Brandon made an amazing connection with my son that I haven’t seen with any of his other teachers-he worked twice as hard on his SAT prep as on any of his other projects.

—Tracy, Capitol Hill

Read Well

Growing up, I read compulsively. Lord of the Rings, Calvin & Hobbes, medieval philosophy, Popular Science, it didn’t matter – if it had letters, I would consume it.  My obsession paid off – a perfect score on my SAT Verbal, and a free ride to college.

So you can imagine how shocked I was when I failed – repeatedly! – to read my college texts.

I struggled to finish readings for class, and routinely hurled frustrating books across my dorm room.  My problems were the same as most students’: the texts were too long, too convoluted, and too deep.

After years of struggle, I beat these problems – I discovered simple solutions that have made me a much stronger reader.

I want to help you become the reader I wasn’t. The habits taught in this class can transform your entire high school and college experience.

Contact me if you’re interested in finding out more about this course.

Homeschool SAT Prep

When the topic of the SAT comes up, homeschoolers usually sigh or curse under their breath.  Test prep companies have led us to believe that the secrets to a good score are arcane tricks and byzantine guessing strategies.  They lie. If we approach the test properly, homeschoolers can expertly prepare for the SAT without selling out on our educational values.

Homeschoolers are actually in an exciting position to prepare for the test: a student who is accustomed to taking her education into her own hands can study much better than a schooled kid in a big-name class.  The test actually rewards thoughtfulness, inventiveness, and curiosity – traits homeschoolers have in spades!  Done well, SAT prep can be a meaningful capstone to a homeschooling adventure.

I’m ridiculously excited to show groups of homeschoolers how to do exactly this – to set up structures of expert practice that translate to impressive gains on the SAT.  In a pair of 2½-hour meetings, I can teach you how to –

tie together great test-prep books into a seamless system
identify the information the SAT tests, and assess whether you know it or need to learn it
systematically stretch your mathematical problem-solving abilities
organically grow your vocabulary by leaps & bounds
train yourself to spot grammar errors
limit test-taking stress
fold in practice for SAT reading, math, and writing into all your studies

There’s nothing mysterious about a high SAT score – you need to be grounded in “the beautiful basics” of math, reading, and writing, and be able to confidently apply those basics.  If parents are interested, I can also help set up a multi-year plan to authentically build high-level reading, writing, and math skills – the sort the SAT rewards.

Most SAT prep classes cost around $500 per student.  For $200 or less per family (with a minimum of two families), I’ll walk you and your homeschooling group through how to set up a more effective system of self or group study using excellent materials.  (I’m happy to provide a discount for larger groups.)

I’m only a new father – our son James is a month old – but I’m an ardent fan of homeschooling.  I teach high school philosophy at the Attic Learning Community in Woodinville, and flip out for the work of Susan Wise Bauer and John Holt.  I’ve recently presented a seminar (“Prepare for the SAT without Losing Your Mind or Selling Your Soul”) at the Pacific NW Homeschool College Fair.

“Our family found Brandon in the nick of time.  In just two sessions, he helped simplify difficult and confusing math concepts and demonstrated how to retain information long term.  He created a specific plan to improve reading comprehension and glean main ideas from more challenging texts.  With his help, my daughter gained vision, purpose and a detailed plan of effective study for her SAT.  Not only does he provide vital instruction, but his passion for learning inspired my three high-school age children.  They now have the fundamental tools they need to succeed on the SAT’s and in college.  Brandon is a lifesaver!”

–Gloria, Puyallup

I’m passionate about helping homeschoolers master the test and develop the college-level academic skills. Get a fuller sense of my work with the SAT Math, Critical Reading, and Writing on this website, or read my bio and educational manifesto to get the gist on me.

If you’re interested in talking with me about setting up a meeting, or asking any sort of homeschool-SAT questions, contact me.

Mental Math

Students routinely fall behind in math because schools let fundamental skills shrivel and die.

Math is complex, but it’s structured:  trigonometry assumes geometry, which assumes algebra, which assumes basic arithmetic.  Picture a pyramid, with the hard math on top, supported by the base skills.

When the bases are secure, students can focus on the higher concepts.  But when those skills are insecure, students must simultaneously re-learn them when learning new material.  It’s confusing, and difficult.

Worse, students are set up to fail: classrooms assume that students will forever retain the basic skills they learn in K-8.  Cognitive science assures us they won’t: the brain is efficient, and dissolves anything it’s not using.  I’ve seen honors students who can’t add fractions or multiply by 10.

This course fixes that.  In eight brief sessions, it trains students to do difficult addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division in their heads without stress. In seconds, you’ll be able to do the following problems without really trying:

739 + 674

861 – 483

17 × 26

210 ÷ 14

Aren’t those just party tricks?  How will this help me, concretely?

By automating the bases, you’ll be able to see the problem as a whole. Working memory (the “thinking part” of the brain) can only deal with seven items at once.  When a complex problem includes more than seven elements, you get lost and frustrated.  But when you automate the most basic elements, you can see how the complex parts fit together.

By being able to do basic math quickly, you can check your work without really trying. Wrong answers will seem wrong; right answers will seem right.

By mastering the fundamentals, you’ll transform into the “smart kid” in class.  You’ll see yourself differently; the teacher may treat you differently.  Math class won’t just be “a long string of suckiness”, as a student once eloquently put it.  It’ll be doable.

Once you shore up the bases, all math becomes easier.

If you’d like to get your feet wet, contact me for a free, one-hour consultation.

More on Special Courses

Have a Specific Question?

I’d love to meet you in a free, 1-hour consultation.  I can answer your questions, & give you a sense of what I can help you accomplish.

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