Wednesday, 1 November 2017

3 ways to motivate your kids to do well at school



Navigating through school is hard for any child, meaning staying motivated can sometimes be tricky. Not only are kids attending 4 or 5 different lessons per day, they have a multitude of homework to complete, exam worries all whilst trying to maintain friendships and grow up. Combined it can be extremely overwhelming, which can leave kids feeling demotivated, especially when they don’t have the right tools to be able to cope. Here’s some ways you can start to encourage your children to get back into the swing of school and achieve the academic success they deserve.

Set small step-by-step goals
Being successful can feel unattainable for many kids, especially as it can be tricky not knowing how to tackle all the different assignments, projects and exams. Big workloads can also cause children to feel extremely demotivated when it comes to school. To combat this, we recommend breaking assignments or revision into smaller realistic tasks, which should help with motivation levels. Start by sitting down together and creating a small list of goals that your child can tick off as they reach each one. For example, instead of writing for hours on an assignment, encourage them to break down the task into smaller blocks. This could be as simple as researching the idea, writing a rough draft and editing the final draft. Doing this not only makes the assignment easier to tackle but it provides your child with a starting point.

Focus on a customised learning plan
Forcing your child to study in a set way when they learn better using other techniques may be frustrating and hinder their progress at school. Instead tune into the way they learn best. Do this by consulting with teachers or perhaps consider a private tutor, so you can create a customised learning plan that highlights your child’s skills together. For example, if your child is an auditory learner, you could record them reading key facts for an upcoming test aloud so they can listen back to them. We guarantee if they’re studying using their strengths, it will help them have a positive attitude towards school and enable them to feel more confident in their studies. To find out key characteristics of auditory, visual and kinesthetic learners, check out our helpful post here.

No pressure
Even though you might not think it, your kids will already have a lot of pressure placed onto them from teachers, peers and even themselves to be successful at school. Avoid putting even more pressure on your child, especially by expecting them to achieve straight A’s or be top of the class - it’s only going to demotivate them further. Instead, find other ways to encourage them and listen to what your kids actually want to achieve. Discuss realistically how they can do this and empower them to be successful.

Friday, 22 September 2017

The Benefits of Private Tuition


UNDIVIDED ATTENTION
Busy classrooms tend to be dominated by the most confident, needy and attention-grabbing students. Quiet pupils and individuals who plod along with little fuss can often get overlooked by the teacher, until exam results reflect a lack of understanding – at which point, it can often be too late. Shy students may also be unwilling to ask for or except help in a classroom setting, and if they do, their time will be likely be limited to a few minutes. Home tutoring gives your child the luxury of exclusive attention to work through problems, ask questions and talk over approaches in a relaxed and focused environment, without the distraction of other students.

CONFIDENCE BUILDING
Bad behaviour and poor achievement can often be linked to a lack of confidence and self belief. With feedback time limited in schools, it can be de-motivating if a child regularly receives poor test scores, low grades and written work or maths pages that are riddled with red pen and corrections. A personal tutor can help individuals recognise their strengths and celebrate their achievements, no matter how small. By setting achievable targets and taking small steps, a student can slowly build confidence and enjoy a journey of success and progression, rather than get continually knocked back.

PERSONAL LEARNING STYLES
Every individual has their preferred way of working, whether that means talking through a task and discussing their ideas out loud, or writing down their thought process independently. Good classroom lessons are designed to cover a range of learning styles but this isn’t easy for teachers to do consistently. A private tutor tailors the learning program around the individual needs of each student to unlock their full potential. They can also help improve your child’s ability to work in a range of different learning styles, or help them to recognise the ways they learn best. As well as boosting their understanding, this can also help them to enjoy and get more out of the school day.

RENEWED ENTHUSIASM
It’s a sad fact that many school curriculums are restricted to fairly narrow schemes of work. If an individual doesn’t engage in the topics they’re covering at school, they can soon lose interest in a subject and start to disengage. A private tutor can help inject new enthusiasm into a subject by making it seem relevant to your child. A ‘boring’ topic like ‘weather’ in Geography could be linked to something exciting like outdoor expeditions, skiing or sailing, for example. Reading comprehension in literacy could be developed by reading books and articles about football or space; and maths problems can take on a whole new meaning if they’re given relevance to real-world business. Whatever your child’s passion is, a private tutor has the flexibility to appeal to it.

FLEXIBILITY
Students may require extra support during particular times of year, especially if they have exams looming. Private tuition can be on-going or can be focussed in short and intense bursts, depending on what suits the student best. Many tutors can offer sessions at different times of day. If your child is too tired for after-school tutoring, then Saturday mornings could be an alternative option, or you may find that a series of focussed sessions during the school holidays is more effective.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Teaching kids to be smart about using social media



For the majority of kids and teenagers, social media is a central part of their everyday lives. Even though there are plenty of good things about social media, there are also many dangers that you want your kids to avoid. With 90% of teens using social platforms daily, it’s important for parents to teach children how to use social media the smart way.

Why is social media good?
Social media can be used in lots of positive ways. Not only can the platforms help kids stay connected with their friends and family, it can also encourage creativity through sharing ideas, music and photographs. It also means they have opportunities to meet and interact with peers that may share similar interests or perhaps they want to get involved in a social media campaign for a charity.

The dangers of social media
On the flipside, social media can be a hub for cyber bullying, personal information being exposed, kids unknowingly talking to strangers or being exposed to age inappropriate content. Here’s just a few statistics that really bring to light some of these dangers.
  • 71% of teens post their school, town and where they live online
  • 95% of teen social media users who have witnessed cruel behavior on social media sites
  • 17% of teens say they've been contacted online by someone that made them feel scared or uncomfortable
For more details on these statistics look here.
Other dangers include teens becoming obsessed with social media in a negative way.  Social platforms often include ‘edited’ selfies and posts showcasing the best parts of a person’s life, which sets unrealistic expectations. In some cases, teens can get caught up in this ‘online reality’ and will compare themselves and their own lives to a peer or celebrity. This can result in them feeling as though they don’t measure up and in extreme cases can cause depression, anxiety or eating disorders.

How parents can teach kids to be smart
It’s important for you to discuss social media with your teens, teaching them how to stay safe, smart and reminding them about life offline. Here’s some points we advise covering.

Don’t accept friend requests from strangers- This one may be obvious, but make the number one rule to never be friends with anyone they don’t know. Simple.

Privacy Settings- If there are privacy settings on a social platform, encourage your kids to use them. They are there for a reason!

Don’t believe everything online- It’s so easy for teens to forget about the real world when using social media, so it’s vital you remind them that everything they see online isn’t necessarily real or the whole story. Pictures can be edited, people aren’t always truthful and the majority of social media users only post the ‘best’ parts of their lives.

Limit social media time- Encourage your kids to spend a limited time on social media per day. We understand they want to socialise with friends, but it’s important they take part in activities away from the screen. Get them to read a book, go out and meet with their friends face-to-face or help you with cooking dinner. We guarantee it will do them the world of good!

Be Friendly- Mean behaviour is unacceptable in the virtual world, just as it is in the real world. Make it clear to your kids that they should treat others online as they would like to be treated. Being respectful and friendly doesn’t cost a thing! It’s also crucial to remind them to always communicate with you if they feel as though they’re being bullied or are receiving unkind messages. This way action can be taken before it gets out of hand.

Think before they send- Explain to your kids that most of what they post online can be seen by complete strangers. Ask them to be smart and think carefully before they hit enter. Specifically, it’s always a good idea for them to avoid posting locations of events or parties, phone numbers or any personal information.

Keep an eye! It’s a good idea for parents to keep an eye on their kids Facebook profiles or Instagram pages but from a distance. If you start being too nosey, they may feel as though you are invading their privacy, which can cause trust issues or mean they block you out completely which no parent wants.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Tips for Preparing for the Summer Break




As the school term draws to a close, you and your child may be looking forward to the long break ahead. However, transitioning from the school term to the summer holidays certainly has its challenges. Not only is the long break usually less structured, but often routines are disrupted with schedules changing weekly or even daily, depending on the summer plans you’ve made for your child. We’ve put together some practical tips to help make the shift to summer smooth and stress free!

Make Plans
Try to schedule in as many activities as possible, as early on as you can. Remember, this doesn’t necessarily mean spending money, however being organised is going to mean everyone is on the same page during a long period of free time. Activities can range from enjoying a day at the beach with the whole family, hosting a BBQ in your garden, heading to the library or visiting a local zoo or museum. Even just having one plan for the day can give you and your kids something to structure the rest of the day around, which is helpful when trying to maintain a routine. A week or so before the break, review the summer plans you’ve made so far and brainstorm some budget friendly ways to fill in the gaps!

Maintain a schedule
Even though it will be tricky to duplicate the structure school provides, it’s helpful to maintain a daily schedule, such as mealtimes and bedtimes, as much as possible. It’s easy to let your kids stay up late or let teens do their own thing, however, a routine in the long run will provide a sense of structure and security, ensuring your child enjoys and makes the most out of the holidays, rather than being tired and unproductive. Swap out usual daily tasks such as homework time, for reading time or the walk to school for a walk to the park.

Don’t Overplan
Even though it’s great to be prepared with activities, it’s equally important to be spontaneous and not to over plan your time. It’s easy for you and your child to get fully booked, meaning by the end of the summer you’ll all be exhausted instead of relaxed and ready to face a new school term. Try keeping a list of things to do at home and family and friends to visit for when you have some free time or you fancy doing something different.

Make time for summer learning
It’s important to map out some time for summertime learning. If this is a few times a week or everyday, it’s crucial to ensure your child doesn’t suffer from the summer slide. Ask teachers if there’s any work, reading or activities they can be getting on with and make sure this is factored into their routines. Alternatively, there are loads of learning apps and podcasts you can download on tablets or smartphones, which is a great way for kids to learn whilst parents are driving or if they’re having a bored moment.
The summer holidays will also be full of opportunities for your child to learn about history, geography, nature, maths and science. Keep an eye out for teaching moments and encourage your kids to listen, read and take photos so they’re able to journal the summer and all the new things they’ve learnt. This may not seem like an educational activity, but it’s guaranteed to help with reading and writing skills!

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Summer Projects for Teens





The summer holidays are almost here, meaning an abundance of free time for your teenagers! Even though the school bell will have stopped ringing, it’s important that your teens continue to learn and expand their skill set, rather than sit in front of a screen 24/7. Here at Tutor Doctor, we know how beneficial it can be to tackle a few summer projects, as they not only stimulate learning and development but can also be enjoyable and enriching summer experiences. Here are just a few project ideas you can suggest to your teens now, so they can start planning for the weeks ahead!

Summer jobs
Why not encourage your teenage son or daughter to look for a part-time summer job in your local area? This will help them learn to take responsibility, get them out the house and build up confidence levels. Even better they’ll have a whole new sense of independence as they’ll be earning their own money!

Re-decorate
Learning how to paint a room or a piece of furniture is a skill worth having. Have a look around your house and see if there’s a space that needs fresh lick of paint or an old chair that can be up-cycled. Work together with your teen or as a family, teaching them how to paint correctly and prep the space. If there’s an item of furniture that needs an uplift, ask them to check out YouTube for some ‘DIY How To’ videos or browse Pinterest for inspiration and design ideas aplenty. It’s also a low budget project that offers great rewards for your home and your teens!

Clear out
We suspect your teen has a bedroom full of stuff and a wardrobe that’s overflowing. Suggest they make it their mission across the 6-week holiday to clear out and re-organise everything from clothes, old school books and toys. It’s important as parents to get involved at the beginning and offer encouragement, but also to give them space to figure it out on their own. A great tip is to focus on a ‘Keep, Donate, Bin’ mantra whilst sorting through items, as it helps with quick decision making. At the end of the de-cluttering project, if enough stuff has been set aside, you could suggest doing a car boot sale together one weekend, allowing them to keep the earnings for themselves.

Make plans for the future
If your teenager wants to undertake a more serious project this summer, time invested in preparing and researching for their future is going to be beneficial and motivating. If your son or daughter is looking at applying to college or university soon, attending a few open days and ordering some course brochures to browse is a great way for them to see where and what excites them. Alternatively, encourage teens to research careers online that may interest them, find inspiring events and talks they can attend, or look for internships in a particular field. There’s no such thing as bad research, so dedicating some of their summer break to future hopes and dreams, is going to help them start the new academic term with plenty of goals and be much more focused!

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Helping your child deal with anxiety



Anxiety is becoming an increasing problem amongst younger kids and teenagers. In fact, a recent YouGov survey found that over a quarter of British students report having mental health problems, with 74% of those experiencing anxiety related issues. Anxiety can take many forms, but generally causes discomfort, feelings of unhappiness, inadequacy and can lead to poor academic performance. If you believe that your child is suffering with anxiety, it’s important that you take some of the following steps to help your child feel supported. That away you can help get them back to their happy selves.

How do you spot anxiety in your child?
Anxiety will take its toll on your child mentally, but it often manifests itself physically. This can include stomach aches, headaches, a general feeling of sickness, panic attacks, insomnia or just feeling highly-strung and overly emotional.

Talk it through
One of the first steps to take if you notice your child is suffering with anxiety on any level is to take some time to talk with them. Ask them exactly what they’re worrying about and always take the time to listen, no matter how irrational their fears may seem. Often just talking it through with someone else will make them feel at ease. Helping your child identify out loud exactly what triggers their anxiety will also mean they start examining their feelings, which can be an important first step in trying to get better.

Discuss worst-case scenarios
Ignoring anxiety isn’t going to help your child, but discussing worst-case scenarios can be strangely helpful. Once they have identified their worst-case scenarios, ask them to imagine that they’re in that situation, and ask them what they would do -- really what’s the worst thing that can possibly happen? Bringing this scenario to life will rationalise your child’s anxiety a little and help them come to terms with what would really happen if their anxieties came to life.

Breathe!
If your child is experiencing anxiety, ask them to take big deep breaths in through their nose and out through their mouth, counting 1, in -- and 2, out, repeatedly. Concentrating on their breathing will slow their heart rate, reduce blood pressure and help take their mind off anxious thoughts. Encourage your child to practice this breathing technique anytime they start feeling anxious.

Let them worry
Telling your child not to worry is definitely not going to help. However, allowing kids to worry in condensed periods of time can be useful. Try creating a daily ritual called “Worry time’, which lasts around 15 minutes and is time purely dedicated for your child to write down or discuss all their worries. Once ‘Worry time’ is up, your child must say goodbye to all of their anxieties and worries for that day.

Exercise
Exercise, especially during an anxious period, is a fantastic way for your child to calm down and take their mind off worrying for a little while. Go for a walk with your child, get them to do some jumping jacks or just a kick a ball around with them in the back garden. Exercise releases happy hormones which are going to lift your child’s mood and relax their mind and body.
For more information on stress, anxiety and depression in children, this NHS page has lots of helpful resources and useful material

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Everything parents need to know about changes to the GCSE grading system in England





GCSE exams are just around the corner, which means grades and grading scales are going to be an important point of reference your child. With all the recent changes to the grading system and exam format in England, it can certainly be a confusing time for parents and students! To ensure you're up to date with all these alterations, we've written a blog post covering one of the biggest changes; the new GCSE grading system.

What is changing exactly?
The main change parents and students are going to see is a completely new way of grading. The existing A*-G GCSE grades are going to be gradually phased out and a numerical grading system of 9-1 will be taking its place.

What does the 9-1 grading system mean exactly?
In the new 9-1 grading system, 9 will be the highest achievable grade and 1 will be the lowest. For students who fail to achieve the minimum points needed to reach a grade 1, there will still be a grade U.
When directly comparing the 9-1 system against the current A*-G grades, it can get a little trickier. The new scale has been specifically designed so there’s no direct read across from the old to new grades. However, you can expect certain numbers to represent a range of grades taken from the old spectrum.

Students can expect:
  • Grades 9, 8 and 7 to represent a range of A*-A
  • Grades 6, 5 and 4 will range from B to C
  • 3, 2 and 1 will represent a range of D to G.
Grade 5 is going to be considered a ‘good pass’, which is roughly equivalent to a low B or high C. This means that an average pass, is going to become a little harder to achieve compared to the older Grade C. New style performance tables are also going to be shifting away from the A*-C and will be predominantly focusing on students achieving 9-5 grades.

When are these changes happening?
You can expect to start seeing the new grade scale being introduced in England this summer, as this is when we see the new style English Language, English Literature and Mathematics exams take place. These subjects were the first to undergo the GCSE reform and were taught from September 2015, with the intention of using the new 9-1 grading system.
Another 20 subjects will have the 9-1 grading in place for 2018, with the rest following in 2019. It’s important to be aware that during this period of transition, your child may receive a mix of number and letter grades.

Why has this new grading system been introduced?
There are a few reasons behind this major change, the first being that the new 9-1 system signals that GCSE’s have been reformed and aren’t the same as they used to be. Ofqual have also highlighted that the new grading scale will be much better at differentiating students of different abilities. More specifically it should be able to reveal differences between students at the higher end of the spectrum, as grades 9,8 and 7 will replace the older A and A* grades.
New GCSE content is set to be much more challenging, with fewer grade 9’s awarded compared to the current A*s.

Where can I find out more information?
For more information on the new grading system, AQA have a great web page and short video here: http://www.aqa.org.uk/about-us/what-we-do/policy/gcse-and-a-level-changes/9-1
If it is new grade descriptors you’re after, then this page on gov.uk will be extremely helpful: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/grade-descriptors-for-gcses-graded-9-to-1
Finally, if you just want general details on the changes to GCSE and A-Levels, then head to the official Ofqual page: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/ofqual.