Category Archives: Parent Tips

writing journal

Getting Into The Spirit Of Humanities Through Writing


Give your child the gift of freedom to write in 2017:

Approaching the new year, it is always a great time to reflect on accomplishments and goals. Regardless of whether you have a child who adores reading and writing or whether you have a child who shies away from both subjects, this is the perfect time to set the tone for moving forward. One of the most practical methods to employ when trying to budget in more reading and writing time, is to gift your child a journal. When students have their own writing space that is just for them, they will be more inclined to sit down and create. For the extremely hesitant writer (since this would be a journal for home and not school), you can give them the option of sharing when they are ready to. Otherwise, weekly check ins and setting goals for what to include in the journal each week would be a reasonable approach.

Allow the student to determine how they want to use the journal:

Do they want to free write about their day, or pick specific prompts to write about? Kids that like to write stories often want to use the journal to create adventures. Others often prefer to write poetry or song lyrics. Some might want to split the journal in half and use part of the journal for writing and part of the journal for thoughts on what they are reading. This is a perfectly marvelous idea. Help them set a goal for how many books they want to read in 2017 or select a reading challenge that is age appropriate. For each book they read, have them write a review on it or select an element of the story that piqued their interest. This will combine literary analysis, grammar, and organizational skills without them having to think too much about it!

How to get started:

With writing, they might need help at first. Either work together to come up with a variety of writing prompts or provide some for your children. Let them know that they are free to write about whatever they choose, but the list of prompts is there for them to utilize if they get writer’s block. It is important that they are writing something at least twice a week. Encourage them to share their writings with you or a tutor and gradually build up to peer editing and grammatical lessons where and when it is necessary. This journal is also an excellent tool to assess where your child is at and what areas they might be struggling with. It can be used as a tool in tutoring sessions, but it’s also important to have your child view it as something that is entirely of their own creation.

For additional help, check out our tutoring services page. Our tutors can help ensure your child gets the extra boost they need for both reading and writing.

For those who are looking for some writing prompts to get kids started, here are just a few:

  1. Write about your favorite/most special holiday moment.
  2. Write about how you would spend your time on a snow day.
  3. What are your hopes and dreams for 2017? Why?
  4. Write about your favorite book or movie.
  5. If you could pick one thing to do in the new year that you haven’t done before what would it be? Why?

From all of us here at Avery Learning Lab we wish you a very Happy New Year!


Summer Reading Is Meant To Be Fun!


In the era of technological devices, it is difficult to inspire your child to feel excited about a stack of books. So how can we get kids to feel enthusiastic about summer reading lists or reading books in general? Here are some ideas, in addition to having your child join us here at Avery Learning Lab for some of our fantastically enjoyable summer reading programs!

1. It is a well established fact that books on the required school reading list are not always what your child would automatically gravitate towards. Therefore, one way to get them motivated is to promise them a book or magazine of their choice for each summer reading book they finish. The biggest key to getting kids to love reading in 2016 is to ensure that they have the opportunity to read about things that they are interested in!

2. Engage with your child and pass on your own memories of loving literature. If your child detects a passion in you for reading, they will develop a natural joy for reading as well. Buy your child your favorite childhood book (or check it out from the library) and each night take turns reading a chapter.

3. When it comes to required reading, why not read the summer requirements right along with them?! It can be a fun opportunity to bond with your child, discussing what you did and didn’t like about the story. It will make the required reading feel less like a chore and more like a great conversation starter over glasses of lemonade on a hot summer day. 

4.Turn summer reading into a family challenge! Why not turn summer reading into a competition? Keep track of how many books each family member reads over the course of the summer. At the end of each month, celebrate how many books you’ve all read by doing a fun activity of your child’s choice. The competitive streak will kick in and your child will view summer reading as more of a game  and less of a mandatory activity.

The goal at the end of the summer is for your child to realize that reading is more enjoyable than they initially thought. Try one or all of the suggestions listed above and don’t forget to check out some of our engaging reading programs, such as Story Time, Big Picture, and Poetry In Motion!

Visit our Summer Reading Activities page to learn more about all of our summer reading programs! We are also routinely posting suggestions to our Facebook Page!


Try Brain Breaks if your student has trouble focusing on homework or at school.

Try Brain Breaks

If you have ever been told to get up and stretch your legs while working, just to get the blood flowing again, you have heard about brain breaks.

Our brains are only naturally meant to focus on one thing for 30 an hour at a time, depending on the person. Some kids can only handle about 20 min. of intense focus. Sure when watching a movie, reading a good book, or playing a video game you may feel like you are having no trouble intensely focusing, but the truth is your level of concentration and ability to remember what is going on are depleting the longer you are at a task. You may notice you miss important things in the book or movie, or that you start having a lot more trouble beating a particular level in the game.

Well the same thing applies (probably more so) to learning. When students are in class or working on homework, their level of focus needs to be kept consistently high. The easiest way to do this is by allowing them brain breaks.

Here’s how it works.

  1. Student works on a task for anywhere from 20-45 min. This depends on the age and attention span of the student (or you) It is best to set a timer so that they remember to stop. You can use this at work, or while playing video games too!
  2. When the timer goes off they can wrap up the sentence, or problem they are on, then take a 1-3 min. brain break. Again using a timer for this is helpful so that they don’t take too long of a break.
  3. Brain Breaks should involve some kind of movement. Most of the time when we are working or studying we are doing a limited amount of movement. This is not how the human body was originally created to function. Our bodies need kinesthetic stimulation to keep at their highest level.
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 as needed for the whole day, homework time, or while you are at work.

Pointer for adults, if you try this yourself see if you are more productive throughout your day, by using a task timer like Toggle.

Suggestions for choosing activities during brain breaks:

For many kids just choosing what to do for their brain break may be difficult, and you may not have the time to watch over them the entire time. An easy way around this is to create a brain break wheel or dice, or another style of decision making tool.

  1. You can do this by using a “decision making app” such as Decision Wheel (for Windows), or Roundom (for Apple)
  2. You can create your own wheel out of a circle cut out of paper, a pencil, and a paperclip (to use as the spinner). Decisionwheel
  3. There is also a great free dice cut out at I Heart Naptime” that has several activities listed out, along with a dice to roll the amount of time to spend on each one. Kids can roll the activity dice and the timer dice to decide what to do during their break. You do have to cut out and put the dice together, but this is pretty easy. You could always create your own for this as well by using hers as a template.

Brain Break Ideas

Here are some great brain break ideas. For more check out our brain breaks board on Pinterest or our Facebook Page. We put lots of ideas up in January during our Brain Break theme. (these are in no particular order)

  1. Dancing-There are a ton of brain break dance videos on youtube or they can just dance around the house.
  2. Yoga or other stretching-Here is a link to some great kid friendly yoga poses. You can also look up kid friendly yoga and stretching exercises on youtube.
  3. Quick short exercises such as: jumping jacks, cat kicks, toe touches, frog hops, bunny hops, push ups, squats, standing on tip toes, lunges, jogging in place, marching in place, high knees, crunches, etc. You can look up short exercises for kids on Google or youtube for more ideas.
  4. Going outside (this may need 4-5 min.) and doing one of the following:
    1. running around the house as many times as they can in 3 min.
    2. doing sprints up and down the driveway or sidewalk
    3. shooting as many baskets as they can in 3 min. (requires basketball goal, an empty bucket, or an empty trashcan, and a ball)
    4. Playing on a playground set if you have one for 3 min.
    5. Figure eights or hopscotch (for figure eights you would create obstacles for them to run around. You would need sidewalk chalk for hopscotch)
    6. Jump rope for 3 min.

These are just a few general ideas to get you started. There are so many wonderful break ideas out there. Do you have any great brain break ideas? Share them in the comments below.
Don’t have any of your own? Brainstorm some ideas with your kids and come back and share your favorites with us!!!!

Thanks for reading 🙂
Amanda Avery


How can you create fun, meaningful learning, so your child doesn’t fall behind over winter break?

winter break

Its that time of year again! Both stressful and exciting, winter break is a time for family, friends, and the celebrating of holidays. Not to mention a break from school (and sometimes work).

I wrote a post about the true meaning of break last year. You can check it out here.

I just want to reach out to everyone as you are gathering your energy to head into this year’s break and plant one thought in your head….”What will your child learn this break?”

Will they learn that school and learning is something they should “take off” from? Will they learn more about how their religion celebrates the many holidays of this season? Will they find learning opportunities in a variety of places they never thought of?

We all know that learning is something that should be done daily. That if you take off two weeks from all Math, Reading, Science, and History, your brain will start to cut off those neural pathways. Then it will be that much harder to get back into learning in the new year. New connections will need to be made, memories will need to be refreshed, and for some that two weeks can set back a month or more worth of progress.

I am not saying you should have your child sit down and do worksheets for 30 min-1 hour every day. We’d have a mutiny on our hands! But, there are a ton of other ways to create learning opportunities for your child during the break. Not just in the traditional core subjects, but also in things like travel, religion, communication, cooperation, arts and crafts, DIY, and so much more.

Here are some ways you can create a positive learning experience for your child this break:

  • Build something together
      1. Research different ways to do it and analyze together what the best way for you is.
      2. Then build it.
      3. Skills involved: Manipulation, cooperation, critical thinking, Math, Reading, engineering, and creativity
  • Go shopping together
      1. Have them help you keep a running total.
      2. Use percentages, deals, etc. to figure out ways to save (it’s never too early to teach children about the value of conscientious spending).
      3. Use critical thinking skills to decide on the best deals, what you will actually use/wear, and who will appreciate a special gift and why.
      4. Skills Involved: Math, Reading (signs count!), critical thinking, and empathy
  • Complete a puzzle together
      1. This can be a great bonding experience, not to mention teaching valuable critical thinking and spatial reasoning skills.
      2. You can even use puzzle glue to hold it together when your are done. Put it in a frame or on backing, and you can hang it as a celebration of the experience.
      3. Skills involved: dexterity, spatial reasoning, Math, visualizing techniques, and cooperation.
  • Create an adventure or experience with extended family and friends (these activities can all be done with immediate family or just you and your child too!)
      1. Instead of doing the same old dinner, and sitting around chatting social occasion that we so often do with extended family around this time, go out and make a memory together!
      2. You can go to a science, art, or history museum. Take the whole gang on a scavenger hunt. Have a board game night. Have a mystery game night (similar to “Clue” with a “who done it” scenario). Make a family movie. If it isn’t too cold go to a park and roast smore’s over the charcoal grills that a lot of parks have. There are lots more, your imagination is the limit!
      3. Skills involved: cooperation, creativity, critical thinking, empathy, and for some activities Science, Math, Reading, or History.
  • Volunteer
      1. This could be at a library, an animal shelter, a food bank, etc.
      2. Involve your child in whatever activity you are volunteering for.
      3. Skills involved: Math, Reading, empathy, cooperation, and critical thinking
  • More traditional learning experiences
    1. Find ways to read daily: can be signs, directions, recipes, articles, stories, or any other reading opportunity.
    2. Play math games online (Here are some places to start)
    3. Find other learning activities to do at home (Pinterest and are great places to start)

The sky’s the limit this break. How are you going to create meaningful learning for your child while they aren’t in school?

Please share your ideas in the comments below.


Tips for Focusing


Just like in the cartoon we all struggle with focus. Some of us more than others. Last month we posted resources for focus on all our social media pages (Facebook, Tumblr, Google Plus, and Pinterest)

Here are some highlights from those November posts:

Areas to look at when trying to gain focus:

Refocus strategies

  • Use a timer or alarm to remind you or your child to stay on track
  • Have your student (or you) keep a log of how often they find their mind wandering. Being aware of times where you are not focused can begin to trigger your brain to stay on track more.

Taking breaks

  • Breaks should be meaningful. This means that a break is not a chance to watch TV, or play a video game. Rather it is a chance to do something to help keep your brain focused.
  • Examples:
    • Physical exercise (stretching, yoga, jogging in place, jumping jacks, push ups, squats, etc.)-be on the lookout for a more detailed post about this
    • Brain Training Games
    • Write a quick journal entry about your day
    • Snuggle with a pet
  • Time frame: When trying to get something done, meaningful breaks should last 2-5 min, and happen every 30 min. to an hour. Encourage your student to set a timer for themselves (or do this for yourself). If they are working on a big project and they have been on it for a while, try having them take a 15-30 min. walk or physical activity break to rejuvenate those brain cells. Getting a snack and water work too!


  • Stay hydrated and eat protein snacks when extra focus is needed
  • For children (and adults) limit caffeine intake, refined sugar intake, processed foods, and foods with yellow and red dyes.
  • Eating healthy can instantly improve focus.
  • Vegetables, fruits, and nuts can give a lot of the nutrients you may be lacking, and need for focus. These are great for snacks, or adding a healthy side to a main meal.

Things that are distracting

  • Clear work area of distractions
  • Put cell phone in another room, or at least on vibrate
  • Limit excess noise level in the area where you or your child is working. You can use noise canceling headphones for this, or play instrumental music (see the next main point)
  • Ask others not to interrupt you except in the case of emergency.

Listening to instrumental music while working can increase focus. Some of our favorites are:

  • Classical Music (genre)
  • Montgomery Smith Instrumentals (music artist)
  • SonicAid (scientifically formulated music)
  • Balmorhea​ (group of instrumental artists)
  • Focus at Will (website with scientifically formulated music))
  • Ambient Music (genre)
  • Focus, Meditation, and Spa music (can find these on Youtube, or most music apps like Spotify)

Its also important to get the right amount of sleep for you. This is different for each person. Try to pay attention to how long you slept on the days you feel more rested. Make that time your target goal. Also deep relaxing sleep is just as important as how long you sleep. Some natural things that may help getting a deep restful sleep are:

  • Soothing teas such as chamomile
  • The vitamin supplement melatonin
  • Listening to a “sleep talkdown” (you can find lots of good ones on You tube. We recommend “The Honest Guys”. Here is a link to one of our favorites.)
  • Keeping a small mixture of “sleepy dust” next to the bed for when you wake up in the middle of the night. (We have not tried this one, but have heard it works well.)

I want to give everyone reading this post an actionable goal to try out. Pick one of the topics (a-e) mentioned in this post,or the sleep tips, and try applying just one of the tips to you or your student’s daily routine over the next week. See what happens.

Remember it is not how many changes you can make at once, or how big of a change you make. Take it one small step at a time, and you will find you have started climbing the mountain and are looking at a beautiful view!

“Don’t think about what could happen in a month. Don’t think about what can happen in a year. Just focus on the 24 hours in front of you, and do what you can to get closer to where you want to be.”

We would love to hear the success stories and the lessons learned by any non-successful tries. Do you have any other focus strategies you would add to this list?

Amanda Avery 🙂



Summer Updates and Fun Resources


Happy Summer to ALL!

We are officially in full summer program swing. We have had two weeks of camp and are gearing up for our workshops and learning activities.
We have a few updates for you and I also wanted to tag on a couple of resources that the kids have been enjoying this summer. Everything from Math resources, to making icecream in a ziploc bag 🙂

Updates and Resources:

1. NEW GOATS! We just brought home three new Nigerian Dwarf goats to join our other two ladies. One of them is even in milk, so the kids this week are getting a kick out of watching me milk a goat (trust me it is quite entertaining for everyone but me!)
We will be updating our website with their pictures and some information about how they are going to become an integral part of our agriculture and sustainability programs (coming soon!). Some of our fall workshops will include making goat cheese and a demonstration of making goat milk soap, which is fantastic for your skin!

2. Workshop Changes: After taking a look at the registration grade levels, and concept review needs of the attendees we have so far, we decided to rearrange some of our workshop days. Here are the updates:

  • Tuesday Keeping Skills Sharp workshops on July 21st, July 28th, August 4th, and August 11th will be for rising 5th-7th graders. We have 6 spots left open as of the time of this email. See below for the Reading and Math topics that will be covered.
  • Wednesday Keeping Skills Sharp workshops on July 22nd, July 29th, August 5th, and August 12th will be for rising 8th and 9th graders. We have 5 spots left open.
  • Details of topics for Keeping Skills Sharp workshops. **All programs are adjusted in difficulty and specific concepts depending on grade level. These are just overall themes.
    • 1st week: Reading is in the AM and Math is in the PM. We will be covering Comic Book story writing based in literary terms, and Number Sense such as decimals, fractions, integers, and ratios.
    • 2nd week: Math is in the AM and Reading is in the PM. We will be covering “Close Reading: Thinking like a scientist”, and Probability and Statistics. We will be incorporating graphing into this one and the next two workshops.
    • 3rd week: Reading is in the AM and Math is in the PM. We will be covering “What are the thoughts and questions that occur when reading and writing” and Algebraic Thinking and Reasoning.
    • 4th week: Math is in the AM and Reading is in the PM. We will be covering academic reading and writing, as well as Geometry concepts and a review of the other Math topics covered in the other three weeks.
  • Friday Outdoor Science and Math Workshops. We are definitely having our workshop on Friday July 31st (we have 7 spots open). Pending final count we may also have one on July 24th, August 7th, and August 14th
  • Friday Loving the Arts workshops. These are all pending final count. We have Visual Arts scheduled for Friday July 24th, and August 14th. We have Theatre on July 31st, and Music on August 7th.

Please contact us to register for workshops. You can also find more information here.

3. Summer Resources:

  • Wonderful Middle School Math website for summer review of concepts:
  • Math games for all grade levels to review concepts over the summer
  • Math Playground games for grades 1-6 (7th and 8th graders can do the 6th grade games to review base skills)
  • Fun Reading site for Elementary students. Three levels to decide between depending on what your reader needs to work on.
  • Fun Activities we tried in Science and Math Camp (these are the top four):
  1. Ziploc Bag Icecream
  2. Balloon Rocket Races (we did graphing and  data tables with these)
  3. Building Bridges out of household materials (we used Popsicle sticks, straws, rulers, some styrofoam blocks, and tape). All the bridges held at least a 3 lb. free weight
  4. Candy fractions. We used candy such as skittles, sour patch kids and jelly beans, to create ratios, fractions of colors to whole, and we will be using this in another workshop for proportions.

Hope you are having as great of a summer as we are! We are continuing to make improvements at our location to create the best environment for our workshops and activities. We look forward to seeing some of you in the next few weeks. Call or email with any questions about registration or resources.

Happy Summer 🙂

Contact information:
Phone: 919-973-0702 or 919-578-6990


What Do You Do When Positive Thinking Isn’t Working?? (especially before a big test)

Lightbulb Cartoon

Think Positive!

What if I can’t?!

As we pull into the last few weeks of the traditional school year, many kids have either taken their EOGs, or are getting started on some form of standardized testing. One of the top test taking skills we can teach is to think positive.  But what if that isn’t the best answer.

So many kids and adults have dealt with difficulties in learning, remembering material, and test taking for so long, that thinking positive feels impossible. When you have worked your tail off studying, practicing, and reading over material, only to sit down to a huge test and have your mind completely blank, positive thinking just seems ridiculous.

However, there is some real science behind the idea that positive thinking can make a difference. When we allow negative thoughts, or self defeating ideas to overtake our brains, we condition ourselves to expect the worst and we often get it.

So what if I proposed to you a middle ground?

Positive thinking is the end goal. We want kids to be able to picture themselves being successful, remembering the material that has been studied, and succeeding on the exam. But there is a lot of pressure out there for these tests, and for a child that struggles, or who has experienced failure on a test before, positive thinking is almost impossible.  Instead we can suggest for them to start with not thinking negatively.

Even if the student who has fought an uphill battle all year in Math, can’t reasonably say to himself that he is a Math expert and he is going to pass the Math EOG (especially if it will be one of the only Math tests he will have passed all year). He CAN stop saying he is bad at Math, or that he is bad at taking tests. The negative thoughts aren’t necessary even if the student can’t bring themselves to say something positive because it feels false.

For the student that struggles with reading, she may not be able to say positive things about reading, or think that the stories she reads on the EOGs are going to be interesting. She CAN stop saying she hates reading, and that writing is awful. She can instead focus on doing her best and using the strategies that her teacher taught her this year.

What is the real goal?

Essentially the goal is not so much to create false positive thinking, because it often gets us nowhere. If we can’t truly believe those positive thoughts, the negative ones are always waiting in the shadows to remind us of our failures when we feel stressed. Instead we stop putting our energy into the negative, and focus on our next steps to a reasonable goal.

Sit down with your child before the big test and discuss reasonable goals for the test. This could be making sure to make notes next to what they are reading, underline key words in the questions, trying to come up with some kind of answer or information before looking at the answer choices, and really checking back over their work (not just seeing if they filled in all the bubbles). The goal shouldn’t be to pass (although this is definitely a hope!). The goal should be a tangible thing they can do, a step they can take in a positive direction. It needs to be something they can take action on. “Passing” is not tangible and it is not a step towards success. It is a score that is assigned based on a percentage of correct responses. Passing is a result not an action.

When you and your student are dealing with negative thoughts, and trying to turn them positive (or at least not think them at all), you need a tangible goal that starts you in the right direction. This goal can be built upon later. Don’t focus on the score. Trust me they are very aware of what it means if they pass or fail. Focus on the success of achieving the tangible goal they set, and eventually the little goals will add up to the achievement of the bigger result. This can be applied to so many things, and I will talk more soon about using the smaller achievements to build motivation, overcome anxiety, and build self-esteem in kids that have lost hope in academics.

But for now, during this stressful time, just help them set that first goal and to end negative thinking, even if they can’t quite bring themselves to do the positive thinking yet. You can even set up a reward that they can give themselves/get at the end of the day if they complete their smaller goal during the test. This could be their favorite dinner or dessert, or even extra time outside or on their favorite video game. You know your child or your students best. Come up with something together to work towards as a goal and a reward, and you just might see a little more positive thinking as a side benefit. 🙂

For more test taking tips check out this page on our website:


I wish the best of luck to all of your students in achieving their smaller goals and switching off the negative voices in their head. Who knows maybe if we all tried cutting out the negativity and setting small achievable goals, it would help us adults to head in a more positive direction too!

We would love to hear any stories of how this helps your student (or you) in the comment section.  Or if you come up with any helpful hints to others as they are trying this, please leave those comments as well!


Amanda Avery 🙂



Love These Resources!!!!

Boy with Math Book and Symbols

Well January jumped off with a bang for us here at Avery Learning Lab! Lots of new wonderful clients, a great blog post on Lifelong Learning, partnership in the works with Carolina Biological for some awesome science and math kits, two successful family communication workshops at the local libraries, and the unveiling of our new Learning Evaluation. Not to mention all the great work with our new and continuing Learning Program and tutoring students!

Along the way we found and created some great resources. I want to use this blog as a time to share 10 of our favorites with you! (these are in no particular order)


  • Our Learning Evaluation:

The Learning Evaluation is perfect for getting a better understanding of how your student thinks, learns, and what sparks their interest. We use 3 assessments with student, parent, and teacher participation to compile a report about your students learning style, multiple intelligences, and neurodevelopmental strengths and weaknesses. We then take that report and create a plan complete with strategies for how to help your student become a successful independent learner.

  • Online Learning Success Program:

This program is similar to ours and based in some of the same principles and research. However, it is one that parents can implement at home with or without the addition of extra help from a professional. This is a great option for parents that want to try to make changes on their own, or who want to use it in combination with tutoring to see faster results. They also have great resources for students with Dyslexia (reading) or Dyscalculia (math).

  • Teachers Pay Teachers Store (great place for parents to get resources too)

This is where we post our paid products. We will be developing our own online store, but for right now this is a great place to go to find our latest products. You can also check out all the other resources that other teachers put on here. The teachers get a percentage of all your purchases, so its a great way to support educators.

  • K5 Education

This website has great paid and free resources for leveled readings, phonics, and math. This link is going to send you to the main page for free worksheets. The documents listed for each grade are free. They also have options for you to purchase their fair priced Leveled Reading books (2-3 dollars each with at least 10 stories with questions), and other paid resources and programs for reading, math, writing, and phonics. I love that they have free options available, and that you can pick and choose if you decide to buy items from them as well.

  • Study Stack

Fantastic online studying resource for Vocabulary words, review questions, and more. Create a login and your first stack, then play games with your questions or words! They have flash cards, matching, quizzes, tests, a bug game similar to “snake” that we used to play when we were younger, and more! Not to mention its FREE. Enjoy!

  • Multiplication Practice Site:

This one is self explanatory whether looking for practice, games, or lessons on multiplication, this is the place to go. They also have games for addition, subtraction, and division!

  • Reading Assessments to see what grade level your child is at

There are directions on the site for where to start and how to proceed depending on the results. I wouldn’t suggest doing more than one test every couple of days. This is a great resource to figure out what level your child is at, and what they need to be able to do at their appropriate grade level.

  • All Kinds of Minds Parent Toolkit

This is a wonderful guideline of strategies to help with specific learning concerns in areas such as Attention, Math, Reading, and Writing. This is on the website for All Kinds of Minds, a revolutionary group started by Dr. Mel Levine that focuses on the 8 main neurodevelopmental functions. Many of their ideas are included in our own evaluations. Their program helps teachers to identify specific learning areas that students need help with. This particular resource is geared towards parents. Take a minute to explore the rest of their website as well.

  • Fun Clipart for kids and teachers

Looking for some fun free pics to use on projects, classroom posters, or your own documents. Here are some good websites for that

  •  PDF converter:

A free resource for converting word docs, jpg, powerpoints, and excel docs to pdf form. You can also convert from pdf to jpg, compress your pdfs, and even merge pdf docs. Absolutely fantastic, easy to use, and free. You have the option of donating to them through Paypal as you like, which I do because I have used them so many times and find it a resource I can’t do without.


I hope you enjoy these. We are still refining the free resource for when people sign up for our email list (and will send it out to those of you already on the list). The free resource is called “7 Ways to Motivate Your Student and Jump Start Their Love of Learning”. We are doing extra research to make sure we are including the best and most up to date findings of what is proven to work. Currently I am reading  a book that has inspired me, and with further research we will be expanding the number of ways to motivate, to 10!

We are committed to helping families achieve growth and a love of learning. We want that to be evident in everything we provide you. Including our free email list resource, our blog, our Learning Evaluation and Program, and our workshops, activities, and the upcoming summer camps.

For more information on any of these things contact us or check out the links provided in this post.

Have a great day!

Amanda Avery 🙂

P.S. If you haven’t already take a moment to sign up for our email list here. I can promise that the emails you get will have meaningful content!


Why Should You Understand Learning Differences and Promote Life-Long Learning?

Why promote life long learning

Stop and think for a minute. Where would you be without knowledge? Would you even be able to answer that question if you didn’t have the skill to learn?

So many of us take learning for granted. We don’t stop to think about how we gained that new skill, how we remembered to make breakfast this morning, or how we are able to routinely tie our shoes.

We don’t think about the fact that the learning technique that worked for us might not work for our friends, family, students, or children.

Every learner is an individual and every brain works just a little differently. The pathways and connections we make aren’t always the same.

Think about it this way. how many ways are there to get to the beach? Is there one way that is faster than the others? Sure, the highway is probably the fastest route, but it is very monotonous with little scenery, and you have a higher risk of getting stuck in traffic because of an accident. But, it’s supposed to be FASTER. Therefore, most people pick that option even if it isn’t always right for them.

Another option would be to take a more scenic route. It might take longer, but you would get to see lots of different houses, farmlands, maybe a quaint town or two. You might decide to stop at a local diner or ice-cream shop and take a break from the drive. You also might get stuck behind a tractor going super slow, or bikers out for their morning ride. This way is usually slower, but it has the added benefit of less monotony.

One is a straight shot that is meant to be endured and put behind us, while the other path is more of an experience in it’s own right and provides the chance to actually enjoy the drive. There isn’t a right or wrong answer here. Just like there isn’t a right or wrong answer to learning.

The most important thing to take away from this is that one of these choices is going to work better for you, and for the other people riding with you. One of these choices is going to help you to love the drive more, even if your choice may be harder or take longer

When we first start learning in we are all taught to count our numbers, say our ABCs, and what different colors and shapes are. We learn to speak, how to do basic everyday things like eating, brushing our teeth, taking a bath. These are rote skills and for most of us can be learned in the same pattern as for other people. But even at these early skills their are kids that have brains that don’t recognize patterns, and even brains that have a hard time wrapping around numbers (This latter difficulty can come from a condition called Dyscalculia).

Imagine yourself being plopped down in a country where everything is backwards from how you understand and learned it. Everyone else around you learns things and does things a certain way and you just can’t seem to understand how and why they are doing things a particular way.

That is what it is like for a lot of learners today. We have a school system that teaches kids in a very limited fashion. There are many schools and teachers that do a good job of differentiation (using different ways of teaching to reach more learners). I am in no way discounting the huge efforts taken by all the fantastic teachers out there to reach as many kids as possible, I used to be one. However, routinely there are other things that get in the way. Such as overcrowded classrooms, limited resources, stressful conditions outside of school, and so much more.

It is important as both parents and teachers to find ways to empower yourself, families, friends, and others to learn about the different ways that people learn.

Learning becomes easier if you develop a love for it. It is hard to love something you don’t understand, or that gives you negative reinforcement every time you pursue it.

Understanding how you learn and how others learn is crucial to developing the lifelong ability to learn new things (and remember them). Developing a love of learning hinges on appealing to the ways of learning that click for an individual, in order to enable them to become an independent learner, want to explore new things, and develop the skills for lifelong learning necessary for successful, happy, fulfilled lives.

It is never too late to figure out the details of your learning style or your child’s.

Here at Avery Learning Lab we have developed a Learning Program that is geared towards each individual learner. It involves an assessment of their learning style, strategies for growth, a plan of how to reach their goals, implementation of the plan and strategies with one of our skilled employees, and feedback to help students grow and become independent learners. Contact us if you are interested in more information on this, and share this post with friends or family that you know could benefit from a program like ours.

You can also go HERE for more information on our learning program

Don’t think your child needs the program, but you want to be steered in the right direction for strategies that appeal to their learning style? Try our learning evaluation which includes the learning skills assessment, key strategies, and a take home plan for moving your child forward. This gives you the opportunity to try it with them first, and if you need more help you can always contact us for sessions to address any problems that you encounter. Know someone who would be interested in the learning evaluation? Share this post! We want to make this available to everyone and make sure no one gets left behind.

Spread the importance of understanding learning differences, and promote awareness to help create more successful life-long learning experiences. Do your own research into this and make sure to share anything you find on differences in learning in the comment section!

What ways have you noticed that you learn differently from others? What are some successful things you have tried with your child to help cater to their learning style? I always love to hear ideas, and feedback, so please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Thanks for reading,

Amanda 🙂

P.S. If you haven’t already, take a moment to sign up for our email list here. I can promise that the emails you get will have meaningful content!



What is the true meaning of winter break?

What is the true meaning of winter


“Winter Break….YAY… school….freedom….no work….lots of free time….HAPPY!!!”

This is what is going through the minds of most students (other than those that got assigned a project or makeup work over the break).

Honestly this is what goes through the minds of most teachers (except that they still have some work).

What we need to focus on  is the real purpose of the break. How and  where can we find hidden opportunities for learning?

By now if you have been reading my blogs you know that our brain is in constant need of exercise so that it can grow and stay strong. Whether young, old, or somewhere in between, it is important to always learn new things, strengthen old skills, practice, and find new ways to grow. It is necessary for both our survival and happiness.

Yet, we fall into this habit of believing that since it is a break, no learning is necessary.

Think about what taking an extended break from work does to you. When you head out on that vacation and don’t even think about your job for a week. Are you eager to go back the next Monday? Do you have an easy time working your way back into your daily routine?

If you are anything like me your answer is no!

The same thing applies to learning.

On that vacation you likely learned new things and explored new ways to grow, so your brain didn’t take a break from learning.

During winter break your kids still get learning opportunities as well, but it is up to you to help them make the best use of them.

It is crucial that they continue exercising their brains. Finding new creative, entertaining ways to do this is a key goal. Helping them to push themselves while also pushing yourself to learn new things. Finding joy in the exploration of new tasks and hobbies is a great way to grow. It helps them to not see school breaks as a break from all learning, but rather as an opportunity to explore things they don’t have time for during the regular school week.

For example, if your child struggles with Math, taking two weeks off from Math skills is going to make resuming school even harder for them. It is important to keep those neural pathways connected to solving math problems, working and practicing math skills.

You can do this in a number of ways. You can have them play math games on the computer, iPad, or their phone if they like video games. You can take them to the store with you and make a game of them keeping a running total of the bill, and have them help you brainstorm ways to save money on certain items. You can look up fun math activities online to do with them. These are some of the multitudes of ideas out there for helping math to be more fun.

It is also a good idea to keep your child reading throughout the break. Pick things for pleasure such as sports articles, articles on celebrities, articles online on a favorite topic of theirs, or read a book together. If your child loves to read make sure you take them to the library to pick out some books, or buy them one as a treat for the break.

Encourage all forms of learning for yourself and your child. Find a new hobby to explore, or take a family trip to your local science, history, or art museum. The museums usually have some great events over these break times for just this sort of learning opportunity.

If you keep yourself and your children engaged and looking for ways to learn over the break, you will be amazed at the opportunities that open up for all of you. Not to mention how much more readily and easily they will get back into the school routine.

I plan to use this time to really come up with some great resources for you in the coming year, iron out my goals (big and small), and continue creating a super beneficial free resource that will come with signing up for our email list. Don’t worry, if you are already signed up you will be getting that resource too!

I know that there are a ton of ideas for keeping kids engaged during their breaks while still giving them that much needed break from the traditional classroom. I am always amazed by some of the innovative ways parents dream up to keep their kids occupied while making learning fun. Please add comments of ways that you have attempted and experienced success with this in the past.

Many of these ideas could make it into my free resources to distribute the love of learning even further. I know the activities you have tried are custom tailored to keep your child engaged, so be sure to discuss how you used your child’s interests to get them excited.

If you are having trouble finding something that will work for your child please contact me and we can brainstorm ideas together tailored to your child’s interests.

Want a hassle free way to keep your kids and yourself learning over break? I can provide that as well. We can come up with a fun learning workshop or lab activity that can be hosted in the RTP area or designed for you to set up in your own home. I can be available either in person or via skype and look forward to speaking with you.

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful break full of growth and fun learning experiences!

Amanda Avery 🙂

P.S. If you haven’t already take a moment to sign up for our email list here. I can promise that the emails you get will have meaningful content!