Year 8 to Year 9: Getting into the Swing of Things

We may have said it before, but students should well and truly have a handle on this whole high school thing by now. With two years on the belt, students should understand the expectations both as a student and academic wise. They say that Year 9 can sometimes be the worst of them all. Changes are happening, friendships may be adjusting, and overall, students may be unfocused.

Senior school hasn’t started yet so for some the clock starts to slow down and academics are put on the back burner. Whilst the grades earnt in Grade 9 might not affect the result in Grade 12, the work ethic fostered will. If switching off and not applying themselves to their studies is what students associate Year 9 with, then we’re here to tell you to tell them, that it’s not.

Time to focus and prepare. Students have the opportunity (and the responsibility) to knuckle down and do the hard yards now for the benefit it will provide their Year 12 self. Ignoring an assignment because Becky has a birthday party on the weekend is not focusing nor keeping on top of their studies. Students need to discover the balance and sweet spot between work and play. To ensure that they can cash in their invitation to Becky’s party, indicate to students that that assignment needs to be done or, better yet, that assignment and last week’s homework should be completed before it’s party time.

Whilst it can be a confusing time, Year 9 is also a great opportunity to explore the subjects students maybe haven’t thought of before. Experiment with subjects and encourage students to find out what they like. It’s no good for students to go through high school without trying their luck in woodwork or visual art. The benefit is, that if they find something they like that is maybe not considered a mainstream subject, a newfound focus or confidence may be introduced.

With finding passions, comes finding strengths and weaknesses. You might be able to notice it yourself at home in the little time it takes to read the book for English then it does to complete the maths homework. Helping students to see their strengths and weaknesses within their academics can encourage them to work harder in those they find difficulty with and to challenge themselves further with those they consider to be a strength.

After having spent two years at school, students will have learnt a thing or two about achievements and failure. Celebrating the achievements and assessing the failures will create a critical thinking student. Learning that a lower grade than expected is not the end of the world at an earlier stage will make life easier in the long run. Just in the same way that learning that achieving in one subject doesn’t always mean that will carry over into the later years of high school is as important.

Exploring and finding passions will make Year 9 extra engaging for students. Help where you can and encourage where you can’t.

Year 7 to Year 8: One Down, Five to Go

Put a tally on the board because one year of high school is done and dusted. I’m sure there was the required number of tears and tantrums. Nevertheless, the joy that is navigating the first year of high school for you as parents and your student is over (cue small dance party). Now comes the fun part, because they’re not done yet. With 5 years left of their high school education ready to be checked off, there’s still more to learn, more to embrace and more to stress over… kidding… but not really.

Last year was all about learning the ins and outs of high school. Getting the routine down pat and figuring out that building B is over there and not actually back there. But this time, as returnees and newly crowned veterans of high school, Year 8 students are free to tackle the next step. Embracing new opportunities is the first slice of wisdom we’d like to offer. If students come home from school talking about a new musical or sports team or debating opportunity, say yes! Throwing themselves into the school community by joining a club or trying out for the sports teams will show that school is not always just about the books.

So, by now, I’m sure students have figured out that with school comes homework and assignments…at least you’d hope they’ve sussed that out! Now is the time for students to apply themselves to their studies. They now know what is expected and how to execute certain tasks and study requirements of high school. Removing the 7 and replacing it with an 8 is not just an excuse to complete the year that’s already been. Students need to continue the routine they’ve learnt and now try to get themselves into the rhythm of homework, then assignments and applying themselves to their learning.

Last year the goal may have been just to get through the year. But with a new school year comes a new goal! Help students to get focused on a new sight to set their eyes on. With something to strive towards, students can start the year with extra oomph in their stride. Type it out, put it on the fridge, above their bed or better yet, behind the toilet door next to the times tables charts… don’t lie, we’ve all seen it. As the year goes on, students can be reminded of what they’re hoping to have achieved by the time the Year 8 badge comes off.

Having good time management is and has always been vital for students, but amid everything that happened and was learnt in year 7, other things can take the focus. This new year is a great opportunity to get a hold of students and their idea of time management. Get a diary or utilise the one provided by the school. Ensure they are organising their schedules to factor in schoolwork, after-school commitments and their social lives.

With one year down, it will only fuel the fire within students to work hard and continue to tally off the years.

From Year 6 to Year 7: Welcome to High School

Long live the days of one teacher, one classroom and the one class of peers. That was primary school. But now your students are moving up in the world. They’re getting ready to embrace a new school uniform, possibly a new campus and a new way of learning. But with that comes the transition from a primary school student to a big high school student.

Enjoy those holidays. School life is about to change for students and you as parents and guardians. The little student walking out of primary school is now a big grown-up student approaching the first day of their final years of schooling. Embrace the free time and innocence that the school holidays encourage. Take that trip or let them see that friend because soon enough there will be this sport on and that after-school commitment on and that family event. The holidays are also a time for students to refocus and reenergize for the year ahead, which for them, this time, is a big one… Year 7.

First things first, let’s get them organised. Whether or not your student is raring to make the transition or your student is happy to stay at the top of the food chain, they need to be ready to face their new reality. Getting the uniform sorted is at the top of the list. Hot tip, if you’re one to save and hunt down a bargain, start with second-hand. Sometimes the uniforms can be on the pricey side and let’s face it, you probably don’t want to send your student to their first day of high school wearing nothing… it might not be the best start. Maybe a friend of a friend or a neighbour has some in the wardrobe they’d be happy to pass down. So, wherever you’re sourcing it from, ensure your student is looking schmick in all their school-uniform itchiness. Moral of this tip, get your student organised.

Why not visit their new stomping grounds? ‘I’m never going to find my class’ or ‘What if I get lost?’ are just some of the common thoughts swirling around students’ heads. If it’s close by, take a trip to the place they’ll soon call home… for 5 days a week, don’t worry they’re not leaving just yet. Walking around and familiarising themselves with the buildings, where the facilities are and a possible new lunch spot will ease those anxious minds. Look at the school’s website or ask around the community to see what a school day’s structure is like! 2 subjects in the morning, 3 after lunch and 2 more later on may be their new schedule. In visualising or familiarising themselves with their new routine, the first day might not seem so daunting.

Fortunately for your student, they’re not doing it alone. There will be other uniform-swallowed first-year high-schoolers on the block. Connecting with those who are to attend their school could also ease both yours and your student’s minds. In having a few familiar faces to stumble around and get lost with, it creates an environment that’s a little less intimidating. Maybe some peers and friends from their primary school are coming along for the ride or they’re the only lucky one coming from a different school, try to reach out. Chances to do so are on open days or the induction days.  Try to encourage students to engage and connect with their newfound friends, because after all they better get used to them… 6 years is a long time.

For students, it’s an exciting stage to be one step closer to finishing their education. For you, maybe it’s a little saddening to see them navigate what’s a little more grown-up. But most importantly, it is a time to be open and excited. Embrace the challenge but the opportunity at the same time.

My Child Hates School… What Now?

It’s normal for kids to grunt and moan when they dislike things. But when it comes to disliking school, it’s nothing to joke about. We all know some students are more studious or more willing to walk out the door than others, but it’s important to look out for the signs that maybe something more is going on.

Maybe they’ve made a comment about hating school or they’re not willing to get up in the morning to get ready. All of these signs are indicative of the possibility that they’re struggling.

Find out what’s going on. Either in a casual conversation in the car or a formal sit down at the table; have a chat with your student. Ask questions and listen to their response, whatever it may be. Don’t assume that their ignorance or moaning is a by-product of laziness or unproductivity. The core of their concerns may be directly within the classroom. Suss out what it is in the classroom that is promoting these unusual or reckless behaviours. Once you have figured out what may be the cause, you can then take the necessary steps to find a solution.

Assess the situation outside of the classroom. Whilst the classroom may instigate many things and your child’s discomfort or unwillingness to go to school may be one of them, it also might not. Perhaps it’s social? School at any age comes with its challenges from friends and the fun that is trying to master the art of fitting in. Again, here is where further conversations can be had. Set up a situation that has the comfort of not feeling like an interrogation, but an environment where you’re still sure your questions are being answered.

But maybe the issues aren’t stemming from inside the classroom nor the friendship department. Perhaps, it’s internal. For the modern-day student, there are extra aspects of school than ‘back in your day’ (cue eye roll). There is the added pressure of social media and its unrealistic social norms conveyed to students. Students have the opportunity and access to an unlimited array of content to scroll. With these norms and standards posted to Facebook and its competitors, students can often create issues of their own, taking with them these issues into school. Encourage interaction with friends and family when they find free time. Spending less time scrolling might decrease the sometimes nasty impacts social media and technology can impart upon on our students.

Another reason for the dislike may be the result of anxious thoughts. Anxiety around schoolwork, what’s going on in the playground or how they’re getting home that afternoon may build up for students. The best part is that you can help with this one, right here at home. Go through the situations that your child relates to anxiety and break it down. Breaking situations down into tasks or smaller pieces may make it easier to grapple with. Taking the anxious thoughts of ‘I’m going to fail’ into affirmations such as ‘I can handle this’ will create the confidence to deal with the anxieties.

So next time your student moans or groans on the way to school, have a chat and see where you can help.


It’s Okay to Ask for Help

I’m sure we can all admit we’ve felt small or nervous when seeking help. It’s the fear of seeming weak for not knowing how to approach a situation or being unaware of the answer. We don’t want to project a perception that we are needy by seeking clarification or admitting we don’t understand. But it’s nothing to be afraid of. In most cases, those individuals or superiors who we seek the clarification from are willing and ready to assist with whatever the query.

This fear of seeking assistance translates to the classroom and all the way to the workforce. For this reason, it’s important that our current students are validated for their concerns and questions of comprehension in the classroom, at home and throughout their tuition sessions.

Unfortunately, all and any students can be reluctant to approach teachers or individuals of authority or knowledge for help. The teacher may be polite and approachable, yet students put off the conversation or effort to consolidate their question.

Talking about the services that are available to help could assist in encouraging the student to speak up next time. By detailing all the options students can access, it takes the stigma away. Emphasising that the services are designed for that purpose is also a great way to eradicate the fears of seeking assistance.

Seeking assistance is important and in most cases, the teacher has the answer. Students often spend the time needed to complete the task worrying that they don’t know the criteria or what is being asked of them. Simple comments that validate the importance and need of asking for help will ensure students are comfortable to approach someone for assistance.

The classroom, whilst full of energy, can come with its own pressures. Competition amongst peers in the classroom can often increase those anxious thoughts of asking questions in a class surrounded by onlooking peers. Classroom environments that promote collaboration over competition encourage questioning amongst peers and consequently questioning with teachers.

But sometimes the classroom environment or onlooking peers are still too much. For those students, asking questions and seeking clarification in a more private one-on-one environment might suit their learning style best. Our tutors and their approach might be just the right environment for students to feel comfortable seeking assistance. Tutors can clarify and go over concepts, answer any impending or follow up questions and eradicate student’s fears of being needy or seeming incompetent.

Always remember it’s okay to stand up and ask for help, especially when it’s your own education and benefit on the line.

What’s the time Mr Wolf?

As a child, asking Mr Wolf the time was often a suspenseful yet exhilarating feeling knowing you had to run to the finish line. Yet, combine it with the tasks of student life, running to the finish line or asking how much time is left doesn’t have the same nostalgic feel.

Instead, there’s the late-night anxiety of rushing to get the assignment in on time or the stress of finishing before “Time’s up” strikes the room. No doubt, we’ve all done it, left something to the last minute or crammed before a test. Let’s be real, it’s just a destined rite of passage for all students. But what we don’t want is to make it a habit.

In order to strike out the cramming tendencies, encourage students to implement the following tips:

  1. Buy a planner. Whether it’s small and mighty or large and in charge, get a planner. Simple as that. Maybe it’s on the fridge for everyone to see and help keep students accountable. Or possibly tethered to their 3rd hand – their smart phones. Whatever device, utensil or technology chosen to plan out the student’s schedule, use it.
  2. Set out targets or goals as markers. Anything broken up into small pieces feels smaller right? So instead of treating assignments or exam study as one big chunk, break it down. Have chapters or paragraphs that must be completed at certain times or days to keep students accountable.
  3. Allow for extra time. Whether you like to cut it fine or not, our advice is, don’t. If the assignment is due on Friday, structure your planning and targets to be finished before 11:59pm on Friday night. This sneaky trick allows students to edit or go over the task to ensure it meets criteria and is at a standard that students are proud to submit.
  4. Take a break. The aim is to use time wisely to work efficiently and effectively. In order to execute this work ethic and effort, students need to take breaks. Allowing for breaks will reenergize the students and allow for more productive bursts of work.
  5. Seek assistance and support. If a question is not making sense or if students are unaware of what is expected, encourage students to seek assistance. It could be from a peer or a teacher or someone at home. Asking for help could be the difference between staring at a desk for 50 minutes hoping the answer comes and 50 minutes of productive work.

The 6 Virtues Only School Can Teach you

School. Students either love it or they hate it. Regardless of whether your student is slumping or skipping into school, there is no doubt that it’s teaching them. For 6 hours a day, 40 + weeks of the year, students can be found inside the classroom being educated and advancing on their learning journey. So, we all know school is an institution designed to educate and expand the developing minds of the upcoming generation, but what else can it do?

  1. Creativity – Whether it’s in the art studio or the science lab, school encourages students to embrace their creative instincts. Often by having free rein on decisions, such as what their art project will be or what science experiment they will conduct, students are practising the common way that many communicate their passions.
  2. Problem Solving – No doubt one of the biggest lessons each student can take away from their time at school is the ability to problem-solve. In real-life situations, problem-solving can take place on a day to day basis. Both having and practising the skills to problem solve is vital to tackle the issues faced in their workplace or at home.
  3. Critical thinking – How are our up and coming students going to change the world without critical thinking? Looking towards the future and behind at the past as a way of critical thinking is vital to both the world and any individual looking to make a mark in it.
  4. Leadership – Not everyone was born to wear a badge or stand in front of a crowd, but that doesn’t mean students won’t take away a sense of leadership when they graduate school. Merely taking point on a group assignment or having the initiative to organise are acts of responsibility. Students don’t need a badge to know they’re leaders or what leadership looks like.
  5. Communication – In an essay, a class discussion or an oral presentation, students must participate in some form of communication. Possessing the ability to concisely and strategically express the main points of an argument is something students can take into any future endeavour.
  6. Respect – Being in an environment with lots of students and staff can often test emotions. Yet, when being taught to listen to the teacher when they are speaking or not judging a student’s opinion, students themselves can recognise simple acts of respect. Faced with these signs each day, students then carry these acts into their outer lives at home, in the workplace or even in the local park with friends.

The Need for New Study Habits for Senior School In QLD

With a new system on the horizon, students should begin implementing new study habits to help with the change sooner rather than later. Encouraging study and a new routine to approach the new assessments ahead will further their learning and confidence.

As a foundation to study, the environment and surroundings impact upon the value of study performed. A loud noisy room with lots of people fidgeting and circling the perimeter is not the ideal space to absorb and process content. However, a quiet, well-lit minimal space will promote engagement. Another contributing factor to the study environment is technology and the nagging of social media. Either removing the phone from the situation altogether or limiting the time spent on it will also have a great positive impact on the quality of study performed.

Constant revision is a key habit that will contribute to a successful overall result. With more content covered in external assessments, reinforcing the day’s work is now even more prevalent. Additionally, with more content then too comes the importance for solid and legible notes. Clear, distinct and now due to an adjustment in assessment, additional notes, will help in ensuring the student is prepared and full of knowledge.

Each student learns differently and cannot be expected to study as much or in the same way as a sibling or friend. Different approaches or measures may have to be taken to ensure that the student is utilising their study sessions to the fullest. For some, writing hand notes may trigger thoughts and instigate memory. Whilst for others, simply revising and looking over a past exam or PowerPoint of notes is enough. Assisting in determining what works best for your child is something that will contribute to better studying patterns and habits.

With consistency across the state now, communicating and connecting with other students is also a study habit that could be employed within student’s routines. Social media, despite its distracting efforts in a studying environment, can allow for students to share notes and learn together with students outside their own classroom. Different explanations and additional resources are something that can be attained and built upon through these connections.

Considering the new curriculum, an extremely helpful tool is getting in the habit of revising and completing past exam and sample papers. Sample papers allow students to not only revise the content but prepare them for the conditions of the exam. Students will learn how particular questions are set out, learning from there how to approach them.

The curriculum may have changed, however, the importance of studying and revision has not. Keeping up a routine in a positive and distraction-free environment with the help of enough sleep is a habit all senior QLD students can demonstrate.

The Pen vs Keyboard

As technology slowly creeps into every facet of our daily lives, with it goes the traditional and conventional ways of society. Texting and social media bring about a new era for communication, leaving handwritten letters and notepads out to dry. With predictive text and spell check, typing on a smartphone or computer brings about both benefits and disadvantages to students. So, the question that forms is whether classic pen-to-paper note taking affects the way we learn? Or is it just the same taking the notes down via a clang of the keyboard?

Handwriting involves motor movement; making letters and then telling the hand to scribble the curves and edge. Such movement employs the trusty skills of the brain.  But while it can take some time for students to get the hang of it (and even then, some of it can still be atrocious), it allows students to progress and master the skill. When editing an assignment or a simple paragraph, the red scribbles and big crosses show the process. One major draw card to strapping student’s hands to a pen, is in remembering and recognising. For the little ones, writing down and following letters on a page helps to pick out a b in a sign. By writing it all down, it triggers body memory. Taking down notes in class via pen and paper may help in remembering content in associating movement with concepts.

How to type on a keyboard; it’s simple. If you want an ‘A’, all students must do is locate the ‘A’ on a keyboard and press it. In that way, it’s a much quicker process.  Having to write out the sentence from the board on a notepad, letter by letter can be time consuming. However, running fingers across a keyboard in time with the presentation gets all the information done in a jiffy. In not having to think about the letter or the way it’s supposed to look, students have extra time to consume the knowledge. Letting the topic sink in can allow for students to think and expand further in the moment. The chunk of time taken to edit is also cut down, with the red squiggly lines and blue symbols even helping to point out the errors.

It’s a battle between old and new. The trusty ballpoint pen or the quick, simple slap of a keyboard. Both take notes and both allow students to absorb the information in different ways and with different advantages. Some students may opt for the traditional, while others can take the modern route. Either way, the most important thing is that students are taking notes, absorbing content and continuing the learning process.

The Spellchecker

This blog is a very courageous undertaking on my behalf because, while you may dismiss my opinions as those of a raving nutcase, my attack on the ability to, or not to spell opens the door on my own vulnerability.

As I wander around shopping centres, I am constantly bombarded with creative spelling innovations, so much so that after a while I begin to doubt my own interpretation of correct spelling for some words.

Does no-one in that place know how to spell or are they just careless, although this is not the first time I’ve found their billboard wanting a letter or a re-arrangement of letters? Imagine if they were this careless, haphazard or just lacking in skill in their practice.

I used to watch a show on the ABC called Can We Help? There was an interesting segment by Professor Kate Burridge (Chair of Linguistics, Monash University) in which she would explain the origin of words and phrases as requested by her audience.  She would show how over time spelling, usage and meaning would gradually change. Perhaps this is happening before my eyes and I just can’t accept it. Maybe modern technology with its spell check, texting, predictive text and myriad of abbreviation alternatives has transcended the need to spell at all. Or, horror of horrors, do we just not care?

I’m reminded of a research project that concluded:

Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

It seems that research suggests that understanding is paramount, and that spelling is only a tool to reach that goal.  Apparently if the tool is not sharp it doesn’t matter as often with today’s society “near enough is good enough”. Dare I ask that for your next assignment you hand in a creative version or does that happen already?

Ponder for a while on all the rules and instructions we daily follow. There are traffic rules, rules of etiquette and operating manuals to mention just a few. These are necessary to stop us from descending into societal chaos and it is for this reason also that correct spelling is essential in today’s society.

How to Assist Students with Dyslexia

Learning, in general, can sometimes be difficult. But for some students, learning is always difficult. These students deal with dyslexia. It’s common, meaning there might be one in the classroom or even in your household. Either way, dyslexia is nothing to fear or be ashamed of; it’s just a simple bump in the road, that makes the journey just a little bit slower and a little more difficult.

In anyone’s learning journey, reading aloud is a small step in understanding and processing content. But for students with dyslexia, reading aloud can prompt anxiety. Words don’t process as quickly or read the same as the rest in the classroom for dyslexic students. So being asked to read aloud, focusing on the words in front of them but fearing they will skip or misread words is not the highlight of their day. This same anxiety occurs when writing. Dyslexic students struggle to convert the brilliant thoughts swirling in their mind to grammatical sentences. Instead, dyslexic students thrive on verbal expression. Incorporating verbal communication and discussion rather than putting pen to paper will also give a boost of confidence.

A set-out plan of the lesson or objectives for the lesson will also help in the learning journey. Printing out a copy of a worksheet and placing numbered steps on what needs to be completed will assist in the process. With a clearly defined outline of the session, students can keep focus and know what to complete next when one task is fulfilled. This conveniently leaves little room for students to procrastinate, which I’m sure we can all agree is never a good idea. These numbered steps also help in the long run. When a new worksheet is presented, students won’t need the little numbers, they’ll have it all down pat.

With any learning difficulty, comes different and usually more fun ways of learning. The stock standard ways of taking down notes from a whiteboard aren’t going to help. Visualising ideas or approaching content with a new creative perspective may be the recipe for students to remember new ideas. One fun way to combine all those things is through a fancy-sounding technique known as multi-sensory learning. If you’re as confused as I was when I first heard it, essentially, it’s the combination of senses like touch added with sight or movement and hearing, that helps students absorb information. An innocent example might be having students play hopscotch landing on words or letters while pronouncing them.

Dyslexic students are still students and intelligent ones at that. Sometimes it’s just that the new equation in Maths might take a few more lessons to understand than the student sitting beside them. It’s just like ‘The Tortoise and the Hare’, slow and steady wins the race.

Confidence is key

Acting confident and trusting your instincts is a key in life that won’t go astray. For students, it just might be the biggest key of all. Standing in front of classmates, confident and sure of their impending oral presentation will fool them all. Their palms may be sweaty, and their knees may be shaking, but if students look and act confident, no one will question them. But for some students, it’s just not that easy.

It could be that oral presentations strike feelings of terror, standing in front of classmates and projecting their voice or the simple act of putting a hand up to answer a question, might give students the nervous wobbles. In other cases, some students are naturally introverted and prefer to listen or are too shy to pipe up. Either way, getting the most out of education and propelling along the plane that is school is made much easier with a touch of confidence.

It’s important to start building the blocks to a more confident student at home. Students look up to parents and their tutors as idols and models of how to act in certain situations. Creating a good example of being excited to give a presentation to the board members at work or something that you can relate to as parents can show your students, you’re confident and up for the challenge. And remember, even if you’re knees are shaking too, act confident!

But being confident as a parent will only get your student so far. Staying up to date with your student’s homework or maybe even assisting in further research will inspire students to put their hand up to answer the question.  With your help and the bible that is Google, students can now add to the discussion in class with a few handy facts up their sleeve.

Now, I’m sure we’ve all seen it and thought it was a great idea, but I bet most of you haven’t implemented it in the home – it’s the trusty timetables on the back of the toilet door. It might seem like a silly choice or a novelty but reinforcing the basics into everyday life and activities will also boost confidence. And why not, when the next time you or your child decides to play ‘I Spy’, try getting students to spell the words once they’ve guessed it? It’s just like when you hide their greens and vegetables on the plate, the students won’t even know they’re learning!

Encouraging students at home, in the classroom or on the sporting field will also develop a confident student. A simple “you’re on the right track” at the homework table will create a more assured student who’ll be jumping at the chance to put their hand up, answer the question or even make a speech.

How to Write an Essay

Now I love an essay, but I’m sure some of you reading this have stronger opinions for the other camp. Essays are a vital task in many humanities subjects. We have to remember that not everyone is a writer, just like not everyone is a mathematician. So, to help those who are not and maybe to further those who are, why not test out a few of our suggestions.

Look at the question. But don’t just look at it. Analyse it, study it, highlight it. The key to a good essay is the way it answers the question. Picking key words and running off on a tangent about something slightly similar yet not applicable may work for you, but it won’t for the question. Ensure that all details of the question have been fleshed out and that you totally understand the question before sentences and paragraphs take the page’s stage.

Research what you don’t know. It may be a question you were not hoping for or a question you don’t know a lot about and that’s okay. What you can’t do, good old Google can. Find some different opinions or facts and use this to your advantage. Build upon your own ideas with the help and experience of others that you have found. The best essays are also those that are well informed with perspectives and information that is both accurate and engaging.

Devise a plan. No sports player ever entered the field without a game plan and no writer is any different. Maybe it’s a structure you’d like to follow or a list of things you need to include. An outline gives writers the opportunity to check things off the list as they go whilst providing guidance for the flow of the prose and argument.

Use the time given. Rome wasn’t built in a day, so you guessed it, neither will your essay be! Write a paragraph then leave it. Write two more and then leave it. If you find yourself on a flow of words, keep going. If you find yourself with a bit of writers’ block, take a break and come back. You might find on your break that ideas come back to you and ignite a bigger sense of motivation than you had before.

Bring it home. The conclusion, whilst to some might seem like an unnecessary string of sentences at the end, is really saving the best for last. I mean that’s why they call it dessert right? Because who doesn’t love dessert! Well, today and in the classroom, the conclusion is the dessert. It sums up the whole meal. Whether or not the entre (introduction) was a bit off, you can always bring it home with a good dessert. Use the last few sentences to sum it all up. Don’t bring in any new flavours or ideas, but instead enhance them and link them with your main argument that’s flowed throughout the course.

Feedback is your friend. Ask around to get ideas from others. Constructive criticism is welcomed too. Having the opinions and fresh eyes of others allow for your essay to appeal to an outsider’s perspective and may give you a fresh insight to further your work.

4 P’s to Look for in a Tutor

We all know that everyone learns differently. Some students thrive sitting in front of a whiteboard, while others struggle. The dynamics of school and the classroom can often bring obstacles for these students who do not succeed so easily in their academic endeavours.

BUT…whether students strive or struggle, seeking further help will always benefit students. Tutors act as a mentor or figure committed to enabling academic success and growth in confidence for students, both in and out of the classroom. Many qualities are beneficial in a tutor, but we think a tutor should always have the 4 P’s: Patience, Perseverance, Perspective and Praise.

Patience: Just like how we acknowledge that all students learn differently, it’s true too that students learn at different paces. Some students find clarity with a few minutes of comprehension; however, the student beside them may need extra hours to grapple with the concept. For a tutor to accept whatever pace a student must complete their tasks at is vital in student’s confidence and approach to learning.

Perseverance: It’s no help if after the student doesn’t understand or comprehend topics, tutors just give up. If the way they first approached their teaching strategy fails and tutors decide they are no longer of assistance, it’s not beneficial to the student nor their confidence. Tutors must too put in the equal effort their student does in attempting to learn the topic in attempting to teach the topic. Tutors should be committed to both the student’s learning and their overall improvement. In this way, tutors will be a constant example and representation of perseverance to their students.

Perspective: Tutors are afforded the opportunity to entice their students, so why not use it? In a classroom, teachers are restricted to the curriculum or 20 plus other students in the room who also demand their attention. But with a tutor, tutors can find and incorporate fun and engaging resources that may not be accessible in the classroom. Tutors can translate and communicate ideas in a way that’s new or different from what they are used to in the classroom and traditional dynamic of school.

Praise: Students need praise. They need encouragement and the confirmation of improvement to continue their studies with the same momentum and effort than what the studies were first approached with. In having a tutor that practices praise, students can gain a sense of confidence and improve upon it as they progress with their studies and their tutor.

Our 7 Step Guide to Goal Setting

As humans, there’s always more. Something we wish for, something we want and something we can strive for. These ‘somethings’ we wish, want and strive for can de deemed as goals. Among students, the goals may differ, but the end result still rings true for each; some form of success or achievement. To claim this success or achievement, the team at GSPT encourage students to follow our 7-step guide for goal setting.

  1. What is it you want to achieve? Is it a better grade in English? Or perhaps an improvement in your mathematics problem-solving skills? Whatever it may be, students must consider what they desire to set a plan and goal around it.
  2. Make it SMART. Whilst it might sound trivial, a SMART objective is an acronym for a fool-proof goal. S – Specific, M – Measurable, A – Attainable, R – Relevant, T- Time-bound. An example could be ‘I want to achieve a B+ in English this Term’. A time frame is set with a specific goal that can be measured and assessed once the time has passed.
  3. Jot them down. Write down the goals. It’s no use just to think of goals and forget about them 2 weeks later…you’ll just keep making new goals and not planning or striving for any of them! Once consideration has been taken in thinking and making sure they align with the SMART framework, put them in a journal, diary or a place of safekeeping so you’ll remember them for 2 weeks and another 2 after that.
  4. What’s the game plan? Coming up with great SMART objectives isn’t enough. What can you do to make them a reality? Is it more study each night? Or maybe it’s collaborating with a peer? In setting out actions and exercises that will advance these goals closer, motivation increases, and the finish line moves into sight.
  5. Again, write them down! Let’s put those actions on a timeline. Set it out, map them out and configure the actions and steps to the SMART goal or goals in a visual way that allows students to see and work towards their progress.
  6. Put it all into action! Use the timeline in accordance with the SMART goal/s set out and stick to the game plan. Implement the actions and exercises devised to enhance the student’s learning and their distance towards the finish line.
  7. Maybe you achieved the goal but maybe you didn’t. No matter the result, looking back on the process and steps implemented allows students to assess what maybe didn’t work but also what did. These moments of learning can assist with the next SMART goal.

How to Refocus

As we all emerge from the confines of our houses, we begin to return to our normal lives. For students, returning to normal life now means meeting Term 3. In approaching the tail end of the year, it’s important for students to refocus and set goals for their learning. To help ease students out of holiday mode into work mode, we’ve devised 5 steps to refocus:

  1. Set out the priorities: To refocus, it requires something to focus on. Coming out of holidays, encourage students to define what they want to work on and improve upon. Perhaps it’s a particular concept that students want to overcome or a specific mark or grade that students want to strive for. Regardless of whether the goal is big or small, set it out as something to look forward to and focus energy towards.
  2. What doesn’t need your attention? In any exercise, some aspects steal unnecessary time. Figure out what doesn’t need your attention; activities that don’t need to be worked on or activities that waste time. In removing these unnecessary tasks, students can use more time and use it more effectively to advance their goals and prioritize what needs to be executed to reach these goals.
  3. Remove Distractions: It’s no secret that we all get distracted…even that super studious, intelligent student in the corner…they’re not fooling anyone! But focusing is often extremely hard when there are distractions involved, so we have to remove them. Whether it’s doubt about what you think you can achieve or that smartphone buzzing with every notification, GET RID OF IT!
  4. Do one thing at a time: In multitasking and juggling tasks, students may think they are getting more done. Yet in reality, dividing your focus across multiple tasks doesn’t help to refocus at all. Setting out multiple tasks is fine but make sure to maintain focus on one task and only move on when the task is complete. Students will notice an increase in the quality and efforts of their work by setting out a few tasks but only focusing on one at a time.
  5. Organisation, organisation and I’ll say it again…ORGANISATION! Setting up a workspace and system that is rooted in personal productivity will promote optimal improvement. Possibly it’s a space or it’s a mindset, whatever it may be that students have created and organised for themselves, it’s a way for them to hold themselves accountable.

Simple Activities for Kids that are Secretly Educational

They say that every day you learn something new. Now the good news with that is it doesn’t always have to be in a classroom. It’s outside of the classroom that simple everyday activities can be implemented to further student’s learning. And even better, they won’t even know they’re doing it!

One of the simplest ways to increase a child’s concept of money is shopping. Whether it be groceries or new clothes shopping, transactions and searching for particular products allow for students to learn. In researching and comparing prices, students can identify the value of money and the difference in the value of this money at different stores and for different products. Grocery shopping adds extra learning appeal. Students can weigh food and vegetables and decide on quantities. Students may also learn new words as they wander the aisles.

Once students have got the groceries, the next activity on today’s learning agenda is cooking! With all the produce and products purchased at the supermarket, students can swap the shopping list for a chef’s hat and an apron. In following recipes and instructions, students discover the significance of a method or process that must be followed. Fractions and different quantities of food are also involved. At the end of all their hard work, students get to eat the reward, which I am sure is enticement enough.

Now if shopping for the ingredients wasn’t educational enough, why not try to get students to grow the produce themselves? Measurements and lengths of garden beds need to be defined. Instructions have to be followed. And a level of hygiene is encouraged (which considering what we’ve been through this year, you’d think couldn’t be furthered). Students must wash and prepare their produce once fully developed to ensure it’s ready for the dining table. But nothing planted will grow without constant love and attention! Students will inherit a responsibility to water their new life growing in the backyard.

By encouraging students to participate in activities such as these, students can continue to foster their learning without the need for a classroom or teacher. These activities are engaging and educational at the same time. In this way, students can look at the world around them and discover the opportunities for education in each aspect of its existence.

I failed – What do I do now?

Anxiously awaiting the grade from a test, assignment or essay can be stressful. But that stress can sometimes boil over when things don’t go the student’s way. Whether it’s a grade you weren’t expecting or one you thought might happen, failing a subject or exam is never the end of the road. I’m sure we can all agree that it’s never nice to fail or miss the grade you wanted. But what students don’t know is that, in the long run, you might be thankful for the grade.

What’s important to make students aware of, is that it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Yeah, in the moment you might not want to brag about it to your friends or parade your essay around the class, but that doesn’t mean that you’re a failure. It just means that you failed that time – and you’re not the only one. Albert Einstein failed his school entrance exam; Dr Seuss’ first book was rejected 28 times, Walt Disney even went bankrupt and I’m sure if you ask Mum or Dad, they’ve definitely failed something too.

Like anything else, what goes up must come down. Maybe you’ve been riding on a high of good grades and the failed one brings you back down. Or maybe your grades have been progressing each time and suddenly it comes to a halt. Either way, in the end, you missed the mark. Rather than dwelling on the grade and worrying about what it means for the next term or your final grade, think about how to learn from it. Go through the paper, look over the red scribbled notes in your essay or have a chat with your teacher. Assess what went wrong and why.

Once you’re confident you’ve found the issue, come up with a plan. What can you be doing for the next time? Does my sentence structure need some help? Should I go over that equation a few more times? Did I read the question properly? Whatever it is, determine what you think will help turn your sad graded frown upside down. Maybe setting a certain grade as the goal for the next activity will assist in jumping straight back into it.

At the time, it might seem like the end of the world, but you never know, that failure might lead to becoming the next mastermind of physics or even the founder of an empire.  That small little set back might instil a new and greater sense of motivation to get into that degree or top that subject. No matter what your goal is or what your grade was, it’s just another step in your journey to learning.

Understanding Learning Modalities Essential To Your Child’s Success

Human beings are exposed to greater amounts of information in our current society than at any other time in history. This information comes from many sources including visual media, written information, general broadcast media, personal devices such as iPods, and oral information shared in discussion, stories, lectures etc. The ways in which this information is taken in, processed and remembered are called learning modalities and are typically identified as visual, auditory and kinaesthetic. While we use all three modalities, there is usually a dominant one that becomes a natural preference and can influence the level of success we have in the ability to learn.

For parents of school-aged children a basic understanding of learning modalities is useful, especially if accessing assistance outside of school such as through Grace Simpkins Personal Tutors. It allows parents to liaise with the tutor to make sure the learning strategies employed support their children. While much of the research underpinning learning modalities is complex to the ordinary person, understanding the characteristics of each one and how they apply to individuals is not difficult.
Kinaesthetic learners use their hands and bodies to learn. They prefer doing, touching and direct involvement, and become fidgety and restless if they are required to watch visual aids or listen to instructions. They learn best from teachers whose dominant modality is also kinaesthetic.

Auditory learners need to hear the information to be able to process it. They often talk out loud to verbalise problems while they are solving them and excel when being taught in a traditional auditory classroom situation. If the auditory student is learning in an environment where, for example, a lot of quiet reading is taking place, they may talk or sing to themselves, or engage in other “noisy” activities.

For a visual learner, their eyes are the key to their learning. They prefer to read text by themselves, and respond well to graphs, charts, diagrams and pictures which help them make sense of information. Visual learners will typically take notes, enjoy using assignment notebooks, calendars and “to do” lists. A visual learner with an auditory teacher will spend time doodling on notepads, and not paying attention during a lecture.

The education system recognises the importance of these learning modalities and encourages teachers to use learning strategies that incorporate all of them, seeking to engage every student. Tutors also understands their importance and ensure that they use all three learning modalities when engaged in tutoring activities.

As babies, we are all kinaesthetic learners, exploring the world through touch and taste. As we grow older we become more auditory and visual, so it is very important that anyone teaching both children and adults presents the learning materials in all three modalities.

Your First Tuition Session

Anything new comes with daunting thoughts. It is okay for students to feel a little anxious before their first session with a tutor. They do not know what to expect and meeting someone new can sometimes be uncomfortable for students. But our tutors are there to help, not to make anyone anxious!

The first session is for students and tutors to get to know each other. Tutors may employ some fun ice-breakers to get students comfortable in their new learning environment. Tutors will ask questions about the student. They may be about how their day was or their favourite colour! Our tutors are committed to making sure students feel like they have both a teacher and a friend in their tutor.

The tutor may also ask students what their favourite subject is and how they feel towards school. Tutors can gauge a sense of their approach and attitude towards learning. By doing this, tutors structure the session with the student in a way the tutor feels will be fun and engaging for the student.

A small test or assessment task might even be included in the session. Tutors can get an idea of the student’s knowledge and skills in doing these exercises. Students need not worry about this. All the small assessments do is make sure the tutor brings the correct resources and content to improve any of the struggles or hesitations observed during the task.

At the end of the session, tutors will have a chat with you as the guardian of the child. Open communication between the two of you will ensure the student gets the most out of tutoring and their studies.

If you or your student feel you have some concerns about moving forward or something you’d like to flag for the next session, use the time before and after each session to check in with the tutor. In monitoring your student’s progress and studies, the tutor can build upon the struggles and develop an understanding of the difficult concepts.

Having a tutor is not something students need to be anxious or embarrassed about. Our tutors are eager to assist and further the potential of all students. Taking the step and investing in another person who is committed to your child’s academic studies is only the beginning of an exciting journey between tutor and student and student and learning.