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.

How to bring your child back up when they’re down

Handing in an assignment that you’re proud of and the feeling that comes with that achievement can very quickly change when the results come back. Perhaps your child got a great result back but maybe, just maybe, they didn’t get what they wanted or what they think they deserved. They might lose confidence in their ability which can transpire in a lack of motivation. As a support system, responding to this and the reaction you make is integral to how your student reacts to their next assignment.
Showing signs of disappointment or anger won’t help the situation. And to be honest, your student might already be feeling those emotions enough for the both of you. There’s no need to add to it. What you can add is support and encouragement that allows your child to regain their confidence.
It’s not the end of the world, is it? Sure, it’s not going to be the highlight of their day. But by next month, it’s going to be a thing of the past. Keeping that in mind is easy to bring students back to the ground when they blow things out of proportion. At this point, it’s just one bad mark. And if you or they overreact, it’s not going to benefit anyone. Remind them, it’s only a bad mark and it’s not the end of the world.
Turn it into a lesson. It’s an opportunity to teach your student how to deal with situations like this. When they’ve calmed down or accepted the situation, have a chat. Find out what went wrong if something did in fact go wrong. Did they not complete the task correctly? Did they not apply themselves enough? Learning what happened can help you help them to figure it out next time and learn what strategies might work better.
If perhaps your child couldn’t figure out, maybe it’s something that they can’t pinpoint themselves. But I bet their teacher can. The teacher will be able to pinpoint some possible learning issues or difficulties your child might be experiencing in the classroom when you’re not privy to detect these. The teacher should also be able to point you and your child in the way of some useful resources or advice on what you and your support system can do.
Maybe it’s time to revamp their learning environment. Perhaps their environment is no longer quiet or it’s gotten too cramped with a mess or whatever it may be. Take an interest in their learning and how they learn. It’s important for your child to know that you’re invested and want them to achieve. This might make them want to invest in themselves and return the favour.
When the next mark comes around and it’s an improvement, make a note of it! Show how proud you are and reward the progress they’ve already made. Your child will be able to see that learning is exciting. But remember, there’s no need to make a big fuss about the reward otherwise they’ll get hung up on the praise or prize.
And perhaps, when the time is right, why not give one of our tutors a go! Children need support during their schooling, especially when a poor result has rocked their confidence. A tutor can help facilitate and nurse that confidence back to health whilst also getting those results back up to scratch!

Why is my child struggling with 2 + 2?

Not everyone is going to work well with numbers. Some work better with words. Everyone is different in how they learn. So, struggling with maths is something that isn’t uncommon or something that should be judged about.
As I said, we all know that everyone learns differently, at different paces and with different levels of understanding. But, it’s important to make sure that your student gets back up to scratch. Falling behind is never good, but especially when we’re talking about maths. If your child is struggling or falling behind, it’s important to help them get back on track before they lose the basics and foundation of maths skills.
One thing that can get in the way of working on maths skills, is the level of confidence the student exhibits. When students don’t understand the concepts or its taught in a confusing way, the child can develop a sense of doubt in their abilities. Add to the situation that the teacher must attend to all students in the classroom, it leaves that child without the extra attention they need to comprehend the content. Being confused in a busy classroom can cause anxious feelings around Maths and its related concepts.
But with a tutor, that extra attention the child needs and deserves can be provided. A personalised learning plan that relates to the child’s weaknesses and strengths will build up those confidence levels.
We always stress the value of reviewing content. So, it’s no secret that we also think it’s important for students to review and practise their maths skills. Unfortunately, for our slower students teachers need to move on to the next topic of the curriculum perhaps before they’ve gathered the skills from the current or past topic.
A tutor can go through and over concepts as many times as necessary for their student. This means, that they can be sure that by the end of that, they will understand the topic. The tutor has both the ability and flexibility to take the time to do this, however long it takes for their student.
Again, we know not everyone is a fan of Maths. So, for the children that fall within this category, there’s a heightened lack of interest in the subject. Perhaps also the teacher isn’t engaging the students in a fun learning environment, which doesn’t help. If examples are explained with how relevant it is or how it can be applied to real life, the interest won’t grow.
What may help is if, with a tutor, the two discuss how these basic skills are integral to everyday function and maybe even in their future career.
With a lack of interest, comes a lack of concentration. If your child isn’t interested in maths, we can be confident in assuming they won’t concentrate in the classroom. Let’s face it, students should focus on all subjects, but particularly Maths. The noises and distractions of the classroom can make this even harder.
However, In a quiet dedicated learning space whilst learning with a tutor is a recipe for success. The tutor will not only be able to teach in a calm and quiet environment, but the tutor will be able to assess their student’s concentration levels and span and improve it.
With maths being a highly vital subject and the skills involved being integral to functioning outside of the classroom, it’s important to ensure students are confident in their abilities to work on their maths foundations.

How’s your Student’s Sleep Schedule?

We all know the sacrifices students make in the pursuit of their schoolwork. At the top of the list is sleep. Students dedicate their time to their assignments, homework or exam prep and forget about one of the factors that allow them to focus and perform at their best, sleep. We see it all the time, in the movies or tv shows and I’m sure it even premiers in your households, the cliched all-nighter. Despite its comedic appeal in movies, the reality of an all-nighter or affected sleep schedule can interrupt a student’s lifestyle.

It’s no secret that with an irregular or subpar sleep pattern, student’s performance and academic results decline. I mean it seems all too obvious, yet students continue to sacrifice their Zz’s just to complete one more question or one more sentence. Having a solid and consistent sleeping pattern can mean the difference between acing the exam tomorrow or falling asleep in it because you’ve prioritised the wrong thing.

Now your student might not believe you when you tell them this, but trust us, we’re a credible source. Here we go…it takes approximately 4 days to recover from a 1-hour sleep deficit. Just let that sink in. If your student didn’t get the recommended amount of sleep (6-8 hours for those not in the know) required on Monday, realistically they’re not going to recover from it until the weekend. So, for that whole week, they are going to be functioning on a sleep deficit. Now to me, and I hope to you too, that doesn’t sound like a good combination of high-quality academic performance that week at school.

Monitor their sleep. You and your student can take this really literally and get out a pen and paper to jot it all down. Or you can simply take notice of the changes and habits that occurred during their sleep. In doing this, you’ll start to see certain factors or activities that happen before, after or during sleep that contribute to the overall quality of the sleep. Once you’ve figured out what they are and what they are responsible for, you might be able to identify some possible triggers or solutions to get a better night’s sleep.

Look into alternative methods. These could include taking up yoga, efforts of relaxation or simply some visualisation techniques. Such methods could be the key to getting into a deeper sleep. Maybe establishing a bedtime routine would be beneficial. Your body might learn to wind down and follow the necessary steps to getting ready for bed. Or perhaps it might be as simple a trick as blocking out the light or noise. Blackout curtains are one way to achieve this and let me tell you, they work a treat!

Unfortunately, many students suffer from different variations of sleep deficiency. Incorporating these steps into the discussion and solution might ease the pain of getting up each morning for school or early commitments.

Should I get my Student Help?

Unless you’re in the classroom with your student each day, it can be tricky to determine whether they are struggling or not. Even more so, it can be hard to pick whether or not they are struggling more than the other students or if their struggle is part of the challenge. Perhaps there’s the added struggle of having no or little communication with the teacher, meaning they can’t communicate or indicate the need to seek further help. Not to worry, after years in the business we’ve compiled together our top signs of when it’s right to bring your children in!

  1. Are they struggling with the basics? Have you noticed your student failing to improve because of their lack of understanding of the fundamentals? In this situation, students will find it difficult to progress if they can’t use and implement the basics of the subject or concept. This can often be the first sign for parents to indicate for them to keep an eye out.
  1. Focusing is a hard task. Perhaps external factors contributing to this one, but let’s be real, it’s kind of essential to this whole learning thing. Even if it means focusing on non-academic tasks, it might mean practising focus and attention. Start with small things, like cooking or tasks that you can watch and notice their distraction level with. Just being aware of things like this can be mean the difference in starting to assist your child’s education now or later (and then it might be too late).
  2. They need to spice it up. Is your student not feeling challenged? Maybe you think that they could benefit from learning new skills or concepts. Or you would like to introduce them to new perspectives or ways of approaching problems. In the same way that every student is different, we can’t expect every teacher to be the same. Your student’s focus and grasp at the basics might be up to standard but their teacher’s way of teaching or describing something just won’t stick. Seeking another intellectual, that’s maybe a bit younger or went through a similar curriculum might be the key to having things explained a little better.
  3. They’ve got an important exam coming up. For some students, a school entrance or scholarship exam could be right around the corner. In that case, maybe not everyone in their classroom is completing the same things. So, it might be that your student needs someone to devote their time and energy to focus on one topic or a particular set of questions. Even if the teacher is involved, getting an extra set of hands in to help the cause won’t hinder or halt the student’s progress.
  4. They enjoy learning. It can be easier to spot the signs of when a student needs tuition because they’re struggling. But can’t there also be times where students want tuition? They want tuition because they like independent subjects, they want a challenge, or they like to hand in their assignments at the very best standard they can be. These types of students are always welcome to a little bit of help, no matter their excellence or academic ability.

With trained, screened and committed tutors, your student will benefit from our one-on-one experience. Bringing your child in is just the first and exciting step. We’re here to help solidify the basics, get that focus back into gear and assist in any way we can. Tuition not only provides tools for students in their education now, but it can be beneficial in the future too. So, if after reading all this (I do hope you’ve gotten to the end), and you think perhaps your student falls into one or more categories, contact us today!

Why you and your Child Should Read Together

It’s understandable that in between work, getting the family organised or other commitments, time spent just with your student can be few and far between. It can be hard to prioritise time amongst all the other requirements, but if you find the time, seize it. The ultimate gift and use of your time can be sitting with your child to read with them. If you’re wondering we’re so passionate about the benefits of reading with and to your children, here’s why…

By way of reading, students in return improve their memory and remembering skills. In combination, their problem-solving skills are also enhanced. In reading stories and tales of certain characters, students can identify themes and examples of problem-solving themselves.

Whether it’s a series or just a one-time novel, the feeling students gain from following the protagonist’s story will always be beneficial. Their mental health, like spending time with them, is of the utmost importance. So, when their reading and connecting to the story and its characters, it can trigger hormones. Along with the happy hormones that are generated, comes another good feeling of comfort and relaxation. And who doesn’t want to be both relaxed and comfortable?

Reading a picture book, novel or even a memoir can teach students things. No matter their age or reading level, there’s always something that can be taken out of reading and getting to the end of the story. Students learn the value of empathy and by-product, how to feel empathy for others in the book and then translate this to their own world of people.

With you by their side, either reading to them or listening to them read to you, there’s a sense of togetherness. It’s a way to bond and keep in tune with your child and their learning at the same time. Students also get the satisfaction of a comfortable environment to read in, with someone who is going to encourage and support their learning and their reading.

Some other tips we suggest when it comes to reading is to let your student choose the book. Students will be much more inclined to continue with the story and be engaged when it’s something they are directly interested in. To further that engagement, encourage voices or different ways to personalise and characterise the characters in the book. Using expressive voices or motions will excite the students and introduce a sense of immersion within the story.

Reading doesn’t have to be a chore or something students put off. Perhaps adding in reading to the nightly routine before bed can be a calming way to wind down, whilst still including a sense of learning within the activity. Students’ confidence, remembering skills and mental health will be positively improved.

Teaching Students to Stand Up for Themselves

In any environment students find themselves in, there’s a need for students to feel valued and accepted. In the case where they feel underappreciated or unheard, its important they know that one, that’s not okay and two, they have the right to advocate for themselves. Self-advocacy involves the idea that any individual has the ability to speak on behalf of themselves and their desires. This type of skill and confidence is important for any student wanting to gain a sense of independence. Standing up for yourself and your associated beliefs will also not go astray after school in the workforce or the pathway your student decides to take.

To advocate for themselves, students need to gain an understanding of their own personal strengths, weaknesses and needs in all environments. Whether it be at work or school, at home or in a social setting, there are certain qualities that each individual can offer and there are others they need to be aware of. Having an awareness of when to contribute or when to listen is effective in being an active member of any conversation. This knowledge will assist students in knowing when the time is right to speak up and advocate for themselves.

We’re all going to fail. Even the best of the best in any field have failed or encountered setbacks. It’s never something to be ashamed of, in fact it’s something to celebrate. If students feel challenged or stuck, encourage them to speak up and ask for help. Self-advocacy doesn’t have to be centred around the individual and their emotions. In this case, it could be advocating for their education or a better standard of education. Situations like this will also contribute to students’ strengths and weaknesses when they discover what they need to do more of to overcome the challenge or how to improve for next time.

Confidence and standing up go hand in hand. Having the confidence and strength in your emotions, needs and the standard to which students as both an individual and as a student should be treated, are inherent to their confidence in and outside of the classroom. Backing themselves and their ideologies leads to success by way of perseverance and a sense of belief in their achievements and strengths.

Standing up for yourself takes time. Unfortunately, we don’t always have the confidence every day to tackle the adversities and imbalances we may experience and disagree with. But it’s important to remind your students and yourself for that matter, that self-advocacy develops over time. As you get to know yourself and the strengths and weaknesses that come with that identity, the confidence will come.

JUST IN: Student’s don’t Benefit from Pulling an All-nighter

If that title came as a shock to you, then you must be a student reading this. If you’re anyone else, you already knew. All-nighters can’t be good for you. They might sound fun at a fifth-grade sleepover, but the night before an exam? Really? Our answer, surely not.

If you’re unsure of the term or activity that is an ‘all-nighter’, let me explain. Essentially, it’s in the name. Students stay up all night (you guessed it), without even a peep of shut eye to either cram for an exam or finish an assignment. This all happens before the impending deadline that is the next morning.

Now, there’s no excuse for students who partake in this type of foolery. I’m sure your teachers gave you deadlines and I’m sure they even reminded you of its due date. So why then are you up at 3 am fighting the urge to sleep to finish an assignment that should have been finished and left to edit the week leading up to it?

I hope that by now you’re convinced it’s a bad idea. But if more convincing is what you need, extra convincing coming up!

The perceived reputation that comes with pulling an all-nighter is not cool. It doesn’t give you a badge of honour nor does it give you an almighty power above your fellow naïve peers.

Your sleeping pattern is way out of whack. Consecutive all-nighters being pulled can mean a new sleeping pattern. And a sleeping pattern that does not compliment a student’s lifestyle.

You won’t be productive. You’re too busy thinking about the crevice you’re going to make later in your un-made bed. So whilst you’re thinking about your 300-cotton count sheets, your teacher is trying to teach you a new Maths concept that inevitably is lost in ‘your plans for later’ thinking.

Thankfully, whoever, whatever, however, designed this earth we find ourselves on, they stipulated that when we say goodbye to the sun and hello to the moon, it means that we also say goodbye for a few hours or two. So why would you want to stay up long enough to say hello to the sun again, only to find you never even said goodbye or goodnight more like yourself? The moral of the story you may ask, well, it’s unhealthy.

All-nighters should be used to impress people nor be the hope of students’ terrible time management. Organise your time better and get rid of those unnecessary tasks. Don’t be a showoff in the pursuit of cramming. It won’t serve your ego or your goals.

How to Balance Work-Work and Schoolwork

As students get into their senior levels of high school and then again in their tertiary years of study, other commitments fight for priority. Some of those commitments include family or friend gatherings, sport or extracurricular activities or a possible part-time job. It’s not uncommon for students to have a part-time job on the side to support their possible shopping addiction or to put in the piggy bank for later. Whether or not it’s for practical or what some would argue impractical reasons (sorry shoppers), it’s always important to know your priorities. The most important take away is that work will come second because its only a supplement to the schoolwork you must complete. If your student or a student you know struggles with prioritizing their work commitments with their study commitments, give them these tips!

First of all, don’t take after-hour shifts. We’ve heard it all before, but we’re not kidding when we say that students need AT LEAST 6 – 8 hours of quality sleep each night. So, getting home at 10 pm or 2 am in some circumstances is no lifestyle for a committed student. Working late-night shifts will drain you of your energy and the needed motivation for the next day. In turn, the performance and quality of work or effort may reduce into the negatives. If this doesn’t sound like something you’re up for (good, you’re listening), then talk to your managers. Have a chat and maybe explain your situation. Determine a time you’re willing to work till and then anything after that is not going to work with your school commitments.

Set your limit. Being a full-time student means there are certain hours and days of the week that are dedicated to that work. Some days need to be set aside to get that assignment done or to finish the readings. Whatever is required, it’s important to prioritize these as opposed to a casual 3-hour shift. Again, you might have to have another conversation with a boss or manager. Confirming the number of hours you are comfortable to work each week or on a fortnightly basis and stick to it. The holidays or Uni-break can be times where you may take on the occasional extra shift. But when you’re in your term or semester stick to the discussed hours.

Ask for help. There’s no shame in seeking help of any form. In this case, it might be financial. If the need to work crazy hours or take on shifts that cut into study time is fueled by the need for more money, then maybe its an indication that help is needed. This help could come from an institution or organization, university support scheme or scholarship or an agreed-upon allowance from parents or family members. Having this in your back pocket will eliminate the need to work more and schoolwork less.

If none of those tips can be put into practice, step away. Take shifts on the holidays or when study dies down. But in the case where your superiors can’t accommodate or understand your wishes, find a new position. If that sounds like you, why not consider tutoring with us! We’re flexible and understand the importance of your study and the commitment you must attach to it.

Twas’ the night before an exam

The night before an exam can be a stressful time. The anticipation of what the next day brings can often cloud judgements. It can increase stress amongst students. This stress can then lead to unusual behaviour that is guaranteed to be unhelpful for the exam the next day. Things like cramming, pulling all-nighters and skipping meals in pursuit of more study are common tropes of the night before an exam. To eradicate the unusual and unhelpful behaviour, follow our below tips!

A common myth of studying, especially before an exam is that all of the topics, all of the questions and all of the things in between need to be covered. But guess what! It certainly does not. Studying for an exam should not occur before the night prior. It should be a gradual and consistent process completed in the upcoming weeks and days. So, the night before should consist of light studying. Perhaps there is one question you’re not sure of? Maybe a specific chapter of content that is a little fuzzy? That’s the thing to focus on. Go over light notes and cover what you need to.

Relax. Whilst it might seem trivial or unproductive, relaxing is a great way to prepare the mind for the day ahead. Read a book, cook dinner or take a bath to ease the mind. If the thought of relaxing doesn’t bring comfort to student’s worrying minds, bring the notes into the bath. Relaxing will not only ease the stress of thinking about the exam, but it will reset the mind as well.

Ensuring a nutritious dinner is had is also high on the priority list. We often hear people saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But, when an exam is around the corner, we’d argue that the meal the night before could be just as important. Get the greens in, get the 5 and 2 in, get it all in. Perhaps a cheeky square of chocolate couldn’t go astray in the motivation department either.

Sleep. 6 – 8 hours. Do it. And under any circumstances, there will be no all-nighters. Students, do you hear me. Anything outside of the specified hours of sleep will do no good. It won’t help you tomorrow when you’re sitting in the exam fighting to keep your eyes open. I can only hope at this point you’ve listened to our advice and actually slept. But, in the case you’ve done the opposite and even if you have, before you get the shut-eye, set an alarm. Not so late that you’ll be rushing to get ready and not too early that you’ve skipped the number of hours required. But like Goldilocks, just right.

So, there you have it. No cramming, only light study/review. Relax don’t stress. Have a nutritious and delicious dinner. Get sleep and no all-nighters. That’s all it takes to prepare for an exam!

‘Great Job’ goes a Long Way…

We’re always trying to motivate students. We’re trying to get them to persevere or to just finish the homework. I’m sure as parents and educators, we think we’ve tried all the tricks to get the motivation flowing. But perhaps there’s something small, yet impactful that we might have missed in the process. Now what I’m talking about is encouragement. It sounds simple and it may even sound like something you do with your student, but are you sure? Are you encouraging them when they’ve done something good or corrected a previous error? Are you providing words of affirmation to ensure they will overcome the current challenge or obstacle? On reflection, you might find that you don’t or you don’t encourage enough. We’re here to change that!

Saying nice words that lift the student and their spirits up will always help the attitude to learning. Words and phrases like “Keep it up”, “Good” or “Great Job” create a positive environment. Learning in a positive environment can trigger a positive attitude and mindset to get ready for learning. With motivation and positivity on their side, we can expect an increase in the effort applied by students.

Obstacles and challenges are bound to show up. They are both a part of life and a part of learning. But students aren’t going to get through either if they don’t feel encouraged or supported in their pursuit. Students might say “I can’t do this” or “I’m not smart enough for this.” But what do you say in response? Try encouraging students to pursue using phrases like “I’m here to help you through this” or “You’ll get it with practise!” When they are faced with a challenge like this, never let them think they can’t do it. That not only develops a lack of confidence but also low self-esteem; two attributes we don’t want to see in any of our students.

If students get the hang of a concept or make good on something they’ve been struggling with, celebrate it! Now we’re not talking about a party-like celebration (although we definitely would not discourage it). What we’re talking about is an encouragement celebration. Stickers, words of affirmation and praises of behaviour are appropriate. Perhaps they’ve put extra work in or reviewed a little longer than usual to get there. If that’s the case, explain the importance of their progress and how their education will benefit if they continue the behaviour. Who knows, the student might even implement it after all the praise it received!

Encouraging students is key to building motivation and momentum with their studies. We don’t need new big ideas or to constantly think of ways to get the ideas flowing or the words on the page. Sometimes all it takes is some reaffirming words to promote support and ensure students are aware someone is always happy to help.