Your guide to family events, stories and news in Western Wisconsin.

Getting in Gear: a back-to-school survival guide

While the idea of waking up at the crack of dawn to prepare lunches, fight over appropriate school attire, and regulate the amount of screen time might have you frazzled, take solace in the fact that you can play a big part in getting your children motivated and excited to tackle a new school year!

The following are helpful tips to ease kids of all ages back into learning mode:

Help your child discover his or her learning style. Talk to your child’s teachers about your child’s learning strengths and how best to support them. People learn in at least eight different ways, according to the Multiple Intelligences Theory.

Get back in the routine. Ease the transition from lazy summer days to the structure of the school year by re-establishing bedtime, mealtime, reading, and homework routines.

Develop a family event calendar. One of the most helpful tools for getting organized is a family event calendar. To ease the chaos, track school programs, volunteer work, and after-school activities. Family time management is essential if you are going to avoid the tumultuous frenzy of disorganization.

Purchase school supplies in advance. Avoid the last-minute rush by purchasing supplies at least one week in advance. Take your child. They can feel excited and in control by choosing their favorite colors and designs.

Learning STEM Skills can begin at home

Students today are being exposed to more and more STEM-related learning skills than ever before. STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. For many parents, seeking out STEM-based learning for young children can feel a bit out of their comfort zone, but it doesn’t have to be. Young children are naturally curious, and educational opportunities are obtainable right in their own homes.

Simple STEM examples that can be done in home including cooking, shopping, planning a field trip or family vacation, exploring the backyard, gardening, science projects, measuring, remodeling, building a tree house, creating with Legos, and so much more! It’s really that simple.

Sylvan Learning Centers across the world support STEM learning, and locally we are delighted to offer advanced STEM programs throughout the year in Robotics, Coding, and Math Edge for grades 2-6. Have fun and enjoy STEM with your children!

Increase Kids’ Confidence for Better ACT Scores

More than three million college admissions tests are administered each year, making the SAT and the ACT two of the most important exams that a high school student will ever take. To perform at their best, students should get used to the style and types of questions on the tests.  Also, students should boost their reading and vocabulary skills and learn specific process of elimination strategies. Above all, students need to work through as many practice questions and tests as possible in the weeks and months leading up to the actual exam.

• Since the test’s instructions will not change, don’t waste time reading the instructions on the day of the test. You should already know them.

• Never spend too much time on any single question – it’s just not worth it. It’s better to lose one point on a difficult question than to lose 10 points because you ran out of time on the last part of a section.

• If you are unsure of a question, circle it and come back to it if time permits.

• Don’t get bogged down on the difficult questions before you have racked up as many points as possible on the easy and medium questions.

Kayann Bock, Sylvan Learning of Eau Claire. Students who are interested in a test prep course should visit the “College Prep” area at to learn more about Sylvan SAT Prep and Sylvan ACT Prep. 

A Quick Primer On "STEM"

The topic of STEM seems to appear often in discussions about education in the recent news. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Education. It’s becoming a more and more prominent topic in the mainstream and is something all parents should consider.

Major U.S. companies and school districts have fostered a growing interest in STEM. But why? One of the main reasons to focus on these areas is that the skills and knowledge in these subjects are essential for student success. As Apple founder Steve Jobs put it, “I think everyone in this country should learn how to program a computer because it teaches you how to think.” In addition, these fields will play a part in the real world, influencing a child’s potential future jobs. There is growing concern that the students of today are not prepared for the jobs of tomorrow unless we put more focus and resources towards STEM education – especially at an early age.

The U.S. Department of Commerce estimates that the number of STEM jobs will grow by 17 percent between 2008 and 2018 – many of which could remain unfilled because of the lack of qualified individuals. “(STEM) workers play a key role in the sustained growth and stability of the U.S. economy, and are a critical component to helping the U.S. win the future,” the Department of Commerce says.

Sylvan Learning is launching new STEM enrichment programs for kids all across the United States and Canada. Read more about the value of coding at

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