How Comic Books Can Help Boost Reading Skills

A lot of people think that comic books and graphic novels aren’t “real” books because they contain more pictures than words. They don’t follow the traditional chapter book format with paragraphs of text. But these stories can actually be very beneficial for students in boosting their reading and comprehension skills. In celebration of National Comic Book Day, we’re taking a closer look at the benefits of allowing kids to read comic books.

They get kids excited to read. Flipping through a book that is nothing but text can be off-putting, but knowing there are plenty of pictures to look at can be more appealing. A lot of kids like reading about superheroes and following along with the character’s journey. Giving them the option to read a comic book or graphic novel that they can finish in a day or two versus the time it takes them to read a traditional chapter book can be motivating.

They come in many different genres. Not every comic book or graphic novel is about superheroes. They can be about history, nature, science, literature, and even math. Sometimes classic stories are rewritten as graphic novels to capture students’ attention and present information in an easier to understand way. There can be a lot of educational material packed into a story, and students don’t even realize they’re learning while they read.

They can boost reading confidence. Picking up a book that is filled with text can be overwhelming. Some students have a tendency to skim over long paragraphs or rush through just to finish. But comic books use short sentences and a limited number of words on a page. Students have to read each one to make sense of what is happening. And just because the sentences are short doesn’t necessarily mean they use simple words. Kids can be exposed to a wide range of vocabulary in comic books.

They challenge comprehension. Comic books and graphic novels require a lot of interpretation, inference, and synthesizing of information. Since there is not a lot of text, students have to fill in the details based on what they have read and what each picture shows. Chapter books spend a lot of time explaining through writing, whereas graphic novels require students to use critical thinking and context clues. It challenges their brain in a different way.

They can inspire creativity. Students can boost their writing skills as well by trying their hand at creating their own comic book. They must use the same basic story elements as a novel including characters, setting, a problem, and a resolution, but they are expressing it in fewer words and including pictures to fill in the details.

Comic books can be a great way to inspire a love of reading in boys and girls alike. Once they find a subject that interests them, they may be more willing to pick up a fiction or nonfiction chapter book to expand their knowledge. Students have a lot of required reading in school, so make reading at home fun by letting them choose texts that interest them – including comic books!

If your child is struggling with their reading, comprehension, or writing skills, contact Crafting Scholars to see how our learning specialists can help. Get your child excited about reading and keep that interest growing by giving them the support they need to be more successful.

Simple Tips to Improve Organization

Now that students are back in the classroom, that means more papers are being handed out, notes are being taken, and projects are being assigned. With all of this flurry of activity and deadlines, effective organizational skills are a must. If your child frequently misplaces things or forgets to write tasks down, it can lead to incomplete assignments. Here are a few ways that you can help your child stay more organized this year:

Give Everything a Place

If your child has a binder, use dividers so each subject has its own section. If they have separate notebooks, pick a different color for each subject with a matching folder to store loose papers. Encourage your child to file things away where they belong as soon as they receive them and go over everything after school to make sure nothing is misplaced. At home, organize their desk so that all of their school supplies have their own spot, and they can quickly locate what they need. Remind them to put things back where they belong when they are done.

Use Checklists

Work with your child to create a list of everything that needs to be done. Prioritize it with the most important tasks at the top. This way they can do one assignment at a time and check or cross it off when they are done. Break down big projects into smaller parts this way as well so they do not seem so overwhelming, and no activities get missed.

Take Advantage of Templates

Templates can be a great way to keep notes organized. Follow the same setup every time so they know exactly where certain information goes and where to find what they are looking for when they study. This can also help them to focus on what is most important. Another type of template is their planner. Write down assignments, test dates, project due dates, and upcoming events so that they can plan accordingly and manage their time. They can even color-code their planner with each type of entry having a designated color.

Develop a Routine

Maintaining a consistent routine can help with organization as well. This could include the order in which they do their assignments, how much time they spend studying, or where they put important papers. If they are always rushing out the door in the morning and forgetting things, make part of their nighttime routine double-checking that their bookbag is packed with everything they need for the next day (and checking their desk to make sure nothing was left behind!).

Organization takes practice. Crafting Scholars can help students build more effective strategies and skills to stay organized and manage their time. They can feel more confident going into class and knowing they have what they need, that they can effectively sort and file any work they receive, and that they can plan accordingly for assignments, projects, and tests. Contact Crafting Scholars today to learn more about our programs to boost organization and student success.

What to Look for When Choosing a Tutor

Students are exposed to so many different topics in school that challenge their thinking and broaden their understanding of the world. It can be hard to keep everything straight. Working with a tutor can reinforce key concepts and bridge gaps in learning so that your child can build a strong foundation and master essential skills.  But it can be hard to know where to start or what to look for when choosing a tutor.

Here are a few considerations to keep in mind when comparing your options.

  • Experience and course offerings.

You want to ensure that the tutor is well-versed in the content areas for which your child is seeking help. The learning specialists at Crafting Scholars are bachelor- and master-level trained educators, and they have degrees in a wide range of subjects to effectively meet the needs of students. In addition to content tutoring, they are also trained to work with students on other skills including organization, studying, time management, and test taking.

  • Ability to meet your child’s unique needs.

Tutoring should be aligned with areas where your child demonstrates need and lack of understanding. Ask about how the tutor determines what concepts to cover, how they assess learning, and how they adjust to your child’s learning style.

Crafting Scholars works closely with teachers regarding what topics they are currently teaching and how the child is performing. We offer several diagnostic exams to gain a better understanding of where there are gaps in your child’s knowledge and how they learn best. This data is used to create a custom curriculum to maximize results and zero in on their specific areas of need. Lessons are designed with your child’s learning style in mind to help them connect with and recall information.

  • Flexible scheduling

In order for tutoring to be effective, it needs to be accessible and work with your schedule. Does your child learn better when working one-on-one with an instructor in person or online? Crafting Scholars offers both options so that families can choose what works best for them.

Tutoring can be done online from anywhere as long as your child has a computer and reliable Internet access, but they also have the option of hands-on instruction at the learning center in Charlotte, NC. We have flexible hours to fit the schedule of students who are in public school, private school, virtual school, and those who are homeschooled.

  • Strong connection

You want your child to feel comfortable with and trust their tutor. The tutor should be able to build a positive rapport and connect with your child to promote their learning. At Crafting Scholars, we carefully match students with a learning specialist that complements their needs and learning style. Your child will work with the same specialist throughout their sessions to maintain consistency and continuity of learning.

Equip your child with the knowledge, skills, and support they need to boost their academic performance by enrolling them in tutoring at Crafting Scholars. Our programs are geared toward students in grades 6-12, and we cover all core subjects at each level. Not sure where to start? Contact us today for more information.

How Music Lessons Can Boost Math Skills

Education is important, and regularly attending school helps children to build essential skills. However, there is also a lot of learning that goes on outside of the classroom. Participating in extracurricular activities can actually help students with academics and social skills as well. Sports naturally incorporate a lot of math and physics concepts, but don’t worry if your child is not interested in athletics; music can have a wealth of benefits too.

Let your child pick an instrument that interests them so they will be more engaged and motivated to learn. Whether they choose the trumpet, clarinet, violin, piano, or drums, they will still be boosting their math skills.

Music teaches rhythm and patterns.

On a very basic level, music teaches and reinforces patterns. Children learn to repeat the rhythms that they hear. They play different patterns of notes and can predict what comes next. Music also helps them understand tempo and a steady beat. Think about the hands on a clock, ticking away. A minute is divided into 60 equal seconds. An hour is divided into 60 equal minutes.

Music helps with fractions.

As your child learns to read music, they are developing fraction skills and number sense. For example, a whole note is four beats. A half note is two beats. Two half notes make a whole note. Quarter notes are one beat. Four quarter notes make a whole note, so each one is equal to one-fourth. Two quarter notes make a half note, so one-fourth plus one-fourth equals one-half. And it goes on and on for different notes and time signatures.

The more comfortable your child gets with reading music, the more they understand how fractions fit together and can apply this to what they are learning in school. Problems may make more sense if they can relate them to their music skills.

Music can aid in studying.

Listening to classical music without words can improve memory. It can serve as a positive distraction and allow for greater focus, rather than sitting in silence or hearing random noises from their surroundings.

Students can also change the words to their favorite songs as a mnemonic device to help them recall math terminology, functions, or other concepts. They can create something that makes sense to them.

Music instills patience and perseverance.

Math can be challenging. So can music. But students learn that if they keep practicing and working hard, eventually they will get it. Learning an instrument requires focused attention, and this can carry over into school.

Both subjects are also cumulative in nature. Music skills build off one another. Before playing an advanced piece, your child must understand the basics. They must have a strong foundation. The same applies to math. Before they can expect to excel in algebra or calculus, they must work up to it and use the skills they have learned in previous classes.

If your child is struggling in math and has gaps in their learning, Crafting Scholars can help. We work closely with your child to identify where these issues lie, understand how they learn best, and equip them with strategies to boost their performance. Our learning specialists provide content support as well as test prep and study skills so students can be as successful as possible. Contact us today to sign up!


5 Signs Your Child May Benefit from Tutoring

Tutoring is a great way to not only bridge gaps in learning, but also to support your child in staying on top of what they need to know and mastering foundational skills. Even if they have stellar teachers, they may still benefit from reinforcement and having information presented in a different way. As students settle into the school year, here are a few signs you may want to get your child tutoring.

  1. They struggled last year.

A lot of students found remote and hybrid learning challenging. Perhaps they were not as engaged with lessons or had trouble keeping up. Maybe they did not understand certain concepts or missed them all together. If your child’s grades dropped last year, or you are concerned that they did not master everything they need to know, tutoring can help them catch up and develop those essential skills.

  1. They are anxious about school already.

Is your child stressed out about school when the year has only just begun? Are they concerned that they are not ready, or that classes will be too hard? Working with a tutor can boost their confidence and provide the support they need to meet the demands of their current classes. When they have a variety of strategies they can use, and they realize that they understand more than they thought, it can calm some of their fears.

  1. They avoid schoolwork or take a long time to complete assignments.

If homework or studying always turns into a fight, it may be because your child is having trouble with their lessons. Are they taking hours to finish assignments that should be done much faster? Do they tell you they have no homework or upcoming tests when you know they do? They may be frustrated because they do not have a strong grasp on the skills they need to know, or understand how to apply what they’re learning in class. A tutor can provide one-on-one assistance to get them back on track.

  1. Their grades are slipping.

Poor grades are definitely a red flag that your child is struggling, especially if they have always been an excellent student. Perhaps they do not want to ask questions in class and admit that they need help. Maybe they don’t know how to effectively take notes or study for tests now that classes have gotten harder. A tutor can help get to the bottom of things and figure out where your child needs extra support, and what skills may need strengthening.

  1. You are having difficulty helping them with their work.

As a parent, you want to help your child, but they may be resistant to your guidance. You may also not remember how to do the math they are working on, or not know how it is being taught in school today. Tutors are up-to-date on the latest strategies and methodologies being used. Students may also be more open to listening to someone who is not their parent.

At Crafting Scholars, our tutors work closely with educators and families to create a customized learning plan for each student. We take the time to understand your child’s strengths, areas for improvement, and learning style, so we can tailor instruction to how they learn best. Tutoring can give your child the skills, confidence, and support they need to perform better in school. Set your child up for greater success by enrolling them in tutoring at Crafting Scholars. Contact us today to secure their spot!

Strengthening Critical Thinking Skills

Critical thinking is an essential skill at any age. Being able to look beyond the surface of an issue and make better decisions can make a huge difference. But this ability is something that children must learn and practice. While critical thinking is incorporated into their education at school, there are ways you can help at home.

Let them work through challenges.

It can be tempting to jump in and give your child the answer because it is faster and easier. You know from experience what a good solution would be. Be patient and let them try to solve the problem on their own. You can guide them with helpful questions or prompts, but let them figure out the answer. If it doesn’t work out like they had hoped, it is a good learning experience and something they can reflect back on in the future. Discuss what they could do differently next time. (Of course, if their safety is at risk, you’ll want to intervene accordingly.)

Invite them to help you with planning.

Thinking about going on a family trip? Get your child involved. What route should you take? When should you go? What do you need to budget for? What activities can you fit in each day? Let them dig into some of the details and help you make decisions based on their findings. Buying a new computer? Encourage them to compare your options while staying within a budget. Which features are a must-have and why based on what the computer will be used for? Which features are nice but not necessary?

Ask them to explain their thinking.

When your child comes up with an idea or a solution to a problem, ask them to explain how they reached that conclusion. What makes it better than another option? How did they come to that decision? Why should you agree with them? When they have to include their reasoning, it can make them think more carefully and critically.

Pose alternative ideas.

When working on projects, talking about news stories, discussing books you have both read, or making decisions, ask the elusive, “what if?” What if you had done Y instead of X? What if the character had made a different decision? What if you did this first? Encourage them to look at things from different perspectives or angles. How did they come up with their answer?

You can also ask your child to come up with hypotheses about what they think they might happen before you do something. Test it out together and see if they were right. If they weren’t, consider why not.

A big part of critical thinking is asking open-ended questions and giving your child a chance to develop an answer. It’s okay to provide some guidance to help them think through things, but see what they can come up with. Provide a variety of opportunities for them to work out problems and support their decision with facts or logical reasoning.

Crafting Scholars can help your child enhance their critical thinking and other key skills to boost their academic success. We offer a wide range of programs tailored to your child’s needs and goals. Contact us today to learn more and sign up!

Bridging Gaps in Learning with Content Support

Students persevered through remote learning and teachers did their best to cover necessary content with limited resources and time. Most districts were not designed to operate remotely, and transitioning had its challenges. As a result, there will be gaps in students’ learning. There will be concepts that they have not fully mastered. But everyone is working together to get students to where they need to be.

Reinforcing Core Content

Crafting Scholars recognizes that students are at different places in their learning. Some students retained more information from remote instruction than others. That is why we offer customized content support based on the courses each student is taking. Whether you are concerned that your child has fallen behind in math, English, science, history, or another subject, we can help.

A Collaborative Approach

While schools follow the Common Core State Standards, curriculum and topics of study can vary from one school to the next, and even one teacher to the next. That is why Crafting Scholars partners with educators to identify the content that they will be covering and provide students with one-on-one support. We use a combination of discussions with teachers, curriculum guides, syllabi, and course materials to deliver personalized tutoring.

We work in conjunction with classroom instruction to reinforce key concepts and skills that students need in order to build a strong foundation and succeed in higher level courses. Our highly skilled learning specialists are able to present information in a variety of ways so that it makes more sense to students and aligns with their individual learning styles. Students can ask questions and work through material they may not have fully understood in class or retained from last year.

Boosting Confidence

Receiving personalized content support that fits with what they are doing in class and builds connections with previously learned material can help students to feel more confident in their abilities. They realize that they know more than they thought, and that someone is there to help fill in gaps and keep them from falling behind.

The past year and a half has been tough, but students can bounce back and thrive this school year. The learning specialists at Crafting Scholars have a wealth of knowledge, training, and experience that enables them to effectively support students in a wide range of subjects. Most have been working with students throughout the coronavirus pandemic and understand the challenges that they have faced.

Whether your child is adjusting to changing classes in middle school or transitioning to more rigorous high school courses, content support can assist them in staying on track and developing the core skills they need after the inconsistency and unpredictability of the past 18 months. Contact Crafting Scholars today to learn more and sign up for content support in the subject areas your child needs to focus on most.

Rebuilding Effective Study Skills and Organizational Habits

For the past year and a half, students have had to adjust to a new way of learning. They spent most of this time engaged in remote learning, or dividing their time between in-person and virtual lessons. Their schedules and routines were disrupted, and many had to figure out their own strategies for staying organized. This worked better for some students than others.

Now that most students will be returning to the classroom full-time come fall, effective study skills and organization habits will be crucial. They must get used to the structure and expectations of classroom learning and assessments once more, because replicating the behaviors they became accustomed to during remote learning could be disastrous.

Crafting Scholars has created a study skills organization assessment to identify the habits that students have developed over the past year and determine what skills they will need to be successful in the classroom. The assessment looks at key areas such as note taking, organization, study skills, and test prep. Then a customized curriculum is developed based on each student’s unique needs and areas for improvement. Lessons focus on:

Organizing Assignments

With all of their assignments posted online, many students forewent writing tasks down in a planner and organizing due dates. Everything was available at the click of a button. Now that they will be back in the classroom and less time will be spent on devices, it is essential that they write down each assignment, project, and test date so that they can plan accordingly.

Note Taking

Remote learning also led to less note-taking. Students would simply listen to the lesson and discussion, then complete their assignments online. They could go back to collaborative discussion boards and activities online if they needed more information.

During in-person learning, however, they will be expected to take notes by hand and keep an organized notebook for studying. Many students are lacking an entire year or more of notes and have nothing to go back and review. This is an issue that needs to be addressed. They need to develop strategies and systems that work for them, whether it is Cornell note taking, outlines, or other formats. Crafting Scholars can also help them figure out what is most important to write down.

Studying & Test Taking

Another area that may catch students by surprise is taking exams. During remote learning, assessments were online, and some students used their notes and assignments to help them during the test. They may have had a longer period of time to complete the assessment as well. Students who have recently taken the SAT or ACT exams realized that they felt unprepared to take tests in person.

In class, they must return to using more traditional test-taking skills such as remembering how to approach different types of questions, eliminating incorrect answers, and finding the best answers. They must develop effective study skills and focus on important information and concepts that they will need to recall. This can seem intimidating after a year and a half of remote or hybrid learning, or limited in-person instruction.

Crafting Scholars can equip students with essential knowledge and skills for studying and organization and ease the transition back to in-person learning. Make sure your child is prepared and ready to tackle the new year by signing them up for the study skills organization assessment and subsequent lessons based on their results. Set them up for success by contacting Crafting Scholars today.

Writing vs. Typing Notes: Does it Make a Difference?

As technology advances, it becomes more and more integrated with our daily lives. Manual processes get pushed to the wayside for faster, easier solutions. Students have become more computer savvy, and many schools are shifting to one-to-one technology, providing Chromebooks, iPads, or other devices for each student. It only makes sense then, that students might want to use their devices to type their notes during class instead of write them.

Typing can be more efficient, but there is still a great deal of value and benefit in writing notes by hand. Studies have shown that students retain more information and perform better when writing notes rather than typing them, but there can still be some advantages to typing. We’re taking a closer look at these two approaches to note taking:

Typing Notes

Benefits of Typing

  • Faster: Students can record information more quickly, allowing them to note more details.
  • Legibility: It can be easier to read typed information than handwritten notes.
  • Organization: It is easy to save, rearrange, highlight, and share information digitally.

Cons of Typing

  • Understanding: The more proficient a student is at typing, the more of an automatic process it becomes. They are able to type information without paying as much attention to what they are writing.
  • Formulas: It can take longer to find and use special characters when typing up formulas or other non-traditional text, interrupting the flow of information.
  • Distractions: All of the features and functions of a computer or word processing program can be distracting.

Typing notes can be an effective way for students to quickly record a large amount of information. If they have poor handwriting, it can make reading what they have written much easier, and it’s possible to search for specific words or phrases. Students also don’t have to worry about their pencil breaking or pen not working, or running out of paper to write on. They can create as many documents as they want, make them as long as they want, and incorporate color, highlighting, bolding, and other features easily.

Writing Notes

Benefits of Writing

  • Understanding: Because it takes longer to handwrite notes, students are more likely to listen, process, and summarize information focusing on the most important points, rather than writing lectures verbatim.
  • Speed with formulas and symbols: Students can write down formulas and symbols more easily, and they can create shorthand to make writing notes faster.
  • Fewer distractions: With just a pencil and paper, there are fewer distractions, allowing students to focus on listening and writing.

Cons of Writing

  • Slower: It can take longer to write larger amounts of information by hand, and students might miss important facts.
  • Legibility: Sloppy writing can lead to errors and more difficulty reviewing what was written.

The act of physically writing down notes can improve learning and retention. Studies have shown that students are better able to recall facts or concepts when they wrote them by hand, as opposed to typing them out. Students are more engaged with the information because it requires more cognitive effort to plan, organize, summarize, and synthesize what they are learning.

It is important for students to figure out what works best for them when it comes to recording and studying information. Some students may find that it is beneficial to type their initial notes and then go back and write them by hand later. It also depends on what the teacher permits.

Knowing how to effectively take notes during class, organize information, and then use these resources for studying is essential. Crafting Scholars offers a study skills organization program to support students with these processes. As students return to the classroom and spend more time offline, note taking is critical. Contact us today to sign up and be more prepared for the new school year.

Preparing Students for a New School Year

As summer winds down, many schools are planning to resume in-person instruction in the fall. This can be a major change for students who spent much of the last school year in remote learning or only a few days a week in person. Whereas students have become used to interacting through video conferencing and submitting all of their work and exams online, there is a good chance that manual processes and paper materials will return to some extent.

How can you help your child feel more prepared for the upcoming year?

Get New School Supplies

A lot of students ditched note-taking last year when using laptops or tablets. There was no need to organize their backpacks because they didn’t leave home. This year will be different. Make sure they have all the school supplies they need such as notebooks, binders, loose-leaf paper, folders, pencils, erasers, highlighters, calculators, index cards, and other tools. Get them back into the swing of working in the classroom instead of the comfort of their own home.

Return to Routines

Think ahead about what needs to happen to prepare for school each day. No more rolling out of bed and logging onto Zoom. What time will they need to wake up to shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, pack a lunch, and catch the bus? Plan to set out clothes and double-check that backpacks are ready the night before.

Start the bedtime/wakeup routine a few weeks before school starts. Get them used to going to bed earlier and getting up earlier so it is not such a shock to their system. You want them to be awake, alert, and ready to go when the school bell rings. Decide what their routine will look like for after the school day ends as well, as far as balancing homework, studying, and extracurriculars.

Talk about Protocols

Pay attention to the news and any information the school sends out regarding scheduling, buses, masks, social distancing, and other safety protocols that will be in place. Talk to your child about what to expect and discuss any fears or concerns they may have. It has likely been a while since they have been in the classroom, so it can be helpful to know what to expect.

Encourage Asking Questions

With remote learning, it was easier for students to blend in and do just enough to get by. The expectations will be higher with in-person learning. Encourage your child to speak up and ask questions if there is something they do not understand. There are likely concepts that they did not fully master last year that will come up again. Remind them that other students probably have the same questions, and they are not alone. Be proactive about staying on top of assignments, projects, and tests.

Brush Up on Study and Organizational Skills

Remote learning is a lot different than being in the classroom. Many students have forgotten how to effectively take notes, organize their materials, study for tests, and follow other strategies to be more successful in class. Crafting Scholars recognizes these challenges and offers a program that assists students in identifying areas for improvement and reinforcing these critical skills as they transition back into the classroom.

Contact us today to learn more and develop a plan to support your child in being as successful as possible this year.