When is it Time to Step in?

School is a time. You’ve got the wonders of education alongside the trials and tribulations of growing up. Students whether they say it or not, are dealing with a lot. And for that, we’ll cut them some slack. Maybe…But what it is important to look out for is low self-esteem. There are little signs and triggers that can indicate that your student is struggling and dealing with low self-esteem issues. But when is it the right time to step in? Whether you’re not sure what seems to be troubling them or want to be prepped for when the time may come, keep reading.

Are they having trouble taking criticism? It might be in the classroom or it might be at home. This criticism isn’t delivered with ill intent (I hope). It’s for the student’s benefit. To help them with a task or to guide them closer to a target or specific achievement. It’s a natural instinct to become a little embarrassed or uncomfortable when someone is delivering comments or advice of a critical nature. But that doesn’t mean the current project or state of the assignment is wrong or incorrect. Indicating to students that criticism is natural and actually a key tool in progressing both in the classroom and outside of the classroom will help the concerns and low self-confidence.

These kinds of attitudes to criticism can lead to a decreased sense of self and motivation. Motivation is a key aspect of schooling and really, any task in life. Sometimes we might not have it, and that’s okay. But there comes a time where we have to get it back and persevere. When students get into their senior years of schooling, both motivation and discipline will become their best friends. Practising and ensuring motivation now will encourage students and foster a solid foundation for their feature endeavours either at school or in the workforce. Things you can look out for is leaving assignments and tasks to the last minute as a sign of possessing a lack of motivation. Perhaps students are also not willing to complete their homework or do the groundwork to get it all done. Noticing and pointing out these behaviours to students can spark a discussion and solve the problem at hand.

Maybe your student has lost interest in new things or just doesn’t want to branch out for their comfort zone. They don’t want to try out for that new sport or they’ve had enough of doing an activity they normally like. This shift in priorities can be a clear sign to trigger help and interruption to ensure students are okay. Reassuring students of their worth and value both as students and individuals can help increase their self-esteem. Having support and encouragement around them will slowly make tackling new problems and activities less daunting.

Embracing your student for their achievements so far is an important responsibility as a member of their support system. Students need to understand that their failures and words of criticism are not roadblocks, but just obstacles to overcome.

Why Cooking is Great for the Mind

Creating and making up recipes in the kitchen will always be fun. Losing some flour on the floor or eating half the mixture before its made is part and parcel of putting the apron on. Students can go through phases of taking over in the kitchen, really embracing the responsibility and role the chef’s hat brings to the table. So why not encourage it? Whilst procrastibaking (Yes…it’s a term now ladies and gents) is a thing, getting creative and producing a product that students are proud of can be great for their confidence and mind.

Now, unless their gearing up to be the next MasterChef or challenge Jamie Oliver, it’s likely they’ll be following a recipe. Recipes often involve steps where activities and tasks need to be completed in a certain order within specific time frames. Following rules and recipes like these, teaches students the importance of following instructions. Being able to read, understand and then perform an action can translate into the classroom. Students will be able to follow their teacher’s instructions clearly and learn to read the instructions and questions carefully to ensure all the information is absorbed.

Whilst there is a recipe and set of instructions to follow, there’s also a little bit of leeway for things to get creative. Whether it’s the toppings on a cake or the colour of the icing, students have the opportunity to take charge and let their creative instincts strike. Even picking the recipe or deciding on what to bake, ignites the creative cycle. Students can also feel a sense of responsibility in picking the recipe and ingredients needed to create their cake of choice.

A good cook needs to know and learn how to multitask. Boiling the water while prepping and cutting should be on the agenda for any aspiring chef. Students practising these skills in the kitchen will give them the confidence to take this mindset with them into their studies. Working on an English assignment that’s due on Friday, whilst studying for an exam that’s on Monday is where the multitasking comes in. With experience in multitasking activities and juggling due dates and time frames, students can tackle their studies with a little bit of ease.

It’s no secret and it’s also no use trying to keep it a secret that every chef fumbles. There’s mishaps, mismeasuring and mistakes from reading the recipe to dropping the cake from out the oven. It’s not so funny at the time, but thinking back on those times will bring a little chuckle to mind I’m sure. Stuffing up and failing at times will assist in fostering your student’s growth and approach to failure. Quitting the kitchen after a mistake won’t help when times get tough with the books. Resetting and re-framing the mindset will not only de-stress the situation but might bring about a new approach to find a solution.

We’re not all Jamie Oliver. We can’t all guess how much spice to add, or how many ml’s of that liquid. We need measurements right? Well, I certainly do. Students using instruments and cooking utensils to measure out flour, sugar, milk and other ingredients is a real-life maths exam at play. Getting the right measurement exact and possibly even converting fractions into cups or ml’s will get the maths side of the brain flowing together with its creative counterpart.

How to Make for a Super-productive Student

Are your students struggling to get anything done? Do you often find yourself having to encourage your student to get their homework finished or start that assignment they’ve been putting off all weekend? It sounds like you’ve got a bit of an unproductive student on your hands. Motivation and perseverance comes about a little sparingly in your household. It’s hard to get them ready and focused on the tasks, but they’ve gotta get the job done. To help them do so, you might need to give them a helping hand.

The best way to get things done is to set it out. Put it all down. Writing an outline of what needs to be done and when it needs to be done makes your student accountable for their studies. A due date on the wall next to a list of tasks that need to be done to make sure it is in on time assists in building up the motivation to tackle it.

But I bet your student still needs a little more motivation. Why not set out some goals? Better yet, set out some SMART goals. For those trying to figure what the heck each letter means, let me spell it out for you. S – Specific, M – Measurable, A – Attainable, R – Relevant, T – Time-based. These types of goals make the work seem a little less trivial and more achievable. Literally mapping out what your student wants to achieve by the end of it all will surely spark some sort of creativity or get them out of their funk or writer’s block that’s been preventing them from getting it all done in the first place.

For the younger students though, maybe goals and setting it all down just isn’t going to work. For one, their goals are a little smaller in the younger grades. Finishing a 1,000 word essay now becomes trying to master your 3 times-tables or finding the difference between vowels and consonants. Which by the way are still just as big goals…just for tinier people, … but we can see why making sure that’s relevant or measurable becomes a little bit tricker. So for my younger friends, I have a suggestion. Two words, one piece of paper, a commitment contract. Now, this one isn’t legally binding I can assure you. But what this little but mighty piece of paper can do is, it can hold those younger students accountable and committed to their schooling. Starting off with a statement like ‘I will focus on…’ to then something like ‘I am committed to…’ is the easiest way to get your commitment contract signed. Students can put in their own focuses and commitments to tailor it to their own learning, but at the end of the day, that squiggly red texta signature down the bottom means they’ve got to stick to it.

Being productive doesn’t mean you have to nag. Yeah sure, it’s frustrating when they’d rather watch Netflix than finish that report, but let’s face it, we would too. But getting those SMART goals and Commitment Contracts set in order will make for some super productive, super motivated and super focused students…hopefully.

Is This the Right School for My Student?

Education is of the utmost importance. It lays the foundation for reading and writing, which are essential to functioning in any society, culture and workforce. So where should you send your student to school to get this education? Should it be private or public? Would you like it to be religious or not? Perhaps you would like your student to attend a single-sex school as opposed to co-ed. You might even consider boarding school or another option where you find yourself outside of the radius. Clearly, there are a few factors to consider to ensure that you pick the right one, so here’s a few things we think will help make up that pros and cons list:

  1. Ask around: Get the feel from past and present peers and students. Getting the insider insight into school life, the staff and the facilities offered can help make your decision. Perhaps you place importance on the grounds or physical components of the campus, so getting the do’s and don’t’s from those who know it best will help guide you into what school best suits your student’s needs.
  2. See where others are going: Just like asking around, ask neighbours or relatives where they are thinking of sending their students. They might have an option or school you haven’t yet considered that could be the right fit. Considering where your student’s friends and relatives are attending may also influence your decision depending on whether or not you wish for your student to attend with them.
  3. Think about your own schooling experience. What was important to you as a student? What do you enjoy the most about your school? Was there something that you maybe didn’t enjoy? Thinking of yourself as a student and putting yourself in your now student’s shoes can open up your ideas and perspectives of what’s needed and what’s probably not.
  4. Do your research. With the help of our trusty friend google, you can now peruse school websites and information whenever and wherever you’d like. Looking into past events, current staff and future plans can be a big factor in the ole’ where to go to school decision. You might find that their future plans or what they offer is not something you value and therefore need to look elsewhere.
  5. Location and Travel time. Just as a logistical factor, it wouldn’t be ideal having to travel 1 hour each way every day in peak traffic. Keep in mind, most schools also have a radius where they allow their students to come from and for some schools you might just miss out by a few kms (annoying I know). Start with schools in the area or somewhere with convenient travel time and go from there.
  6. Co-curricular activities and opportunities. What is on offer? Do they have a rugby or netball team? Do they have days to volunteer or give back to the community? What about academic co-curricular opportunities? Perhaps a school trip or excursion? By not just focusing on the academics and logistics of school, schools can be found to be so much more.

I’m going to be a senior…but what subjects do I pick?

Becoming a senior is exciting. Your students are rearing the end of their school education and moving into the big leagues of learning. But, first things first, they have to pick their subjects. Now we know they have to do English and Maths, but which ones? General? Methods? Specialist? It can be a bit confusing on what subjects are right for your student, especially when now there is so much to choose from. But not to worry, there is something for everyone.

Find out what is on offer first. You might have heard your nephew mention his marine biology homework and think that’s a good fit for your student. But before you jump the gun, make sure your student’s school offers marine biology too. In some cases, you might even find that you come across something you didn’t know your student could study like psychology or even philosophy.

Next, determine what is compulsory and must be on the list. Almost always, your student will have to undertake English and Maths, but even then, there are a few options to choose from. Other schools might also have Religion as a requirement, of which again you guessed it, there are some options to choose from. Finding out what is compulsory will also help the logistical side of things because now you know how many subjects are left and how many more to choose.

Does your student need specific subjects or skills for their future plans? Whether it be going into tertiary study or straight into the workforce, some prerequisites and requirements might be in place. Students might need a science and a specific one at that so make sure that you and your student are well researched in what needs to be completed to ensure nothing is left out.

If things are still confusing or your student has a few subjects to spare and doesn’t know what to do, pick something they enjoy. It’s no use picking subjects that are all business and no play. The stimulation and motivation won’t be there. Even more so, to keep up the engagement with and in their studies, encourage students to choose subjects that they are good at. Being confident in their abilities and that work paying off is a huge incentive to persevere.

Having variety is also something to consider. Mixing things up and keeping things interesting at school will help further with this motivation. Students might not be all that thrilled with ALL maths and science-related content, so why not chuck in an arts or humanities subject to keep that stimulation and focus at its peak.

Choosing subjects whilst it may be daunting, is also a fun and exciting part of being a senior. Students get to tailor their education to their desires and what they consider to be of value to their learning. If questions persist or you think a little bit of advice wouldn’t go astray consult the student’s guidance or career counsellors…or better yet, seek the assistance of our one-on-one tutors to guide in the decision and further in the development.

All Neat and Tidy

If you’ve ever walked into your student’s room and thought a bomb has gone off from the clothes flung on the floor, the paper showering the ground or the fact that you can’t see what colour the carpet is anymore, it’s probably time for an intervention. Students can’t work or function in this state, it’s messy and confronting to the eye. But it’s also not your job to pick up the clothes from the floor to find the carpet, it is their responsibility. As frustrating and unsettling as the sight of it is, ultimately teaching the virtue and value of cleanliness can go along way in improving their education and learning.

As funny as it may sound, it actually is a bit of a safety hazard. Things can be on the floor, someone can slip over and next thing you know, you’re spending your Wednesday night waiting for a doctor in the lovely emergency room (all the while missing the Bachelor too…you’re not happy). These messy habits whilst, inconvenient bit a little trivial at home, can be a whole another thing when it comes to school. It inhibits on the other student’s learning and their environment. So really, it’s not benefiting anyone. Get your Mr Miagi on and get your student to hang up their jumper just until the idea of a tidy workspace sets in.

In a tidy workspace, it’s no secret that you can get more done. There’s no rumble underneath a pile of paper to distract students and look at that, they don’t have to dive into the pile to find a pencil. With things put neatly in their place and visible whilst studying, students will find they get more work done. Now they probably won’t believe you when you tell them this, but it’s true that students who study in a tidy workplace work and study for longer periods of time too.

So, whilst it can be distracting in general, a messy space can also intervene on tasks and deadlines. Students can get stressed or lose focus of the task at hand looking around the room at the mess they have created. Putting things away and tidying up before students sit down to get the job done will result in a distraction-free, more productive environment.

Not only will it relieve you of the stress or fright you get when you open the door, but your student will be more productive. Without distractions and space where pencils can be found and work can be done, students will be more motivated and engaged to continue with their study.

Why you shouldn’t hire the tutor next door…

Having a tutor next door sounds convenient, right? Your student can pop on over and walk right on back. Sure, you might have known them since they were young and learning to ride their bike in the street, but does that really mean they have your student’s best interest at heart?

Getting your student a tutor on the street or the next best thing…gum tree may not be beneficial for your student. Perhaps it’s convenient and maybe even a little more cost-efficient, but let’s consider some important factors that could mean the difference between an A and an A-plus, or the difference between a quiet and confident student.

When hiring a tutor, always take into account ideas of consistency or reliability. If you’re tutor lives next door, they might think that cancelling a session an hour before it starts to duck off to a movie sounds like a better option, but let’s face it…it’s not very professional. Or perhaps they’re a little flaky on the time they come over or conduct tuition. Having consistent tuition is important for a student’s routine and motivation.

Just like having someone with consistency, having a tutor that has a new approach or a tailored approach will assist in the student’s progress. A qualified and experienced tutor can target certain learning goals and strive to achieve the best for the student.

Having someone from the outside also makes scheduling and constructing resources for tuition easier. With no insider information or previous knowledge of the student’s education, the tutor has an advantage. The tutor is able to determine possible learning difficulties or education deficits that may be present.

A level of professionalism and qualifications are other important qualities that come with a tutor from an agency or professional environment. With training and access to academic resources, tutors from agencies are able to conduct tuition with feedback and repour from some fellow or previous peers and students. As a bonus, these tutors will have had processes of screening and interviews to ensure they are qualified and have sufficient experience to conduct tuition in a helpful matter.

So, whilst the ease and convenience of shouting over the fence for tuition might be prominent, consider the disadvantages and the potential difficulties that could arise. Someone who has been screened and harbours the correct qualifications can assist all while adopting a one-on-one approach.

Healthy Habits all Students Should Adopt

There are always things we can do better. We all try every year with news resolutions. Whether it’s yoga every day or trying to save up for a new car. We all try to instill new habits that we hope will pay off by the time the next fireworks come around. So before the year is over, why not encourage your students to get a head start! Here are a few things we think students should pick up:

  1. Attendance: I’m sure you’re students have heard of FOMO. For those of you who don’t know, FOMO stands for Fear of Missing Out. So, if it’s so prevalent amongst the young generation, it’s got to count for something right. So, when the fake cough comes out or your student dramatizes the usual moan and groans of a morning to weasel their way out of a school day, pull out the FOMO card. Keeping up attendance will ensure routine and also make sure your student doesn’t miss out on concepts or material covered in class.
  2. Sleep Pattern: Get them up and at it early! There’s no use in pushing the limits and waking up 5 minutes before the shoes and socks need to be on and out the door. The race to get everything organized will only hurt the day ahead and make for a stressful start for both you and your student. With breakfast sorted, lunch packed and uniform on (bonus points if they even ironed it) students will be up and at em’.
  3. Respecting Teachers and Staff: Being nice will never go unnoticed. A simple wave and hello when you pass fellow teachers and staff is a nice sign of appreciation for all the hours and resources they dedicate to your education and the school. Teachers and staff donate their time to car park duty, lunchtime duty and coaching sports teams among other things that strive to benefit their students.
  4. Sharing is Caring: Now I’m sure we’ve all heard this one and I’m even sure you’ve used it in your household amongst siblings and friends. Learning to share is an important aspect of developing and functioning in society. Having the ability to share pencils or share a book will equip students with the right skills to effectively work and operate as a team with peers.
  5. Active Member of School Community: Enthralling themselves into extra-curricular activities and outside commitments are key to enjoying the school experience. Joining a sports team, volunteering in community service acts or becoming a part of a club can make all the difference. Students can make additional friends, find a sense of belonging and discover new passions or hobbies.

Why You Should Encourage Critical Thinking

The current landscape of the world involves inexhaustible accessibility to information. The giant that rules and ends all arguments that is Google, is the tyrant of all things pondered. Curious minds alike have the ability and opportunity to scroll the internet for information and opinions on a myriad of topics. This endless search and access to information opens the discussion and discourse on what is relevant and true. And for students, it’s important to encourage thoughts of credibility and accuracy to question the information they absorb.

Whilst we do have access to things like Google and social media, with that comes its own weaknesses. We’ve all heard how Wikipedia is not reputable. You can literally edit any page on any topic yourself. I encourage you to have a look now. Any Wikipedia page can be adjusted to your liking with the click of a few buttons. So just like Wikipedia, any user with any credentials can provide their own opinions on any matter. While this is great for free speech, it’s not so great for our gullible students. Students need to be able to comment and form their own opinions based on fact and reason.

So, if it needs to be based on fact and reason, let’s make sure it’s coming from a reliable source. Students need to be able to understand both for academic purposes and for their own personal perusal that not all sites are trustworthy. The easiest way to communicate this to students is by providing a checklist of those that are credible, verified and trustworthy. Students should look out for websites that end in the following:

  • .gov
  • .edu
  • .org

While the above we know are accurate, there are the journal articles and newspaper excerpts that also have validity. Knowing what’s reputable and what’s not allows for students to gather all the information needed to form their own opinions and ensure they have an understanding of the current news and affairs that are happening around them. Not only does it provide benefits for their education, but it informs students for their future and the state of their society.

Encourage students to seek information and grow their own opinions. This type of critical thinking allows students to become more curious-minded and interested in how society functions. Students may find hobbies and passions in seeking this newfound interest in news and current affairs and you can have the comfort of knowing it’s reliable and educational.

How to Ace that Personal Essay

The time may come to write a personal submission or essay. It could be soon or it could be a little while off. But it could be for a scholarship, for university entrance or any additional tertiary education applications AKA, important. There are questions and starting points that may throw you off or create trouble in providing a response. If you are struggling to grapple with your response or are finding hardship in defining a topic, try to follow a few of the following tips to ensure you are confident and proud of the product you produce.

  1. What’s important to you? Picking a topic that students see as important or valuable to them will increase the validity of the essay. The points and arguments presented within the allocated words, will come across with a certain passion that couldn’t be matched if students took the easy way out or chose a topic that they had little to no interest in. The passion that comes from writing about something important adds flair to writing and academic personnel will be able to determine whether or not a piece has been written with passion and intent.
  2. Build upon personal experiences. Just like writing about something your passionate about, don’t make it up. Making a story or scenario up won’t seem sincere and definitely won’t carry the correct tone. Using personal experiences or stories will allow for credibility and the real accounts and personal anecdotes will reveal a sense of character and personality.
  3. Use your own perspective. Don’t approach the essay or questions trying to be someone you think will look better from faculty eyes. They don’t want to know what that story sounds like, they want to hear your story, from you from your perspective. In this way, try to refrain from looking at research or additional opinions. Sure, a little research will further your writing, but too much research and insight into varying opinions can hinder your own.
  4. Write an outline. Get it all out the page. Perhaps you like mind maps or opt for more structured dot points. Whatever your weapon of choice, get it down and out of your head. Having points and themes written down not only allows for reference points but progresses the argument along.
  5. Read your essay and ask for feedback. This shouldn’t be something that’s written the day of. There should be a few drafts with red strikeouts and annotations to ensure the essay is of a worthy standard both for yourself and the institution. Read the essay to yourself, make sure that you are content and confident on what is on the page. Ask around too. Your mum, neighbour or friend would be honoured to read it and give you their thoughts!

If you’re still stuck on a topic (in which case I have done a terrible job with the above advice), these are just some of our suggestions:

  • Describe a hardship or challenge you have faced that has influenced you or your values?
  • Who are the people that have shaped you?
  • What is a key event of your life that you associate with importance?
  • Where is your happy place? Why?
  • Name a strength and weakness of yours that you believe equips you with the skills to defeat obstacles.
  • What lessons have your past mistakes taught you?
  • Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
  • What legacy would you like to leave behind?
  • What are 3 key traits you think or wish people would describe you as?
  • Flashback to your 5-year-old self, what would you say?

Podcasts: Approve or Disapprove?

Are you up to date with the world’s latest technical advancements? If you answered yes, then you have probably heard of a thing called a podcast. If you answered no, you’re probably confused and have no idea what we’re all talking about. Well for those of us who are confused, a podcast is an audio file, usually spoken by an individual or group, in which it can be downloaded or subscribed to, to receive information, updates and discussion about certain topics. So now we’ve got all the boring stuff out of the way, do we approve or disapprove for students? Well, we approve and here is why:

  1. Just for you – the information relayed in podcasts seems like a conversation or debate between you and those on the podcast. It’s a smart and easy way to make the information seem personal. In receiving information this way, it makes it more intimate and more likely to get students to engage if they think it’s one-on-one, just like our tuition!
  2. Flexible and Convenient – on the bus? Listen to a podcast. Driving home from school? Listen to a podcast. Doing the weekly grocery shop? Listen to a podcast! The opportunities to listen to a podcast are endless. Just like listening to music, podcasts are a great way to consume information whilst completing mundane tasks. So, whilst your students are completing their weekly and daily tasks and chores, why not encourage a podcast to go with it! It increases productivity and might even get that cleaning done a little faster for you!
  3. They’re free! – Yep! You heard us, no cost. Your student won’t come to you with batting eyes in the hopes of an impending purchase because they can get it cost-free! Access to resources like these that are free and informational will always be beneficial to a student’s education.
  4. Take them anywhere – That thing that they always have in their hot little hands, yes, their smartphone, it’s full of podcasts! Whether its Apple Podcasts, Spotify or any of the other outlets that offer podcasts to listening ears, it’s portable and accessible. Students can listen to their favourite podcasts and get information at the click of a button anywhere they would like at any time they would like.
  5. There’s something for everyone – Maybe your student is into crime. Maybe they like catching up on advances in the science world. Or maybe they turn to podcasts for an update on current affairs and news. It doesn’t matter because there is something for all students. The list of podcasts and topics are endless so even when your student thinks that podcasts aren’t for them, there are definitely some out there for them!

Podcasts are a great way for students to combine their love of audio/music with education!

Music and Studying, is it a Match?

‘Huh?’ ‘What?’ your student says with an earful of music. With big headphones or fancy air pods, every student attempts to block out the outside world with the bass or guitar of their playlist. As soon as the books come out, so do the earphones. So, it’s no secret that with all the music festivals, streaming services and pop culture artists in today’s society, students enjoy music. They listen to it on the bus, in the shower and now, when they study. You might be worried that the incessant boom blasting from their ears is distracting, but we’re here to tell you to think again (students, you’re welcome).

For one, it makes studying a whole lot more interesting. Without a quiet environment or white noise that is studying without music, students’ study sessions can be livelier. It’s no longer a tedious or dull task to flip through a textbook and write an essay with nothing but their thoughts and your nagging questions. Students might also experience an increased sense of motivation knowing that their favourite song or artist is guiding them through.

Believe it or not, it actually gets the brain working. Like all things, brains need to be exercised. So, forget leg day or arm day, because for students it should be brain day. We’ve all probably heard that exercises like puzzles and mind games can have positive effects on our brain’s functioning. But, what perhaps most commonly slips under the radar is music’s ability to do this too. As both an easy and convenient exercise, the lyrics, the beat and the patterns within a song are a great cognitive exercise to train and challenge the brain.

A great deal of students’ anxiety and stress stems from their studies and the deadlines of those studies. Having something familiar or fun playing in the background can reduce these factors. If its anxiety that your student experiences, we suggest rap or hip-hop music. Whilst it might sound counterproductive, just trust us. The uplifting nature of this genre is proven to assist students’ moods and consequently their anxiety. And for those stress-ball students, music that students can relate to is a good strategy to overcome the stress. In processing their emotions and resolving issues through the lyrics of others, students can find a sense of calmness and feel content.

Now, this is something you might not remember as a kid, but you might remember it when you did it for your kid. A lullaby. When they were screaming or unsettled, a lullaby was always a good way to get your then-infant-now-student to relax. Despite your pitch and the fact that you might have been off-key (don’t worry, we all were), students experienced a relaxed state. Fast forward some years, and that same technique still rings true. In listening to their favourite playlist or artist or even some of your old classics (yes unfortunately, they are now considered old), students can be more positive and retain what they are studying better.

So, it might not be Mozart, but there’s nothing that a little Beyonce can’t fix. And who knows, they might even play it out loud so you can join in!

The Benefits of Audio Books

There’s something about flicking through the pages of a book, smelling the fragrance of well-worn pages and turning the page with suspense. Cue audiobooks. Now for some, the thought of an audiobook is perplexing. It’s taking away those very things we all love about a good hardcover novel pressing into our hands. But with advances in technology comes new innovative ways to adjust and create change in the way we consume media and content. These innovative ideas have afforded us the introduction of audiobooks. So instead of the words on a page, they’re read to you. Sometimes it’s an intimate delivery by the author themselves or just someone with a gifted literary voice. But nonetheless, neither way is wrong or right, it’s just a matter of preference. So why not start with the benefits of audiobooks?

For one, they’re great for young kids. Maybe you still do it, or you can remember the time when each night before bed, your students chose a book. You would sit there and read the book, often narrating characters with different tones and qualities you associated with the character. It’s an innate feeling, someone reading to you. So, for young kids, it’s just like mum, dad, grandma or anyone reading to them. Not only is it beneficial for their learning but it’s also a great way to get them away from the television.

Sometimes when we read things, we assume the tone or intent of the words. We do it with everyday things like texts or emails we may receive from family member or colleagues. Sometimes a simple ‘Okay’ or ‘Yes’ has no malicious or sarcastic motive, but that’s just the way we read it. Well, with someone reading the words to you, it leaves no leeway for misunderstanding. Better yet, the use of laughter or sarcasm can help convey the meaning of the passage.

Ever wondered what your favourite author sounds like? Audiobooks make that dream a reality. If you’ve ever admired a singer, actor or someone else who has written a biography, chances are they’ve jumped on board the audiobook train. Listening to the creator of the words themself can give further meaning and promote an increased sense of focus knowing the author wrote and is now reading the words.

It allows for multitasking. Now we don’t encourage this for students when they’re studying, that’s too many words to absorb, but in the car on the commute to school or when they’re in and around the house, why not put on an audiobook? Pick one that the whole family can listen to and have it playing so everyone can enjoy at the same time and engage in a conversation later.

Having someone read words aloud further helps with the nitty-gritty things of English, like pronunciation. Sometimes we come across words we don’t know and may have to resort to good ole Google for the pronunciation. But with the help of audiobooks, we don’t have to wonder! It’s right there in our ears for us.

It may not be the same or what you are used to, but for students, it’s a great way to tap into reading even if they’re not a fan of the traditional paperback.

So You’ve Pulled a Sickie … Now what?

The cough, the increased sniffles and the extra sighs are all part of the act. The look of horror that comes with the thought of going to school is just to seal the deal. As soon as you’re not looking, the sniffles go away, the cough becomes a lot less regular and the sighs turn into smiles. Despite the idea that faking a sickie is a rite of passage for each and every student, sometimes students really are sick, or something comes up and school is just not on the cards for the day or perhaps the week. Things happen, stuff comes up … no stress! What is important is the bounce back. So, whether it has been a day, a few days or a week of missing school, help your student get back on track.

A few ways you can do that is by:

  • Getting them organised or straight back into it. Like I said, having a few days off here and there is sometimes what the doctor ordered … or the fake doctor for the aspiring actors and their performance of the severely sick student. Following up with teachers is the first point of order. Encourage students to seek out their teachers, discuss what they’ve missed, find out what material they need to collect and the tasks they need to catch up on. Getting to it straight away will get your student closer to being on track. The more work that’s not caught up on, the bigger the pile gets. Unfortunately, the bigger that pile gets, the more the student falls behind. Sometimes even emailing the teachers or co-coordinators yourself is a way to ensure students stay on track if your students also suffer from a solid case of forgetfulness.
  • Putting things into a list. Sometimes it’s easier to see what needs to be done when everything is written down and in some sort of order, especially for those of us who are visual learners. In writing it all down, it also eliminates any memory errors. Putting a box next to each entry can also help in encouraging students to persevere. Whilst it might seem small, a simple box to tick can promote a big sense of achievement; ‘one down’.
  • Making note of the exact things that need to be done. Encouraging students to make their duties clear keeps the ball in motion. Having ‘English Homework’ on the list isn’t really going to encourage much work is it … but, having ‘Complete Body Paragraph 1 and 2’ is more specific and clearer. Students can clearly recognise the task needed to be completed and focus straight away, rather than reminding themselves of the content and tasks required.
  • After a day off school, getting back on track is the main priority for students. After their first day back after a day or week off, it’s no use to sit on the couch and avoid all academic responsibilities. On that list that your student has just created, why not get them to number things in order of priority? If their English teacher has said the task needs to be completed by Friday and it’s Monday, but their science teacher expects them to be back up to speed with what they’ve missed by tomorrow … science is the priority. Numbering the tasks again makes life easier and develops great time management skills at the same time!

Whether or not you clued onto the sick act, a sick day every here and then can’t hurt … but at least now you know the tells for next time they pull out the acting skills!

Before Tomorrow Comes

After a big day of learning, it’s easy to slump into the couch with your favourite pack of shapes. At that moment, when the crumbs are falling all over your uniform and the TV in all its square-edged glory looks enticing, dust off the crumbs and restrain from clutching at the remote. It’s easy to avoid tomorrow’s responsibilities with the distractions of today, but this draining cycle will only make it harder for tomorrow’s day of study … and crumbier.

Prepare for the day ahead. Most students these days are afforded the sweet advantage of a timetable. Pretending to Mum and Dad that you don’t know what subjects or lessons are on tomorrow won’t cut it anymore … and if they didn’t know then, they do now (we’re sorry). Look at tomorrow’s schedule. Pack the night before so the awkward call to Mum saying you’ve forgotten your sports uniform or the notes for your presentation never has to happen.

Get the homework done. Unless you’re extra speedy and managed to fend off all your chatty peers in your lessons today, I bet you’ve got some homework to do. Whilst I admire your procrastination efforts in reading this literary genius, get that homework finished and out of the way … after reading this until the end of course. We don’t want a pile-up at the end of the week with all the homework you decided to fend off during the week, so smash it out now.

Along with that homework, let’s make sure all that’s read and needed to be caught up on is done. You may not know, but actually reading what is required or recommended by your teachers prior to the session is actually for your benefit … I’ll wait while you pick that jaw up off the floor. But in all seriousness, get that done too. Reading the content covered the next day will allow for clarification and discussion. Bringing in the background knowledge and a basic understanding makes for easier comprehension and less confusion. And if you’re one of the lucky ones who actually did read what was required then you’ve got the upper hand, the power-play if you will. While your peers are the ones with BBQ shapes stained uniforms and square eyes, you have a card in your hand they don’t; you can ask questions. It may not seem like a showstopper, but in having a day and that lesson to mull over the ideas, questions can be asked and answered. For those who aren’t prepared, they’re still struggling trying to understand the first slide, let alone gather the information and question it.

Sleep time. Give those eyes a rest, they’ve earnt it. After all the homework and reading you’ve just been doing, sleep is just what the brain needs to recover and re-energise for the day ahead. Combine that with the epic and nutritious breakfast that’s awaiting you in the morning and I’d say you’re in for a very studious day.

Getting the most out of study

Is your student struggling to retain the information they spend hours in their room studying for? Or are they still needing that push of motivation to pick up a pen? Whilst not the best task in the world for some students, it is kind of an important one to apply themselves as a student. So, for when the time eventually comes (sorry students…), here’s how to make sure they absorb most of the content they study.

Space out those study sessions. There’s no benefit in cramming to never remember anything the next day. Students spend more time studying, but unfortunately, they’ll only get lesser results as a consequence. Shorts bursts over a longer period of time increases the possibility for absorption. Students might also find that in this tactic, instead of cramming and burning themselves out, they’ll have more motivation.

Write those notes down. A clicky-clacky keyboard won’t do the justice that a pen to paper will. Highlighting might sound like a good idea, but, putting a finger to pen and pen to paper uses different mental processes that highlighting ever could. Having notes in a notebook also creates the ease of studying. Take the book to a coffee shop, take it to work to study in breaks or take it in the car to look over on a car ride. Having everything in one place that’s easy to transport allows for further study and therefore further absorption.

Zzzzzzz zzzzZZ. Yep, get those Zz’s. SLEEP, my friends! It may sound trivial and assumed but most of our students sacrifice sleep for an extra hour of study just to finish that because they’ve ‘just gotta’. To recharge, we all need to sleep. For those aged 14 – 17 years, it’s recommended that they get at least 8 – 10 hours of Zz’s. During sleep, the mind encodes short-term memories into long-term ones. This means, that when students wake up from their beauty sleep, students will have the privilege of recalling the information.

Encourage students to teach what they have learnt. Perhaps you can be the student or a sibling of theirs can be. In teaching what they have learnt, students can break down all the information and test their understanding of the content. Conveying the information and instructing someone else uses mental processes and recall abilities. Ask questions. Prompt their knowledge of a specific process or subject to further test their knowledge of the theory.

Studying is an integral part of any student’s schooling journey. It is what allows students to achieve their goals and exceed their expectations and potential.

STEM – why should my student participate?

I think we can all agree that technology is the way of the future. There are new devices, ways of interacting and new platforms that are increasingly sorting our lifestyles. So then if it’s the way of the future, shouldn’t it be something students should be interested in? Perhaps it may be a possible pathway for their future or just a genuine interest. Whatever it may be, why not encourage them to find out?

STEM is an acronym for a series of subjects focused on the technology and science-based side of things. The acronym is broken down to represent Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Embracing and encouraging a passion in these areas indicates the idea that in developing a personal interest, potential success and career opportunities may come of it. Some ways to foster this passion are as follows:

  1. Bring in the toys. Whatever the toy (Lego is always a favourite) it allows students to immerse themselves in all things STEM. With these types of toys, students must follow certain instructions to create a specific shape and end results whilst working with different shapes and sizes along the way. These types of activities bring in ideas of architecture, measurement, ensuring structural stability and more.
  2. We’re sorry, but we’re also not … let them play video games. Yes, they may be overlooked for their recreational appeal and at first glance may seem a little trivial and not very educational, but video games can be useful as educational tools and successfully illustrate difficult scientific concepts. Watching things play out on a screen introduces representations of physics where ideas of aerodynamic come into play.
  3. Bring Science Home! You may not have Bunsen burners at home but that doesn’t mean you can’t put eggs in a shoe-box and determine the damage after dropping them from different heights. So good news is, science can be brought home. Things may get messy, but that’s part of the fun, right? Many experiments and projects often use household items anyway, so have a look around and see what you and your student can scrounge up.
  4. Museums and Educational Sites. Places like museums and aquariums allow for students to have a hands-on look at the scientific world around them. Some of these facilities even offer interactive exhibits and activities for students to apply those applications and bring what’s learnt in the classroom outside.

Encouraging students to participate in STEM activities brings about the academic connections and applications of the real world to the classroom and vice versa. As a possible way of the future, why not have students explore that?

Getting to know OCD

It might be a trivial idea at first. You think that people with OCD have to constantly clean things or that a space must be rid of every speck and spot. But the truth is, it’s a disorder. It’s a disorder that affects 1 in every 100 children and ultimately inhibits the way they go about their daily lives. The symptoms can be obvious and visible or hidden and a little inconspicuous. Increasing awareness around the disorder allows for access to resources and support that students struggling with OCD require.

For those who may not know, or know a lot, about OCD, it is a compulsive disorder that causes the individual to experience distressing or intrusive thoughts. These distressing thoughts can take over their daily routines and lifestyles with tasks and behaviours to combat these thoughts. Individuals who experience OCD can understand and recognise that these behaviours and thoughts are irrational yet continue in their pursuit to satisfy them.

Now there is a difference between being superstitious and experiencing these thoughts. For example, one might feel the need to turn all the lights off in a certain order or pattern before they go to bed that night. That behaviour isn’t necessarily worrying, just a little careful maybe. But not getting enough sleep or missing work because of these small routines and behaviours is a sign that these thoughts and behaviours are impacting one’s life.

Students with OCD can develop anxiety. So, like most people, with anxiety, it’s a mental illness that affects their daily life just as much as OCD does. However, for students struggling with the disadvantages of OCD, they may also find that it inhibits their academic performance and focus. It’s important to chat to your students and doctors when the behaviours first start arising. OCD is very treatable, so detecting those unusual behaviours early won’t hurt!

But what am I looking for? There are two common signs to look out for when trying to determine if your student is experiencing OCD. The first is whether they express ideas about having irrational fears that something bad will happen. This may be the idea that if they don’t brush their teeth 3 times a night, that their teeth will fall out the next day. And the second is just that. Those repetitive behaviours or rituals that start to creep into their daily routines. Checking in with their teachers and the members of their support network to see if they’ve noticed anything might also give you some clarification.

Whilst sometimes mocked and joked about, OCD is a real and life-affecting disorder. Creating awareness and discussing its behaviours will assist in the endeavour to normalise it and remove the comedic stereotype of being a ‘clean freak’.

Do you know what a ‘Learning Gap’ is?

Ever heard of a Learning Gap? Is your student or someone you know falling behind in class? Then maybe you have. A learning gap could be the reason that the student you know is struggling in class, trying to grasp certain concepts and content. Sometimes it slips over students’ heads or sometimes they just don’t get how the perimeter of a shape can be measured. But perhaps there are other times where students are consistently struggling to comprehend what’s going on in the classroom.

Now, what is a learning gap? A learning gap can be explained as something troublesome, that can cause students to fall behind. It’s the difference between what a student is expected to learn at the stage and level of learning they are at, compared to what they have actually consumed and comprehended from the classroom.

Alright, but what causes a learning gap? Learning gaps come to light when students haven’t comprehended the foundation concepts of a subject, but the next concepts are being taught. Students might be trying to wrap their heads around the idea of addition, but in the midst of trying to understand that, the next topic of multiplication is already being taught. New topics are being taught on top of previous ones, not allowing for students to understand the first before the second is being taught.

So, how do we go about closing these learning gaps? Well, our response is one-on-one tuition. A personal tutor is able to adjust and tailor their sessions to the student in front of them. Perhaps, they are even able to identify the learning gaps before anyone else or maybe before it’s even pointed out. Personalised education and instruction are pivotal in addressing these challenges and in enhancing a student’s confidence to combat them. These learning gaps, whether big or small in might, need to be analysed and targeted with a patient approach.

They might be tough to point out, but they’re important to point out. We all know students learn at different stages which is why they can be tough to pick. They might be small or hard to notice at the beginning but ensuring students’ academic gaps are approached with a patient, individualised method can be the recipe for a solution!

Struggling for a career? Ever thought of these?

There are always new ideas popping up all over the place. New inventions, new ideas for businesses and new ways of going about in the workplace. With all the newness going on, students might get confused and forget what opportunities and potentials lie in the face of this newness. So, to make sure their judgements don’t get clouded or the university magazines don’t block out all the opportunities, here are a few career paths we think current students could consider.

In a world where climate change and global warming is a hot topic (get it, hehe), there’s a whole range of jobs dedicated to its cause. Whether or not they are new concepts, they have certainly brought about new possibilities in the workforce. With an ongoing debate, there’s always more research that can be done. Researching and analysing the current world and its inhabitants is an opportunity students may never thought they could do, but now they can! These kinds of jobs allow students to benefit the planet around them as well as educate others of its benefit.

Technology – it’s everywhere. It’s in the car, in the living room and I bet it may even be in your hand right now. It’s right in front of us all the time. These kinds of jobs will never not be needed. We are becoming a society that relies on and works with the opportunities that technology provides. Understanding and furthering these processes are in high demand and are reliable career paths. There are opportunities for programming and coding where students could find themselves being a web designer or developer. Even better, is that most workplaces require an IT guru. So, students might find themselves combining two industries that they love into one career path that they will adore.

We’ll never not need doctors or nurses or physios or anyone that has a say in the health and wellness of our society. I’m sure that if anything, this year and its pandemic has taught us to appreciate and value the services and sacrifices our health practitioners make to benefit the good of others. Not only is it needed, but it’s a very rewarding career choice.

If you’ve enjoyed your journey through education and schooling, why not be part of someone else’s enjoyment? Teaching is another rewarding career choice that can offer benefits to others and yourself. One nice benefit is all those school holidays! Some of which you might be spending marking or creating lesson plans, but none the less, they are holidays! Being a teacher also offers the benefit of being able to travel and teach in different states, towns or even countries. You’ll never be out of a job and you’ll have a chance at creating the fun education and class environment you were able to enjoy.

It’s okay to not know what you want to do. At 17 or 18, there’s a whole chunk of life ahead of you. But at some point in the future, a job might be in the plan. Having an idea of what you are interested and passionate about will assist in making that decision.