Doneda Bailey
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"The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark."



As we enter into the new year there is so much hope for the future.  Many of us are in the process of beginning our New Year’s resolutions.  Optimism is at its peak and we are primed to make changes that will transform our lives.  Although this is important, have you also considered the vision your child will be working to fulfill this year?  This may sound like an odd question but it may be one of the most important questions you consider for 2015.  How do you encourage vision and goal setting that will make a lasting impact in the life of your child?


Let me first start by clarifying the difference between dreams and visions.  According to Webster’s dictionary, a dream is something you have very much wanted to do, be, or have for a very long time.  Dreams are similar to fantasies.  They stay in the mind.  Visions require plans, commitment and hard work.  Visionaries turn dreams into reality.


Let’s take a look at some practical steps that can help your child move from the realm of dreaming to making their visions happen.


1.   Dream.  Lewis Carroll, author of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" said, “Any road will get you there if you don’t know where you’re going.”  The first step to making progress is knowing what you would like to do.  Discuss and determine some goals that your child would like to accomplish this year.   These goals can be categorized in multiple ways such as short-term, long-term, academic, personal, athletic, spiritual, etc.

2.   Create a vision board.  A vision board is a visual representation of what your child wants to achieve this year.  It can be created on paper using visuals cut from magazines or digitally.  The finished board should be prominently displayed so your child can be reminded to stay focused on the goals he or shewants to achieve.  

Sample vision board.jpg


3.   List the steps.  Help your child come up with a list of steps needed to achieve these goals.  They may or may not know all of the steps, but writing them down helps to get them into the mindset that work needs to be done in order to achieve these goals.  For example, if your child wants to raise his grade in Algebra he would need to, A. Determine the concepts that are unclear, B.  Ask his teacher for help,  C.  Find supplemental resources that will allow him practice skills, D. Find a tutor, etc.

4.   Set daily, weekly, and monthly goals. Your child must ask the fundamental question each day, “What am I going to accomplish today, this week, this month?”  This sets the agenda.  If you don’t know where you are going you won’t know if you have arrived at your desired destination.  Help your child develop a roadmap for success.  They need to know where they are going or they will get caught up in the minutia of the day.  Even worse, they may end up following a totally different agenda.

5.   Keep goals manageable and realistic.  This will allow your child to stay encouraged along the way.  If too much is put on their plate they may become overwhelmed and quit altogether.

6.  Identify and eliminate mental blocks.  Sometimes children may have internal struggles that may be keeping them from achieving their goals.  There could be lack of confidence, fear, feelings of inadequacy, work ethic, low self esteem, etc.  Help them identify possible roadblocks and come up with ways to overcome these obstacles that can hold them back.

7.  Get it done!  There is a proverb that says, “The appetite of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the appetite of the diligent will be abundantly satisfied.”  Make a plan to meet with your child periodically to check progress.  Consider discussing goals weekly or monthly.  Be flexible because plans and even dreams can change.

8.  Celebrate successes along the way. As your child begins to make progress towards fulfilling the vision, celebrate the accomplishments.  This can be anything from small treats along the way to publicly praising them.


Vision gives purpose and clarity to dreams.  It gives them a reason to wake up in the morning and satisfaction when they lay their heads down at night.  As parents we play critical roles in shaping the discipline and habits our children will carry for the rest of their lives.  We lay the foundation for developing people who can make a difference in our world.


David Bailey

Director of Curriculum and Instruction

Noggin Educational Coaching


Doneda Bailey
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It’s that time of year again.  Thanksgiving has just passed you by, and now we are heading towards the winter break.  There is a lot happening at home and at school.  At this time of the year, it can be easy for your child to get caught up in the mix of all the festivities. It is important to make sure that your child is prepared to finish the year strong.  Here are a few tips to help your child thrive academically during the holidays.

1.  If your child has any major exams or projects due before the break, make sure they start studying and preparing now! Teachers love to give exams and projects before the break.  Make sure your child understands the topics they need to study.  Also, make a to do list for projects so that they know what needs to be done step by step.  This will allow them to break up the work into manageable tasks that can be spread out over several days.  See below to download the Noggin Assignment/Project Worksheet.

2. Create a master calendar of family activities, appointments and events that will occur over the winter break.   This will ensure that  your child has adequate time to complete any work that is due when school resumes.  A master calendar will help your child know the days and times they will be able to complete school work.  If you don’t do this they may get caught up in the festivities and forget to complete their work. Have a conversation with your child about what needs to be accomplished over the break.  Set up a schedule and make sure your child sticks to it. 

3. Hold your child accountable to the work that needs to be completed.  Make sure you have a list of all assignments that need to be completed over the break.  Check on your child periodically to see how they are progressing.  Have your child show you what they've done to check that the quality of their work is satisfactory.  

4. Start looking ahead.  If your child has nothing due over the break, most likely something will be coming up in early January.    Help your child set up a study schedule.  If they don’t know what they should be working on they should refer to a class syllabus or ask their teacher(s) to provide a list.  Don't allow your child to procrastinate.  Exams sometimes cover an entire semester’s worth of work and you don’t want them to start studying at the last minute. 

5. Keep up with skills learned before the break.  It is easy to lose skills acquired during the semester.  Make sure you know what your child has been learning and provide opportunities to practice those skills.  

This  season should be a time to relax and get some much needed rest.  At the same time you want your child to enter the New Year prepared for the challenges that lie ahead.  Help your child stay on track so they can truly have a “Happy” New Year. 

Doneda Bailey
Doneda Bailey

It’s almost that time of year again.  By now you are seeing the “Back To School” signs all over the place.  The last vacations are in motion and the reality of school is setting back into the minds of your children.  They know summer is almost over.  
How do you get your child prepared to hit the ground running?  This article explores ideas to prepare your child for the academic school year without overwhelming them.

1. Create a fall master schedule.  Take a look at all pre-scheduled family events that will be occurring in the fall.  This includes activities such as:

  • After school extra curricular activities (sports practices, lessons, tutoring, boy/girl scouts,etc)
  • Weekend activities (games, tournaments, camping, family outings, etc)
  • Holiday gatherings

All of these events are important to place on the family calendar because they take away from time for studying and project completion.  The further you plan these events in advance, the better you will be able to help your child plan accordingly.

A good way to keep up with your family activities is to use an app.  One app to consider is Cozi for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices.  Our family uses the iCal app on the iPhone to share family events between calendars.  Google Calendar is another way to keep everyone on the same page.

After a master schedule is completed, post weekly events in your child's bedroom so they can be easily seen.  Color code events so they can be easily identifiable.

Here’s an idea for a homework reminder center. Notice there is a clip for permission slips, flyers, and other important papers as well as daily and monthly calendars.  


2.  Begin to gradually wind down the summer routines.  As you get closer to the start of the school year, begin to get your kids back on to a school schedule.  This means going to bed and waking up earlier.  This is especially true if your child has been going to bed significantly later than they would during the school year.

3.  Evaluate and establish evening and morning routines.  Time management is absolutely critical to success during the school year.  Identify routines that you can tighten up before school starts.  These include:

  • Laying out your clothes the night before (and ironing if necessary)
  • Making lunches/placing lunch money in a designated place the night before.
  • Showering/bathing the night before.
  • Placing all necessary school work in backpacks the night before (including homework, assignments, and projects)
  • Determine ONE designated place for items your child will need for the day.  This will save time when preparing to walk out the door in the morning.

4.  Identify study locations and habits that are most conducive to learning.  Is there a TV on or music that can easily distract your child?  Does social media distract them from doing their work in a timely manner? Make a list of patterns and habits that may possibly hinder your child's ability to stay on task and adjust as necessary.  If their study locations needs to be changed, change it.  Make sure there is adequate lighting in the study location.  Have a discussion with your children to make sure they understand the plan.

5.  Stock up on school supplies.  Make a list of supplies that seem to magically disappear frequently throughout the year.  These will come in handy as the initial supplies are depleted throughout the semester.

Academic Tips


They say that reading is fundamental.  It’s cliche but true.  Many schools have required summer reading assignments that must be completed before the beginning of the school year.  Sit down with your child and make sure he/she understands what the assignment entails.  In many circumstances, there is also a writing portion to the assignment as well.  Make sure each step of the assignment has been completed with excellence.  Don’t allow your child to turn in sub-par work.  There is still sufficient time to get it done.  

If your child does not have a summer reading assignment you can assign one.  Have them pick a topic of interest and begin to read more about it.   To develop their writing skills they should write a summary (1-2 pages max) of what they read.   


Math is a mixed bag with students.  They love it or hate it. Either way, math is a critical subject to learn.  Here are some tips to help your child get back in the mathematical groove.


  • Review standardized tests -  Most likely, your child took some type of standardized test (STAAR, ERB, SAT, etc) last spring.  Look for areas of strength and weakness.  These are easily identifiable by looking at the portion of the test that had the fewest number of answers correct.  These represent the areas where there are the greatest opportunities for growth.
  • Websites and apps - There are countless websites and apps that can help your child to learn in various ways.  For a traditional approach to learning, try  Also,Student Guide is a website that will connect you with a plethora of math resources you can use.  


Register for Noggin's Back to School Bootcamp!

Doneda Bailey
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I had never heard of "Summer Learning Loss" or "The Summer Slide" until recently.  It makes good sense though.  I can remember doing a virtual brain dump during the long summer months when I was younger.  Summer Learning Loss is the loss of academic skills and knowledge during the summer months especially in the areas of math, reading and spelling (1).  Studies have shown that students lose 2 months of grade level equivalency and the impact is cumulative (2)

With a little effort and time you can spark your child's love of learning and keep his or her mind engaged during the summer months.  Here are some fun, practical ideas from our workshop "Slip and Slide:  Preventing Summer Learning Loss".

Our country has such a rich history.  Before you head out for vacation, contact the historical society in the city you will be visiting.  Depending on your vacation destination you may be able to teach your child about any number of topics from the Gold Rush to the Underground Railroad by visiting historical sights and museums.  

List of historical societies by state

And there's an app for that!  Download this Historical Markers app from the iOS store. Using GPS it displays the location of historical markers near your current location. 

For older children turn an upcoming vacation into a project.  Provide them with a budget and location with the incentive that any money saved will be given to them upon approval of their plan.  They must plan the transportation (flight, car rental, etc.), lodging, activities, food options, discretionary money...any costs the family will incur and compile the information into a detailed report.   This project sharpens critical thinking skills, research skills, budgeting, and math.

Cooking with your child incorporates several useful skills such as math, telling time and reading.  Have them practice increasing or decreasing the serving size of a recipe to practice multiplying and dividing fractions.  Encourage younger children to read the recipe out loud as you cook together.

Have your child read any and everything: the newspaper, internet articles, books, poetry, directions…just keep them reading.  Contact your local library for reading events.

TED talks are short, powerful speeches (18 minutes or less) from experts in various fields from entertainment to science to business and global issues. 


NOTE:  You may want to screen videos for age appropriate content before letting your child view them.  

Here’s a link to TEDYouth for children and teens.  

There's an app for just about anything you want.  Take a look at the Apple Store or The Google Play Store and you'll find plenty of options to keep your kids engaged.  Below are a few apps that will help them stay sharp while having fun.

Star Gazing
StarMap 3D Plus uses your iPhone's compass and gyroscope to find the planets, stars, constellations, star clusters, galaxies, and nebulae visible to you based on your location and time. 
Choose your wrestling character and then train and battle opponents of different weight classes in a vocabulary smackdown.
Presidents vs. Aliens
Defeat aliens with the Heads of State (literally) as you learn facts about American presidents.

-Calculate mileage to a destination.
-Add up the price of each item at the grocery store to avoid going over budget.
-Calculate tax and tip at a restaurant.

1)Harris Cooper et al., “The Effects of Summer Vacation on Achievement Test Scores,” Review of Educational Research 66 (1996): 260.
2. Lasting Consequences of the Summer Learning Gap. K. Alexander, D. Entwisle and L. Olson, American Sociological Review, 2007 (72, 167-180).


 Click Here to register for our Summer Enrichment Program!