Category Archives: Educational journey

5 Tips to Help Your Kids Have a Heart

Helping Your Kids Have a Heart Cover
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


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 #3-Be their compass

Tip 3–Be their compass

As we continue looking at tackling our kids academic challenges, we know that it’s not enough to just get the ball rolling and walk away. This is the time to monitor progress by checking the school homework site, staying in touch with teachers and counselors, and remaining vigilant about helping our kids stay on top of the school work brought home everyday.

This is also a time to assist them as they learn more about themselves-the way they learn, the topics that interest them, the gifts and talents they’ve been given and what they might be able to do with all of it. It’s important to encourage them so that they see that even subjects and activities that might not seem to have any relevance today actually prepare them for their future, promote their mental development as well as help them gain a greater understanding and appreciation for the world around them.

As parents, we know all to well how important it is to cheer our kids on if they may have drifted a bit or reel them back in if they seem to have totally lost their way.  We need to be their compass and offer them guidance and direction.  Our input is so vital to their academic progress and success. 



Tackling Academic Challenges: Tip #2–Decide on an Action Plan

Tip #2 — Help them decide on an action plan.
Once you know what the real deal is, you can then help them develop a plan and strategy to cope with their issues. Perhaps they need to stay after school or get a tutor. Maybe they need to hang with a different circle of friends or they need help getting organized. Whatever the case may be, we as parents can do more than just help with tonight’s homework; we can help set in motion strategies they will use in school and in life.

At times we may feel that we want it more than they do. I have been there more than once. It is here that we have to be prepared to implement short-term solutions toward long-term goals. It can be difficult to help a child think beyond next week. But as we talk with our kids and help cultivate their interests and strengths, we help them see that they are in the driver’s seat of their own future.






Tackling Academic Challenges: Tip#1–Identify the Problem

The school is starting to wind down and in a few months students will begin their summer break.  Your child may have had a shaky foundation through the school year.  Though you may have done all the right stuff and put all the tools in place for success, your child may still be facing academic challenges. 


Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll touch on a few areas for you to focus on that can help your child finish up the year more equipped and with greater confidence. The first one is:



1.  Identify the problem  Though this may seem simple enough, it may not be as easy to identify the true root of your child’s academic challenges. There may be struggles with motivation that get interpreted as laziness. There may peer issues that lead to feeling pressured all day. Or it may be that your child is truly struggling with comprehension or concentration issues. Do they need glasses? Are they unorganized? There are many reasons that they may not be doing well.  Be a Sherlock and find out. Keep watch for things that may indicate a learning issue, peer pressure or physical problem.


A few years ago, my son’s grades plummeted. He kept telling us he was tired and we urged him to get more sleep and work harder.  Teachers thought he was just slacking off as well. Later we found out he had mono so he needed tons of rest and it explained why he was not doing well.


So let’s keep digging until we truly come to the reason why our kids are struggling. There may be issues that need our attention and we need to be prepared to unearth the root of the problem so that they can get on top of things and finish well.

Three Words They Hate to Hear

“How was school?” Now I’m not sure when that happens exactly.  But one year along the way in their educational journey–we ask it and they hate it!  So what’s a mom to do?  I want to find out how their school day went.  So I think to come at it from another angle.  “What did you learn today?” They hate that even more–bad move Nancy Drew!  Ok–so let’s put our heads together.  We’re sharp, intelligent women!  How hard can it be to unearth from a child how his or her school day went?  Pretty hard–if they don’t feel like talking or telling us or both!

Here’s my attempt at cracking the code of teenage silence and getting inside the heads of my high schoolers–I confess–I use humor and I do my best to not ask questions when they first get home but confess again that I don’t always succeed.

I try to save questions like, “Do you have any homework?” till after they’ve had time to get in the front door, eat something and relax for a few minutes.  The more space I give and the more accessible I am, the greater the potential there is for them to open up and talk when they’re ready.  They’d probably prefer if I just text them instead!! Not likely! It’s just a thought–can’t wait to hear yours!  Wishing you a great school year!!



In the Homestretch

If you’re kids are like mine, they reluctantly pulled themselves back to reality as they headed back to school after Spring Break.  Now they only have several weeks left and yet another school year will be behind them.  How will they wrap up the year?  As the weather changes and our kids find it harder to sit tight and ride out the remainder of the year,  we have to do all we can to help them finish well.  A few suggestions…

  • Ask–if they have assignments on the deck, tests coming up or projects that may be due.
  • Encourage–them to do their best and hang in there since the finish line is just up ahead.
  • Assist–them with what they may need to complete their tasks and stay on track.
  • Engage–them in conversation about how they are doing and help them stay motivated.
  • Allow–some break time so that they are refreshed and can focus on the tasks at hand.
  • Enjoy–the rest of the school year–summer will be here soon enough.
  • REMEMBER–what is was like to be their age and to hear the warm weather and outdoors calling your name.

Helping our kids finish well and keep their priorities straight will benefit them as they close out the school year and as they prepare for the real world just up ahead.  With you in the homestretch!



Developing Thinkers

Our children have come to look for easy answers and a quick-fix approach, not only to their school work, but life situations as well.  Helping our kids develop as thinkers is one of the greatest gifts we can give them.  If they can think and learn then they can succeed.  They will be able to not only make their way in the world but make their mark on the world.  Here are a few helpful tips to help us along in the process.

1.  Problem solve together 

2.  Think outside the box   

3.  Brainstorm and mind map the situation  

4.  Write a different ending  

5.  Foster an environment of learning and creativity  

6.  Keep it Positive  

7.  Encourage and commend their input   

Click on the link below to hear the Educational Audio Tip:

 Developing Thinkers