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  • Writer's pictureLearning Associates

Many parents and professionals know about Assistive Technology tools, such as audio books or text to speech that help students who have difficulty with reading or written language. But did you know that Assistive Technology tools can also help students who struggle in math?

Our comprehensive learning evaluations detect various learning challenges, including dyscalculia which causes difficulty understanding number concepts or using mathematical symbols and functions. Our recommendations are tailored to each student’s specific needs. While calculators and manipulatives can help, there are also equation solving tools that are helpful for algebra, digital graphic organizers for problem solving, and graphing tools. Other students have handwriting problems that cause them to misalign columns or resist writing out their work, all leading to errors and unhappy teachers. For these clients, we suggest graph paper and Assistive Technology tools, such as math notation tools for equations, digital drawing tools for geometry or trigonometry, text to speech, and dictation to help them work around those handwriting issues that affect their performance in math. We have many grateful clients who have overcome their math difficulties by implementing our strategies.

For more information, look at the excellent article on Assistive Technology for Math at If your child or student struggles in math, please contact us to schedule a learning evaluation. We will pinpoint the root cause and provide customized solutions.

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  • Writer's pictureLearning Associates

That is a question I am often asked and yet I hesitate to answer. Maybe I should just get used to answering “Yes!” first, but I often feel the need to explain.

What stops me from just saying yes? Well every person who might ask me knows plenty of folks who can simply check spelling and grammar. In fact, that may be all they do. Editing itself is not the highest skill I bring to the table. Not commas, not capitalization, not matching tenses or pronouns correctly. What is uniquely available from a professional college admissions consultant is context, the ability to look at the essay as an essential component of a larger process.

By the time a student is writing essays, I have learned much about the young person who is about to commit themselves to paper. I know what is on the student’s transcript and in the student’s brag sheet. We have talked about the teacher recommendations the student will seek and why those teachers were chosen. There may have been an Interest Inventory completed and the student hopefully has academic or vocational aspirations. I know what activities have most engaged the student during high school. I know the students’ standardized test scores. Additional testing, beyond SAT or ACT might have been shared with me. I know a thing or two about the colleges on the student’s list – I’ve checked my available resources, and it’s very likely I’ve visited the colleges in person.

When the student starts writing, I am not focused on the editing part at first. I am focused on the concept. I ask myself, “how will this essay advance the candidacy of the student?” I test the work for its authenticity – does it likely dovetail with what will be in other parts of the application. Will the student who is revealed in the essay sound like the same young person described by the high school counselor, teachers, and others. Does the essay add to the integrity of the application?

When this is right, I start on the routine editing that every high school student needs in order to, “reveal the character of the applicant in the writer’s own authentic voice.” The goal is to have the student jump off the page for the admissions reader.

Do I edit college essays? You decide.

  • Writer's pictureLearning Associates

As a society, we know how important exercise is to our physical health. We are well aware of the physiological benefits including strength and overall fitness. For students who have trouble with focus and attention, the value of physical activity is widely known to special educators. Specific programs such as Brain Gym and How Does My Engine Run? incorporate the premise that movement improves learning.

Now researchers are focusing on how physical activity helps all children learn better. The idea of sitting still all day is not only counter-intuitive; it’s counterproductive. As standing desks have become an office norm, shouldn’t we rethink this idea in the classroom? Short activity breaks implemented throughout the school day are showing real promise in terms of academic performance. Physical activity can help reset the brain in preparation to learn and, therefore, should no longer be limited to gym class and playground time. Donna De La Cruz examines this issue in an interesting New York Times article:

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