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.

How a Pet can Help Children’s Studies

Whether it be a cat, dog or fish, animals can bring an abundance of love into any home. Combine this with a young, learning child and the cognitive benefits of one small furry hug can too be abundant.

We often hear of people discussing an individual’s IQ. IQ means ‘Intelligence Quotient.’ It’s a score devised from tests and activities that are meant to predict one’s intelligence. But how often do we discuss one’s EQ? Their Emotional Quotient? Just like an IQ, an EQ tells of our emotional intelligence; the ability to respond and identify emotions. A student’s EQ is said to be linked to academic success and having a furry friend around is just the help a student needs to nurture it.

In having something to care for, students can develop a sense of empathy. Students can identify a living being that also has needs, which is something they can help fulfil. Simple tasks like filling up the dog’s water bottle, maintaining the kitty litter or remember to feed the fish can help promote empathy.

Whilst some Disney shows and movies would have us believe that pets can talk, I’ve never seen it. As the reputable source that I am, I’m pretty confident that although I’ve never seen it, my dog only communicates through barks and a wiggly tail. Students learning that social cues may not always be verbal or spoken is another way a pet can enhance a student’s EQ.

Just like with empathy, students carry out the mundane tasks to ensure that the pet’s needs are met. In doing this, students can feel a sense of responsibility. If the water bowl is not full at the beginning of the day, their pet will go without water for the rest of the day. Indicating these needs and handing over the responsibility for tasks students can complete, allows students to build a more emotional connection and bond with the pet.

This responsibility of a pet in their hands can also bring about a new sense of confidence. In having something depend upon the student, self-esteem will be enhanced. This new sense of confidence and a stronger sense of self-esteem translates into the classroom. Teachers and tutors may see a more motivated and driven student knowing their pet is at home waiting for them.

The comfort of a furry cuddle is always relaxing. The quiet hum of their purring or the patter of the tail can make anyone calm. So, for students, having a furry and cuddly outlet to destress with or even vent to, can ease anxiety.

A big EQ means a better and bigger IQ. If all it takes for a big EQ is for a furry friend to come along with a wiggly tail, why not introduce a pet into a student’s environment?

Whether it be a cat, dog or fish, animals can bring an abundance of love into any home. Combine this with a young, learning child and the cognitive benefits of one small furry hug can too be abundant.

We often hear of people discussing an individual’s IQ. IQ means ‘Intelligence Quotient.’ It’s a score devised from tests and activities that are meant to predict one’s intelligence. But how often do we discuss one’s EQ? Their Emotional Quotient? Just like an IQ, an EQ tells of our emotional intelligence; the ability to respond and identify emotions. A student’s EQ is said to be linked to academic success and having a furry friend around is just the help a student needs to nurture it.

In having something to care for, students can develop a sense of empathy. Students can identify a living being that also has needs, which is something they can help fulfil. Simple tasks like filling up the dog’s water bottle, maintaining the kitty litter or remember to feed the fish can help promote empathy.

Whilst some Disney shows and movies would have us believe that pets can talk, I’ve never seen it. As the reputable source that I am, I’m pretty confident that although I’ve never seen it, my dog only communicates through barks and a wiggly tail. Students learning that social cues may not always be verbal or spoken is another way a pet can enhance a student’s EQ.

Just like with empathy, students carry out the mundane tasks to ensure that the pet’s needs are met. In doing this, students can feel a sense of responsibility. If the water bowl is not full at the beginning of the day, their pet will go without water for the rest of the day. Indicating these needs and handing over the responsibility for tasks students can complete, allows students to build a more emotional connection and bond with the pet.

This responsibility of a pet in their hands can also bring about a new sense of confidence. In having something depend upon the student, self-esteem will be enhanced. This new sense of confidence and a stronger sense of self-esteem translates into the classroom. Teachers and tutors may see a more motivated and driven student knowing their pet is at home waiting for them.

The comfort of a furry cuddle is always relaxing. The quiet hum of their purring or the patter of the tail can make anyone calm. So, for students, having a furry and cuddly outlet to destress with or even vent to, can ease anxiety.

A big EQ means a better and bigger IQ. If all it takes for a big EQ is for a furry friend to come along with a wiggly tail, why not introduce a pet into a student’s environment?

Your Student’s Screen Time: Should you be worried?

In today’s digital climate, smartphones, iPads, tablets and so on are attached to our students. Their attention is easily wavered by the flash of a screen or the ding of a notification. But keeping social is important for all students and today, the majority of it is done in the online world. Whilst keeping up with the latest trends or scrolling through Facebook feeds may feel like a necessity to students, what is more important is their sleep.

Screen time before bed promotes bad sleeping habits and develops an unstable sleep schedule. In playing a game or talking to friends through a screen before bed, students can find it harder to fall asleep. This delay in falling asleep then translates to a lack of sleep. A student who doesn’t get enough sleep one night, can turn into a grumpy, unenergized student in the morning.

The issue is the blue light rays projecting from these devices. Whilst the pixels and screen may be clear and HD, the blue light rays not to so much. These little rays trick us all into thinking it is still daylight, when in fact it is probably 9:30 pm. Obviously, this again delays students in falling asleep but at the same time, students also lose the routine of a peaceful down-time.

Experts suggest that 90 minutes before bed, turn off the blue-light monsters. Encourage students to read a book, instead of watching the same version of events in a Netflix series 15cm away from the face.

Additional solutions include removing the device from bedrooms at night. In placing the device in the kitchen or communal area away from the student, it limits the exposure to the blue-light. An extra advantage of this move is that the constant notifications and dinging all night will stop. Your students may moan and groan that the cord between the hand and its mother device has been severed, but it will make for a better night’s sleep.

Taking away or reducing the blue-light, sleep-depriving monsters from students won’t be easy. You may have a grumpier student on your hands, but on the bright side, they will be better rested. Since they’re better rested, students will find it easier to get up and get going full of energy for the academic day ahead.

Your Student’s Screen Time: Should you be worried?

In today’s digital climate, smartphones, iPads, tablets and so on are attached to our students. Their attention is easily wavered by the flash of a screen or the ding of a notification. But keeping social is important for all students and today, the majority of it is done in the online world. Whilst keeping up with the latest trends or scrolling through Facebook feeds may feel like a necessity to students, what is more important is their sleep.

Screen time before bed promotes bad sleeping habits and develops an unstable sleep schedule. In playing a game or talking to friends through a screen before bed, students can find it harder to fall asleep. This delay in falling asleep then translates to a lack of sleep. A student who doesn’t get enough sleep one night, can turn into a grumpy, unenergized student in the morning.

The issue is the blue light rays projecting from these devices. Whilst the pixels and screen may be clear and HD, the blue light rays not to so much. These little rays trick us all into thinking it is still daylight, when in fact it is probably 9:30 pm. Obviously, this again delays students in falling asleep but at the same time, students also lose the routine of a peaceful down-time.

Experts suggest that 90 minutes before bed, turn off the blue-light monsters. Encourage students to read a book, instead of watching the same version of events in a Netflix series 15cm away from the face.

Additional solutions include removing the device from bedrooms at night. In placing the device in the kitchen or communal area away from the student, it limits the exposure to the blue-light. An extra advantage of this move is that the constant notifications and dinging all night will stop. Your students may moan and groan that the cord between the hand and its mother device has been severed, but it will make for a better night’s sleep.

Taking away or reducing the blue-light, sleep-depriving monsters from students won’t be easy. You may have a grumpier student on your hands, but on the bright side, they will be better rested. Since they’re better rested, students will find it easier to get up and get going full of energy for the academic day ahead.

Exam Time

This term has been challenging, much like the beginning of 2020. We have seen fires, floods and fights over toilet paper.  But amid all the chaos, students haven’t stopped. From the classroom to the cloud, students have adapted to the curveballs thrown. Whilst it is hoped that the worst has been and gone, students must continue through to exams despite further potential adversity.

The end of term brings about heightened stress and anxiety on a normal day. But with the changes endured, it’s conceivable that students are currently experiencing more stress and anxiety than normal towards the end of the term.

What’s important for students to remember is not to place pressure on themselves or the end result. In adjusting to a new classroom setting and navigating education during a pandemic, students may feel the need to perform as normal. But in no way has what they have been through normal. After all the changes, encourage students to do their best. That may mean receiving a grade that is a little different than usual, but by no means unexpected. Encourage students to maintain the level of effort they apply to their studies and encourage students to accept the grade given the circumstances students have overcome.

For students, focus on what you can control. Situations may continue to change and fortunately, the health and safety of students trumps whether or not the exam is performed online or at school. Focus on the content and coursework, rather than the setting. Controlling the amount of effort put in or the hours spent studying and comprehending will make more of a difference than wondering when or how the exam will be conducted. Keeping focused on their own studies and goals will help motivate students across the finish line.

Plan … don’t panic. Amidst all the changes, what students do not need to do is panic. Our natural instinct is to expect the worse. To visualise or imagine situations that seem real, but have a catastrophic outcome. Address these concerns and imaginations by planning. Instead of panicking over the work needed to be done or failing a particular assignment, students can plan out their study schedule. Analyse the work covered in the exam and how much students know. Prioritising what students are not confident with over the topics they are, will also help reduce panic.

Maintaining the behaviour student’s normally employ for study block, whilst not in ‘normal’ times is important. In treating the upcoming assessment time like any other, students can focus on what is important – the content and exam. But remembering not to place pressure on grades or outcomes will ease the usual stress and anxiety that comes with study block!

What Reflecting on COVID can do for your education

Think back to January. It is a new year. The Olympics are on. Maybe you have entered your last year of school or it’s your first day. You’re going to school each day, 5 days a week. Imagine if someone had told you then that in a few weeks, you’ll all be at home. You’ll be learning at home, with parents as new teachers. You won’t be able to see friends or go to the movies, you won’t be able to play sport on the weekend and you won’t even be able to buy more than 1 bag of pasta. You would have laughed in their face and thought how ridiculous.

Fast forward to now … how naïve you were.

The pandemic has changed the lives of many in drastic ways. Whilst one can sit and wallow in all the things that could have been, another can sit and think about how those things that could have been, have brought us to now. To a time where lessons have been learnt and mistakes made. The best part of it all is that it has provided an opportunity to reflect. In reflecting on the chaos that has occurred, students can find lessons and new perspectives that will advance their learning.

Thrust into a new classroom environment without the help and discussion of peers and teachers, you may have been terrified. You had to get used to navigating an online software and completing tasks provided by a funny looking teacher in a 3cm by 3cm square on your laptop screen. In not having the nagging of teachers or the motivation of finishing before the student next to you, you have mastered the art of independence. Take this with you when you leave the gates, for the skill of independence cannot be compared.

This same nagging teacher has not been behind you monitoring the computer screen to ensure students are on topic. It may have been Mum or Dad or someone else invested in your education, watching over your shoulder, but either way, students had to uncover self-discipline. Caving and binging a Netflix series may have been a whole lot easier at home, but if you refrained, then well done. In ensuring your tasks were done and studies were up to date, a sense of self-discipline allowed you to complete the worksheet or assignment and then watch an episode.

This whole idea of online school, whilst it may not have been what you had wished has some secret advantages. Going from learning in a physical classroom to a virtual classroom has no doubt brought issues. But think about what you have learnt. You may have learnt how to navigate online software and experienced the realm of remote study, but most importantly you have learnt the art of perspective. When faced with a problem, this year’s being COVID, there are ways around it, just like with any problem big or small.

Take away these lessons and reflect on your time living through a pandemic. Be present in adjusting to our new ‘normal’ and remain focused on your studies when future adversity decides to pay a visit.

If at first you don’t succeed….

Winston Churchill once said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” However, the courage to continue after failure can be slim and sought after. Failing after a first attempt can often be encouraging; an indication of further improvement. But after the fourth, fourteenth or fortieth attempt, the courage to continue dwindles.

For younger students, failure can often seem like the enemy. Unfortunately, society tells us it’s a bad thing; that it’s something to be feared. The thought of failure in raising a hand limits you from achieving your full potential, both as a student and as a being. You may not get the answer right, you may not understand the concept, but at least you tried right?

Failure isn’t something that should be feared, in fact, it should be celebrated. Whilst it may not be a success at the time, the moment of failure can propel you further towards it. The tiny, incoherent voices of failure that whisper doubtful ideas will seem inadmissible by the time success comes around. Spend your time refocusing on the things that will lead you to success rather than on the things that brought you to failure.

Adjust your perspective. Like I said, thinking about the details or errors that resulted in failure will only bring you further away from success. It’s okay to be upset for a while; it will instil a sense of motivation in you. This motivation will be bigger than what would have been had you have succeeded, but remember to throw away the tissues once it arrives.

There is a reason for failure. Whether or not you can see it at the time, the reason you failed that maths exam or didn’t get the mark you wanted for your English presentation is hidden in your impending success. A way around this you may ask? Think of failure as a key step in the process of achieving success. If you had never failed, how would you know that you had succeeded? And if you had never failed, how would you know what failure is? Or even what to do with it?

Failing does not mean you are a failure, it just means that you failed. Analyse how you got there, was it a lack of effort? A misguided judgement? Or maybe an error in comprehending the key ideas? No matter the reason, find the courage to continue. Your world isn’t ending, you just failed.

Adjusting to our new ‘normal’

With restaurants and cafes now opening their doors, many of us are rejoicing. We can now visit family and friends… outside the house!!! (maintaining our 1.5m, of course). Whilst for some it’s a time to embrace what we have endured; others are feeling an increased sense of anxiety because let’s face it, something like this has never happened before.

Before all the craziness, all lockdown meant to a student was the unlikely act of visitors trespassing their school. However now, it has got a whole new definition, along with a whole new community of slang (iso, rona, you name it, Aussies have thought of it).

Right now, some students might be feeling nervous about what their ‘new normal’ life at school looks like. To help navigate this uncertain time, why not give these next steps a go:

  1. Check in: Ask your students how they are feeling. It might be fun to be able to go to a café or see a friend, but deep down the anxiety of going back to school and adjusting might be present. Ask questions and listen.
  2. Accept their feelings: Whether students are excited or not about what is to come in the next few months, make sure whatever it is, it’s okay. Validating students’ feelings, no matter what they are, is important in ensuring their transition back to ‘normal’ is as easy as can be.
  3. Limit Media Exposure and Use: Try not to watch too much news or participate in discussion that could cause students to worry. Focus on reputable sources for your information and encourage students to analyze the messages presented by the media.
  4. Take Small Steps: Start with a trip to the supermarket. Then move onto the shopping centre or going out to a café for breakfast. Incorporating these activities back into students’ life one small step at a time can help eliminate or reduce the fears regarding returning to ‘normal’ life.
  5. Exercise: Don’t remove the daily walk. Whilst in isolation, I’m sure you and your students have been taking the excuse to go for a walk outside to get some fresh air. There is no reason why this must stop. Exercise can be a great way to reduce stress or anxiety. Keeping in the routine of going for a walk might even help in making things feel not so different.
  6. Sleep: Getting enough sleep in both preparing to go back to school and in general with dealing with anxious thoughts can help relieve some of the anxieties. Encourage earlier bedtimes if they’ve slipped a bit during isolation.

Going the Extra-Mile

You either love it or you hate it. For some students, school is not a haven of learning nor a place they thrive in. However, for those motivated and gifted enough to exercise their academic abilities, school can be an encouraging source of inspiration to discover talents and express their intellectual tendencies. For those who find themselves in the latter group, extension work can be an effective way to advance their minds and knowledge.

Completing an extra activity allows students to further their knowledge on the chosen topic. With increased knowledge and possibly a newly developed passion for the concept, students experience a sense of confidence. In being able to educate peers and sometimes even their own educators, students find a new wave of motivation for their studies. The desire to raise a hand or participate in class discussion increases with their knowledge.

In being offered the opportunity to complete further tasks, students also gain the opportunity to learn in the way of their choosing. Whilst a classroom environment allows peers to interact and communicate ideas, some students excel in alternate environments. Taking the task home or completing further reading in a time that suits the student adds to this idea of learning in their own desired way.

Extension work may have been created for the quiet times of a classroom, but it has the ability to uncover a passion. In doing further research, students may find they have a distinct interest and wish to learn more. With this in mind, teachers and tutors may find that the student comes to class with a more present attitude and an increased drive for learning.

The students who thrive at school are most commonly those who finish the task first. Patiently waiting for peers to complete or understand the task leaves a student bored. In having further work to complete, students stay focused and the mindset of working and learning is not overpowered by looking out a window waiting for further information to be presented.

The benefits of extension work are clear. It creates a more positive and proactive student both in the classroom and the outside world. With a focused mindset and a possible new passion detected, students can embrace a new sense of confidence they can carry into tertiary or ‘real world’ endeavours.

How to Prioritise

When handed a list of tasks, one must go through the list to define what takes precedence. Schooling and academic studies are no different. Each subject commonly has a timeline of the tasks needed to be completed and when they must be completed by. However, students can still lose sight of priorities as one’s social life seems to ramp up. To make sure tasks are done on time and at a standard that reflects students’ effort, try implementing this advice:

  • Don’t create impossible situations or expectations. If an assignment isn’t due for 2 weeks, don’t make the decision to complete it within the next 2 days. Whilst the assignment may be done and feelings of accomplishment come to light, I guarantee the standard of the assignment isn’t as good as it feels. Take the time given to ensure the assignment fits both the subject’s criteria and your own inner criteria. Use the first week to research and create a draft, leaving time in the last week to edit and finalise.
  • Define what needs to be done. Read, and we cannot stress this enough, read the criteria. Scanning over the task sheet or criteria may seem like you understand what is being asked of you; however, reading with a highlighter in hand will ensure you don’t miss the fine print. Once the task sheet is fully comprehended, students are able to make a list or structure to follow to ensure the task is completed properly.
  • Use deadlines. Believe it or not, subjects and teachers provide the deadlines for assignments in advance for YOU. It is for the benefit of students so you can PRIORITISE your time. Look at the deadlines of each exam, assignment or task and map it out on a diary amongst all the others. Once the tasks are provided in time-form, students can see what needs to be done first and what can be left to last.
  • Allocate time for EACH and EVERY subject or task. Maybe Monday could be for science and English could be done on Wednesday. Whatever works for you, ensure that enough time is designated to the task so that researching, creating and editing can all be executed.
  • Reduce extra-curricular activity. Just because your mate Sam is having a party doesn’t mean you have to go. It may sound fun at the time, but the next day when you realise what needs to be done and the little time you have allowed for it to be done in, you might be wishing you sat that one out.

How to Deal with the Oral Presentation Jitters

Public speaking can be daunting for everyone; some are just better at hiding the nerves. The fidgeting, knee wobbles and awkward adjustment in the tone of a voice are all normal reactions to public speaking. Class presentations, school assemblies or an impromptu conversation are all actions that instigate the jitters. To ease those jitters, try implementing a few of the following steps:

  1. Pick a subject you are interested in: First things first, make sure the subject you have chosen to make a presentation on is something that you are passionate about or have an interest in. If the parameters around what can and cannot be spoken about are limited, try and see if the argument can be spun to suit you.
  2. Focus on your speech and presentation: It can be easy to look out at your peers gawking at you, while you stand there educating them on a topic. However, focus on your speech and the words spoken. Block out the stares by picking a spot just above them to give your eye contact to.
  3. Don’t overthink your peers and their reactions: It might be your best mate in the front making a funny face your way or your crush in the row over staring…right…at…you that gets you distracted. Do not overthink it! Save the giggles until the end.
  4. SLOW DOWN: It is a natural instinct to talk as quickly as possible to get it over quicker right? The logic makes sense, but as an audience member, the fast-paced presentation can seem rushed. Throughout the presentation, every now and then remember to check-in and slow the pace down to keep both you and your audience calm.
  5. Practice, Practice, and More Practice: Going over and over the speech you have written is repetitive and boring, I know. However, its benefits cannot be measured. Knowing your words off by heart or running through it more than twice, will eliminate the stress of losing your spot and spiraling in the middle of your presentation.
  6. Get Organized: Palm cards can be a useful investment and a super easy way to be organised. Printing out the speech on a different piece of paper with a larger font can also be a form of organisation that will assist the nerves.
  7. Forget about Judgement: Again, the stares of onlookers can be an encouragement to speak faster or fidget more. Eliminating the fear of what others think about the way your voice sounds or the theatrical nature of your oral presentation, in the end, will get you a better mark and make it more enjoyable.

An Hour a Day, Keeps the Doctor Away

We have all heard it – ‘an apple a day, keeps the doctor away.’ Now that is all well and good for our tummies. But what about our muscles and bones that get students through the school gates, or make them strong enough to cart around the textbooks on their backs? Physical exercise is essential to a lot of things not only for our working minds but for our students as students. As an outlet for stress and anxiety, we are promoting an hour a day of skipping, juggling or your sports team training to keep the doctor away.

Obviously, the main benefit of physical exercise is our physical bodies. Whether it be walking around the block each day or running your dog ragged around the backyard, all exercise helps. Along with that apple a day, this daily exercise will help create healthy and strong bones and muscles. It does not need to be an exhaustive effort; it just needs to be something. Moving your body in any way can help build the foundation for a good studying mindset.

With strong bones and muscles all set up and ready to study, that hour of exercise outside can be carried inside. Exercising has been shown to improve student’s concentration, which let’s face it, we could all use a lot more of (imagine no procrastination…wow). Brain development can also be enhanced whilst partaking in a bit of a sweat session, not to mention the management of stress and anxiety. Exercise can be a great distraction or study break to refocus and come back to. Going for a walk, run or stroll will take the mind off the stress of that assignment and promote a refocused and relaxed mindset.

Whilst on that walk or during the team training session, a sense of self-confidence and independence can be developed. Partaking in a team sport throughout the school term or year not only keeps students active but also promotes skills that can be used off the court and in the classroom. Social skills through interactions with teammates can allow students to practice their co-operation and team skills.

So, it does not have to be a 10km run to the next suburb but try to encourage students to practice physical activity for both their physical and mental wellbeing. This well-balanced routine of physical exercise introduces ways to manage stress and anxiety and fosters skills of co-operation and teamwork, of which all can be brought into the classroom. Not only will the doctor be happy, but so will your student.

Your Online School Day – Helpful Tips to Ensure Productivity

Now that school is transitioning to online, there’s no reason to slack off. Just because the dining room table doesn’t have the classroom-like appeal, doesn’t mean schoolwork and study should be taken lightly. For students, the current online situation is an opportunity to be more productive. With extra time and fewer distractions, Students have the privilege to be more engaged and expand their learning and knowledge. To help ensure that online school days are just as productive, try implementing these tips:

  1. Set up a Study Space: Cowering on the bed with a laptop in between the legs won’t help students learn nor their posture. Designating a space either in a common area of the house or in the student’s bedroom with a desk and appropriate furniture will assist in developing the classroom mentality.
  2. Get Dressed: Being both physically prepared with a study space and mentally prepared by getting ready for the day will trick the mind into thinking it’s a normal school day. Pyjamas might be comfortable but won’t get the creative juices flowing. Encourage students to get out of their pyjamas and into something just as comfortable, but online-school appropriate.
  3. Schedule Learning Blocks: If the school has advised students to follow their normal timetable, learning blocks have already been created for students. However, in the case where students have free reign over their virtual timetables, allocate learning blocks throughout the day. Schedule in times where the student is studying and taking a break, just like any other school day.
  4. Get Rid of Distractions: Distractions at home may be an even bigger competitor than when at school. With access to smartphones, social media and little siblings to annoy, students need to ensure their study spaces are distraction-free. Adjust the mobile phone to ‘Do Not Disturb’, close tabs on laptops that aren’t appropriate for learning and promote other family members to leave the student alone while in their designated study time block.
  5. Ask Questions: If the online format being used allows for questions and communication amongst teachers, use the opportunity. Just like in any normal classroom, ask relevant questions that will assist in completing the tasks. Additionally, use email correspondence with teachers where appropriate to ensure understanding of concepts.
  6. Collaborate and Engage with other Peers: They might not be in the study space with students, but the opinions and thoughts of other peers are always useful. Encourage students to organise a facetime or Zoom study session with several peers so that discussion can be made. This is also a great way to consolidate concepts and review the work covered by the teacher.

Dear Current Year 12’s

Your situation was never predicted. From day one of your senior year to now, I think we can all admit that there have been a few changes; some of them drastic, some of them minor. No matter the degree of change, your senior year looks a little different to the ones you have watched before.

You have moved from a classroom, with peers, teachers and tactile resources to a virtual classroom at home with parents, siblings and distractions. Exams, assignments and daily schedules have all been adjusted to suit our ‘new normal’, but I’m sure nothing feels normal.

The feeling like you may have lost something is warranted, because unfortunately in a way you may have. For some, it may be a routine, a lifestyle or a ‘normal’ senior year. And for that, it’s okay to be upset.

It’s okay to miss the senior traditions you were looking forward to. It’s okay to miss the in-class discussion of peers. It’s okay to miss the lunchtime banter or tuckshop run with friends. And it’s okay to be angry or annoyed.

With this ‘new normal’ you find yourselves in, it comes with a new expectation of your senior year. A different year, but not a lesser year. It’s important to embrace your next few months of the last at school with determination, rather than use the time left to wonder what could have been.

Think back to your first day of high school (the large itchy uniform and all). You were placed in a new environment, with social, academic and mental challenges. Your schedules were changed, new formats of study needed to be learnt and a new set of mundane tasks were introduced. Standing at the gate, I’m sure some of you imagined what the next few years would look like and even where you would end up at the end of it all. Adjust your expectation, because if there’s one thing you’ve learnt from standing there that day to now, it’s how to resolve and embrace unpredicted and at times unwanted situations. I challenge you to do this now.

Whilst your teachers may be more than 1.5 metres away, they’re still your teachers. Be willing to take their advice and listen to the suggestions they offer. They may not have been through this themselves, but they’re the ones helping you get through this now.

To your fellow peers and younger students, they’re with you. It may be easy to dismiss their anger to prioritise yours, but they’re in a virtual classroom too. Their disappointment is just as valid, so don’t let the status of a ‘Senior’ cloud the need to stand together.

It may not be comforting to hear at this current point, but everything will be OK. As a ‘COVID Graduate,’ the idea of adversity will seem a little less and anything further will be a reminder of what you have overcome. The obstacles faced throughout your senior year and the optimism at which you faced them with, will stand above the senior years before you.

Stay focused, remain positive and look forward, but do not look back on your senior year in disappointment.

The Need for Constant Reinforcement

Homework and revision may often seem like a tiring element of learning. However, revising and reinforcing each night the lessons and knowledge of the day can often benefit students.

While cramming for the exam or composing the essay in one hit eliminates time, there are few benefits for learning and processing of information.  Doing a little bit each night, rather than in one big block on the weekend, builds momentum. By allocating time each night, the student can process the information in smaller portions. With smaller bouts of knowledge covered, the likelihood of the student remembering and retaining the information is much higher than if a cram session was to be allocated for the night before.

Revising and reinforcing each night also leads to a sense of consistency for the student. Scheduling out time and days for specific subjects or tasks will not only enhance the learning process but also ensure that reinforcement is constantly occurring each week. This consistency in having specific days and subjects to cover each night, consequently, builds a routine. With both consistency and a routine, the student will be better engaged during the reinforcement of each concept.

An aspect of reinforcement that also contributes to the student’s learning process is the development of their confidence. In reinforcing each night, information is both processed and absorbed better. In knowing the theory and feeling a sense of achievement, confidence is restored. With this new sense of confidence, the student is equipped for the learning ahead; approaching each task with the help of revision and reinforcement. This helping hand of reinforcement each night in turn promotes engagement and participation within the classroom.

Going over everything each night is an important part of the learning process at school; however, the act of reinforcement can also be used in further studies. If the student begins to allocate time each night to go over the day’s work, the better prepared the student is not only for upcoming exams but for possible future studies. Unlike our favourite teachers, tertiary programs do not offer reminders of what should be completed on what day. Instead, it’s just a final due date. Getting in the habit of working on each subject each night then prepares students for possible further study.

By mapping out a plan each night and dividing each subject into smaller components of study, the student is participating in reinforcement. Revising and reinforcement can offer consistency and momentum for the student, creating a rhythm for learning. A better sense of confidence is achieved by the student, with the probability of engagement and participation increasing as a result. The importance of reinforcement of theories and tasks each night inevitably leads to a more prepared, engaged and confident student.

Does my Student need a Tutor?

As parents, knowing your child’s every move and thought is part of the job. But sometimes, little actions or moods may slip under the radar. Unfortunately for many parents, I’m sure, it’s frustrating that you can’t be in the classroom learning with them. But there is something you can do and look out for, across from the dinner table. Little changes in mood or behaviour or in academic results might just be the warning signs that you need to find your student a one-on-one tutor.

The first things to look for can be found in the report cards that students often dread. Looking over their results and behavioural descriptions, you might see a difference you weren’t expecting or something that stands out. It could be that the teacher has commented on their progress or the fact that they’ve dropped down a grade. Getting a head start and helping your student when the first signs appear, can make sure your student doesn’t fall behind.

If there are tantrums in the car travelling to school or the attempt to pull a ‘sickie’, it could also be another sign your student is struggling at school. Not wanting to go because they don’t feel their work is at the same standards as classmates or they just can’t get a handle on that one subject, could be a great reason to introduce an extra helping hand into the equation.

Now, it’s known that most students aren’t the biggest fans of homework. It’s often a battle at home to get it completed, but if students are avoiding homework or pretending ‘they don’t have any’ and trust me they do, the student might not be coping with their school work as well as you first thought. Try sitting down with them and going through it step by step. You might be able to determine whether it’s just a bad day or it’s just not making sense. And as a bonus, you’ll get a better night’s sleep knowing the homework is done!

Moping around the house or not taking the chance to pick on a sibling (because what child doesn’t take advantage of that) is also a big sign to check up on your student. Their confidence or success might be dwindling at school and as a result, the siblings are finally getting along but school motivation is slipping. No confidence in their abilities could be having an effect on their normal, happy, sibling-torturing self.

Tantrums in the car or changed academic results are just some of the signs to look out for. And that’s when we come in! A one-on-one tutor might just be the sign you’ve been looking for to help get those grades and confidence back up.

Starting the Assignment

Task sheets are the key to any assignment. Yet with the due date bolded and multiple dot points of information sprawled all over the page, it’s easy to justify student’s concerns. When handed a new task sheet, students can be overwhelmed and lose track of what needs to be done. It can also be confusing if students don’t know where to start. The task might just be one essay question, meaning an ample amount of ambiguity as to where to begin or what to focus on.

The best way to approach something is to decide what you want to achieve at the end. Setting an end goal along with tiny short-term goals can help ease the anxiety. It might be as simple as passing the assignment or maybe your student wants a certain grade. Either way, if the desired outcome is established, the task sheet in front might not seem so daunting.

For each student, the best time to study is different. For some it’s straight after they finish school, they walk in the door and their mind is still focused from the day that they are willing to keep the momentum going. While for others, after dinner or after school commitments is the best time to study because they’ve had a break and are now ready to go again. Regardless, using that specified time each week will not only ensure that their mind is clear but also create consistent study habits.

Making sure students are clear on what the assignment is looking for is crucial to any task. Reading over the task sheet, highlighting or circling keywords that show what is required or jotting down some notes in the margin can help with the understanding. If students are still unsure of a certain theme or the task itself, encouraging them to seek answers with classmates or teachers will help with their confidence in getting it all done.

After looking through sources and information, perspectives or responses to the task can change. It’s important to remember that adjusting your point of view is okay as students sift through piles of evidence and facts on the topic. What’s most important is that students make sure that their argument or response to the task at hand is justified and coherent, because if the teacher can’t understand or read it, it’s not looking good.

And after all that, if the words still aren’t flowing, just try and write something down. There’s no point switching from the task sheet to the blank piece of paper. Brainstorming ideas or drawing diagrams of arguments and thoughts is a simple and creative way to get those juices flowing. Once you’ve got something to show, it should flow from there.

Imagining the feeling of when the assignment is done is most often enough to motivate students! Clear direction of where to go and what needs to happen will put everything into place and turn the task sheet into something complete.