Category Archives: Tuition Tips

“B” is for Breakfast

food-choiceNo student can function well without fuel for the brain.  Going to school without breakfast is starting the tank on near empty.  The body’s metabolism is slowed until the first meal to break the fast and it is running on reserve supply until then.

“B” could also stand for B vitamins as they help to convert the nutrients of food into energy; and there lies the next problem when developing a better student.  How nutritious is the food if breakfast is eaten?

Children and teenagers require quite large amounts of nutrients to supply a growing body.  Now I didn’t say they required large amounts of kilojoules, as it is nutrients that build healthy bodies and minds.  Poor choices in food quality can lead to delivery of lots of kilojoules with few nutrients.  This may lead to the problem of childhood obesity.

Parents play a pivotal role in the development of their children’s eating habits.  They do this in their role of parent by not giving into the child’s whims for their favourite snack foods and their position as role model when they lead by example.

The energy requirement of a teenager in growth spurt is only marginally greater than that of pre-teen children and adults but their protective nutrient (protein, vitamins and minerals) per unit of energy consumed is greater.  This means a teenager requires high quality nutrient foods to maintain healthy body and mind rather than high energy foods to keep them active.

“The energy needs of teenage athletes are increased, often greatly, if heavy training and competitive sports are involved.” (Human Nutrition and Dietetics – Ninth Edition).

It is important for your child to maintain three quality meals a day with the addition of healthy snacks for morning and afternoon tea.  The addition of the afternoon snack is important to fuel the brain for afteroon studies.

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Developing a Better Student – “A” is for the Academic Year

Stressed StudentSometimes there just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in a day to fit in what needs to be done, and there seems to be not enough weeks in the year for the school curriculum.

There are forty academic weeks to the Australian school year, little enough time for what needs to be learned.  The problem is the school year is not exactly forty weeks.  There are a number of public holidays to be removed, and then there are “student free” days also to be taken out.  If we remove the school camp that all students seem to be attending these day, sick days and time spent out of school for one reason or another (sports, museums, etc.) then we have a shortened academic year.

This all puts our teachers, and students, under pressure as a larger amount of acquired knowledge is squeezed into a reduced amount of attended time.

“A” initially stood for Academic Year but now I think it should stand for “Attendance”.

So, how do you make a better student?  Don’t add to the problem by reducing your student’s school attendance by removing them from school for a week’s holiday because it is more convenient.

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Tuition Tip – Early Steps To Avoid Stressed Students

Daily Diary Does the Deed


The year is going to progress whether we become involved with it or not.  It has been my experience with students, particularly at secondary school level, that those who do not take control of time will have time controlling them.  It is these students that display symptoms of stress as the year progresses.

Students who learn how to use a diary and planner at the beginning of the year are more likely to feel relaxed as the year progresses.  Keeping a written diary/planner appears to be almost a lost science.  Everything today seems to be electronic with touch pads for keying entries and apps that help to link all the diaries together and co-ordinate your appointments.  This is all very impressive but is it helping your student?

At the beginning of the term or semester your student is given their assignments and due dates.  They are also aware of sports training and events they should be attending; forthcoming birthdays and family events; and school activities.  Showing your son or daughter how to use a diary is a valuable life skill to pass on to them.  Sitting down once a week (my wife and I use Sundays) and running through that week’s entries helps to co-ordinate lifestyles.

Remember: We are all given twenty four hours a day, how you use them is up to you.

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Tuition Tip – Let The Things Before School Be Play

Baby ReadingAre there things you can do to help your prodigy to become a person who thirsts for knowledge?

Lately I have been reading a book, “Proust and the Squid’ by Maryanne Wolf which addresses this question.  I would like to share some information with you.

THOUGHTS FROM THE BOOK – Reading and Learning

“The more children are spoken to, the more they will understand oral language.  The more children are read to the more they understand all the language around them, and the more developed their vocabulary becomes.”

“… many efforts to teach a child to read before four or five years of age are biologically precipitate and potentially counterproductive for many children.”  The reason for this is the myelin sheath (fatty coating around nerves to help electrical information to flow) in the angular gyrus (that part of the brain related to language, number processing, spatial cognition, memory and attention) is not sufficiently developed until five to seven years of age.  It develops in all children at different rates and in girls faster than boys.

Sometimes your five year old is just not ready for school and your young lad may not be ready until seven years of age.  By that time they are in year two or three and maybe well behind at school.  It is not that they cannot learn, it is just their brain was not ready for them to learn.  They can catch up, but by this time they may need some assistance.

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Tuition Tips – When they look at the work and don’t understand what is going on!

Eye Tracking“Why am I the only person in this class who doesn’t get this?” 

Eventually they begin to believe “I must be a real dummy I just don’t understand why I keep getting this wrong!”  Their self-confidence disintegrates and at times their behaviour will follow.  After all “What is the point of turning up every day if I can’t learn this?”

What is happening with this student?  What would happen if you saw the number zero as a one? For one thing sometimes five plus one will equal six and other times it will equal five.  If you are in primary school and just learning about numbers and maths these things will make it confusing.  You won’t understand why sometimes ten is ten and sometimes it is eleven. Everything will become an exercise in guess-work for you.

These students will also have trouble seeing decimal points, and fractions are just another language when your eyes skip over the line between the numerator and denominator.

That’s just maths.  When they read “was” it becomes “saw” and whole lines are skipped because the eyes didn’t see the line to read it.  By the time they are in Year 7 their reading comprehension is extremely low and there are gaps in their mathematics because fractions and decimals don’t exist.

Eye Tracking issues occur when the two eyes do not move smoothly and accurately across a line or from word to word.  The student will often lose their place while reading, skip lines, misread short words as in “was” and “saw” and cut off the beginnings and endings of words.

Eye tracking issues are usually corrected by visiting a Behavioural Optometrist who tests for the condition and prescribes glasses that are worn until the condition is corrected.  Normal optometrists do not usually check or test for this condition so if your student has glasses and their school work has not improved it may be time to visit the specialist.

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The Rainbow Fish – Jack (aged 10)

Rainbow FishAt dawn deep in the ocean a submarine and ship collided attracting all the fish, especially the rainbow fish.  This curious fish swam up to the submarine and looked for an entrance.  He found a small crack and swam in.  He heard noises from inside a vault.  The noises startled him so he swam away quickly, accidentally bumping a lever.  To the sound of air rising, he realized that the submarine was resurfacing so he swam away.  Early in the morning the ocean was filled with cheers of relief.

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Tuition Tip – Write Because It Is Fun

Recently I purchased an electric bicycle after many years of riding a conventional push bike.  I also had some time on my hands and sought out Henry Lawson for some inspiration for a reply as to why I bought an e-bike.  Here is what we came up with:

My solution for "When my knees begin to go"  - An electric bike

My solution for “When my knees begin to go” – An electric bike

When Your Knees Begin To Go

When you doubt that rising road and the gears just don’t seem right,

And the fear of climbing keeps you tossing through the night.

You don’t know how to take it, or whether your mates would care;

Because in the past you were fast; the cyclist with all the flair.

There were no mountains, just long hills with every one to win,

No ride too long, no wind too strong; you took it on the chin.


Of late things have altered and they create a troubled mind

As you start to run out of steam and are being left behind.

I’ve noticed without exception, as no-one escapes this devil’s play

“The gears are wrong”, “The wind is strong”, “Was that a fast kay?”

Coaxing words to lift you from friends that gather around;

Are to no avail, your breath still fails as you give to them more ground.


When laborious legs toil the thoughts of torturous reason

The mind seeks solace of just what might be sports of a lighter season.

Is there a way a cyclist may still ride with the pack;

Or is there a time you will find you just can’t wind it back?

You too will face the passing of the people that you know

When the rides are long, the wind is strong and your knees begin to go.





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Tuition Tips – Getting Your Child Ready For School

Tutor and student

Small group tuition, it’s almost one-on-one


“A stitch in time saves nine.”  How do you know if your pre-schooler is ready for the next big jump into primary school?

Does your child understand these words – “above” “below” “on” “in” “before” “after” “beside” “first” “second” “last’ “stop” “go” “left” “right” “top” “bottom” “middle”?

Pre-school education should help young learners with their spatial skills and prepare them for primary school, but there are times when these skills are not acquired.  This is no reflection upon the child, though not having an understanding can place the young learner at a disadvantage when they first attend primary school.

Can you imagine the difficulty a young learner will have following the simplest of directions if they do not have an understanding of the words from the list above?  In our tuition room we are seeing more instances where the parents of children in Years 1 and 2 are seeking help because their little ones are not keeping up at school.  How can a student fall into difficulty at such an early stage of their education?

Let the early years be play.  Young children learn through play, being read to, and through song.  Have any of these three things changed in the last decade?  Do children play with other children or with their parents like they used to?  Are they being read to by an adult?  Do the songs they listen to teach them about the spatial world around them?

The things we do with our children before they attend school are just as important as the education they receive before they become adults.  If you can get the foundations right the structure is strong.

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If your child hates to write, try this.

Ask them to write a simple sentence about a cat: “My cat is fat.” Don’t worry about spelling unless you cannot work out what they meant to write.  In that case ask them to rewrite it with the spelling corrected.

Then ask them to make that sentence one word longer: “My cat is very fat.”

  • Try again, “My cat Biffy is very fat.”
  • Try again, “My old cat Biffy is very fat.”

Then use another word for fat.

  • “My old cat Biffy is very large.”

Now for a prize …. extend this sentence using the word ‘and’ somewhere.

  • “My old cat Biffy is very large and lazy.”

There you are – from four words to nine.

Do it just before dinner, make the prize “You decide what we are having for desert” and it’s all fun.

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Tuition Tips – Did You Know…

Tuition Logo 2…that most learners will forget the last four weeks of learning over the six weeks of Christmas break?  Pretty much everything learned in November is lost by the time they go back to school in January/February.

Six weeks is a long break from learning and I doubt young minds require so much recovery time.  I come from a sports training background and know that such a break from training for a sports person would be detrimental to their ability to perform.  That is why professional sports people do not take a break, they alter how they train. That is also why we run holiday tuition programs for our students; to keep their minds prepared for the next year.

It is not just the Christmas holidays that causes a disruption to learning.  There appears to be so many events during the year that prevent our students building up momentum in in their learning progress. We have public holidays (about 12 days per year), school holidays (about 12 weeks per year), student free days (at least one after every school break), athletics sports day, swimming day, excursions to …., school camps (1 or 2 weeks per year), …

So, why do our students attend tuition during the school holidays? Because their parents believe education is the best method to open the doors to opportunity as we move through life.

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