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About admin

Donna Duffy is co-owner of Academic Connections Tutoring. She works as the company's education director and consultant, helps design homeschool programs and curriculum, writes unit studies and articles, and enjoys tutoring students one-on-one and online. While living overseas, Donna homeschooled her own children for four years and then started a school in Nazareth, Israel for Arab American students. The Bridging the Gap program is now in its tenth year. Donna and her family returned to the US in 2002.

5 Tips to Help Your Kids Have a Heart

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1. Seeing the Needs of Others. Who does your child “see” every day that you know has a need?  Is it a neighbor, a friend, a classmate?  Is it someone in your community or state or maybe out in the big, wide world? Talk with your child and think of creative ways that you might be able to help that person in some small way.

 

2. Walk a Mile in His Shoes.  Help your child think through situations and scenarios that will help them gain an appreciation for what someone else is experiencing.  Help them understand that people are hurting all around them and ask what they’d feel like if that were happening to them.  Who would you turn to?  What would you think is most important?  How would you feel if you lost everything?  What would you do if you didn’t have food, or a house, or a job, or family?  help them to identify feelings like loneliness and loss, sadness and hurt.

 

3. Knowing How to Respond.  Now they have begun to identify some of these situations and the feelings and fallout that may accompany them, help them to come up with solutions on how to help people who may be struggling with these needs.  If someone doesn’t have a coat, you could give them the extra one.  If someone at school doesn’t have many friends, you could say “Hi” and start a conversation with them, if someone lost their home and has to start again you could go through your toys, clothes and other stuff and put together an box to give to them. As kids outgrow things, you can suggest that they give things away.  At holidays and different times of the year, you can decide on a charity to support or cause to sponsor.  Showing kids how to respond at an early age will set in motion a foundation and frame of reference when they are grown and on their own.

 

4. Cultivate Wisdom. Help them not only count their blessings each day but also see how they can bless others by giving and showing kindness.  By doing this you start to help you rkids see the world with new eyes.  As you drive around or watch TV, be on the lookout for ways you can give back, help out and pay if forward.  Let them see how you are learning more about this too and that you are trying to decide what’s the best way to help, who you should help, etc.  Help them understand too, that sometimes people can take advantage of the kindness of others.  They can watch you as you discern where you should put your time and energy.

 

5. Do Unto Others. Helping kids do to others what they’d want don to them is one of the best lessons we can ever teach them.  As we come across situations where we are trying to help our kids have a heart we can ask them what they would want to happen for them if they were in the same boat.  And then set out to help them do it.  Help kids to realize that doing for others is a reward in itself.

 

Helping Your Kids Have a Heart Worksheet

 

7 Stress-Free Tips for Traveling With Your Tots and Teens in Tow


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Whether it’s the holidays or summer vacation, we often dread the time and energy it will take to get there and get back home. After years of living overseas and traveling back and forth to the Middle East with our three kids in tow on eleven hour one-way flights, I acquired a few strategies to make the trips more enjoyable and less stressful.

 

1. Be Prepared and prepare your kids. Too often moms become couriers for everyone’s stuff. As soon as our kids could really manage a small backpack of their own, we put the space to good use. Snacks, games, books, crayons, and small toys filled my kids’ bags and I kept room in mine for the important items like changes of clothes, medications, and stuff for younger siblings.

 

I kept them posted about our journey every step of the way. They knew we would have to stand in line at passport control, make a menu choice when the flight attendant asked them, and look after their own stuff. They enjoyed flying and traveling and remember well our trips to Holland, Rome and visits to family in America on our way back to Nazareth, Israel; where they were born.

 

2. Be ready for anything. Travel with a duffel bag rolled up inside your suitcase in case you need another bag in a hurry. My daughter was trying to be “helpful” during one of our connections between cities. We were already running against the clock and had to be sure we had all of our bags and belongings. She saw our bag as it came around on the luggage carousel and decided to pull it to the floor. It caught on the carousel and tore open. Without skipping a beat, I grabbed the rolled up duffel bag that was inside, transferred the contents to the new bag and chucked the torn one in the trash on the way to our connecting flight-which we caught on time.

 

3. Take advantage of the teachable moments. As you travel, your kids can get a great education as they take in the sights, sounds, tastes and smells of the places you visit. Walking and taking the bus, eating in local restaurants, trying new things, hearing different languages, visiting historic and fun places are things kids remember for years to come.

 

4. Capture the memories. Ticket stubs, pictures, postcards and souvenirs are some of the trinkets that lend themselves to our family scrapbook over the years. But it’s the stories that kids love as we relive the memories and “see” those places from each others eyes. Even places they were too young to remember visiting are stamped in their passports and are part of their personal journey and history.

 

5. Pack light and make the most of what you have. This is a time to scale down a bit and leave the encumbrance of stuff behind. Help kids to make wise choices about what they take along. Mix and match clothes and pack things that are low maintenance and comfortable. Too often I have hauled far too many things that I had to drag with me in heavy suitcases through train stations and planes and then try to cram into someone’s car when they picked us up at the airport.

 

When I first left to live overseas over twenty-seven years ago, I had all my stuff in a rucksack and a duffel bag. I told my parents I’d be back in six months. When I finally did return to the US, two and a half years later, I never wanted to see those clothes again but I had what I needed for a couple of years; I can certainly make it through a couple of weeks.

 

6. Remember what time it is. If you travel across time zones, even from the East to West Coast, keep one watch on your local time and change the other to your time back home. When we traveled from the Middle East, I had to remember that my kids’ schedules were upside down and keeping track of what time their bodies still thought it was helped me through those transitional days.

 

7. Enjoy the Journey! Relax and enjoy your time away as much as everyone else. Is that possible when you’re traveling with little kids or teenagers? Yes! Make sure your journal and favorite books are tucked in your bags. Grab early morning time for yourself, take a walk along the beach, get a sitter and go have coffee with your spouse or a friend you’ve not seen for awhile. Make sure you take home more than just laundry. Especially as the mom, you need to take some time for yourself so that you return home refreshed and not worn out.

 

Wishing you and your family safe, happy and stress-free travels!

Three Cheers for our Tutors–Celebrating their Expertise and Excellence

It’s National Tutoring Week and a great time of year to celebrate our amazing tutors at Academic Connections!  These dedicated instructors bring their knowledge, influence, care and concern to kitchen tables throughout Delaware as they sit across from students and help them with academic comprehension and confidence. Without them, we’d have to close our doors but with them, we partner to help develop kids as critical and creative thinkers and eager learners.

 

Hats off to our awesome tutoring team!! Each goes above and beyond to deliver tailored, customized tutoring services to our students using their school curriculum and working within their learning style and approach.

 

To all the students who have turned a corner because of you, we salute you!  To all of those students who have yet to meet and work with you, we know that when the phone rings, you’ll step up and help meet whatever challenges they face until you see them through to success!!  We celebrate your expertise and excellence and thank you for being a part of our team!!

 

So grateful for you–

Pat and Donna

5 Success Strategies for Tackling Academic Challenges

As the school year moves along, our kids inevitably hit a few bumps along the way.  They will encounter academic challenges that will cause them to lose momentum and the cadence of the new year will shift as the scramble to find the best way forward.

Often we don’t know about these things until we’re well into the first marking period and progress reports start coming home.  We can have a heads up on the issues our kids may be facing and do our best to jump on it sooner rather than later.

5  Success Strategies for Tackling Academic Challenges include:

  1. Identify the problem – Is the problem strictly academic in nature? Has it just surfaced or is it been a recurring one?
  2. Help them decide on an action plan – What learning styles and motivation have to do with true learning.
  3. Be their compass – Goal setting and guidance and how we as parents can help our kids get there.
  4. Come up for air – More than just school and grades, how are we helping our kids discover other strengths that they can transfer to their overall education?
  5. Reward their efforts – Finding ways to motivate our kids so that they bring the best of themselves and value excellence over perfection.

If you missed our Back to School/Forward to Success Teleseminar Series- Part 2–Tackling Academic Challenges, you can:

 

Wishing you and your family all the best for a successful school year!

 

Donna and Pat

The Power of a Fresh Start

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Notebooks and new clothes, the smell of fresh paint and newly sharpened pencils, changing leaves and the crispness of the air!  Its fall and it’s time for starting over. We begin to settle back into the cadence and familiarity of routine and we can start again. I love that –it gives us another chance to finish well no matter how we started. We may have begun past years with all kinds of hopes and intentions but we didn’t quite get there.   Here we are in September– new page, a new chapter, a new season – it’s an opportunity for a fresh start.

 

This is an excellent time for us as parents to speak that promise and potential into our kids.   They may have had a rough year and fear failure again. They may be new to their school and worried they won’t find any friends. They may have decided in themselves that they want to do better this year and need to set new goals and find new friends. Even if they have been an “A” student or star athlete, the fall gives them a chance to reach higher and push farther! Whatever it is you can be sure that when your children return to school they are toting with them more than just their backpacks. So, let’s prepare ourselves for this new leg of the race so that we can help them have an amazing school year.

 

If you didn’t get a chance to join us for our  “Back to School/Forward to Success” Teleseminar Series, you can listen to the call and read the full article by clicking the links below:

 

Part 1–The Power of a Fresh Start


Listen to the call

Read the full article

 

All the best for a great school year!

 

Donna and Pat

 

 

 

 

Overcoming Organizational Overwhelm

By now the novelty of heading back to school is wearing off and we’re all settling into a routine. But inevitably, somewhere in those first few months, our kids’ organization starts to slide.

What starts out as assignments written in planners and papers in their rightful folders soon turns into a backpack full of graded tests and homework, fliers sent home from school and an interesting assortment of snacks, bits of paper and pencil dust.

Organizational overwhelm is beginning to set in and if we don’t catch it in time, it can play a major role in tripping our kids up and throwing them off course.

Does your child struggle with any of the following organizational areas?


  • “TAKING IT ALL IN” – Your child struggles with how to organize thoughts and information that are coming in.
    Read the full article…
  • “CAN’T GET IT OUT OF MY HEAD!” – Your child struggles with the ability to gather, organize, and express thoughts in a way that is comprehensible.
    Read the full article…

  • “TIME IS ON YOUR SIDE” – Your child finds keeping track of time difficult and struggles with how much time it takes to get things done.
    Read the full article…

  • “MOM, WHERE’S MY STUFF?”- Your child has a difficult time keeping track of stuff–books, papers and things.
    Read the full article…

Click here  to download the recording of Overcoming Organizational Overwhelm.

All the best for an excellent school year!

Donna and Pat

 

Did I mention that I flunked out of college?

I was a sophomore in college and had transferred from one school to another with a 3.25 GPA. Obviously, I had the stuff when it came to studying and succeeding.  Or so I thought.   I’m sad to report that within one semester, I was bounced out of that new school with a whopping 1.25 GPA.  When my transcript came in the mail, I thought it might be bad but not that bad.  My dad was less than happy with me and my friends less than impressed. 

“No school for you. Don’t come back for one year!”

That fall when all of my college friends went back to school, I didn’t return.  I was on academic probation and had to spend the next months taking courses at yet another college and proving that I had what it took to be a college student in good academic standing.

By the following fall, I was accepted into Eastern University as a junior and happily graduated from there two years later.  It only took me four schools and five years to finish; but finish I did.

Why is she telling us all of this?

You may be asking yourself why I’m telling you all of this.  You’d think I’d want to keep something this embarrassing and humiliating to myself.  But the truth is that it was my failure that actually led to my success. 

Would I justify what it took for my grades to plummet?  No way!  I can share more about that with you offline.  But it’s what I did next that makes all the difference.

When I fell down, I could have stayed down.  I felt defeated and ashamed at 19 to be academically dismissed.  I could have called it quits right then and there.  I could have told myself I wasn’t cut out for college and that it just wasn’t for me.

Fail forward

But that failure led me to do some pretty deep soul-searching and in the absence of all of my friends, I had to decide that I’d do whatever it took to go back and finish. 

It would be great to tell you a wonderful story of how my dad encouraged me; that is after he got over wanting to disown me.  But that’s not what happened.  In fact, when I first heard the news that I flunked out I wanted to just give up and do something else with my life.

My dad’s words of wisdom and inspiration went something like this, “So you’re just going to sit around and do nothing.  I guess that’s it then Joe College—you’re not going to finish school, are you?”  It was like someone lit a fire under me.  The thought of my dad losing faith in me and being disappointed in me was too much.  I jumped off the couch where I’d spent my afternoons lounging and watching soap operas and said, “You just watch me!”  It was my pivotal moment.

So what does all of this have to do with you?

The most wonderful thing is that’s not the end of my story.  Not only did I go on to fall down many more times after, the main thing is that I kept getting back up and keep getting back up.  It’s not over till it’s over and I’m still here!

As parents, we tend to look at things in freeze frames.  I’m sure you’re quite happy that your life now is not judged on your life then because I have this funny feeling that I’m not alone!

So why do we do that to our kids?  We panic.  We fret. We feel guilty and inadequate.  We strive to do our best and hope and work toward better days.  All of that is part of where we are as we raise our kids.  So whether your child is getting on the school bus for the first time or pulling out the driveway in your car alone for the first time, the fact remains that we can’t control or oversee everything. 

They have to fail sometimes.  They have to fall down sometimes.  And the best thing we can do for them is model how to get back up.  We can show them how to learn from their mistakes and get back up and keep moving forward until they reach success.

Today’s Challenge

Join me today in seeing our kids beyond this moment.  Today as you look at your child, remind yourself that it’s not the end of the story.  Our children are evolving, growing, and learning.  And the truth is so are we!  So let’s partner with them in the everyday things and the big things.  Let’s stand by them and encourage them when they fall down and applaud them when they get back up.  Let’s remember the gifts and the treasure they possess inside and believe for them and in them until they can do that for themselves.

I’m so grateful that flunking out of college was only a chapter in my life; not the whole book.  I’ve written many chapters since and have many more yet to write.

Just a reminder that we’re standing and partnering with you to help your child write successful academic chapters that will bring a great return now and in the years to come.

Donna Duffy
Academic Connections Tutoring

Building Bridges to your Gen Y Kids–Part 1

What did you think of technology when you were growing up? I thought we’d be like the Jetsons by now.  Well, George Jetson had nothing on us.  We are watching technology advance at a rate that is unprecedented in history.  Here’s what this means for us as parents: 

Tip #1: There’s No Turning Back 

  • We are not returning to the olden days–technology is here and on the rise. What’s the biggest concern for your child as technology advances at warp speed?
  • We now research everything on the Internet and not in an encyclopedia. Do you use the internet to look things up or do you still use traditional methods? Or do you Google it? How do your kids find out the information they need?
  • We need to be willing to embrace change, abandon fear and help prepare our kids for the future. Do you feel that you are encouraging your kids in technology or are you a deterrent and hindrance for them in this area?

Tip # 2: Know your Child’s Learning Style

  • Do you know the type of learner your child is? Auditory, visual or kinesthetic. How are you encouraging your child to express themselves by embracing their learning style through the use of technology

Tip #3: Use the Tools of the Trade

  • Kids are using technology socially as they interact with friends but those same tools can be used academically. How are they keeping track of assignments, projects, test and quizzes? Maybe it would be easier for them to do on their cell phone then in their day planner. Maybe they would respond more readily to email reminders than to things they have written down on paper.

The world is changing at a pace faster than we can keep up with it.  Our kids are learning in an environment rich with technology.  We as their parents need to do what we can to keep pace with what they’re learning.  At the same time, we need to help them stay connected in real time and prepare them for a world that will require both sets of skills.

Download the report to learn more about Gen Y Kids.  With you on the information super highway to your child’s academic success!

 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

Tackling Academic Challenges: Tip #5-Reward Their Efforts

Here’s the last tip in our series.

 

Just to review:

 

Tip 1.  Identify the problem

 

Tip 2.  Help them decide on an action plan

 

Tip 3.  Be their compass

 

Tip 4.  Come up for air

 

Tip 5.  Reward their efforts   

 

Our role is a constant and committed one. We want the very best for our children. We know how tough the world is and we want to equip them to be successful in it. As we applaud their efforts, even the smallest of steps, we help build confidence in them. As they rise up and do what they should, we need to reward them for a job well done. We may not be all the way home yet, but certainly on the path to getting there. By our positive feedback, we help our kids stay on track and give them the encouragement they need to run the race all the way to the end.

Tackling Academic Challenges: Tip#4–Come up for air

Tip 4–Come up for air 

 

When grades and school become a focal point, we can tend to get tunnel vision and only see our children in their role as students. We need to relax a bit and remember that by developing them as well-rounded individuals we help to make them better students as well.

 

What do they like to do? Where do they excel? They need to also hear good, upbuilding things about themselves and know that there is more to life than just getting good grades on their report cards. Draw out every gift, every talent, and every area of strength and interest that can help them feel excited about their school year. Sports, clubs and after school activities can help our kids feel like they are still part of things at school even though they may be struggling academically. As we relate to our kids as people, not just students, our relationship with them will be based on our strong, unbreakable bond not on their performance.