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.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

The benefits of starting revision early

Exam season is slowly sneaking up on us. This means that, before long, students are going to be busy with revision schedules, lesson notes and study posters. Even though exams aren’t for a few months yet, it’s all too easy for students to put off any type of ‘revision’ until the last minute, cramming everything into the precious weeks beforehand. Here at Tutor Doctor we’ve seen up close just how beneficial starting revision early can be. Not only are kids better prepared and less stressed, but their final exam grades are likely to be much better than they expect!

So what are the benefits of starting revision early?

Less Stress!
There really is no better feeling for students than being prepared for upcoming exams, especially when students know they’ve put the work in. Getting on with revision sooner rather than later means much less stress and anxiety, plus it allows students to study at their own pace rather than exhausting themselves with all-nighters a week before the big day.

Explore different revision techniques
Having time on their side means that students can explore different revision techniques rather than just sticking to one. This can involve a whole host of different ways to study. For example, students can practice writing out their notes, then try typing them up -- repetition is often an excellent and effective way to absorb information. If this isn’t working then colourful visual posters containing key pieces of information is a fun way to learn. They can even put these posters up on their bedroom wall so they become a part of everyday life and therefore get absorbed more deeply.

There’s no rush (no cramming necessary)
Studying for exams early means that students get to take their time with revision and avoid last minute cramming or rushing through topics. It also means that the same amount of time can be allocated to each subject, instead of leaning toward favourite topics and avoiding the trickiest. Another huge benefit is that getting on with exam preparation now allows students enough time to identify areas in which they aren’t feeling as confident, which means they can go over areas they’re finding particularly tricky and get help if they need it.

Time to practice exam techniques
As they say, practice makes perfect. The earlier students start revising, the more time they’ll have to complete practice papers from previous years and get used to the format. All too often students have fantastic knowledge but their exam technique is lacking, which ends up affecting their final grade. There’s a whole load of practice papers available online to download and use, or teachers can provide tests from previous years. Just make sure they’re completed under timed conditions!

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

How to encourage your kids to tidy up after themselves






Getting your kids to tidy up after themselves is certainly a never-ending battle. In fact, teenagers and older kids are often much worse than younger children, so encouraging tidiness early on will help set up good habits. Here at Tutor Doctor we know encouraging great habits like this is much easier said than done. That’s why we’ve come up with a few simple and straightforward methods for you to encourage your children to be tidy and stay that way!

Set a good example
Children are often much more sensitive to what we do rather than what we say. That’s why setting a good example when it comes to tidying up after yourself is vital, especially if you want them to adopt the same habits. Taking pride in looking after your home and keeping your belongings in order will increase the odds that your kids will have a positive attitude towards doing the same. Showing them how it’s done and letting them know you expect the same too, will help tidiness become the norm!

Clearly define expectations
Letting your kids clearly know specifics in regards to tidiness expectations makes it much easier for them to understand and follow. Break it down into easy rules- here’s an example of a few:
  • Make your bed every morning
  • Put dirty washing in the laundry pile
  • Hang up clean clothes
  • Put all toys away after playtime
  • Put dirty dishes in the sink/dishwasher
  • Throw rubbish/empty packets in the bin
If you find they’re really struggling to follow these guidelines, why not turn them into a fun poster that you can stick on the fridge or on their bedroom wall? Not only will this act as a friendly reminder, you can even put a progress tracker on there too. Giving incentives by offering a reward if they tidy up for a whole month is bound to get them motivated!

Make sure everything has a place
Making sure that everything in your house has a place will help hugely when it comes to your kids staying tidy. If they know exactly what lives where, then when they use something they’ll be more inclined to return the item to its ‘home.’ When items just live in piles or don’t have a specific place then it’s easy for clutter to build and can confuse your child as they don’t know where to put away things once they’ve used them.

Teach them how to care for their belongings
Teaching your kids to care for their own things is going to help them be more respectful towards them. This means notions of putting things away after using them will become second nature- meaning no more mess!

Reduce the number of toys
We guarantee your child has accumulated way too many toys over the years, meaning more items to leave out and more to tidy away! Try having a clear out and going through of all of their toys, games and books. Let your kids only keep the items they truly love and give the rest away to charity. We bet they’ll still have more than enough to play with and activities to do- there just won’t be as much clutter.

Stick to a routine
Establishing and sticking to a routine is a great way to encourage tidying. Start by making sure your child tidies away all their toys, books and anything else they’ve been doing before they eat dinner or go to bed. Other easy practices include putting dirty clothes in the laundry when they get changed into their pjs, clearing up empty packets and wrappers after eating something and putting books and papers back onto the bookshelf or desk when they’ve finished their homework. All of these easy routines will be sure to set up great tidying habits for life.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

The benefits of young people taking part in sport



For many parents, encouraging their kids to get involved in sports is a struggle. However, recent studies have shown that participating in sports can have a positive impact on a child’s social and physiological well-being, meaning there’s never been a better time to make your kids health and fitness a top priority. Here at Tutor Doctor, we know how beneficial sports can be. Athleticism not only ensures your child is active but teaches valuable life-skills. Whether it’s gymnastics, football or swimming, we’ve shared 7 benefits of getting your kids into the action.

Community
Joining a sports team or club gives kids a sense of belonging and provides an excellent opportunity for them to make new friends. Being part of this external community away from their everyday school life can also mean that your child has a fresh start and can be completely themselves with a wide support system. This can be a very exciting feeling, especially as school can be tough for many kids.

Losing Gracefully
Taking part in sports regularly will mean at some point your kids will probably lose a race, a competition or miss a goal. No one likes a sore loser and they will quickly have to learn to dust themselves off and try again. Doing this will help them learn how to lose gracefully and embrace a competitive spirit.

Being Patient
Practicing sports skills and techniques requires a huge amount of patience and determination- after all it’s impossible to become a pro overnight! Practicing on a regular basis is going to be central if your child wants to improve in their chosen sport which can take months- years even. Patience is the key!

Dedication
Being part of a sports club or a team requires high levels of commitment and dedication. Showing up, being positive and willing to work hard at each practice can really boost your child’s belief in dedication, something that can be of benefit for the rest of their life. It’s even been found that participation in sport is linked to higher academic achievements at school.

Being a team player
Being involved in sports clubs is a fantastic way for your child to learn to be a real team player. Not only will they need to understand that communication is key but also realise that a team can’t succeed without working together.

Building self esteem
Sports and other physical activities have been found to positively contribute to the development of self-esteem in kids. A high-five from a teammate, a “well done” from a coach or even a really fun practice will help your child build character.

Selflessness
Sport, particularly team sports are an amazing platform that can help teach your kids to be less selfish. Often your child will have to think about what’s best for their team and not just what’s going to benefit themselves. Practicing selflessness regularly will also carve their personality as they head into adulthood.