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

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


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 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 @ 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 To find out more about me, go to

Exiting the Classroom and Entering the Tutoring World

Lesson on Long Division

I recently shared this information on the app Clubhouse. I decided this made for a great Blog Post. You can listen to the clubhouse talk on the app, but I decided I would go ahead and recreate this into an audio version and share it on my blog post as well. I want others to know what I am doing and how I am doing it. If this is information that you want to share with others, please feel free. I hope you enjoy my journey. It has been fun to try new things! I am a learner, just like the kids that I work with and I hope to inspire you to get out of your comfort zone and do something new too. 

In case you don’t know who I am, I am Sheryl fromTutoring with Sheryl at

I am a 32 year public school educator-tough decision to leave the classroom, but it was the right time for me to make a change and move forward, still helping students, just in a different way. I now have 2 years private online tutoring experience.

I work for a major tutoring company and am working to build my own clients out and have 3 active clients outside of the ones on the platform. I am seking more as I build my “brand”. 

How did this all start?

In 2018 got my Google Educator Level 1 Certification. Iwas looking for a way to differentiate instruction in my classroom while still moving students forward with their learning. We were doing a lot of small group instruction and Google Classroom was a good fit for the things I was doing in my classroom at the time. So, I took the Google for Educators Training Course for Level 1 and passed the class. That fall, I implemented all kinds of things into the instruction in my classroom with that MLS (management learning system).

The following summer in 2019, I got my Google Educator Level 2 Certification. I learned even more about Google Tools and was I able to develop all kinds of lessons that my students could use both in my classroom and outside of my classroom. These were things I was creating to support learning in my classroom for reading, writing, math, and science. 

Then in spring of 2020 the pandemic hit and everything closed down. Our school didn’t know what to expect of our kids and how to move forward, but I was already using Google Classroom with my students, so I just kept moving forward. 

We were using Google Meet, while the rest of the teachers in my building were using Zoom to meet virtually with our students. I couldn’t figure out why they weren’t using Google Classroom with Google Meet, because they were integrated tools.  But, I just kept moving forward. My kids finished the school year, outside of the classroom, but I think most of my families were very happy. I was still able to provide a quality educational experience for my students. It wasn’t perfect, but I was more prepared than most of my colleagues for what had happened. And to be quite frank, it was a very big learning curve for everyone! But, we got through it. 

During this time, my sister who has 2 younger kids (one was in 2nd grade and the other was in 4th grade) was desperate for help. Their school was also closed and she wanted support. So, I started working with them a few times a week using Zoom. That was what she preferred, but I found it harder to do what I wanted to do on it. But, we worked on reading and math and I got comfortable presenting lessons and tutoring them via an online platform. 

I then decided to try to make some money at this tutoring thing because it was easy for me to do, and I enjoyed it. So, I was hired on a national tutoring site and began working with students in the evening while I was still working full time in the classroom. 

I love working for the company I work for, but I am currently working on building my own client basel. I believe I can do this on my own and I want to use the tools I am familiar and comfortable with to move my business forward. 

So, how am I doing that?

Well, I started to follow Joanne Kaminski on YouTube and I bought her book (How to Start and Online Tutoring Business) and read the entire thing in 2 days. And just for transparency purposes, “As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. ”She has a lot of great information on her tutorials and you can sign up for classes with her.

 I also follow Esmy Lozano at bestonlinereadingtutor on Instagram and Clubhouse. She gave me inspiration to start to share my message on Instagram.

I follow Kasey Bell on Shake Up Learning (podcast). And I listened to all of the Google Teacher Podcasts with Matt Miller and Kasey Bell. I did this even prior to going out on my own, so I was building the background knowledge that I needed to teach digitally. 

And then I researched how to set up a website and did some research on the one I wanted. I decided on WordPress. It is harder to learn than most of them, but I figured I was smart enough to figure it out. And guess what? I did! My daughter who is a marketing manager was impressed that I figured it out. She helped me choose a design and then I just went with it. Her best advice to me was that I had to have a business plan before I started the website. I was thinking, “What on earth is a business plan?” So, as I do with all things, I researched and gave it my best shot. I recall that Joanne had great advice in her book, so I just went with the ideas I was gathering and put my page together. You can find it here! 

And, I had some really great colleagues at the school I was at that were cheering me on and believing in me. My husband was also cheering me on and so were my sisters and kids. So, I had a lot of people who believed that I could do this and I thought I could as well. 

So, here I am 2 years later,  I have officially retired as a public school teacher   and I am getting clients on my own. And, I am so humbled and happy that this is actually happening. 

I decided to leave the classroom and make a go of this. I was looking for flexibility. I wanted to continue to be with kids and work with other adults who wanted support. So, I put myself out there. 

I am doing things that are out of my comfort zone, but I am just moving forward. 

So, what does that look like? How do I make this work?

Well, I am keeping my blog up-to-date with things surrounding education. I have just registered to be an Amazon Affiliate so I can place links into my descriptions about things that could be helpful to families and kids as they are learning.

I created a Facebook page for my tutoring. I am slowly but surely getting people to follow me. I try to put timely information out there. 

I offered 2 short summer courses in June. I didn’t get anyone to attend, and that is okay! I will do it differently next time. I can share that experience on another chat. 

I am putting information on Instagram and YouTube. And, that has been a learning curve of its own. I am always looking for ways to create and share, so I enjoy that. Sometimes I have to really think about what I want to share and how I want to share it, but I am doing things and making it happen.  That all takes time and I am seeing traffic on all of it. I also put up flyers at local establishments. 

For some families, the summer break has just started. I am not working to get  clients for this summer, however, I do have several that I am currently working with. The work I am doing right now is for this fall. 

I have one student already committed to working with me this fall (they are a current student outside of my national company). I am delighted every time I meet with this student. We are working on building math skills that need support. This student also needs some help with visual perception skills, so we do that as well. I see this student twice a week for a half hour each time. I also provide one hour worth of homework per week for this student and utilize Google Classroom for that. 

I have another student that I am working with on math and reading and I meet with that student twice a week. This student is on the national company site. 

I just finished with another student who I worked with all year on math. She is taking the summer off and we will start again in late September. 

And, I just had confirmation of two new students from the same family that are homeschooling and they need support in math. This is a family that I will drive to their home due to some needs that cannot be addressed online, but they need the support and I am happy to give it to them. I will meet with each child for one hour each for math instruction. 

I have another student that I will meet with online for math support in the fall as well. 

I had another offer to work with Dallas Public Schools for next fall, and I am still considering that offer. It would be to do small groups and I am not sure if that is the route I really want to go right now. However, I do know that some people do small groups and love it. 

So, I am growing my business, but I am eager to work with other kiddos. 

You might be wondering how I go about doing online tutoring?

Well, like I said. I took the training for Google for Educators and passed Levels 1 and 2.  I use most of the tools in Google to support what I do. 

I pay for a Google Workspace. I did this on purpose. I wanted the things it would provide me with. You cannot get a Google Educator Account for online tutoring, so you have to use the Google Workspace. It costs me $9.99 per month for the service. 

I pay for my website. That was a bit more. I think all- in it is about $150. 

I pay for online liability insurance for teachers and that runs about $175 for the year. I have some teachers ask me, “Why do you have insurance?” My response is, “You insure yourself for the unexpected.” This is to save any assets that my family has from someone suing me for something that I did or didn’t knowingly do. I would NEVER do something that was inappropriate or dangerous, but some families have different expectations. I just want to be sure I am covered. This is what I call “malpractice insurance for educators.” I have NEVER been in a classroom or taught without it. I will always carry a policy. If someone tries to tell you that you are covered under your house insurance plan, they don’t understand what you are wanting. You want coverage for online teaching. I got mine through the Association of American Educators. You can go to their website for more information. 

I purchased a Dell Inspiron Touchscreen computer and it works great! However, sometimes I still need a tablet for better control, so I had to purchase one of those as well.

I have a Huion tablet that I connect to my laptop so I can do the writing on the screen as well, but I could get a screen writing utensil if I wanted to. The tablet was about $40. “As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”

I use, so I send a donation of $50 every year to them to help support it and keep it going. 

I use a cheap pair of earbuds with a microphone from Dollar General. (I believe my total is about $1,125. So, I have motivation to get clients because you don’t want to spend money and not make money!

I use Google Classroom, Google Docs, Google slides, Google Sheets, Google’s email, Google Jamboard (digital whiteboard software) and Google’s calendar. 

I send invoices to my private clients using PayPal. I have not automated that. I know the people I am working with, so I just bill them at the end of the month. However, anyone I do not know personally, I bill in advance for services and they have to pay the month before. 

What do I work on during the sessions?

Well, that depends. 

If the student has homework, we do that first. If they are studying for tests, we do that next. If they are done with everything, I provide the rest. So, it is really important that the parent of the child is communicating with me what they need to be working on. I don’t want to waste time when we meet looking for things that will support their learning. 

What are some trustworthy websites that I use? 

Khanacademy and are two that I use on a regular basis. They both support math and reading, and khanacademy also supports writing. I can go into those websites and others on another chat. 

The last thing I want to say is that if I can do this, you can too. It takes work. You won’t get clients unless you are actively doing something to spread the word. But, it will pay off. Just keep going at it. Tell everyone what you are doing. Show them what it looks like. My goal is to get 20 students for this fall. I would be absolutely delighted if that happened! I have 6 for the fall so far, so I am moving in the right direction! 

My families are very happy, my kids are very happy and they are making wonderful progress. They are all building confidence and learning what they need to be more prepared in the classroom. I feel so blessed. Thank you to my families for believing in me and sharing your child with me. They are the best part of my week!

So, if you know anyone seeking a tutor for their elementary aged kiddo, have them send me a message on I would love to chat with them! You can find me on Youtube at Tutoring with Sheryl . You can find me on Facebook at, and you can find me on Instagram @elementarymathtutoring. You can listen to my podcast on Spotify at Tutoring with Sheryl. You can email me at

And, if you are someone needing more support with moving forward with private tutoring, or you are a homeschool family needing support with setting up a learning plan for your child, please reach out to me. I am happy to help you out!

If you are a new teacher, and you want support with Google Tools, I can support you! Invest in yourself and you will grow and your job will become less of a burden and more of a joy to you! 

That is all for today. If you found this information helpful, please let me know. Thanks for taking this journey with me. I will be back at a later date to share more about the tools I use and how I use them in my private tutoring practice. It was a joy to spend time sharing this with you. Have a great day!

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 or email me at

Happy multiplying!

I want to raise a reader!

Photo by cottonbro on

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 and you can email me at

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 or 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 or 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 You can send a request via an email directly to me at

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 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 

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

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 or you can find more information out at

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 .

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

Financial literacy, I wish they would have taught that in school!

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More about the camp!

I have been doing some thinking about the math that we teach in school. I teach math to fifth graders and I feel like I do a very good job. I follow our school’s curriculum, I work hard to make the concepts easy to understand yet challenging. I show multiple strategies for students to use to solve problems.

Yet, as I look at what is taught in most elementary schools curriculum, I see something that I feel is missing. Financial literacy. That is not to say that some of the elements of financial literacy aren’t being taught. I think when we examine the things that we as adults need to know to make our lives run smoothly when it comes to money, we can see that we are falling short of what should probably be taught.

I recently made a Facebook post asking my Facebook friends to tell me what they thought should have been taught in school but they didn’t learn until they where out of school. And of course, I am sure some of these things were mentioned, and even some of the elements were taught in some sense. However, it appears that the adults that responded, see a need to have some things addressed.

Let’s look at the topics that were listed:

“Creating a realistic budget: Giving, saving, long-term or retirement saving, purchasing big items, shopping for insurances, career choices and paychecks, month-to-month vs bi-monthly vs week-2-week paydays,”

“Sales tax, supple and demand concept, Compound interest!”

“Start saving just a little young and show how it grows!”

“Don’t forget to save a penny, and give to church, charity……I started earning by age 6 and had to save every coin…. even if we wanted a 25cent candy bar.”

“The concept of saving up for something you really want, I.e. not spending more than you have.”

” You can buy lots of little things now, or you can save up for something you really want/need! Needs vs wants (and within that, really wants vs kinda wants)”

“I’m not sure what it was called, but in HS I took a very basic math class because I did not want to take algebra. It taught %’s and how to balance a check book. Loved it!”

“More on Stocks, Mutual funds, 401k, IRA, Roth, etc.”

“Simple things that we over look. how much change you get back after a purchase/ check it. Along with even being able to give the correct money for the purchase, saving and how it grows, etc.”

“I wish we would’ve been taught how important a credit score is(and how to make it better), retirement plans and health/life insurance.”

“Balance a check book, teach what money actually is (kids just think it’s a never-ending piece of plastic), count change, and who/when/how much you should tip.”

“I think the biggest thing is showing percentages and interest rates. If they need practical examples shows student loans and how expensive cars get when adding interest to the car which is a depreciating asset.”

“Credit Cards! I can remember the many offers that used to come to all of us in undergrad and again bring a younger middle school teacher. They can be dangerous to many!”

“Building credit, credit cards, Roth IRA, student loans, health insurance (benefits in general— when I first started my big girl job I had no idea what was even acceptable).”

“How loans work, interest. The importance of credit and what that means.”

And the list went on! What I noticed was that many of the commenters were feeling like they just didn’t understand some basic things about their finances.

So, that leaves me to ponder this idea. As an elementary teacher, how can I support students with learning some basic skills. I am sure that some of these topics are too advanced for 3rd-6th grade students. However, I do think I can address some of these issues.

I will be hosting a digital financial literacy camp for kids in grades 3-6. I want to provide some support for families who see this as an area that they want their child to grow in. While I do not plan to tackle that entire list, I do plan to teach some basic, but very important thing that kids can start using immediately.

I plan to review the basics of money and help students learn to count back change. Afterall, we want our kiddos to learn if they are getting back the right amount change when we send them off with the precious $20 bill! I want them to do some simulations with earning, spending, and saving money. I plan to teach them the basics behind savings accounts and checking accounts. We will do a simulation with checking accounts and go through a month of a pretend account and what that looks like. We will explore the idea of debit cards and credit cards. We will look at the importance of keeping track of spending and not just relying on the ATM to tell us how much money we have in the account. We will also look at different types of savings accounts and look at the pros and cons of those types of accounts. We will also talk about wants and needs and look at creating budgets and do a simulation with that as well.

If this looks like something you would like your child to participate in, be sure to sign up!

I will run this digital camp as two one week sessions in June. I plan to use Google Meet to do a digital meeting. I will provide your child with a list in advance of any items they should have for our camp.

Financial Literacy Camp for Kids (Grades 3-6)

1st Session: June 6-10th, 1-2 pm CST

2nd Session: June 13-17th , 1-2 pm CST

3rd Session: June 20-24, 1-2 pm CST

Cost for this camp will be $100 for the 5 day camp. I will offer a sibling discount. If you sign up with a friend, you will get your name in a drawing for free Kindle Fire!

If you would like to sign your child up for this fun camp, fill out this registration form! I can’t wait to work with your child as they learn about money and how to use it wisely!

Email me today to save your spot, or fill out the registration form.   Registration form.

How important is it to have routines for your children? 

(This beautiful image is from 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 You can reach out directly to me at 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 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

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

(Photo from 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 for more information.

(photo from

My child can’t seem to find their stuff, what should I do?

Finding stuff when things aren’t organized can be a serious problem. I can speak from personal experience! After a long day’s work, who wants to take the time to put everything away? I just want to sit down and relax! If I am feeling that way, then my own children probably are feeling that way!

To be honest, my own children are all grown up and are either at college or have their own homes. But, having experienced this struggle with organization, both personally and with my own children, I know how frustrating this can be! So, let’s be honest with ourselves. Even the most organized child, adult, or family can always use some solid advice, or reminders on some best practices when it comes to keeping ourselves organized.

If we are organized, we should be able to find what we need. Right? As I pondered this idea of “good advice,” I decided to check out some of the experts in the field and see if I agreed with their advice.

But, before I did the checking, I had my own ideas. Here is my personal advice. We can compare my ideas to the real experts!

1.) Put things back where you found them. (That would make my husband very happy!)

2.) Organize things the night before so you aren’t rushed the next day.

3.) Keep a calendar updated (and check it often).

4.) Make lists of things you need to do, or use a planner and record your homework and cross it off as you finish it up. (You can even do a digital list, and check it off as you go.)

5.) Get rid of things you aren’t using or store them so you can find the things that you need.

6.) Use some sort of organizational system in your workspace. For students, it could be the idea of keeping your things in folders or a box so you know where to look for them. For adults, it could be a filing system of some sort. Even keeping your digital files organized is very important!

7.) Have a system or a routine in place for your mornings and evening so you don’t get bogged down and forget to do the mundane things that require attention on a daily basis.

Okay, those are my top things I feel that are important to keep things moving in a positive way. Now here is the advice from the experts.

From: they emphasize a few things for youngsters. Checklists, organizers, calendars, and routines are all mentioned in their article. But, they also emphasize using breaking tasks into chunks. That is a good idea to remember. I actually do that with my students in my classroom, I guess I just do it so automatically that I forgot to mention it as a strategy.

The same author mentions organizational strategies for grade schoolers. They also mention breaking tasks into smaller parts. Since this is mentioned again, that may be good advice for all of us. They mention using checklists. But what I found very interesting is that they talk about “wants and needs.” That is a big one for those grade school kiddos. Some things seem very important to grade schoolers that aren’t very important to adults. Teaching our kiddos about the difference between what a want and what a need is supports their decision-making skills. Helping them see how they have a choice and how that choice has outcomes is vital to success not only in school, but in life.

The article also recommends categorizing things they use or play with so they know what things are and they can place them in their appropriate spot.

They also emphasis keeping a family calendar and consulting it as they go about their day.

I found another article at: that discussed some things that I didn’t mention. It listed important strategies of having a work and study space for your child. I agree, this is very important. If the child is sitting on the couch trying to do his or her homework and the family is watching television or gaming in front of them, the student will clearly be distracted. I whole-heartedly agree with this! Find a quiet spot so you can concentrate.

This article also mentioned time management. Another very important point. I would agree with working within a time frame. I always try to have my students stay aware of the time. Typically I will tell them the amount of time we plan to work on something, and then do a check-in about halfway through so they know where they are at within that time frame. If you are in working in your home, you can always use a timer on the microwave or oven and set a time for 10-15 minutes and break things into small chunks. This should help support your child with their time management skills.

They titled the next section in this article as “school supplies.” As I read this section, I read that the skill of keeping folders and notebooks labeled is important so the students know the categories they belong to. Then the student can file their homework in the right spot. The use of colored folders for work that is due and work to be worked on, may be a useful strategy for some students.

The next step was to take notes. Notes in grade school can be anything from a picture or sketch to remember what you learned about to taking full notes using an outline. All of those skills most likely need support from a teacher or tutor so they know how to do the skill and can utilize it in a successful manner.

I am certain that there are any number of organizational strategies that you, your child, or your family can implement. I think that you need to decide what it is that you need to do to get organized. I also know that no one can stay organized all of the time. But, if you can choose one or two things that you can do routinely, your life may be less hectic. I think your child will thank you later on when they see these strategies working for them. You may want to use them yourself. I wish you the best of luck as you work to organize your child, yourself, or your family.

Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions! It would be great to hear from you! Happy organizing.

For more information about Sheryl, see

Memorizing math facts, is it really THAT important?

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I have taught in a regular elementary education classroom for 32 years. I have had all sorts of students. Some have been absolutely brilliant at math calculations and problem solving. Others have struggled with math and counted on their fingers. But, in the end, making math easy for all of them has been my goal.

Why? I was the one in math class who struggled. I was the child who didn’t know my math facts. It was like I was looking at a foreign language and I couldn’t put it together. I moved multiple times as a child. I managed to find myself in a different area of study in each classroom. In one room the teacher would be doing simple addition, the next room, the teacher was doing long division and I didn’t even know my multiplication facts. Then I would show up in a different classroom and they were doing fractions. I wasn’t able to put it all together.

After moving around a lot, my sisters and I moved to a different state with my father. He went to my parent teacher conferences and discovered just how far behind I was. He was angry at me for not telling him about my struggle. He decided to have me sit down with him every night and do math at the kitchen table. It was horrible! I felt stupid. I was discouraged. I was angry. I wanted to blame everyone else. But, whether I was a victim of circumstance or not, I did know deep down that I needed to study my math facts. My father told me that we were going to sit at the kitchen table and do math until I got it. Well, I got it for awhile, I was able to demonstrate long division to him, however, I still had a lot of missing information. I simply didn’t have good math sense.

I remember sitting in my junior high math class and thinking, “Will this just go away?” Algebra was a big mystery. I didn’t have the underlying skills to make it click. I was so lucky to have a really good friend, Michelle, who actually would do a lot of tutoring with me. She held my hand and really helped me get through my junior and senior high math classes. My poor teachers, they probably just scratched their heads when they saw me in their classes. I am very grateful for Michelle. She was a mathematical lifesaver for me!

The good news is, I buckled down, and got it figured out. It was a lot of hard work. It was with the help of a lot of good people. It was a blessing to know that people cared and wanted me to see all of the math connections I was missing.

I sill wonder what my teachers thought as I was working on my teaching degree. I wanted to make a difference in the lives of the kids that I would get to work with.

I also never thought I would be hired as a 4-6 grade math and science teacher. My math anxiety had me worried that I would not be able to help the kids make the connections I knew they needed to be successful in their math classes. My goal was to make it fun and to make kids want to learn and retain the information.

This is a rather long walk to the topic of the question I posed in the title of this conversation. Is it important to memorize math facts? I believe it is. I think a lot of my struggles and anxiety came from the fact that I didn’t have a solid understanding of my math facts. I was lost in counting math facts out. By the time I got the answer to the math fact, I was lost in the algorithm and had to backtrack. It took me much, much longer to do the math problems than necessary. I didn’t see the relationships between the numbers. I certainly didn’t have solid number sense either. That led to so many problems for me. I had to take the long way to understanding. No wonder I was frustrated.

As I worked on getting my education degree, I saw just how much I had missed. Stability definitely would have helped me out. I also went to school during the time prior to state standards. There wasn’t a lot of consistency between schools. That certainly didn’t help a student like me, who was moving frequently due to familial circumstances.

I see the same thing in some of the students that I work with and have worked with. I see that frustration, the confusion, the anxiety. I want my students to feel confident. I want them to know their math facts so they can be confident. I want them to have a solid understanding of number sense. It is all so much easier when they can quickly recall their math facts. That fact fluency is a magical part of this mathematical language that our children are learning.

So, what can one do to make math fun and support your child as they learn their math facts? I know that many people do not think that flashcards are the answer. They are boring, they are paper and that certainly is the not the techy way to go about learning. But, why not make a game out of them? Whether your child is learning their addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division facts, they can play games to make things fun. How about a good game of war? There are all kinds of variations to the game and it is just a lot of fun!

What about a fun game of checkers? Many years ago, I made some laminated checker boards. Before I laminated them, I put some math facts on the black squares. Since I teach fifth grade, my boards were all centered around multiplication facts. I laminated them and then went to a tile center and got some small ceramic bathroom tiles. The kids use those as their checkers. We have a lot of fun practicing our math facts, but we are also working on logic as well. What better way to practice than with some good old fashioned strategy games?

I also created a fun game of football for the kids to play. I made cards with math facts on them. The kids could move forward on the field each time they got the fact right. Who doesn’t want to score in the game?

We can always rely on electronics. I have some great games that I use on that support all levels of math in the elementary levels. We don’t use them often in class, but when we do the kids know it is a treat. The games are even interactive enough to be played as challenges to one another. The students can share a code on them and play against one another.

I also have a account. Quizlet is a free flashcard account. You can utilize it for practicing any topics you want to input into it. I have not had to use the flashcards on my account this year for multiplication facts, but you can sign up for a free account and look for flashcards that support what you are studying. It is a perfect way to make digital flashcards.

I know that some kiddos really need to have a tactile experience when they are learning new math facts. When I first started to teach, I would use salt trays for my students to practice their math facts. I would also use shaving cream on their desks to practice their facts. Today I use markerboard markers on their desks or on a white board for them to practice.

Once my students start to see they are remembering their math facts, they build confidence. That automaticity leads to math fact fluency. Fluency is key to confidence. It is key to building on each level of their math.

I don’t want my kiddos to be the one sitting in their upper level math classes on the struggle bus. i want them to be successful and confident.

If this helpful to you, please share it with others. If you are looking for a way to support your child in their journey through school, and feel like your child needs some assistance, let me know. I may be able to help. If I cannot help, I may be able to help you find someone who can.

If you want more information on my tutoring services, check out

Growing a Reader

I remember being a young teacher and working with a family who had three children that attended our school. I also had a working relationship with their mother, who at the time held two positions at our school. She was the Title 1 teacher and the Librarian. Her kids were great writers, solid if not superb math students, and were voracious readers.

Her daughters would also watch a PBS program that was all about math and how kids could do fun math challenges and games. They would ask to write their fun math challenges on the overhead project. They had a natural ability to communicate and loved to learn.

These three children always had a book in their hands. They had high vocabularies and wrote well-developed stories.

Not only were the kiddos bright, but they were kind and considerate. I recall asking my friend what her secret was. She mentioned they would have supper together, read together, and went to church and Sunday School. I was a young mother and I knew what I saw in her children, I wanted to create in my own children.

I was also taking classes at the time, and one of the classes I was taking was about classroom management. We were using a book by Stephen R. Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. As I was reading all of that, I learned how I could control the outcome of events, and that I was not just a victim of circumstance.

With this friend’s advice, and what I was learning in the book/class, I decided that my kiddos would have a nightly routine where we would read together. I also made sure they had plenty of books. We would go to the library and bring home numerous books. Since I was a teacher, I would utilize my Scholastic Book Clubs to order books at a reduced price. I wanted my kids to be excited about learning, I wanted them to be readers, and I wanted them to love the adventures books could provide them with.

Our family was already going to church, the kids were in Sunday School, and we were already having family meals together. So, I thought, why not see if this is the magic recipe for the kids to do well in school and hopefully in life.

I think it worked. All three of my children did well in school. They learned the magic books can provide them with. They learned that family time is important. They learned to keep God in their heart. They all graduated from high school in the top of their classes and two have completed college and are gainfully employed, and the youngest is in her freshman year and doing well.

Some of you will take this advice, and others may think some of this is nonsense. I would never say that I have all of the answers. I can say, it certainly didn’t hurt. I believe my husband and I raised readers. Why is that so important? I just felt it was important to have a solid understanding of information, the kids needed to be able to read. They needed to be able to think critically. If they could understand the written words, they should be able to comprehend information and solve problems.

If you do nothing else, find time to read to your kids. Not only will it help you bond with your child, it will open up a new world to them. Adventures await in a book! All those experiences help your child in the classroom as well as outside of it.

Happy reading!

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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 I am happy to help!

Pandemic Problems? Are there any solutions?

This is not a post to discuss the actual pandemic. It is more of a thought process to think through some educational solutions for children.

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With the problems faced by school systems due to lack of healthy teachers and support staff, parents are seeking solutions. They want their children in school. They want them to continue to learn. But for the past two years, this has been a challenge for many parents around the world.

I have been fortunate enough to remain in school the past two years and continue to work with my students in the classroom. But, I live in a rural community and we don’t seem to have the high numbers of Covid that plague larger communities. I spend several nights per week working with students to help them either bridge the gaps they have developed, or challenge them with their learning.

I have thoroughly enjoyed working with them and creating a plan of action with their parents. This may not be something that works for all parents, but it does work well for others. Some of my clients are in school full-time and they just need support with their homework. Other clients need interventions to work on skills they are struggling with. I feel like I am helping not only the student, but also their parents. They don’t need to worry about their child experiencing learning loss because I get to help fill in the gaps. Sometimes we even have time for challenges. My clients fill me in on what their child needs and I respond to those needs. I have had a lot of experience working with students who need additional support and I can typically figure out what they need within a few moments. I love their smiles and I love knowing that I am helping them build confidence. That is so rewarding!

I work with my students virtually when I tutor and we utilize a shared whiteboard to practice skills. Sometime we use paper and pencil and then my students will take a picture and share it with me. I can then see their progress and respond to their particular needs. Sometimes we use the text tool to type (on the whiteboard or on a Google document) and other times we work on shared slides to communicate with one another. The goals is to collaborate and work together so the student gets the maximum benefit of our time together.

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There are times that a support video works great and I will share a short Youtube clip. I will utilize educational websites when appropriate as well. I certainly don’t have all of the answers, but I have a lot of experience to draw upon, so that allows me to respond quickly to my student’s needs.

I typically work with my older students for an hour. However, my younger students benefit from a half hour twice a week. An hour is a very long time for them to sit and concentrate.

I also work hard to really connect with the students. I don’t think any learning can happen if they don’t know who they are working with. I also don’t think they will learn until they know that we have a connection.

My parents appreciate the messages I share with them at the end of each lesson. It keeps them informed of their child’s progress and gives them a chance to stay connected to what we are working on in our sessions.

I know that many families are seeking support. I know there are many resources available to them. Some parents might not have considered a tutor to support their child. Now more than ever, parents need professional help. Let me know if you need support. I work with elementary aged students. My specialties lie in math, reading, and writing. I am happy to help! I have a few more spots available.

You can get more information about me from my website at There you can learn more about my process and if you are interested, you can reach out to me. We can line up a virtual meeting and see if I can help you out.

I may not have all of the answers, but I am certainly willing to be a support system for your child as well as you! As a parent, I completely understand your frustration. It is my hope that your child will get what they need to continue to move forward with their learning.

Is it a reading comprehension problem or a vocabulary problem?

I have worked with all kinds of kiddos and have discovered a few things along the way. I can typically tell what a student needs support in after working with them for a few minutes. It all comes down to having them read something to you (typically something at their level). As you listen, you are keeping track of the number of words they miss. Once they get to about 5 missed words on a page, I know we have a problem. Then I will ask them what they remember from their reading. If they can tell me all about it, it is most likely an issue with new words or phonetics. If they can read everything but cannot remember what they have read, then it is most likely a comprehension issue. Or, it could be both!

As a student who loved to read, but would miss many new words, I completely understand the struggle. I used to hate to read aloud! I was always worried I would make mistakes. I knew I didn’t know how to sound out words and was always puzzled by the fact that my classmates had it all figured out. As a child who moved multiple times as I was growing up, I found out that each teacher taught reading in a different way. I managed to grow up in a time where whole-language was a thing! It meant that the more you read, the better you would become. Well, that didn’t bode well for me. I didn’t understand the pattens for the sounds the words should make.

I didn’t seem to suffer a lot, but I knew I had to work a lot harder than my classmates to earn the grades I got. I ended up graduating in the top 10 percent of my high school class, I graduated from college with honors, and landed a wonderful job in a small elementary school. So, I was one of the kids who just figured it out.

However, I did discover along the way, that I had missed a vital component to my learning. Phonics! I had to do some discovery on my own, because by the time I got into to my education classes in college, we were doing whole-language again! The cycles seem to go round-and-round in education! But, I really studied this because it hit close to home for me.

I began to piece it all together and then as I put it all together, I thought, wow! Too bad no one ever really showed me this! Now that I know it, I do my best to show my struggling readers the sounds and help them to put it all together so they don’t struggle like I did.

Now, the other piece of the puzzle is the comprehension portion. If your child reads really well, but they cannot tell you what they have read, you have the opposite problem. They need to learn how to think about what they have read. There are many, many ways to do this. I find it fun to challenge kids to think in different ways about what they have read. As we talk and write about what they have read, they get to really understand it. That not only supports their comprehension skills, but it also supports their writing.

If your child is struggling with their reading, consider working with me! I would love to chat with you about your child’s needs. I know that all children can learn given the right tools. It is just a matter of discovery and support. Check out my website for more information! I look forward to hearing from you!

I will not share any of your personal information with anyone. It will only be used to discuss your child and how I support their learning.

How long does it take to master a new skill?

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I was thinking about this idea today and decided to do a little bit of research about this idea of mastery. According to, the meaning of mastery is to have a command or grasp of a subject. Why is this important? It is important when we think about our children and their learning. If they are asked to master a concept, but don’t get enough practice, then we have supply that practice time for them. But what if we don’t know how to assist them? I certainly wouldn’t have the expertise to help my child with high school calculus! That is when we find someone who does.

Let’s go back to this idea of math. Now suppose your child is supposed to master his or her math facts, and you either don’t have the time or the ability to teach them. You don’t really understand how teachers teach it, you just want your child to sit down with some flashcards and that should do it.

There is no doubt that repetition will work. It will! I have seen it over and over! I did a little research and found several people who reported that in order to master a skill, a person needs lots of practice.  One in particular is Josh Kaufman (Tedx Talk speaker). He stated that you may be as close as 20 hours away from mastering a skill. I would agree with this sentiment. Anytime I try to learn a new skill, it takes me awhile to really “get it”. When I was doing my online training through the Google for Education Teacher Training for my certifications, it took me about 20 hours for each one. I felt like I had learned the information but still needed to do some very specific practice to really become good at them. So, repeatedly practicing skills will definitely help you learn a skill. Once you learn it, you can use it, and that is where the real power comes from!

If we take the idea of learning math facts and only focus on the repetition of doing flashcards, the child will eventually learn the math facts. However, it can become much more powerful for the child to understand how the math fact was created. As they practice it, they have a much better understanding of the fact and it has more meaning for the child. They need a solid understanding of the concept for it to have meaning.

I know that when I have worked with students that struggle with their math facts, we get more results once they can see a visual representation of the math fact(s) or concepts. I wonder if you are seeking support for your child? If you are, feel free to reach out to me and see how I can help!

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