Looking out for motivation

It can’t always be shiny and rainbows. The same thing can be said for motivation. Sometimes it’s just always not going to be there, and that is very much okay. The days where the motivation is lacking, the sleep in is calling and the effort to move is low, come around every once in a while. But when they do, you’ve got to look elsewhere for motivation. I guess more specifically, you’ve got to look outwards.
Now the reason we make that specification is that the everyday motivation comes from the internal stuff. That stuff comes from deep within, the passion for waking up and doing whatever it is you may do. So, on those days when the internal motivation is low, what’s on the outside?
I’m so glad you asked. When we say external motivation, we mean the things on the outside and that surround you. Whether that be people or things. But, let’s keep in mind, these pillars of motivation can only last you so long.
Something that’s always a good one to kick you into gears is deadlines. When you know you’ve got to get something done and there’s a set time you need it done in, it can get the flow going. The notion of a deadline also introduces the idea that there are consequences. So, there’s that as an added bonus. If you don’t get it done, what is going to come of that?
Friends or family can also act as a push. In a nice way, they put positive pressure on you. Being around them and seeing the energy they give off can compel you to pick up your own game. Now we’re not saying it’s a race or competitive game, but being around those close to you that are doing their own things can help refresh your drive.
Movies, YouTube, TV Shows and other visual mediums, despite offering a little bit of procrastination can also smack out the lazy. As people who are naturally drawn to visuals and the representations, they offer, watching a character or person who they themselves are what you call a ‘go-getter’ might make you want to be one. Whether they be in a job you aspire to or their personality is just infectious, seeing someone motivated and working hard is an easy quick fix to get up off the couch or bed, if you’re still hitting the snooze.
Whilst they can be cheesy, quotes can work. Be it the right quote at the right time can give out the right reaction. Make sure you know what you need and know what mood you are in to be able to pick a choose a quote that is going to resonate and not deter away. Perhaps collate a group of quotes for this time when motivation is lacking because whilst they can’t provide a visual, there is power in words.
Remember, these ideas work for short-term productivity and small bursts of motivation when you’re having a low day. Internal motivation is the one you’re looking for to get you through all of your days.

It’s time to scram the cram

Cramming is put into the same basket as all-nighters. It’s just a no-no. They both have common denominators here (maths pun…get it!). Now, I’m confident that if your child is cramming, they’ve also been a victim of procrastination. They’re trying to cram all the information they can in a limited amount of time all in pursuit of a pass because surely they can’t be going for a good score if this is where it begins. Well, parents, you’d be surprised, because yes, yes it happens.
You can tell your children that cramming is not the optimal way to study, no matter what they try to dispute it with. Not only is it silly, but it’s not going to work in the long run either because let’s face it, it will be gone 2 hours after it’s done (2 hours if you’re lucky too). There’s no real learning or long-term effect of the study or content.
Now in an ideal world, children wouldn’t cram. But I guess, if it were an ideal world, everything really would be made of chocolate (thanks Cadbury for that dream). For some classes, if it’s not their dream or they dislike it, then I guess as parents we can maybe turn a blind eye to the light under their door at 3 am, can’t we?
But most of the time, cramming does a disservice to students and their learning. If you do see the light under the door, ask them what they remember. Do they truly understand the content or the justification they provided in the exam?
Try repetition. Use small doses and consume content. This is a good one especially when there’s a lot of information to learn and that information is dense. Use paper flashcards or a flashcard app.
Encourage them to do their homework. That’s what teachers provide homework for, to review and learn the content so there is little need for cramming. Doing the set-out work is also a way to find any missing gaps in their learning they may not have recognized until reviewing the day’s work. This way, they have the time to whip that into shape.
If students cram the night before, they don’t give themselves the chance to go to peers or even the teacher with questions. Reviewing the content, completing homework and doing the study, offers the student time to write down some particular questions or topics they aren’t particularly comfortable with. That way, they can take them to the teacher and ask for further explanation.
More from that one, encourage them to focus on what they don’t understand. Once they’ve got their questions and little gaps, they can be confident in what they do know. Evening out the playing field to make sure that there are no significant strengths and weaknesses will make tackling all the exam questions a little easier.
The last thing is to get sleep. Now that one’s a bit tricky if they’re trying to cram, isn’t it? Hopefully, we’ve backed them into a corner with these tips to study in advance and not cram, because it’s time to get rid of that don’t we think?

Nervous about an exam?

We all know exams create a stressful anxious time for students. But how can we help children deal with this? Their heartbeat races, they feel like they can’t catch their breath and they get a little case of the shivers. These signs, whilst nothing to fret more about, may be indicative that a student suffers from exam anxiety. Like we said, everyone from time to time may have a rumble in the tummy when an exam is upcoming, but some of these reactions can be debilitating and impact their performance.

When we all get anxious, the brain listens and spits out a dose of adrenaline to try to combat the anxious tendencies. But when in an exam situation, sometimes it’s not possible to put that adrenaline to use. So that makes it extra tricky. Encourage your child to be aware of when the anxiety kicks. Encourage them to come to terms with both the physical and emotional tells that come up when they feel the anxiety come on.

One of the easiest ways to calm thoughts is meditation. And yes, we know that your child is in an exam room but there are many types of meditation that don’t include distracting peers with hums and burning candles. A trusty tip is to encourage your child to focus on their breath. Block out the anxious thoughts swirling in the brain and focus on the length and strength of their breath.

Something else to pull out of the hat is to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness doesn’t involve blocking out the tiny anxious voices or focusing on the breath, but it does involve focusing on the present. During the exam, whether it be at the start, the end or throughout the whole exam, children can focus on that moment. Tell them to think about their anxiety and the thoughts that it is promoting. When they consider the thoughts, the significance of it all seems a little less significant.

Next up, is visualization. Again, it can be before or during the exam, but encourage your child to visualize themselves walking to the room, all calm and confident. Keep doing it, answering questions, working through the exam and even walking out of the exam room calm and confident again. The thinking behind visualization is that dreaming up a situation that presents a relaxed environment, may help the situation that’s occurring in real life.

Hyping up themselves is also something that can add some confidence to the equation. If your child is walking into the exam with negative thoughts, it’s not going to help the situation. When they leave for school, add some positive encouragement to get the positivity swarming in their heads. So then, possibly when Mr Negative starts to creep in they’ll have those positive comments to swat him off.

When it comes to anxiety, it’s all about generating a positive and safe environment and in this case, that’s (unfortunately for students) in the exam room.

Make sure your kids know about money

We live in a world where it is unable to function within society without having and handling money. So, on that note, does your child have a good sense of financial literacy? Having an awareness of the value of money and its concepts and risks allows people to make informed decisions. And making informed decisions, especially when it’s about finance, is an important part of life and an important thing to understand whether or not your child is approaching it.

The first thing is to discuss money. When you talk about paying for things or getting paid for work, children are able to establish a basic understanding of how it all works, i.e money comes in, money goes out. So with this in mind, when they come to you and ask for things at the shops you can explain that money is not endless. The family only earns a certain amount of money and only a certain amount of that is used to purchase things. Hopefully, this will help distinguish the needs from wants.

Pocket money is a good way to introduce money to children. Doing chores in exchange for money will allow your child to see that when they work they get paid for their labour. The only way this will work properly though is if you pay for each task rather than a fixed payment for the week. This way if they want, they may offer to do extra chores in exchange for more money (smart thinking kids). They will be able to decide what they would like to purchase and how many chores they need to complete to do so.

It’s tricky to keep tags on children’s money when they get it for their birthdays, for Christmas and for other miscellaneous occasions. To avoid both yours and their confusion, why not open up their own savings account. In having their own account, they can then make their own decisions and decide how they want to manage their money. Once they see the money going up as they put more in, not only will it give them a visual of saving money but may even prompt them to add more in.

Involving your child in financial management and big money decisions can also increase their financial literacy. Show your children the bills that come in and how you deal with them. What do you put where and when?

When your children wish to purchase something, encourage them to research first. Whilst it can be fun to be impulsive, it’s also important to research prices and sellers before they go to purchase. This way they can compare the features and offers to determine what the best deal is.

Sometimes, when you research a second-hand option may come up. This is often the way that the thing they wish to purchase can be sold, in a good condition from a second-hand seller or individual. This may also be a good example to show the value of money and how it can change when purchased first to reselling.

School goals for 2022

Setting goals at the start of the school year will help set the tone for students academically. It helps keep students accountable during the year too. If they start to slack off or lose focus, reminding them of the goals they set out themselves might set them straight.

Now let’s remember, these goals don’t always have to be based on academics or goal-focused. They could be more geared towards improvements in behaviours to then improve something that can contribute to academics. It could be a change in focus for habit-based goals. Whereas for a goal directly linked to grades, it could be achieving a total B plus in English at the end of the year. These goals set students up with motivation and a strong sense of determination before the school year has even started.

It can be easy as an outsider to inflict your own views onto your students when creating their goals. But for them to be motivated by them and want to achieve them, children need to come up with their own goals. Ask them what they want to achieve and why do they want to achieve this, delve a little deeper. Problem-solving is also a part of goals, so introduce the idea that challenges may present themselves. How are they going to problem solve in those situations? Try and brainstorm some solutions together.

Once they’ve determined a few goals, break it down. You may choose to break these down into milestones or perhaps in accordance with a timeline. Not only does breaking it down seem a little more tangible, but it’s also easy to visualize. Write it down and pop it on the fridge for your child remind them each day what they’re working to achieve.

With it now on the fridge, it’s also another reminder not to give up. Creating goals before the school year starts, it’s a long way until they’re achieved. It can be easy to lose sight or lose your way towards the end when the goal was made a while ago.

However, if it does happen that they get to the end and what they set out to achieve didn’t quite eventuate don’t take this opportunity to shame or be disappointed. If it hasn’t quite been planned out how they wanted, take it as an opportunity to teach them a lesson and discuss it. This type of thing can often motivate them in the future and create more catered goals to this. Making new goals might also boost their confidence and motivation for next year or for what is upcoming.

Preparing to go back to school

I can only imagine the moans and sighs of disappointment that can be seen when the idea of going back to school comes around. They have weeks off and yet it still doesn’t seem like enough time to want to go back, for most children at least. Be happy if you’ve got one of the lucky ones! But if you didn’t score in that department and you’re still getting the moans, see if these will help:
Now, we’re not judging, but we’re guessing that their bedtime routine or routine, in general, has changed over the last few weeks. From late-night family catchups over Christmas to sleepovers with friends, it’s bound to happen. But it’s a good idea to re-establish that bedtime routine that aligns with the school lifestyle. To coax back into their early bedtime why not plan activities for the morning rather than later in the day as both an incentive to go to sleep and to possibly tire them out ready for bed later.
With the bedtime routine out the window, tasks and expectations of the household can also go with it. But, make sure you set out the expectations of the household before school gets back to re-establish that routine as well. Put a planner on the fridge and put on the outlined household chores or events of the week. Maybe even get your children to write a list with you and stick it up for everyone to see to everyone knows the expectations.
Make sure they’re organised. It’s the perfect time to get out with the old and bring in the new with the new school year. Throw out any toys or clothes that aren’t being used anymore and either sell them for pocket money or give them to charity. Once it’s gone, why not let your child pick some new stationery or posters to go on the wall and set up a new space and mindset for the year ahead.
Now, if after they’re organised and back in routine the nerves are still there, it’s time to calm those nerves. It’s no surprise that at the start of the year, the anxiety can be heightened. Ask them how they’re feeling and listen to what they have to say, free of judgement. Try bringing up all the fun and positive things they like about school, but at the same time be careful not to dismiss their anxious thoughts. Arranging some play dates with school friends can ease the anxiety of the first day back at school, maybe even walking in with them.
The start of the year offers a fresh start for students, so help them get organised for what is ahead!

Summer activities for everyone!

With school done for the year, the school holidays offer the whole family a chance to have some fun together. The benefit of the summer holidays often means nice weather, so if you’re close to the beach that’s always a great option. But for those that maybe don’t have the option to escape in the heat, we’ve got some other fun activities for the Summer and school holidays. The best thing is they’ll keep the children learning whilst on holiday!
With boxing day the obvious day for sales, why not go along? I bet your child got either some money or a gift card from Santa and that burning hole in their pocket wants to spend it. Something good before you go is to get them to write a list of what they would like to buy, perhaps getting their Christmas list back out to cross off the things they didn’t receive. When they’ve nailed down what they would like to purchase, they can find the best deals to best spend their money on and use this as a lesson to take on.
If your child is still getting the basics of their learning down, the holidays are a great way to occupy them with fun activities that can help those basics along. Using some colour pieces of paper, ask your child to fold or cut the piece of paper into certain sized sections. Together you can work out what fraction they’ve created and cut or fold it further to create more. Not only do they learn further, but they can also see a visual representation of how fractions work.
Use time as a competitive method in activities or games the family decide to play. Encourage them to break their own record. Perhaps they like swimming or sprinting or how far they can jump across the front lawn. All of these can be timed with a stopwatch or I’m sure that you’re reading this from your smartphone, so there are no excuses parents! As long as they’re aware it’s not about performance or winning, then it will all be in good fun. As a bonus for their maths teacher, they’ll come to school with a whole new understanding of time and recording results perhaps!
Go somewhere you or the family has never been! Has there ever been a time when you’ve driven past a street or particular place you’ve always wanted to go but maybe forgotten? Look it up on the map together and see how long it will take to get there. How many km’s away is it? Can you walk or bike there? What can you do there? Once you’ve got the day worked out, you can all go together and enjoy a new mystery place that you may even come back to.
Is your family travelling or doing something special these holidays? Why not start a blog! Your children can maybe even add their own spin on their travels and add to it. It allows them to put their own perspective out there in a way that is fun and creative. It’s something that if you post online, they’ll also be able to look back at this time in a few years and reminisce.
Now, if the weather isn’t living up to its’ summer standards, then this next one is great for that. If you’ve got a creative child on your hands, something they might like to do is rearrange their bedroom or make a change. Perhaps it’s just as simple as moving the furniture around or maybe it’s a new colour of paint to liven up the room again. Set out a budget and a plan of what the end result will look like and work together towards it. It might even give them a reason to keep the room nice and tidy (you can only hope).

Feeling lonely during the holidays?

It’s okay to feel lonely during the holidays. It’s a normal time to feel like a bit of an outsider if you’re away from home or family. Whilst it’s normal, it can be a tricky time to navigate. Even more so when you add social media into the mix and possibly see your friends with their families and celebrating the holidays.
Loneliness isn’t something to be ashamed about. It doesn’t point to something weird or disordered about you. It’s an experience shared by most of us and some of those experience it in the holidays too, just like you now. This is something to remember when you feel excluded, it’s not your fault.
It may even be a situation where you are surrounded by your family and friends, but still feel lonely. One reason could be a lack of understanding. This lack of understanding or even acceptance could stem from the reactions and receptions received from family and friends. If you’re feeling this way, it’s good to remember that it’s not a reflection of you.
Another possible reason for that niggling feeling of loneliness is that maybe perhaps you’re the single in a sea of couples. Despite the visual that you don’t have someone on your arm (and to put the thought to bed, no you do not need one), family members can still pester about your love life and make it feel like the most important thing about you. Again, it’s not a reflection of you.
Whilst it may not be easy to shrug off those thoughts, to break away from those lonely situations amongst gatherings is to put yourself out there. Whilst it may sound trivial when discussing loneliness, it can be helpful to talk to new people or go to gatherings where you don’t know many people. Those positive interactions will show you that you can talk to people and that you can connect. In doing so, the confidence skyrockets. These little interactions and bouts of confidence will help when it comes to uncomfortable conversations with friends or family.
If, however, a gathering or situation surrounded by people isn’t on the cards, why not volunteer? Christmas time can be tricky for those in less fortunate situations, so volunteering can make you feel better. Volunteering to feed the homeless or hand out presents to those unable to buy them can be rewarding all whilst allowing you to feel a part of something during the holidays.
After the year we’ve had (again) it’s important to make the most of the holidays. If you feel lonely remember that it’s okay.

Reducing that sugar intake during the holidays

The school holidays especially being long and filled with family and holiday gatherings create a cheeky way for children to consume much more sugar than needed. It’s hard to keep track of their sugar intake but it’s also hard to deny because well Santa. Am I right?
Now whilst it’s all well and good to turn a blind eye, overindulgence can be a bit tricky down the track. We’ve all heard of a ‘sugar rush’, that’s where the hyperactivity comes into play. Then there are the obvious health issues it creates for the child and their wellbeing. Now there’s also the negative effect it could have on their sleep patterns.
But how do you reduce sugar in the holidays when it’s everywhere?
Now, there should only ever be one Grinch at Christmas time so you don’t want to deny your children of all sugar and fun. But what you can do is offer treats and sugar in moderation. Limit the access that children have to the snacks. Try adjusting the portions or sizes of the treats offered at Christmas. At the end of the day cutting it out completely isn’t going to solve the problem. They’re just going to want it more, so moderation is key.
You can get carried away in the sweets and candies that are around, but what about what’s in the drinks? Soft drinks can also add to that sugar intake. Where possible, try to promote water as the alternative. You can jazz it up to seem more enticing by placing sliced fruit in the water like lemon or strawberries. This will also give it that hint of flavour and trick them into thinking they’re drinking a flavoured drink. Why not jazz up the cups they’re drinking out of too! If there are Christmas themed cups or even just colourful cups around that’ll do the trick.
If you’re baking the treats yourself, look into some alternatives that can be used in the recipe. Sometimes you can half the portion altogether, for instance in cookies, the sugar can be halved. Whilst, in other recipes that require that sweetness, try opting for a more natural alternative. Things like maple syrup, honey or agave are a great way to introduce a new substitute for sugar.
Get outside! It may be to burn off that extra sugar consumption they sneaked behind your back or simply to distract them from the snacks. Take a walk together around the neighbourhood, you might even see some Christmas lights while you’re at it! To make sure they want to get outside and exercise why not opt for some presents that promote time outdoors. Maybe it’s a pool or beach toy or some new sporting equipment. Not only will this reduce the sugar intake but also get them off the couch!
And if all else fails, remember it’s Christmas. So treat yourself and your family, but if you can, try an apple between sweets.

Life skills to teach your children

Making sure children are self-sufficient is important for their progression into adulthood. Getting in some basic life skills while they’re still young can help in the long run. Things like independence and confidence can help children perform at their best, both in and out of the school environment.
These basic life skills can help aid in the foundation of many others. Things like organisation, problem-solving and critical thinking can be by-products of their newfound life skills from a young age.
Giving children chores and tasks to complete can provide children with responsibility. Whether it be as small as picking up after themselves, packing their school lunch or taking the bin out of a morning and night. It can be tempting to step in and do household tasks yourself (we all know they can be a little slow) but that takes away the lesson. Taking over can mess with the child’s confidence and independence. Children will enjoy the responsibility of having something to do around the house and enjoy pitching in.
Pull out the recipe books! Following a recipe not only involves some cooking skills, but children have to follow instructions and apply some valuable maths skills with measurements. If they enjoy it (and what they made is edible) why not encourage them to do it regularly. They become both accustomed to handling food and fending for themselves.
Give your child someone else to care for, i.e., a Puppy (win, win for you too by the way). A pet can teach children further responsibility and how to care for something else. By remembering to feed the pet and cleaning up after it, will allow children to recognise that they need to consider others’ feelings and needs. Being responsible for a living being will also boost children’s confidence.
Teaching your children skills that can be applied in serious situations is also just as important as those that teach independence. One skill needed is how to perform first aid if a situation ever arises. Knowing how to bandage a wound, how to properly clean wounds and applying pressure to stop the bleeding can be some of the key basics. Showing your children where the first aid kit lives and what lives in it is important if the time ever comes.
How to deal with money is a major life skill that will definitely be needed. If your children get pocket money or birthday money as gifts it’s a great opportunity to teach them how to manage it. Why not help them open their own bank account? It can teach them how to budget and think hard about their purchases. Saving is the key skill here, it’s something that is vital for their adulthood and introduces the idea of gratification for their future purchases and therefore rewards.
Decision making is something that as a young child they may not come across often. Encourage your child to make decisions for themselves when the opportunity presents itself. In having a decision, it means the child had a few different options to choose from. Help your child to weigh up the pros and cons of each decision. If the situation is right, include them in family decisions. Not only will it give them responsibility but it also furthers their sense of belonging.
Spending time alone can also be beneficial for development. It may sound a little obvious, but with connections and the internet at our fingertips children are used to being entertained most of the time. Encourage your child to read a book or sit outside in the sun for a bit, just on their lonesome. This might generate some creativity and perspective.
In modelling all of these skills, children will be able to see how applicable and important they can become.

Advice for students heading into exams

As we approach the end of the year, senior students start to get ready for their final exams. This can be a stressful time for all involved, but especially the students. Despite the little time left, there are still some things students can do to give their confidence and grades a little boost to the finish line.

Anyone heading into a stressful time can appreciate being organised. This can be from the study space to the notes. Take the time to collate your notes in an organised manner. Having your notes coordinated will make it easy to find things. This will in turn help to keep you motivated and less frazzled. Making sure that you’re familiar with the exam timetable is also beneficial to make sure you’re organised the night before. Waking up ready to go will allow you to get there early and stay calm before the exam.

Making sure you’ve covered all content is important. But what’s also important is to figure out what topics you’re all over and the content that maybe needs some more focus. There will still be time to hone in on the weakness. Perhaps coming to a tutor at this point would be helpful or asking your teacher for extra resources or advice on what to work on could also help.

Mix it up. Mix up where you study, how you study and when you study. If you’ve been using the same study techniques or strategies for a while now, it’s likely your brain is already accustomed to it. If that’s the case, you might switch off halfway through. Mixing it up will keep you and your brain more engaged and alert.

Go back to basics with a pen and paper. Sure, technology can be fun and easy to use, but studying with an old-fashioned pen and paper can improve performance. There are fewer distractions when it’s just some paper and a pen. But writing things down can improve memory and help your brain remember the content. Plus, it mixes things up again!

Why not try some practise exams before the big one? Looking at past papers can get repetitive, but it’s one of the best strategies to both study and prepare yourself for the exam itself. Try and look for exams that you haven’t tried before. Perhaps write out some of your own test questions and swap them with a friend to test each other.

Get into a study/exam routine. Get enough sleep and eat well, you’ll thank yourself when it comes round to exam time. Put devices away before bedtime, not just right before. This way you’ll get a solid night’s sleep and feel refreshed in the morning. Apples and salads over junk food and energy drinks will help you concentrate!

The end is in sight, so keep the head down just for that little bit longer seniors.

Team sports are good for the soul

For Australians, Saturday sport is a common part of most family’s weekly routines. Younger children often get involved in soccer or netball and enjoy having fun with their teammates. But, when the children get older, friends and other social activities take priority.

Whilst parties might sound more ideal as a teenager, dropping out of Saturday sports at this time can be a mistake. As teenagers move through life things arise like peer pressure, hormonal changes and high school life. Issues such as these can be combated with the help of team sports.

Exercise creates endorphins. These endorphins can improve someone’s mood and reduce and stress or anxiety they are experiencing. So, if exercise means endorphins, then so too does team sports. And for moody teenagers, I bet parents out there wouldn’t say no to anything that could enhance their mood.

Along with anxiety and academic pressure, body image can be something else that factors in. When you’re running around each weekend on end and training, the idea of what the body can do starts to come into play. Learning the strength and skill of their body, children can appreciate their bodies for what they do, not what they look like.

Amongst teammates children might know, it also allows children to meet a wider circle of people. These people could be from different schools, of different ages or even different backgrounds. In creating a diverse group of friends, children develop a strong sense of community.

Being in a team full of like-minded friends, again, creates a sense of belonging. When they have something to look forward to and feel like they are a part of something, their attitude will be more positive.

Yelling to your teammate to pass the ball, whilst it may seem loud or like it’s only meant for the field, is a great takeaway from team sports. Non-verbal communication in gestures and facial expressions is also another helpful takeaway. These communication skills help with public speaking or just perhaps in a smaller situation in speaking up for themselves or their views.

Being on a schedule, having training each week and turning up are responsibilities that come with team sports. These small and simples responsibilities teach discipline. This can translate into managing academic responsibilities and chores outside of sport.

Unfortunately, you can’t win every game. These setbacks and small bouts of disappointment allow children to be able to better handle disappointment elsewhere in life.

So nope, Saturdays are not in for sleep-ins. They can be saved for Sundays, after team sports on Saturday!

Reading struggles are normal

Learning to read or having ongoing reading issues is a common and normal part of learning.

Whilst it’s normal and nothing to be embarrassed about, it is important to seek help to ensure they don’t fall behind. Reading is the foundation for a lot of things both within in learning and in life. Getting in early will assist with getting those problems or struggles addresses quickly.

Perhaps speaking to the teacher might help in pinpointing some exact strategies that could help. Maybe these could be implemented at home and worked on when possible.

One thing you could try is reading with your child. Reading aloud allows the skills to be practised with the support of someone else doing it too. It might help with pronunciation and help them to decode the meaning of words they perhaps might not have known. Asking questions is also on the table if they are unsure of the story. As another incentive, as a parent, you also get the chance to hear what they struggle with.

Most classrooms with offer students sight words to work on too. These sight words might be frequency words that coincide with their learning levels and abilities. They learn to recognise the words they come across, develop a sense of fluency and comprehend their meaning. Why not put the sight words on the fridge door. It will draw attention to these words on a regular basis.

Whilst being exposed to familiar words help, what is also important is to let children learn new words. The more they recognise the words, the easier it will be when they come across them within an exercise or a book. Find stories and books that feature new words and change up what you read so it doesn’t become a routine of words they are accustomed to. Ask your child to point out the words they don’t know when it comes across in a book. See if they can find a new word each time you turn the page.

Now put some fun in it! Word games are helpful for students who struggle with confidence when they read. Being a fun exercise, children will be more engaged with words and stories. Scrabble, Sequences letters and fun car games like ‘I Spy’ enhance literacy. If you’re looking for more word games why not google online to see what else is out there.

Something else that can get in the way of reading, is the student’s focus. This affects their ability to comprehend words and determine their meaning. Why not try audiobooks, they can listen while looking at the pictures within the book, following along with the words. Read in a quiet place where they can’t be distracted by surrounding sounds or environments.

Navigating the pressures of social media

It’s no secret that social media is now a function of everyday life. Amongst young people, this statement is heightened. To keep in touch with friends and the ‘in crowd’, it’s an expectation that young people be present on a multitude of platforms.

Having an online profile helps to create a sense of belonging amongst the younger generation. Whilst these platforms offer the chance for young people to connect with others online, it’s not all rainbows online. There are negative impacts of these platforms too.

Some behaviours online can be linked back to mental health issues like depression, anxiety, issues with self-esteem and self-confidence and sometimes loneliness. As parents, the goal is to ensure our children are safe online. Make sure your children are keeping social media in perspective and emphasise the importance of in-person connections.

To help navigate the pressures of social media, talk with your children about social media and what’s involved.

Communicating with your child is key when it comes to social media. Their online life can often be private, meaning you are kept out of the loop. But try to encourage your student to reflect on their screen time or what platforms they interact with and why. What do they like about the platforms they use? What don’t they like?

The editing of photos and the bodies that are presented online can bring about some negative thoughts. It can make children feel bad about their bodies or compare their bodies to the edited images they have seen online. Ensure that they know that these photos are edited too. From an outsider’s perspective with further insight into the platform and the ways, creators use it. This is not a reflection of reality, make sure they know this. Focus on their health and find confidence in other outlets rather than the reflection they see.

Find positive profiles or content that fights back at the edited, photoshopped versions. Good role models that share the values you and your student wish to embody. Think about your student’s interests. With a vast online community, they’re bound to find like-minded people that share positive content that align with their interests.

Why not introduce some screen-free time. Designate a time during the week or each night after bed, where the phones are put away. In this time students can spend their time reading a book, spending time with family or perhaps even studying! They will be able to recognise the benefits of the world away from the screen.

A student check list to choosing the right university…

Choosing the place to spend your tertiary education is no easy decision. For some it could mean moving interstate, living out of home and beginning a new stage in their learning and life.

Deciding which university to attend can also be made harder when students aren’t sure what they want to do or can’t decide between a few.

When application deadlines approach, the panic can often increase. So, it’s important to make sure it’s the right choice.

Make sure you know what you want first. Others around you could be on their way to university or other pathways after finishing school. Making your own decision based on what friends and other school peers are doing is a mistake.

To make your own decision, consider what your interests are, what skills you possess and how you can implement this into a career. Something else to ponder is what you want out of your studies. If these questions don’t lead to a clear degree or occupation, but you’d like to continue on the tertiary path, try out a general degree. Get a taste of Uni life and everything involved. In trying out subjects and speaking to other peers, a degree might spark your interest, allowing you to go into a more specialised degree.

If you’ve got a course or university in mind from the get-go, remember to keep things in perspective. If that dream falls away or you fall short, it’s not the end of the world. Maybe if you do end up going, it’s not what you expect either.

Courses have particular scores needed for entry, but your final score or mark might not match up. Your first preference might not come through, so maybe it comes down to your second or third or even fifth preference. This may force you to consider what you want or if look at alternative pathways to get into the course you have decided is what you want.

Research what’s out there. There’s a range of universities and degrees that are offered, find out more about them. Look at course codes and lists and opportunities within the university. Something else to look further into is the costs of tuition. What about travel time, the cost of living, or working part-time while studying?

Talk to teachers, family and friends or someone professional to consider the options with you. They might have an insight into what they think could be a possible pathway for you or help guide you in the right direction.

Going to university and choosing where to go is no easy feat. It’s a huge milestone for students in their learning journey. Take the time to make the right decision and you will be all the better for it.

How to nail that essay

As a student, there’s no way to avoid an essay. Its part and parcel of almost every subject students will encounter during their studies. But as common as they are, teaching the foundations of essay writing and how to write a good essay is often skipped over.
Students need to be able to plan and structure an essay so it’s effective. If you’re not sure how to do this correctly, keep reading.
With an essay, comes a question. Analyse this question first. Work out exactly what the question is asking and this will help you shape your essay a bit easier. Underline keywords that stand out and use these to form the question in your own words. In doing so, if you were once unsure of what the trajectory of the question could be, this perhaps adds some further understanding. However, if after analysing you’re still unsure, ask your teacher.
Once the question has been grasped, do some research on the topic or the argument you’ve chosen to present. If you’ve chosen a stance and gathered further insight into the topic, think about how you’re going to present it to readers. Are there facts you could use to justify your approach? Try highlighting and taking notes of examples or evidence that you could use to help make your case and convince readers.
In finding evidence, you might find you have already developed an angle. And this angle may or may not agree with the question. Whatever you decide, ensure there is evidence to back it up. Reinforcing this argument throughout the essay will also help to ensure the readers are clear of the essay’s stance.
Once the angle is confirmed, go back to the evidence and decipher which quotes and examples best suit the argument. Look at the notes, highlight what is relevant and remove what is not.
Right, you’ve got the argument and its backing evidence. Put it all together in a plan. Define the number of paragraphs, the contents of those paragraphs and what will feature in the introduction and conclusion. Ensure that the plan reflects the ideology that each paragraph should flow on from the other.
Next up is the first draft. A first draft is a safe space where the initial ideas and sentence sequences can be written down. The words don’t need to be perfect or sound finalised. The next part of the process is to let it be. Walk away from the draft. Come back a little while later with fresh eyes ready to restructure, edit and modify. Read through sentences and decide whether it flows, if the word choices fit and whether the argument is clear enough.
Lastly, find a proofreader. Another pair of fresh eyes to help offer some feedback to ensure the essay is of its best standard.
Now, while we think that this process works, writing an essay in this format is not absolute. If you’d like to mix up these steps, do it. If things change throughout the process, like the argument, just go with it.

Study tips…that actually work!

Some of us opt for re-reading, others opt for the ole’ highlighter and notes and others opt for none at all. These study techniques whilst seemingly may sound effective, here’s a secret, they’re really not as effective as you think. Shock horror!

Why are they not effective you ask? Well, let me tell you. At GSPT, we think it has something to do with the fact that re-reading or highlighting old notes does not prompt students to think and draw links between concepts. There’s no real application of what they’ve learnt.

So, what you may ask is effective? Again, let me tell you…

Exercise my friends for one! Sure, exercise and working out can give some appearance by-products (i.e abs) but it also has some hidden brain benefits. Take a break from a study session or scratch that, even before the study session has started, go for a walk! Or a run! Or a hike! Exercise like this can get the blood pumping and allow for more oxygen to get to the brain. If that’s not enough motivation for students to get out outside before they hit the tools is that it can increase their levels of alertness, meaning all that squabble on the page can be turned into comprehended concepts.

The next thing to do is, break that study down. Put it into malleable chunks that your brain and motivation can handle. Don’t go too hard to quick and burn out. Pace yourself. Breaking down study sessions into these smaller bursts of time, allows your brain to ‘relearn’ the concepts and content introduced throughout the term or year. In doing this, it strengths the brain’s memory and allows the student to absorb more.

It makes sense logically to cover biology then physics and then maths. Subject by subject. But why not mix it up? Just like breaking down those sessions, why not give it a go and do mini-blocks of study about different concepts, but still make sure they’re related. This notion and practice of ‘interlearning’ and solidifying the pattern of mixing these concepts will ensure the brain can grasp and retain knowledge a little better.

Flashcards everybody! This one’s an oldie but a goodie. While it might seem similar to reading over notes, it actually reminds your brain to retrieve the information. Write down some key concepts or prompts, and draw cards randomly to test your knowledge.

Teach it to someone else. This one might seem silly when you’re the one that’s trying to learn. Funnily enough, when students are told they need to teach a certain topic, there’s more engagement with the topic. Thinking about how you would explain it to someone else aids in making sure your own comprehension of the topic is up to scratch.

Ditch that device. Ditch it. Do it. We all know that nowadays, everyone has a new limb, scientifically known as the smartphone. But that limb can be a nuisance when you want to study. It dings and lights up and creates more distraction than being in the living room with the rest of the family! So, for now, detach the limb. Trust us, it’s for the best.

Need a change of scenery? Move to another room in the house, perhaps a quieter room or a room where everyone else is being productive or even outside. Pitching yourself a new study tent in new surroundings makes the brain switch up the alertness and allow students to focus and retain their content.

We’re sure these tips and tricks will get the brain ticking just in time for those exams!

Self-Care is the new A-Plus

I am always an advocate for a hard-earned face-mask-chocolate-in-the-bathtub kind of night. And now the experts are telling us that it’s good for academic success, I think hell yes!
Often as a student, you can get stuck up in the study and the books, but do you think they consider their health? Or their wellness? As a good guess, I’d vote option A, because no, they definitely do not. Neglecting their health and all-around wellness creates bad habits. These bad habits make it hard to break them and form healthier behaviours.
There’s a lot more to wellness and self-care than just physical needs. Maybe it means connecting with friends and communities at school. Get involved in school activities and things that promote joy for students. Involving yourself with people that are like-minded and share the same interests can do wonders for a student’s wellbeing.
We say it time and time again, but for old times sake, we’ll say it again, exercise. Not only is it for the physical benefits, but for mental and overall wellness too. Being out in nature too can enhance student’s mood and get motivation levels up. Plus, there’s a range and a half of activities you can do outside for exercise, so start a checklist students!
Wellness and self-care also entail what goes in. A good diet is a great recipe for student’s wellness and therefore their academic performance. We know that chips and chocolate taste good, but do they do anything for our brain function? Probably not if we want to get the best grades! Eating foods that lack nutritional value can often cause fatigue. Whilst we’ll allow it on your hard-earned face-mask-chocolate-in-the-bathtub kind of night, perhaps swap the chocolate out for an apple next time to boost that energy and concentration.
Hit the hay! We know all-nighters are all the rage these days, but trust me they’re actually not. To make sure our wellness is up to scratch we’ve got to make sure that we’re getting enough sleep. Stick to a bedtime routine and reap the benefits of a good night’s sleep.
Anxiety plays a key role in our mental wellness. And if anxiety is a common feeling your student records, why not lead them towards meditation. Meditation teaches you how to switch off and find what the experts call your moment of ‘Zen.’
So, break out the face masks people, we’re practising self-care! Academic success can stem from things like good physical and mental wellness, which is where the self-masks, meditation, good diet, all those types of things come in. So why not give it a go!

Why we think one-on-one is for your child!

If your student is struggling at school, there are options to help make that struggle a little easier. One of those options is tutoring, but specifically one-on-one tutoring.

Scratching your head because you’re not sure what one-on-one entails exactly? Well, one-on-one tutoring is pretty much in the name one, being a tutor is with the other one, a student. Tuition is conducted and tailored by the tutor to only that student, allowing for personalisation and attention applied to the student and their learning.

This notion of focused attention and support is no wonder why one-on-one is highly regarded as being the most successful option to help struggling students.

Our one-on-one tuition can be tailored to any student, but perhaps it might be best for those that fit the following criteria.

  • Students who struggle to concentrate: concentrating in class helps students both keep up and maintain on task to progress their learning. But those who struggle to focus and concentrate in class and on the topic is the main reason students can fall behind. Away from the classroom and in a tailored learning environment removes the distractions and peers that would normally interfere with student’s concentration. Their tutor is able to focus on their work and only their work.
  • Students who learn at their own pace: We all know that each student learns differently, which also means they all learn at different paces. In a classroom, the teacher has to juggle a number of students, making it hard for slower learners to keep up or get enough attention to comprehend the topic. Having a tutor work with your student one-on-one will allow the tutor to adapt their teaching towards the student’s learning style. Whether it be that it needs to be explained in a different way or if the student just needs to complete more worksheets or exercises to get it down, the tutor can work through it with them.
  • Student needs extra help: Being surrounded by other learners can hinder certain student’s attention and ability to learn in a loud and crowded environment. Some students are more expressive and can feel limited to show this in the classroom. Being in a one-on-one situation with their tutor will allow the student to express themselves and their ideas freely without disrupting others and learn in an environment that fosters their opinions and expressiveness.
  • Students who experience anxiety while learning: If your student fears speaking up in class or contributing to a large group, it can often create some anxiety around learning. Being scared to get an answer wrong can create those nervous anxious feelings. Making mistakes and the anxiety that comes with that can be worked through with a one-on-one tutor. The tutor will remind the student that making mistakes is a part of learning. Anxious students can feel more confident in expressing their opinion or answers.
  • Students who can’t find the motivation to learn: Not keeping up with school or falling behind in class can be because there’s little motivation. Students might lose motivation when they are bored with the content or they aren’t challenged enough with what’s being taught. Working with a tutor one-on-one means the tutor can get to know the student as an individual and determine what motivates them. Shaping lessons around what interests them will spark some motivation to learn.

If your student ticks even one or perhaps all of the criteria or behaviour listed above, why not contact us now to arrange a tutor to help your student one-on-one!

How to know when you’re child isn’t keeping up in the classroom

When you’re student is struggling with their learning, it might not exactly be that apparent. Maybe your student isn’t all that fond of talking about what’s bothering them or articulating what they’re struggling with. We all know one way to tell if a student is struggling is what comes back in their report card. But perhaps there’s more going on?
It might not be overnight. It could be over a couple of weeks or even a whole term or semester that your student’s behaviour or approach to school changes.
One key thing to pick up on is playing up in class. Disrupting other students in class or making a point to stay off task can be one-way students express their frustration. When students act out like this, the teacher can often discipline their behaviour rather than see behind their actions and see their struggles.
We all know moody is a by-product of growing up but is your student being a little bit more cranky or irritable than usual? These moods or fatigue can be a warning sign for something else going on besides the moody grunt and groans. A student’s mood can be altered due to what’s happening in the classroom, so make sure to keep an eye on their mood and tone when they leave for and arrive from school each day.
Faking a sickie is a birthright for any student. But 2 in one week? This could be a sign that they’re not too big on school at the moment because they’re avoiding it. They could be pretending but if they are maybe it could also be caused by stress. They might not be getting enough sleep, perhaps experiencing more frequent headaches or are seemingly more stressed than usual. These signs could be a sign to spark a conversation to see what’s really going on.
Is your child normally eager to get their homework done? But are they now dragging their feet at the thought of doing any more work after school? Again, a warning sign parents! Maybe they don’t want to complete it or talk about it because they are struggling and don’t want to make a mistake or get the answers wrong.
As a parent, there are a few things you can do to combat these tell-tale signs of a struggling student. Why not speak to your student’s teacher to see if they’ve noticed anything in the classroom? Maybe they can pinpoint some signs they’ve also noticed at school. Make sure your student knows that they are supported and encouraged even if they are struggling or not keeping up at the moment.
And maybe that’s where we come in! Maybe hiring a tutor could also boost those spirits and help a struggling student. With one-on-one focused attention, your student could get some extra confidence to bring back into the classroom and their learning.