Sweet and Sour Summers

sweet and sour summer studygate

Sweet and sour summers can make a huge long-term impact on how your son or daughter live once they enter college and adult life.

But we aren’t talking about strawberry lemonade tea here. What does this term mean exactly?

The mission of the sweet and sour summer is to expose teenagers to the realities of life. For some people, life is caviar and Kobe steak filled with summer tans and chiseled physique. For others, life consists of surviving under a bridge and constantly struggling to get a good night of sleep.

Both possibilities are very real in this giant world. The sweet and sour summer is 3 months of work designed to prove just that.

Sweet summer

A sweet summer starts with an internship shadowing a very cool job. Your job is to make a connection with your child to the coolest job your personal network of friends and family can offer. Here are some ideas (but the sky is the limit):

  • Lobbyist
  • Surgeon
  • Professional athlete
  • Video game designer
  • Stockbroker
sweet and sour summer studygate
Life as a surgeon isn’t as easy as a fist bump, but it’s still pretty cool

Your teenager can shadow your friend for 4-6 weeks and have a very nice time. More importantly, they will get to observe professional standards of communication and see how the world works.

Sour summer

A sour summer consists of finding the toughest and most grimy job you possibly can within your network of contacts, then sending your teenager to work on it. Here are some job ideas, but they are not comprehensive:

  • Roofer
  • Trashman
  • Farm worker
  • Dishwasher
  • Construction worker
sweet and sour summer studygate
Construction consists of lifting heavy things, long hours, and unbearable heat

Besides making the connection, your role in the sour summer is to make sure that your teenager works harder and longer than anyone else on that team. This takes some trust in your connection, but the result will leave your child open to hard work when they get home at the very least!

Why bother?

As the developing and developed world come closer together, it’s important for young people to understand that life can be whatever they want it to. The Western world is still a place of possibility where hard work smartly applied can make for huge results. The possibilities are endless, but many of them depend on the choices we make.

By experiencing the sweet and sour summer, you can help your child see the wide range of possibilities that exist in this big and beautiful world.

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Start a Positive Conversation About School and Help Your Child Succeed!

Help Your Child Succeed

If you’re like me, you tried to hide something from your academic career from your parents every now and then. Even as a good student, messing up on a test or a bad progress report could spark a very uncomfortable conversation that could lead to World War III.

Of course, students should always be transparent with their parents (pun definitely intended), but there are also a few things you can do to reduce the pressure and help your child succeed in a healthy way.


Share Your Own Experiences

It’s easy to tell a student that they should be getting a certain grade, or that they should take a certain class because it would look great for college, but did you? Tell your child what your life was like when you went to school. Be honest and share the things you were good at, as well as the things you struggled with. You will appear less…um…strict…and more relatable. And it’s good to at least be relatable if you want your child to share your problems with you, right?


No Competition

There’s a lot of pressure on students to outperform their peers and BE THE GREATEST OF ALL TIME. Everything about school is competitive, and that’s a good thing. Competition breeds excellence. What isn’t good is the tendency to place unnecessary stress on your child in an attempt to be successful. Express to them that the only person they are in competition with is themselves.

Now, before you grab your torches and pitchforks and come get me for coddling your children, think about this: Isn’t it better for a student to do well and then outperform themselves, rather than worry about what everyone else is doing? Just sayin’.


Be Their Ally

You hate finding your child’s less-than-stellar report card stuffed in a drawer as much as they hate hiding it there. We’re all human, and we all fall short sometimes. Acknowledge it! Let your child know that finding solutions and success is more productive than placing blame and starting fights. If you’re child is struggling, ask them why! They could be having an issue learning the material (in that case, we know a great website you can check out *wink wink*), or they could be having a serious personal issue that is affecting their ability to focus. Whatever it is, show them that you can work it out together!


Cut Out The Superlatives

To the average student, all parents talk about is getting good grades so their child can go to a good school so that they can graduate and find a good job that will pay they good money.

Sound familiar?

Of course that’s something to aspire to, but here’s the thing: Your definition of “good” might be “not-good-enough” to somebody else! Some people would be ecstatic to find out their child was accepted to UCLA, and maybe some wouldn’t be caught within 100 yards of the place! Some people just want to graduate, learn a trade, and start working right away, while others want to climb to the peak of Mount Academia. You don’t know your child’s goals until you talk about them, but in the meantime, take it easy on the “good” talk, okay? Success is subjective. Encourage them to maximize their potential, instead. They’ll be much more motivated.


Talk About Your Dreams

When you were their age, what did you want to be when you grew up? Did it happen? Did you change your mind? Did you settle? These are all great things to talk about with your child. Somebody wise once said, “Don’t tell people your dreams because they will try to talk you out of them”. This is true–ask anyone who ever wanted to do anything ambitious! The key here is to talk about them without judgment. It’s easy to tell a child that their dream job doesn’t make all that much money, but an honest conversation about your aspirations could do a lot of good. Not only will you bond over them, but it’s also great to share goals regularly to keep morale high!



Parents, we know there isn’t an instruction manual for raising children. And you’re doing a great job as it is. Raising an achievement-oriented child is a great thing! Just make sure you show a little empathy, too. You and your child should work as a team as they go through school. The closer you are, the stronger your teamwork will be, and the more likely your child will be to succeed and make you proud!

For more solid parenting advice and homework help, make sure you stop by StudyGate.com!

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The Three Things To Think About When Choosing The Right Tutor

Choosing the right tutor is a matter of personal preference. In the same way that there are so many teachers out there with different strengths and teaching styles, so too are there a wide range of tutors. As with many other things in life, finding the right tutor comes down to understanding the best way you learn and the teaching styles you respond to. Once you’ve got that down, there are a few traits you’ve got to look out for. Before anything else, look for someone who:


Knows What They’re Talking About

Your first time bringing your homework to a tutor is a gamble. You just don’t know if they REALLY know their stuff until you improve. And let’s just be honest: some tutors charge way too much for their services when their qualifications just don’t stack up. That’s the great thing about StudyGate; we’ve got a tier system that separates tutors into Standard, Premium, and Ivy League tiers so you know exactly what you’re paying for. Ask as many questions as you like and get a good feel for their skills. You deserve the best customer service. Tutoring is no exception.



Helps You Learn Instead Of Feeding You The Answers

This should be the standard by which you judge all tutors. The right tutor knows that they’re being paid to teach you, not solve your problems for you. If you don’t understand something, they are there to help you approach the material in a different way. They should not act like your really smart friend in your statistics class who loves to show off and solve problems without explaining himself. He’s nice and everything, but he’s not helping you. Effective teaching will stick with you long after the session is over. Choose that kind of tutor.


Is Reliable

It’s not a good sign if your tutor makes excuses and has to cancel and reschedule again and again. Place your trust in someone who will show up when they tell you and give you the time they promised. As we said, you’re a customer at the end of the day. You have the right to great service—the kind you’ll find at StudyGate—and you should never compromise.


Take these things into consideration and you’ll be on the right path to choosing the right tutor. Speaking of choosing, StudyGate has hundreds of amazing tutors to choose from! If you’ve got a question, or need some one-on-one help, stop by StudyGate.com and take your pick!


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Effective Parenting Tips: What NOT to do When Your Child Gets a Bad Grade

Parents carrying their two young kids piggyback in a park

When your child walks into school on his or her first day of kindergarten, it’s inevitable that he or she will make plenty of mistakes on the long educational road ahead. No matter how many parenting tips you’ve received from everyone and your mother, or what discipline methods you practice, your child is bound to bring home a bad report card or a flunked pop quiz, and that’s totally okay. Children aren’t perfect and neither are you, but it is always your job to be your child’s number one supporter; chances are, your child will crave your help and advice the most when he or she is struggling in school. When your child brings home a grade he or she isn’t too proud of, avoid these behaviors that can escalate an already less-than-ideal situation.

Parenting Tips #1: DON’T raise your voice or display aggressive body language.

effective parenting tipsYour first reaction sets the tone for the entire exchange with your child, and he or she will be unlikely to approach you for help in the future if he or she expects you to react negatively. Remember that a bad grade isn’t the end of the world, remain calm, and ask your child what they think went wrong.

Parenting Tips #2: DON’T interrupt your child or place blame right off the bat.

Respect your child by listening attentively, and give him or her a chance explain the situation at hand. If the story seems odd, or something doesn’t add up, don’t automatically shift into interrogation mode; instead, remind your child that you want to help them be as successful as possible, and you can’t do that if you aren’t aware of the entire situation.

Parenting Tips #3: DON’T nitpick or obsess over trivial details.

pareting tips_what not to doReassure your child that any mistakes are in the past now, and the best possible option is to learn from them and move forward. Form a proactive solution with your child that targets the issue as a whole; if your child didn’t understand the material, suggest getting a tutor or making efforts to improve study habits. If there seems to be a grading discrepancy, encourage your child to meet with his or her teacher one-on-one to discuss it.

Above all, remember that your ultimate goal as a parent is to help your child be successful in the best way that you can. If you’re lucky enough that your child seeks out and respects your opinion, don’t waste the opportunity for a valuable learning experience – one they won’t find in the classroom.

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Helicopter Parenting: Being Overprotective can Help and Hurt Your Child

Helicopter Parenting_parenting tips

We’ve all seen that overprotective parent at least once in our lives: the one who volunteers to supervise every field trip, or whose children have never lifted a finger to do a chore. If you’ve never encountered said parent, you probably are one. While you may get some snide looks from those who take a more relaxed approach to parenting, you know you’re trying to look out for your child’s best interests. Nonetheless, it pays to take a leaf out of the free-ranger’s book more often than not. A child who’s too sheltered will turn into an adult who’s too anxious to step out of his or her comfort zone and achieve real success. Keep reading to find out the benefits and setbacks of helicopter parenting.

Helicopter Parenting Pro: Your child feels secure.helicopter parenting_family support

Children of older generations have often reported that their relationships with their parents felt conditional, or relied solely on achievements parents found worthy. By being involved in every aspect of your child’s life, he or she receives constant reassurance that you will always be ready and willing to love and support them.

Helicopter Parenting Con: Your child will not be able to survive independently.

If you’ve intervened in every aspect of your child’s life, he or she will not know what to do when the time comes to act of their own accord. After all, how can you expect your child to solve a disagreement with a peer or change a tire if you’ve always done it for him or her? Give your child space to learn and make mistakes; he or she will come to you if help is needed. You can find out more parenting tips here.

Helicopter Parenting Pro: Your child will provide you with the same care and attention as you grow older.helicopter parenting_parenting skills

An old saying claims that parenting is a thankless job, but a child who receives unconditional love and support will undoubtedly feel grateful and be more likely to treat you the same way. Seniors are prone to isolation as they become less active, but a well-loved child will ensure that’s never the case.

Helicopter Parenting Con: Your child will never become a critical thinker or take necessary risks.helicopter parenting_how to be a good parent

If you teach your child that your way is always the right way, he or she will never be able to think for him or herself and decide what’s truly best. You may think you have everything figured out, but your child will never form unique opinions or answer important questions about the world at large if he or she doesn’t stray from the path you’ve laid out.

No parent is perfect, and every single one worries about their children, but take a breath and think before you swoop in to save your child from learning to act independently. It’s normal for a child to take a few tries to correctly iron a shirt or pump gas. If it won’t hurt him or her to make a mistake, it won’t hurt you to stand by and let him or her gain valuable learning experiences.

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How Standardized Testing is Preventing Your Child From Really Learning

standardized testing cons

Ever since former president George W. Bush implemented No Child Left Behind in 2001, standardized testing has flooded the public school system and a debate has begun. The intentions behind the legislation were honorable: to hold teachers and students accountable for their efforts, distribute federal funding fairly, and measure academic progress routinely so that every child would be able to meet the minimum standard of proficiency. However, the legislation had quite the opposite effect on our public schools, and children have unknowingly suffered as a result. Read on to learn how standardized testing is detrimental to your child learning valuable skills and information.

Standardized tests cannot measure any child’s true intelligence, but their future depends on their scores.

standardized testing

It’s long been known that many students suffer from testing taking anxiety, or showcase their knowledge best by creating projects or making speeches. Others are wise to test-taking tricks, and are able to correctly answer questions based on the test’s construction, not their knowledge base. Every child is unique, but the standardizing testing process is “one size fits all”. Students are placed into English and math classes based on their standardized test scores, rather than their abilities or skills, and are often improperly categorized. Others are not permitted to graduate because of low scores on state tests, even though they’ve completed their coursework satisfactorily.

Teachers are forced to spend more time teaching to the test, rather than teaching critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

standardized testing effects

Teachers already have limited time in a class period to deliver thought-provoking and stimulating material, and once they have to devote entire class periods to go over test questions and strategies, the true purpose of the class is essentially lost. Teachers lose control over what they feel is necessary for students to know because their salaries and reputation are based on how their students perform on tests. They are forced to shift their priority from instilling true student understanding and inspiring creativity to drilling students to think the way one test wants them to.

School districts with high student achievement can still be denied federal funding if test scores are low.

Impoverished school districts that have large student populations and an inadequate amount of resources are the ones who suffer most from the education system’s emphasis on standardized testing. Testing corporations regularly release new tests and corresponding materials to teach students how to successfully take the test at hand, but poor districts simply cannot afford new materials every year. Even if their students are proficient in important skills, and achieve high grades, they will still achieve low test scores because they do not have access to the correct materials. These districts are then denied access to necessary funding because of their low scores, and the cycle continues.

To learn more about the perils of standardized testing, and what you can to do help your child, visit FairTest.org and TED.com.

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