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Build learning skills at early age

Gerald Bradshaw

Gerald Bradshaw

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Updated: November 20, 2012 10:46AM



Dear Mr. Bradshaw — Our son just started seventh grade. He is an excellent student, and we want him to continue to do well so he can apply to a top college.

When should we start thinking about hiring a consultant or tutor to make sure he stays at the top of his class? — ParentDear Parent

— The sooner you have an expert evaluate your son’s academic achievements, the better. Many companies provide tutoring services and suggest the best way to prepare for colleges.

There are well-known tutoring companies with offices in Northwest Indiana. Many parents have found their diagnostic evaluations helpful in spotting potential academic flaws. They also help students develop good study habits and testing skills.

I tutor a number of middle school students who plan to apply to top prep schools for high school. Prep schools have admissions requirements, including SAT-type tests and personal interviews.

The percentage of prep school graduates admitted to Ivy League schools is much higher than public schools. An interesting statistic is, on average, 60 percent of prep school students receive financial aid. This dispels the myth that only rich kids attend prep schools.

Would you believe my youngest client is 3 years old? She is an American who lives in Moscow. Her parents hired me to find the best preschool in New York City or in the San Francisco Bay Area. They want their daughter prepared for a top college and will do whatever is needed to improve her chances for admittance.

We all know the value of preschool, where a child learns at an early age. Students learn how to adapt socially with other children and how to follow instructions from someone other than their parents. The transition from home to school is an important part of what children learn in preschool.

Another less talked-about benefit of preschool is, students learn how to compete with other children. There is a built-in advantage to vying for top scholastic honors.

The positive feedback teachers give preschoolers helps them as they move to grade and middle school. These children are less fearful of making mistakes and look forward to teachers helping them. The sooner they realize making mistakes is part of learning, the better.

You often have read in this column about the importance of earning top grades as a high school freshman. The transition from middle school to high school demands discipline and focus. This means earning a 4.0 grade-point average and not a 3.25.

You cannot average out a poor freshman year, even if you do well as a sophomore and junior.

I tutor seventh- and eighth-graders for the SAT. I also teach a writing program for younger students that focuses on expository writing and essays, including fiction and nonfiction. This training helps them to score well on the writing portion of the SAT.

By the time these young clients reach high school, they have increased their critical reading and writing skills, and are well ahead of their classmates.

In summary, it is never too early to hone a child’s learning skills. Admissions competition at top colleges is growing tougher each year, and anything you can do to increase the odds of academic success for your son is in his best interests.



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