Tag Archives: maths tuition

“C” is for Copy Book

The downside to the Information Age is the decrease in fine motor skills used for writing. 

It is a problem presenting more often as laptops and tablets replace the use of pad and pen.  An increasing number of students are unable to form legible letters of the alphabet or write numbers clearly enough so they may read them thirty seconds later.

Some students going into Year 8 are incapable of writing between the lines of a paper or forming numbers within the squares of a quad ruled page.  Students in Year 5 are unable to produce or read their name in cursive script.  These students are struggling with the fine motor skills required to help them to learn.

An article by Maria Konnikova, “What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades?”, suggests evidence is emerging of a greater link between handwriting and learning.  It appears children learn to read more quickly when they first learn to write by hand.

Learning is a complicated process.  When we reproduce letters or anything else by hand, a plan is required before executing the action.  The result is highly variable in that it will not exactly represent the original.  Learning to identify variable representations is important to decoding letters when reading.

The research by Virginia Berninger, a psychologist at University of Washington, indicated that when a child who composed text by hand (either printing or cursive) “They not only consistently produced more words more quickly than they did on the keyboard, but expressed more ideas.”

There is also a suggestion of different neuropathways being developed in the brain when a child progresses on from printing to cursive writing.

Researchers at the University of California have reported laboratory and real-world studies of students learning better when they take notes by hand than when they type on a keyboard.

I ask you, “Is it time to throw away the pen and paper and adopt the technology of the keyboard?  Was it time to give up walking when we invented the car?”

My suggestion to help build a better student is to let your pre-school child use colouring books and pencils; jigsaw puzzles and building blocks; to help develop fine motor skills.  When they are at school continue to use the old-fashioned copy book, so your student may practise and learn to form letters and numbers.  Encourage them to practise twenty minutes a day until they are proficient with writing the printed word.  Allow this to develop into the practice of cursive writing so they may be able to record classroom notes in secondary school, lecture notes at university or record the minutes of a business meeting.

We may lose so much by giving up the pen.

By Peter Kenyon: Tutor

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“A” is for the Academic Year

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.  This is little enough time to squeeze in the content of the curriculum.  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 days, 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 attendance 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-long holiday because it is more convenient.

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“Z” is for Zee Final Word

“Z” is for Zee Final Word

“What then of children who come from homes where no-one hears Mother Goose, where no-one is encouraged to read signs, write scribbly letters, or play with books of any kind?  What happens to them as they enter kindergarten has serious consequences for the rest of their lives – for them and for all of us.”

Though they may not be able to read by the age of five (and we should have no expectation of this) there is no reason for not sitting a child on your lap and reading to them.  Let them see the words and the pictures as you read them.  They may, or may not, develop at their own pace as they link the symbols of the word with the symbol of the picture.  Just remember, if they don’t, they just may not yet be ready so let them be children.

Spending this quality time with your toddler is crucial to early childhood development.  Andre Biemiller, a Canadian psychologist, studied the consequences of lower vocabulary levels in young children.  The results of his studies indicated that children entering kindergarten in the bottom 25% of vocabulary generally remained behind the other children.  By year six they were approximately three years behind their peers in vocabulary, reading and comprehension.

How to build a better student?  Read to them.  It’s a good start.

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“K” is for Kinaesthetic Learner

Kinaesthetic Learner 3Not everyone learns the same way, and that creates problems in classrooms and at home.

As a generalisation, there are three types of learners: auditory, kinaesthetic, and visual.  These are the main channels of learning.  It’s a generalisation because, a person is more likely to be a combination of two (or more) rather than simply one, as in being purely an auditory learner.  How do you identify a kinaesthetic learner?

Kinaesthetic learners just want to touch and feel everything. As adults, their mates give them plenty of personal space because they just want to playfully thump them all the time.  Their house is a mess because they just want to collect and pull everything apart, just to see how it works.  Putting it together again may be another matter.  Does this sound like someone you married?

It is easy to identify an adult kinaesthetic learner, but how do you identify it in your child?

Well for starters, their teacher will be strongly suggesting you attend Parent Teacher Nights, so they can discuss how disruptive this young pupil is in the classroom.  They fidget, leave their seat to touch things, move things and find it difficult to sit and learn.  They may not even be aware of their movements as they are easily distracted by the movement of others, and want to investigate.

This student needs a hands-on approach to learning so sitting in class and listening, reading from a book, or even taking notes from the whiteboard is not the best way for them to learn.  They will respond better when learning is through participation, such as in chemistry experiments, or building a model. These students do well in sports, drama and live for school lunch breaks.  By the age of seven, they have been categorised as being an under-achiever, or worse still, hyperactive.  But fear not.

Being a kinaesthetic learner is not a problem, as approximately fifteen percent of the population are kinaesthetic learners.  The problem is our education system is geared towards auditory and visual learners, and kinaesthetic learners are the speed bump in our systems road to education.  What can you do?

For starters, accept them for who they are, healthy active children.  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 and give them regular breaks while studying.

Your student is likely to become an actor, dancer, physio-therapist, massage therapist, surgeon, mechanic, carpenter, P.E. teacher, athlete, farmer, etc.

The point is, be patient, give them space and let them grow…

 

XtraMile Tuition Strategies makes learning fun again

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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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“The Karate Master & The Undead Pirates” by Alex (aged 8)

PirateOne stormy night in the heart of the Antarctic Ocean, a Japanese karate master was yelling out “Half-Flesh Pirates!”  Then he boarded the wretched pirate ship and attacked the un-dead scavengers.  Soon the pirates were destroyed and their ship was blown into the Bear Cave where they were eaten by the zombie bear.  The Japanese karate master returned to train his young karate class.

Alex (aged 8)

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“Unicorn Guy” by Emlyn (aged 12)

unicornNow a ragged man in shabby clothes, Daryl, was unlike everyone else because he liked unicorns and loved to put posters of them in his room.  He was intrigued by the world of unicorns and he wanted to show the power of them, until he went bankrupt because he bought a concrete unicorn tiled with bright Fluro colours that was bigger than the Statue of Liberty.  Although he lost everything he owned, had nowhere to live, and only had the unicorn, Darrell was still overjoyed because he found his new home.  He climbed up the unicorn’s mane, swung into the mouth of the statue, and relaxed into the belly of the unicorn.  Now a man in shabby clothes lives in inside a unicorn.

Emlyn (aged 12)

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“J” is Just in Time

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” 
 Nelson Mandela

Male Pupil Finding School Exam DifficultIs there a good time to seek out tutoring?  Does your son or daughter display any of these?

  • Lacks confidence with school work
  • Becomes distraught about going to school
  • Struggles with Maths
  • Reads without interest or understanding
  • Reads through punctuation marks or skip lines completely

Of course, these indicators are not the only signs for a cry for help.  Any change in behaviour or mood may be an indicator that moves you to further investigation.

One thing you should not do is shrug off these indicators as, “Oh, it is only a phase they are going through.” because chances are it is a phase they will not get through.  The cause, or trigger, of the change may vary from changing teachers to taking your children out of school for off-season holidays.  The latter has a considerable effect on children in Year 3, 5 and 7.

Years 3, 5 and 7 appear to be the years when new concepts are introduced in Maths, and probably other subjects.  But we, at the tuition room, see these years as the most influential to the student’s development.  Basically, a lot of new stuff is taught in Maths during these years.  Missing one or two weeks during the school period has a lasting and recurring effect on that area of knowledge through the following years.

Back to our original question, is there a good time to seek out tutoring assistance?

You would think Year 1 students would not require tutoring assistance, after all they have just started school and what have they learned?  Unfortunately, Prep is used to prepare children for Year 1 and it is at this stage they learn the simple things like singing the alphabet, counting to ten or twenty and spatial skills such as left, right, in front, under, first, second, last and inside and outside.  Even colouring in pictures helps to develop the fine motor skills required to hold a pencil to form letters while learning to write.  Sometimes children miss some concepts and this puts them behind during the first year because there is assumed knowledge in Year 1.  Yes, tuition does help to restore confidence to a Year 1 student.

It is always easier to help students who are in Year 2, 4 or 6 because these are the years before the next knowledge jump.  Catching them up in these years aligns their Maths knowledge for the next year jump in concept learning.  We have noticed the most distressed students who come to us are in Years 3, 5 and 7.

When is the best time to bring a student for tuition?  When you notice a change in behaviour that continues for more than two weeks.  There is generally a reason for that change and if it is related to learning then tuition may be your answer.  Having said that, it is never too late to seek out tuition.  We have had students in Year 8 that have received tuition to cover knowledge short falls from Year 5.  No, it is never too late to help a student who wants to be helped.

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” 
 Confucius

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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 Red Belly Black” by Alex W (aged 8)

red-bellied-blackYesterday in the spooky forest, the snake catcher tried to catch the giant Red Belly Black but it bit him. He shrank to the ground and slithered into the bush. Now that he was a snake he was very happy because he never had to do his job ever again. Now that he was a snake he could bit his family so they could become snakes too and they wouldn’t accidentally kill him. Yesterday the snake catcher caught a great new life.

Alex W (aged 8)

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