Tag Archives: Ferny Hills Tutor

“The Brave Bilby” by Harry (aged 8)

bilbyOne day, an extremely brave bilby determinedly dug a burrow in front of a fox. The black and brown bilby kept digging and digging and so did the fox but the bilby was too hard to catch. After two hours, the bilby’s burrow suddenly reached the end and, although the bilby didn’t know it, he had reached the edge of the earth. He made a quick move and covered his head with his ears and then he flew off into space. That day the brave bilby was the first astronaut bilby in the world.

Harry, aged 8             

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“Evad and Adam” by Cohen (aged 9)

HorseWhen the sun was just setting, Evad, the horsefly felt a tingling in his wings because it happened every sunset. Within seconds, he turned into a magical, black horse with red eyes and wings. Every night Evad flew over the city looking for a boy called Adam who was trapped in a nasty orphanage. As he was about to land, he spotted the orphanage and he flew down to it and there was Adam, sleeping on a dirty old blanket as Evad peeked through the window. Evad gently taped on the window and Adam woke up and the boy leapt on the horse’s back and Evad felt a tingle on his back as the sun began to rise and they rose into the sunrise.

Cohen, aged 9 

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“Jonah’s Bad Day” by Harry (aged 8)

Angry treeThis morning, my friend, Jonah, who is eight year’s old, like me, shot a nerf-bullet to get his mate’s attention in the wood-house. They were both at Jonah’s family’s Californian farmhouse, just beside the magic tree. The bullet hit the magic tree in the face just as it was waking up and that hurt it a lot and it caused the tree to fall. The tree dragged itself up and then whacked the old wood-house into lots of bits of wood until the barn didn’t exist anymore. Jonah and his mate called 000 and the ambulance took them to the hospital.

Harry, aged 8. 

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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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“I” is for Interest

“A man who limits his interest limits his life.” – Vincent Price

pretty young mother teaching her little kid childWe all want our children to do well in school and in life, but how do you ignite that spark that fuels a need for knowledge.  How does your child develop an interest in the world around them?

Well, for starters, let’s look at your environment.  After all, we shouldn’t put the responsibility for learning and growth upon the school system alone.  Children’s exposure to teachers and schools is small compared to their exposure to parents and home life.  So, let’s take stock of the most influential environment upon your child’s growth – you and your home.

Do you talk with your child or do you talk at your child?  Talking with your child encourages conversation and participation while talking at your child is more about giving instruction: “Don’t do that”, “Sit and be quiet”, “Go outside and play”.  Which type of parent are you?  Is most of your communication one directional, or do you urge a more open form of communication?  Do you talk with your child about the things you are interested in, such as books, movies, and gardening?

Do you have interests you can talk about with your children and your friends?  Your growth and learning doesn’t stop when you become an adult.  Your child is likely to become the adult you are because you are the major role model in their life.  Your continued growth doesn’t have to be purely academic.  Your interests, hobbies and activities continue to develop you as a person.  As an adult, have you continued to grow or do you come home at night and sit in front of the computer surfing YouTube or watching television.

How many books do you have in your life?  Look around your house and count the books on your bookcase.  What? You don’t have a bookcase.  Reading is still the best source of gaining knowledge.  It is a sad fact that today many households don’t have a library.  Their interests and knowledge are not on display.  I enjoy visiting people and scanning the titles on their shelves as it immediately lets me see the interests of the people who live there and gives a basis for conversation.  Many people will have a display case for their sports trophies and I consider bookcases as display cases for your knowledge.  Now, before you go thinking I am some sort of nerd, as well has having several hundred books, our household also has a movie library with several hundred movies.  Display your interests and talk about your interests.

Do things and show your child how you do things.  Involve your child in your interests, within reason.  If your hobby is your garden, then have them help with the weeding.  If you love live theatre, then take them to some live shows to expose them to the experience.  Just keep the experience relative to their developmental level.  Let your children see you reading at night instead of squatting in front of the television.  Being entertained by books offers a different intellectual experience to being entertained by X-Box.  If you are an X-Box kind of dad, you may just have to try a little harder.  Try playing board games that offer challenges and choices while playing to help with the thinking process.  Become involved with your children in thinking games and not just reaction games.

You must become your child’s best teacher.  From the day they are born your number one priority is to protect then and to prepare them.  The adult they become is the result of your influence as much as that of the school system they fall into.  Sometimes being a good parent requires learning new skills, but that is alright as learning new skills is part of life’s processes.  No-one is born knowing how to parent.  We learn some of it from our parents through their role modelling and we learn some from interacting with people as we grow up.  Though, having said that nothing will prepare you for being a parent, you just learn as you go along.  But you do have to learn.

Don’t overload your child.  Now, you don’t have to expose your child to everything at one time.  There is no need to fill every waking moment with experiences and knowledge.  You should allow down time so they may process what has been experienced, what has been learnt and to rest and recover.  Being a child takes a lot of energy and there is a need time to re-charge their batteries from time to time.  Build quiet times into their day when it is alright to sit and do nothing.  Remember, a tired child will struggle at school.

Be positive about their school experience.  “It’s alright mate, you have to go and there is nothing we can do about it.” does not send a positive message about going to school.  The school years are such a wonderful time of our lives and must be reinforced as such.  Don’t bring the woes of being an adult, or the problems you are experiencing upon your child’s fun years.  You can use their experience to bring some release from the pressures of your life.  Encourage them to become involved with school activities and then be supportive and join in with them at these events.  One of my most vivid memories is when my father and his friends turned out to watch me at my school rugby league game.  I played many games but that one I remember.  Don’t under estimate the importance of being part of their school experience.

“We will all be role models in our children’s lives.  We don’t have that choice.  The choice we do have is whether we are a positive role model or a negative role model.  That is our choice.” – Peter Kenyon

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“H” is for Help

Education concept: Student and Time to Learn with optical glassA decreased ability to concentrate, confused thoughts, motivation low, increased irritability, grumbling, quarrelsome, overly sensitive to criticism, anxious or depressed.  This may sound like a typical teenager but they are also signs a coach watches for in athletes.

Good coaches recognise the signs of over-training and adjust their athletes’ schedule so the next phase of over-training, burn-out, doesn’t occur.  A great coach will not let these signs develop because they know how to pace the training sessions without over-stressing the athlete.

What has fitness training to do with students?  Burn-out may occur in any person in any profession at any age.  Many parents don’t realise how much pressure they place on their children when they load up their awake time with sports training and competition outside of school hours.  Some students are playing two sports a season.  Some parents don’t realise they may be setting their child up for burn-out later that school year because they haven’t planned sufficient recovery time for their student.

If you are a parent who encourages outside sports for their children, then you should consider these three things:

  1. Training and playing sport is tiring, very tiring.
  2. A tired student will find it difficult to concentrate in class.
  3. In today’s world, a person has a much better chance of achieving a high income with good grades than becoming a highly-paid athlete.

An over-committed student who finds it difficult to concentrate in class will eventually fall behind on their grades.  They may require the help of a coach, an academic coach.

We have many athletic students attend our tuition room because of the reasons mentioned above.  When they do attend, we ask parents to consider dropping one activity before introducing a program of tuition.  There is no sense in adding to an already over-loaded timetable.  Nothing will be achieved.  The tuition, depending upon the grade the student is in, will probably take one full year to bring them aligned with the class.  That is only one season of any one sport, so they will not miss much when dropping one activity to replace it with tuition.

As an academic coach (with a long background in fitness training) I watch for signs of over-training in our students and act on it.  Sometimes that action will be to remove tuition from the student’s time-table if nothing else is removed.  We do this for the well-being of the student.

But you don’t have to be a sporting student to fall behind.  Sometimes a high achieving student places themselves under unnecessary pressure because they have not learned to budget time or to study correctly.  A student like this will benefit from some one on one guidance so they may learn from an expert how to research and produce assignments, or how to prepare for secondary school exams.

So, as the school year progresses, watch for signs that indicate your student may not be keeping up and is silently crying for help.

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“F” is for Foundations

Christmas is over and school is back! What is next for your student?

TeacherWell, if 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 has to 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 give 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 mainly because they do not know how to change.  They are children, they are young, and therefore have a limited frame of reference when it comes to change.  They have to be taught how to change.  At this stage the biggest change has to be in you as a parent.  You have to make the decisions for them, and then guide them along the path.

One of the biggest problems I see in the students who attend tuition is they have problems with weak foundations.  They simply do not know their multiplication tables up to their year level and they do not 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 I spoke about they will not be able to solve the maths problem.  Continually getting the wrong answer whittles away their confidence.

Every student who attends our tuition spends at least ten minutes of every hour building upon their foundation knowledge.  You cannot have lasting structure without strong foundations.

You can find some tools to help with learning the foundations of maths by following this link to Study Tools

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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

 Sleep deprivation word cloudAnd 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 rectify.

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 be.
  • 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 learn more about sleeping times and sleeping problems from the links to the following fact sheets:

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

We talked about another study problem back in 2014.  You can follow this link to “Student Burnout” to see what happens when we over-load a student’s week.

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“The Job” by Gabby (aged 13)

baboonA baboon woke up in his gold-covered bed and thought to himself, “I think I will become a nurse.”  Gregory went to the internet, searched www.getajob.com and found his dream job.  Two weeks later he got a call from a man with bad news. “We don’t employ baboons,” the man said.   “I say, that’s discrimination,” said Gregory in his gold-covered bed.

Gabby (aged 13)

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“The Rescue” by Katie (aged 13)

darkened-hallThe policewoman felt her way into the dark room, smelt dead fish and saw ropes hanging from the walls.  The light was so dim that she heard the child’s soft sobs before she saw the tiny, petrified girl tied to the rusty pole in the corner.  The door slammed, heavy work-boots scraped and the harf-harf harf-harf of an asthmatic wheeze lifted the soft hairs on the back of her neck like zombies rising in a graveyard.  Her trembling hands reached for the taser in the side pocket of her belt, she turned and shot the barbs and the dark shape froze, jerked and collapsed onto the concrete.  The policewoman rushed to the child, wrapped her arms around her and whispered, You’re safe now.”

Katie (aged 13) 

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