Tag Archives: studying


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!


Productive Homework and Study Time (Part Three)

And now for the last post of the series!

So I started you off discussing how our minds make quicker connections with practice. I hope you have started encouraging your student as they struggle with their homework. Maybe you have even tried out a few of the ideas I gave for different ways to study. If you are just joining us and haven’t had a chance to read the first post here it is. Productive Homework and Study Time (Part One)

Then Monday, I talked about freeing your student (and yourself) from distractions when working. Focus is key, and multitasking has been proven not to help. I hope you have started laying out those expectations for phones to be in a safe place away from the student while work is being done. Same thing with the laptop unless they need it for work. Plus hopefully they are starting on homework and studying soon after getting home from school, that way their minds haven’t disengaged too much from academics. If you haven’t read the second post in the series here it is. Productive Homework and Study Time (Part Two)

Now to wrap it up, lets talk about why it is good for your student to struggle and face challenges with homework and studying

Fact three: Our brains get stronger through overcoming obstacles and facing challenges

child on climbing wall

It is important that we challenge our students and children and praise them for overcoming the obstacles in their path. (see my blog post on The Growth Mindset for more details)

Remember the brain is a muscle, it needs to be worked out. Not just through practice, but also through challenges. Lifting weights everyday doesn’t get you stronger it just keeps you at the same level. Changing the number of reps and increasing the weight to challenge your muscles, makes you stronger.

The same thing is true for our brains. They need to be challenged, and yes we need to fail a few times. So that we can get back up, brush ourselves off, and be even better the second go round. Our kids NEED this mindset. They have been taught over and over that it isn’t OK to be wrong. We test them for correct answers, but we also praise them for quick and easy correct responses and successes in every day life. They will never grow if they are always taking the easy (or lazy) way out, or if they are always frustrated when something challenges them, so they just give up.

Ways to help:

  1. Support your child as they struggle through homework and studying. Praise them for their effort, and stick by them until they get through it (that doesn’t mean do it for them). They need to know their efforts when completing the hard stuff, get praised even more than how quickly they succeed at the easy stuff (what is easy and what is hard will be different for every child!).
  2. Challenge your student to do more. If they don’t have homework, challenge them to use one of the ways I talked about to study a topic in the first post of this series. You can also have them come up with their own game, comic, story, skit, picture, or anything else creative they can think of that has to do with what they are learning right now. Then, encourage them to share it with you, so they can “teach” you about what they are learning. (Hint: this is yet another way to study!)
  3. Find fun educational activities for you to do as a family or with friends. This helps your child see that there is more to what they learn than just sitting at a desk, or doing homework. They can apply their skills in real life, or see how someone else uses it in their job. Plus, it has the added benefit of helping you to learn new things and think outside of your box too!

Examples: Go to the science or history museum near you. Most of these have tons of fun activities for kids to do (like scavenger hunts). Look up local art, music, and sports events near you. You can show your child how Math is used at a baseball or football game. Find local maker’s fairs and technology expos. These are great places for your kids to see what they are learning in action (especially in math and science). I will share more ideas soon, but use your own creativity (and the internet of course). You can find a ton of stuff for cheap or even free. It is a great opportunity for everyone in your family!

To sum it up:

  1. Practice helps a student’s brain make better, faster connections. So encourage them to study in different ways and to complete homework!
  2. A distraction free environment helps students focus and complete tasks to the best of their ability. It is our job to help them design their space so that they are focused (i.e. no cell phones or unnecessary media), and help them to see the benefits of working soon after getting home, so that they are done faster.
  3. Our brains get stronger from facing and overcoming challenges. So challenge your child, and support and praise them when they struggle through tasks.

While writing this series I came up with ideas for many other things I want to research and share with you. Homework and Studying have been at the forefront of my mind for a while now. Thanks for sticking with me through these posts and I hope you find some great ideas here. Do you have ideas I didn’t mention for creating a productive homework environment? Please share them in the comments below. If you use anything I have shared here let me know how it works for you!

Remember to follow my blog you can sign up to the right of this post, or subscribe to our free weekly newsletter email for blog updates, other helpful articles and suggestions, upcoming events, and more

Thanks for reading!

Amanda Avery 🙂



Productive Homework and Study Time (Part Two)

Last week I started this three part series on helping students be productive during homework and study time.

See Last week’s post here Productive Homework and Study Time (Part One)

I am going to follow it up this week with two more facts and some suggestions to go with each. As stated last week this series isn’t to promote or oppose homework, but rather to help you deal with the reality that exists in the most effective ways possible.

In Part One, I talked about the fact that our brains need practice to strengthen the pathways we use when remembering things. Whether it is how to brush your hair, how to divide fractions, or how to kick a ball, PRACTICE is the only way to get better at new and old skills. When we stop practicing our brain stops strengthening those pathways, and we begin to lose the speed and accuracy we used to have. I included tips for studying in different ways, encouraging your student as they struggle and grow, and helping your student to create and speed up the connections they are making through practice.

This week I am going to discuss having a distraction free environment (today) and growth through challenges (Wednesday).

So…on with fact two 🙂

Fact two: We all need to be free from distractions to concentrate

no cell phone clipart

So many of us think we can multi-task (myself included). BUT WE CAN’T. Picking one thing to work on and focusing until it is done, is the best way to complete tasks (and do homework). We do our best work and commit more to memory, if our brain is focused on the task at hand.

Ways to help:

  1. SEPARATE THEM FROM THE PHONES!!!! Does your child need the phone to do homework? If not there should be a place they deposit it when they get home until their work is done. They can always earn it back (it is a privilege not a right!) after completing their work (and home responsibilities, i.e. chores, but the other way sounds better). You don’t want this to be a battle, especially if it is a “privacy” issue, and they don’t want you to go through it. Since the phone is a privilege you just set this out as an expectation, not a consequence or a threat. It needs to become a habit: arrive home, phone in safe place, homework, home responsibilities, get phone back. Be very clear when establishing the new system that you are not punishing them. You are simply setting up a new productive homework environment (and stick to it). The more straight forward you are that this is an expectation not a punishment, the quicker they will stop complaining and just start adhering to the new system. Don’t engage in an argument, or revert to phrasing it as a consequence. Simply lay out the expectation and wait for them to put the phone in the location it will be staying in during homework time.

The purpose of not having the phone is that even adults are tempted to check their phones during meetings for that “important” text they are waiting for. Imagine how hard it is for a child/teenager to not look at their phone when their friends are texting them. PHONES ARE A HUGE DISTRACTION FOR EVERYONE. I love my phone as much as the next person, but if I want to complete something (like this blog post), I have to set it aside, or put it in another room so I am not distracted, or interrupted by it. Even if we don’t look at it, the vibration interrupts our train of thought.

  1. Unless a computer is necessary for the task these should also be put somewhere else. Social media is again a huge distraction. If your child needs the computer, it is important to monitor them. Have them sit where it is easy for you to see the screen from wherever you are at, so that you can still accomplish other things. Hopefully your student will develop good habits to where they eventually will realize, if they focus they get done faster, and have more time for their friends and social media.
  2. Have them start working on homework soon after getting home from school. There have been numerous studies about the merits of students taking a break between school and homework. Many studies have shown that the sooner a student starts on their homework and studying after school, the quicker they will get done, and the more focused they are. Basically, it boils down to the fact that if their minds have a chance to stray too far from academic thought, it takes longer to refocus. (another blog on effective ways to do this, next week)

I will be writing more in coming blogs about each of these points. So many ideas started flowing when writing this series. I want to keep things in easily read pieces so that you will get the most out of them. All of us have short attention spans and need a break every now and then!

I hope you got some reinforcement for things you probably already knew needed to happen. Yes I have your back on this! Now it is just time to enforce what you already know is true. Remember it is easiest to encourage your student to do things the way you want, if you set up a system, stay consistent, and don’t create it with a negative connotation such as for a punishment. Instead make these things an expectation that they will see benefits from, and earn privileges for.

If you have more suggestions of ways to limit distractions for your student (or for ourselves when working) please share them below. We also love to hear how you have used the suggestions from my blog, so make sure you come back and leave a comment, or send us an email to let us know if something worked (or if it didn’t!).

Stay tuned for the last post in this series on Wednesday and for future posts that will extend off of the more general ideas I am talking about here. You can sign up for my blog on this page to the right, AND you can sign up for our free weekly newsletter to get an overall view of what has happened each week, more helpful tips and articles, and upcoming events.

Thanks for Reading,

Amanda Avery 🙂

Productive Homework and Study Time (Part Three)


Productive Homework and Study Time (Part One)

When I started writing this I had one really long post with at least 20 ideas for more things I wanted to write about. My “editor” who reads everything for me before I post it suggested I split it up (side note: Thank you Matthew!). Obviously this is an important topic to me, and I have a lot to say about each piece, plus all the sub topics that branch off from it. Rather than try to throw it all into one, his suggestion was to put it into a three part series for the main points, then I can share all of the other ideas with you in other posts.

Really I am not the only one that should be thanking him. Kids aren’t the only ones who don’t want to read for a long time, and believe me it would have taken you a bit to finish, the way I had it written at first. That just means that now you have time to really focus on what I am saying, take the time to digest it, then see how it all connects, when you read my next post.

I hope this series really gets you thinking about how our children/students learn, and that you share any ideas that you have in the comments below. This and all of the topics that stem from it are things that we can pool a lot of great ideas into, and really start changing the way our children are learning, studying, and growing! 


A heated topic in schools, at home, and a task that is on everyone’s mind whether you are a teacher, student, or parent.

Whether we agree with homework or not, it still exists. This is not to mention the fact that there is a commonly forgotten element of homework…STUDYING!

My purpose in writing this is not to agree or disagree with the merits of homework, but instead to present to you a few facts and provide some insights into ways to positively effect students in their studying environment.

Fact one: Our brains make better, faster connections with practice.


Our brains are a tricky thing. Long story short, the more often we do something, the stronger the connections in our brain get. At least those that are related to the muscles and pathways needed to complete the task we are practicing. Surprise, the brain is made of muscle! If you want to get better at running what do you do? You run! If you want to get better at painting, what do you do? Paint! So if you want to get better at multiplication, what should you do? Multiply! These are just very basic examples, but this applies to everything we want to learn and everything that becomes habit for us. This is how we learned to brush our teeth, tie our shoes, or do the things required of us at our job.

Now here is the scary part. If we don’t keep practicing these tasks our brain starts to shave or cut the connections that we aren’t using. Meaning the less we do something, the quicker we forget how to do it.

Remember how you used to be able to climb on the monkey bars no problem, or you used to ride your bike all the time? Well I for one can attest to the fact that hopping back on the bike does not instantly bring back the skill I had as a child. I had to ride around in the yard first, on my most recent birthday present, several times before I stopped wobbling. Now granted it had been (gasp) 15 years since I had been on a bike, but my point is that even though the connections could still be made to the previously learned skill, it took practice to build their speed and strength back up. I’m still not where I was 15 years ago, but I can ride up and down my street now 🙂

The same applies to what students need with regards to skills they are learning. Whether it is a previously learned skill (such as adding and subtracting) or a new skill such as solving quadratic equations (which includes adding and subtracting just at a whole other level), students need practice! Not just practice at school, but also at home. Whether this is in the form of homework or studying, it needs to happen to strengthen those connections.

Ways to help:

1.Encourage your student to do their homework by giving rewards, or allowing them to earn privileges for completing schoolwork (and house responsibilities!) For example, their cell phone can be stored in a safe place when they get home from school, then can be earned for the evening once homework is done. You could also allow a friend over for dinner, or make a special dessert as a reward. These don’t have to be expensive rewards, just simple things will work, especially if your child takes some of those privileges for-granted. Earning privileges for doing schoolwork (and house work) is a great place to start with this.

2. Help your student study by calling out vocabulary, definitions, dates and events, or questions from a review sheet. Your participation gives you guys some quality time and it helps them learn the information in an auditory way as well as visually. This can make a huge difference if your child is an auditory learner. Here is a fantastic website with a quiz on learning styles, and other quizzes for students about how to improve their study habits! http://www.educationplanner.org/students/self-assessments/learning-styles.shtml

3. Remind your student that it helps if you study in multiple ways. Think about it…if a child is learning to catch a ball, are they going to be thrown to in the exact same way, from the exact same distance, and by the exact same person every time? No! At least not if they want to be any good at catching (or throwing for that matter). I could give a million other examples, but you get the point. So why do so many people (including students themselves) insist that the best way to study is by reading over their notes? Sure occasionally people throw in flashcards or foldables for good measure, and there are a few teachers and parents who get it, and suggest other ways too. Still, one of the biggest concerns the parents of my students and tutoring students have had, is their child’s lack of study skills. We were taught growing up to highlight, reread and rewrite notes, or make flashcards. These are good, but there are so many more ways to study in this day and age!


Look up videos about a topic on sites such as teachertube.com, youtube.com (yes it really can be educational!), brainpop.com, or discoveryeducation.com

Search for games on the topic (I have several game sites under my Free Resources tab). You will be amazed at what you can find if you type “games on _______” in google search. In a highly online gaming active world, this is a great source for almost any child!

Create study sets with vocabulary on sites such as quizlet.com or studystack.com (hint: when they do this one of the study options is flashcards, but there are also games, matching, and even quizzes that they can take on what they have entered)


Now I know there are parents and teachers who are reading this post and saying “those are good ideas, but I already knew some of that”. YAY! I hope you are still able to get something helpful from this, but I REALLY hope you will share additional ideas on this point in the comments section below. I know I didn’t have time to hit on all the good suggestions of how to practice new and old skills, so that those brain connections get as fast as possible!

Remember there will be two more posts in this series next week (along with many posts to come that were inspired by this one). You can always enter your email to the right, so that you can follow my blog. You can also sign up for the free weekly newsletter, which has links to my blog posts and is full of other links to helpful articles, tips, upcoming events, and more.

Look for the next blog post about limiting distractions at the beginning of the week.

Until then I hope you have a great weekend and have found this information helpful!

Thanks for reading!

Amanda Avery 🙂

Next Post in series: Productive Homework and Studying Time (Part Two)