Helping Demotivated Students

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A curious, happy and intellectually stimulated student is a motivated one. If kids aren’t motivated to study and do well at school it means they’ve lost the sense of joy that should come with learning new things and accomplishing goals.

Kids can become demotivated for many reasons, and sometimes the problem lies outside the classroom. Here are some great ways to help kids rediscover the joy of learning.

  1. Find out where the problem lies. If a child is being bullied at school or having problems with their peers, they will often lose interest in learning. Tensions at home can also have a negative impact on motivation, so talk to your child about why they don’t seem interested in their school work. Also speak to their teachers about any social or learning problems they may be experiencing.
  2. Seek help. One of the main reasons kids lose motivation is because they’ve fallen behind. This often manifests in a lack of interest in learning and behaviour problems at school and home. Other students exhibit similar disruptive behaviours because they’re not being stimulated enough by the work. It can be hard for parents to know which category their child falls into. Professionals can assess students and help them catch up or provide extension activities to motivate them.
  3. Don’t focus on results. When it comes to school work, many parents only show an interest in their children’s results, but it’s also important to ask them regularly about what they’re learning. This helps kids understand that learning is valuable and exciting in itself, and not just a means to an end. It’s also a great way to help kids retain knowledge. Good results should be celebrated, but effort should also be rewarded. Focus on strengths rather than weaknesses and make sure kids know that failure is a part of the learning process.
  4. Encourage discussion. If you want your child to develop a curious mind, encourage them to talk about ideas, beliefs and current events. Also include kids in family decisions whenever possible, and provide opportunities for them to make decisions that affect their lives. This will develop their critical thinking and communication skills, and give them confidence to participate in the classroom. If kids feel like their opinion matters, they’ll enjoy learning about new things.
  5. Help with organisation. Sometimes children lose motivation because they feel overwhelmed. This is particularly true for older students who can struggle with the pressure of homework, assignments and exams. An excellent way to overcome this problem is to help students organise their school work so that it’s manageable. This may involve tidying up their work space at home, creating a wall chart for assignments or breaking down tasks into a series of steps.

These tips will help demotivated students enjoy learning again!

Benefits of Becoming a Tutor

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Tutoring is more than just a job. By helping young people to fulfil their potential, tutors make a real difference in students’ lives.

One of the greatest benefits of being a tutor is the opportunity to work closely with individual students. This one-to-one attention, away from the noise and pressure of the classroom, is invaluable for deep learning and retention of knowledge, allowing tutors to make significant progress with students.

Here are five other compelling reasons to become a tutor:

  1. Income. Tutoring is an excellent source of income for those who are retired, studying or working full-time or part-time. Many university students choose to supplement their income through tutoring because it’s easier to fit around their schedules than other part-time jobs. Whether you’re looking to earn some extra pocket money by working a few hours a week, or want to establish a full-time career in this field, tutoring is a great way to generate an income.
  2. Flexibility. There are few jobs around that allow you to set your own hours, but tutoring is one of the rare roles where you can choose how much or how little you want to work. Hours are not set in stone, and dates and times are negotiable. Most tutoring sessions take place after school or on weekends, allowing for part-time and full-time employees to take on tutoring work. Technology has made tutoring even more flexible because now tutors and students can connect online.
  3. Job Satisfaction. Seeing a student achieve their goals and develop confidence in themselves is one of the most satisfying aspects of being a tutor. It’s not simply a matter of imparting knowledge to students, but of identifying learning problems and assisting students to overcome barriers. This might involve helping them to become more organised or discussing techniques to aid concentration. The role of a tutor is multifaceted, requiring a wide range of interpersonal and communication skills. The strong professional relationship that often develops between students and tutors is very rewarding for both parties.
  4. Subject Knowledge. It’s well known that one of the best ways to reinforce learning is to teach someone else. Those who tutor in a subject they are also studying enhances their knowledge each time they tutor, so in a sense they are getting paid to study! People who have in depth knowledge they don’t use in their current job find that tutoring is an ideal way to maintain their subject knowledge and keep up to date with new developments.
  5. Career Skills. Tutoring provides a wonderful introduction to teaching for those who plan to work in education. The strong interpersonal and organisational skills required for this job are also essential for a wide range of careers outside education, meaning that tutoring is an excellent addition to any resume.

At Tutor Doctor we recognise that tutoring is a not an average job. That’s why we take the time to match each student with the right tutor for his or her needs, ensuring that every tutoring partnership is productive and rewarding.

Benefits for Kids of Stepping Outside their Comfort Zone

Everyone has a comfort zone. It’s that place where you feel secure because you know what to expect. Risk and stress are minimised when you’re in this safe place, meaning it’s very easy to stay there and avoid anything that makes you uncomfortable.

While it may be scary, there are many rewards for stepping out of your comfort zone and embracing new experiences. This applies for kids as well as adults.

Courage and curiosity are two of the most valuable qualities parents can nurture in children. Kids who aren’t afraid to try new things gain many benefits over those who are too afraid to stretch themselves.

Here are five benefits kids gain when they step outside their comfort zone:

  1. Confidence. True confidence comes from conquering fears and knowing that you can meet any challenge life throws your way. The only real way to gain this kind of confidence is by taking risks and overcoming hurdles. This is how children find out what they’re made of. Those who remain in a safe cocoon throughout their childhood are never forced to confront fear and uncertainty, and their lives will be poorer for this. As we all know, success breeds success.
  2. Resilience. Life is not all about winning, and no one is successful at everything they attempt. Children need to learn how to fail gracefully and to keep persevering with tasks they find difficult. If they are shielded from difficult or uncomfortable situations, they lose valuable opportunities to develop resilience. This is one of the greatest qualities to possess when life gets tough, and those without it often find themselves at a loss when things don’t go their way.
  3. Stress management. We’re taught to think of stress as a bad thing to be avoided, but stress can push people to perform at their best. Anything in life worth striving for is going to cause some tension, and children need to learn how to manage these feelings. Stepping outside their comfort zone allows kids to get to know themselves and how they react under pressure, helping them develop stress management techniques.
  4. Leadership Qualities. Leaders don’t hang back and stick to the same comfortable routine day in day out because it’s easy and safe. They step up to the plate and take risks, inspiring others to do the same. Encouraging kids to be brave and strong is a great way to create leaders who stand out from the crowd.
  5. A Spirit of Adventure. A safe life is a boring life. Without challenges and risks there can be no growth. Kids need to stretch themselves and reach for the stars to have the rich and meaningful lives they deserve.

Encourage kids to be brave by:

  • Being courageous in your own life
  • Trying new things together
  • Praising their efforts
  • Not feeding their fears
  • Taking one step at a time

The pace of life is only going to get faster, and those who have the skills to deal with uncertainty and change will flourish above those who don’t.

Dealing with Childhood Anxiety

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Childhood anxiety is on the rise and many parents are searching for ways to help their children cope. In their efforts to help kids feel better, well-meaning parents often make things worse.

The causes of childhood anxiety are diverse, ranging from school bullying and academic pressure, through to global warming and terrorism. It’s a parent’s instinct when their child is suffering to try to protect them. This isn’t always possible, or desirable, when it comes to anxiety.

Worry and stress are an unavoidable part of life. You can’t protect your child from everything but you can equip them with the skills to cope so they don’t become overwhelmed and crippled by fear. This often involves facing the very things they’re afraid of.

These tips can help parents and kids manage anxiety.


1. Teach resilience, not avoidance

Avoiding anxiety-inducing situations is a short-term fix that only reinforces fear in the long-term. Kids will learn that the way to cope with anxiety is to run away.

Instead of giving your child permission to avoid things they find stressful, express empathy for their feelings while encouraging them gently to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway.’ This is the tried-and-true way of overcoming anxiety.

Facing difficult situations is usually enough to show children that their fears were blown out of proportion, equipping them with greater confidence and resilience. In cases of sustained bullying and threats to a child’s mental health, it may be necessary to remove kids from the situation altogether.

2. Be honest and supportive

You can’t promise your child that all their fears will not come to pass. At some point in life, everyone has to deal with failure, loss and embarrassment. Rather than trying to shield your child from life’s harsher realities, tell them that you believe in them and have confidence they’ll be fine.

Help them understand that it’s not weak to feel afraid, and you’ll be there to support them. Avoid asking children leading questions about their worries as this can feed negativity. Just allow them to talk about how they’re feeling and make sure your body language and tone of voice aren’t reinforcing fears.

It can sometimes help to talk through the different scenarios your child is worried about and come up with coping strategies.

3. Allow time for play

Studies have found that the time children spend in free play has declined significantly in recent decades, leading to greater anxiety and depression. The main reason for this is that parents are scheduling more activities in what was previously leisure time, limiting opportunities for unstructured play.

Psychologists believe self-directed activities are crucial for healthy development, and kids are missing out on valuable life skills. Negotiating the world through their own imaginary games gives kids a sense of control and mastery of themselves and their environment, laying the foundation for good mental health. Problem-solving skills and creative thinking are also powerful antidotes to anxiety.

Try these strategies to help your anxious child overcome their fears.

How to Become a Champion Speller

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English is a complicated language, and many children struggle with spelling. A lot of adults also have problems in this area, including some of the world’s greatest writers!

Kids who find spelling difficult should be encouraged by this news, but it’s not an excuse to neglect their spelling. The ability to spell is the hallmark of a good education and something employers look closely at. There’s no point having a top education if you can’t get by without spellcheck!

Fortunately, there are many ways to improve spelling skills.

Start a Spelling Log

Traditional spelling lists are limited because kids don’t find the same words difficult. A typical spelling list will contain many words students already know how to spell, wasting time and energy that could be devoted to new words.

The best way to counteract this is for kids to create their own spelling logs made up of words they’re not confident with. As they master these words, they can be eliminated and new words added.

People learn best when material is meaningful to them, and spelling is no different. To ensure the words in their log have context, students should source them from a novel they’re reading, or from an area of study in another subject. By connecting spelling words to other learning, they have a much better chance of remembering them.

Games and Activities

Individual spelling logs provide much scope for related activities and games. For example, kids can compete in spelling bees using their logs, or put their words into sentences and share them. As a result, the whole group will be exposed to a wider variety of words, helping to develop their spelling and vocabulary.

Kids can also make flashcards of their words, draw pictures to go with them and play games like Pictionary. Research has found that learning is enhanced when several senses are involved, so children should be encouraged to say words out loud too.

Simple games like Scrabble and Hangman are excellent for developing kids’ spelling skills, and there are many activities and resources available online. The goal is to help kids think of language as interesting and fun, which in turn will make them more attentive to new words.

Read Widely

All reading helps when it comes to spelling, from roads signs and cereal boxes to comic books and advertisements. The more words children are exposed to, the better they will be at spelling. This is because the brain learns how to spell words visually, not through knowledge of abstract rules. The prime way people can tell if a word is spelt incorrectly is because it doesn’t ‘look right,’ meaning that a word is remembered as an image.

The secret to becoming good at spelling is to expose the brain to words over and over until the image is embedded in memory. Encouraging kids to read for fun is one of the best ways to ensure they see as many words as possible.

Spelling is a valuable life-skill that all kids need.

 

Tips to Help Your Teenager De-Stress

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Surveys have found that teenagers are more stressed than ever, and the number one source of stress is school.

This isn’t surprising considering the pressure young people are under to get into university or obtain a good job. Deciding what they want to do when they leave school can cause a lot of stress for teenagers, leading to depression and anxiety.

Teenagers who are anxious and stressed often report feeling tired all the time. They may have difficulty sleeping and find it hard to concentrate on schoolwork. Changes to eating habits are also common, and some students will withdraw or become negative and moody.

Ongoing stress can cause serious long-term health issues and hamper academic success, so it’s important to nip it in the bud. A healthy, balanced lifestyle is key for combating stress, but there are several other things you can do to help your teenager de-stress.

Talk it Out

Talking is a great form of stress relief, so encourage your teenager to open up about how they’re feeling. It’s important to keep the channels of communication open during the teenage years, and knowing they can approach you with problems will lighten your child’s burden.

Parents should be careful not to downplay young peoples’ problems because what they need is support, not judgement at this crucial time. If your teenager doesn’t want to talk to you, try not to take it personally and encourage them to speak to a trusted teacher or counsellor.

Ease the Pressure

Deciding what they want to do with their future is extremely daunting for young people who are still getting to know themselves. Parents can ease the pressure by assuring teenagers that no career or study decision they make in their teenage years is set in stone.

It’s not uncommon for young people to discover that their first choice of university course or job is not the right one for them and to change direction. This is all part of the journey to adulthood, and teenagers shouldn’t live in fear of making mistakes and jeopardising their future. Credits from university subjects can often be transferred to other courses, and all work experience is valuable.

A gap year between high school and study is helpful for many young people as it gives them time to work out what they really want to do.

Boost Self Esteem

Teenagers may seem like they have it all under control and don’t need their parents anymore, but this is an illusion. Many young people suffer from insecurity and a lack of self-esteem, causing much unnecessary stress.

Parents are in a great position to boost self-esteem by challenging negative thought patterns in teenagers and assuring them that their academic results don’t define them. You can ease your teenagers stress levels significantly by giving them regular positive feedback and praise for their efforts. A teenager who feels valued and appreciated will have greater resilience when it comes to dealing with stress.

These simple but effective tips will help your teenager de-stress.

Quality Resources for Homeschoolers

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Thanks to technology, it’s never been easier to give kids an excellent education at home. There are many resources available online for homeschoolers, giving parents access to a wide range of lesson plans and teaching materials.

A lot of these materials cost money, and there are no guarantees they’ve been designed by qualified teachers, but if you know where to look, there are many quality free resources to be found.

These are some of the best places to find free homeschooling resources you can trust:

Education Department Websites

Education departments and related government websites are a treasure trove of free resources. You can find detailed lesson plans with clear objectives and background notes for educators.

Lessons have been designed to meet the requirements of state curriculums, and websites provide valuable information about planning and design frameworks.

You don’t need to limit yourself to your own state when looking for resources. Materials from other states and even other countries can usually be adapted to meet your child’s curriculum.

Unlike many lessons plans available online, you can be certain materials found on government websites have been designed by qualified professionals.

Don’t forget that past exam papers with links to marking guidelines and notes are also available for free on state government websites. Past NAPLAN papers can be downloaded from the ACARA website.

Publishers’ Websites

Publishers often provide quality free resources for teachers, including lesson plans, ideas for activities and teachers’ toolkits. Some also provide free access to online book clubs where students can post messages and interact with others about the novels they’ve read. This is great for kids who are schooled at home and may have limited contact with other students.

Museums and Art Galleries

Many museums, art galleries and other educational institutions provide thematic units for different subjects, complete with worksheets, links to resources and assessment tasks. These materials provide in-depth coverage of topics and use a range of teaching strategies to meet the needs of diverse learners.

Teachers Forums

Teachers forums give homeschoolers an opportunity to connect with other educators, swap ideas and share resources. They can be a vital source of information and inspiration.

There are forums specifically for homeschoolers, but those who educate their children at home are also more than welcome in general teacher forums where they can tap into a vast pool of knowledge for free.

Quality free resources for homeschoolers are readily available online if you know where to find them.

5 Great Exam Revision Tips

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Just as athletes cannot expect to perform at their best without putting in the necessary hours of training, students can’t expect to get top marks without serious exam preparation.

Unfortunately, many students do expect just this, putting limited effort into revising, and expecting to make up for it by cramming the night before a test. At the other end of the scale, some students put so much pressure on themselves in the lead up to exams they suffer burnout.

These tips will help students achieve the right balance when it comes to exam revision.

Planning

The brain needs time to process and store information, so leaving revision until right before an exam can do more harm than good. Revision should ideally start soon after lessons begin.

It’s helpful for students to develop a study timetable at the start of each term. Summarising class notes during revision sessions is an excellent way to review what’s been learnt. Reading over these notes regularly is much more effective for retaining knowledge than last-minute cramming.

Practice

While summarising and reviewing notes is an important part of revision, it’s equally important for students to practice what they’ve learnt. This means that students should regularly be writing practice essays and completing past test papers as part of their revision.

This strategy is called ‘depth of processing’ and it’s one of the best ways to ensure that students can remember and apply what they’ve learnt. Reading over notes alone will not equip them with the skills needed to succeed.

Variety

The brain loves stimulation and variety, so it makes sense to use a range of revision practices when studying for exams.

Students can make use of flash cards, mind maps and other visual aids to help them remember concepts and formulas. This is especially useful for visual learners.

Auditory learners may prefer to listen to a recording of their notes, while verbal learners will get a lot out of study group discussions. Researchers have found that explaining concepts to others is a highly effective way to learn because it forces the ‘teacher’ to organise and clarify their knowledge.

No matter which learning style a student prefers, they can all benefit from a mixture of these strategies.

Pacing

Overloading before an exam is almost as detrimental as doing no revision at all. Even students who are well-prepared often make the mistake of cramming at the last minute in the belief that this will improve their marks.

On the contrary, it’s been found that those who take a break from study the night before an exam perform better.

Relaxation

Not only should students relax the night before a test, but taking regular breaks while studying has also been shown to boost learning.

Research has found that students who rest after learning a new concept have better recall a week later. This reinforces how important it is for students to relax and have some fun when revising.

Students who follow these revision tips will reap the rewards.

The Importance of Sleep for Learning

Getting enough sleep is essential for memory, problem solving and executive function in kids. This is supported by recent studies which have found a strong link between sleep and academic success.

Children who get the optimal amount of sleep for their age acquire information and retain it more effectively. Those who don’t get enough sleep suffer from a reduced attention span and executive function. They’re more likely to display challenging behaviours.

While most parents recognise that sleep is important for learning, the reality is that many young people today are suffering from sleep deprivation.

Getting kids to go to bed at a reasonable hour has always been a battle for parents, but it has become more of a problem recently due to technology. Electronic devices can keep children up playing games and chatting on social media late into the night, often without their parents’ knowledge. Consumption of popular energy drinks also has a detrimental impact on sleep.

Adolescents and Sleep

Adolescents are particularly at risk of sleep deprivation due to the biological processes involved in puberty which make it harder to fall asleep early and get up early.

Lack of sleep can not only affect academic performance in teenagers, but can lead to more risk-taking behaviour. The important changes taking place in the brain during adolescence mean that quality sleep is essential for growth and development.

Many teenagers fall into the bad habit of staying up late to cram for exams the next day. This is very counterproductive as consolidation of learning happens for adolescents during the REM phase of sleep. REM can only take place when teenagers have achieved deep sleep over several hours, meaning they require a solid night of sleep after studying to perform at their best.

Sleep is needed to organise memories and learning. It affects problem solving, concentration and memory. The more learning that takes place, the more important quality sleep becomes to retain knowledge. According to experts, high school students need between 8-10 hours of sleep per day for optimal health, while younger kids need 10-12 hours.

Healthy Sleep Habits

There are many things parents can do to instil healthy sleep habits in children:

  • Establish a consistent routine. From a young age, children should be accustomed to going to bed at the same time each night.
  • Allow enough time to wind down. It’s a great idea to read a story together or chat with your child about their day before bed to give them time to wind down. This helps to clear his or her mind and can help those who struggle with insomnia.
  • Limit screen time. Not only do devices overstimulate kids before bed, but the LED lighting also affects sleep hormones. One hour of screen-free time before bed is recommended.
  • Exercise and diet. Kids who eat well and exercise regularly will enjoy better quality sleep and will be more inclined to stick to a healthy sleep routine.

Sleep and academic success go hand in hand, so make sure your child isn’t missing out.

Why Students Need Emotional Intelligence

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Emotional intelligence, also known as EQ, refers to a person’s ability to identify and understand their own and others’ emotions. People with emotional intelligence use this understanding to manage their behaviour, influence others and make good choices.

Emotional intelligence is important for students because it equips them with the skills to handle conflicts and difficult situations. Kids with high EQ are more resilient in the face of bullying, can resist peer pressure and are able to recognise when they are becoming stressed. They perform better academically and have superior communication skills.

EQ in the Classroom

Good emotional intelligence has been found to have a significant impact on classroom behaviour. Students who lack insight into their own and others’ emotions find it hard to concentrate on their school work and form strong relationships with teachers and peers. They often act aggressively because they can’t express themselves or manage their behaviour.

Family dynamics play a pivotal role in equipping students with EQ, putting many at a disadvantage. Experts believe that emotional intelligence is so vital to future success and happiness that it should be explicitly taught at school through instruction and role playing.

Schools with programs to enhance EQ benefit from a more harmonious classroom environment. Studies have found that secondary students who have been taught to identify and manage their emotions are less likely to engage in risk behaviours and they display greater self-awareness and confidence.

Multiple studies have found a strong link between emotional intelligence and academic performance. Students with high EQ perform significantly better than others and stay at school for longer, reinforcing how important it is for parents and teachers to foster EQ.

Tips for Enhancing Your Child’s EQ

  • Allow kids to talk about their feelings. To gain self-awareness, children need to be able to talk freely about emotions without fear of judgement or ridicule. You can encourage kids to ‘name and tame’ emotions by asking them how they’re feeling and discussing why they feel this way. This allows them to recognise their emotions and develop empathy. It also enhances communication skills.
  • Model problem solving skills. When children experience negative emotions, it provides an excellent opportunity to talk about what they can do to alleviate these feelings. This allows kids to recognise that they are not controlled by their emotions and helps them develop strategies to manage them.
  • Talk about your own feelings. By telling your child honestly about times when you’ve been angry, scared or lonely you give them permission to own their emotions. This also gives them insights into how others think, feel and manage their emotions.
  • Read stories together. Reading about fictional characters is a great way for kids to develop empathy and understanding. When reading books with younger kids, ask questions about how the characters are feeling and encourage children to relate these emotions to their own experiences.

To achieve happiness and success, kids need to develop emotional intelligence.