Test prep tips to help your child with EOGs, and books we read over spring break

Talking about test prep means we’re in the home stretch of the school year.  And just like in a foot race, the home stretch matters.


stress relieving techniques for studentsMany students dread taking tests

Over the coming weeks, our children face final exams and end-of-grade (“EOG”) tests.  Many children and teens are anxious about these tests, and their anxiety can overwhelm them.  Test prep strategies help.

Supporting your child — how you can help

Part of the test prep process belongs to you.  To set up your student for success, make sure he or she gets a good night’s sleep, and provide a good breakfast.  Be supportive and calm, and tell them that you’ll be thinking about them.  Plan something fun for time after school.  Maybe time outside to burn off energy, or a picnic to change routines?

test prepFor your student, consider suggesting a simplified approach, like “1-2-3 steps to success”. Many children are overwhelmed with advice that is too long, or lists of dozens of ideas. Make test prep simple, and make it relevant for your child.

Outlined below is our go-to approach for supporting an anxious student:

  1. Be prepared. Make sure you have everything you need handy – scratch paper, extra pencils, calculator, water bottle, if allowed.
  2. Answer easy questions first. This strategy will build confidence and allow more time for harder questions. Then, answer questions with the most point value.
  3. Breathe and stay focused. Those tricky problems can knock you off balance. Don’t let them win! Reread the question to understand it, and then try to solve it the best way you know how. If you’re still stuck, circle it and move on. You can come back to it later.


Test prep — how we can help

test prepOur private tutors are experienced in helping anxious students focus and prepare for their tests.  They will focus on your child’s strengths, skill gaps, and interests. Tutors guide your child to prepare both for the content of the test and likely formats and types of questions. They are patient, caring and committed.

If you would like to discuss how a private tutor can help your child prepare for final exams and end-of-grade tests, give us a call.  We’re ready to help your child get A Step Ahead.

A Fish in a Tree?


We were intrigued by the title of Lynda Mullaly Hunt’s A Fish in a Tree, and we liked the online reviews.  We read it over spring break, and are so glad we did.

If you have a child with learning differences, especially dyslexia, this book might be for you.  (If they are an older elementary or middle grades student, it might be for them too.)

dyslexia books


Main character Ally has fooled a lot of people with her clever and disruptive distractions. She is afraid to ask for help and thinks she is dumb.

But a teacher sees the intelligence behind the misbehaving student and helps Ally learn how to learn. And also helps Ally learn how to accept herself and her differences.


Ally’s confidence grows and her world expands.  She discovers that great minds don’t always think alike!



“Everybody is smart in different ways. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its life believing it is stupid.”


Kwame Alexander


We were surprised at how much fun we had reading Kwame Alexander’s poetry collection, Out of Wonder; Poems Celebrating Poets.  We were already fans on Alexander’s work from reading his middle-grades book, Crossover, a 2015 Newbery award winner.



CrossoverAlexander wrote Crossover in rap verse about middle school boys, basketball games and family life.  Not surprisingly, our boys love it, and so do we.


But back to Out of Wonder. We admit that we can struggle with poetry. Perhaps we are not alone in that respect?

But since we love Alexander’s work, we gave it a try.




Out of Wonder is a very different type of book. It is poetry, yes. Alexander worked with two colleagues, Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth.  The idea was born from a quote by Lucille Clifton,  poet and children’s book author.  Clifton wrote, “Poems come out of wonder, not out of knowing.”


We like that quote. We feel less intimidated by verse if we are encouraged to wonder along with poem’s author.

Out of Wonder; Poems Celebrating Poets


The three authors wanted to use that idea to write about poets whom, in their view, met two criteria:

  • the poets are interesting people, and
  • the three authors are ‘passionately in love’ with their poetry


Poems celebrating Poets


Their twenty choices span centuries and cultures.  Some names were familiar to us – Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, Maya Angelou.  Some names were less familiar to us – Naomi Shihab Nye, Walter Dean Myers, Okot p’Bitek.


After choosing the poets, the authors took turns writing poetry in the style of each poet they had selected.  Artist Ekua Holmes used mixed media to create art to accompany each poem.


In our view, Holmes’ illustrations convey a style similar to that of Eric Carle, beloved in our family for many works, particularly The Very Hungry Caterpillar.


We suggest Out of Wonder for middle school and older students, as well as adults.  We feel that younger children will adore the brightly colored illustrations and hearing adults read to them in verse.


The authors composed several poems from a child or teen’s perspective, including Walter, age ten, and How Billy Collins Writes a Poem. Others are for all ages to enjoy.

I Like YourOur favorite poem

Perhaps because we are celebrating our anniversary tomorrow, our favorite was Alexanders’ tribute to e.e. cummings in the poem I Like Your.

If you buy the book, tell us your favorite!




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