Category Archives: Uncategorized

“F” is for Foundations

Tuition Logo 2If your child was an average student last year, chances are they will be an average student this year.  If they struggled with maths last year, they will probably be struggling with maths this year.  Nothing changes unless something changes.  What must change to improve your child’s grades?

The first thing that must change is someone’s attitude.  Children are children and they will not change unless they are given a reason to change.  Telling them to do better or to change their ways will probably not get the result you, as a parent, desire because they do not know how to change.  They are children, they are young, and have a limited frame of reference when it comes to change.  They must be taught how to change.  At this stage the biggest change must be in you as a parent.  You must make the decisions for them, and then guide them along the path.

One of the biggest problems seen in students is they have problems with weak foundations.  They simply don’t know their multiplication tables up to their year level and they don’t have in place a memory of subtraction and addition of the numbers up to twenty (20).   No matter how well a student understands the mathematical concept they are being taught at school, if they can’t perform the foundations, they will not be able to solve the maths problem.  Continually getting the wrong answer whittles away their confidence.

Every student needs to build strong foundations.  You can’t have lasting structure without strong foundations.

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“E” is for Enough Sleep

“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” – Benjamin Franklin

Male Pupil Finding School Exam Difficult

And on the other side of the coin insufficient sleep will make children hyperactive, lacking in confidence, irritable, inattentive and fall behind in class and if this sounds like your youngster then it is so easy to fix.

Much study has been devoted to knowing how much sleep is needed, or not needed, to remain healthy and productive.  The conclusion being “…. there is a lot of individual differences in what children and adolescents need to sleep to be at their best.” (Australian Centre for Sleep Education).

As a general guide, primary school students require between ten and twelve hours of sleep per day while secondary (higher) school students get by with eight to ten hours each night.  Research has indicated children of any age will arise at about the same time each day so the difference in hours of slumber occurs at the time of going to bed.

What time should a child go to bed to be at their peak the next day?  To make this exercise easier and because Australian schools commence at 9:00 am, let’s assume our children get up at seven to start their day during the week.  This would require a primary school student to be in bed by 7:00 pm and no later than 9:00 the night before, and our secondary student in bed by 9:00 pm no later than 11:00.

The younger the child the more sleep required.  Students from grades one to three require closer to twelve hours of sleep each week night while those from grade four to six/seven may drop to needing ten hours of sleep.

Problems occur with teenagers as their bodies are not ready for sleep when the clock says it is time for bed and they stay up whiling away the hours until slumber overtakes them.

Unfortunately, the activities they do while waiting to sleep may not be conducive to bringing sleep on and they miss out on their required sleep quota.  They then go into sleep debt which they try to reclaim on weekends by sleeping in.  This problem may be compounded by staying up later during weekend nights to interact with friends and sleeping even more of the morning away to further knock the body clock around and make sleeping during the week more difficult.  As a parent, you must take control of this situation.

Children deprived of sleep, like adults, are hard to rouse and will feel sleepy during the early part of the day.  Unlike adults, primary school students will become more active during the day, though still be less able to concentrate.  Because they have become more wired, they will be less likely to fall asleep easily, thus becoming more sleep deprived.  Parents may have trouble identifying a young child who is not getting enough sleep because they are active.

Some home factors compound sleep deprivation in children.  Families in general are not going to bed as early as they need.  For one reason or another, parents are staying up later and as role models may be setting poor examples of a healthy lifestyle.

We see how the concentration of a child who has insufficient sleep is affected in our tuition room.  A student who the previous week was performing wonderfully on our program suddenly has low scores and answers very few questions.  When asked what they did the previous night the answer always involved a late night of movie watching, game playing, internet surfing or social media.  We have also seen how a poor student can change so quickly when they stop being tired.

You can take steps to create good sleep habits by cleaning up the bedroom and the time leading up to retiring.  Some good sleep hygiene habits are:

  • No T.V., computer, mobile phone or exercise 1 hour before going to bed.
  • No T.V., computer, mobile phone in the bedroom.
  • No coke or caffeine drinks 2-3 hours before sleeping.
  • Set bed-times and wake times and keep them to form healthy habits.
  • As a parent, be a good role model and lead by example.

You can visit the Australian Centre for Education in Sleep TM   website for a more comprehensive read.

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‘D’ is for Don’t Give Up

Young girl screamingPeople are social animals, meaning we need to mix with others, and children are no different, but what is going on when a child who was excited about attending school is suddenly resisting?

The school year has start and there was mixed emotions from the new attendees.  Most of the time going to school for the first time will be met with excitement generated from buying books, a school bag, trying on uniforms and covering school books.

The first day or three will be an absolute dream, unless it is your first child going off to school and the tears come from you.  But there may come a time when the novelty has worn off and your eager young prodigy has dug their heels in explaining they have finished with school.

Sometimes a simple explanation that this is their lot for the next twelve plus years (an explanation better than that I hope) will have them merrily kitting up for the next day, but at times there may be a deeper problem.  School refusal is an emotional problem experienced by some parents with their children.  Some signs of school refusal are when your child:

  • Throws tantrums about going to school
  • Hides when it is time to leave for school
  • Begs or pleads not to be taken to school
  • Complains about being ill when it is time to leave for school

There are other indicators for school refusal you may read about on the Raising Children website.  Addressing the cause is the key to handling the problem.  There are many causes, but tuition can help when the cause is “school refusal because of academic problems”.

It is sad to think a Year One student is experiencing academic problems, but it does occur with no fault of any person.  A new school student may be having difficulties because:

  • The assumed knowledge of Year One (e.g. spatial skills, order and counting, grouping, singing the alphabet) has not been learned in Prep.
  • The student is not quite ready to learn. Sometimes students struggle with learning something they see others around them learn easily.  They become frustrated to tears, at which point we praise them for giving it a go.  We also have a system for learning that creates fun, and this distracts them from any inadequacies they may feel.  One day their eyes light up as they have answered a question correctly, but more importantly they understood the question they answered.  Their brain is now ready to learn, and they take off catching the class (with the help of our tuition system) and at times moving to the head of the class with their results.  Every child is ready to learn at a different time, so you never give up on them.  Sometimes they are seven years of age before they are ready academically for school.  This is a problem when school commences at five years of age.
  • The student has a learning disability and this may be something as simple to correct as a tracking issue.

Sometimes you may need the assistance of your G.P. or a child psychologist to help overcome your student’s school anxiety or low academic results.  Never give up on them and consider an after-school tuition program to help subdue their anxieties and achieve academically.

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“A” is for the Academic Year

Male Pupil Finding School Exam Difficult

Sometimes 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 several 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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“The Journey of Weirdness” – by Rainer (aged 6)

The Journey of Weirdness:

HikerA little boy was climbing a mountain in the snowy weather with all his supplies. He saw chameleons coming out of a rock.  This surprised him because he was climbing in Australia.  So, maybe they were sucked up in a tornado?  Next, he saw tweetie-birds. But he kept walking up the slope because his home was half-way up the mountain. He kept climbing past the witches’ hut, which he’d never seen before because it was not real. He was really surprised that day on his climb.

Rainer, aged 6

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“Kyle’s Special Night” by Meagan (aged 10)

ReindeerOne Christmas Eve one thousand years ago, in the workhouse where the elves were making sure all the presents were working, a reindeer named Kyle was humming to himself while watching the elves work. He was unhappy because Santa didn’t choose him to lead the sleigh. As he went looking for Santa, he ran into another reindeer who told him to go away. It all got better for Kyle when Mrs Clause heard him singing and told him how special he was. That Christmas Eve was one that Kyle would never forget.

Meagan, age 10. 

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“The Santa Clown” by Sebastian (aged 11)

Santa.jpgOn Christmas Eve, the McDermids decided to go to the shopping centre to buy presents. They already knew what they wanted to buy from watching television. Mr. and Mrs. McDermid saw Santa at the shopping centre and pointed, but the children thought he was a scary clown. They wanted to go straight home and that night, when they should have been asleep, the children got up to wait for Santa. It was the scary clown who came down the chimney with some presents.

Seb, aged 11. 

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“Cats” by Ella T (aged 9)

ginger catOnly on dark nights when there is no moon, from a big house in the city, the ginger and black cat leaves to go out adventuring. She is small, friendly and adventurous. She goes, with her friends, to an underground river where there is a little house that is full of woolly pink balls and cat food that tastes like marshmallows. They play for three hours, eat for one hour and then they sleep until they wake up. On dark nights the cat goes home and then she goes to sleep.

Ella T (aged 9)

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“The Dream” by Gabby (aged 13)

Charlies RhinoRyan the Rhino had one mission in life and that was to become an undercover member of Charlie’s Angels. The problem was he couldn’t shoot a gun, he was too big and he was not agile on his feet at all. At the Charlie’s Angels course, the gun slipped from his hand and when he bent down, a huge crack meant he had a tear in his pants and the whole class cracked up. His cheeks flamed bright red and he stomped out of the room, which showed the Angels that he was not light on his feet. A trainer said to him, “Ryan, I’m sorry but you can’t be an angel”, but Ryan never gave up his dream of joining Charlie.

Gabby, aged 13. 

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“K” is for Kinaesthetic Learner

Bad StudentType ‘student’ into Fotolia and you have 14337 pages of pupils sitting quietly at their desk diligently working away.  DREAM ON.

We know all students are not alike because all children are not alike.  In a (teacher’s) perfect world all students would be just so, but …

Approximately 15% of the population are kinaesthetic learners and that means there will be no such thing as a quiet classroom.  Kinaesthetic learners just want to touch and feel everything.  Their friends are bruised because these learners just have to thump their mates.  Their homes are a mess because they have to pull everything apart, just to see how it works.  Does that sound like someone you married?

You can picture this in your husband, but how about your little one?  How do you know you have a kinaesthetic learner on your hands?  Well for starters their teacher will probably be calling you in to complain about how disruptive they are in class.  This student finds it difficult to learn through reading and writing.  They need the hands on approach so they do better in chemistry experiments, sports and acting.  They may not even be aware of their own movement and are easily distracted by the movements of others.

By the age of 6½ they are generally classed as under-achievers or worse still hyperactive.

What can you do with this learner?  For starters accept them for who they are. There is nothing wrong with them rather it is our education system that is not geared to accept 15% of the population.  As a parent, give them down time after an active session, and reward them for the tasks they perform.  These guys may be reward driven.  Kinaesthetic learners do best with images so paint them a picture of what you want from them. (For more information visit www.educ.uvic.ca)

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