"I was pleased to find a study skills class for my daughter as she is about to enter middle school. Organizational skills are difficult for her, and I wanted to give her a head start in learning essential skills before starting 7th grade. The course materials provided by Carolyn are excellent. I was thrilled when I saw my daughter apply her new organizational skills to her out-of-control bedroom. She wrote a clean-up plan, breaking down the the big job into small steps. It is a "work in progress," and she can refer to her work plan so she can keep making progress toward her goal."


"I also just wanted to thank you for everything you did for me, I never really got a chance to tell you that. I think of you not only as my teacher, but a friend. The best memories I have with you is when we just sat at your desk talking. You didn’t just teach me how to write a good paper, but you taught me much more important things about life. I really do miss the Monday nights we spent together. I know I would drive you crazy a lot of the time, but you stayed with me and helped me grow into the person I am now. I will always be thankful for the time you gave me."

-Jon Leener, Univ. of Wisconsin

"Carolyn is a tutor that not only helps your kid excel in school, but also your kid loves so much she never wants to stop going."


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Get organized for tomorrow, tonight

When you complete your schoolwork each night, take a couple of minutes to get ready for the next day. Put all papers and books where they belong. Gather your supplies for tomorrow. Check your planner to confirm that everything is complete, and maybe even think about what clothes you’re going to wear.  You’ll be off to a quick start in the morning!

e-News Summer 2010 – Back to School Edition

2010 Issue 2
Carolyn Roth, M.Ed., Tutor & Academi Coach

The Overachiever’s Binder

What ideas here could be incorporated into your system?

  • The exceptional student may have as many as 4 dividers for EACH subject. That’s right. These sections divide notes, homework, handouts, and tests. Although you may choose to have only one divider per subject it’s worth considering these distinct groups, and at least filing your papers that way.  Even if you primarily use a spiral notebook, you must think of a place to keep handouts, tests and returned homework.  Don’t like binders…how bout an accordion file?
  • It’s commonplace (and necessary) to have an assignment book to record daily tasks, but do you also have a monthly calendar to give you the continuing big picture?
  • Now, about that pencil case. It’s really more functional to think of this as a supply source. Keep post-its, note cards, paperclips, rubber bands, highlighters, whiteout, and memory stick handy
  • Lastly it can be valuable to keep some reference material enclosed in page protectors with you.
  • Would any of these be worthwhile for you?

– a list of transitional words and phrases
– math formulas
– maps
– spelling rules
– science terms
– literary terms

Back to School

Get Ready

The end of summer is always bittersweet. Lots of us save travel for the last part of August, just before the rude return of the SCHOOL ROUTINE. Consider these ideas to help relish the end of summer as well as prepare for the shift back to the responsibilities of academic life.

If you had any projects slated for the summer now’s the time to finish them up. In the slower pace of summer, I try to finish up activities that were pushed aside during the busier part of the year. Typically I reorganize files, sort through piles of stuff, and plunge into a new project around the house.

Students I’ve worked with have taken the time to redecorate bedrooms, train pets, learn to type and do art projects.  Whatever self-initiated project you’ve begun, now is the time for completion.

And summer reading assignments? Hopefully the reading is done, but what about the written response? Don’t wait until the night before school to do it. Perhaps you mistakenly think this will just give you a longer vacation, but in fact it will create last minute discomfort, probably a poor product, a really cranky ”last” day, and a sour start to the year.

This year do it earlier and let that last free day REALLY be free.  Savor your last days at the pool and sleeping late with a clear conscience.

Get Set

Is your desk piled high with sunscreen, and vacation souvenirs? Clean off your work area and make sure you have what you need to start the year.

Often teachers have specific requirements for materials to use in their classes, however you can still stock up on some basics before the first day.

Check your supplies to see if you need any of these:

  • printer paper and ink
  • Month at a glance calendar for the wall
  • Space on your bulletin board.
  • A drawer for files with empty file folders
  • pencils, pens, post-its, white-out, 3 x 5 cards, etc

In any case, on the first day take an assignment book, paper, and pen / pencil.

Often overlooked in shifting back to the school routine, is realigning your body clock.  If you’ve been staying up past your “bedtime” all summer, go to bed earlier and wake up earlier the week before school. Making the shift is much easier on your body if you do it a little bit at a time.


Brain research tells us that a happy brain is a learning brain. How can you elevate your mood about the return to school?  What do you look forward to? Most students enjoy being with friends. Many also love sports and being on a team. Get your brain in gear by imagining the activities you like and the accomplishments that await.

Mental Muscle Exercise

School’s out!!  Here are some great games to play that reinforce recently learned skills.

MATH: 24Game (regular or fraction) Use multiplication, division, addition and subtraction to make “24”

DICE – Lots of toy stores sell dice with numbers (not dots). Buy one marked 1-6, one marked 7-12 and one function die. Kids practice addition and multiplication facts and have                                    fun.

REASONING: SET is a game that requires participants to group cards by characteristics. It’s fast and fun and requires /develops reasoning skill.

GRID WORKS is another game that requires deductive reasoning and is fairly addictive .

LANGUAGE: ASAP is a card game that exercises the word retrieval muscle and can be played by any age.

25 WORDS is another game that requires participants to produce language as they race the clock.

All of these are good ways to keep your brain engaged during the summer months. Hope you enjoy them.

Study Guide – Traffic Light System

The best way to use a teacher generated study guide is with the Traffic Light System. Get yourself set with a green, a yellow, and a red marker. Now slowly go through the list of vocabulary, facts, and ideas that have been prepared, asking yourself “Do I know this?” Anything you are certain of gets a green mark. Vague content gets a yellow mark, and if you are clueless un-cap the red marker. Now start by learning the material marked with red. Next clarify the yellow information. Finally, as the exam nears go through all of the information again.

The Best Study Habit

Memory Fact:  Average adults can only remember 50% of what they just read. Twenty-four hours later recall is at about 20%.  Conclusion: To learn the material your instructors focus on you must review daily. The best study habit you can develop is reading over notes from class and textbook reading daily.

Interact with Your Reading Assignment

Post-Its are your friend!

When reading literature, keep a pack of post-its and a pen nearby. Use them to mark new vocabulary words, interesting passages and confusing narrative. Without disturbing your reading pace you create a record of notable things. Later you can learn the words, have pre-selected quotations for the upcoming essay, and ask questions.

Make the Most of Homework Time

Make time your friend.  When you have a lot of homework, or an assignment that seems overwhelming give yourself a limit. Make yourself sit down for a specific amount of time (fifteen minutes? thirty minutes? an hour?) and work. When the time is up, stop. Take a break. Do something you want to do before you begin again. A defined time period is easier to stick with because the end is in sight. Often the time invested is more focused than time that seems “never ending”.

Deductive Reasoning is fun (and necessary) !

Learn to do Sudoku Puzzles!

Sudoku is not about math calculation, it is a pure example of deductive reasoning. Thinking skills underlay all academic endeavors and this form of reasoning is integral to storage skills, retrieval skills, matching skills, and execution.

Without reasoning power it is almost impossible to solve problems or order your  thoughts.