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BlogaMental Educational Blog


Lori J. Skurka, M. Ed.
President and CEO
EleMental Learning, LLC


BlogaMental is a forum for expanding on useful education topics.  BlogaMental is managed by Lori J. Skurka, Founder, President, and CEO of EleMental Learning with contributions by our staff and other guests.  The topics we discuss are a mixture of current educational hot buttons, timeless observations about the trials and tribulations of raising school-age children, and some lighter fare as well.

BlogaMental Blog Posts

By Janet Eggenberger  I was lucky enough to get one solid week of prime time with my college daughters (after they finished summer internships, classes, and full-time jobs) before they returned to school for the fall session. On a nice long dog walk, we had a “meaning of life” discussion. I tried my best to keep my mouth shut and just listen. Very interesting what I learned. For what it’s it worth, here are my reflections...

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By Janet Eggenberger  Are you sure you want to share? Maybe it’s time to think again. High school years are such an exciting time for everyone – parents included. It’s natural to want to share accomplishments, achievements, hopes, dreams and plans of your child with friends and family. Whether it be academically, athletically, or even socially. However, now when I look back I can’t help but wonder if I didn’t overshare. I’d like to hope when I go through this whole process again with my freshman son, I will do things a little differently.

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By Janet Eggenberger   It's back to school time and Senior Year is a special period in a young adult's life. Here are some reminders to help college-minded seniors stay organized as they look for the right college.

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By Janet Eggenberger

The question I get asked most is about how rigorous of a schedule a student should be taking. In other words, should my student be taking AP (Advanced Placement)/Honors classes and if so, how many and which ones?  I know I have touched upon this topic in the past but I think it might be time to revisit. The basic rule of thumb is your child should be taking a challenging course load for THEM. Don’t worry what others are doing but do what is right for your student. As a parent you know their strengths and challenges, their study habits, and other time commitments so use this in your decision. Just because your child qualifies for all honors/AP does not mean he or she should be taking them all.

Recognize that high schools want their students to be taking AP classes and tests (helps promote the reputation of the school among other things) and they definitely serve a purpose but don’t make your student take them all just because they qualified. Perhaps start off with one or two that your child shows the most interest or ability in, and see how things go with managing coursework and grades before committing to others. Colleges want to know that a student challenged themselves but you don’t need to go completely overboard with 4 or 5 honors/AP classes a semester. The very highly selective schools will pay more attention to the rigorous curriculum and assess the student’s schedule to ensure that a student has challenged themselves. You don’t want to see a student score a 34-36 ACT score who has not taken any AP classes – that would be a red flag. Also, know that just taking an AP class does not guarantee college credit. Students taking AP classes in school can take AP exams in April/May to earn college credit. Scores vary with every college but typically a score of a 4 or 5 will earn college credit (sometimes a 3). That means if a student takes AP Calculus, for example, and earns an A in the class but takes the AP exam and scores a 2 they will not receive any college credit. But on the other side, I know students though who ended their high school career with 30 hours of AP credit to take with them to college (saving both money and time at college).


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BlogaMental is no longer allowing our blog readers to add comments at the end of the posts.  Why, you may ask?  Here's why: approximately 90% of the commenters were spammers, posting links back to their e-commerce sites selling counterfeit designer apparel and accessories...or sometimes certain types of "love aids" if you get my drift.

Combing through these comments and deleting them was just no fun.  So, good-bye spammers!  If something we wrote is interesting to you, feel free to comment on our Twitter page or our Facebook page.


 P.S.  What do you call someone who doesn't pass gas in public?   A PRIVATE TUTOR!


We're nearing the end of the kids' two week Holiday Break. The kids have been fully inundated with new iPads, iPods, Androids, PCs, video games, and other e-devices that probably have some educational and future occupational benefit but which also tend to turn the kids into zombies in the near term.  If I had a dollar for each time one of my kids absent-mindedly said "just a minute..." when I instructed them to turn one of those items off...

The good news is that we've taken advantage of several of the mini-camps offered through the local YMCA to keep the kids active during the break.  Our kids focused primarily on swimming, but there were also opportunities for the kids to sample basketball, ballet and other forms off dance (Zumba is a current favorite), and other sports and activities.  It may be a little late now, but I highly recommend that parents take advantages of programs like this -- at the YMCA, through their local park district, or other local organizations [just check out your local paper's upcoming activity calendar!] -- to keep the kids active and engaged in something other than electronic nonsense during these breaks from school. 


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The internet is awash with purported purveyors of online tutoring.  Some are legitimate, well staffed services dedicated to the provision of professional distance tutoring.  Others can be as clunky as someone with a Twitter handle and a Paypal account offering to guide your kid through the next test, project, term paper, or standardized exam for an arbitrary fixed fee.  The technologies utilized are quite varied as well.   While most adults of a certain age have accepted the legitimacy of online commerce, distance learning, and e-tailing, online tutoring resides at the nexus of all three of these web 2.0 applications.  It beckons the questions:  when choosing an online tutor, how do you choose among the myriad choices, what are you hoping to achieve, and how will you measure success?

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As I typed the title of this post I stopped to wonder how many of today's adolescents would have resisted the urge to put the preposition at the end of the phrase -- i.e. 'A Lot To Be Thankful For'.   I continue to worry about the texting and video-gaming culture America's future leaders are growing up in.  No, actually, the culture in which they are growing up!

Anyway, we've made it through mid-term conferences and at this point most parents have a pretty good feeling for where their kids are stacking up in the classroom.  Even if you've learned that your child has a bit of an uphill climb in order to achieve classroom standards, he or she still has something for which to be thankful.  That of course is you--a parent who is spending time on this site in a search to find what is best for the child's progress.  You taking the time to read this means that you care more about what's best for your kids than the average Joe.

Two of my three children are school age, and their conferences generally went...

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Article Citation: "To Address Behavior Issues, Preschools Turn to Therapy", Wall Street Journal, 9/9/09, written by Sue Shellenbarger.

Link to original article:

Interesting overview of the controversial new push, now offered in 29 different states, to embed mental health workers directly into preschool classrooms.  These professionals work directly with students needing extra therapy or counseling to address behavioral issues at an early age in order to help them integrate better and improve their emotional well being.

Without addressing the funding issue, which we understand to be a fluid and changing situation under new governmental directives, this seems like a wise approach from an educator's standpoint.  Providing hands-on mental health counseling directly in the preschool...

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Although the Obama administration has allocated billions of dollars to the broad category of "Education" in its first (and only?) bailout program, and in its subsequent fiscal budget proposal, it is short-sighted to think that a precision effort at remedying the educational ills in America is underway.  We think that is simply not the case.  Open issues that scream for attention:

Teacher pay:  Merit pay versus the tenure system.  Merit pay seems to be gaining some traction, but two issues cloud the picture:  (1) what is the criteria for judging "merit"?  (2) How can the Obama administration advance a concrete plan for merit pay when doing so will run directly afoul of the NEA and his other supporters in the educational establishment?  These are clearly treacherous waters.  The Administration will find it very hard to build consensus here. Reform of No Child Left Behind: The NCLB plan is oft-derided as being flawed in methodology, unfair in the inclusion of certain student categories in the test...

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