Tag Archives: North Brisbane Tutor

“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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“Y” is for Your Child’s Early Years

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

Maryanne Wolf in her book, “Proust and the Squid’ addresses this question. 

“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 can’t 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.

By Peter Kenyon: North Brisbane Tutor

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“The Golden Peacock Glittering Hot” – Rainer (aged 6)

Peacock

The Golden Peacock Glittering Hot

Just yesterday, I saw three elves, one golden fairy and a peacock mixed with fire. They were all reading books in Santa’s library, but the fairy was doing an important job – guess what it was? She had to make all the words and put them into the books and the peacock had an important job too, to make Santa warm with its glittering hot fire. Wait! Don’t leave this book. There’s more. On Christmas Eve they all didn’t do their jobs and so I’m writing this story for you.

Rainer, aged 6. 

See the short film of this story on YouTubeThe Golden Peacock Glittering Hot

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“The Old Man” – by Cohen (aged 9)

HorseThe Old Man

Once upon a time, in a mystical place very close to your house, an old man was saving his money to buy a magical flying horse. He took a job at the toy store and put on his funny robe, tap hat and cape every day, to work 24/7 for months. His boss was very pleased with the effort he put in selling toys, unicorn corns and invisibility potions. One day, when he arrived at work, he saw a magical flying horse just like he’d been wanting for so long and his boss said, “You have worked night and day, so here is your magic horse.” The old man rode off on the horse and he gave all his money to the poor people who lived in the mystical place.

Cohen, aged 9

See the movie of this post on YouTube The Old Man

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“Super Zebra in the Jungle” by Zaiden (aged 6)

ZebraA long, long time ago, in the jungle, there was a flying zebra called Super Zebra. He was always very nice to people and Santa heard about him from the reindeers who were flying over and saw him rescuing a baby possum from the swamp. Santa asked Super Zebra to help deliver the presents because he was one reindeer down in the sleigh team. The night before Christmas, Super Zebra was flying high in the sky picking up presents and delivering before morning. That was the beginning of his job as Santa’s delivery zebra.
Zaiden, aged 6

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“Grandma’s Visit” by Amy (aged 10)

GrandmaGrandma’s Visit

This morning before breakfast, on the top of the hill where Lucy lived, everyone was getting ready for Grandma’s visit. Lucy loved Grandma because she was very talented, and she could grow a tree into a tyre and juggle eggs without breaking them. As soon as Grandma arrived, she snapped her fingers and turned the teapot into a cat. Then, suddenly, the cat turned into a bird and flew around the house, knocking over the vase full of Lucy’s favourite flowers. It was always like this when Grandma visited.

Amy, aged 10.

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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 Mystery Presents” by Lola (aged 8)

Santa ChristmasIt was Christmas Eve long ago, in a warm, little cottage with a yellow door, where a little girl named Emily was wrapping gifts for her friends and family. She was a kind girl with long, brown locks and shiny, blue eyes, just like her mum. When she woke in the morning, she ran downstairs to open her presents but when she ran to the Christmas tree, there were none. She heard a loud snoring noise coming from the other side of the room and there was a guy with a big, white, fluffy beard and, right next to him was a sack full of presents. She shook Santa awake and he gave her a present in the warm, cosy cottage with a yellow door.

Lola, aged 8

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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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