Georgia State Parks and Historic Site Passes

How does a day trip sound? Georgia has over sixty state parks and historic sites, and each has something unique to offer. Need another reason to visit? You can check out a ParkPass kit from your public library which will save you the $5 parking fee at the state parks. The historic site pass gives free admission for up to four visitors.

Indian Mound

You can climb prehistoric mounds built by Native Americans at Kolomoki Mounds State Park and Etowah Indian Mounds Historic Site.


It’s easy to plan your visit:

  1. Go to the Georgia State Park website and choose a nearby park or historic site.
  2. Once you find a destination, click the link to that park’s website for activities and special events. You may want to go when you can take a guided nature walk or enjoy another interpretive program such as learning about reptiles. There may be an event fee for some programs so contact the site if unsure. If the park has a lake, check for canoe or paddleboat rentals.
  3. Go to your local library and ask for the state park or historic site pass. You can check it out for one week.



Summertime Tutoring


The school year is ending here in west Georgia. Today is the last day for many schools in this area, and some will let out next week. While many parents see summer break as a time to get away from academics, for the struggling student, it is an opportunity to catch up. Just a few hours of one-on-one tutoring can make a tremendous difference when school resumes. For others, it means they remain sharp and continue to advance their skills. Two years ago, as we were getting ready for a new school year, I commented to my student J. that she was working more quickly with fewer mistakes. I loved her response, “I used to think math was a monster, now I think it’s easy.”

If given the preference of working with a child during the school year or summer break, I choose summer. After tutoring for eight years, I see the most significant progress in those students I work with June- July. There are a couple of reasons for this. During the school year, the focus is on completing school assignments and test preparation; in contrast, the focus is on strengthening a child’s weak areas during summer tutoring. Another factor which I believe plays a very important role is peer pressure or lack of it during summer. While I believe in healthy competition, when a child gets so far behind, he begins to think he is dumb when he hears classmates talk about how easy that test was or bragging on getting A’s. The struggling student begins to view school as an insurmountable obstacle. When a child gets help in the summer, the work is tailored to his needs; his only competitor is himself; and as he practices, he becomes more aware of his improvement. I also add a few more games in summer to make the work more palatable.

Do you have to hire a tutor? Absolutely not! Children are eager to learn, and summer is a great opportunity to sneak in some teaching without a child realizing it. I’ll continue to post about opportunities I discover, and be sure to check past posts in Learning Opportunities. A great idea my friend had was to give her children three review math problems which they had to complete before beginning their fun activities each day. Local libraries have great summer reading programs. Read my post from summer 2015 at iheartpublix for ideas to combine grocery shopping with math practice.

But if you know your child needs the support and consistency private tutoring offers, then I believe the investment is well worth it. Several years ago, I worked with a weak reader who was preparing for fifth grade. Although I only worked with him during the summer, his reading drastically improved.He is now in high school and making honor roll. If you want to hire a tutor, a good place to start is by asking your child’s teacher. Post a request on facebook and other social media. And of course, if you’re in the west Georgia area, I would love to work with your child. You can find my contact information in the About Category. Have a great summer!

I and other readers would love to hear your suggestions for continuing the learning process during school breaks in the comments.

Another Teacher Appreciation Giveaway

Photo courtesy of <a href="">USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service</a>

This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Shannon!Thanks to the Friends of Georgia State Parks, is offering a second teacher appreciation giveaway: an individual membership for the Friends of Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites to one lucky winner. The package is valued at over $175 and benefits are good for twelve full months! Membership includes:

  • One Annual Park pass-good for parking at all Georgia State Parks
  • 25 % Historic Site Discount – good for one person
  • One free night of camping or one round of golf at a State Park Golf course.
  • 10% off any stay at a State Park Lodge, Cottage, or Campsite
  • $10 off one adult ticket per visit, Coach or Premium Seating, on the SAM Shortline Excursion Train in Cordele, Georgia.
  • Georgia Great Places Magazine

From now until May 24, 2016, if you are a K-12 teacher or paraprofessional in a Georgia public or private school then you can submit up to two entries, simply by liking the Friends of Georgia State Parks and The Learning Tutor’s facebook pages.  Then comment below that you have done so. Winner will chosen by random drawing. Good luck!


How Do I Help My Middle Schooler with History? Pt. 2


historyIn part 1, I suggested several ways to get your child interested in the past. Today, I have some advice for learning the material which leads to better grades. History is defined as the written record of man’s past so reading is intrinsic to doing well. Even though your middle schooler can read the words, she may not really comprehend what she is reading. Show her how each unit is divided into chapters, then those chapters are composed of sections and each section may be further subdivided. Help her formulate questions which may be answered in each section.  The goal is for her to connect each subtopic to the main topic and finally to the chapter. This aids in seeing the “big picture, ” and helps put everything into context. Be sure she studies the pictures and maps, and understands their connection to the reading. Have her summarize each section she has read. Putting the material in her own words demonstrates her comprehension.

Once she has summarized the readings, she can begin learning important terms. Many texts will place these in bold font. They are usually categorized as people, places, events, or ideas (i. e. capitalism). I like putting these on notecards for easy review.  A complete definition or description, the importance, context, and date or time period are needed. For example,  Manhattan Project:

  • Secret American plan during World War II to develop the atomic bomb.
  • Began as  as a response to Germany’s nuclear program.
  • Was not used in the European theater, but was instrumental in bringing an end to the War in the Pacific when an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima  August 6, 1945 and on Nagasaki August 9, 1945.

If your child is visual, she may want to draw a picture to help her remember. If she is an auditory learner, she can record the terms and listen to them as a study strategy.

Initially, she may seem overwhelmed, but encourage her to study a few minutes every day. If she knows even some of the material really well, it will result in better grades. Finally, if possible, review returned tests with your child and talk about strategies for making the best use of her knowledge. From my years of teaching, I have discovered many careless mistakes like skipping questions and not reading the instructions or questions carefully.

What suggestions would you add? 

My First Teacher

Mama with doll
My mom when she dreamed of being a mother.

I remember a few years ago, as I rose early one morning, I glanced at my reflection in the window and saw my mother’s face staring back at me. Until that moment, I had not realized how much I resemble her. More than sharing her looks, I hope I have inherited her character. She has always taken care of those that society tends to forget, especially shut-ins and the elderly. As a child, I tagged along on many of these visits. Even though she has slowed down, she stills gets joy from cooking meals and making sure those around her are happy and satisfied.

Most of what I learned from my mom came from simple observation. She definitely wasn’t a helicopter mom, but I was a clingy child and stayed close to her side. She taught me how to carry on a conversation with strangers just by listening to her interactions around others. I can cook because I spent so much time in  her kitchen; I’m sure most of the time getting in the way. On the weekends, she allowed my sisters and me to rummage through her cookbooks and cabinets to bake whatever caught our fancy.


Although my mom did not finish high school – she married at seventeen- she made sure that I and my four siblings got the most of our education. At 58 years old,  she set an example for the importance of higher learning by getting her GED and graduating from a community college. When we were growing up, she made summer weekly trips to the library a priority. And she always rewarded us for any A’s on our report cards.

A few years ago, I wrote down the reasons I’m blessed she’s my mother and gave the list to her. I’m glad I did this because even though I think I’ve expressed those sentiments in other ways, I wanted her to see it in black and white. For this Mother’s Day, I’m sharing a Billy Collins poem. Happy Mother’s to my mom and all mothers!

Teacher Appreciation Giveaway!

This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Laurie for winning the gardening package! There are still a few days left to enter the Georgia State Parks package giveaway.

digz-giveawayI’m so excited to offer the first giveaway on!  Teachers have my utmost respect.  You put in long hours each day, give up a part of your weekend, and fall asleep while grading papers. I know; I’ve lived that life. When I was teaching, I usually  felt sad because my time with my children was ending,  but I also counted down the days because I desperately needed to decompress.

So if you’re like me, being outside in the sunshine with my hands in the dirt does more to restore my spirit than anything else. To help you do this,  is giving away a gardening package, consisting of a watering can, flower seeds, a kneeling pad, and three pairs of Digz gloves. These gloves have reinforced palms and pads, plus an adjustable wrist strap so you can keep out the dirt while gardening. Digz gloves are sold at Home Depot.

This contest is open to all K-12 teachers in the contiguous U.S. who are currently teaching in a public or private school. To enter, comment below with the grade or subject you teach, plus a tip for refreshing your spirit. The contest ends Thursday, May 19. The winner will be chosen by a random drawing and notified via e-mail.