn’t make progress. The intention for them is to practice, but it is like learning a new language but not understanding it. Perhaps they will learn a few math facts, but without direct instruction, guided practice, repeated independent practices and then applying them to actual skills based problems, the students are not going to be very successful. And, how can a teacher actually monitor what the 18 kids who are doing independent practice are doing as they are teaching 4-6 kids in small groups? You may be fortunate to have a paraprofessional in your classroom, but many teachers do not have that luxury. 

I did research on math fact fluency in preparation for my interview with Esmy Lozano from Online Tutors Grow (Instagram), and found some interesting facts.  I found a study that was done by Austin T. Baker and Josh Cuevas, both from the University of North Georgia. It was entitled, The Importance of Automaticity Development in Mathematics. It was printed in The Georgia Educational Researcher (2018). So, let’s dissect this idea article and the ideas of automaticity in mathematics as it relates to math fact fluency.

The authors quoted several other researchers and I will do the same. This idea of fluency can sometimes be difficult to explain to a parent, but most of us would say, “Your child can do something without thinking.” (That is my idea of what fluency is!) Here is a direct quote from the article, “”The definition of automaticity provided by Stickney et al. (2012) is the ability to deliver a correct answer immediately from memory without conscious thought, as opposed to relying on calculation. And in the related research is another term called fluency. According to Lin and Kubina, (2005) fluency requires students to be both fast and accurate when solving basic math facts. Automaticity is a piece of fluency. Fluency is the end goal and considered true mastery of the concept when reached. Now connect these two terms to mathematics and we develop the idea that students will develop automaticity first, then fluency, and by doing this, they will develop a pattern of sustained success in the mathematics career (Cumming and Elkins, 1999; Lin and Kubina, 2005; Stickney et al., 2012; Woodward, 2006).””

The article went on to discuss the importance of automaticity. It basically said, if a student is not able to quickly and automatically retrieve their math facts they spend time trying to come up with the answers to the smaller facts. Then they get lost in the steps of longer algorithms (steps it takes to solve a math problem) because they are trying to think about the math facts, rather than the longer math problems they are trying to solve. This can lead to confusion and lower understanding of the math they are learning. 

Another quote from the aforementioned article caught my attention. It stated, “”According to Woodward (2006), decades of research show that academically low-achieving students as well as those with learning disabilities exhibit considerable difficulty in developing automaticity. Research on elementary aged students indicates that students with learning disabilities are more likely to rely on counting strategies than direct retrieval when working with single-digit fact problems. Failing to reach automaticity results in students relying on different counting strategies. Whether it is a student with a learning disability or a student without, the results are very similar. The students begin to fall behind at the elementary level and continue this pattern into secondary level.”” 

And, this problem isn’t only in relation to addition and subtraction. It affects multiplication and division math facts. When students don’t have the understanding of the mathematical concepts, then telling them to learn their math facts isn’t going to work. They need to conceptually understand what it means.

The research paper went on to discuss a research project where they did a  study about how students were using their skills to solve math fact problems and they discussed their findings. If you want the full findings, be sure to read their full article. I would like to quote their discussion of the findings. It is as follows: “The findings from this study are consistent with other research provided by Burns et al. (2014) and Stickney et al. (2012). Students are continuing to struggle with single digit multiplication problems and this is not only affecting them now, it is also putting their success in the future in jeopardy. Developing automaticity is a building block for the success of students in the math classroom. Just as students cannot read with understanding without first learning the correct process for sounding out words and memorizing their sight words, math students cannot “read” math without learning their basic math facts. Those basic facts do not just include multiplication facts, it also includes single digit addition, subtraction, and division problems.”

And they went on to discuss the reading and math relationship even further by stating: “The relationship between learning to read and learning math is more similar than one might think…This is called fluency. According to Pikulski and Chard (2005), ‘Reading fluency refers to rapid, efficient, accurate word recognition skills that permit a reader to construct the meaning of text. Fluency is also manifested in accurate, rapid, expressive oral reading and is applied during, and makes possible, silent reading comprehension.’ Reading fluency is important because it bridges the gap between word recognition and comprehension. Similarly, basic multiplication facts would be analogous to word recognition. Better word recognition leads to better reading comprehension. Learning the basic multiplication facts would lead to a better understanding of more complex math concepts. Before any comprehension can take place, whether in reading or in math, automaticity of sight words or math facts must be achieved to improve comprehension.”

This article led me to ponder what else it means to be fluent in math facts. My previous school district had always provided me with the reading fluency benchmarks. We had all kinds of charts we were expected to follow. We had the benchmarks for the beginning, middle, and end of the year tests we gave, but not once in my entire 32 year teaching experience at this district did we EVER get a list of math fact fluency benchmarks. I actually did a Google search for those, and I found them! I found a pdf when doing a search, and I found a document entitled, Required Fluencies in the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics. I teach in Nebraska, and we use the Nebraska State Standards, and I had never seen this chart before. It laid out the required fluencies for each grade level. It looked like this for K-6:

GradeRequired Fluency
KAdd/Subtract within 5
1Add/Subtract within 10
2Add/Subtract within 20
Add/Subtract within 100 (pencil and paper) 
3Multiply/divide within 100
Add/subtract within 1000
4Add/subtract within 1,000,000
5Multi-digit multiplication
6Multi-digit division
Multi-digit decimal operations

When I look at this list I feel overwhelmed! This is the math fluency they want our students to be proficient in, but this is a very SMALL portion of all of the skills students are required to master at each level as well. How is a teacher supposed to do this, all the while teaching in small groups, and being held accountable for all of the standards for their state, plus deal with all of the other details of their normal day? It is an incredible feat to be sure!

I have been teaching long enough to remember a time where things were much simpler and we had a curriculum that was much more manageable. Our powers-that-be have moved things down to lower grades and increased rigor and expectations, but to what end? Has this REALLY made the difference it was supposed to make? I will be the first person to say it has not. Giving teachers more to do, increasing the complexity of the curriculum doesn’t make a lot of sense when our kiddos are not cognitively ready to tackle those mathematical ideas. And, we can barely find the time to make sure our kiddos are mastering their math facts. 

I do not have a simple answer,but I know that what we are doing is not working. I do have some things we can ponder: 

What if we got parents to buy into the fact that they need to support the learning that is going on in school? What if the parents took the time to help their child learn their math facts?

What if we reexamined what is going on in our classrooms? How is instruction taking place, and is it really best practice to teach all elementary grade levels in a small group, thus leaving students to self-teach themselves rather than getting that all-important teacher-led instruction?

What if we reexamine our curriculum and state standards, and consider the grade level appropriateness of what we are teaching our students. Is it really important for a 5th grader to learn the sheer number of state required standards? Isn’t less sometimes more? Can’t we think about teaching less but going deeper rather than teaching more and just skimming the surface? 

Maybe some of these changes would support the importance of automaticity with math facts thus creating fluency with our students. And remember, I have only discussed math. I haven’t even been talking about all of the other subjects kids are learning in our schools. 

I hope this has given you and others some things to ponder.

It is my hope this blog post will lead to productive and thoughtful conversations about the importance of supporting learning for your child. Being an active participant with your child’s learning is vital for their success. I hope you see the importance of math fact fluency and how a full understanding of those facts will support your child not only in the elementary grade levels, but beyond.

For more information about Tutoring with Sheryl and how she supports her student learners, be sure to visit https://midwesttutor.com or https://linktr.ee/sheryluehling


Frustrated with Your Child’s Report Card?

I have conversations all of the time with frustrated parents. If your child’s report card is Standards Based, they might be getting proficient or meeting the standard. You might see B’s if your child is getting a letter grade. Perhaps you see a 3 because your child’s school is using a number and that tells you they have met the standard. But, for some reason you have this nagging concern that your child isn’t really proficient and you are concerned that this letter scale isn’t really showing the true picture of what is going on. 

I am not pointing fingers at anyone, but when you really examine what is going on and see things at home that you question, you get frustrated. You want answers. You want help. So what is a parent supposed to do?

I have heard the saying, just wait and your child will improve. Don’t worry, this is normal. But, when you see things like your child simply cannot do any math independently, or simply cannot read anything that is at grade level, you are left to wonder what is really happening?

So, what are parents supposed to do? My biggest suggestion to you is to take action. Do not ignore these reports When your child is behind, you are going to want to identify where they are behind and figure out what you want to focus on. For example, your child is struggling with their regrouping with addition. What should you do? Try some of these strategies:

Look for videos on YouTube that might help you understand the topic so that you can teach your child. 

Look for practice materials that you can use to practice those types of problems. 

Try to make your practice fun. Practice and then play! Play? Play a game with your practice problems. Take your fun outside. Take a whiteboard with you and an erasable marker. Find your basketball and play a game of horse. If you get the problem right, you can shoot the basketball close to the hoop, if you get it wrong, you have to stand back. If basketball isn’t your game, think of other ways you can practice. 

Here is the thing, as the parent, you really do need to take action. Sometimes we are told to wait and see what happens, they tell us our child will outgrow the problem. Then two years later the problem is still there and it has gotten worse. 

Or, we were never told there was a problem and we find out there is a big issue that none of the teachers ever talked to you about. Suddenly you’re being told that your child is now several grade levels behind, but no one took the time to tell you this. 

Most of the parents that contact me for tutoring services have similar stories. I always congratulate them on reaching out to someone for help because that takes a lot of courage to do. It is so disheartening to learn that your child is struggling in school. Immediately we go into Mama or Papa Bear mode and we want to protect our kids. We want to blame others. We will literally cry about it and we want to blame ourselves. I know because that is how I felt when my child needed help with speech. I thought I hadn’t done enough to help my son and now suddenly after asking if he was doing okay and everyone was telling me he was, he really wasn’t. 

Taking action may sometimes mean more than YouTube videos and practice materials. There are other options out there. Do a web search for online learning tools. I say this all of the time, but Sal Khan and his khanacademy.org are wonderful! He has curated some amazing videos with practice problems to help guide your child as they learn new materials or review topics they are struggling with. It is a free program, but if you love it, I recommend sending them a donation. It really is that good!

Another amazing tool to consider is IXL. You can get a parent plan and then you get access to math, language arts, science, Social Studies, and Spanish for grades preschool through 12th grade. Be sure to look at what grades are supported for each area, as that may vary. I have my own subscription and I use it as practice materials when I need quick support for the students I work with. It isn’t my teaching tool, but it is a support tool. 

I love SplashLearn.com. It is a gamified version of a learning tool that you can purchase as well. You can get support with math and reading, however you will want to check the levels to be sure it is a good fit for your child. You can even print out worksheets to use for practice materials. 

The last tool I want to share with you is Education.com. I have used this website for its free version for years in my teaching practice, but now that I am a private tutor, I have finally taken the plunge and purchased it for myself. I love that it has workbooks, worksheets, videos, songs, and games all geared for math, reading, and grammar. There may be other topics on there as well. It spans Preschool through 8th grade, so if you have multiple children, you can support more than one at the same time. You may have to pay extra for that, but contacting them directly to ask about purchasing is probably best. 

There are so many tools out there that you can use to support your child on their learning journey. I know that many of these things cost money. I do not want you to spend a dime. However, when we think about overcoming a struggle, sometimes we have to pay for the help. So, when you make your decision about how you want to support your child, consider that sometimes it does require some cash. Set a budget and go from there. Sometimes we don’t realize we are spending money on things that we don’t really need, and we can rethink our family and help our kids out at the same time. 

And, if you really aren’t too excited about paying for an online service, but you want a professional to help your child, consider hiring a tutor. There are many ways to go about doing this. You can look into websites that have hundreds or thousands of tutors, and get someone who will show up and help your child with homework. Or, you can seek out a private professional and work with them to create a plan of action that will focus specifically on skills that your child needs support with in order to move forward with their learning. That is what I do. I support families of children in PreSchool through 6th grade who struggle with math. Most parents seek me out for this particular problem, and then when they find out that I am an actual teacher, they have me work with their child in other subject areas. I am happy to help if their needs are in my area of expertise. 

I hope this article helps you have the confidence that you need to take actionable steps in supporting your child when they become stuck, or need more support with their school work. If it is helpful, please share it with someone you think may need it. 

If you are looking for free resources to support your child, be sure to visit my website and look for the resources link. You can find it at: https://midwesttutor.com/resources.

To learn more about Tutoring with Sheryl be sure to visit the following:



Tutoring with Sheryl on Spotify


Fractions Resources to Support Your Child’s Journey

This blog post is a continuation of the last one I wrote about students struggling to learn their fractions. I provided you with things you could do at home, but I wanted to provide you with a few resources (Affiliate Links) that you could look at to support learning at home. As always, you do NOT need to purchase any of this. But, there may be a few people out there that really don’t know where to start, and this is mostly for you. However, there may be a few of you that have a lot of resources, but you may not have seen these either. Have fun looking! I hope this is helpful in your pursuit of educational materials to support your child in math. As always, keep the learning going!

Fraction’s Goal-Part of a Whole by Brian P. Cleary Illustrated by Brian Gable (young children)

In this book, cats explain how things are separated into parts called fractions. This is a great introduction to fractions and is a very simple explanation for youngsters. 

The Wishing Club: A Story About Fractions Hardcover by Donna Jo Napoli,Illustrated byAnna Currey (young children)

The book presents children wishing on a star, as their wishes are granted, the kids each a part of a whole. They soon discover that if they all wished together, they will get the full wish. 

Fractions in Disguise: A Math Adventure (Charlesbridge Math Adventures) by Edward Einhorn, Illustrated by David Clark

In this fun adventure book, a young boy creates a device that will create equivalent and simplified fractions. He goes on a mission to discover a missing fraction and ends up adding the fraction to his collection. 

School Zone: Make Fractions Workbook

In this workbook, you will find all kinds of pictorial representations of fractions. The pages are simple and easy to understand. This makes for a great introduction to the concept of fractions. 

Adding Fractions Visually by Eng S Jama

This workbook is a great way for children to learn how to add fractions. It provides a great experience as you introduce the concept, and it could support the learner who needs additional learning aids as they practice the standard math procedures. 

UNDERSTAND, ADD & SUBTRACT FRACTIONS VISUALLY: 3-in-1 Visual Maths Fractionby Eng S Jama

This workbook is another great way for children to learn about fractions. This book provides support with not only addition, but an introduction to fractions, plus subtraction of fractions. 

Fractions Essentials Workbook with Answers by Chris McMullen

This is a book that will cover addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of fractions. Be sure to check this one out, especially if you have a 4th grader and up. 

For more information about Tutoring with Sheryl, be sure to visit:




Tutoring with Sheryl on Spotify


Are Assessments Important When Working with a Tutor?

Assessments can be very important when working with a tutor, because they help to identify the student’s strengths and weaknesses in a particular subject or skill. The tutor can then use this information to create a customized learning plan that addresses the student’s specific needs and goals.

I always provide a free assessment when I work with families. I don’t charge for this service because I want to learn about the child. Once I know what they are asking for support with, I create an assessment or find one that aligns to the child’s state learning goals. I then find a time to meet with the family to complete the assessment. Then I do the assessment and provide the family with feedback when I am done. 

Here are some reasons why assessments can be important when working with a tutor:

  1. Identify knowledge gaps: Assessments can help to identify areas where the student may be struggling or have gaps in their knowledge. This can allow the tutor to focus on these areas and provide targeted support.
  2. Set goals: Assessments can help both the tutor and the student to set specific goals for what they want to achieve through tutoring. By identifying areas of weakness, they can work together to set measurable goals and track progress over time.
  3. Measure progress: Regular assessments can help to measure progress and determine if the student is making sufficient progress towards their goals. This can provide important feedback for the tutor and student and help them adjust their approach if needed.
  4. Adapt teaching methods: Assessments can also help the tutor to adapt their teaching methods to the student’s learning style and preferences. By understanding how the student learns best, the tutor can provide more effective support and help the student to achieve their goals.

Overall, assessments can be a valuable tool for tutors and students alike. By providing important information about the student’s strengths and weaknesses, assessments can help to create a customized learning plan and ensure that the tutoring experience is as effective as possible.

If you are working with a tutor and they have never mentioned an initial assessment or how they are assessing progress as they go, be sure to ask some questions. Assessment doesn’t necessarily mean an actual test either. 

Many times I ask the child to show me how to do some sort of a task. I like to call these my “exit tickets.” Sometimes they can show me the correct way to do some sort of a task, like adding fractions with unlike denominators. If they cannot do the problem without support, I know that they are not proficient at it and we need to revisit the task during our next visit. If they can do several problems without support, I feel confident that we can build on that skill and continue to move forward. 

I encourage you, as the parent, to ask about this if you are not sitting in on the tutoring sessions or getting feedback from the tutor. 

If this information is helpful, be sure to share it with others. If you are looking for an elementary math tutor for your preschool through sixth grade child, let me know. I will offer your family a free assessment, provide you with feedback, and provide you with an initial learning plan as we move forward. If I discover that I am not the right person for your child, I will help you in your search to find a tutor that can support your child. My goal is to support both the learner and the family as we move your child forward with confidence. 

For more information about Tutoring with Sheryl be sure to visit the following:




Why Do Kids Struggle with Learning Fractions?

I have worked with so many children who struggle when we move into fractions. Over the years, I have noticed a few things that might explain why they are struggling with this concept. 

Kids don’t understand fractions because they are so abstract. Children are used to seeing whole numbers in standard form (example: 4). Suddenly, we shift the way the numbers look and we add things like fraction bars. ⅘. What is this bar? What is the 5 on the bottom? What happened to the numbers the kids are looking at? If the foundations for the child are not strong enough, they are left to wonder what has happened to the numbers. 

Another example of a problem they experience is, they struggle to relate to the idea of fraction because they don’t see how a fraction fits into their world. 

Fractions have a lot of rules. Kids learn new vocabulary like equivalencies, simplify, reduce, greatest common factor, least common multiple, numerator, denominator, reciprocal, and others. 

There are a lot of complex rules. Kids need to remember a lot of rules and it can get very confusing. There are rules for adding and subtracting and there are rules for multiplying and dividing. The kids get lost in all of the rules. 

Kids get confused and don’t realize that a fraction is another form of a decimal and they get confused as they learn this idea. 

Kids with poor foundations in basic math skills struggle to find answers to the problems because they are still trying to determine the basic math facts. This leads to errors in the math algorithm (the steps it takes to solve the math problem). 

We can see that this leads to lots of other confusion, frustration, and sometimes tears! No wonder they are confused. 

What is a parent supposed to do? Here are a few suggestions that you may want to consider, and these are things that you can do at home!

  1. Brush up on all of the math facts. If you have followed me for any length of time, you know how important I feel this is. If your child can do calculations for their math facts quickly, then they are going to be much more confident as they learn new mathematical skills. They won’t stop when they are thinking about answers to their addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division facts and they can focus on the actual steps it takes to add, subtract, multiply, or divide their fractions. And, don’t forget about those mixed numbers (whole numbers with fractions: 4 ⅓ ). 
  2. If your child is learning a new skill and you aren’t familiar with it, do your best to learn along with them. I LOVE khanacademy.org because the founder, Sal, has done an amazing job of curating wonderful videos with practice problems for the learner to work through. You can search his site for the concept your child is working on, and the grade level, so you can find exactly what you are looking for. 
  3. Go to Pinterest or Google Images and look for images that have already been created that have the directions for the steps within the mathematical process. If your child is doing addition of fractions with unlike denominators, search for images that show the steps and follow along. This is as easy as a few clicks on your computer or other device, and then you have examples to follow as you practice the problems at home. 
  4. If you are not able to show this abstract concept yourself, look for videos from other educators that support the concept and watch them with your child. Then talk about what you have seen. 
  5. Relate how a decimal is the same as a fraction. Start with money! It takes 100 pennies to make a dollar. If we had 25 cents, that is 0.25 of the full dollar. That amount can be written as 25/100. 
  6. Get creative in the kitchen! Find recipes that you want to make and create those with your children! It is so important that your child understands measurements and while we are cooking or baking, we are using measuring cups. Those measuring cups have fractions on them. Use these to help your child understand 1, ¾, ⅔, ⅓, ¼. This will go a LONG way to their basic understanding of fractions. 

Hopefully these ideas will give you the confidence to help your child at home with their fractions. However, if you feel like you cannot support their understanding of these ideas, do not wait for them to figure it out on their own. That may not work for your child. Find resources and trained professionals that can support your child so they get a firm grasp of fractions. Fractions are going to continue to show up as your child advances in school. They won’t just be in math. Don’t forget that your child will see them in their science classes as well. You want them to have a great foundation to grow on!

For more information about Tutoring with Sheryl, be sure to visit:




Tutoring with Sheryl on Spotify


Tips for Building Early Numeracy Skills for Your Youngsters

I recently visited with Kelly Dharamshi from The Reader’s Corner. She is an expert tutor who supports early literacy as she works with children in grades Kindergarten through fifth grade. She and I have visited several times and we decided to collaborate. I do have a few kiddos that I support with reading, even though my specialty is working with kids on their math skills. I love helping kids bolster their math skills, but many times it comes down to a child needing support with their numeracy skills. 

I wanted to share the questions and answers I provided from our interview. But, if you want to listen to the interview, you can find it on her YouTube page. It will be posted soon. In the interview I discussed the importance of building those early numeracy skills so children are not lost during their math classes. 

Kelly: Do you think parents put as much emphasis on math as they do reading?

Sheryl: No, I don’t. Reading seems to be something parents immediately go to because they like to sit down and spend time reading books. It is easy to go to the library and grab books. It becomes a ritual for families to sit down and share a good story. That isn’t to say that all kids find it easy to read, but, for most parents, reading seems to be an easier thing to put an emphasis on. 

I think it becomes much more challenging to engage youngsters in math. It is very abstract. Parents don’t always have ideas about how to do “math” with their child. So, I think the best response is that parents put more of an emphasis on reading to their young children rather than math. 

Kelly: When you think about young children, what are your thoughts about the importance of early numeracy skills? 

Sheryl: Because it often gets neglected, parents need to understand that helping their child learn basic math skills at home is really important. Most parents wait until their child enters school before they actually do any math with them. What they fail to realize is that many kids don’t understand what a number actually is until they get to school. You might be counting with your child out loud, but are you using manipulatives with your child? Are you giving meaning to the number?  A written number is very abstract. Children need to understand that the written number has meaning to it. 

Kelly: Do you have suggestions for parents to use to support their child with their early numeracy skills? 

Sheryl: Yes, I do! Thinking about counting, consider using counting mats to support your child’s understanding of the numbers 0-10. A counting mat is simply a 2 by 5 box. You can write the digits 1-10 in the boxes starting with 1 in the upper left hand corner. The top row is 1-5, the second row is 6-10. Then find something you want to use for your child to count with. Remember to start with 0. That would mean that no boxes are filled in. Then move to the box with a 1 in it. Place 1 object in it. Continue all of the way up 10. Once your child masters that, you can ask them to show you 5 in isolation and see if they can show that on its own. 

Another great tool that is overlooked is an abacus. I have a 10 by 10 row abacus. But, I know they sell them in different styles. An abacus is simply a tool that children use to count. Each row has 10 beads. They can use it to learn how to count, and as they become proficient, they can extend it to counting higher numbers. 

One final thing you can do to help your child with numeracy skills is to play board games. The simple act of rolling a die or spinning a spinner and counting their place on the board game supports early numeracy skills. 

For more information about Tutoring with Sheryl, be sure to go to: https://midwesttutor.com/home-2

For more information about Kelly, be sure to go to:https://www.thereadersclubtutor.com/


Should I be Worried if My Child is Behind in Reading?

Many of you know me for my math tutoring support. While I do love to tutor elementary math, I also love the challenges and joys of teaching reading to children. The look in their eyes when they understand the letter sounds, they learn to put the sounds together to form a word, then they learn how to read sentences. Eventually they learn how to put the words into ideas and they comprehend what they are reading. It really is a magical experience for both the child and the one who is teaching them to read. 

But, what if this isn’t the experience your child is getting? They cannot sound out the words. They don’t understand the letter-sound relationship. They struggle with every step. They cry, you cry. You want to pull your hair out! 

Yes, this really can be the experience that some families go through. There may be many reasons for this struggle. If you are a proactive parent, you are probably seeking solutions to this problem. I congratulate you. Not all systems of teaching work for each child. Some children need more repetitions of letter sounds. Some children need more structure. 

Many times children just aren’t ready to read. I remember a time when my friend’s daughter was about 3 years old and she was reading. My child was 4 years old and she was just learning the letter sounds. As a teacher, I questioned, what did I do wrong? Should my child be able to do this? Then, my teacher’s brain kicked in and reminded me that not all children learn to walk at the same pace. We didn’t all learn how to drive at the same pace, and frankly, some people don’t drive at all. We didn’t all learn to do math at the same rate. So, reading at the same pace and doing things exactly the way others do it doesn’t really seem logical. 

Some children will take longer to put reading together. That is fine. Do not panic. Even if you are getting reports from your child’s teacher that they are slightly behind, don’t panic. I would encourage you to be proactive. That means there are some steps that you can take as a parent. 

You can read to your child often. I would recommend starting this at birth. When you read to a child at birth they are learning to listen to your voice. They are learning the sounds it takes to communicate. As they get older, they learn that there are letters on the page, pictures on the page, and they begin to put meaning to that as you read to them. 

Once your child is school-aged, they will learn more about the alphabet and they will begin to piece the sounds together through explicit instruction. We call this phonics. If your child is not in a phonics-based reading instruction, I would really encourage you to find one of your own. There are all kinds of things that you can use to support what they are learning at school. Is this going to take time? Yes. Is this going to take some money? Maybe. It depends on what you choose to use. 

I would really encourage you to get some letter-sound flashcards and practice those with your child. I would also encourage you to find phonics-based materials that include decodable readers for your child to enjoy and read through with your support. A decodable readers is a text or small book that your child can sound out the words while reading, once you they have been taught the sounds.  As your child learns the letter combinations and words, they will be able to independently read the decodable readers. 

I want to caution you, there are words in our language that are not as phonics-based as we think. Look up Fry Word Lists. There are some words that won’t follow those phonics rules. We still need to teach our children some basic sight words.

If you combine phonics and sight words, I feel you are supporting your child and eventually they will learn to read the written words you provide them with. This isn’t a one and done situation, however. If you really want proficient readers, you need to spend time reading books on a daily basis. Your child needs direct and explicit reading instruction on a daily basis. Just telling your child to go and read and then ignoring them is not teaching them to read. If you are serious about this, it is going to be a group effort led by you, the parent, as the school teaches their set curriculum. 

Something else you can do to support your child is find texts that they can read. You want to challenge your child, but if they cannot read the words on the page, they are not going to read the text. A great test of this idea is to have them open the book up to the middle, have them read one page. Keep track of the number of words they stopped at or couldn’t read. If they have more than 5 errors on the page, the book is too hard. They are not going to comprehend what they are reading. Imagine reading a set of directions and not knowing some of the words. Do you think you really understood what you were reading? Probably not. The same goes for our kids. That doesn’t mean they can’t check out books that are harder for them, but it does mean that you may want to provide more support for them as they read the book. 

If you have not listened to the podcast, Sold a Story, I highly recommend that! It is an investigative report that tells about the history of reading in America and how it moved from phonics based instruction to balanced literacy. This approach has failed many, many children, and we are now seeing the results of a lack of phonics. It really is an eye-opener. 

I know that I will have some readers that disagree with this. But, these readers probably haven’t seen the struggle that your child is going through. They may not understand the frustration of watching a child try to read a text and that child has no way to move through it because they only know a few sight words. They don’t have the skills to sound out the word. Even when you tell them to sound them out, they don’t know all of the letter-sound combinations. They simply stop. 

I want your child to be successful in life. That means they need to be literate. That involves learning to read. The bonus is the joy of reading and what it brings to your child’s life as they make their journey. 

I hope this has been helpful to you. Be sure to like and share this information with others.  I included some great links for you to look at if you are in need of quality materials that may support your child’s journey. 

For more information about Sheryl, be sure to go to:


(As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn based on your interest in these items. You may choose to look at the links via my link, or you may look on Amazon directly.) Happy learning!

Alphabet words cards

Decodable Readers (example)

First Little Readers 

Montessori Short Vowel Reading System

Phonics for Older Students

Phonics and Word Study for Older Students


Why I complete an assessment when meeting a new family and what it tells me about the child I am going to work with.

I am quite certain that there are some tutors that will take a phone call, accept a new student, ask the parent what their child needs to work on, and then just start working with their child with no plan of action in place. After all, the parent knows exactly what they need to work on, and the tutor is probably just going to help with homework.

Well, it doesn’t work that way for me. I ALWAYS do an assessment when I work with a new family. Once I find out from the parent what their concern is, I ask questions. Once I clarify and get my questions answered, I create an assessment or find one that will allow me to “see” the problem in action.

If the child is a third grader with difficulties in math, then I will find out the state they are residing in, and look for State Department of Education. That will lead me to a few things. I always look at their grade level, I read over their state standards, then I look for their state assessments. If they have beginning of the year, middle of the year, or end of the year assessments, I will read those overs. Depending on the time of year, I will select the appropriate practice test, download it, and print it out. Then I will cut it into “cards” for a game. I then create a gameboard for the assessment using Google Slides. I download that and print it out and add the cards to the gameboard, I place all of this in a ziplock bag and include a die and game pieces. I add a markerboard and manipulatives for math games as well as an abacus. I take this with me when I meet with them. If I am doing an online assessment, I do exactly the same thing. I just take those physical objects and create digital substitutions.

If I am creating a reading test for a student, I use DIBELS to do word knowledge and reading fluency tests. This is a little bit harder for me to gamify, but if I begin with a game, the kids are typically more relaxed and ready to do the reading on that test. So, I create a word game or comprehension game and take that if I am not already doing some sort of math game with them prior to the reading assessment.

I take notes as I go and then I create some sort of a report for the family. If the child can leave the room, I will discuss my observations. If they cannot or don’t want them to, then I will type up a report and send it to them. I follow up with a call or an email.

This assessment does a lot for me and for the families I work with. It gives me a chance to “see” how the child answers questions, what their thinking is, and how they respond to different situations.

As I communicate with my families, it allows the parents to see that what the teacher has reported is actually happening. I don’t mind if parents sit in on the assessment. I want them to see the process and watch their child. I also want them to see how I communicate and work with their child.

I think starting with an open dialogue and conducting a fact-finding mission allows me to think through how I can best serve the child. I then share my thoughts with the family and tell them how I can help to move their child forward and support them on their learning journey.

This is a service that an experienced teacher can offer because they have done these assessments in the classroom. I appreciate the fact that I get an introduction to the child and their needs.

Once I get the assessment done and have communicated the needs of the child to the parents, I then communicate dates and times for availability to my families so we can schedule our sessions.

So, if you are looking for a tutor and you find one that doesn’t offer an assessment or consultation, take pause and ask a few questions of your own. You want to find out how they will determine how they will discover your child’s needs.

For more information about Tutoring with Sheryl, be sure to visit the following:




Is your child struggling to get homework completed? If so, they are not alone.  

Google Image

 As a former teacher, a parent to grown children, and grandparent to a toddler, and a current elementary math and reading tutor, I know that homework can be a struggle. It is a struggle for a lot of reasons. Let’s unpack those reasons and see if we can do something about them. Afterall, we all want our kids to love learning. We don’t want them to struggle, and if we can change just a few things to make a big difference, I think we can all agree that it is a good thing. 

When I was struggling to get homework from my fourth, fifth, and sixth grade students, I would shake my head and think, “Why aren’t they all completing their work? It is simple, They just have to finish up the work we started here in class.” After many, many years, I finally decided it wasn’t worth the struggle for me or or my students. I had to make a mind-shift about homework. I discovered that research said elementary students didn’t have a huge benefit from homework. So, I thought, I really needed to reconsider this idea of homework. I made changes to my classroom routines, and I also made changes to what homework would look like. If they had homework, I would ask them to complete a project that they were self-directing. I also gave them an exit ticket where they had to show me that they actually understood the material. If they didn’t, then it was up to me to meet with them and do more practice with them. 

With that being said, I still had a few students that would occasionally have some homework. I tried to limit this to just a few practice problems. My homework became encouraging reading at home for 20 minutes per night, and practicing math facts each week. The students that did this, actually had great gains during the school year. I could always tell the ones who were doing this. Their confidence was higher because they were exposing themselves to more words and their vocabulary was increasing. They also had higher math fact fluency, and they were able to spend less time thinking about the computation portion of their homework, and more time on the steps it would take to solve the math problems. However, I also would provide parents with some advice about what they could do to create a learning environment for their child. 

Some of the advice I would give to parents was to create a learning environment for their child. Asking their child to sit at the kitchen table that is loaded with tonight’s supper, the TV playing on high, or their siblings playing nearby doesn’t create a learning environment. Setting up a small workspace that was dedicated to studying is critical to success. Making sure your child has adequate work space that is clutter-free, has paper and pencils, and a quiet environment where there are few distractions is key to success. Make sure there are no distractions like gaming systems, tablets, or phones that the child may want to play with.  (Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalize a purchase.)

Being close by is important for younger children. They typically have more questions and will get stuck more often. Be sure to allow them to be as independent as possible. However, if they need support, be sure to provide it for them. Stick to things like reading directions, asking your child if they have questions about things. Answer those questions, but be sure you are not giving the answers. Lead them to the answers, but don’t give the answers away. 

Provide a positive environment for your child. Nagging about what your child’s teacher produces a very negative effect on your child. Be sure to keep your discussions positive. When your child sees you are happy with their teacher, they will also stay positive. Nothing is worse for the child than when they feel like their teacher is against them. Stay positive. 

Time management may be a problem as well. You may want to consider a timer for your child if you feel they need support with staying on task. Being sure you set the timer for short periods of time is vital for success. When they know they only need to work for a certain time period, they are more apt to stay focused. You can find several types of timers that may help your child stay focused. Here are a few I would recommend.

I would also encourage you to consider using some sort of a planner for your child. You can purchase planners where children can list their assignments and when they are due. You can also consider using a trapper system with folders for your child to use so they can put their work in a folder for each of their assignments. I realize that these systems work best when children are old enough and responsible enough to carry through with them. But, they are things to consider if your child is struggling with organization. 

Lastly, I would encourage you to stay in contact with your child’s teacher. I do not mean that you need to contact them daily. However, if you are concerned, be sure to reach out and just do a quick check in to see if your child is staying on task, getting their work done, or if they simply need to work on certain areas outside of their school day. 

I hope that some of these suggestions will inspire you to take action and that these ideas will support your child’s homework time. 

For more information about Tutoring with Sheryl, be sure to visit:






My child’s teacher says my child needs testing! What is that?

Since I am the author of this post, I just wanted to give some background for the reader that may not follow my blog and is wondering about my authority on this subject matter. I am a former 5th grade teacher. I worked in a public school system for 32 years. I am quite certain that if I was an Educational Psychologist or a Principal or Superintendent, my perspective on this would be slightly different. But this is the easiest way that I can describe how our school went about supporting students who needed additional levels or support in the classroom. Your school district may do things differently. And, to be honest, the school district that I have recently left may be doing things differently today than when I was there. But, this will give you a loose idea of what to expect.

I always think that when a parent or caregiver is told that their child may need further testing, the alarm bells go off in their head and they suddenly think something is wrong with their child. I know that when my child had to go through this testing as a youngster, I was a little bit worried as well. I knew he was very bright, but he had a speech issues, and after trying all sorts of things, he eventually had an IEP. He worked very hard and only needed speech suppport for a few years, but I can tell you, being on the parent side of things is definitely different than being on the teacher side of things.

Let me tell you a little bit more about some reasons your child may need to have some academic testing done in the school setting and why it is a good thing. So sit back, relax, and hopefully I can shed some light on this for you.

First of all, this isn’t something that suddenly comes up. If it is, I would say that someone wasn’t communicating with you in the first place. If the school system that your child is in does a good job of communicating concerns with you, then this idea of “testing” won’t be a surprise at all.

Typically, children are tested for academic issues after all other avenues have been explored. When a child begins to struggle in the classroom, most teachers will reach out to the family and let them know that there may be issues. Teachers do this to inform parents of the problem, and most of the time, the teachers will inform you that they are going to try some things in the classroom to add support for your child.

The teacher will typically try those strategies out for about 4-6 weeks, they will document how things are going, and then they will follow up with some sort of communication with the family. Many times, as a new strategy is implemented, the problem will just remedy itself.

If that strategy didn’t work, the teacher may try a few more times to do some sort of in-class intervention. The teacher will document again, then fill you in on the results. However, if those strategies don’t work, then they will most likely get a team involved. This is typically made up of an administrator or school teaching coach, and then several teachers in the building. You may or may not be invited to this meeting, but the teacher will report what the team thinks should be tried in the classroom. They may offer suggestions of things that you can try at home as well. They will try the intervention for 4-6 weeks, they will meet again, document what has happened and will inform you about it.

Depending on the school system, and the strategies and systems that are in place, your child may go through several of these interventions during the year as the team documents things and continues to provide supports within the classroom. Your child may even get some pull-out time where someone in the school system will work with your child one-on-one.

Many times the team will tell you that your child has a 504 Plan or something like this. It depends on the state or country your child is in. This is a formal plan of action that should be followed in the school system to support your child as they learn. As the team continues to meet to see if things are working or not working for your child, the teacher will inform you of the progress.

If this level of support isn’t working, that is when you may be told that your child qualifies for some academic testing. This is when an Educational Psychologist will meet with your child and take them through a series of “tests.” These tests provide data for the psychologist to analyze at a deeper level than a classroom teacher can. They will create a report that you will go over with them at a meeting called an MDT (Multidisciplinary Team Meeting).

This meeting will simply cover what was discovered from the data that was collected about your child. This is when your child may or may not qualify for special education services. If your child qualifies, it is up to you to determine if you want your child placed in this program. If you agree, then an IEP (individualized education plan) will be shared with you about the amount of time your child will receive support during their day at school. The report will tell you what they get services for, and who will be providing those services. It will tell you specific ways the teachers will provide accommodations for your child. And, it will also tell you if your child gets extended breaks, additional time to complete assignments, and other things that will provide support for your child during their day at school. It will state the goals your child is to meet.

Once you sign the paperwork agreeing to these terms, your child will be allowed the accommodations listed. If you do not agree, then your child will go back to regular classroom setting.

Your child will be re-evaluated every three years once they are in the Special Education Program, to see if there is still a need for these services. You will also receive updates about their progress at each grading period. This is typically done during parent teacher conferences and also done with written reports when report cards come home. You will also have a yearly IEP meeting to adjust the plan of action for your child. Your input will be asked at the IEP meetings, so come prepared to share things your child is doing well with, and things you would like to see your child supported with.

What are some of the things that could qualify your child for testing? (This list came directly from: https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/iep.html

You may be a homeschooling parent and wonder if your child can get these services as well. Yes, you can. But you have to be willing to work with your child’s home district. I always encourage homeschool families to be sure to get that support.

If your child is struggling in school, do not wait for the school district to take action. If you see a problem, you can always reach out to your child’s teacher. However, do not just show up at their door and expect a meeting. You need to treat them like your doctor and set up a meeting time that will work for them. Be considerate of their time. If they ask you to come before or after school, do this. They are most likely meeting with you outside of the contracted hours, so come prepared with your questions and concerns. Be willing to listen, and be willing to do some things at home to support your child as well. After all, you want your child to be successful at school.

If your child is seeking help outside of their school day, search for a qualified tutor that can support them in the subject they need help with.

I hope you now understand the process of “testing” and that it doesn’t have to be scary.

For more information about Tutoring with Sheryl be sure to visit https://linktr.ee/sheryluehling.


Do online tutors have community like classroom teachers do?

Yes, we do! As a matter of fact, I have worked hard this year to create a community for both myself and the people who follow me, but I also am building my own network of reliable tutors that I can feel confident working with. How? Well that story follows the timeline of my journey as a tutor. If you are interested, keep reading! It is quite a story!

In 2022, I made the decision to leave the physical space of my classroom. I have to tell you that I was terrified. It was all I ever knew. I had visited with several people about possible jobs, but nothing really called to me. I had been teaching in the classroom for 32 years, I had added online tutoring in the evenings, and I really enjoyed doing that.

I had trained myself with the Google tools by taking both of the Google for Education courses and passed both of them and I loved that! So, I was really wondering what my future was going to look like.

I knew that I was really going to miss the kids, but I just didn’t want to be in charge of a full classroom for 8 hours a day anymore. I really needed a reset. So, I did some research and found Joanne Kaminski. She is an online reading teacher, and I did a binge watch of her online YouTube channel and as I listened, I really thought, “Hey, if Joanne can do this, I can too!” With that decision in mind, I continued to do research to figure out what tutoring was going to look like as I moved forward.

I finished my year with the online company that I was working with for the last two years. They were really good about providing me with students, I now understood how I could support my learners online, I had a lot of confidence and understanding of the Google tools and how I could use them to create my own community. I jumped off the high dive and was hoping it would hurt when I hit the water.

Well, it kind of stung when I hit the water. It wasn’t that I wasn’t doing things right. I just needed more structure. When I found out that Joanne Kaminski had written a book for tutors to build an online business, I ordered it and devoured it in a day. I was so glad I read it because it confirmed that I was doing things right, but that I probably could improve on some things. So I concentrated on those things and found my business intelligence was growing.

I also joined JoAnne’s Facebook community and that is where I learned about Esmy Lozano. I began to follow her because she was speaking about Instagram and how to get students by using this platform. I really wanted to learn more. I had already learned all about the teaching tools, I knew how to teach, I knew how to structure my business, now I needed to grow my presence. So, I hired Esmy as my coach and she helped me realize that I needed to grow my presence and she showed me how. I still need to do a better job of building my brand, but I do think that I learned a lot about stories and how to create Reels to share with others.

I then thought about TikTok and if I even wanted to use this platform. I jumped again, and even though I don’t like what some of the content others put on this platform looks like, I do know that I am putting out things I want to share with others. So, I began to post on both Instagram and TikTok and it is finally producing returns. I am growing my presence on both platforms, my Facebook Tutoring with Sheryl page at Midwesttutor.com is growing as well.

I have been able to get another new student and am loving working with her as well. We meet twice a week online and she is another bright star in my week! I had built trust with my student’s mother and she was ready to move forward with me. I felt so humbled and honored, especially because her mother is a teacher. It is such an honor when another educator hires you to work with their child.

If you are new to the tutoring world, don’t worry about getting students. It will happen. It isn’t as fast as it is if you work for an online company or a company you actually work at in person. But, you can grow your presence. You can build trust. I continue to work on my professional relationships and I delighted to have talked with other professionals and continue to learn from them as well.

I have learned that you need to show others what you do so they know more about you. My goal in 2023 is to host two summer camps online, and to continue to grow my online tutoring. I still love to travel to the homes of my current students, but I also love to work online. They are alike and different at the same time. If you haven’t read my post on my comparison between the two of them, you can check it out here!

Most of my online information is centered around math and how we can support our kids on their math journey. I specifically focus on elementary-aged kids in grades K-6. I do offer support in other areas as well when parents ask, but I really focus on math. I think that math is its own language, and helping kids understand it is something that I find challenging, and I enjoy supporting them. It is such a joy to see them light up when they get a concept that had been a puzzle to them, and now they can understand it and they are finding success in their classroom.

Be sure to go back and check out the links in this post. If you are ready to have your child work with me, I would be very humbled! Just click on this link and fill out my very short form. I will get in touch with you and we can do a free assessment or consultation to see what your child’s needs are.

Have a great time celebrating the holidays with your family and friends! I hope it is wonderful. If you are looking for some fun activities you can do with your kids and family by going to my resource page and printing out some freebies! If you are seeking some items to support your child in math, be sure to visit my Etsy shop. You may find something there as well.

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Abacus work can help build numeracy skills in young children, but it can support older students as well.

I recently had a parent tell me they were going to purchase an abacus for their child because they thought this would support their child’s math learning. I totally agreed with this! This parent is a teacher, and I get the honor of working with her child to help support math learning.

I dove into some research on the subject of the Abacus because I am just learning about its benefits. I was having a hard time finding information presented through the lens of American students because it doesn’t seem to be a tool that we rely on. However, I did find a lot of information listed in other countries, especially Asian countries.

An Abacus is an ancient counting device that assists with calculations. It has been used for centuries in Asia and Europe. It can enhance the level of concentration in children.

I did some reading, and then decided to head over the YouTube because my brain was getting drug deep into the 5 bead Abacus and I just wanted to learn more about the 10-bead Abacus, which is the one I am planning to use in my instruction.

I am going to paraphrase a video form YouTube from TheroYfy They began by stating the Abacus’s importance in calculations. This is the main reason I wanted to purchase one. I wanted to be sure that my students have an additional support system that I can rely on and teach that will help them focus on calculations. The video, as well as the articles I read, all support the idea of calculations and that ALL calculations can be done on an Abacus. I may not personally learn all of the things the Abacus can do, but I definitely plan to learn addition, subtraction, multiplication, and hopefully division.

Concentration improves when using an Abacus. The user must concentrate on counting and pattern recognition as they are using it. This would definitely support those students who need growth in this area.

An Abacus will support visualization. Many students struggle with their math classes because they do not understand the math symbols, but the Abacus turns the abstract concept of numbers into a concrete visual so they can grasp the concept as they work through their problems.

An Abacus can help a student learn to use both hands when doing tasks. This is called ambidexterity. While this may not be crucial for all things in life, it definitely helps the brain grow and mature in a different way. I always feel that when we learn new things, we are growing our brains, so we should celebrate this concept and grow those brain pathways!

The video mentions acupressure points are stimulated, but I would call this using their hands to solve a problem. Any time a student uses their hands, they are connecting ideas together and many times will remember it better than just listening to something or reading about something.

Using an abacus should increase the speed of calculations as confidence and understanding is built while using it.

According to Wisechamps, an Abacus should do the following: increase the speed of calculations, increases concentration, improves listening skills, enhances logical thinking, increases confidence, improves writing speed, supports academic excellence, boosts creativity, improves visualization skills, increases memory skills. Wow, who wouldn’t want that?

When students use the Abacus, they are using both sides of their brain and this will build strong minds as they work through math problems.

I really want to thank the Mom who said she was going to purchase an Abacus for her child. I am learning all kinds of benefits to this ancient tools and will continue to learn right along with her child. It is a totally different way of looking at math problems and teaching it as well!

Here is a video of how I would introduce the abacus to students.

For more information about Tutoring with Sheryl, go to https://linktr.ee/sheryluehling or visit the menu at https://midwesttutor.com.


In-person vs Online tutoring, how do they compare?

I provide both in-person and online tutoring sessions to my students. I personally love the variety of it, and I enjoy the challenge of providing both services. They both provide a perfect situation for my students because I create lessons that are exciting, fun, and challenging. Let me paint a picture for you as I share some of the things that I do with my students.

I have in-person sessions where I travel to the homes of my clients. In preparation of these home visits, I create activities that are focused on the goals of each of my clients. This is similar to what I used to do in my classroom. For example, when my students were studying fractions, I would take time to outline the skills my students needed have in order to meet the goal of the unit. I do the same thing when I am working with my clients. If they need to improve on their multiplication skills, I will typically do a review of addition to make sure they understand that skill. I may take a portion of 2 lessons reviewing this. Then I will introduce the idea of multiplication by using repeated counting skills. I will use graphic organizers and manipulatives to help them practice grouping and counting. I will then incorporate games that allow my clients to practice their math facts. Eventually we will lead this double-digit by single-digit numbers where I teach them how to multiply larger numbers. This all takes time, but as we work through this, I ensure that my clients know the steps and have a solid understanding of the concept of multiplication. These steps are same steps that I take when working online.

I spend time making board games as well and looking for board games that we can play as we practice our math facts. I find this lessens the stress and keeps the meetings fun. The child is still practicing their math facts, but we are also incorporating some strategizing as we go. One of the things I recommend for families is that you use a gameboard that you already have at home. Then pull out the flashcards that you already own and use them as question cards to move forward on the gameboard. This is a great way to use somethings you already have on hand, and it is an easy way to make practicing something that is dull, a lot of fun!

There are times that I bring worksheets and we use some of the problems for practice, but we will rarely do all of the problems. I want to be sure the kids understand the problems we are practicing, and I certainly don’t want them to feel like they are in school. I want them to feel supported and continue to have fun while they are learning.

I don’t use any video or digital lessons when I meet in person. It is easier for me to explain things in person using a whiteboard or a manipulative when I am sitting right next to a student.

All of this requires preparation and planning, but I do the same amount of preparing when I plan for a digital lesson.

My planning goes the same way, but I have to really get creative when I am doing an online lesson. This requires me to research or create things that my students can manipulate just like we are in person. I use Google Meet because it talks nicely with my whiteboard (Google jamboard), it works well with Google Slides and Google doc, gmail, and Google’s calendar. I can quickly and efficiently access my materials in the meeting without having to download things to share my screen.


I think the hardest thing to do is to get this information into a whiteboard that is easy for both me and my student to use. What I will typically do is create a Google slide with the image I want to cast into the background of the whiteboard, then I will import that image after taking a screenshot of it. If it is embedded into the background, then it cannot move around. Then I will create any manipulatives that need to be on the screen. For example, I might need counters. Within the jamboard, I will create a circle, add color, and then duplicate it as many times as I need to for the activity we are doing. Or, I might need a protractor, so I will find an image with a transparent background, I will add it as an image onto the screen so it can be moved around. All of this takes quite a bit of time and planning to make sure my whiteboard is ready for each of my students.

Google Meet Session

I also use a Google Classroom for each of my students or classes. I can add a Google Meet link inside of the classroom and my kids can join after I invite them for the lesson. Then I can share my whiteboard, slides, etc.

I would estimate that it takes me about an hour of planning for each hour of teachings. Then it takes me about 10 minutes after the lesson to write my notes and get my invoicing done. That is the same for both in-person and online clients.

So, in order to teach an in-person client my total time is 1 hour of planning, 1 hour of teaching, 10 minutes of office work, and then total travel time to and from which is about 40 minutes round trip. I only charge my clients $50 for an hour of instructional service, but as you can see, it is closer to 2 + hours.

When you are considering if you want in-person or online tutoring, I think you can be assured that you are getting the same thing! I love the challenge of teaching. I love the kids, and I have been so blessed with wonderful, supportive parents.

For more information about Tutoring with Sheryl, be sure to visit https://linktr.ee/sheryluehling

You can find more information at https://midwesttutor.com and https://www.youtube.com/@tutoringwithsheryl/


December Newsletter from Tutoring with Sheryl 

Happy Holidays to you and your family! I have been thinking about this time of year and how we tend to stay indoors more often due to the fact that in my area, it is very cold outside! We have fewer hours of daylight, and therefore we are hanging out with one another inside. 

Then I got to thinking about games you could play with your kids that would keep everyone happy and extend learning. So, I made up some games that you might enjoy! 

Let’s start with the youngest game players first. You can play the game Race to the Gingerbread House. The goal is to be the first to move down the path and reach your destination, the Gingerbread house! How do you play it? You start by printing out the Gingerbread paths that I have created, and cut out your Gingerbread Person. The kids can color them and make them more personalized before starting the game. Then you get a die. The youngest in the group gets to go first. The child will roll the die and then count the dots on the die. Then they will look at the rules sheet to determine what they do on their Gingerbread path. This game is a great way for the little ones to practice their numbers 1-6 and to learn how to move forward and backward. 

The next game I created is called Add ‘Em Up or Not Bingo. This is a great game for those kiddos who are proficient with their math facts. If they aren’t there yet, provide them with a 100’s chart and a Multiplication chart for support. The goal is to get a Bingo before their buddy does. The beauty of this game is that the kids get to pick the numbers they are using. They can place any numbers on their bingo card that range from 1-100. They will use a regular deck of cards. I have the totals for each of the cards listed on the rules sheet. 

Each participant may draw 1,2, or 3 cards during their turn. The goal is to fill their Bingo sheet. They may use any combination of addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division to solve for the numbers they have on their card. They are to talk out their solutions and the group must agree upon their answer before they place their token on the gameboard. Provide lots of support to players who need it. This is meant to build confidence and it is meant to be fun for the entire family.

Play continues until someone gets a Bingo. You can always reshuffle the cards as you need to if you run out. Be as creative as you want with your Bingo tokens. For fun, you can use candy or almonds and then you can have a snack at the same time! I have provided an empty Bingo template and a set of directions for this game. I hope it is as fun as it looks! 

I have mentioned this before in my blogs and podcasts, but baking is such fun. I really encourage you to do this! I have a great pan cookie recipe that is super simple, everyone loves it, and it has been passed down for generations from my grandmother. Give it a try! Taking time to bake with our children not only builds relationships, it builds bonds and trust.  You will also be teaching your child life lessons that are so important! 

December Newsletter from Tutoring with Sheryl  Be sure to check out the fun winter games you your family can play this December!

Molasses Cookies by Florence Adams (my Paternal Grandmother) 

Lastly, consider having your kids pitch in and help out a neighbor. This is a very busy time of the year and I think we can quickly lose sight of the fact they we have elderly neighbors that might need some help around their homes! Who knows, maybe they will thank your child with a few dollars as a thank you. But, if they don’t, just consider this a job well done. Kids need to learn to give back to others. We spend a lot of time supporting our kids, but I feel it is important for them to contribute to society. So, consider having them volunteer in your community. Who knows, maybe it will lead to a real job for them and they can learn the value of hard work and money earned! 

I would also suggest really considering saving some of the monetary gifts your child receives this Christmas. When they spend their money quickly, they don’t always understand the importance of saving for a rainy day. Encourage them to keep 25% of what they get in gifts, and then take them to the bank and open an account. They can learn to keep track of that money and you are supporting their financial literacy. 

I hope these ideas have inspired you to take some time to gather together and make great memories! 

I want to thank the families that I work with on a weekly basis. I enjoy seeing your children and am delighted to get to work with them. If any of you are seeking someone to support your child in elementary math skills, let me know. I am happy to help out! 

Be sure to check out my website and the resources I have available for free. You can also consider going to my Etsy shop and my Teachers Pay Teachers account to see if there are support materials you would like to purchase to support your child. 


Part 2: Math Games for Christmas (and other wonderful holidays!)

After posting my last blog, I went to a few area shops and did some searching for some fun and educational games that would continue the learning and the fun! I stopped in at our nearest Bomgaars to get a few things for our farm and walked down the toy isle. They always do a great job of having a ton of fun games and activities for families. I would have to say, if you are looking for some really great farm and ranch toys, or construction toys, go to a Bomgaars store. They have a ton of fun things that your kiddos would love to play with. While I didn’t specifically pick one toy out, I would have to say they have a lot of things you may not find in your Walmart or Target stores. So, I will just encourage you to head to that store or online venue and take a peak and see what they have.

I had to go to Menards for some work jeans for my hubby and I walked through the isles there and was also astounded by the sheer amount of toys that were found there as well. Again, if you are looking for fun games for the littles, you are bound to find something there as well! I found a few items I really liked and wanted to share them with you. I was looking for a math game that I could use with my kiddos to warm their brains up when I visit with them and found a fun one called Dot to Dot. It consists of 8 cubes with colored dots on them. There is a box that they fit in. The goal is to replace all of the cubes so that dots match on every side. There are only four ways to solve the puzzle. So, I plan to give this one a try with my kiddos this week. I am sure we will be bound to giggle as we try this one out! It is for ages 8 and up, so don’t grab this one for the littles. They will be too confused. This game is made by Brainwright.com, so you can go there and check it out.

I also purchased a Cribbage board while I was at Menards. I personally have never played Cribbage, however, I have always thought it would be an interesting game to try. This was another inexpensive game to pick up. It came with a deck of standard playing cards, and the board and pegs. Here is the list of directions for the game. This looks like a great game to get an older child of 10+ as it has many rules and the child will need to be able to manipulate cards and pegs at the same time.

Now I want to get to a fun store that I stopped in called Learning Express Toys. It was loaded with all kinds of fun toys that kids would love to have. They have things for kids from 2+ up to tweens. I loved the selection and I could have spent some serious cash in this store, but I had to hold back. I calmly told myself that I had done my Christmas shopping for my granddaughter already, but I know where I will be going for her birthday and other events.

I did pick up a pack of flashcards about telling time for my tutoring kiddos and it appears to more of a game, but that isn’t what I am really excited about. I wanted to let you know that if you are seeking a Rubiks cube, then you need to head to your local Learning Express! Wow, what a collection! The have the Rubik’s Twist, Rubik’s Tower, Rubik’s Cube, Rubik’s Blocks, Rubik’s mini, Rubik’s Speed, and then some sort of a Rubik’s Race. If you need a Rubik’s of any sort, check out their selection!

Another item I found at Learning Express what their Hot Dots Collection. I used to have a few sets of these in my classroom and finally got rid of them when the cards we all bent up and the dot button pen no longer worked, but I can tell you, the kids loved these. When I came around the corner and saw their collection of math and letter recognition as well as beginning words, I knew I had to share this with others. What a fantastic gift this would be! Great practice of skills they need to move forward with their foundational math and language skills.

I continued meandering around the store and I spotted some programmable robots. They had one in blue and one in white. They have 50 programmable actions and 20 facial expressions as well as the ability to walk. I know my son would have been thrilled to get one of these!

I loved the fact that Learning Express had science kits as well. I spotted some chemistry sets as well as rock kits.

If you are a big Melissa and Doug fan, you cannot go wrong with their collection of food sets, money sets, and they even have buildable sets for kitchens and food carts. What fun!

And, to keep kids off of digital devices, they had a huge selection of dress-up outfits from police officers to cowgirls. I could have spent a LONG time in there!

Now, if you are still looking for some perfect gifts to give, but you don’t have time to run to the store and purchase those things, I have taken some time to find some more great ideas on Amazon. Don’t forget, I have am an Amazon Affiliate, if you purchase from Amazon, I may earn from qualifying purchases.

I LOVE to play Dice Games with my tutoring kiddos. Here is one that I think I need to purchase. It helps kiddos with mental math. It is called Math Dice Jr. I love that it has different dice and then kiddos have to combine totals mentally in their heads. I love that it has a reusable mat that players use their game pieces forward to get to the end of the mat. Super fun, won’t take a long time to play, very engaging, and it comes in differing age abilities. So, follow this link to see the other Math Dice games that are available.

I found a game called “Check the Oven” that is a game using cards with foods that you make in the oven and they have numerals on them. The object is to collect 12 of each set. This is a great way to practice early addition skills, but the bonus of this game is that there are 4 additional games that can be played with these cards. I love the diversity of this game and the fact that it can be played by 3-6 players. It is geared for ages 7 and up.

Adsumudi Math Game is another game that I need to add to my game collection! If you look closely at the title, it consists of each of the operations in math. This is a a fast paced game that has easy to monstrously hard mode. Since it has different levels of play, players will use different card amounts to create totals using the operations in math to create their totals. Players collect cards as they play the game. It looks fast paced and fun!

ThinkFun Gravity Maze Marble Run Brain Game and STEM Toy for Boys and Girls Age 8 and Up is an interactive game where kids have up to 60 challenges that they can try to complete. They build three dimensional mazes with marbles and see if they can solve the situation provided. What a great way to de-digitize and get the thinking going!

ThinkFun Shape by Shape Creative Pattern Logic Game For Age 8 to Adult is a great activity to help build visual perception and logical reasoning. This link will show you the 3 games that it links to. The first one is pattern blocks, the second one is a 3-dimensional block building game, and the last one is a 3-dimensional car activity. I have games similar to this that I take to some of my tutoring appointments and I feel like they do a great job of helping kids problem solve and work on the skills of visual perception. If you are looking something that most kids probably don’t work on enough, these look like fun!

I hope these ideas will get you thinking about gifts you can give that aren’t your typical activities. I think we get so consumed by digital games because they are easy, but I think we need to re-think that approach. If we want kids that have flexible thinking, can problem solve, and can learn to play with others, give some of these a shot.

For more information about Tutoring with Sheryl go to https://midwesttutor.com/home-2/


Part 1: Math Games for Christmas!

Yes, I said it! Math games make awesome gifts for kids. Not only are they fun, they challenge kids to think and kids get to be kids while they learn!

I was inspired to write about this idea after looking for the directions for dominoes. I had a good idea that I knew the rules, but I wanted to check them out before offering to play them with my niece. It is a good thing that I did, because I discovered there are a LOT of ways you can play this game. I found a super website that was filled with the directions for dominoes. Not only did they have those directions, I also stumbled across all of their awesome sets of dominoes, dice sets, and cribbage sets. So, if that is your game, you should go and check it out at https://alexcramer.com/products.

After I stumbled upon this, I got to thinking about all of the great games I played with my sisters and I recalled the Simon. My mom got us this game one year for Christmas and I wondered if she regretted it. It was loud! But, we had a great time trying to play it. Simon is a digital game that requires batteries. Once you turn it on, you press the button and Simon plays a short tune. Your job is to repeat the tune. As you continue to get the tune right, the tune continues to grow. I loved this game because it challenged me to remember what I had heard. It also allowed me to follow the sequence of lights as well. So, if your child needs growth with repeating patterns, this is a great game to get them. Here is a link for this game.

(I have to disclose that any purchases from these links may result in income for me as an Amazon Affiliate.)

I also remember playing Chutes and Ladders. Obviously, I played this when I was a younger kiddo, but I remember this game. I loved the ladder and really disliked the slide! If your child needs help with counting, this is a perfect starter game. This is also a great game to help your child learn to take turns.

Who doesn’t remember playing UNO? That is a classic. It is always fun when you are getting rid of the cards, but not much fun when the cards are piling up in your hands. This game is great for problem solving, matching colors and numbers, and learning how to handle frustration!

I also remember going to my grandmother’s house and we played Chinese Checkers. What a great game for strategizing! It has a great spin on checkers with more complexity. When my sisters and I sat down to play, we were sure to laugh and giggle as we moved the marbles around the board.

The last one I was thinking about today was our monopoly game. However, I never really got into monopoly as much as my other family members did. But, I would take the money out of the game and use it to play “store.” I didn’t have a register to play with, but I would go into our pantry and pull out canned goods, and we would keep our empty boxes. We would set up the “store” and purchase items. We added them up and then counted out our money to pay for our grocery bill. The downside to using the Monopoly money was there were no coins in the game. So, I would take paper and create my own coins. I would spend hours setting up my store and then my sisters and I would play as if we were shopping for our groceries. Maybe this inspires you to have your kids get creative like this. I hope it does! But, if you don’t have the patience for them to empty out your Monopoly set and you don’t want the paper coins hanging around, I will give you with a few links that you can click on to see some things that are available. Here is a link to a cash register and some play money.

If you are worried that your child doesn’t understand money, I have made a great product that you can check out at my Etsy store. It will help you teach your child about the value of each of the bills and coins in the American system of money. It provides some examples of counting money as well.

I plan to build a list of games that I think you might want to check out as potential gift ideas, or you may want to pick them up for a local classroom or after school program. Remember that teachers purchase most of the items in their classrooms with their own funds, so take a moment to be thankful and support your local schools.

Check back to see Part 2 of this blog. In the meantime, if you need some digital downloads that support learning at home, be sure to click on the Resources page! If you need more information about Tutoring with Sheryl, be sure to click on the Book with Tutoring with Sheryl button and I will be in touch with you! If this has been helpful, be sure to subscribe and be sure to share it with a friend.


Should I be worried if my child’s homework is messy?

That is an excellent question. I think it all comes down to what is the homework for? Is this an assignment that was just given for practice, or is it going to be some sort of an informal or formal assessment? Knowing what the final result of the homework would be the key to being concerned about whether it is neat or a total train wreck.

We would all probably love to have nice neat work being produced by our children, and if you are a teacher, I know you would appreciate it. But, we all have had that one child, or one student that just seems to always has a very messy product.

As a parent, I would ask your child what the assignment is for. If they say it is just for practice, I probably wouldn’t get overly concerned, unless it is something that requires alignment like math. For instance, if it is a long multiplication page with multiple steps, then it probably does need to be neat. Or at least neat enough for it to be readable by the child and potentially the teacher to read. If it is a set of notes and the only eyes on it will be the child’s then I wouldn’t worry about it. They can probably make sense of it. However, if you ask them to read it and they cannot make any sense of it, it is most likely time to have a talk about the quality of their work. It would also be a time to discuss the audience of the piece of work. If it for your teacher to see, make it legible.

What do you do when your child’s teacher cannot read it and you suddenly realize things are worse than you thought. Your child’s teacher isn’t able to assess your child’s work with accuracy and then your child may not get assessed appropriately due to lack of understanding of the text. I would then say that you need some help. I would definitely consider doing some diagnostic work.

You can purchase handwriting pages for your child. These can be found in many stores and on Amazon. If you need a link, this one may work for your child. (“As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”) Be sure you know which way the letters are supposed to be formed. Have your child practice writing both manuscript and cursive. Be sure to practice numbers as well. Be sure you pay attention to spacing between letters and words. Be sure you emphasize capital letters and punctuation.

If this still doesn’t work, then you may want to consider getting professional help. Sometimes a tutor can step in and take over where you were working. However, there may be some other issue that only an Occupational Therapist can help with. It is okay to get help. If your child’s teacher hasn’t suggested an evaluation and you are still not seeing progress with your personal interventions, then consider asking for help. An evaluation can be set up after an initial observation is done. Sometimes a brief intervention at school is all it takes. Other times you’ll need an IEP (Individual Education Program) that must take place via the school to get help.

Remind your child that they are not in trouble. Remind them that even when things are hard, they can do it. You just want to ensure that your child is able to communicate in writing and that is why you are practicing.

Something else to consider would be to allow typing of written work. While this won’t work for all subjects and lessons, it will work for many things. We are living in a digital world and this may be a good way to tackle the problem. If your youngster is too young for digital responses, consider building up hand muscles by playing with clay, playdough, digging in the dirt, playing with small toys that have moveable parts. All of these things help to build muscles to support writing.

I hope this information has been helpful for you. As I always say, don’t feel badly asking for help. Sometimes a short intervention is all that is needed to build skills and confidence. Feel free to share this information with anyone needing it.

For more information about Tutoring with Sheryl go to https://linktr.ee/sheryluehling.


Should I be worried that U.S. kids are behind in math and reading in 2022?

What do you think? Here are my thoughts. I could really go on for a long time, but I will try to limit my response.

When I saw this on the morning news I did some reading to see what the news agencies were saying about this problem. Most of the news agencies went back to learning loss due to the pandemic and how schools closed. When they closed the schools and went to online learning (having had to do the same thing as a teacher,) it didn’t go well. We weren’t prepared. Most teachers didn’t have the training, the tools, or the background to immediately switch to online learning. Families weren’t prepared. Many families didn’t have internet because they used one phone in the family for online activities. They didn’t have computers, or they only had tablets that wouldn’t support what the teachers wanted them to do. Parents couldn’t sit with multiple kids and help them with their zoom lessons.

I was lucky, my school was only doing online learning from March to May and then we were back in person for the following year. But, that was not the situation for many big school districts. I was working as a classroom teacher and doing online tutoring in the evenings, I was noticing a difference between my classroom kids and the kids that hadn’t even met their teachers. They were doing online learning the second year of the pandemic. They needed support, and I cannot imagine how difficult this would have been for teachers, the students, and the parents. I can only imagine what it was like for neurodiverse children.

So, yes, I can see why we have a problem. But this goes deeper than the pandemic issues. I have to be brutally honest with families. Teachers have unrealistic expectations set before them. Have you looked at your state’s academic standards? They are so packed and when I read through other states’ standards, I cringe. We pack them so full of things kids are supposed to do with such high expectations, it is no wonder we are falling behind. In my opinion, the expectations are too high for the kids because they have pushed these topics down to lower and lower grades, many children cannot grasp them because their minds are not ready for them. What they used to teach in 8th grade Algebra is being taught to 6th graders. We are expecting our kindergarten students to read by Christmas. We put our 3rd graders on reading plans when they are benchmarked and found to be behind. I realize all of these things are meant to be well intended and that they are meant to keep kids from falling behind, but are they really working?

Having been in the trenches for many, many years I wonder. It still keeps me up at night. Instead of working deeper in the content, we want to cover so much of it that kids can’t keep up! No wonder they are frustrated. No wonder parents are frustrated. No wonder our kids are behind.

I really don’t have the answers, but I can tell you that we do need to make a serious change. We need to stop ADDING things to curriculums that are not necessary. We need to focus on narrowing down things so teachers can move at a more realistic speed and dive deeper into topics. We need to find time to allow kids to wonder, to play, to interact with one another. We need to add recess! Yes, recess! Our little kids should have 3 recess breaks per day! Our high school kids need to have built-in breaks. How many of you take breaks during your day? Can you imagine only having your lunch break and then being in meetings all day, then at the end of the day you run to more meetings because you have chosen to be in additional activities. Well, that is what is happening with many of our high school students and we seem to be okay with this.

Yes, we need to be worried. We need to make a change. No, we can only control what we can control. But, I would encourage you, as a parent, to look into your state’s academic and social standards. See what they look like. Have conversations at the local levels. See how you can become active in your local decisions. Contact your state education departments and express concerns. And, if you are not happy, remember that you do have other options for schooling your child.

If you need support for your child, don’t wait to get help. Seek out a qualified individual to support your child and help move them forward. If you’d like to visit with me, you can reach me using my linktr.ee/sheryluehling.

If this has been helpful, feel free to share it with others. If you need resources, click on my resources page. I keep adding tools to help students who are on their path to math independence and confidence.


Why can’t my child memorize their multiplication facts?

There are probably a variety of problems that your child is experiencing and one of them may be that they simply cannot commit their multiplication facts to memory. I want to reassure you, you are not alone. I have worked with so many kiddos that just simply cannot figure out this idea of multiplication.

If you have been following my blog for awhile, you may feel like this post is repetitious. You have already talked about this. Yes, I have. But, I want to come back to this idea because it is so vital that kiddos know their multiplication facts and are able to fluently work with them.

Now you may feel puzzled. Your child really doesn’t even understand the idea of multiplication. They may be relying on a multiplication chart. They are taking an incredible amount of time to count up to the fact they are trying to solve. If this describes your situation, then read on.

Begin by determining if your child can add fluently. If your child still struggles with their addition facts, then really hit those hard. Use games, counting tools, and 10 frames to get the job done. Go back to my blog about 10 frames to get an idea of how this can support your child’s understanding of a number and addition and subtraction facts.

Once they have a solid understanding of addition, you can then use this idea to support their understanding of multiplication. Multiplication is repeated addition. If your child has learned how to count by 1’s, 2’s, 5’s, and 10’s you can use those examples to support their understanding of multiplication. When you count by 2’s three times, that is the same as 3 groups of 2 which is equal to 6. If they cannot see this, then use the graphic organizer that I have at the bottom of this post. You will simply print it out, use some sort of a counter, like dried beans and the organizer. You will use three circles and place 2 beans in each circle. Then count them out. Move towards counting them by 2’s if you can get the there, then they can see the relationship of 3 groups of 2’s is 3X2 and it will equal 6.

Use this idea as you help them develop their math facts. When I work with kiddos, they would love for me to pull out the multiplication chart. And, I will do that. But, if I see that they keep getting stuck on a particular math fact, I pull out the 10 circles and the dried beans and we count it out. This one small act of manipulating the “numbers” seems to help them cement the math fact into their heads and they can “see’ the answer, rather than just find it on a chart.

Take a moment to answer a one question survey before you go! Thanks!

I hope this is helpful as you make your way through this math journey with your child. If this is helpful, and you know others that may benefit from this, please feel free to press the share button.

For more information about me, you can simply click on my linktr.ee/sheryluehling and see other ideas that may support your elementary child and you as you learn together. If you are seeking personalized support, reach out to me. I am happy to help you out!


10 Frames, what are those?

I recently spent two days in a kindergarten classroom. It was a lovely experience, and I had such fun working with these little children. They were so excited about all of the things they were learning. It was a joy to see them excited and learning new things.

I was in the classroom for two days, and as I was looking at the next day’s lesson, I noticed that they were learning how to count their numbers. However, having experienced their working knowledge of counting numbers the day before, I was quite certain they were ready for more.

I printed off ten frames sheets (example below) and found manipulatives to use in them. When each group came to me for their math lesson, I used the UNO cards the teacher had left, the counting manipulatives (mini-bears), and the 10 frames counting mats to help the students learn a little bit more about counting on and counting backwards.

I explained how to use the mats (we fill them in on the top row starting in the upper left hand and move across the row, if you fill the row then you start on the bottom row starting in the left corner moving to the right.)

I then gave them each an UNO card and had them “make” the number on their 10 frames mat. I had them each share their number and count it using the manipulatives. We did multiple practices of this. They we decided to build the number 11.

You can’t use one 10 frame to build 11, so we used an additional mat. They thought this was great! However, I thought it was great too!

We then worked on the idea of adding up to get a total. How? I had them all start with 7 on their mats. I then asked them to use the bears to figure out how many more bears they would need to get to 10. They grabbed their bears and went to work. They filled the rest of the spots and then reported that they needed 3 more bears.

We did multiple practices of building up to a number and I kept using the terms let’s add. Then I would say what is the sum? I wanted them to understand this new terminology. They thought it was great!

I finished their lesson by starting with a full 10’s board and then asking them, “If I started with ten bears, but I only wanted 7 bears, how many would I have to take away?”

They went to work again, and discovered they would have to take away 3 bears. We kept doing examples until our time ran out. I kept using the words like, take away, and difference so they would start to understand the terminology.

This is a great activity to use to work with beginning math students. It is a great way to help students learn not only counting, but also a great introduction to addition and subtraction.

Here is a 10 Frame for you to print out and use!

Give this idea a try! You will be amazed at how this supports your child’s understanding of counting, number building, and introducing addition and subtraction.

If you’d like to go back and see other Blogs, feel free to browse that and share it with others.

Tutoring with Sheryl https://midwesttutor.com





Are you noticing that your child can’t connect counting to numbers?

Your child has been in school for a few weeks and you have noticed that even though your child can count, they are struggling to make the connection between the counting and the actual number.

I cannot diagnose dyscalculia, only a school psychologist can, but this can be a symptom of this disorder. And, yes, this can be very frustrating. But, if your child is in this situation, don’t feel as if your child is going to be a failure in math. That is not the case.

Just like dyslexia, dyscalculia has its mysteries, but working together with professionals that have experience with this can be helpful. If your child’s teacher hasn’t recognized this as a possibility, don’t get worked up about this either. Schedule a conference time that works for both of you, and then meet and discuss your concerns.

I also want to let you know that many youngsters struggle in kindergarten and first grade to make these connections. However, if your child is nearing the end of first grade and still cannot make those connections, I would highly recommend intervention.

Here are some things I recommend that may help. And, I also want you to know that as the parent, you need to take action at home. Remember, your child’s teacher has a full classroom, and there may not be enough time to do significant intervention during the school day.

Keep the counting practice going. But, use items to support the counting. I would highly recommend using things that are identical in nature. Things like dry beans, pennies, or Legos work great for this. Once your child can independently counting while using the items up to 10, then transition into counting them and then writing the numbers that correspond to those numbers. This will help cement the counting number to a concrete item, and then transition that thought into an abstract concept of the written number.

I would also use the math term of “digit” for the written number. Children get the words number and digit mixed up. So, reinforce the fact that the written number is called a digit.

Once your child has master 1-10 with this method, then begin to transition to things of mixed type. Count 1-10 using different toys and then repeat the process. As your child begins to understand, move toward higher numbers and continue the process. For little kiddos, I would recommend working up to 25.

I hope this will help you move your child forward with their understanding of counting and the written digits.

If you are seeking a licensed teacher who has worked with students who have struggled with dyscalculia, you have found me! I have had experience with this. While there is no magic to overcome dyscalculia, patience, understanding, and repeated trials with numbers and strategies work! Math intervention works! If you would like to work with me, you can email me directly at sheryluehling@gmail.com or go to my website at https://midwesttutor.com.


Preparing for Parent Teacher Conferences

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

School has been going for many public schools for about a month to 6 weeks. This is the time of year that public and private schools begin to plan and provide Parent Teacher Conferences.

Having been on both sides of Parent Teacher Conferences, I would like to share a few thoughts that may be helpful for both teachers and parents. If your child is homeschooled and you are working with a professional for support, you can use this advice as well. My biggest piece of advice is, keep the doors open to communication. You are working as a team. Being open about how the child is performing and any plans of action that can be taken to support the child are vital to success.

I will back up a bit and talk directly to teachers. First of all, thank you for your dedication. You are working hard to create nurturing environments for students. You work hard each and every day, as well as during your evenings and weekends to create lessons that will work for all of the learners you guide on a daily basis. I know how challenging this is and many times it is underappreciated. You are not only working on the lessons and the tools needed to implement them, you are instructing large groups of children and managing them all day long. It can be exhausting, but also very fulfilling. Sometimes it seems overwhelming. Many times your schools don’t provide time during the day to prepare for conferences, and this means it is another thing you are preparing for during the evenings. With all of that in mind, try not to wait until the last minute to prepare for these conferences. Parents will only have about 15 minutes of your time. You want to make the most of it. Consider sharing student work with parents. Be sure to discuss strengths as well as areas for improvement. Be honest and open but also remember that these children are the most important people to these parents. Avoid teacher jargon. Parents don’t understand a lot of the vocabulary that teachers use. Be mindful of the time and make sure that the parents aren’t late for their next appointment.

Parents, now that you have read what the teachers are doing, be sure you are on time. Do not bring little ones with you. Take the time to get a babysitter. It is very difficult to have open discussions with siblings there. It also slows the process down. You know you are only going to have 10 to 15 minutes of the teacher’s time, so you want to be ready to go. Show up ready to listen. Have your questions ready to ask at the end of the conference. Stay positive. If you have concerns ask them openly. If you run out of time, be sure to ask for an additional conference so you can get your questions answered.

To both teachers and parents, my best advice is to be respectful of one another. I cannot tell you how many times a parent has taken their frustrations about their child’s performance out on me, as the teacher. While I can appreciate the frustration, if they are frustrated, so am I. We need to see these conferences as a team. Staying professional and considerate will be the best way to move forward.

Another piece of advice is, do not wait until conferences to ask questions to the teacher, or as the teacher, reach out to the parents. Waiting until the conferences is waiting too long. It is important to get the communication going sooner than later. If you haven’t reached out yet, you can still open the doors to that. Send an email or call and leave a message. This is so important!

Parents, if you discover that there is a need for improvement, ask questions. Don’t accuse, just ask for information about what needs to happen to move your child forward. It is really important because you need to see yourself as a member of the team that is supporting your child. If you find out that your child needs to practice material, then take that seriously. Teachers would love to give their students all of the time they need to study and take care of things during the school day. The reality of this is that there simply isn’t enough time. Especially if your child has somehow fallen behind.

Once you know what your child needs to work on, as a parent, know that it is okay to ask for resources. Teachers have all kinds of resources that can support learning. However, if you ask for the resources, I really hope you use them. Teachers will go out of their way to provide what you need, but the expectation is that you will work with your child at home.

I hope these ideas will create a great experience for the teacher and the parents during Parent Teacher Conferences.

If you discover your elementary-aged child is in need of a tutor, feel free to reach out to me. I can work with you and your child’s teacher to move them forward in their learning. For more information, go to midwesttutor.com or fill out the contact form below. Best wishes for a great Parent Teacher Conference!


Building Confidence with Math Skills

Photo by Katerina Holmes on Pexels.com

The idea of being confident doesn’t just appear. It comes with learning new skills and with practice. Sometimes, we feel insecure in our abilities. It doesn’t just have to be with math. Consider something you don’t feel confident with. Then think about your child and how they may be feeling insecure with their math skills. They may be feeling overwhelmed because the teacher is going too fast and they cannot keep up. They might be feeling confused and they don’t know the questions to ask. So, what is a parent or a caregiver supposed to do?

The first thing you want to do is find out what they are struggling with. Sometimes they are feeling so frustrated that they may want to shut down and stop talking or even cry. Allow that for a moment, but really encourage them. Let them know that you are here to support them. Let them know that they are not in trouble. They may be feeling sad and confused. Let them know that if you can talk to them about their frustrations, you can determine where they are getting stuck.

Once you have an idea of where they are struggling, you will want to determine your best course of action. I have mentioned this in prior posts, but if it is appropriate, reach out to the teacher. Schedule a conference with them and have a chat about what can be done to move your child forward. Be supportive to both the teacher and the child. Keeping things positive will help both the teacher and the child to move forward in a positive manner. This is not the time to blame either one. Just create a plan of action. If the teacher cannot work time in to help move your child forward due to scheduling during the school day, then ask for resources that you can use at home to help move them forward. I would encourage you, as a parent, to ask for a follow-up meeting within about 4 weeks to see how things are going. If the teacher doesn’t have time in their schedule to meet before or after school, then ask for a Zoom or Google Meet time during the day.

If your child attends a school where they have a Title 1 Math program, or a math interventionist, ask if your child is eligible for this program. Sometimes, schools will do a Response to Intervention Team meeting and set up a 6 to 9 week plan of action to support a child who is struggling in an area. This may be a solution to your child’s problem.

If you still feel you are not getting the support you need, reach out to the school Principal, Counselor, or School Psychologist and see if your child may be a candidate for testing. If they are, allow the time for the Psychologist to do the academic testing to see if your child has a learning issue. If they qualify for additional services, don’t ignore this. Your child can get additional support and may qualify for an IEP (Individual Education Program). If they do, they will be allowed additional supports that will help support them on their learning journey.

If you want additional help outside of the school, look into math programs in your area. Sometimes area libraries offer services, or even after-school programs have math programs. If none of these are available to you, seek out a qualified professional tutor to work with your child. Find someone who has experience in the area your child needs support. I wouldn’t suggest using a Calculus tutor for a second grader. The tutor will know math, but they may not know 2nd graders. You want to find what works best to support your child.

As your child gets the support that is available to you, be sure to celebrate success. We all want some encouragement as we work on things we are trying to improve upon. Celebrating will help to boost that confidence your child needs. Having support is one of the best ways to build confidence.

I would also encourage your family to add math to your discussions at home. Incorporate it in your cooking, traveling, shopping, yard work, etc. When your child has real-life experiences to draw upon, they build the background knowledge to support their them as they learn new information.

I hope you have found this information helpful. If so, please like and share this information with others. If you are looking for an elementary math tutor for your child, let me know. I am happy to help them! For more information about what I offer, go to midwesttutor.com.

Sheryl is a 32 year teaching veteran and successful online elementary tutor. Are you looking for personalized learning for your child? Let Sheryl know! If you’d like to contact her, send her a message here:


Simple Strategies to help your Third Grader through Sixth Grader Learn About Math

Here are a few ideas to keep the learning going at home! Math is all around us, but sometimes we simply don’t know how to show our kids this. Here are some fun things you can do at each level of learning from Third through Sixth Grade.

Third Grade

Continue to have positive discussions and positive engagements with math. Try to make your math practice at home as “real-world” as possible. Third graders are learning their multiplication and division facts. It is important that you try to reinforce this idea at your house. Remember that multiplication is repeated addition and division is repeated subtraction. In the repeated addition, you count up to get a total. In repeated division, you count how many times you subtracted the repeated amount to get the dividend (or answer to the division problem.)

Example for repeated addition to reinforce a multiplication fact. You have 3 pairs of socks. You can count 3 sets of 2 which is the same as 3 X 2, and get a product of 6 total socks.

Example of division, you can take the 6 socks, and put them into groups of 2 and count the groups. You will have three groups. That is the same as 6 divided by 2 equals 3.

Get out that money I suggested you use in my previous post and work on understanding coins and dollars in the U.S. System of Money. Your child really needs to have a complete understanding of what our money looks like, how to count it, and how to write it correctly. When you have your child count up amounts, focus on writing the amounts on a sheet of paper or a whiteboard with an erasable marker. Remember to use the cent sign and show your child that 25 cents can also be written with a zero, a decimal and the number. This will help them out when they begin to learn how to add and subtract money. Once your child can write values under a dollar, then move to writing values with dollar amounts. You can go as high as your child is ready for. If you don’t have the real money at home, or you don’t want your child to use them, then order some. Here is a link from Amazon that you can go to get some. (“As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”) I will add a few more links in this article that you can look at if you’d like to. But, you do not need to purchase anything. Some people appreciate the links so they don’t have to go and look for them. If you don’t want to purchase money, get creative and make some or use play money that goes with a game.

Your child will be learning about fractions. A great way to practice this is to do some art work. You can draw circles and then draw lines cutting them into sections. (Just be sure the sections are all the same size.) Then your child can color a section of them. The colored section will represent the numerator of the fraction and the whole circle will represent the denominator. For example, you draw a circle and create 4 equal parts. You color 3 of them. The fraction is 3/4. 3 parts colored out of 4 total parts. This is a fun activity, but will go along way to supporting your child’s understanding of fractions. Get as creative as you want to be.

Telling time to the minute is a skills that all third graders will benefit from. Most of the time they will work on hour, half hour, and learn 5 minute amounts, but I would suggest your build on their understanding and go to the minute. Help your child understand what that looks like on an analog clock as well as a digital clock. Then help your child learn how to write it down correctly. If you read a clock and it was two twenty-three P.M. you would write it as 2:23 P.M. If you don’t have a clock, but want one to use with a more hands-on approach, I would recommend a Judy Clock. These are not as realistic, but they are great for counting the minutes on the clock. Here is the link for the Judy Clock. (“As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”)

Help your child understand distances. If your child has some understanding of inches, feet, yards, miles, they will have background knowledge that will support their understanding when they are using it in their math and science classes. Use a ruler at home, talk about distances when you are driving, discuss feet and yards when you are outside so your child begins to understand these measurements.

Be sure to practice those math facts. Do not assume that your child remembers their addition and subtraction facts. Do not assume they know their multiplication and division facts. Play a board game, but use math flashcards while you are playing. Your child can only make their play by answering the math fact correctly. If they don’t know it, the card goes to the next person and if they answer it correctly, they get to take their turn at the board game. I use this with the game “Sorry” and it is actually a lot of fun.

Fourth Grade

Keep a positive attitude about math. This really goes for all grades, but as the content gets more challenging, you want to be sure that you don’t mumble things about how hard it is. You also don’t want to find yourself muttering things like, “What on Earth are they thinking teaching this stuff?” You might be thinking it, but the best route is to tell your child that you are not sure how to answer the question, but you would love to help them figure it out. The best thing you can do is to be honest with your child. If you absolutely cannot help your child, seek the help of someone else, email the teacher to let them know that the child will need assistance.

Something you want to do, is to continue to read the math problems out loud and then try to draw a picture when your child needs more support with it. The pictures you draw will often times help your child process the problem. Then move the picture into a math problem. If it is a multi-step problem, be sure to draw two pictures so they understand that this will take two steps or maybe three to solve.

Use math talk at your home. Talk about how many cups are in a gallon. A great time to do this is when you are going to host a gathering. If you are going to make a gallon of something, apply the number of 8 ounce cup portions for this, and you will help your child build that background knowledge so they are successful in their studies.

You can find out how many ounces it takes to make a pound of something. Or vice versa, you have a pound of something, how many 1/4 lb portions can you get out of it? How long is your room? Measure it! How high is the ceiling? Measure it! Your child will have great background knowledge to apply to other problems.

Really highlight math when you are cooking. I have seen this in the classroom, kids that have done cooking and baking at home will typically have a much better understanding of fractions than kids who do not. They also understand capacity (ounces, cups, gallons, etc) much better because they have worked with it.

When you are driving, consider talking about how far you have to go. Talk about what a mile looks like as you drive. Consider learning about the miles per hour or km per hour and how this can help you figure out how long it will take you to get to a destination. For example, your car is moving 60 miles per hour. You have to travel 180 miles. If you divide your distance by how far your car is moving, it will give you a very good estimation of how long it will take you to arrive. In this case, it is a 3 hour drive, provided you don’t have to slow down or stop.

Apply math to the games your family is attending. Talk about how many yards the player on the team has traveled. Use your math skills to determine how many points a player has scored. Talk about the quarters and halves that take place during games.

Music has a lot of math in it. If your child is learning a musical instrument, help them understand whole notes are worth 1 full count, half notes are worth 1/2 of a count, quarter notes are worth 1/4 of a count, and so on.

Use pencils when you are doing math. I know that many kids don’t want to erase. I can never figure this out. Mistakes are part of learning. A pencil will be your best tool when working with math. Pencils with solid lead and a good eraser will allow your child to not only write well, but by erasing, they can read their work when mistakes are made. My favorites are Ticonderoga. (“As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”)

Games are once again a fun way to practice those math skills. By fourth grade, kids should be able to play UNO, Connect 4, Checkers, Chess, Sorry, and Sequence. All of these games will support problem-solving and strategizing skills. And, it is really important to learn that we don’t always win. Being a good loser is also vital for success. (“As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”)

Fifth Grade

Use a pencil. I stated this for fourth graders, but I feel it applies to all levels of math. I know that you can do a lot of math with pens, but when a student makes a mistake, writing over it often times causes issues with readability. So, provide good quality pencils and a solid eraser. You will thank yourself and your kids may not say it, but they will appreciate it. Here is a link to some of my favorite pencils. (“As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”)

Many problems in this grade begin to include extra details that really are not necessary for children to solve the problem. Continue to read the problem aloud, and then support your child’s understanding of the problem. Cross of unneeded information. Draw pictures as needed. Write out the equations and then solve them. Be sure you are checking the answers by doing the inverse (or opposite) method to check it. What does that mean? If you added the problem, then subtract to check the work. If you multiplied, then divide to check.

Stay informed on the topics your child is learning in school. If you don’t understand the concept they are learning about, then educate yourself so you can be as supportive as possible. If your to child doesn’t understand it, you will be prepared to help them as they work through the information.

Don’t be afraid to consult experts in the field of study. Look for reputable videos on YouTube and use khanacademy.org to use to build your understanding of the math concepts your child is practicing. Your child can also practice and build confidence with those skills.

Make sure your child has a strong understanding of place value. Work with numbers any chance you get. More importantly teach your child about money. Not only will this support their understanding of place value, but it will support their understanding of the decimal, tenths, and hundredths.

Set up a saving account. Your child may be getting money for birthdays or chores. You can help them understand the value and how to use money. They can learn how to keep a banking ledger prior to getting a checking account. Don’t dismiss this idea. Kids really do need to learn how to earn money and keep track of it. You don’t want to send your child off into the world without a knowledge of money. You will not regret helping them learn to earn, manage, and understand what money does and doesn’t do in a person’s life.

At this point, your child really does need to a have strong grasp of their math facts. All facts in addition and subtraction up to 100, or have great strategies for solving math facts with confidence. They need to know their multiplication and division facts through their 12’s. Why? When a child has quick recall we say they are fluent. With quick fluency, children don’t get lost in the math algorithms or steps in solving more complicated equations and math problems. You can continue to use flashcards or use an online website for practice. But, be sure you provide encouragement and practice for math fact fluency.

Teach your child how to take notes in math. It can be as simple as making drawings. Learning how to take notes of the important concepts. When a child writes down notes, they trigger pathways in their brain that help them cement concepts. It really does work. Try it!

Fifth grade is heavy in fractions, decimals, and mixed numbers. They learn a lot of new information. Be sure you are checking in frequently and supporting them as they practice these new skills.

Fifth graders learn about variables and how to solve them. If you don’t know what a variable is, be sure to do some of your own homework. They will also learn about the order of operations. I have a quick video you can look at on YouTube about this.

Fifth graders also learn more about area and perimeter. Apply these ideas at home when they come up. How much carpet should we get? That is an area problem. We need a new fence. That could be a perimeter problem. All of this helps to build that all important background knowledge.

Don’t let your child tell you they don’t have to do their homework. Maybe the teacher doesn’t correct it, but if your child hasn’t practiced the problems enough to be able to be independent, then you should do some problems as practice. This doesn’t mean they have to do all of them. But, be sure they can work independently. The goal is mastery. Your child may not be independent after one session, but your goal is to get to independence through practice. So do short practices to reach that goal.

Play games! Yes, I keep saying this, but it is so important. You can play Monopoly, The Game of Life, and begin to teach them card games like 4 Kings in a Corner. All of these games involve strategy, problem solving, and fun!

Sixth Grade

Stay positive. Read the other grade levels, I have expressed the importance of this. It really is important.

Pencil…if you have read the rest of this article, you know about that. So, I will move on.

Your child will be moving into graphing, using variables, solving equations, working on Algebra. Your child will be working with all facets of fractions, mixed numbers, decimals, percentages, and problem solving. They will use function tables as well. They will be using area, volume, and surface area.

Now you might be scratching your head. What else can you do to help support your child? You have done all of this work in previous grades. There really can’t be more, can there?

Look back through all of the suggestions, and keep applying those ideas.

Ask your child if there is something they are interested in learning about. Some kids really like money. Explore financial literacy. Your child should begin to learn the difference between wants and needs. They should learn about savings and checking accounts. It may be a good time to consider opening a checking account and helping them learn how to manage small amounts of money. Perhaps they can write checks for their lunch money. Teach them how to keep track of their spending. They can use an online app like mint, or they can simply use a spreadsheet to keep track. If your bank offers online banking, have them log in to that and learn how to use it. Teach your child how to reconcile their ledger.

If you are into building things, consider having a creating a plan. Have a fixed budget. Go shopping for the supplies. Use measurement and other skills as you create your project.

Some sixth graders will begin to babysit. Have your child determine their hourly rate and then use their bank accounts to keep track of their money. If they have something they really want to purchase, then have them work and save up for it. If they fall short of their goal, pitch in a few dollars and help them realize their dream. You are helping them learn to be confident and responsible for their money.

Use sources like khanacademy.org to practice things they need to know, but they can also use it to learn things they didn’t know. This site has more than math on it, your child can learn reading, English, and writing skills as well.

Just as I stated in the fifth grade section, do homework. Do not ignore this. It is a way to do practice. If your child need support, find a way to provide it.

Play games! Yes, games are still important. Consider playing Canasta (a challenging card game), Cribbage, Mancala, or Battleship. (“As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”)

My Final Thoughts

Growing up, I was not a confident math student. I was the person who would have really benefitted from these ideas. I had to work really hard to overcome a lot of issues I had with math. Sometimes we think because our children are good students, they must understand the math they are learning. That is not always the case.

A great way to check for understanding, is to have your child show you what they know. If you are also practicing the skills, you will know if they really understand it. If they don’t, and you either don’t have the time or the ability to provide help, seek assistance.

There are all kinds of qualified educators that are available and willing to help.

I know that many parents don’t want to pay for a service they feel their school should be taking care of during the 8 hour day your child spends at school. But, you have to remember that your child is also learning reading, writing, English, science, social studies, music, art, P.E., etc. So, they are only going to have a finite amount of time to learn the topics covered in school. Many schools will do a small group instructional time. This will eat into the whole lesson and your child may not be getting enough direct instructional time. If you notice your child is struggling, do not wait to get help. You are just compounding the problem. Be your child’s advocate. Do what you can with the resources you.

For more information about Tutoring with Sheryl go to https://midwesttutor.com.

Happy learning and best wishes for a great learning experience for your child!


Simple Strategies to Help Your Kindergartener Through Second Grader Learn About Math

Here are a few ideas to keep the learning going at home! Math is all around us, but sometimes we simply don’t know how to show our kids this. Here are some fun things you can do at each level of learning from Kindergarten through Second Grade. 


Recognize that objects can be associated with numbers. Example, laying out 3 toys to choose from. You can count how many there are before your child chooses the one they want to play with. 

Teach your child how to count. But, beware! Start with zero through nine first. Going straight into 10, 11, 12, etc can be tricky unless they really understand 0-9. 

Tell stories with numbers. “We made 12 cookies on this cookie sheet. Let’s eat 2 of them. How many do we have left?” Your child will begin to associate things like addition and subtraction when you start to talk like this. 

Show shapes and count the sides. Talk about the name of the shapes and how many sides there are. You can even get into the fact that some sides may be longer or shorter than others. 

Read books that have math in them like their counting books. Or, if you are reading a picture book that has many repeated things in it, you can count those objects. 

You can use workbooks when your child is ready for it, but don’t start too early. This may lead to frustration. 

Play board games or card games with your child. Games like Candyland, chutes and Ladders and Go Fish are perfect for teaching math skills. 

1st Grade

Playing with Legos is a great way for kids to learn about math. As they build with them, they can begin to understand how sizes can be the same, smaller, or larger. You can also add up groups of same sized Legos. You can take a larger group of Legos and pull some out and find the differences. When doing the subtraction, be sure to place the larger set of Legos on the left side so they get used to the idea of the larger number listed in the correct spot. 

You can also learn addition by starting with a Lego of a particular size, and then adding two more of the same size. Use this to illustrate 1 + 2 and how it is equal to 3. Use those terms when talking with your child. 

When working in the kitchen, have your child estimate if the amount will fit in a particular container. When looking at items in bowls at the supper table, consider talking about the one that has more than the others or less than the others. Use measuring cups to discover measurements and fractions. Rice is a great option for this. 

Read math problems aloud to your child and use math vocabulary. Sum means the answer to an addition problem. Difference means the answer to a subtraction problem. 

When shopping, use real money so your child can see how money works. Help them learn about the coins and the bills you are using. 

Use a real analog clock in your home. Help your child learn how the clock works. Try to help them understand the hour hand and the clock hand. They are old enough to understand o’clock (hour times) and half-past or thirty times, like 3:30 or half past 3. 

Play math games like Tic-Tac-Toe and Connect Four. 

2nd Grade

Speak positively about math. Even if you do not like it. A second grader may suddenly go from loving math to not liking it as they are learning more difficult concepts. 

It is really important to solidify their understanding of addition and subtraction. Be as hands-on as you can with a concept. Use the pennies you have sitting around, and make groups where you are adding to and taking away so they really understand sums and differences. Once they really understand the simpler problems up to 10’s then you can move to the 20’s. 

As you work in the kitchen, be sure you consider fractions. Make a sandwich cut in ½. Talk about the fact that you have 2 pieces, but you will eat one of them first. You are now going to eat ½ of the sandwich. You can cut it into different sized pieces and do the same thing. 

Start to show the analog clock and how it relates to the digital clock. Talk about the calendar. Think about speaking about time in terms of days, months, years. 

As you work with time, think about how you can teach it while cooking. If your cookies take 10 minutes in the oven and you set a timer, look at both the analog clock and the digital clock and determine what time will show on those clocks. 

Play games. You may be ready for something more challenging in the game department. Try checker or Uno! 

I hope these activities inspire a love of learning and help support your child as they learn about math. 

Tutoring with Sheryl supports learners in grades 2-5 with their math journey. If your child needs support click on the Book with Me link and I am happy to meet with you and see how I can support you!

For more information about Tutoring with Sheryl go to https://midwesttutor.com.


My child used to love school and now they don’t!

You are not alone, if you have heard your child say they don’t like school. Most parents might feel the same way. Maybe you had a bad school experience and now your child feels the same way you did. But, as the parent, perhaps your thoughts have changed about the importance of a good education, and now you are wondering what to do.

Here are a few simple tips you can try. They may work, they may not work. Each child is different. What works for one, may not work for the next. But, trying is showing your child that you are there for them and you want to help.

Tip Number 1: Don’t ignore this statement. If you choose to ignore it, you are sending the message to your child that they are not important. Sit down with your child and ask them what they mean by this. As they answer, use prodding questions like, “Can you tell me more?”

Tip Number 2: If the child tells you something you feel their teacher(s) need to know, ask for a meting to discuss what your child revealed. But, your meeting is not a time for blaming the teacher or another student about how your child is feeling. It is a time to discuss and create a plan of action about how to move forward in a positive, respectful manner.

Tip Number 3: Recognize that it is okay for your child to struggle a little. Once they grow up and move out, you’ll be glad that your child learned how to deal with a problem. But, don’t wait until they have struggled for a long time. Being on the struggle bus puts undo stress on your child which could result in other problems.

These three simple steps may help your child in both school and life.

Sheryl is the owner of Tutoring with Sheryl. She works with families who are seeking support for their child’s learning.

For more information, go to midwesttutor.com.



It is my privilege to teach children!

It is my privilege to teach children. I say this each year, but it truly is. When parents send their children to work with me, I am honored and humbled. I don’t take my job lightly. I have taught school for 32 years and this year is the first year that I am not inside of a physical classroom. However, this is my third year of tutoring online. 

Parents send their kids to work with me for all kinds of reasons. Parents contact me for all kinds of reasons. Some of my parents have needed intervention in a particular school subject. Their child is falling behind and struggling and doesn’t seem to be progressing. Some parents send their child to work with me because they want their child to be challenged. Other parents just want support with homework help because they can’t give their child the time they need to help them with a particular subject, or they don’t feel they are able to help them. Other parents reach out to me as a support with their homeschooling. They want someone who has taught a particular subject to support what they are currently teaching. They want someone who can go back over the material and make sure their child is supported. They want someone who can bring a different spin on the information. I have had parents contact me to help their child learn study skills as well. They need to learn skills to move them forward that aren’t necessarily subject based, but are based on skills they need to learn to meet their classroom goals. 

You ask yourself, “How can she do all of this?” To answer that question as simply as I can, it comes from experience. Like I said, I have 32 years of experience to draw upon. I’ve taught all subjects in a self-contained classroom as well as departmentalized classes. I come with a whole host of skills. And, I don’t shy away from a challenge. Many times I find myself researching ways to meet needs once I know the need. I don’t shy away from contacting other teachers and tutors when I feel like I need to get techniques that may be helpful with my students.

I do my best to offer my students a variety of activities to help them learn the skills they are needing support with. I meet with most of my students virtually, but in some instances, I will travel to family homes if they are near me. I offer services that last from a half hour to an hour depending on the age of the child and what the goals are for them. But, all of my students are offered a private Google Classroom where they get a variety of tools to practice skills when I am not meeting with them. Parents appreciate the opportunity for their child to continue to move forward even though I am not personally meeting with them while they are doing their independent practice. 

I will typically tell parents that I am their child’s academic coach. I don’t take the place of their teacher, because their teacher is either a public school teacher, private school teacher, or they are homeschooling and the parent is the teacher. I just assess student needs and determine what areas they seem to need support with. 

As I am setting up my schedule for the fall of 2022, I am already looking for online tools to support what I will be teaching. For my in-person kiddos, I am looking at the tools I have and the games I plan to take to their homes to support what they are learning. I get excited just thinking about the possibilities. 

I love getting to know both the kids and their families. I know how demanding it can be to work all day and then worry about your child’s education. It can be exhausting for parents. But, that is where I come in! I discover what their child needs and then I work my magic. 

Is it always easy? No, but learning requires patience and I know that. Sometimes we just have to stop and switch gears to keep moving forward. I think that is the beauty of understanding kids. They have a lot going on. They are going to class, they have homework, they have their friends, they have their homework, they have their activities, and they have tutor time! So, the last thing I want to be is “another thing to do.” I want the kids to see me as their coach. I cheer them on as they practice their skills and I do my best to find what works best for them. 

Many people ask me what I tutor. Most parents will ask me for help with math. But, I tutor children in reading and writing as well. Even though I taught science for 32 years and loved it, I don’t tutor it. It is difficult to find things that work well with what the student is learning in school. When I do agree to work with a child on their science, I just focus on their homework for science. But, I will do it if I am already working with a child in another subject area. 

I also have parents who will ask me to work with their child in multiple subject areas. I am also happy to do that. Since I work with children in elementary school, we will typically do a half hour of one subject and then do the other subject. 

I get asked how often I work with children. Some parents only want me to meet with their children once a week, but if I agree to that, I will typically encourage at least 45 minutes. When meeting with students, we need to focus on their needs, but it is important to meet often enough to see progress and meet needs. Some parents want two or three times per week, and I have had some parents ask me to meet with their child 5 days a week. I am happy to meet as often as my schedule allows. 

I know how important it is to support my students. I do the best I can and I know parents appreciate that. As I said earlier, it is my honor to work with these kiddos. I want them to love learning and feel supported. 

I look forward to my fall kiddos. My schedule is filling up and I am excited about the learning that will be taking place. If you are looking for an expert that will provide individualized learning to meet your child’s needs, feel free to contact me. You can find more information about me at midwesttutor.com. I always offer a free assessment of needs and create a report for family members so they can see what it is that I will focus on. I think they really appreciate that and feel confident in the process that I will take to support their child. 

Best wishes for a wonderful new school year from Sheryl at Tutoring with Sheryl @https://midwesttutor.com. Feel free to get in touch with me with any questions! I will get back to you!


Need a fun, fast-paced game to keep the kids busy?

Summer is a great time to gather around the table and play a few games as a family or just with friends. The only supply you need is a deck of cards minus the joker and face cards.

You deal out the cards to everyone in the group as evenly as you can. Then group determines a target number. Let’s say we use the number 25 as our target. The first player lays down a card. Then the next player lays down their card while the entire group is computing the sum of the two cards in their head. The third person lays down their card in the same fashion and as the card total gets closer to the target number the group will be getting excited to “Hit the deck.” Once the pile reaches the target number or just passes it, the first person to “Hit the deck” gets the pile. I would recommend that the pile is recounted to determine the total. That player gets to keep the pile.

Play continues in this fashion until the deck is all used up. At that point, everyone counts their cards. The player with the most cards is declared the winner.

You can change the game up by changing the target number, by starting at a total and subtracting to get to a target number, or by using a very large number and using multiplication to reach that total or surpass it.

Have fun and think of as many ways as you can to change this fast-paced game up!

Happy learning and enjoy your time together!

Remember, if you need any learning support for your 2nd-5th grade math student, feel free to contact me for support at sheryluehling@gmail.com. To find out more about me, go to midwesttutor.com.


Learning your math facts is kind of like following a diet plan.

Sometimes we really want to lose weight. It always sounds so simple. Just stick to the plan, it will be easy. Don’t forget to count your calories. Don’t forget to eat the correct foods. Don’t forget to exercise. Don’t forget to drink your water. Hmm, I thought it was supposed to be simple!

Well, learning math facts is a lot like my description of losing weight! There is a lot more involved in the process!

Let’s take multiplication facts as an example of learning “math facts.” It sounds so easy! You only need to memorize the facts of 0-10 to really declare you have mastered your math facts. That shouldn’t take too long, right?

Well, I have news for you. It takes longer for some kids than others. Just like losing weight. Some people can get the job done a lot faster than others. For some people, it is just easier.

But, the fact remains, that kids need to understand the concept first. Multiplication is repeated addition. Kids need to understand the idea of addition. They need to have mastery of their basic math facts. They need to work on their conceptual ideas of adding in groups. Then they need to put these facts to memory. That is a big deal for kids!

So, how can we make this task easier? As I stated, earlier, a really solid understanding of addition is key for memorizing multiplication facts. For division, kids need a solid understanding of subtraction.

When I have a student that is struggling, I typically use manipulatives to support their learning. You can use just about anything. Simple macaroni shells work wonders as do lima beans or pinto beans. Anything a child can manipulate with their hands. You can get fancy and purchase colored tiles. “As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.” The goal is to allow the child to use the counters to do the addition. Once they have their facts mastered, they will be able to understand multiplication, because that is repeated addition in groups.

A simple way to start with multiplication is to count by twos. A child can grab two counters and place them in a group by themself, Then they can add another group of two and add the two groups together. They can now see that 2 X 2 is the same as 2 + 2 which equals 4. They progress to 2 X 3 which is three sets of 2 and they understand that 2 X 3 is the same as 2 + 2 + 2 which equals 6. Once they get this idea, you can try other numbers. There are many experts that will recommend learning math facts in order from 0-10 in chronological order, but I think I would recommend 2’s, 5’s, and 10’s, then do 1’s, 3’s, 6’s, 9’s, 4’s, 8’s, 0’s, and end with 7’s.

Don’t forget to teach kids that multiplication is commutative. That means you can change the order of the factors, so if your child cannot remember 3X5, try 5X3.

Play games with those facts! Make a game of it anytime that you can so your kids are going to have motivation to learn them.

“As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases,” but I wanted to let you see some games that might work for your child as they practiced those facts. War is one of those amazing games. It is a fast paced game of chance that involves a working knowledge of math facts in order to win.

Flashcards? Well, you don’t need to use the typical paper flashcards to make things work. Have you tried the Learning Wrap Ups? I used to have a ton of these in my classroom. They were my go-to for the kids who finished their work early. They could go and grab a set and practice them. They loved to see if they were getting faster and more accurate as they practiced them. Since they are self-checking, it didn’t involve me standing right there helping them.

And who wouldn’t benefit from a multiplication chart? Kids can benefit from looking at one when they are stuck and they can benefit from filling one out. So, why not have both?

And for those kiddos that need support and learn better with music? How about a rap?

Don’t forget, it can be hard for kids to learn these. You have be persistent and not give up.

If you have tried just about everything and your child is still struggling, reach out to me. I can be a part of the solution. I support learners in their journey to independence. I tutor children in math, reading, and writing and can help your child reach their goals.

For more information about me, go to midwesttutor.com or email me at sheryluehling@gmail.com.

Happy multiplying!


I want to raise a reader!

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So, you really want to raise a reader? Absolutely! It isn’t as difficult as it sounds! You just need to provide books and spend time reading to your kids. And, you need to model reading yourself.

Sounds too good to be true? Well, I don’t think it is! All three of my kids were different when it came to reading. My oldest daughter really wasn’t too excited about reading. My middle child, our son, loved to read and he still spends a lot of time listening to audio books while he is working. Our youngest daughter was more into reading than our oldest daughter, but she was really into mysteries. So, if I could find something that was filled with mystery, then she was hooked.

I think it is important to take your child to the library. Especially when they are young. Have them get used to walking into a library and choose books to look at. Even if they don’t read all them, you are exposing them to a variety of books and writing styles. They are most likely going to grab books that they don’t even understand the language, but they are looking at the pictures. They are immersing themselves in the pictures and learning to turn the pages. Get them excited to go and look through books.

They can go “shopping” for their books and then take them home and enjoy them. Make a big deal of returning them when their due date comes up.

Provide them with a special space at home where they can sit down and enjoy their books.

Sit down and read with them. Do this as a part of their day. They will love it!

Once they get hooked on the reading portion, then take them to other places to get books. Great places to look for books are at garage sales. They can go to Goodwill and look through all of the books. You don’t have to pay a fortune for books. Good used books are a great place to start. If they don’t end up liking the books, then they can just sell them on your next garage sale or share them with a buddy.

But, if you are one to really want new books because you love the new book smell and how the new pages feel, then of course, go out and buy some books. Amazon is a great place to buy books. (“As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”) For example, if you wanted to purchase the book, Shiloh, for your fourth grader, you can quickly find it as you search. If you are already a prime member, you won’t have to worry about a mailing free and you can get it sent to you! They even offer it as a Kindle version with audio! So, they make it quick and easy to get a book! And, if you get the Kindle version, your child can read silently while listening to the book and improve both their fluency and their comprehension skills.

Wow, I wish I would have done a better job of using audio books with my own children. I think this would have really enriched the reading experience for my two daughters.

My son, was a totally reader. He loved everything from Eragon to Merlin. He was really into the mythological realms and the magic of these fun adventures.

As my granddaughter to learning to love reading, we are buying books for her that she is spending a tremendous amount of time listening to. She is even reading them to me! Most of the time it is babble, she is only 22 months old! But, occasionally we a get a phrase that makes sense. One of her favorites is Corduroy Goes to School. She loves the flaps that she can pull down and see what is underneath as I am reading to her.

No matter how you provide the books, I just really recommend that you go out and look for some books that your child will like. Remember, if they are youngsters, they are probably just “reading” the pictures. That is okay. You can read them the text. But, make the time to read to them. Make it a routine. Kids love routines. They feel comfort in them. Taking time to sit down and read with your child allows you to bond. Once they get older, they will be reading to you. It isn’t hard to raise a reader, but it will take time.

I wish you the best of luck as you get your reader excited to explore books!

If you are in need of summer reading tutoring for your child be sure to let me know! I am happy to help your child learn to love reading! You can find more about me at midwesttutor.com and you can email me at sheryluehling@gmail.com.


What do tutors help with during the summer?

I have clients this summer who are working with me to enhance their skills in a variety of areas. They are not attending summer school and have chosen to work with me instead. We meet twice a week for either 2 half hour sessions, or we do 2 one hour sessions. I don’t recommend more than 40 minutes for students that are in third grade or below. The simply cannot focus that long, and I want my students to be absorbing the information I am teaching them. My students who are in fourth grade and above do well with one hour sessions and we typically have plenty of time to take a deep dive into the things they are working on.

So, what does this look like? I send home a calendar reminder that we will be meeting the day prior to our meeting. I include important links that my student might need to have access to. They open our link by going to the calendar app on Google. I am on the other end of the link with the same links open. I make sure we both have the same things open and ready to go. We do a quick check in, and then we get started.

I use Google Calendar to schedule online meetings with clients.

Each meeting looks different because each leaner is working on skills that they want support with. To illustrate what happens during the online meeting I will give you an example. If they are doing math, we will do some skill practice, and then work on some more challenging problems or skills-based problem-solving activity. Then we typically do some sort of work on a management system like khanacademy.org or splashlearn.com. Both of these math management systems have phenomenal content that can be used with students in math as well as reading. If parents are available at the end of the lesson, I will always do a quick chat with them and see if there is something that they would like me to focus on for the next meeting and I will take notes so I remember to include this the following week. If parents are not available, then I always send home an email update of our lessons. Then I end the meeting.

This is an amazing tool. I harness the power and use it as a tool for direct instruction and support materials as my students learn math content.

What does the student do in-between our meetings? Most parents like me to “assign” some work for their child to do outside of our meetings. If that is the case, then I create a private Google Classroom for them and I post weekly activities for them to do. Depending on the age of the child and what they are able to do independently, I will give things in khanacademy.org or splashlearn.com to complete, or I will send home links of things to complete. I post these things on their Google Classroom under their Classwork tab. Some of my students continue to work on projects that we started but they didn’t have time to complete.

Private Classrooms are provided for my learners.

I want to support the learning of each child and meet their needs and this seems to be the most effective and efficient way to do so.

If you are in need of summer tutoring for your child, feel free to reach out to me. I will set up a Google Meet and send you a personal link to a private online meeting. We can discuss the needs of your child. I will then do a free assessment of your child, on a date that will work for both of us. Then I will compile the information and send you a report of my findings. I will follow up with you and give you a plan of action for the child and if you are in agreement, we will move forward with private tutoring lessons.

I have had a lot of very happy families. They are very pleased with the results and the children are supported, encouraged, and challenged. I would love to help your child move forward through the summer months so they are ready to go next fall.

For more information about my tutoring services, go to midwesttutor.com. You can send a request via an email directly to me at sheryluehling@gmail.com.

Happy summer learning to all of you! Don’t let the summer slide hit your child and find they are behind at the beginning of the school year. We can work together to prevent that and start the school year ahead of the game!


My 13-year-old doesn’t like to read, now what?

My 13-year-old doesn’t like to read, now what? I recently had a conversation with a friend about this and as I was talking with her, I was very interested. It got me thinking about reading in general. 

My eldest daughter wasn’t a big fan of reading either, until she found a genre that she really liked. As an adult, she enjoys reading non-fiction, but I kept trying to “feed” her fiction. She just wasn’t interested in it. I couldn’t figure it out! I loved to read fiction. Any free-time I got, I would be reading a fictional series and absolutely devouring it. But, when I tried the same thing with her, she just wasn’t interested in much of anything I brought home. 

So, back to this conversation I had a few days ago. The mother of the 13-year-old is highly educated, she has several lovely children. She works hard and is interested in her children and their  learning, but she is just perplexed about her son. He does well in school. He performs at the 90% and higher on his academic tests, but she feels he just doesn’t do as well in reading as she would like him to. 

We have not set anything up yet, but as I was talking to her, I asked her a few questions. Did he have any specific genre that he was interested in? Was he struggling with his comprehension? She wasn’t sure about either one, she just knew he didn’t like to read. I shared a few of these things with her as we chatted about his lack of interest in reading.

This is actually a pretty common thing that I hear from parents.  When you get to the heart of it, you learn a few things about the kids. You learn that they don’t have a genre that they like. Oftentimes, after an initial assessment, I learn that they are either low in their reading comprehension skills. They haven’t really been taught how to think about what they are reading. Or, it may be that they don’t have strong phonics skills and when they get to words they don’t know, they don’t have strategies that help them understand multi-syllabic words. (Longer words.)

If she would decide to work with me, I would definitely do a reading assessment with her child. I would determine if he has strong comprehension skills, it could come down to the fact that he struggles with larger and more complex text or multi-syllabic words. Both of these can be resolved with some simple interventions, that in real honesty, for a 13 year old, may only take about 6 week, meeting approximately 12 times. I would do another assessment to see if he made progress and then let the family determine if they want more help. 

If I discover there is no real problem, it may come down to the fact that he simply hasn’t discovered a genre that he enjoys. In that case, I would recommend a visit to the local library. I would send a few ideas for books he could look at and see if there was anything of interest. But, I do think it is important to understand that he might not find something right away. 

Parents often get worried that there is something wrong. That is not always the case, but I am always happy to listen, assess, and make a plan. I have had a lot of experiences where the child that hated to read, suddenly loves it and the parents just cannot believe that this is their child. 

If you have a child who is not interested in reading and you are worried there is a problem, reach out to me. I would love to be a part of the solution! For more information about me, go to midwesttutor.com. I have some summer spots available and would love to help your child create a love of reading! 


Summer Travel, Trip Planning Made Fun!

I know how challenging planning a summer vacation can be. I also know that just finding time for one can be the biggest challenge. I wonder if you ever considered having your children help you with your family trip planning. 

It always sounds so idyllic to think about a trip. The family will get to have some fun together, but who usually does all of the planning? The parents do! Then the kids complain about the trip you worked so hard to put together. 

If your child is at least in third grade, then they are able to pitch in and help out. I have some ideas to get the family together and plan your next trip. 

I would suggest that you look on your calendars and decide what dates you want to take your tip on. This can be challenging when your kids are in a lot of activities, but you may want to consider taking some time off of those activities. I think you need to be realistic about what you can miss and what you cannot miss, but find a time, even if it is just 5 days, that will work for most of your family. I would NOT recommend missing any school for your trips. Why? You cannot get back instructional time. You can, however, find a few days that you can string together to sneak away, even if it is just a few miles from your house. 

Some families really love amusement parks, some families love going to the lakes. Have you ever considered a road trip? These trips have provided some of our best vacations. We just decide the direction we will be headed and take off and go. We have ideas in mind about some things we can do on the way, and that is where the planning comes in. We look on Google Maps for ideas. We make lists of things that are free, low cost, and higher costs. Then we may have to think about how much money we are willing to spend, but we put these ideas down on paper, or on a Google Sheet. 

We also consider where we can stay and get ideas for that as we stay overnight. We don’t always schedule our hotels, but sometimes we do. It depends on the season. 

Now, how do you get your kids involved? Google Maps and Google Earth are awesome for visualizing things that you can do as a family. The Maps app will allow the kids to see what things are on the map in a variety of directions you may be heading. Google Earth will allow you to take a three-dimensional “field trip” to the area. The kids can see what it looks like in the actual area and then you can make a better decision about the trip. 

You may want to let your children know that you may not be able to do everything that the family puts on the list, but the list will allow them to make decisions either before the trip or during the trip. 

When kids know what to expect, it will lessen the stress of the unknown and they may be more apt to be as excited as you are about your summer trip. 

And, you are teaching your children real-life experiences that will help them as they grow up and have to travel on their own one day. 

I hope this idea has inspired you to plan a trip together! Not only is it fun, but it will help your child grow as a learner too!

If you are seeking summer learning support for your child, I have some availability in my tutoring schedule. Let me know if you are in need. I support elementary students in math, reading, and writing. I provide intervention and enrichment. What I described above, would be an activity that I would do with a student seeking summer math enrichment. We would plan and budget out a trip. Maybe your family would want to take it. I provide a free consultation/assessment for your child in the academic area you want support in. I then create an individualized plan for your child. Then we schedule our online meetings and enjoy learning and working together! I look forward to hearing from you. If this has been helpful, please share it with others. 

Happy traveling! 

You can find more information about Sheryl at midwesttutor.com. 


What does tutoring look like from my perspective?

Welcome to my office!

What does tutoring look like for me?

I have to tell you, that it is always a delight to meet with my clients. I get excited to see them on the other end of the camera. I welcome them and ask them how their day has been going. I also ask them what they want to work on.

In this blog, I will let you know about my most recent visit with a young lady who is in 5th grade. She lives in New Jersey, and I live in Nebraska. We are definitely a few miles away. But, we meet on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 5 pm CST, 6 pm EST.

I typically try to show up a few minutes prior to the start of our online meeting. I make sure I have pencil and paper. I make sure I have some links to the things we have been working on, just in case we need something ready to go. I look back at my notes and my lesson plans, and make sure I am ready to roll.

In her case, I am working with her on 5th grade math. We have been working on measurement and geometry, so in my most recent visit, I have fired my computer up and had links ready to go. However, when I met with her, she was not in need of what I had opened up. She was requesting support on long division with decimals as well as a reteach on how to make conversions using in mass in the metric system.

We spent about 45 minutes making sure she understood the difference between dividing a decimal number by a whole number. Then we added the decimal in the divisor’s spot. I made sure she understood why we were moving the decimal, and suddenly things fell into place.

She was feeling very confident with that. She took some notes and said, let’s move on. Then we moved into working on understanding the place value system in the metric measurement system. She finally started to understand it as I retaught her about the fact that each one of the place values is either 10 times larger or smaller depending on the way you move through the place values. I showed her she could multiply by powers of 10, or we could simply determine how many place values we are moving and then just move the decimal. The light switch went on, and she was able to move within the system with little to no confusion. She did ask if we could practice that again on Thursday, and I agreed I would be ready to go.

At the end of our hour, she stated that she did very well on her most recent math test. She thought that she maybe only missed two. She felt very confident about her state math assessment as well. Her mother was very pleased about her progress and had added a second hour with me. She was very happy about her progress and wanted more time.

I am sharing this with you because I want you to know, that I take very good care of my clients. I am constantly looking for ideas that may work with each child. I use humor as we work together because I want them to enjoy our time together.

I also want you to know, that I do my best to work around the child’s schedule, while keeping our time together as consistent as possible.

I just finished some time up with one of my most recent clients, and I asked his mother if she would have time to give me a testimonial. I really didn’t know what she thought about how things were going, but I did know that her son, who was working with me on 3rd grade math, was doing very well. She sent me this testimonial, and I could see that I really was making a difference. Here is what she said, “Sheryl provided fantastic support to my son for a number of reasons.  She was very flexible and understanding of his needs and kept the lessons engaging even when he was distracted or tired from a long day at school.  She provided a positive energy and a genuine enthusiasm for learning.  Sheryl is a fantastic teacher and resource!

As I am moving into summer, my schedule is filling up. However, I do have some time slots available. If you have need of a tutor, be sure to reach out to me. I would be delighted to schedule time to meet with you and your child and do a free consultation/assessment. It typically takes about an hour, but sometimes it is just a little bit longer, especially if your child needs more processing time.

For you convenience, you can fill out the form at the bottom of this sheet if you are wanting the most direct link to reaching me. However, you can find out more information by going to midwesttutor.com.


Are Audiobooks a Bad Thing?

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I sometimes get asked if audiobooks are a bad thing. And, my answer to that is a flat out no. For some people, this is the only way they find time to read. I know I have enjoyed some really great books on “tape.” I even recall a road trip where our family listened to Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls, on audiotape and at the end of it, my entire family was in tears. So, yes, I love audiobooks. 

However, I wouldn’t recommend only relying on audiobooks for your child’s form of reading. The problem with that is if they only hear the written word, they are not being exposed to those words in writing. It is when they see the words that they really get to understand what they are reading. Listening to books on “tape” is a great way to hear the text. This is especially important if their families don’t have time to read to them aloud. It is when they hear the text, they learn the nuances of the language. This is vital to their language development. I would still recommend the written text be accompanied with the audio text, but when that won’t work, listening to stories is very valuable on its own. 

I have had many students who suffer from dyslexia and one thing that actually helped them to become successful in the classroom, was listening to audiobooks. I would provide them with a hard copy of the book  and then they would listen to the words as they read along with the audio. It made for a rich reading experience for them. They felt supported and got much more from what we were reading. 

An audiobook can give a reader a break from the text, and for some kiddos that struggle to make mental pictures of their reading, this is the best way to support their imagination as they read. Some kids take longer to develop this sense of imagery, so listening while also reading along provides the support they need to make those mental images. 

The more we can expose our students to written text, the better their language skills will be supported. But, in the end, audio books are not a bad thing. They are just another tool in the toolbox to support reading and building a love for the written language. 

I tutors students in elementary in math, reading, and writing. If you are looking for someone to support your child’s learning, feel free to reach out to me.

For more information be sure to visit:




Should I sign my child up for a summer learning camp?

As we approach the end of the school year, parents start to consider ways they can keep their child actively involved. They look at prices for the swimming pool, they scan advertisements looking for day and overnight camps. They look into their local sports organizations. The list is endless. They might even consider their local reading program at the library. 

However, many families don’t consider summer learning opportunities. I know that as a parent, I would always try to get my kids to the library for some educational opportunities, but many times those ideas fell below my expectations as a parent. I wanted my child challenged. Being a school teacher meant I had the ideas to keep them academically inspired and challenged, but sometimes I just wanted to send them somewhere and let them learn from someone other than myself. 

And, let’s be honest. How many of us just don’t want to do the work to develop ideas and get things prepared in order to challenge our students? It is a lot of work. You have to have the idea, find the supplies, take the time to sit down with your child and do the work right along with them. Whew, that can be exhausting! You are just trying to hold down the fort at home. You have to find time to pay your bills and take care of the family. No one ever told you, you might have to spend time doing things that are educational with your child. You thought it would be fun just to play with them!

Parenting is hard. People have written books about parenting. Parents find themselves questioning how to go about supporting their child in all areas. It doesn’t just have to be the summer time activities!

As you go about planning your child’s summer camps, I hope you will consider nurturing their mind, not just their bodies. Yes, my kids all participated in sports. We spent countless hours at the ball diamonds, at the pool, and on the basketball court. All of those things are incredibly valuable to your child. But, when my kids were growing up, we really only had the library reading programs and Bible school that offered learning opportunities for kids. This was mostly due to the fact that we live in a rural environment. Today, parents have all kinds of things they can consider signing their children up for! With the advent of digital learning opportunities, kids can take classes all over the world and learn from experts in all kinds of fields. 

I challenge you to think outside of the box as you look at things for your child to participate in this summer. Look around for summer enrichment, and even consider getting your child support in academic areas where they may be in need of support. Keep the learning going so that when they show up to class next fall they are not behind. 

Summer learning loss is a real thing! It doesn’t happen for all children, but it does happen. There are differing opinions as to why this occurs, and I won’t go into all of that in this blog post, but as a parent, I think most of us don’t want it to happen to our child. Sure, we can tell that they have to read for 20 minutes a day. And, that in itself is a good thing, if they are really doing it! It is even better if you take the time to discuss what they are reading and ask them questions. But the average parent may not even know exactly what to ask the child about their book, other than,”What happened in your book today?” That is a great open-ended question, but if that is the only thing you ask and your child barely responds, then that isn’t such a great thing. How will you know that your child actually read the material? You won’t! 

I would encourage you to seek out learning opportunities for your child that are supportive, challenging, and lead to growth. 

I know that some people will shy away from social sites like Facebook or Instagram. But, I know of a lot of talented teachers and tutors that are available to help support your child and can be found on these apps. 

If you know that your child struggles with reading, giving them the summer off is NOT going to help them grow as a reader! Ignoring the struggle is never a good idea! 

If your child is a genius, then find someone or a program that will challenge your child to think about new things and new ways of doing things. 

I know that parents will oftentimes say to me, your cost of tutoring is too high. Well, they don’t consider that they are also paying for the time I am working outside of the one-on-one time with their child. I don’t think they would argue with their lawyer about the cost of his or her services. They know that the lawyer is working outside of the time they are meeting with the client to make sure all of their needs are being met. The same goes for the person who is going to provide the academic support for a camp or one-one-one learning sessions. They are creating support materials and lining up the programs. So, remember that when you are considering your child’s summer learning opportunities and you are thinking about costs. 

I know that most parents don’t bat an eye at spending thousands of dollars on their child’s gymnastics, volleyball, baseball, or other sporting ventures. Invest in your child. They are the next leaders of our world. We want them learning from others, we want them challenged, we want them nurtured, we want them to have experiences to draw upon. All of this will make well-rounded children. 

If you are looking for some summer learning opportunities for your child I may be a resource for you!  I am providing some! I am hosting 3 sessions of an online writing camp focused on poetry in the month of June. I know your child will have fun and learn more about writing through a creative experience. I am also hosting 3 sessions of an online financial literacy camp where we will focus on understanding our wants and needs and how to wisely use our money. We will learn about budgeting and how to keep track of our expenses. 

I also am offering one-on-one tutoring for students who need support with bridging any learning gaps in both reading and math. I also am available for enrichment! Just let me know what your child needs. I am happy to help you out! I am really excited to work with some great kids and families this summer. Thank you for trusting me with your kids! I look forward to hearing from you! I can be reached at suehling@midwesttutor.com or you can find more information out at midwesttutor.com.


Does online tutoring really work?

After a year of working with students online, I would have to say that it definitely works. I have been blessed to work with students around the United States and we have had very little difficulty meeting each week either once or twice per week depending on their needs.

For those of you that don’t know me, I have a background in education. I am a certified K-6 teacher, licensed in the state of Nebraska, with 32 year s of experience in public education as a 5th grade teacher. Most of my students have been in grades 3-6 throughout my career. I have taught all classroom subjects.

So, how does this online tutoring work? On my end, I added a landline connection to reduce pauses in my video connection. While it isn’t perfect, we have very few moments of lag time. I have used my computer for all of the sessions except for one when my computer actually wouldn’t work, and then I met online via my phone and we still were able to communicate with very little disruption during our session.

From my students’ perspective, they have met with me on their tablets, phones, and computers.

I have been able to use Zoom when necessary, but I typically rely on Google Meet. With a link sent to the student, we find it quite easy to have our scheduled sessions.

My tutoring is much like my teaching. I find out what is needed and then I respond. If I am going to work directly with a student for a period of time and I know the goal, then I seek materials that will meet the child’s needs.

If I am focusing on homework support, then I use my student’s direction when we meet and respond to their needs.

So, what do each of these scenarios look like?

When I know the goal, I will find support materials and curriculum that will address the child’s needs. Let’s say the child is in need of support in reading. I do a reading evaluation of my own, and discover there is a need for support not only in comprehension skills, but they get stuck on multisyllabic words. I will find grade level appropriate words and we will do phonics study as well as comprehension skill practice. I certainly wouldn’t want my students to go without the support they need. I want them to grow in their area of support.

When students need homework support, I ask their parent or the child (if they are old enough and responsible enough) to send me the topics they are covering so I have an idea of what we are working on that night. If they can get me that list a few hours prior, I can typically have things lined up in advance. When I don’t get the list, then I focus on what they have worked on in class and expand on that skill. I have had a lot of success with and without a list, but it makes for a more productive session when I have an idea of what we are working on.

I get very excited when parents let me know their child is doing well in class and that they are improving on their report cards. I have had students working towards goals in their classroom and finding success and building confidence on the skills they are working on. With parent approval, I will reach out to the child’s teacher and coordinate efforts with them.

So, who are a few of the kiddos I have worked with? Well, I won’t name any of them, but I can tell you about a few of them. I worked with a family in California. The sister was in third grade and the brother was in fifth grade. I helped both of them with their homework, but we typically focused on writing. Both of them were dual language speakers. The third grader was an exceptional writer, but she would get confused on verb tense, so we really focused on that. She had great ideas, but had a problem getting them on paper. The older brother had a difficult time getting ideas generated. So, we used a lot of graphic organizers. He needed those to organize his thinking. He had to learn how to develop his ideas and needed a lot of support with grammar and spelling as well. Both of them had support with their math. The little sister did very well with her math and really needed a challenge. I was always on the look-out for challenging problems that I could stump her with. She loved the challenge! The brother did well once he understood the concept, but needed a lot of repeated practices to really solidify his understanding of the concepts.

I worked with another young man who was in the fifth grade and was living in California. He needed support on his writing. He was a dual language learner. He could generate his ideas easily, but he too struggled with spelling and basic grammar skills. So, we would practice multi-syllabic words and I really worked on generating basic sentences with him. I would always have him practice sentences that I would dictate to him, then I would have him choose one and I would have him write a story based on the sentence. He showed so much growth in a short period of time because we developed a routine that worked for him. His mom was so happy with his experience and his growth. His confidence really shot up and he was enjoying school again.

I worked with a 3rd grader in Missouri who needed support with his math skills. He was really bright and needed a challenge. He would have me check over his math homework, we would practice what he was doing in the classroom. But, I knew he could totally do so much more, so I kept challenging him. I was introducing him to double digit multiplication before his classmates and then moved him into long division with remainders before he needed to know it. He was ready and excited for the challenge. If he did his work quickly, then we would spend time on writing. He loved writing creative stories. His parents were so excited about the progress he was making and he was needing my support less and less. That means I was doing my job!

I worked with a young 5th grader in New Jersey who wanted math support. She was a really good problem solver, but would get stuck because of her computation skills. We really focused on learning her math facts and building her confidence with those so she could apply them to her math skills. Her school was using a lot of the Common Core Math routines, but what I found out with her was that she really just needed to focus on one way to solve the problem. I focused on the traditional algorithms with her, and she really improved dramatically. Her mom was so excited about her progress and her parent teacher conference report. The young lady was showing an interest in the advanced level math classes at her school and her mom was very excited about this.

Back to my original question. Does online tutoring really work? Absolutely!

I would love to work with your child! I am offering one-on-one tutoring and small group lessons. I have a few spots available for one-on-one tutoring this summer. If your child needs support with writing, reading, or math, let me know. I am sure I can help move them forward.

If you would like to learn more about writing or math this summer, I am offering two mini summer camps. My writing camp is focused on poetry. It is a very fun and non-threatening way to get kids focused on writing and learning in a creative fashion. We will even submit our work for publication! Click the links for more information on the camps!

My other summer camp is focused on financial literacy. I hope to teach kids the importance of money and how to manage it and make good decisions with the money now and in the future.

Let me know if I can support your child’s learning. I would love to support them and help them feel successful!

You can reach me through email at sheryluehling@gmail.com .

I look forward to hearing from you. If this was helpful, please share this information with others.


How important is it to have routines for your children? 

(This beautiful image is from pexels.com free images.)


Somedays you just want to wake up and do what you want to do, and not worry about getting the kids ready, feeding the dogs, or making a meal on time. After all, you are ruling your life around the clock. You are already worried about getting to work on time, you need to just focus on yourself. So what if the kids miss their breakfast? Too bad if they stayed up late last night, it was only 10 pm. That certainly won’t make a difference. And, you are also planning that quick vacation and the kids are only going to miss 10 days of school. Not a problem, the teacher will give the kids their homework and they can do their work on the vacation. It isn’t a big deal. 

Hmm, take a second to think about what just happened in that previous paragraph. The parent is overwhelmed. They just need a breather. They are working, parenting, and planning a vacation. All of those things by themself aren’t too bad one by one. After all, we all need to be able to change things around in our day, week, and our lives. But, we need to consider the impact these changes have on our children. Take a moment and see the impact of these changes on our children and how it may affect their day, week, or life. 

Here is my thought process on the idea of keeping kids on a schedule as much as possible. 

I know, I know, you have heard it before. “Get your kids on a schedule, it will help.” But, your life is so busy, you can hardly see straight. Well, I want you to really consider the impact of a schedule. 

If you are currently working a job, most likely you are on a schedule. You know when to report to your job, you know when your lunchtime is, you know when the end of your day. That is pretty comforting, isn’t it? You know what to expect. You can plan how much time you have to spend on things and this can lead to productivity. The more productive you are, the better your job goes, and in the end, you are happy! 

Wouldn’t it stand to be true for your child as well? If they have a schedule and they know what to expect, then they will know they have a specific time for each activity they need to complete during the day. They will feel safe, and it will be comforting. They will have the opportunity to be productive, even if they need more support with this. This will bring happiness to them as well. Of course, this is if things are perfect, but it stands to reason that your child should have a sense of normalcy which brings a feeling of safety for your child. That is reassuring to them that things are right in their world. 

If things are “right” in their world, then most likely you won’t have behaviors that can sometimes occur when they are out of their routines. This can lead to tantrums in younger children, crying in slightly older children, and defiance in older children. 

According to Kaplan, The Learning Company, you should have a routine for your infant or toddler because it helps them “feel secure in their environment.” They go on to say that the children go on to be “more engaged with their environment and the people around them.” So clearly, this supports young children with their social skills and how they handle change within their homes. This will then support them with changes outside of their home. Allowing time for your child to build up to transitions is really important. When you take the time to give cues that your child can learn so they understand a change is upcoming, you teach your child that a change is coming and this will help reduce bad behavioral responses to change that we can see when the child isn’t prepared for the change in their routine or activity. 

Those routines that you build in for your child will teach your child independence and life long habits that will lead to good health and productivity in their life. 

Bedtime routines are always ones that are challenging to build, but are so worth it in the end. I remember learning that as a young mother. If I didn’t have my kids on a bed time routine, then I was the one who suffered. I had to deal with bad behaviors the next day because they didn’t have enough sleep. I had to learn to build in procedures to help them transition into their beds. We would have a snack, put on pj’s, read some books, head up to bed and say our prayers, turn the lights down low and say goodnight. The kids had to learn to stay there until they fell asleep, but if we stayed on a schedule, things seemed to go so much better. All of this was challenging, but in the end, they became independent as they got older and we didn’t fight the battle many other parents were fighting, because the expectation was it was sleep time and they were to sleep in their beds. 

Morning routines were sometimes rough as well, but they were just as important as the bedtime routines, if not more important. I was the main caregiver when the kids were little. I got the kids ready, most of the time I was the one making them breakfast and feeding them. I was the one packing the bags and putting the kids in their car seats, I was the one who was driving 20+ miles to daycare and then back to work, all before 8 am. If I didn’t have some routines in place, things were not going to go well. Maybe that is your role. Don’t you think a routine would be helpful? 

Consider packing bags the night before. Lay outfits out the night before. Plan out breakfast and lunch the night before. I know this adds to your evening, but in the end, your morning should be much less stressful. If outfits are laid out the night before, that is one less thing you need to worry about. You won’t be searching for the elusive sock or shoe at the last minute. You will know where the mittens or the sandals are. Homework will already be in the bag. The pacifier won’t be missing from the diaper bag. The sports uniform will be washed and ready to go. You won’t be wondering where things are because you took care of it the night before. 

And, what about that 10 day vacation during the normal school year calendar? Sure, it works for you! But what about your child? Yay, they don’t have to go to school! It is no big deal to you that the teacher has to put together 10 days worth of homework. That is their job. But, do you realize that your child is missing out on valuable instruction? Instruction that they are not going to get a homework packet? Yes, school is a routine. You need to also consider this when you are making decisions that impact your child’s regular school day. You need to consider the fact that the school day doesn’t just consist of some worksheets thrown at your child. It is planned instruction created to teach your child strategies and content that will enable them to be successful in school and beyond. Without that instruction, many children will have learning loss. And, consider the lesson that your child is learning from you. You may not intentionally be teaching them, but the message is that school isn’t important. How can it be if you are going to take 10 days away while school is in session. So, be very careful when you are making decisions with your routines and schedules, because they can have unintentional effects. 

Give yourself permission to make mistakes. Give yourself permission to stray from the routines and schedules. But, celebrate when things go right. You will do yourself a favor and your child. Your stress level will be reduced once your routines are in place. Your child will feel safe and secure. This will hopefully help with any unwanted behaviors. 

I hope this gave you some insight into the importance of routines and schedules. I know the importance of them in my own life and in my classroom. My students depend on them. I depend on them. My students’ success is dependent on my use of routines and schedules so we can accomplish as much as we can in our day. 

I would love to work with you and your child to help develop routines and support your child’s learning. If you are in need of some academic support for your elementary leveled child, feel free to contact me. I specialize in math, reading, and writing. I have had a lot of success supporting students and would love to help your child reach their fullest potential. You can learn more about me at midwesttutor.com. You can reach out directly to me at sheryluehling@gmail.com. Feel free to share this with others. I hope you found it informative.


Do you have a senior that is preparing to graduate? Here is a simple timeline of things to consider doing to prepare for the big event!

(photo from pexels.com from free stock photos)

Feeling stressed about your child’s upcoming graduation? After doing three high school graduation parties, two college graduation parties, plus a wedding, I have some thoughts about preparing for the party. Maybe these tips will help you feel relaxed or at least organized as you plan for a successful celebration to your child’s special day. After all, you have raised and nurtured your child, you have cheered them on, and wiped their tears. It is a celebration for you as well. Congratulations on this big event. Plan ahead so you are done early and can sit back and enjoy this special time in your child’s life. 

Senior Year

Summer before senior year:

Schedule Senior pictures and order them. If you are having your photographer create your invitations, be sure you know the date of the graduation so they can add any information you want to the invite. I would encourage you to consider making your own, but be sure to include details for the actual graduation on the card and be sure to note if the party is on a different day. Give the physical address to both, but be sure it is very clear as to dates, times, and locations.

By December

Think about the day of your child’s event and secure a location for your child’s event. Put down a deposit if necessary. 


Discuss with your child what they want for a menu and look for recipes or a caterer. 

If you are in need of a caterer, be sure you contact a reputable one. Pay the deposit fee to be sure you have them on your calendar. 


Make a list of people you want to invite. Most senior students will send out a Facebook invitation, but encourage them to keep it private so you aren’t overwhelmed with a larger than anticipated crowd. This would be especially important if you are having your gathering in a smaller space. 

To determine how much food and drink, take the number of people you have invited and multiply it by ⅔. That will be pretty close to the number you will want to prepare for, but in all reality, only about ½ the number of people you invite will actually show up, and if you have the party on the same night as others, many people will not eat everything you serve. So, give yourself permission to run out! Leftovers are overrated!


Fill out the FAFSA form! Sorry parents, you really do need to do this. Go ahead and have the form linked to your taxes, it will save you a lot of time and headaches!

Fill out all scholarships. Ask for letters of recommendations from teachers. Try to have all of this done this month. Most likely your child began this earlier in the year. If not, put a rush on this! 

If you are preparing your own food, you can start to look for some things on sale. Some things like browning ground beef can potentially be done this month and placed in packaging in your deep freeze to speed things up as you prepare them later. 

You will want to secure tables, chairs, and begin looking for sales on disposable dishware, napkins, table cloths, canned beverages, etc. 

If you have room in your garage or a spare room, you can stockpile these items. Be sure to keep them organized so you can keep track of them. 

If you plan to order chips or things like that, then consider using Food Direct Services. They are really speedy and have a ton of things available that can help and you can avoid a trip to a major store. 

If you are purchasing soda or water bottles, consider purchasing the small bottles and can. Most people will not drink all of it and you will have a lot left over. Consider purchasing the small cups if you are serving lemonade or punch for the same reason. 

If you don’t have 30 gallon trash cans, consider going to Menards or some other store and purchasing several along with the liners. It will help you out when the day of the party actually happens. Consider your plan for the full trash bags as they fill up. Most people don’t consider this, they place them outdoors and then coons or dogs get into them. Consider throwing them in the back of a pickup if you don’t have other options.

If you are using a venue, you may have to purchase your own liners as well, so ask about this and get the correct size. You may also have to supply things like hand soaps, dish soaps, and hand towels at your venue, so ask questions.


If you are having cake and are ordering it, this is a good time to contact a baker and make arrangements. Be sure to pay the deposit as needed. 

Consider sending out your invitations 4-6 weeks in advance. Many people want to have advanced notice. This will give them time to purchase a gift and make time to attend the event. They may need to make arrangements for travel time as well as hotel accommodations. 

Consider asking a couple of older people watch any alcohol if you plan to provide it. You don’t want any underage drinking going on. Remind them of their job the day of the party. 

Ask a couple of trusted friends to help you with your serving for the day of the party. Ask the in ADVACNCE! You will NOT want to have to worry about this. Your family will tell you they will help, but they will get distracted with relatives and not follow through. You want several people in charge that are not relatives. You will be glad you did this! Consider asking a freshman or sophomore for help if you want a high schooler. Pay them to do the job and then they will take it seriously. You could also ask a service group like Girl Scouts to help and then give a donation to their club.

While it would be nice to have your entire extended family stay with you, I really encourage you to avoid this. Especially if you are hosting at your home. Your house guests will not be concerned about keeping the house cleaned up and you will want it to be picked up! It is too much stress. They will understand. 

If you are hosting the party at your house, this is the month where you will be very busy. You will either want to hire help, or complete these tasks on your own. Do a deep clean of all rooms. People will literally end up everywhere!

Clean up your yard and make it as presentable as you can. If you are planning on putting in flowers and you live in an area that this is difficult to do, then consider preparing planters. These can be pulled in if there is a late spring freeze.

As crazy as it sounds, organize your closets, cupboards, drawers, people will look in just about anything! Or better yet, leave a sign in them and say something like, “Did you find what you needed?”

Consider removing all medications that guests may get into without your permission. As much as we would like to believe no one would mess with it, you never know! 

Consider asking a friend to be in charge of taking candid photos. I have seen people lay out disposable cameras for friends to use at the party. 

Either borrow or purchase things like: roasters, beverage dispensers, coolers, card tables, display boards for photos, decorations. 

I purchase rolls of table covering so it is easily rolled out. I will then have leftovers for other gatherings that I host.

Determine what type of collection box or basket you want for the cards. If you want to decorate it, this is the time. A great idea is to get a larger Amazon box and cover it with wrapping paper and place a large slot in the top. Then you don’t have to worry about things getting lost!

Purchase thank you’s and stamps. You may want to consider purchasing postcards. Then you can avoid an envelope. One less thing to take care of.

If you are having a display of photos or awards, determine what you want laid out and how it will be displayed. You may need to line up extra tables for this, so as you determine tables and chairs, keep this in mind.

Get your appointments for your hair style and if you do nails or something like that, have them scheduled. 

Make any signage for your party, however, be careful about putting your name on anything. While this is helpful, it may lead to other issues, like unwanted guests. If your guests need directions to your home, then include them in the invitation. Most people use some navigation system now, so most people only need an address.

May/June or month of graduation

2 weeks prior to graduation, double check to see that you have everything you need (minus any fresh foods). This will give you time to run and get what you need.

If you are using a garage or shed, this is the time to clean it out. Then don’t allow anyone to park in it, or you will be starting all over. Keep the door closed! This will keep out the bugs and dust.

If you are able to and have access to tables, then you should set them up, but you may need to dust them off if it is really windy.  

Consider your outfit for the party. You want to be comfortable yet dressed nicely so the photos you preserve show how much you cared about the day. 

The week of graduation you will want to have some friends or family help you out. We all want to believe our child will help us get things ready, they are busy with their own agendas, and you will just need to give yourself permission to ask for help. 

Pick up the tables and chairs from the venue you are renting or borrowing them from. Be sure to find out when and how they are to be returned. Some places will rent picnic tables on wheels that can be pulled home hooked up to a pickup. Some towns will rent the picnic tables from the local park, but this will require a pickup or a flatbed trailer. If you have access to those things, these are definitely a possibility. You do not have to have searing for everyone invited. If you run your party as an open house, then have some tables and chairs. Many people will stand and visit. Then they will sit as others leave.

If you didn’t set up the tables, then this is the time to do it. Don’t put covers on them until the day before or the day of to avoid dust. 

Clean the house. Be sure to lay down extra throw rugs if people will be in your house. Put them over your carpet as well. People will not be taking off their shoes! 

Have extra toilet paper and paper towels on hand for guest rooms and the kitchen. Put extra liners in the bottom of your trash cans so they are ready to go and helpers can just take out the bag and add a new liner.

Place the canned drinks in coolers so the only thing you have to do is add ice the day of the party (add labels to the coolers).

Begin to prepare anything that can be done in advance. If you are making tacos, mix it up and then put it in bags and freeze it. It will only take about 2 days to thaw in your fridge if you don’t have too much. If you have a lot, then adjust. 

2 days prior, continue to get any food items made or picked up. DO NOT try to pick all of that up the day or or even the day before. You will be in tears from stress! Allow your family and friends to help you out!

Hang up all of your displays. 

THE DAY of the Party

If you have done your work in advance, then today should be easy!

Go early and get the ice you need to cool your beverages. As long as you don’t overfill your coolers, you should be able to get by with 20 pounds per cooler. Your drinks will melt the ice, so even though 20 pounds sounds like a lot, it won’t be.

Determine the route you want your guests to enter and leave. It is a good idea to have your graduate by the door your guests are entering. Wherever you are serving the food, consider the flow of traffic and the ease of laying food out. 

Think about where you want packages and graduation cards located. 

If you have food to warm up, you will want to provide plenty of time for that. You will want to consider putting the main food item first with all of the other items behind them. 

Place your signage. 

Lay out all cutlery, food, drinks, etc. Put out garbage cans with liners in the bottom. 

Get dressed and take some family photos before people arrive. 

Sit back and relax! 

You will want to put all of the foods that needs to be refrigerated away before you go to sleep, but the rest can wait until the next day. 

The Day after the Party

Clean up all of the trash. 

Return the tables and chairs. 

Begin the returns of the coolers, etc. 

Take down all decorations and begin placing them in storage containers. You may want to consider a storage unit for under the bed.  Or several, if you have a lot! The following year, have them go through it and decide what they REALLY want to keep. 

Sweep floors, vacuum, wash floors, wash bathrooms, wash all surfaces in your kitchen, wash the toilets and sinks and countertops. Dump trash from the kitchen and bathrooms. 

Open the gifts later in the evening when you have things cleaned up. You should have some leftovers, so you shouldn’t have to cook. Be sure to take good notes on who gave what, most people expect a written thank you sent in the mail. 

Within a week of the party

Write the thank you notes and get them in the mail. Waiting much longer means your child will procrastinate! 

I hope this was helpful! There are so many things that you have to do, and you can either take this advice or leave it. But, having done three, there are countless things to do, and I am quite certain that I have left a few of them out!

Congratulations on your special celebration!

Note: Sheryl is a full time teacher and part time tutor. If you’d like to know more about her, check out midwesttutor.com.


Should I make my child read alone, or should I read aloud to them?

(Photo from pexels.com from free images.)

I get this question asked of me during parent teacher conferences on a consistent basis. My answer is always yes. Then I will get a puzzled look from the parent or guardian because the answer was yes, and it clearly didn’t answer the specific question that was asked.

Reading is one of those things that can be done alone, with a buddy, or with a group! If we want our children to read and love it, sometimes we need to explore all kinds of options.

I will address a few ideas in this post and this may get your creative thinking rolling. As a parent, we spend time reading to our infants and small children. Once the child starts to read on their own, many times we think it is no longer necessary to sit and read to them. So, we send them off to their room to read. I can hear myself, “Just go to your room and read a book!” I am quite certain that I missed some opportunities to inspire a joy of reading for my kiddos. But, I guess that now that I know better, I will share this wisdom with you.

I know we are all very busy and sometimes we just simply don’t want to take the time to sit and read with our kids. There are dishes to do, laundry is piled up in on the floor, we still don’t even know what we are having for supper! Like I said, we just don’t have time to get things done. But, if we really want our kiddos to love reading, we might want to give ourselves permission to ignore the dishes and the laundry for a bit, and squeeze in a few moments before we mix up a quick supper.

Reading to your child is an amazing way to spend time together and bond. But, it sends a strong message to your child that reading is important. It also gives them an opportunity to hear the language you are reading to them in. I don’t want to assume you are reading a book in English, because you could live in Germany and reading in German. But my point is, when we read, we are sharing the language. Kids need to hear the language to become fluent. Many times the child hears the words, but doesn’t necessarily know how to say the words.

In older children, who can already read independently, reading aloud to them as they follow along can really help support multisyllabic words. A great example of this is the word photographer. Many times the kids will read it as photo grapher instead of the actual pronunciation of the word. If they hear you read it correctly as you share the text with them, then many times they will become familiar with it, and then read it correctly once they are reading independently. Perhaps you want them to read to you as well!

You have now had some great bonding time, and your child has heard the language, and you may have heard them read as well. The good news is, this really only needs to take 10-15 minutes. So, I guess supper can still get on the table!

This idea of reading alone also needs to be nurtured. Even if your child is not an independent reader, spending time with books is crucial. It allows your child time to explore pictures and text. Even if you don’t think they are reading, their brains are starting to make connections. Take time to go to the library and bring home board books for the little ones. Bring home picture books for the younger kiddos. Time looking at these books is building background information that can applied when the books are read to them, but it also builds background information for life and for support in writing.

Reading alone allows older children time to dive into different genres. Having a variety of books available allows children to spend time learning how different authors write. They can decide what they like and don’t like. Older children and even adults love picture books and graphic novels. Allow time in all of these texts.

As I stated earlier, it is important to read to your child, but it is also important to allow your child to read on their own. But, one of the best things you can do to build comprehension skills, is to ask your child about the books they are reading. If they can tell you about it, they are working on their comprehension skills. If they struggle with this, ask them what the liked about the book. That will then lead to other questions about the characters, setting, problem, and solution to the story. If they are reading non-fiction, then you can ask the who, what, when, where, why, and how of the text.

As you are reading, ask questions, laugh, wonder, and talk about the books. Sit back, relax, and have some fun with your child. Whether you realize it or not, that time will fly by. Make the most of it!

If you are seeking help with your child’s learning in the form of support or enrichment, reach out to me. I would be happy to visit with you about what your child may need support with. If the joy or reading just isn’t developing, I can work with your child to support them. You can reach me at midwestutor.com for more information.

(photo from pexels.com)


My child says the homework is done, but my child’s teacher is telling me it isn’t. What do I do?

I have had this conversation with parents so many times. I completely understand where you are coming from. I have done it myself! You see your child and you say, “Do you have your homework done?” Your child responds, “Yeah, I did it already.” Or perhaps they pause and say, “I will do it tomorrow.” Or maybe they say, “I don’t have any.”

You find yourself confused because you get a message from your child’s teacher that states your child is falling behind because they are not doing their homework. Wait! My child is telling me that they have their work done, or they don’t have any homework.

What do you do? You could yell at your child. You could yell at your child’s teacher. You could ignore it and say, it is their problem. Or, you could sit down and have a conversation with both your child and your child’s teacher.

I would recommend a meeting together if it is possible. I recommend staying calm and listening to both your child and your child’s teacher. There could be a variety of issues for this problem.

Your child may not understand that they actually have homework. I have literally had students not understand the word due. They hear “do” and not “due”. So, in their mind, they are thinking, well she said it was “do” tomorrow, so I don’t have homework. I can do it tomorrow! But, I said it was “due” tomorrow. Suddenly, we can see that we have a problem.

Your child may not understand the directions, or they may feel completely overwhelmed with the idea of homework. This may be especially important to note if they are getting a lot of assignments. Your child might just be struggling with organizing.

Your child may not care about the homework. They may not see any reason to do the work.

All of these are responses I have seen either through my own children or with my students. The most important thing to do is to find out what the problem is so it can be addressed.

Coming from the point of view of the teacher, it can really be a struggle when the student doesn’t want to do their homework. When possible, I try to help my students understand the importance of using the idea of homework as practice. I typically fall back on a real world idea of practice. I teach fifth graders, and I realize they don’t drive, but I will use an example of driving to help them understand. I tell them that we can watch our parents or other family members drive the car and we may feel like we know all about driving. But, when it is our turn to get a license and we decide to walk in to our local courthouse to take our test, we may be surprised. Suddenly there are all kinds of rules and there is even a real driving test to take along with the written test. I emphasize that watching my parents drive may have given me the idea of driving, but actually understanding the rules of the road and knowing how to operate the car needs practice. This is the same as the homework that we are expected to do at school. If we don’t practice our skills, it is very difficult to move forward with the next concept.

So, if you are having a problem with your child not doing their homework, try to use an everyday activity to parallel the idea of learning skills as you explain the importance of completing the work.

I would also recommend looking at their executive functioning skills. Simply put, this is their organizational skills. If they are not using some sort of planner or method of keeping track of their homework, this may need some attention. You can support them as you check their planner and talk through what they need to complete.

I hope this is helpful! Work as a team with your child’s teacher or tutor. They will appreciate it. Your child will see that you are all on the same team. Hopefully they will feel supported.

If you need support with your child’s homework, feel free to reach out to me at midwesttutor.com. I am happy to help!


Season’s Greetings from Nebraska

They call Nebraska, USA, The Good Life! This is for a very good reason. The people are so nice. My husband and I have traveled all around the United States and parts of Canada, and we are always reminded of how nice people are in Nebraska. They greet you with a hello, a wave of the hand, or a nod of the head. They open doors for you when you both meet at an entrance together. They stop to chat with you when you stand in line at the check out lane in the store. If you ask for directions, they help you. They volunteer to help at local Food Banks, they ring the bells for Christmas donations, they pitch in to help a neighbor in need. I think you get it, they are just nice, friendly people.

Why am I emphasizing this point? Because when you surround yourself with friendly people, you become friendly. Would this be important for you or or child? Of course it is! I want you to know that I always take time to greet students both in my classroom and outside of my classroom. I might be the first person who said hello to them all day. Sometimes, we as parents, get so busy with our days that we forget to take a moment to say hi to our loved ones.

The older I get, the older my own children get, and the older my parents get, helps me to clearly see the importance of a sincere hello. I was born and raised in Nebraska, The Good Life State. I see relationships as being important. If I can help others see the importance of that as well, then I have made a difference.

I think teachers, for the most part, see that as a vital component to what they do as well. We teach the whole-child. If that child’s emotional needs are not being met, then they have a difficult time processing new information.

As you move forward with your day, consider what a simple hello will do for someone else. I hope it will make your day as welll!

If you would like more information about me, consider checking out my webpage at midwesttutor.com. I would be happy to work with your child, or you as a professional or homeschooling family!

Enjoy this busy time of year and don’t forget the importance of relationships!

(photo from Pexels, privacy policy: I will not share your personal information with anyone. I will simply use it in a professional manner to work with you or your child.)


Why do parents seek the help of a tutor?

Parents seek assistance when they clearly see a need to support their child. Sometimes they want support in an academic area that they don’t feel prepared to provide support on their own. Sometimes they want to distance themselves from their child while they are working on their homework. This will allow them to continue to be a parent, and not a teacher. Those of us who have children know the struggle. It is a very real thing.

Is this a sign of weakness? Absolutely not. It is a sign that you care about your child and that you want find support for them.

There are many kinds of tutors. Some tutors are in high school and they have a talent in a certain area. They have the time to give to someone else. Other people have trained in a particular area, and can provide support.

Speaking for myself, I am a teacher. I have had many years working with children. I know that each child learns in their own way. I know that some children can work for an hour straight and do multiple activities during that time. Other students need time to visit before they start to work. They can do a few practice activities and then they need a quick mental break.

In my opinion, it takes someone who is a trained educator to really understand those nuances.

If you would like to visit about your child’s needs, be sure to click on the link and submit the form. I will get back to you and we can do a consultation. I look forward to hearing from you!

Work with Sheryl

Does Your Child Struggle with Multi-digit Addition and Subtraction?

Does your child struggle with multi-digit addition or subtraction? This could literally be due to the fact that they either don’t know their math facts or they don’t understand what happens when they are regrouping. If a child is missing one or both of these conceptual ideas, they really cannot understand what is happening when they are expected to complete this complex algorithm. 

So, what can you do to help support your child with this idea of multi-digit addition and subtraction?

Give these steps a try and see if it can help support your child as they move forward in confidence with their skills in addition. Then apply the same thinking to subtraction. If these steps don’t do it, then consider getting professional support. Don’t waste time wondering if it will work, if it doesn’t make a difference in a few practices, then move forward with more support! 

Teaching multi-digit addition to your child can be an exciting and interactive process. Here’s a step-by-step approach you can follow to help them understand and practice multi-digit addition:

1. Start with the basics: Ensure that your child has a solid understanding of single-digit addition before moving on to multi-digit addition. Reinforce the concept of adding two single-digit numbers together using objects, pictures, or manipulatives.

2. Introduce place value: Explain the concept of place value to your child, emphasizing the ones, tens, and hundreds places. Use visual aids such as place value charts or base-10 blocks to help them understand that each place represents a different value. 

3. Break it down: Begin by teaching your child how to add numbers in the ones place. Start with simple examples like 5 + 4 or 8 + 6. Use concrete objects or draw pictures to demonstrate the process visually.

4. Regrouping or carrying: Once your child is comfortable with adding numbers in the ones place, introduce situations where regrouping or carrying is necessary. For example, when adding 7 + 8, explain that since 7 + 8 equals 15, they need to write down the 5 in the ones place and carry the 1 to the tens place.

5. Practice with simple two-digit addition: Provide your child with a variety of two-digit addition problems to solve. Begin with problems that do not require regrouping and gradually introduce more challenging ones. Encourage them to use manipulatives, drawings, or number lines to support their understanding. Here is a video I created using pantry items to teach regrouping.   Note: there was a slight error, but I notice it and fix it, so pay attention as you watch it! 

6. Gradually increase the complexity: As your child becomes comfortable with two-digit addition, introduce three-digit addition. Start with problems that do not require regrouping and then progress to problems that involve regrouping in both the tens and ones places.

7. Reinforce mental math strategies: Help your child develop mental math strategies to solve multi-digit addition problems more efficiently. For instance, encourage them to add the tens places first and then the ones places. Teach them to break down larger numbers into more manageable parts to simplify the process.

8. Provide ample practice: Offer your child plenty of opportunities to practice multi-digit addition using worksheets, online resources, or math games. Mix up the types of problems to ensure they develop a well-rounded understanding. Many people do not think that their child needs repeated practice, but lots of is important. Think about how many times you need to practice skills. It isn’t really about doing a million problems, just repeated practices with feedback on how they are doing or what changes they need to make are very important.

9. Real-life application: Connect the concept of multi-digit addition to real-life situations. For example, involve your child in tasks that require adding quantities, like counting money or adding up items on a shopping list. This helps them see the practical value of addition in their daily lives.

10. Monitor progress and provide support: Keep track of your child’s progress and identify any areas where they may need additional support. Offer guidance and practice whenever necessary, and celebrate their achievements to boost their confidence.

Remember to be patient and provide positive reinforcement throughout the learning process. By following these steps and adapting them to your child’s needs, you can help them develop a strong foundation in multi-digit addition. Now you are ready to apply these steps to multi-digit subtraction! 

For more information about Tutoring with Sheryl, be sure to visit: 



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