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Tips for parentsIf you really want to help your students enjoy the process of learning, the best place to start could be with the children themselves. This article contains answers from children who were asked what teachers and tutors can do to help them be more interested in and excited about the academic world.

When you tutor you can help by…

Teaching me the basics of layered subjects like mathematics. “When I am having difficulty with a difficult area of mathematics like algebra, it helps if the tutor takes the time to make sure I know the basics. When they go over the subject to look for areas I have struggled with, it makes it easy to face more advanced topics.”

Making the class fun. “When my tutor brings new activities and games to a session, it make study more dynamic and less like a chore. Come exam time, I often remember information that arose during these activities with much more ease than when I am simply called upon to learn a string of boring facts from a book.”

Incorporating technology into my lessons. “My favourite tutor often uses fun interactive computer games. She tells me that learning does not have to be boring; it all depends on the way you approach it.”

Using visual aids. “I have a hard time memorising long lists of facts, which I often have to do in subjects like Biology, where I am required to learn the different parts of the anatomy, or various types of families and species, etc. My tutor encourages me to use visual aids such as mind maps with colourful pictures and writing, to help me retain all this information.”

Encouraging me to learn a bit about the subject before our tutoring session. “My tutor recently showed me a new learning tool and website called the Khan Academy. It has many short videos that explain specific areas of subjects like Numeracy. It also has a fun test you can take, which identifies weak areas you need to practise. The system then provides various activities to complete before you can call yourself a true master in a given subject!”

Being patient. “I don’t perform very well when my teacher or tutor applies pressure or shows annoyance when it is taking me longer to grasp a specific subject. A tutor who is patient and kind reduces my anxiety and makes it easier for me to think clearly and answer questions correctly.”

Inspiring me. “I was very insecure about my ability at humanities-based subjects like History, until I found a tutor who make it seem like fun, encouraging me to analyse historical figures and events instead of just memorise important dates and names. My tutor went to the trouble of finding interesting reading and articles that furthered my interest in Ancient History, a subject I went on to study at University.”

Connecting Theory to Practice. “I get bored if I feel like I am learning something that will have no use to me in my practical life. I like it when my tutor shows me how there is a reason for everything she is teaching me.”

Being present. “If I arrive at a tutoring session and my tutor simply hands me a load of written work to complete during the hour, I feel like they are wasting my time. I prefer to complete worksheets at home before or after a session, and to avail of my tutor’s attention fully when we are together.”

Ensuring children are involved. “When the tutor gets in front of the class and begins to give a long-winded speech, I find it difficult to stay focussed instead of daydreaming. Tutors who get the most out of students are those who frequently ask us questions and encourage us to do most of the talking. We then know that we cannot come to class without preparing beforehand.”

Giving examples. “When a tutor gives me examples, it makes it much easier to discuss difficult concepts, particularly in subjects like Philosophy or English. When discussing a topic like the use of irony in English literature, for example, it helps if the tutor provides examples, through the works of great authors like Jane Austen, for example.”

Brainstorming. “When it comes to essay writing, I can find it difficult to think creatively. Brainstorming alongside my tutor and other students makes me feel like even seemingly crazy ideas can actually be incorporated into a piece of writing in a way I had never thought possible. The process of brainstorming can sometimes lead me to new tangents I would never have considered otherwise.”

Setting goals. “When a tutor helps me prepare for a big exam, it helps if they help me set various smaller goals along the way. As I achieve each goal, I feel more confident about my own abilities to overcome even the toughest academic hurdle.”

Encouraging critical thinking: “My favourite tutors encourage me to question established ideas and come up with interesting solutions to problems like the environmental crisis.”

Maintaining a youthful outlook: “I can relate better to tutors who share my interests in sport and music; it makes me feel that we have common ground and eases my anxiety.”

Bringing laughter into the classroom. “I like it when the tutor brings humour into the classroom, through the use of funny videos or memes, which make it feel like nothing should be taken so seriously that you cannot see a lighter side to it, not even exams.”

Personalising the class to a student’s learning style. “I tend to get bored if I have to sit in a classroom all day. My tutor uses activities like juggling to keep my body active while I’m memorising facts and figures.”

Being available. “My tutor answers my e-mails asking question about ideas that arise. It feels good to know that they are there for me, even after a tutoring session has finished.”

 

 

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