Tag Archives: xtramile tuition strategies

“V” is for Visual Spatial Learner

“Let’s look at this differently”, “I can’t see the big picture”, “See how this works?” – stand back here comes a visual learner and a future artist, builder, inventor or musician, that is if they can get through our education system.

These right hemi-sphere thinking (that’s creative thinking) students are not wired to produce written reports on the thoughts they visualise in their mind, at least not until they learn how.  They think and learn in multi-dimensional images.  Our education system is more geared to teach left hemi-sphere thinking auditory learners who think and learn in words rather than images.

A visual-spatial learner may be good at spelling and lousy with names, needs a quiet study time, likes colour and is good with charts, maps and diagrams.  They remember pictures and are good with direction.  They will always have trouble remembering verbal instructions and must learn by taking notes.

As a parent you can help by explaining a project you wish them to do by explaining why you want them to do something, because they need to see the big picture first.

by Peter Kenyon: Tutor at XtraMile Tuition Strategies

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“U” is for Understanding the Curriculum

There has been some talk of late about the school curriculum and the changes it is going through.  These changes, like any change, cause ripple effects of anxiety on students, teachers and parents.  But what are the learning expectations of our young students?

I have been looking at www.australiancurriculum.edu.au for some guidance just so I, as a tutor, am aware and aligned with expectations.  I would advise popping onto the website and having a look.  Meanwhile I will give a brief summary focusing on maths as this is the area parent seek the most guidance from tutors.

Year 1

By the end of Year One a school student is expected to know the numbers to one hundred; skip count by 2, 5 and 10; and be able to locate numbers on a number line.  Simple addition is accomplished by counting on, re-arranging or performing partitioning.  Fractions are introduced as they learn to recognise “1/2″ and be able to tell the time to the half hour.

I mentioned only a small area of the curriculum as these are the areas I see most when a student is presented for tuition.  At this stage of learning any short coming in these areas may be made up by parents sitting down with their little one and turn learning into some form of game.  There are several aids available from various websites and suggestions on the Australian Curriculum site.

Year 2

If you are a parent with a young student in Australia, then chances are you have your mind in a muddle as to education expectations.

In Year 1 students have mastered the numbers up to 100 and skip counting by 2, 5 and 10.  This year sees them progress even further on the number line as they move towards recognising and placing order to the numbers to 1,000, and investigate the number sequences of 2, 3, 5 and 10.  It is this year they explore the connection between subtraction and addition.

By the end of this year they will master reading a clock (analogue and digital) to the quarter hour using the words “to” and “past” appropriately.   They will be able to name the months of the year in the correct order as well as the seasons of the year.  They will be able to use a calendar to find the date and know the number of days to the month.

This is only a small amount that is on the curriculum and only relates to maths as this is the area, as a tutor, I see the most problems. 

How can you help your child with their studies?  Do you remember this:“Thirty days has September, April, June and November,all the rest have thirty-one days clear,except February alone which has twenty-eight daysand twenty-nine each leap year.

Year 3

“These are the best years of your life.”, self-assuring words spruiked by many a parent and teacher to seven-year old students who don’t need reassurance after remembering their potty-training years.  They have just cruised through the first two years of primary school, they know all the numbers, the alphabet and can write their name; what else is there to learn?

Year 3 is where many young students realise their world will never be the same again.  It is during this year they discover numbers do not stop at 1,000 but continue all the way to 10,000 and they must know their order, place value, and be able to recognise if they are odd or even!   Not only that but there are numbers smaller than one that no-one told them about as they are introduced to the fractions 1/2, 1/4, 1/3, and 1/5.

When learning the multiplication table by heart for 2, 3, 5 and 10 no-one warned them about having to manage multiplying a two-digit number by a single digit number, without a smart phone.  In fact, they are expected to develop strategies to perform addition and subtraction in their head (mental maths).  Counting on, regrouping and partitioning are all strategies employed to perform mental maths.

It is during this year our students are introduced to metric measurement.  I hear very few complaints from students in our tuition centre about learning measurements.  I simply remind them that learning 1,000 metres equals one kilometre is much easier than remembering there are 1,760 yards to a mile, 22 yards to a chain, or 16 ounces to a pound.

Yes, there is a lot to learn in Year 3 (and this is only maths) and yes, these may be the best years of their life because Year 5 is ahead of them, but we won’t tell them about that yet.

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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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Yang and the soldiers – Arun (aged 8)

Kung FuOnce in 1911 there was Puyi who was a strong emperor and he had a powerful guard in China.  The head guard was Yang and every morning he checked that Puyi was sleeping peacefully in his big, wooden bed.  One day Yang called “Emperor Puyi!  Emperor Puyi!  Our enemy is attacking and he has broken our biggest walls”.  Soon the air was thick with arrows as the attacking soldiers rushed into the Imperial Castle and poor Yang found himself fighting for the life of his emperor but Yang didn’t like his job, he wanted to be emperor.  Yang lost the battle and the enemy killed Puyi but Yang also won because he took the place of the emperor and he was sad that Puyi died but now he had a very, very important job to do and that job was to rule the kingdom.

By Arun (aged 8)

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The Little Bear – Jemima (aged 7)

Little BearOne day a little bear named Mia didn’t know what to do in winter so she went to her mum and said  “Mummy what do we do in winter?”  Mia was a little brown bear with a beautiful flower behind her ear and Mia’s mum was a big nice pretty bear who loved to make blue berry pie for herself and Mia to eat.  The day after Mia asked her mum what they do in winter, Mia said “Where are the other bears going?” and her mum said “They are going to hibernate in a big cave and we are going too.”  Then Mia said “We need to go now mum please” and her mum said “OK then let’s go to our cave where your dad is.”  One day a little bear went to her cave with her mum and dad and hibernated in a big dark cave.

By Jemima (aged 7)

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The Old Woman – Arun (aged 8)

old ladyIn a tiny house far away from any town there lived a poor woman who had no money.  Living in a little cottage, she was always hungry for the food that came from the far away towns.  One day there was a letter outside on the little cottage’s first step that said “You can become rich if you pass the big maze at Big Black Guard Castle.  Will you enter?”  The lady smiled.  Big Black Guard Castle was the closest castle to her but still far away and so she started to walk.  She always knew something amazing would happen some day and hopefully that day was today.

by Arun (aged 8)

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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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The Blacksmith – Jack (aged 10)

blacksmithAs the village woke to the sound of a rundown crow the sun started its slow journey across the sky.  A fire started in the grimy blacksmith’s shop as a poor but honest man began his dawn to dust effort.  He passed a dirt encrusted window and in the corner of his eye observed the familiar castle that loomed over the poor village and was surrounded by a ten metre stone wall.  An old widow draped in a thread bear sack begged the blacksmith to fix her rusty hole-ridden cauldron.  “I can’t pay you.”  she said, but the blacksmith followed quickly by saying “Pay me when you can.”  As she hobbled away the blacksmith sighed and thought to himself that the only reason the village could not pay for his services was because of the dreadful king’s exorbitant taxes.

by Jack (aged 10)

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Filed under Childrens Story, creative writing, jack, Posts, Short Story