Common Errors in the English Language Create Barriers to Success

One of the major challenges for non-English speaking people who enter Australia is, obviously, their struggle with the language. This creates significant barriers in their social interaction with others, prospects for employment, access to social and business services, and their continuing education. Hundreds of thousands of people in this situation have taken up this challenge, learning English and in many cases, being able to write and speak it better than many native-born Australians. This isn’t an easy feat, as English is widely recognised as being one of the most difficult languages to learn. There are so many rules and exceptions to those rules, that just when a learner thinks they have it right, it changes.

The reason for this goes back into the origins of the English language. This language as we know it today evolved through early invasions of the British Isles, then through the later British expansions when they colonised over a quarter of the world. The languages of all these different races combined to create the English language familiar to us. It is still adapting and changing, which makes it difficult for people who offer tutoring services, as they must also keep learning.

A widespread observation of English, given that it is a composite of numerous other languages, is that there is so much room for error in grammar, syntax, spelling and word use. Word use is particularly frustrating for learners, who not only have to learn a new word, for example, “which” then find that by changing a couple of letters it becomes “witch,” a completely different word with a completely different meaning. These words are known as homophones.

There are hundreds of homophones in the English language, but there are a few that are the most often misused. “It’s” and “its” are often written interchangeably when they are not. “It’s” is a contraction (the apostrophe is a substitute for either “is” or “has”). A quick way to check is to say it as two words i.e. it is or it has. If it then doesn’t make sense, the correct word is simply “its.”

As if trying to choose between two words isn’t difficult enough for a learner, sometimes the choice is out of three! Take “to, too or two,” for example. “Two” is the easier one to eliminate, because it is the word for the number 2. “Too” means excessively or additionally i.e. “the bag was too heavy.” For every other use, “to” is correct.

“Whose” and “who’s” also cause problems for the unwary. “Who’s” is a contraction with the apostrophe substituting for the letter “i” as in “who is”. “Whose” is a possessive pronoun indicating ownership i.e. “Whose key is this?” These few examples illustrate the struggles new learners have with English. To succeed academically and in the higher levels of employment, engaging a personal tutor is the best investment a person can make to get a solid command of both spoken and written English.

These were only a few examples. There are hundreds more, and along with correct spelling, grammar and the ability to use words in their correct context, are key indicators to the skill level of a person using the English language. Assistance is available from personal tutors, to speak and write English to the level required for success in the workplace and community.

History Offers Opportunities to Rethink the Progress of Civilization

There is a famous saying that goes something like “those who do not learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.” A look back at the history of human habitation on this planet would tell us that in some areas we have made miraculous strides and in others, we have hardly progressed beyond the Stone Age. The formal study of history, then, becomes a lens through which we as a collective society can review the past, analyse situations and look for reasons that may help us to shape a different and more positive future. Rather than being a stale subject all about dates, history brings the past to life by recounting actual events.

While there are many students who are able to approach the study of history with a purpose, there are others who find it difficult to become involved with the topic. As they need to have a sound result in history to round off their overall scores, support from a tutor is essential.

The study of history is not confined to just one area of time or geographical location. Ancient History covers the period from the beginning of human history until the early Middle Ages, Modern History the time period from then until the present day. Other types of history include Maritime History, Military History, Natural History and even Big History which starts with the Big Bang. These are only a few of the most common types, but there are a wide range of time periods, geographical locations and subjects available for study.

To study history successfully, a student needs a wide range of skills. Rather than requiring solely a good memory to recall facts and dates, a successful result in history demands research skills, the ability to organise and analyse information, knowledge of referencing requirements, a sound command of language and report writing and the confidence to justify a conclusion. For this reason, struggling history students will appreciate the structure that studying with a tutor can bring.

A tutor can assist them to set up tasks lists and time lines for the submission of assignments, and show them how to use on-line and physical libraries to perform research. The tutor will help them identify the important issues that need to be pulled out from the large quantities of historical data that research inevitably creates. By working with a tutor, students of history will be able to concentrate on the core issues of the subject to get the best result.

History is a fascinating, all-encompassing subject that gives the student the opportunity to learn as much about human behaviour as the facts behind historical events. If every history student was able to bring something positive from their studies into everyday life, the world might be a different place.

Tutor Skills Needed More Than Ever For University Study

When students work with a tutor to get a specific result, they may have been receiving this assistance for a number of years. For example, if their area of weakness was Maths and this was identified in mid-primary school, they may have been working with a Maths tutor for two to three years prior to high school. As their results improved, the parent or carer may have decided to continue tuition throughout high school. When all the work and effort is rewarded with excellent results in Year 12, the general feeling is that the job is done, and often, this is when the use of a tutor ceases.

This is not the wisest move, especially if the student is moving directly from high school to university. Dispensing with the expertise that a personal tutor can provide at this point in an academic career can result in the student returning a poor result in the first year of university.

There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, a good tutor doesn’t just turn up for a lesson and hope for the best. Preparation is required to identify the areas of weakness, and develop learning strategies that suit the particular student. Support materials are sourced, and a plan established to lead the student through the subject material.

This is all unseen by the student, who won’t realise the amount of support being provided, as the tutor makes it seem easy. When this support is not available, and they are on their own for the first time in many years, they may struggle with the unseen things that the tutor has taken care of, like time management, keeping focused on a particular learning goal and providing extension activities that sharpened skills.

Secondly, high school in itself is a structured environment where everything runs to a timetable and the students are followed up if scheduled work has not been handed in on time. University is very different. While lectures and tutorials are programmed in at specific times, the onus to attend is on the student, and there is no-one to chase them up if they are missing lectures or not handing in assignments.

After many years of structure, both at high school and in regular sessions with their tutor, a student to whom organisation and structure don’t come naturally will put study off in pursuit of other things such as part time work or leisure activities. They will find planning a chore and generally lack the time management and organisation skills to plot their own course through a semester. Without the skills and support, the student can slip back into below average performance as the academic work becomes harder.

Leaving friends and familiar surroundings at the end of Year 12 to move into the adult world is a daunting prospect in itself. To remove the mentoring and support structure provided by a tutor at this very crucial stage can be the catalyst for unexpected failure in the first year of University.

Why Worry?

This blog comes as a warning. I have decided to launch into the topic of ‘time wasting,’ a subject that I might add, I am quite proficient at. Now, stop nodding your head and thinking that you know all about procrastination and that I can’t tell you anything that hasn’t been said before. I am not discussing procrastination here as I don’t really consider that a waste of time. I am, as it happens, also rather expert at procrastination and can tell you that I have accomplished no end of wonderful things while not tackling a certain project or topic. No, the major cause of time wasting is far more destructive than that. It goes by the names of worry, concern, anxiety, unjustified fear and probably several other negative titles and can be devastatingly crippling both physically and emotionally.

This insidious malady creeps upon us when we least need or expect it. Personally, mine makes an appearance when I am trying to rest. Have you ever been so tired that physically you can no longer even sit up? That is how I feel sometimes so it’s off to bed with me and I have a really fantastic sleep – for an hour or so and that’s when the worry sets in. I begin to ponder the day that has passed, I run through the things that I did, the things that I didn’t do and of course the things that I did that I shouldn’t have done. Once all this has been catalogued it’s time to relive the day the way it should have flowed, the perfect outworking of a wonderful experience with yours truly featuring as the one with it all together. Now that the past is settled it’s time to organise the morrow. The outworking of the morrow is a dream machine with the addition of little moments to appease any hurt feelings or misunderstandings of the previous day. While in this organisational frenzy I can have some remarkably innovative ideas, I can retrieve from the recesses of my mind some dazzling vocabulary and I can rebut critics with amazingly logical arguments. Unfortunately, this is all to no avail because when morning comes I am so, so very tired that I can’t oversee the outworking of any of it and in my hazy state I am unable to recall much of it anyway. Thus the cycle of time wasting continues.

The entertainment of worry and anxiety does not add one cubit to your stature, it does not provide answers nor does it open doors. It is a destructive force that refuses to allow you the freedom to be yourself, to show your true colours and to interact constructively within society. In any situation a positive step is to be prepared, not in your mind’s eye the night before but rather by consistently adding to your knowledge base and experience so that when the tense times come, you have the automatic, inbuilt confidence and ability to respond appropriately. Forget your yesterdays and begin to prepare for your tomorrows.

Lessons in Geography Show the Versatility of Personal Tutors

With parents desperate to give their children every educational opportunity, the use of personal tutors to supplement the work done by teachers in schools and universities continues to grow in popularity. Once the province of the well-to-do, ordinary families are now rearranging priorities to ensure the funds are available to engage personal tutors for their children. While mathematics, science and English are generally the most in-demand topics, any subjects in the school curriculum can be requested of tutors. It is important, of course, that students do as well as they can in every subject to give them the best chance of a well-rounded result.

With the crowded school curriculum now a cause for concern in many educational circles, the chance that an under-performing student may fall through the cracks is higher than ever. Personal tutors are trained to deal with most requests for subject assistance.

Geography is a particularly interesting choice and is available in most secondary schools in Australia. However, it is often seen as a less than important choice and one that a student might make just to attain the subject numbers. However, geography is actually a fascinating subject and one that an interested student could really become involved in.

The word “geography” was first used in ancient Greece, and is the science that studies the lands, features, inhabitants and phenomena of Earth. It has been taught for centuries in various forms, but modern geography is an all-encompassing discipline that tries to understand the Earth and all of its human and natural interactions. It is divided into two main disciplines – human or cultural geography and physical geography. Cultural geography is the study of human culture and how it impacts on the earth, while physical geography seeks to understand the natural features of the earth.

Geography is the answer to the earliest questions likely asked by humans when they surveyed the landscape and wondered what was over the horizon. Exploration, the discovery of new cultures, places and new ideas have always been at the heart of geography and those who have devoted their lives to its study. It has been called the “mother of all sciences,” since most other scientific disciplines evolved from discovering other places and other people and led to fields such as biology, anthropology, geology, astronomy, chemistry and others.

There is no doubt that parents and carers have recognised the value of personal tutors to assist their charges do as well as they can educationally. If their students are becoming a little disinterested in their extra-curricular studies, throwing in a component of geography could liven up the mix.

Positive Habits Essential To Success

One of the wonderful things about achieving success in life is that it is not dependent upon being born into a wealthy family, or being dazzlingly beautiful, or even being exceptionally gifted. While having those three attributes in your life may make the road easier, it is just as often not the case. For example, we have all watched the lives of celebrities unravel for various reasons, when we as observers are thinking that they have it all. In many cases, the lack of positive habits can compromise a seemingly successful person. When adversity strikes, they have no foundation to cling to.

Success also means different things to different people, but what is constant in successful people is their work ethic, the ability to stick to a course of action especially when the going gets tough, and a range of positive habits that are the foundation of their lives. One key positive habit is acquiring new knowledge and many successful people do that through undertaking study which can include using Grace Simpkins Personal Tutors to help smooth the way.

We all have formed positive habits on our way through life. At an early age, for example, we were taught the very basic habits of daily hygiene so that now, as adults, cleaning our teeth isn’t something we need on a daily “to do” list. It is a positive habit that we do without thinking about and is essential in maintaining our dental hygiene. This is a simple example, but the principle behind it applies in every situation.

This means that anyone wanting to achieve more success simply needs to recognise the positive habits that will move them closer to their goal, and include them in a daily routine. Research shows that a new positive action initially requires discipline but if performed every day for 21 days will become a habit. It will then be an automatic action that will support the other activities the person is pursuing towards a goal.

When attaining a stated goal involves gaining wider knowledge, positive habits associated with study skills are essential for the individual to get the best result. Some of these habits could be studying at specific times each night, meeting with tutors on a regular basis, taking vitamin supplements daily to maintain health and walking each day to relax body and brain.

There are many negative habits people fall into that limit their ability to achieve success in multiple areas of life. Often a simple change in mindset to replace negative habits with positive ones is all that is required for people to be living the life of their dreams, regardless of their birth circumstances.

The Connotation of Phrases

On the 28th January, 1953 a nineteen year old Derek William Bentley was hanged in England for uttering five simple words.  Those words were Let him have it, Chris.

It began when Bentley and his mate, Christopher Craig, attempted to rob a warehouse of confectionery manufacturers.  Living opposite, a girl who witnessed the break-in alerted her father who in turn contacted the police. Christopher Craig, who carried a gun, confronted the police.  It was as the police tried to negotiate with the pair, attempting to get Craig to hand over his weapon, that Bentley pleaded with his mate. A policeman was shot and wounded and Bentley was hanged for attempted murder.  The younger Craig was not eligible for the death penalty and spent ten years in jail whereupon his release led an exemplary life.

The debate raged as to the meaning of those five words.  What was your understanding upon first reading the phrase? After Bentley’s death an inquiry exonerated him but to this day the connotation of those words is still open to interpretation.

Language is a powerful tool.  It empowers us to advocate and negotiate and it is the one tool that if taken from us removes our functionality and ability to navigate efficiently through life’s journey. As such it behoves each of us to build up an arsenal of these tools for our defence and offense as we journey through life.

This is why English is tested inadvertently in every subject from essays in humanities, to written reports in science and even through to problem solving in maths. The ability to read, interpret and write is invaluable.

Struggling with English? Our tutors can help!

Maths Tuition Gives Every Child An Extra Advantage

Every responsible parent wants to give their child the opportunity to be the best that they can be, and to have multiple options when it finally comes to choosing a career. An essential part of this desire is the quality of the education the child receives, whether in the public or private system. With demand for talented people increasing in the jobs that require solid results in mathematics such as engineering, mining and construction, it is more important than ever, that children do well in mathematics. The schools can only do so much, and parents are increasingly turning to additional tuition to improve their child’s results.

Private tuition has been an aid to parents for some years now, especially to assist a student who was struggling at school. However, Grace Simpkins Personal Tutors are now being accessed for top students to consolidate their learning and get them ahead of the field in the competition for the best university places.

Most private tuition organisations are able to offer a range of services to parents which cater for all levels of maths understanding and knowledge. There is no discrimination or negativity attached to the use of private tutors, which is sometimes an issue for students who are going to remedial classes at school and being singled out by their peers as a result. For the student to be able to develop the knowledge and understanding of mathematics at their own pace provides a huge increase to their self-confidence which flows right through other aspects of school and sporting endeavours.

For the extremely bright student, lack of challenge in the standard school curriculum often results in boredom. If this is not recognised and strategies put in place to counteract it, the result can be an otherwise good student whose behaviour suddenly deteriorates, and becomes a disciplinary issue that the parents are not able to understand or deal with. Private tutoring provides the opportunity for exceptional students to become involved in challenging work and projects, stimulating their imagination and improving their behaviour and self-esteem.

Exam preparation is another area where Grace Simpkins Personal Tutors can assist students. This is best done well in advance of the actual exam period, so that the student not only has an opportunity to develop a good relationship with the tutor, but to have areas of weakness identified. Once this has happened, the tutor is able to develop programs for the student that will help with revision and explanation of concepts not understood. The result often is an exam result that is well above what the student has previously achieved.

Mathematics is an important skill to have for the workforce of the future. People with solid maths skills will continue to be in demand as the resources sector expands and the sciences take precedence over the softer disciplines. Money spent now on maths tuition will be the best investment a parent can make.

Exposure To A Second Language Essential To Childhood Development

The Australian education system has been relatively slow in comparison to other countries in recognizing the whole-of-life benefits of learning a second language. While High School students have had access to second language education for many years, it is only in recent times that this has extended into primary school. Unfortunately, one of the main issues in the lack of resources made available to second language studies is the perception that this part of a child’s education is dispensable in an already crowded curriculum. This is not backed up by the research which shows that a child’s understanding of their own language is enhanced by learning a foreign one.

The situation in the European Union is quite the opposite. European education policies advocate the learning of at least two foreign languages early in a child’s education. Grace Simpkins Personal Tutors understand this and make available foreign language studies in their tutoring programs for parents who supplement their children’s education with regular tutoring.

The European experience where there are multiple cultures and languages requires English to be taught, along with the native language, and one other which varies from country to country. It recognises that by learning languages other than the native tongue, students are exposed to other cultures from an early age through immersion in their customs, festivals, beliefs and values which happen naturally as a result of the study of the language.

Learning a second language also gives the young student a greater understanding and appreciation of their own language through making comparisons with another language and culture. Of course, learning a second language is not simply all about cultural understanding. Studies have shown that it also enhances the intellectual and educational development of students, including such essentials to success as reading readiness.

Technological developments in the last fifty years have created a “global village”, with increased interactions between countries and cultures that have previously been impossible to achieve.

The future economic health of the country will be increasingly dependent on a workforce with a broad range of skills, including the ability to speak a second language, allowing industry and commerce to keep up with developments in the rest of the world. For parents who wish to give their young children a head start, engaging a personal tutor to assist in the development of linguistic abilities is a positive step.

As governments begin to recognise the importance of maintaining second language studies as a compulsory part of the curriculum, more resources will be made available to schools and teachers. The future workforce needs this exposure to other languages to keep us competitive with the rest of the world.

Another Perspective Regarding Tutoring

As parents we all want our children to succeed, but we also know that the school curriculum these days is overcrowded, even in the best of schools. Many children are genuinely doing the best they can but feel overwhelmed with the sheer volume of tasks and subject matter they are presented with every day. Others are intimidated by the competitive nature of some of their classmates. All children, given the opportunity for individual tuition, will improve their academic performance when the subject matter and method of delivery is individually focused.

We all face challenges

Modern schools are a challenging environment and are made deliberately so, to develop self-confidence and independent thought. Every one of us faces real challenges in life, and although we don’t realise it, we start developing the skills to face those challenges in early childhood, especially at school. Children are challenged to develop their strengths and if areas of weakness are identified, some guidance and encouragement can make all the difference. Engaging the expertise of a personal tutor is an excellent method for building on strengths and correcting shortfalls before they become a major issue.

Why do students underperform?

There are many reasons why students underperform, and the challenge for educators is to identify the most obvious reasons and address them. This may be achieved by adjusting the learning outcomes or developing more engaging resources or teaching methods. A student may have missed a particular building block months, or even years, previously leaving them to struggle with only part of the picture. Often, if the problem isn’t identified and addressed early, the student gradually loses confidence and forms a learning block in that particular area. Individual tuition is perfect for correcting these situations, and allows the student to rebuild their self-belief, which in turn spills over into other areas of the curriculum.

A major part of teaching is finding the right motivators for each student, and then creating a positive environment where challenges can be met and overcome, and successes reinforced and encouraged. A highly skilled personal tutor can provide this positive learning environment for any child, through their access to quality resources, their own individual skills and experience, and their ability to give the child concentrated levels of attention that would be impossible to get in a classroom situation.

As academic performance increases so too does self-confidence, enjoyment and motivation in the chosen subject area. Not only will the use of a personal tutor assist a student to achieve better academic results, but they will also develop strong study habits through engaging with the tutor. These study habits and skills will stay with them as they move beyond school into the lifelong learning environment that is the emerging workplace. Personal tutor programs are available to primary, high school and university-level students in all core disciplines.


Questions to Ask at Parent-Teacher Meetings

When it comes to parent-teacher conferences there is a fine line between helpful and humiliating as awkward silences suffocate classrooms Australia-wide. Schools are the primary environment for child development both mentally and socially, hence, these conferences are vital to engage in your child’s growth. However, as an independent party uninvolved in the education system, it can be exceedingly difficult to know what questions to ask and where to start.

Engaging in your child’s learning goes beyond just inquiring whether they got an ‘A’ or a ‘C’, it means fully understanding what areas they excel at, where they struggle, their general attitudes towards education and even how they’re coping socially. So, here are the ten most vital questions to ask at a parent-teacher meeting:

1. How is my child doing socially?

Schools teach more than just maths and English, they teach essential social skills. Unfortunately, some children struggle to connect with their peers and it is possible that you, as a parent, wouldn’t even know. Luckily, you have the opportunity to check in and ask their teacher how they’re going, whether they sit with friends at lunch and thrive in groups or whether they prefer to isolate themselves, all you have to do is take it.

2. How is my child doing emotionally?

High schoolers often struggle emotionally under the weight of their schoolwork. As a parent, you would not be there to witness them stress out in the library or cry after a particularly difficult lesson, but their teacher is and would likely be more than happy to let you know.

3. In what areas does my child struggle?

Teachers see your child from a different perspective than you, as such, it is vital to ask them in what areas your child could improve both personally and academically.

4. Does my child need extra help in any areas?

Oftentimes, children struggle with specific concepts regardless of their teacher’s efforts. As such, it may be fruitful to check on their progress and see if they are struggling with anything.

5. What can we do to provide that extra help?

If the teacher recommends seeking extra help in certain areas, you may want to ask how you can provide this help. It could be anything from working through homework together to seeking external tutoring.

6. How is my child’s attitude and behaviour towards learning?

Marks don’t reflect a child’s attitude towards learning. An A+ student may be disengaged and bored and a D- student may have a true passion for learning and work as hard as they can. It could be valuable to comprehend your child’s attitude in order to understand them if a problem arises.

7. Could you tell me about your teaching method?

If you have any serious concerns regarding the teacher’s techniques, you may wish to ask about their methods. This may help you understand it better and how it benefits your child. Alternatively, you may wish to ask what they plan to do if it proves ineffective with your child specifically.

8. Is my child doing their best?

In terms of education, marks mean nothing. An A student who barely works may be neglecting their potential and a less-academically inclined student may be working as hard as they can. In these cases, it is important to know when to praise your child (a C-grade child achieves a B) and when to encourage them to work harder (a B-grade child who is not paying attention in class continuing to achieve Bs).

9. May I share a concern with you?

If you have any specific worries regarding your child’s social, behavioural or academic learning it may be useful to share these concerns with their teacher. Parent-teacher conferences are a two-way street when it comes to providing understanding regarding your child.

10. Do I have any need to be worried?

This is perhaps the most vital question as it encompasses all aspects of your child’s education. If they are seen to be disengaged socially, misbehaving emotionally or falling behind mentally, their teacher can let you know and you can seek solutions to improve this behaviour.

As long as you ask them respectfully and kindly, teachers are more than happy to answer these questions and all you as a parent need to do is consider their advice and listen with an open mind.

Team Work in Assignments – Essential or Exasperating?

When it comes to group assignments, the majority of students will have one of two opinions; that it’s a brutally unfair theft of work, or that it is the best idea in the world because now they can kick back and watch TV while the class valedictorian earns them an A+. The reality is that group assignments are never cut and dry and while they are fraught with glaringly obvious flaws, such as the risk of unequal participation and conflict, they teach valuable life skills that go beyond just the classroom.

While it does teach a whole array of skills such as commitment, conflict resolution and reliability, the main benefit of group work is obvious – teamwork. Teamwork is so vital to the proper functioning of society that it has become a cliché of sorts and hence, its significance is often overlooked. In almost every professional sense, from medical teams to police squads, employers seek those who can successfully work together to achieve common goals rather than going it alone in search of personal glory. Unfortunately, the cheesy childhood messages and Disney propaganda of ‘teamwork makes the dream work’ only get children so far, they need to learn firsthand, they need to be forced to manage other group members and cooperate in order to achieve shared success. The goal of a group assignment isn’t merely to get a PowerPoint with a new design and varied writing style on each slide, it is to impart necessary skills to ensure students are employable and capable of contributing to society as a whole.

On the contrary, your child’s complaints that group assignments are just “the absolute worst” are not completely unfounded. Academically inclined and hardworking students may feel their credit is being unduly distributed or may find their own marks plummeting due to their peers slacking off, which is inarguably unjust and mustn’t be trivialised as ‘just a part of life’. Regardless of whether this unequal participation is founded in well-meaning academic blunders or something more sinister, it can be frustrating to see others benefit from your hard work. As such, students cannot be faulted for complaining about their forced reliance upon others.

There is no consistent answer to whether or not group work is important as each new context brings with it different circumstances. Generally, to the more academically focussed students, group work is a never-ending nightmare, however to many others, whether it be those who wish to exploit the opportunity or those who recognise and appreciate the underlying lessons, team assignments are necessary and valuable opportunities for self-growth.

Involving Students in Their Own Learning

In a classroom full of peers, a single misstep can be a devastating blow to a student’s confidence, a crowded room can mean their questions remain unresolved and a competitive environment can foster stress and anxiety regarding their academic ability. As a result, many students find themselves falling behind as victims of academic disengagement, affecting their marks, confidence and future prospects. However, through one-on-one, targeted learning, even the most detached student can grow to become heavily involved with their education.

Academic disengagement often presents itself as boredom; however, it can stem from any number of reasons including embarrassment from feeling ‘behind’ others academically, apathy toward the content and, in rare cases, being too advanced for the curriculum being taught in schools. As the leading cause of this is boredom, your child may take issue with the manner in which the content is being taught.

Every student is a different type of learner whether it be auditory, visual or hands-on and thus rely upon different forms of teaching to remain engaged. Where visual learners understand and enjoy using diagrams, hands-on learners benefit from practical tasks and applying the information whilst auditory learners flourish through hearing information and repeating this out loud such as in a discussion. To engage a student, teachers must recognise and adjust to these needs but in large groups it is nearly impossible to cater to everyone, hence, your child may benefit from one-on-one tutoring. When faced with only one student at a time, tutors can effectively discover and target their student’s learning styles and in doing so, bring enjoyment to and nurture a passion for learning.

Another leading cause of disengagement is embarrassment from not understanding the content or from perceiving themselves as ‘unsuccessful’. These emotions often compel students to lose interest and give up because they fear they just ‘aren’t good’ at the subject being taught, moreover, they may refrain from asking questions and seeking help in class. In these circumstances it can be highly beneficial to find an alternate learning environment which is supportive and free of all judgement. When it comes to personal tutoring, students feel secure in their ability to ask questions about any and all aspects of the content they don’t understand without feeling as though they are being compared to or judged by their peers. As little as one session a week can be the push they need to get back on track and reinvested in their learning.

Furthermore, disengagement can be caused by the copious number of distractions found in classrooms. When faced with spending an hour either solving complex maths problems or subtly playing solitaire on your computer and chatting to your best friend while the teacher isn’t looking, it isn’t a great stretch to assume the majority of students prefer the latter. This issue of boredom and disinterest extends well beyond the classroom as even at home students neglect their learning in favour of various hobbies and interests. To tackle this issue and ensure your child remains focussed upon their learning, it is vital you find an environment where education may take place free of distraction. For many, this may be tutoring.

Every child deserves to love and care about their learning; however, too many are growing to despise it purely because they are unable to connect with it. To ensure this engagement can be achieved, the underlying causes of academic detachment must be identified whether they be boredom, embarrassment, distraction or otherwise. Tutoring can create a supportive environment through which students can get back on track with their learning, regain self confidence and become invested for years to come.

What Type of Learner Are You?

The experience of trying to engage a child to sit still and focus on the task in front of them can often be likened to herding cats. The problem is what draws one in may bore another to the point where they simply lose all interest in a topic. A key aspect of this is the variety of learning styles that exist. While there is little advantage of one particular style over the other, and often children fall into multiple categories, the value of engaging a child in their learning experience cannot be understated, and recognising their learning style is fundamental to this. These learning styles can broadly be categorized in visual, kinaesthetic, auditory, and learning via reading and writing.

The key signs of a visual learner are enjoying activities such as arts, reading books filled with illustrations or maps, being good at recalling people and places, and taking a keen interest in the world around them. The best way to engage a visual learner is to provide them with examples of the task they are given, so they can observe what should be done. Using multiple colours while creating study notes, as well as creating flash cards, mind maps and a heavy use of diagrams to aid in studying can be highly effective.

Auditory learners often enjoy music and excel at following verbal instructions. They are often talkative, wait until the instructions have been completed before starting the task, and often ask many questions while performing the said task. Here, as always, communication is key. Talking through problems, as well as discussing any difficulties the child may be having are vital, and making up rhymes, songs, or mnemonics while revising can be incredibly useful.

Kinaesthetic learners study best by the act of doing whatever they are meant to be learning. These learners often enjoy sports, hands on activities, and would much rather jump straight into the task than sit still. For these learners, the use of engaging techniques such as drawing or study games, practice tests, or even the use of stress balls can help them focus while learning.

People that learn best by reading/writing often take notes while working, enjoy reading books and stories, remember what they have read, often enjoy working alone in quiet spaces, and perform well if allowed to record notes on what they are meant to do. If a child falls into these categories, writing out notes by hand, using checklists to guide study, and organising study notes using headings and lists is often found to be most useful.

Children may fall into any, or multiple of these categories, and identifying which one they belong to can sometimes be a challenging task especially in a school environment, where it is difficult to engage all four different styles at once. Often children will struggle to stay engaged in their learning and feel that they are not good at something simply because they cannot enjoy the tasks. One-on-one tuition offers a solution to this problem, where the tutor can specifically engage the child in their own style of learning, consequently giving them confidence in their own abilities, which can help them excel academically.

At Grace Simpkins Personal Tutors, our tutors are experienced in recognising whichever learning style the child may respond best to, and are provided with a wide variety of learning tools to engage every student in their learning to help them discover their full potential.

Positive Study Habits Best Learnt Early in Academic Life

A study of Australian university participation rates conducted in 2018 found that one in five students are more likely to drop out than complete university. A number of causal factors were identified such as changing to a different university or course, deferring with the intention to return in the future and others. Sadly, failing courses was also a factor and this was tied to a student’s lack of readiness for university life. Many students, after being in a very structured and supported environment for the previous twelve years of their schooling, have simply not developed the self-discipline and the range of study skills needed for university level education.

There are a number of personal skills necessary for success at a university level that should be developed during primary and secondary school. Parents with children who expect to go through to university should be looking at using personal tutors to assist with establishing the routine and discipline needed in the years to come.

It is absolutely essential for young students to learn the positive study habits they will need to do well in an unstructured environment, both at university and also in the work force. Many workplaces these days are built around self-directed work teams, with generic overall targets the only guide what needs to be achieved. If people haven’t learnt self-management skills earlier in life, they can be left in a turmoil of indecision that affects their job performance.

Self-discipline is a major part of this equation, and personal tutors can provide young students with specific tools that help them develop this part of their study habits. Such tools as time management and timeline graphs to keep track of progress against a work rate calendar, keeping a study diary, regularly scheduling lesson and study time using modern technology such as Outlook, which gives reminders each time it is accessed, are all techniques that a personal tutor can demonstrate and assist the student to set up.

For a student, planning a study timetable and sticking to it is no different to the discipline required by elite athletes, musicians and other professionals who become expert performers in their field through constant practice, correction of errors and coaching by others. This is the same process that personal tutors use to assist their students to put some structure around their study and help them identify and acquire the additional skills needed to succeed.
While the study was not necessarily an overall black mark against Australian universities, as for example, financial hardship was also a factor that contributed to the high dropout rate, it highlighted an area that can be addressed earlier in a child’s study life.

Personal Tuition for the Overachiever

There are many students already at the top of their class who use personal tuition to achieve a level of education over and above their current grade. They may be aiming higher to get a scholarship or for the super-competitive, just to test themselves against their peers. As a professional sports person uses a trainer to hone their skills, a personal tutor can assist a student who is already performing to develop beyond their current level. The benefits of this type of support are immeasurable, and the rewards for the student include having access to opportunities and career paths that may have previously been closed to them.

By spending time with the student on an individual level, a personal tutor is able to develop a personalised study environment that suits the student’s learning style, and fits in around other activities in their life. The tutor can also assist to identify goals and encourage the student to develop a set of learning tools such as structured study habits, sound time management and the ability to prioritise.

It should be understood here that an overachiever does not necessarily equal happy and successful. It is possible to be academically brilliant at the expense of social and personal relationships. This is an area that a personal tutor could assist the student with, by helping them to identify the real driving forces in their life, and channel those energies into vocational and career choices that not only give them the professional accolades they crave, but also the personal rewards as well.

Overachievers often need a steadying force in their lives, as their core emotional drivers can easily overwhelm them and send them in a direction they may not really want to go. Sometimes a parent, older sibling or teacher can be that steadying force, but in the absence of any of these influencers, a personal tutor can provide valuable guidance in this role. The nature of the relationship provides opportunities for learning exercises that can not only enhance academic performance but also personal development at the same time.

It is important in these situations to ensure that the choice of a personal tutor is well considered and researched. A smart tutor is essential, but it is just as important to ensure a reasonable match of personalities and temperament between the potential tutor and the student.

There is no doubt that personal tuition can assist the overachiever to higher levels of academic performance. However, it can also, in the right hands, help to ground the student and provide them with self-management techniques that will be useful throughout life.

Reading – The Ultimate Escape

Have you ever felt bogged down, perhaps in a rut or maybe even overwhelmed with what life has dished up to you at the moment? Sometimes, and often without reason, people can be overcome with a desire to just run away, escape and hide from the world. For a lucky few the possibility of real, physical escape is a possibility, but fear not, there is an escape for the average non-millionaire also; perhaps even a better one. It costs nothing but time to visit a local library and discover the next reading adventure.

Books are so much more fascinating than films. Reading a book, there are no boundaries to imagination such as those set by movie directors, who engineer every scene to perfection which leaves no room for a personal idea of the character or the exciting mystery of imagining their voice, or mannerisms or everything about them. Reading, however, is a personal creation, guided by the words of an author but brought to life in vivid technicolour by the mind of the reader. The most magnificent scenery can be conjured up, the heroine can be as exotic, demure and as gorgeous as the mind’s eye can imagine and of course, the hero can be oh, so handsome and debonair. If the story is sad there is no rule against skipping to the end to ensure a satisfactory conclusion. Sometimes that is the best way to read some books as the only great part is how they manage to untangle their web of intrigue.

It is surprising how reading can develop someone’s outlook, broaden their horizons, and challenge their ideas and ideals. For many people it can be a dauting feat to attempt to conquer a novel 1200 pages thick, but therein lies the beauty of reading; there is something on offer for everyone. Stories of fairies and faraway places reach out to tickle the imaginations of some readers whereas other bookworms search for autobiographies to be inspired by the lives of real people. Either option can introduce new, rather more obscure people and their battles, scars and triumphs of life to those who flick through the pages of these stories. If one tires of a particular genre, there is infinitely more waiting to be discovered.

Reading truly is the ultimate escape. At the beginning it’s probably not all that significant what you read as long as you’re reading. It is as you read that you discover the world around you, its enchantment and the people who make it go around. Have an escape soon.

Personal Tutors Give High School Graduates a Flying Start at Uni

There are many challenges to be faced when undertaking university study for the first time. Of course, the obvious ones are all connected with the subject material, and the demands of studying and submitting assignments at a much higher level than required at the secondary education level. Some of the not-so-obvious challenges centre around a student’s personal level of preparedness, often associated with maturity but also with the student’s readiness to be self-directed for much of the time. This is a completely different environment to secondary school in which there is a consistent structure around timetabling and immediate feedback from teachers when assignments are not handed in on time.

University study is much more self-directed and requires a student to organise their own study and assignment preparation time. For a person recently graduated from high school, who is accustomed to being directed and prompted by teachers, this is a new experience, and one that would benefit from starting university with a personal tutor.

For a person new to tertiary study, there are several benefits of engaging a tutor very early in the university calendar to set the student off on the right path. An investment in a personal tutor at this stage could be the difference between success and failure, for both the gifted student and the average performer who has to work hard for every credit.

One of the most important attributes a student must develop to be successful at a university level is that of organisation. If the student hasn’t been well trained at high school in using standard time management tools, such as electronic calendars and organisers, task reminders, personal year planners etc., they are already at a disadvantage. One of the first tasks they must do is plan their university year, making sure all lectures are noted, assignment due dates identified and slotted in, and time set aside for study and assignment preparation.

Once this is done, they must develop the discipline to consult these tools every day to keep track of their progress. This is where a personal tutor is absolutely invaluable. Not only will the tutor assist with this pre-planning but will also support the student to manage the large study load. The tutor will check the student’s academic progress to identify any weak areas and ensure that the student is keeping up with the timetable.

Without the structure and immediate feedback from teachers that the student has relied on for twelve years of schooling, it is easy for a new university entrant to flounder. Having a personal tutor gives them an extra person to monitor their progress and takes the load off the parent or guardian.

Get a Head Start on the School Year with a Personal Tutor

We all know that the start of any new venture or experience is exciting but at the same time tinged with apprehension, as everything that lies before us is an unknown. When that start is a positive one, the rest of the experience tends to follow the same pattern; but if things go awry, it can be difficult to recover the situation. This applies as much to children as adults and with the new school year upon us, most parents will be looking for every opportunity to give their children the best possible start, as a negative one will be difficult to overcome.

With this in mind, many parents are getting ahead of the game by engaging a personal tutor for their children to kick off the school year. Rather than wait for the first reports to come back to them, which could be some months into the year, they are taking the proactive approach and starting good study habits up front.

This is an excellent strategy because often it is only in the first round of school reporting that many busy parents become aware that their child is not achieving at the level they had expected. The child may be doing their homework or set assignment tasks seemingly without difficulty, so the parent thinks that everything is going along smoothly. It is only when the reports start arriving home that they realise things were not quite the way they appeared. Unfortunately, by the time they become aware, several months of the school year have already passed, and bad habits or attitudes have become ingrained.

They may also find that their child is having emotional issues, but may not connect the changes in behaviour with academic issues until the first formal round of school reporting. This is very damaging for their child who, by this time, will have endured weeks of anxiety and feelings of helplessness when all they needed was some additional help with their studies during out of school hours. For example, if they are struggling with maths, a maths tutor will design a program for their needs that will build on what they are learning at school to reinforce the work being done with their teacher.

Starting the school year with a personal tutor gives a child confidence in their own ability, assists them to work through the parts of the curriculum that are causing them difficulty. A good head start, and development of positive habits, helps bring them to a point where they could actually be ahead of their peers. What better way is there to begin the school year?

Beating the summer slide

Summer holidays, a time when the kids lounge around the house all day, playing video games, watching TV, or generally being lazy. It’s great that they are having some downtime after a full on year of school, but too much brain-numbing activity can be damaging to their learning. A study by Oxford Learning claims that your child could lose up to a month’s worth of learning due to the summer holidays. So what can you do to stop all that hard work from being wasted? Here are a few ways to avoid the summer slide.

Get some toys for the brain 

A great way to make sure your kids are learning while having fun is to encourage them to play with toys that will also stimulate their brain. Put away the Xbox and pull out a puzzle or a Rubix cube.  These are activities that activate logical and mathematical thinking. If your kid insists on playing video games there are educational apps available. This is also a good opportunity for you to enjoy some bonding time together by engaging in some friendly competition and challenging your child to beat your high score.

Board games can be great for getting your kids thinking, plus they bring the whole family together for some wholesome fun. Try playing some Scrabble to work on word skills or modify some other classics like Yahtzee! by adding in some math problems.  

Read, Read, Read! 

 Oxford Learning found that over the Christmas holidays up to two months worth of reading skills can be lost. Making sure that your child continues reading over the holidays is important to their academic performance when they return to school. There are a few ways to encourage your child to read. One way is to read to your child. Show them just how much fun books can be. Don’t be afraid to be silly and act out certain parts of the book – just have fun with it. If your child is too old to be read to maybe you could show them a movie, such as Harry Potter or Lord Of The Rings, and see if that inspires them to read the books. Another fun way to encourage reading is through a library. Take your kids wandering through the aisles of books. Let them choose whatever interests them and borrow it out. Reading is fundamental to a child’s education so it is important to retain those skills during the holidays.

Try incorporating learning into day to day activities 

One point that comes out of our Making Math Fun blog, is that one of the best ways to stimulate learning is by making learning opportunities out of everyday life. Try baking with your child, and asking them to count and measure out the ingredients. Alternatively, create a scavenger hunt with education-based clues.

Get a tutor   

A great way to make sure your kids don’t experience the summer slide is to keep their education going through the summer with a tutor. A tutor can allow them to catch up on problems they may have had in the previous year and give them a head start on the next year. Tutoring doesn’t just have to be on curriculum material either. Your kids can use the holiday time to explore an interest in science or history not covered at school. Contact Grace Simpkins Personal Tutors today and see how else tutoring can help your child.