Report Cards Offer Useful Weather Report

By Carol Utay

“Dear Drs. Utay: Winter is here and with it, winter weather –   the beautiful along with the not-so-welcome. Living in the   Pittsburgh area we might not always welcome snow fall, but   we do expect it. However, we did not expect our child’s   grades to fall. We’re new to this and don’t want to make a   bigger deal out of it than needed. On the other hand, we don’t   want flurries to develop into an ice storm.”

We love to hear from proactive parents! You are smart not to   just “wait and see” and there is much you can do to help.   There are three levels of action you can take depending on your   child’s needs: basic home interventions, basic tutoring, or a   professional program aimed at developing whatever underlying   foundation problems need work. Home interventions are what   you can do at home with minimal (if any) help from outside   experts. This includes helping your child get enough 1) sleep,   2) nutrition, 3) exercise, 4) organized, and 5) your support with   homework and projects. If these are already in place with no   improvement in grades, it’s time to consider the next level,   working with a tutor.

Often the above home-centered tips along with an honest   discussion with your child and the teacher will result in   strategies to rather quickly turn things around. If this is an   emerging pattern however, deeper and more intensive   methods of getting to the root of the problem are needed and   professional child-friendly testing is recommended.

Often the school is a good source for testing if they can do it   within the next week or so. Also, check with Total Learning   Centers for testing availability. If your child is in the 7th   grade   or above, start tutoring even while waiting for testing since   each day pushes him or her further behind. Plan on intensive work for at least two weeks, then drop to twice a   week, then once a week, depending on progress. If testing   shows the problem is curriculum content, like not mastering a particularly difficult math concept, basic tutoring should be   sufficient.

If testing shows a problem with underlying foundation   skills like phonics, working memory, sustained attention,   or mental processing, you’re also in luck. There are research-based proven approaches to alleviate those   challenges. They just require more involved commitment   than basic tutoring. Unlike your lack of control over the weather, doing your homework, then including in your   team whoever is needed to bring grades up is one more   way you help your child prepare today for success tomorrow.

For useful information about your child’s specific  strengths and needs as well as practical   recommendations, call Total Learning Centers at (724) 940-1090.  If easier, email us at  Visit us at and follow Dr. Carol Utay on Twitter at

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