School Communications


Help Your Child Enjoy Reading Aloud

March 2, 2021

When children only practice their skills in school, they may associate reading with work instead of fun. Snuggling up at home in Crystal, MN, and enjoying a story with your child can create not only a love of learning but also a strong foundation for success. Read aloud strategies for students don’t have to be complicated to be beneficial.

What are the Benefits of Reading Aloud?

Despite technology and new teaching methods, sharing stories aloud is one of the most important activities parents can do with their children. This quality time spent together with no television or other distractions can strengthen your relationship and help them develop their communication, social, and interpersonal skills. Additional benefits include:

Stronger Vocabulary

Young children learn language skills primarily through listening. When they hear new words read to them in different situations, it builds their vocabulary. As they get older and can read for themselves, it creates a stronger connection between the spoken and printed word. With practice, they begin recognizing the difference between printed text and the spoken word.

Sharper Focus

When reading aloud, children put their energy into the task at hand. This focus strengthens verbal and mental skills, increasing their attention span. The more often they read aloud, the more they exercise the connection between the mind and their voice, resulting in greater cohesiveness when communicating thoughts and relating past events. By speaking aloud, children learn the potency of words and often understand and engage with the material more deeply.

Strengthen Comprehension

Well-written books expose children to sophisticated language. When they read consistently, they learn how to apply their cognitive abilities to understand the text. Emotion often comes with understanding. By reading out loud together, your child may feel more comfortable discussing their feelings.

Tips on Reading Out Loud

Although reading aloud at any time can be beneficial, here are some tips that may help enhance the experience.

Schedule Reading Time

Make reading part of your daily routine, whether it is in the afternoon or just before bedtime. Not only will your child look forward to the time they spend with you, but it also sends the message that reading is important and has value.

Choose Books Wisely

Just because they are written for children doesn’t mean the storylines are sloppy or boring. Many authors write age-appropriate entertainment, while others use stories to help deal with various issues, from anger-management and abuse to handling sadness about the death of a loved one. Reading aloud can bring out laughter and joy as well as more serious emotions.

Make it Interactive

Instead of just reading the words, encourage your child to get involved in the story. Describing pictures, making predictions, and talking about issues addressed can help promote discussion. This can make them more comfortable having conversations with you and others throughout the rest of their lives. Allow time to discuss the book and what interested them the most.

Praise Often

If the book is frustrating or uses language unfamiliar to your child, be patient and encouraging. Let them know making mistakes is ok; they are part of learning and understanding. When a story catches their attention and imagination, they may want to ask questions as they go. This can help them expand cognitive skills quickly. Praising them on their thoughtfulness and asking questions of your own can make them more open to critical thinking and in-depth conversations.

Beacon Academy Charter School

Our small class sizes, personalized instruction, and academic support provide students with a well-rounded education. Data-driven curriculum and highly qualified teachers help children build a strong foundation in learning that can serve them throughout their lives. Contact us today to learn more about our Crystal, MN, programs, and whether our community-built culture is right for your child.

Image Credit: Shuttershock/Skolova

Smart girl sitting with stack of books and laptop, holding big clock, covering face

Time Management Strategies for Students

July 29, 2020

Smart girl sitting with stack of books and laptop, holding big clock, covering face

The start of the school year in the Crystal area is a hectic time for students and their parents. Students have classes to attend, homework to complete, and exams to study for, and in some cases, have to balance sports, extracurricular activities, and social outings. Trying to get everything done, and do it well, is stressful and exhausting. Fortunately, there are time management strategies that students can follow to increase productivity and decrease stress levels.

What are Time Management Strategies for students?

No matter what school that student attends, it is pretty much a guarantee that schedules are full, and time is precious. Following specific strategies to make the most of the time available is exceptionally useful.

Make a List of Priorities for Homework

Looking at assignments and due dates, as well as activity schedules, can be overwhelming. One of the first things to do is to make a list of everything that you have to do and an estimate of how long each item will take. This method helps prioritize time and cuts down on procrastination.

Create an After School Schedule and Stick To It!

One of the best time management strategies is to make a schedule. Utilize the computer, your phone, or a planner to create your plan. Schedule time to work on assignments, participate in activities, socialize, eat, and sleep. This takes a lot of the thinking process out of the equation.

Try to Minimize Homework Distractions

Distractions such as phones, activities, friends, and even pets, can make it challenging to sit down and focus on the task. Parents should set rules around study time to make sure their kids focus all their attention on what needs to be done. There should be no television, cell phone, or computer time unless it is to work on an assignment.

Avoid Waiting Until the Last Minute on Homework Assignments

Many students procrastinate and put off assignments, especially more challenging ones. Being skilled in time management means not waiting until the last minute to start an assignment. Begin studying for a test or writing a paper when it is first assigned to prevent unnecessary stressors, which can negatively affect a grade.

Set Realistic Goals and See Them Through

Goals are essential for increased focus. Some examples of goals include a certain number of pages read in a night, time spent studying for a test, or a defined number of questions to complete.

Focus on One Assignment at a Time

One mistake students make is to multitask, thinking that it will result in more things getting done. However, students are most effective when they focus their attention on one thing at a time. If a student completes one assignment before moving on to the next, less time will be spent in general.

Take Homework & Study Breaks

It may seem counterintuitive, but stepping away from schoolwork every once in a while can increase productivity. Taking a short break, such as 10 minutes for every 30 minutes of work, helps recharge the brain and maintain focus. A brief intermission may consist of stretching, having a snack, or even getting in some exercise, which helps boost brainpower.

Make Sure You Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is also vital when managing time. An exhausted student is not going to function or focus, as well. There should be a set bedtime, to get eight to ten hours of sleep every night.

Be Flexible

Not everything goes according to plan, and some tasks may take longer than expected. A good plan of action is to schedule a little extra time for each assignment and not get upset if the schedule detours due to factors out of their control. 

Trust a School that Promotes Students’ Success

The staff at Beacon Academy understands the stress that students face and is well-versed in time management tips. If you are in the Crystal or Minneapolis area and want to learn more about what we have to offer, schedule a tour or contact us today!


Photo by Prostock-studio on Shutterstock


How Are Charter Schools Better Than Public Schools?

June 1, 2020

charter schools vs public schools

Since the first charter school opened right here in Minnesota in 1991 after a decade of public school reform, families throughout the United States have increasingly taken advantage of this high-quality alternative to traditional education. In fact, in 2017, Harvard’s Ed. magazine reported that charter schools represent a third of the U.S. News and World Report Top 100 Schools even though they educate just six percent of the country’s children. If you’re exploring the question of charter schools versus public schools for your children, learn more about the benefits of charter education in the Hennepin County area.

Academic Performance

According to the 2015 Urban Charter School Study by Stanford University researchers:

  • Students in urban charter schools showed substantial growth in both math and reading compared with their public school peers. The study found that in these charter schools, students receive the average equivalent of 28 additional days of reading instruction and 40 additional days of math instruction compared to public school students.
  • Growth was even more significant among students in traditionally underserved groups, including students who need special education, come from low-income households, and/or are of African or Hispanic origin.

Graduation and College Attendance Rates Are Higher

In one of the first longitudinal studies on the academic benefits of charter schools, researchers from Mathematica Policy Research, Georgia State University, and Vanderbilt University found that students who attended Florida and Chicago public schools were up to 15 percentage points more likely to graduate than their public school counterparts. The charter school students were eight to ten percentage points more likely to attend college than those who attended public high school.

Experience Better Satisfaction In Your Child’s Education as a Parent

Gallup’s 2017 Work and Education poll found that 61% of parents whose children attend charter schools rate the education they receive as excellent or good, compared to 47% of parents whose children attend public schools. In addition, 15% of public school parents rated their children’s schools as poor, compared with just three percent of charter school parents. For many families, charter schools offer an alternative to subpar neighborhood public schools and costly private schools. Also, parents who live in an area with just one elementary school can expand their educational choices by considering regional charter schools.

Increased Attention In and Out of Class

Since many Minnesota charter schools have a smaller class size than the corresponding traditional public schools, these institutions offer the individualized attention your child needs to excel. Thus, the charter school setting is often a smart choice for parents whose children have special educational needs. The ability to meet with a teacher one-on-one often dramatically increases a student’s academic prospects. For example, the Wall Street Journal reported in 2017 that the number of students who achieved state math proficiency in Central Harlem doubled from 2013 to 2017. Students attending neighborhood charter schools represented 96% of that increase.

Creative, Proven Curriculum that Creates Results

Charter schools are free to develop their own curriculum outside state and federal guidelines, which appeals to parents whose children do not thrive in a high-pressure environment with rigorous standardized testing.

For example, Beacon Academy offers a content-rich, scientifically proven curriculum that stresses character development, Spanish language proficiency, music and arts education, and hands-on learning in physical education, math, science, reading, writing, history, and geography.

Often, charter school students can “major” in an area of interest, such as performing arts, STEM, or foreign language. They can develop a specialized course schedule to prepare for high school education and beyond.

Enroll Your Child at Beacon Academy Today!

If you’re intrigued by the potential benefits of a charter school for your family, consider the outstanding experience your children will receive at Beacon Academy. We have created a small learning community that thrives on personalized attention and parental involvement. Our campus in Crystal, Minnesota, offers tuition-free education for students from kindergarten through eighth grade. Contact us to schedule a tour and learn more about the admissions procedure for our elementary students.