5 Smart Ways to Keep Your Child Learning Over The Summer

5 Smart Ways to Keep Your Child Learning Over The Summer

Summertime is upon us once again –  that time of year when teachers bid farewell to students, and parents are beginning to plan for their children’s days without a school schedule.  Given that kids have been spending too much time staying at home, watching screens and not involving in any educational activities during the school closure period, you may want to send them to local learning centers, double their study time to get them to catch up on what they have missed over the disruption.

However, making kids complete workbooks, review flashcards, or attend extra classes all day long is almost just like making them repeat the school year, yet summer should be the time for adventures, laughter, and memories.  “When you think about it, we only have 18 summers with our kids”.  So how might we balance the academic and non-academic activities for your child this summer?  How might we encourage them to keep on learning, and enjoy outdoor activities and socializing at the same time?  How might we keep our children physically busy and mentally active during the long summer days?

Fortunately, there are still plenty of ways to keep kids learning during the summer, even without a local summer learning program.  They may require some extra planning from parents, but they are affordable and accessible in most communities. In this article, we developed a shortlist of activities and resources for parents to use when developing your own summer learning activities for your child.  These 5 ideas will help children not only reinforce skills taught during the year but also to entertain them through the summer months.  Let this summer be the time for our children to learn, play, laugh, and heal.

1. Keep a summer diary

Summer is a great time to journal!  A summer bullet journal will teach your kid how to keep track of the things she needs to do and list out the summer bucket list ideas they wanted to check off.  It will help you keep your child productive and entertained all summer long.  Your children can add their own ideas to it and it can become a fun keepsake to look back on.  Journaling is often a good activity for kids who are reluctant to write or, in some cases, reluctant to speak.  The versatility of journaling means it can be incorporated into many different areas of learning, including math, science, and social studies.

If your child is having difficulty figuring out how she’s solving math problems, try putting together a math journal.  It can be as simple as a notebook in which she writes various facts and formulas as well as having space to show her work.  Going back and looking at her work overtime can help cement her thought process.

A summer journal can also be free-form writing that helps your child build vocabulary, develop her thought processes, and learn to articulate how she feels.  She can record what she gets up to each day, people she meets, anything new she has learned, etc.  The diary will also be a nice keepsake for her full of memories.  You can also encourage your child to use a thesaurus and change several common words to more interesting words to make her journal more lively.  This is the first step of how to teach your child creative writing, how to make her writing more interesting while learning great new words at the same time.

2. Make time for reading

Your child should maintain their reading habits over the summer.  It is a great activity to engross your child’s attention and help them relax.  Try to set aside time for your child to read each day during the summer break – 15 to 30 minutes per day is all it takes!  During the summer, students have more time to read for enjoyment, which also offers a great opportunity to preserve and strengthen their reading skills.  Get kids reading any way you can, including comic books, magazines, graphic novels, almanacs, joke books, recipes, game instructions, movie reviews, poems, restaurant menus, product descriptions, sports statistics, and song lyrics. 

A great way to track how much reading your child is doing during the summer months is a tally on your regular activities calendar.  Your summer activities should include taking your children or teenagers to the public library to check out books of interest and/or any summer reading groups they’d like to join.  For families who are living in Ho Chi Minh city, take this chance to explore top 4 free and creative libraries here:
>> https://blog.e2.com.vn/explore-top-4-libraries-for-families-in-ho-chi-minh-city/

To make it more effective, try, and set some reading goals with your child so they have something to aim for.  Perhaps you are planning to go to the cinema to see a film adaptation of a popular book, why not encourage your child to read the book before and you could discuss afterward the ways in which the book has been interpreted into the film.

3. Teach with movies!

Watching English movies is a great way for your child to improve English while enjoying stories and music!  Movies are a way to see the English language being used, without needing to find native speakers near us.  We can stop, go back and repeat any part as much as we want. In movies, your child will hear the natural pronunciation, everyday vocabulary, spoken grammar, common idioms, slang, and be exposed to various accents.  Even better, she will learn these from interesting and emotional stories.  And because there are countless movies based on an infinite amount of things, you can use them to introduce or spark discussions about a certain topic, be it a historical event, a time period, or the culture of a foreign country. 

After watching a movie together, go beyond, “Did you like the movie?” and talk about the movie’s themes, such as respect, friendship, or kindness.  Ask your kids why they think the characters chose a certain action or what the characters could have done differently for a better outcome.  Challenge them to come up with an alternate ending.  This summer, try to set some movie time for family, pop some popcorn and curl up on the couch together with a fascinating, kid-friendly movie.  In case you need a recommendation, check out our 7 best movies for young kids to improve English at home.

4. Take educational trips

Plan with your child a family activity day.  Visit a museum, the zoo, or take a nature walk; all low-cost ways for children to have fun while learning. Visit your local city website or community library to learn what’s going on in your area in the coming weeks. You can make these experiences even more enriching by setting them tasks to do. 

 

For example, you can discuss with your child to decide how much money to spend, help her research events and activities in your area, and choose an affordable activity the whole family can enjoy. This online Ticketbox may give you some good ideas. Remind your child to make a checklist to have a good preparation for the activity, and to remember to include food in the day’s plan. Don’t forget to bring a camera and take lots of pictures. Your child can mount and label each photo and create a family scrapbook of your special day. You might provide the questions below to help guide your child’s thoughts as they plan this special day.

  • Describe the event or activity your family will attend.
  • Will everyone in the family enjoy this activity? Why do you think so?
  • What do you need to arrange ahead of time? Will you need to purchase tickets? Pack a lunch? Make reservations?
  • What supplies or materials will you need?
  • What costs will be involved?

5. Sign up for a summer camp

Some summer days can lose their sparkle.  Children feel listless, and say they are bored.  Summer means kids have more time to play and learn, but adults do not.  We can not stay at home all day and find several ways to keep our children occupied as we did during quarantine time.  That’s why choosing a good summer camp for your kid can be a good option.  There are plenty of reasons why to send your child to summer camps, as they provide, a wide range of unique opportunities.  For many, summer camp – either a day camp or overnight camp – offers children, especially teenagers, an opportunity to get out of their usual routine, learn, grow, make friends, and have eye-opening new experiences.

 

During their stay at summer camps, children are exposed to diversity, to the challenge of approaching children that they may not normally meet, and to the satisfaction of making connections with them without their parent’s help.  Furthermore, summer camps’ activities encourage children self-development and teach them essential leadership skills by educating them on how to take care of themselves outside their comfort zone, and by encouraging them to develop a stronger sense of personal pride and self-reliance. 

There’s a lot of kids’ summer camps out there for you to choose from, it can take a bit longer to find the right camp than it will for your child.  But no matter what you choose, make sure to find a camp that can balance out the academic and non-academic activities, provide campers chances to discover new interests, and stay intellectually engaged.

Learning is like exercise: once we take a break from it, it would be harder to get back on track.  Therefore, this summer, take a few minutes to think about what you can bring – both conventional and unconventional – to help your children strengthen their academic skills while still having plenty of time left over for creative activities.  By implementing a summer plan and igniting your child’s passion for learning, she can enjoy a renewed sense of academic dignity, and avoid the dreaded “summer slide.”

This year, Everest Education is looking to recruit young members for our Explorers Squad who will undertake an exciting, memorable and fun journey together. Our Explorers Squad provides amazing opportunities for your kids to learn and play in curious ways through many stimulating lessons: hands-on science, technology, engineering, art, drama, sport, and math activities in a 100% all-English environment. 

This is a journey which will boost the energy level of every child as we task our Explorer squad in unleashing their creativity through designing, inventing, applying, and creating – using their higher-order thinking skills in unique and exciting projects, which will test both their mental agility as well as their physical strength. If you are looking for a playground that can sparkle your child’s summer days, improve their confidence and teamwork skills and have fun together with their friends, the Explorers Squad is the perfect choice to meet all your expectations.

Find more info about our Summer Camp at https://e2.com.vn/programs/summer-camp-2020/

COVID-19 is a crucible moment for high school and college students

COVID-19 is a crucible moment for high school and college students

As COVID-19 grinds society to a halt and shutters physical college campuses, today’s high school and college students are experiencing their generation’s crucible.

Nearly 20 years ago, I was a senior in college on 9/11. I can still remember the sense of fear I felt in the aftermath of that day. Before then, I didn’t have a strong sense of what I would do after graduation. 9/11 led me to step back from campus recruiting and focus on how I could positively impact society, which resulted in my decision to take a paid gap experience of sorts

After college, I worked for David Gergen for two years as his research assistant. One of the allures of that experience was, not only did I have the chance to contribute to the national dialogue around how America would respond to 9/11, but I would also just have the chance to learn—from David certainly, but also from the wide variety of people with whom he interacted, from politicians to business leaders and from those in the media to educators and entrepreneurs leading non-profit organizations. David also taught often about how crucibles could forge leaders—and how the leadership style of different generations could be formed in collective crucibles. 

After those two years I enrolled in the Harvard Business School, which ultimately resulted in a life working to improve schooling worldwide once I partnered up with another soon-to-be mentor, Clay Christensen.

Spurred by 9/11, many in my generation have similarly sought to change the world. Just as Pearl Harbor spawned the “Greatest Generation” and President John F. Kennedy inspired individuals to enter public service, historic events can shape the convictions of a cohort.

With uncertainty about whether campuses will open in the fall and the finances of many families and colleges in tatters, significant numbers of students will likely change plans and take a year off or attend college closer to home. In one survey, just 20 percent of students said they are confident they will be able to attend their first-choice school. Roughly 12 percent said they are considering taking a gap year or enrolling part-time.

As students reconsider their college choices and see their dreams dashed by the inability to pay or enroll, they should reframe a gap year or part-time enrollment not as a year off, but as a year on purpose. Rather than see it as a step backward, it’s an opportunity to take a “discovery year” to learn about themselves—what are their passions, what do they dislike, and how can they best contribute to the world?

I wrote in Forbes about what this year might look like and how important it could be in a piece titled “For This Year’s Graduates, A Year Of Purpose.” The piece offers recommendations for students (and implicitly for parents), but also for innovators seeking to create these types of experiences. I also recommend a piece that Brandon Busteed of Kaplan published in Forbes titled “It’s Time To Reinvent The Gap Year.”

Here are some other pieces, podcasts, and videos that may interest you.

Higher Education

Future U

What happens to enrollment and revenue for colleges and universities in the next few months amidst a recession and COVID-19 shuttering physical campuses remains uncertain. Deloitte’s Pete Fritz joined Jeff and Michael to talk through how universities should plan and what’s likely to happen.

K12 Schools

As always, thanks for reading, writing, listening and contributing. Stay safe and stay strong.

Michael Horn
Senior Contributor for Forbes on on future of #education

Safely back to school checklist after coronavirus closures

Safely back to school checklist after coronavirus closures

Coronavirus lockdown measures have partially or fully closed schools for more than 90% of the world’s student population across 186 countries and territories, according to UNESCO

Thus far, Vietnam has done a phenomenal job to contain the virus.  And after 21 straight days of no domestically transmitted coronavirus infections, many schools across 63 provinces are starting to re-open to welcome millions of school children back to school after the longest Tet holiday in history.  However, reopening schools still somehow carries the public health risk of a viral resurgence, which makes parents and teachers understandably wary.  How can our education systems respond?  What should parents know about, and do, in this situation in order not to let our guard down, but also ensure our children have access to a healthy, safe, and enjoyable learning environment?

As many schools are strictly following instructions from the Ministry of Education and Training and Ministry of Health on practicing good hygiene: sterilize campuses, provide soap and antiseptic hand wash for students, leave windows open and minimize the use of air conditioners…. we want to remind parents of some key actions for COVID-19 prevention and control when sending your child back to school.

1.Know the latest facts 

Understand basic information about coronavirus disease (COVID-19), including its symptoms, complications, how it is transmitted and how to prevent transmission.  Stay informed about COVID-19 through reputable sources such as UNICEF and WHO and national health ministry advisories.  Be aware of fake information/myths that may circulate by word-of-mouth or online.  You can regularly check virus updates from the Vietnamese government site’s at https://ncov.moh.gov.vn or install this Vietnamese Health (Sức khỏe Việt Nam) application to access the immediate hotline, and review all the nearest medical centers if an emergency happens.

2. Be aware of the symptoms of COVID-19 (coughing, fever, shortness of breath) in your child. 

Seek medical advice by first calling your personal doctor/ nearest health facility and then take your child in, if advised.  Remember that symptoms of COVID-19 such as cough or fever can be similar to those of the flu, or the common cold, which are a lot more common.  If your child is sick, keep them home from school and notify the school of your child’s absence and symptoms.  Request reading and assignments so that students can continue learning while at home.  Explain to your child what is happening in simple words and reassure them that they are safe.

3. Keep children in school when healthy 

If your child isn’t displaying any symptoms such as a fever or cough, it’s best to keep them in school – unless a public health advisory or other relevant warning or official advice has been issued affecting your child’s school.  Instead of keeping children out of school, teach them good hand and respiratory hygiene practices for school and elsewhere, like frequent hand washing, wearing masks, covering a cough or sneeze with a flexed elbow or tissue, then throwing away the tissue into a closed bin, and not touching their eyes, mouth or nose if they haven’t properly washed their hands. 

4. Teach your kid good hygiene habits

Teaching children how to follow proper health and hygiene is extremely crucial and helps in keeping germs and diseases at bay.  Apparently, teachers and parents can not keep an eye on them 24/7, so the most useful approach for kids of any age is reminding them of things that are in their power to protect themselves from getting and spreading illnesses of all kinds.  This outbreak offers a great opportunity to teach your kids basic prevention practices:

  • Wash hands with soap and safe water frequently, especially before and after eating; after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.  Always wash hands with soap and water, if their hands are visibly dirty.  For preschoolers, you can teach them to sing a song while washing hands to practice the recommended 20-second duration.  (Thanks to coronavirus, the time has come for many new songs to help us properly wash our hands, ask your kids to sing the “ABC song” twice while washing their hands, or do the duo dance of “Ghen Co Vy” – the viral video that helped our country go viral worldwide.)
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Cough and sneeze into a tissue or elbow and avoid touching your face, eyes, mouth, and nose
  • Ensure that safe drinking water is available and toilets or latrines are clean and available at home 
  • Ensure waste is safely collected, stored and disposed of 
  • If your child brings food to school for lunch or snack, teach her not to leave any food uncovered and also keep the lids clean to avoid contracting bacteria.

5. Help children cope with the stress

COVID-19 brings with it feelings like anxiety, stress, and uncertainty — and they are felt especially strongly by children of all ages.  Children may respond to stress in different ways. Common responses include having difficulties sleeping, bedwetting, having pain in the stomach or head,  being anxious, withdrawn, angry, clingy or afraid to be left alone.  Respond to children’s reactions in a supportive way and explain to them that they are normal reactions to an abnormal situation. 

Listen to their concerns and take time to comfort them and give them affection, reassure them they’re safe and praise them frequently.  If possible, create opportunities for children to play and relax. (Steal some ideas from 6 fun indoor activities for kids during Coronavirus outbreak.)  Keep regular routines and schedules as much as possible, especially before they go to sleep, or help create new ones in a new environment.  Provide age-appropriate facts about what has happened, explain what is going on, and give them clear examples of what they can do to help protect themselves and others from infection.

>> Check out some pointers for keeping kids calm and holding a panic-free conversation about coronavirus: https://blog.e2.com.vn/how-to-talk-to-your-kids-about-the-coronavirus-outbreak/

Share information about what could happen in a reassuring way.  For example, if your child is feeling sick and staying at home or the hospital, you could say, “You have to stay at home/at the hospital because it is safer for you and your friends.  I know it is hard (maybe scary or even boring) at times, but we need to follow the rules to keep ourselves and others safe. Things will go back to normal soon.”

CHECKLIST FOR PARENTS/CAREGIVERS 

☐ 1. Monitor your child’s health and keep them home from school if they are ill.
☐ 2. Teach and model good hygiene practices for your children.
☐ 3. Encourage your children to ask questions and express their feelings with you and their teachers. Remember that your child may have different reactions to stress; be patient and understanding.
☐ 4. Prevent stigma by using facts and reminding students to be considerate of one another.
☐ 5. Coordinate with the school to receive information and ask how you can support school safety efforts (though parent-teacher committees, etc.)

Having information and facts about COVID-19 will help diminish students’ fears and anxieties around the disease and support their ability to cope with any secondary impacts in their lives.  We hope that this guidance provides key messages and actual actionable items for engaging parents, caregivers, teachers and staff, community members, as well as children themselves in promoting safe and healthy schools. 


Reference:
https://www.unicef.org/media/67211/file
https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/key-messages-and-actions-for-covid-19-prevention-and-control-in-schools-march-2020.pdf?sfvrsn=baf81d52_4
https://www.unicef.org/coronavirus/6-ways-parents-can-support-their-kids-through-coronavirus-covid-19

The impact of COVID-19: What to do as a parent, and what will happen in higher ed

The impact of COVID-19: What to do as a parent, and what will happen in higher ed

In these turbulent times, children’s schools are shutting down across the country. As I write this, roughly 40 million K–12 children are out of school in the United States, according to Education Week’s interactive map. That’s out of 51 million public school students and 5.8 million private school students. My current belief is that most schools will not reopen this school year.

Although I normally send out a monthly eblast about the future of education, to state the obvious, these aren’t normal times. Given the challenges we are all facing and the inquiries I’ve received from many of you asking what are we doing in the Kim-Horn household, what online resources are useful, and the like, here are some thoughts and resources that I hope prove helpful. I’ll send out more musings on the future of education at the end of the month as usual. 

Please treat these as ideas to guide, not direct definitively. Just as there is no one best way to educate a child, there is no one best course of action amidst this crisis. You’ll need to find the right way forward in your circumstance for your family. My wife, Tracy, and I have seen plenty of amazing ideas out there—that just aren’t right for our family given we have twin daughters who are five. I also readily acknowledge that we’re fortunate to have the lives we do and are able to make certain decisions that others might not be able to make. Bottom line? You do you and stick to it.

And I assure you that we’re making plenty of daily mistakes. We are all learning together—and we won’t stop. If you have other ideas and tips, reach out to me over Twitter @michaelbhorn. I’ll be sure to amplify productive conversations so we can all benefit.

The routine

We’re big believers in trying to have a consistent routine to give our children a rhythm to the day and a sense of security and stability that comes from having some certainty and control. We also try to alternate between activities that require our children to take an “in breath” and those that allow them to take an “out breath.” As we build a new routine, we’re figuring out ways to make sure that Tracy and I can do work while our daughters get what they need. 

It’s a work in progress, but our basic strategy is to take shifts with the children and make sure we have some overlapping times so we can be together as a family and as a couple. We’re trying not to be too hard on ourselves when we mess up—or when we have to do a bit more mindless screen time than we might otherwise do in a pinch.

Given that so many have inquired, here’s our children’s basic schedule (and yes, it’s a work in progress):

Activity Block
Wake-up routine (get dressed, journal, etc)
Eat breakfast + clean up
Walk our dog
Family individual reading time (20 min)
Digital learning time (Could be circle time with school, a program, Facetime, etc. 20-30 min)
Morning activity: 3 days a week we are outdoors; 3 days a week they do STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, math) projects and the like
Clean up, help make lunch, eat, clean up
Quiet hour (we are all by ourselves with choice around what we do) + 15 minutes for each child to practice piano or have a lesson
Free time (Besides play, opportunities for STEAM challenges or projects, food prep, gardening, bike riding, writing a daily letter and addressing it, etc.)
Dinner, clean up, nightly routine

A key pillar of our schedule is that our children are going to be a more integral part of our household work with the hope that that helps us have the time we need to work and invest in our own well being. As my late mentor Clay Christensen wrote in How Will You Measure Your Life, when he was growing up:

“We had gardens and fruit trees; we grew a lot of what we ate…. The idea that one might hire someone else to mow the lawn and shovel the snow at your home—it just never happened. There was so much work going on that children essentially worked for their parents. Step by step, over the past fifty years, it has become cheaper and easier to outsource this work to professionals. Now the only work being done in many of our homes is a periodic cleanup of the mess that we make. In the absence of work, we’ve created a generation of parents who selflessly devote themselves to providing their children with enriching experiences.”

Given the current circumstances, although we aren’t reverting fully to how Clay grew up, we are reversing some of today’s parenting culture out of necessity. We also know that we enjoy many blessings that enable us to do things that others can’t.

I personally found this article by my friend Mike Goldstein, an educator who founded the Match charter schools in Boston and has worked in a wide range of educational contexts, incredibly helpful: “Coronavirus closing your kid’s school? One parent’s plan for Daddy School.” It contains his routine plus resources. This article in EdSurge, “How to Keep School Rhythm and Routines for Young Children at Home,” is also one we will be returning to a lot, as it has great ideas for activities. Finally, here are some tips from Prepared Parents, along with a way to follow their advice on Instagram and Facebook.

Leveraging a self-directed learning plan and children’s natural curiosity makes a lot of sense to me.

Online resources 

Now I know I’m not a parenting expert. Trust my wife on that one. Most of the questions coming to me have been about online-learning resources. So, here are a few of what I’ve found to be useful. Everything here is currently free.

– NewSchools Venture Fund: They compiled a Google spreadsheet here filled with stellar resources. Want math curriculum? They’ve got you covered, with links on providers ranging from ST Math to Zearn. Reading and writing on your mind? They have resources like Newsela and Quill. They have history, science, and more. Check it out. What’s great is it’s not overwhelming, and everything on it has a strong reputation.

– Khan Academy: They’ve set up a great help desk for how Khan Academy can be used during school closures here, and you can view their suggested daily routines by grade level here

– Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy: The Foundation has created a wonderful education toolkit for at-home learning filled with free resources that can continue to help children build literacy skills while at home. From read-aloud books to reading games, there’s a lot you have at your disposal.

The impact on colleges and universities—and education more generally

With campuses shutting down, what’s the impact of the COVID-19 disease likely to be on colleges across the country? Jeff Selingo and I turned to someone on our Future U podcast who has deep expertise with this question—Scott Cowen, who led Tulane University in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. His big advice centered around maintaining 3 things:

  1. Communication
  2. Transparency
  3. Community 

Hear it and let us know your thoughts.

We then followed up in our next Future U episode with an interview of two people on the front lines of helping colleges transition to “remote learning.” We talked to the provost of West Chester University, a regional public university in Pennsylvania, and a faculty member at Ithaca College, a private college in New York, about what it’s really like to turn a residential campus into a virtual one overnight.

This piece at WGBH, “‘Organized Chaos’: Many Mass. Colleges Unprepared For Transition To Online Teaching,” offers some great color on what this transition to remote learning looks like as well, with a sense of the challenges and opportunities everyone from schools of music to community colleges are facing.

So with colleges all moving to “remote” and online learning, will this crisis turn out to be a “black swan” moment for higher education to the benefit of online learning, as Goldie Blumenstyk argues at the Chronicle for Higher Education?

I think it depends upon the duration of this moment, but my initial reaction was to be skeptical. With professors hastily moving courses online, I just don’t think the experiences will be all that compelling—particularly if the interruption is temporary. You can read more at Education Next in “Covid-19 Boost to Online Learning May Backfire.”

Or check out a podcast I did for Education Next on the topic here where we dive into not just the implications for online learning in higher education, but also K–12 schools and how districts might think of equity concerns and the like.

You can also read a fuller set of perspectives that Inside Higher Ed published on the topic, “Will Shift to Remote Teaching Be Boon or Bane for Online Learning?” In my contribution, I also offered four tips to faculty members moving their courses online. One of the tips is to remember that online learning isn’t about putting the faculty member front and center like massive open online courses (MOOCs) did.

Amidst some of my concerns, however, there are big bright spots. Everest Education, an after-school company in Vietnam, has been doing a lot of R&D on online learning for some time. With the shutdown of the nation’s schools and after-school programs, they have rolled their active online platform and pedagogy out to the country—which could be a big benefit to families and the nation. Have a read—“Amidst COVID-19’s Spread, Hope For Education Innovation Glimmers In Vietnam”—on Forbes.

I hope that, during these troubled times, that story brightens your day and gives you some hope. Even as we practice “physical distancing,” let’s remember to keep our social solidarity strong.

My best wishes,

Michael 

 

Meet the girl who received a full-ride scholarship from Harvard: “Just listen to yourself”

Meet the girl who received a full-ride scholarship from Harvard: “Just listen to yourself”

“Even the acceptance rate is just 5 or 10%, it’s still much higher than 0%. I think everyone should aim for the moon, because if you miss, you will land among the stars.”, said Le My Hien.

Earning full-ride scholarships from many top-ranked universities in the world: Harvard, Duke, Amherst…; Le My Hien, a 12th grade student from Tran Hung Dao gifted high school,  became the pride of the whole Binh Thuan province. Hien is also the very first student of Binh Thuan to receive a full scholarship from the prestigious Harvard University.

(*) Full-Ride scholarship is an award that covers the entire cost of college, including tuition, room and board, textbooks, school materials, and sometimes even living costs and study abroad fees.  These are highly sought-after, highly competitive awards that are only given out to an incredibly small fraction of students—around 0.1%, in fact.

Hien is a self-motivated student who is very energetic, always seeks for knowledge and proactively reaches out to other seniors to ask for experience.  Mrs. Le Thi Hao, Hien’s mother, shared that, “When it comes to studying, I never have to complain or worry about Hien throughout many years. Hien always works hard, strives for knowledge and directs her own studying.  My family’s financial situation is not that good. I can’t get time for Hien as well, since my job involves strenuous work and long hours. It’s fortunate that Hien possesses a good self-study attitude, therefore in spite of many hardships I have to get through, I’m still happy to see my child try hard and now finally achieve great success.” 

Being aware of the financial status of the family, as well as understanding that the application process to U.S. colleges requires a lot of money and effort. In 2019, Hien applied to College Compass – the college admission program by Everest Education – as per her seniors’ suggestions, and got a full scholarship from the program. 

Mr Don Le, CEO and chief adviser of College Compass, had a private interview with Hien, where she shared her own experience of applying to top colleges in the U.S., as well as gave some good advice for those who want to take on that journey.

Don Le: First off, congratulations to you and your family, how do you feel right now?  Can you share your feelings when getting accepted to such great college like that?

Hiền: Yeah, at this moment, I still can’t believe that I can receive admission letters from many prestigious schools in the world like that.  When reading words in the acceptance letters from those schools, my greatest emotion at that time was the feeling of gratitude. I felt grateful for all the sacrifices of my family, my mother, my teachers and friends, and everyone who put their trust in me and stood by my side along the way.  I feel like I’m continuing on with their dreams. 

Don Le: Now that you got all the results and have more time to consider, you’re in a great position – being accepted to 4 prestigious universities in the world, how do you feel right now?

Hiền: I believe there must be some reasons for the admission officers to decide putting their trust in me.  There are a lot of young, passionate, and hard-working students out there just like me. I think that I was lucky in this journey and got tickets to top schools in the world.  I think I have a responsibility, an obligation to pay back what I have received so far. The letter of admission to Harvard, to me, comes with that obligation and responsibility.  Not only do I have to improve myself day by day, but I also have to serve the community and people around me. 

Don Le: Obviously, what you achieved is very significant, not just for yourself, but for your family as well.  You know, Harvard each year will just offer 1 or 2 full-ride scholarships to Vietnamese students. What does it mean to you personally? 

Hiền: To me, the story is never about getting accepted to big name universities, it’s more about how much I grow up throughout the application process, as well as how I was able to reflect and understand more about myself.  I have learned to keep my thoughts more open, take time seriously to think about my own values, what I need, what I want and what I have to continue my path in the next few years. In my opinion, university is just a milestone, what is even more important is what you will do with the knowledge and experience that you’ve gained.  It may sound a bit too much to say it was a “life-changing” milestone, but I think I have been growing tremendously thanks to the application process. Through the process of applying for universities in general and applying for College Compass in particular, I realized that I am more mature.

Don Le: When you look back on the whole journey, I’m sure there are a lot of people who have supported you.  There’s a saying in English: “It takes a village to raise a child”, who enables you to get this far? 

Hiền: Looking back on the long journey to come this far, I think it’s my mom and my aunt who have always been inspiring me, taking care of me since I was a baby.  Their sacrifices, both physically and emotionally, have shaped me into the person I am today, either through my thoughts or my actions. They are my great motivation that pushes me forward and keep trying to make my dreams come true.

Don Le: Let’s go back to your junior year, what was the thing that you most worried about?

Hiền: To me it was my financial background.  In fact, to be well-prepared for one application to a U.S. college, you need to be ready in everything, from standardized tests to essay classes, which are obviously, out of my family’s financial capacity.  However, I was so lucky to receive a full scholarship from College Compass. The teachers and consultants at College Compass are very caring and dedicated, and always support me whenever I need help. Besides, I also received a lot of good advice from seniors, brothers and sisters who went through this process before.  I believe this is the most valuable thing I can get out of this program, because all those lessons and experience from them are the information that no book or internet can provide me.

Don Le: So, can you share one of your most memorable moments that you have during one year with College Compass?

Hiền: I think the experience of studying with other people was my most memorable experience at College Compass.  I’ve always enjoyed listening to everyone’s stories, I think everyone is special in their own unique way. By listening to their own stories, I can learn a lot from them.  My friends at College Compass were very open to sharing their own stories, and I think it was an amazing experience that I hardly have in real life.

Don Le: What is the biggest lesson that you could learn from College Compass? Hiền: The biggest lesson that I could draw is, do not let the fear of failure make you stay in your comfort zone.  Actually in the beginning, I never thought that I could have the chance to get into top universities, but the teachers, brothers and sisters at College Compass helped build up my confidence.  They made me realize that, even the acceptance rate is just 5 or 10%, it’s still much higher than 0%. I think everyone should aim for the moon, because if you miss, you will land among the stars.

Don: When you look at the application process itself, which part do you think for you was the hardest?  Hiền: I think it’s thinking of ideas for supplement essays.  The objective of the main essay is to introduce a memorable story about yourself.  The supplement essays are meant to add other aspects of yourself, so its ideas need to be original, unique and interesting.  

But because of the large number of required supplement essays, I felt a bit overwhelmed during the application process. However, College Compass has weekly individual discussions, where I was able to work privately with my consultant via Zoom.  He helped me discuss and develop ideas for supplement essays. If I had to do it all alone, I don’t think I could be able to make it. 

Don: What is the most valuable advice that you receive from Mr Việt Anh – who spent most of the time to support you?

Hiền: It’s about choosing schools.  Because I feel like the main problem here has never been the school’s name and its reputation.  My opinion is to choose a school that has core values aligned with my own. Defining the value of those schools was a very challenging task for me. Mr Viet Anh has helped me with orientation, given the criteria that I need to consider when choosing a school, such as the student community, the class size as well as the location of the school. I really appreciate his help. 

Don: If you had to give one advice for the next generation of College Compass, what would you say?

Hiền: I would say just listen to yourself.  Because the world outside is very noisy, isn’t it?  It’s hard for us to listen to what our heart really wants, listen to our true-self.  Additionally, we are easily affected by plenty of different advice from people around us. I agree that you should listen to advice, but you should also keep your true colors, do not let it be too dim among dozens of people’s advice.  I hope you all see this as an opportunity to grow up, so whatever the outcome may be, be consistent with what you believe in yourself. And instead of thinking about factors that are out of your control, just focus on what you can do well.  Regarding managing the application deadlines for all schools, my only mantra is: “Don’t procrastinate.” I will try to split my day into certain scopes of work. I also keep a notebook with me whenever I go to note down ideas that come up in my head at any time, so I can save time thinking of ideas for supplement essays.

Don Le: Thanks Hien for your interesting and thoughtful sharing today!  I think the best thing you can do to express your gratitude is “pay it forward. College Compass has helped you, and we hope that you can keep helping other people.  Keep learning, improving yourself, and give the opportunity you have received to others, that would be the best “thank you” that we are honored to receive from you.

College Compass is a college admission consulting program by Everest Education – guides G11 students step-by-step through the rigorous application process with a high quality, cost-effective package. Our alumni have been successful in their application to the most competitive schools in the world (Harvard, Stanford, Duke, Cornell, Williams, Amherst, New York University, Northeastern University, Bates, Minerva,…), and we’ll guide you to succeed too. With the lead of our experienced counselors and excellent graduates themselves, you can control your application process effectively, and turn your dream schools into reality.

 

College Compass is now offering 10 scholarship for the next cohort of students 2020, learn more at: https://e2.com.vn/programs/college-compass/

5 Ways Keep Your Kids Learning When They’re Stuck at Home

5 Ways Keep Your Kids Learning When They’re Stuck at Home

Since the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, a pandemic, we know that many parents have been wondering how we’ll manage to keep our kids occupied at home for a week or more — without access to amusement parks, play spaces, local libraries and play dates.  If you’re lucky, you can stay home with them — while working from home and juggling conference calls at the same time.  But if you can’t, hopefully you can find help or set up a system to keep in touch with your kids throughout the day while they’re home alone.

In this article, we provide parents with a bunch of ideas for how to keep our kids busy, entertained, and learning while they’re home.  All the way at the bottom, there are plenty of resources so you can pick and choose what works for you and your family. We hope this helps ease the burden of this confusing time. 

Quick tips to keep your kids learning

Manage your expectations. Your kids will not be learning at the same pace or breadth as a usual school day. Figure two to three hours a day to start. Don’t stress too much about this.

Make time for breaks and fun. All of us are anxious as we manage this new reality, so take any opportunity to relax and laugh together. It will make the hard stuff easier.

Set a schedule. Get everyone on the same page so you don’t have to nag. Routines can be comforting for everyone.

Review schools’ plans. In most cases, schools will have a very specific education plan during closures. Use their instructions as a guide for setting up your schedule.

5 ways to keep your child academically engaged when stuck at home

#1. Establish a daily routine

A day or two at home might seem like a breeze, but longer stretches may start to get a little challenging.   If your kids are away from school or aren’t participating in their normal activities, creating a daily routine will help them feel as normal as possible.  Set a daily wake-up time and then block out the day for different sorts of activities like reading, doing house chores, school work, creative play or crafts…  Parents should come up with a daily schedule that you hang on the wall for the kids to see. There should be some sort of schedule just like there is at school to keep kids on track with routine and to keep them from falling into too much screen time.  If you have a co-parent or another adult living in your home, try setting up a shift schedule so you both get some uninterrupted work time and downtime during the day. While some families prefer to switch on and off by the hour, others prefer designating one parent in charge of mornings and the other in charge of afternoons.

#2. Find math problems in everyday life

If your children are unlikely to spend the day at a desk on their homework, a useful way of engaging them in their learning is by doing real-time interactive activities.  Elena Karas, a mother and writer in Monrovia, California, recommends sending kids around the house and having them measure everything in a given size.  Each day of the week have them measure everything in the house that is of a particular size — like everything that is one inch long. The next day add an inch and have them find everything that’s two inches long. Increase the size incrementally for each day they are home.

Lori Rosales, a mother of three and educator for Los Angeles Unified School District through UCLA’s math project has tips for finding math everywhere in the house.  She charges her three children to count everything in her home.  She has the little ones count things one-by-one, but has older, elementary-aged children put items in groups to count.  She also has them come up with word problems based on sharing. For example, “If you and your two brothers have 36 mini-figures and you share them equally how many will each get?”  Rosales also recommends baking with your child and talking with them about fractions.  There are a ton of fun, and easy ways to teach your kids math at home.  We have put together a long list of super fun math activities for your kids to help them develop a strong foundation in understanding math, and enhance their interest in learning.
>> Read more at:
Playful Math activities for your primary kids.

#3. Set up reading time

Regular reading is a stepping stone to better writing and helps kids’ strengthen their writing skills. It helps expand children’s vocabulary and show them different ways of using words. Therefore, make sure you’re reading together every day and encouraging their love of reading as they grow.  If your kid has a book they’re reading in English class, make some progress on that. If not, choose one for fun. Introduce children to different genres (types of literature), authors, and writing styles. 

Choose books with wonderful language, vocabulary, stories, and information… Parents can refer to our old blog post to learn how to choose a just right book for your child’s reading level.

Since we can’t leave the house given this situation, parents can consider getting e-books so that your kids can access them on their Kindle, tablet, or computer. These days, kids love playing on computers and smart phones, so you may as well put that play to good use and give them some apps that are going to help to improve their reading skills.  Below are some great reading apps you can download to help your kids become better readers.

#4. Get artsy

Parents often lament that there isn’t enough art in schools.  Take this time to focus on art and see where your child’s creativity takes them.  YouTube has an endless amount of instructional content, including music lessons, DIY creators, painting, and more.  You can use YouTube tutorials to teach your child how to draw complex characters and animals. All you need to do is just go to YouTube and type something like ‘how to draw a king cobra,’ then your kid will enjoy drawing by herself.  This usually kills 30 minutes to an hour. Some parents also plan to use musical learning apps to help their child hone piano-playing skills. 

If you’d like to keep the kids offline, bring out the pens and paper!  There are terrific process-art handbooks for parents and kids available as well as thematic activity books that can really challenge the imagination and build narrative story-telling skills, or you can find books that help them through the step-by-step process of drawing their favorite characters.  It doesn’t take a lot of special materials for kids to have everything they need to get building.

To get them started, fill a basket or box with:

  • craft glue
  • empty tissue boxes or shoe boxes
  • toilet paper rolls or paper towel rolls
  • scrap wood
  • popsicle sticks
  • pipe cleaners
  • other household finds

Task your kids with building a city, a town, or something from their own imagination!

#5.  Use the internet to your advantage

While your children’s schools may have online options for learning, here are some great learning resources suggested by our teachers. Tony Ngo, our Chairman and Co-founder, said that his son was so into Prodigy Math.  “It’s like an online fantasy world where you win quests by doing math problems,” he said.  Parents see the results and can assess their children in specific areas without them even realizing they are being tested.  “Kids can play with their friends, and it’s safe because an adult makes the “world” and only invites specific people. My kids love it.” 

At Everest Education, we love using NewsELA in our English Language Arts to help students practice on reading and writing skills. NewsELA provides a wide range of articles on current events and various topics that can be searched by grade level. We also love Flocabulary, which teaches key ideas on various topics such as math, English, social studies, and puts them to song for better memorization and understanding. Kids really get engaged with these songs, and activities are included with the lessons.

To give you some options, we have compiled two lists of some useful Math and English learning websites, based on recommendations of our teachers to help students self-study and practice Math and English, prepare for examinations such as SAT, ICGSE, IB … or simply have a fun time learning at home.

Being faced with a pandemic is no joke, but if home-school parents can do it every day, most of us can hopefully pull this off—and keep our kids academically on track—for a few weeks.  

Reference:
https://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/how-to-keep-kids-learning-when-theyre-stuck-at-home
https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/reviewedcom/2020/03/16/9-ways-keep-your-child-academically-engaged-while-stuck-home/5012910002/