Category Archive: Maths
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The new term is underway, and you’re settled back into the swing of things.
Now is the time for teachers to think about setting a New Year’s Resolution or two for the months ahead.
Here are a few suggestions:
New Year’s Resolution Number 1: Be More Organised
Many teachers start the year well but then things start to slide.
Being organised doesn’t necessarily guarantee you will have a great lesson, day, or week, of course. However, if you are continually disorganised and running around chasing your tail, those good and great days will be few and far between.
And the thing with being disorganised is that it never gets better – it always gets worse.
So, Resolution Number 1 has got to be to get more organised!
Whether it’s to try to get to school 5 or 10 minutes earlier, or to vow to keep your desk tidier, any small way that you can try to be more organised will help.
It should even result in you having a calmer and less stressful day.
It will make you feel on top of your workload. For any teacher, this is massive.
If you’d like to read more around how you can get a little more organised on a weekly basis, check out this handy blog from asana!
Resolution Number 2: Take Less Work Home
Work/life balance is a major issue for any teacher. That’s unlikely to change anytime soon.
However, teachers are sometimes their own worst enemies. If you set out to take less work home – either on certain days or at the weekend (occasionally), you will stop the blurring of school and home.
And it might even stop you feeling like you are working all the time.
How do you do this?
You can try to work smarter when you are setting homework to reduce the marking load.
Is there a day of the week when you could stay in school to work later to finish things off and prepare for the next day? It’s a great feeling to get home and know that all your time that evening is for you, your kids, or your partner.
Listen, you’re a teacher, so realistically you’re never going to make every night like that.
But once or twice a week, or just every once in a while, would be nice, wouldn’t it?
Resolution Number 3: Prioritise Your Own Wellbeing
As teachers, we are wired to put our students first. It sometimes seems difficult to prioritise our own mental health and wellbeing. We feel guilty if we put ourselves first.
However, this is the most important resolution of all.
Putting your mental health first will not only make you a better teacher, but it will also make you a better parent, partner, family member, and friend.
You will know what it is that is good for you and what works for your wellbeing, but typically if you try to eat healthily, get regular exercise, and give yourself time to spend on a hobby or interest, you will get a big mental health boost.
It will certainly help to eliminate stress – something we’ve discussed here previously.
You will be happier, have more energy, and be far better placed to take on the challenges of teaching, and whatever else life throws at you.
It’s a no-brainer, isn’t it?
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Why is Remembrance Day still taught in schools? What value does it hold with our young people? If you are looking for an answer to the question of why Remembrance Day is still so important in schools, you really need to look no further than the Royal British Legion’s website:
“Remembrance honours those who serve to defend our democratic freedoms and way of life.”
You couldn’t ask for a clearer explanation of what remembrance is all about – or for a better reason for its continued importance.
Having said that, it’s still worth drilling down a little bit on the topic to consider its importance and its intentions.
Again, the Royal British Legion really say it all on their website, explaining that:
“Remembrance does not glorify war and its symbol, the red poppy, is a sign of both Remembrance and hope for a peaceful future.”
The Poppy And Remembrance Day
It’s worth pointing out that there is no right or wrong way of showing remembrance. The poppy was never meant to be compulsory. Sure, wearing one will always be greatly appreciated by those it is intended to support. But if people feel compelled or forced to wear one it devalues what it is meant to stand for: remembering those who fought for freedom – the freedom of choice and free speech.
Remembrance is intended to unite people of all faiths and cultures. This is another reason why it is so important that schools continue to mark the day.
It was originally intended as a way to remember the sacrifice and service of the Armed Forces in the UK and across the Commonwealth, but it also serves as a timely reminder of the horrors of all wars. That’s a message that cannot be stressed enough in schools.
The Royal British Legion are clear in their message. We should also look to remember all the innocent civilians who have lost their lives in conflict.
It’s never about taking sides. It’s about highlighting that, ultimately, there are no winners in war.
Of course, the wearing of the poppy and Remembrance Sunday has evolved over the years. Originally introduced as a way to remember those who lost their lives in World War One, its scope has grown as the years go by.
Each year, the Royal British Legion announces a particular focus. For 2023, it is remembering and honouring ‘Service’.
We are reminded this year that for those who serve usually do so at a cost. It isn’t just the cost of lives but also the physical or emotional trauma, and upheaval and separation from families and loved ones.
Anniversaries are always remembered. In 2023, it is the 70th anniversary of the end of the Korean War; 60 years since the last serviceman was demobbed from National Service, and the 75th anniversary of the arrival in the UK of settlers from the Caribbean on the Empire Windrush. It is important to recognise the part they played in rebuilding Britain post-World War Two.
Tradition And Recent Events
The traditions of Remembrance: the wearing of the poppy; the two minutes’ silence; and the playing of ‘The Last Post’ remain largely the same after all these years. However, in recent years, several events have been introduced to make Remembrance more interactive for schools.
A great example of this is the Remembrance Live Assembly. This live streamed experience takes place this year on Friday 10 November. It brings together art, poetry and music in an interactive event aimed at students in Years 5-8.
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‘Tis the season to be jolly! No, hang on… we’ve gone too early there…
Before we get to the season of goodwill and put the tinsel up again – and we won’t have to wait long; as I write this, there are only 73 days before Christmas… Eeek! 😳 – Yes, as I was saying, before we get to all that, ‘tis the season to be scary and go all out on the ghostly ghouls for Halloween!
So, what better time to look at how to write horror effectively?
After all, a good horror story is the stuff of nightmares. In fact, it’s the place where our nightmares come alive: the place where our darkest and deepest fears are faced head-on.
Horror stories are not the faint-hearted but for many of us they hold an irresistible appeal. So…
What makes a great horror story?
Essentially, a horror story is a narrative that triggers either of two emotions: fear or shock.
The horror genre comes in many styles and forms. From dark psychological horror that can really mess with your mind to the classic slasher serial killer rampage that has genuine shock value and makes us jump out of our skin.
Regardless of the sub-genre, a horror story’s main purpose remains the same: to scare the living daylights out of you.
So… let’s answer that burning question… “How to write horror?”
Create a sense of fear in your reader
Key to this is to be a master of the dark art of suspense. Don’t show your readers the monster/ghost/maniac axe-murdering psychopath serial killer straightaway. Instead, hint at its presence… focus on the anticipation; let your readers smell the fear – but hang fire on the full reveal.
As iconic horror writer Stephen King once said, “Nothing is so frightening as what’s behind the closed door.”
Add a plot twist
When you’re reading a story, there’s nothing worse than thinking that you’ve got the whole thing figured out. But when you believe you know where a story is heading and then an unexpected curveball is thrown into the mix? Well then there’s nothing better…
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the plot twist.
Unexpected twists keep the reader guessing and they can send them into a whole new level of terror and horror.
A cliff-hanger is the ultimate page-turner – and they are ideal for any horror story.
Picture the scene: a character has spent the best part of the chapter running away from a monster. He thinks he’s escaped: the reader thinks he’s escaped and then…
“As silence filled the room, he heard footsteps in the distance…”
There you have it! – The protagonist and the reader are thrust back into the action and the horror.
Try putting that book down!
And finally… Show don’t tell
Show don’t tell is a writing technique that works well with any genre and any type of descriptive writing. Basically, it means enabling the reader to experience details of a story through character’s emotions, feelings, and by describing sensory details of the scene, as opposed to simply describing events and saying what happens.
It’s a winner in all settings – and a staple of the horror genre.
Looking for more horrifying tips? Check out this article by Knights Of The Borrowed Dark author Dave Rudden, who breaks down his top 3 tips – he’s nailed exactly how to write horror in a captivating way that both draws in and terrifies readers in equal measure.
Perhaps you’d like to discuss how an English tutor could help you learn how to write horror like a pro? If that’s the case, feel free to drop us a quick enquiry.
Happy horror writing!
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Get New-Term Ready! Tips for tutors for September
Whether you are a full-time tutor; tutoring part-time alongside other commitments; or an undergraduate who tutors as a ‘side hustle’, the start of the new academic year is the time to get yourself new-term ready.
Here are our top tips for tutors to help you get ready for the tutoring year ahead…
For any professionals working in the education sector, September has the same resonance that January holds for most other ‘normal’ people. For teachers and tutors, September is the best time to set yourself new year’s resolutions.
Don’t worry, we’re not talking about the usual gym memberships or advocating Dry September or Veganember here – although, go for it if that’s your thing…
No, we’re just highlighting the importance of getting yourself organised and set for the year ahead.
September is the month when tutor referrals are at their busiest. It’s the time to fill your diary up! But make sure that you don’t take on too much.
Whatever your circumstances are, make sure that you only accept referrals that are right for you. In most cases, your teaching timetable will be the same until next May/June. It’s not like a timetable for a full-time teacher working in a school – which is pretty much imposed on you.
This is a genuine opportunity to create a work schedule that really suits your needs. Don’t waste it!
Gen up on exam results and course changes
One of the benefits of not working in a school full-time is that you miss out on the annual avalanche of data, data, data that falls in September in most schools – the dreaded exams analysis.
But while we can be thankful that we are swerving ‘Spreadsheet September’, tutors can do well to keep abreast of what the exam boards are saying. The Report on the Exam – written by Chief Examiners of every subject – gives insightful information on how students fared on the summer exams, and often gives helpful tips and advice for teachers to use.
Professional development for tutors tends to be lacking. In fact, it tends to be DIY – but it is always helpful. An educational professional should never stop learning. Keep up to date with current pedagogy and thinking and use it to make yourself a better and more effective tutor.
Don’t forget the reason you are doing this!
Sometimes tutors can feel a bit sluggish in September. After all, it’s always hard to get back into the swing of things after a few weeks off.
But don’t forget the reason you are here – to help young people achieve their true potential. Teachers can sometimes get bogged down by mandatory frameworks, incessant data collections, rules and policies, and the ever-present threat of OFSTED.
As a tutor, you cunningly miss out on the ‘bad stuff’ but still get the privilege of helping students get to where they want to be.
You are free to exercise your professional judgement on a daily basis, and really make a difference.
Make the most of it – and most of all… enjoy every moment!
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Starting secondary school is a major milestone in anybody’s life. It’s quite possible that it’s the most nerve-wracking event that any 11-year-old has had to face in their young lives up to that point.
For some, there might be a degree of excitement about the prospect of starting at ‘big school’. However, those feelings are likely to be mixed up with a lot of worry, nervousness, and anxiety.
And that’s the first important point to make here: those feelings are completely normal.
It’s totally okay to be feeling that way.
If you talk to your friends about it, you’ll probably find that they are feeling the same way too.
If you talk to an older brother or sister – or your parents – about how they felt about going into secondary school, you’ll probably find that they understand exactly what you are going through because they felt the same way when they were your age.
Don’t bottle your feelings up inside though – talk to people.
It is a bit of a cliché… but it really is good to talk!
The biggest difference: Size and scale
The biggest single difference of secondary school is the sheer size of it.
Typically, Year 6 at your primary school will have been just 1 class of kids. Year 7 at your new high school might have 6, 7, 8… maybe as many as 10 classes (called forms). This means that the year group you are becoming a part of in September could have more kids in it than the entire primary school you have just left!
And remember there are Years 8, 9, 10 and 11 (and possibly a sixth form) as well.
Because of that, everything just seems to be on a much bigger scale at secondary school.
The thing is… your old primary school will have seemed huge to you at first too when you started there.
But before you knew it, you got used to it and knew your way around it like the back of your hand.
The same thing will happen in secondary school. It might take a bit longer, but you’ll get there.
You’ll be given a map of your school and advice about how to get around. In the first few days many schools ask teachers to collect students and take them to classrooms to make it easier for you to get used to it all.
On that note, you won’t just be thrown in at the deep end at all as you begin secondary school. The start of the school year is usually staggered – so you’ll find that on the day you start, there might only be one or two year groups in school. This makes it less overwhelming.
Similarly, Year 7 often have a longer lunch or have it at a different time from the rest of the school for the first few days – again, this is to make you feel more comfortable and to help you get more used to things.
Don’t worry about the ‘rest of the school’ either. Yes, those Year 11s might seem big and scary but, in general, they are far more bothered and interested in each other to give the new Year 7s a thought.
5 lessons a day: Different subjects and teachers
The other major difference between primary and secondary school is that you have different teachers for different subjects. Whereas in primary, you largely found that you stayed in one place with one teacher, there’s a lot more moving about and changing around during the high school day.
This will take some getting used to – but you will get used to it!
Information, information, information
Secondary schools go to lot and time and trouble to make the transition from primary school easier for students. But one thing you can be sure of is that you will be bombarded with a lot of information: rules, policies, expectations, advice – you name it, you’ll get a lot of it in your first week.
Although it might all might seem a bit overwhelming and too much to take in, the good news is that most of this info will also be written down for you – in your planners, on posters, on the school website.
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask your new teachers if you don’t understand something. They are there to help!
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The School Day: Could we do it differently? Conversations continue about whether the long summer break should continue. In fact, we covered this question in a recent blog.
But it’s not the only big question about education. Take the school day, for example…
For as long as most of us can remember, the school day in the UK has run – roughly – from 9.00am-3.00pm (give or take the odd 15 mins or so).
The big question is simply: Why?
It’s just the way it’s always been done…
Like many things in education, you could argue the things we do in schools in the UK are done for no other reason than that’s just the way they’ve always be done.
As we’ve mentioned before in our blogs, in many ways schools haven’t really changed that much in decades.
The school experience that our kids are going through now isn’t that much different from the one we had – and the one our parents went through before us.
Holidays, uniform, forms, assemblies, subjects, exams – none of these have changed that much at all.
And neither has the school day.
The school day is getting longer
Having said that, the school day has got longer. Breakfast clubs and after-school sessions are now a part of the typical day in most schools – although the traditional after-school clubs have been overtaken by catch-up sessions and interventions.
New government plans mean that, from September 2023, all schools in England will have to be open for a minimum of 32.5 hours a week. A 32.5-hour week equates to Monday to Friday between 8.45am to 3.15pm.
But the change is hardly revolutionary. It won’t make a great difference to most schools.
Indeed, it’s thought that the new rule will only affect around 14% of schools which are currently open for less than 32 hours a week.
Does a longer school day improve results?
Well, the jury’s still out on this one – but the government’s move to increase the length of the school is indicative of something that many within education see as counter-productive – the notion that more is better.
Catch-up sessions now feel like a permanent fixture of the school calendar. What’s more, even half-term and Easter holidays are often given over to various ‘Revision Days’. Summer schools of one form or another are extremely common as well.
In this country, our young people spend more time in school than most countries around the world. They are tested and assessed far more too.
But does this all lead to better results?
Well, sadly, the simple answer is… No, it doesn’t.
How does the UK’s education system rank?
There are many measures used to compare the quality of school systems across the world.
The one lauded the most by the government is the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). This has a relatively narrow focus on reading literacy, mathematics, and science – which may explain the relentless focus we have on core subjects in this country.
The US and UK tend to score highly on overall global education comparisons due to the excellent reputation their university systems have. However, when the focus is just on schools, they fare far less well. The UK currently sits just 11th on the PISA tables – and the US is even further down in 22nd.
How do the most successful countries do things?
Finland is often held up as a beacon for others to follow and it’s not hard to see why.
Students in Finland do the least number of school hours per week across the developed world – and they get the best results. The Finnish school day starts between 8.00-9.00am and is over by 2.00pm.
Not only do they have a shorter school day, kids in Finland also have the least homework.
It makes you think, doesn’t it? Maybe less is more, after all? Does this show that quality is more important than quantity when it comes to education?
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The summer holidays are long – and for parents they can sometimes feel like a lifetime. However – for teachers and students alike – the start of the new school year can really feel like it rushes up on you far too quickly.
If you’re not careful, it can catch you unawares. So, we’ve put together some tips to help you make sure that you are ready for new school year.
Don’t panic: Relax
Even if the summer holidays end in a last-minute rush get to things done, it’s important to try to stay relaxed. The last thing you want to do is to panic. Even if you’ve left yourself with no time to do all the things you should have done over the break, try to keep some perspective.
What’s done is done, so there really is no point in stressing over it. Worrying about things is never helpful. You just need to try to get yourself in the best head space you can from that moment on.
Hopefully though, you’ll be reading this blog way before the start of term, and it’ll give you a bit of a kick-start…
Try to keep your brain in gear during the summer holidays
Every young person deserves to (and really should) switch off and unwind during the summer holidays. You need to recharge the old batteries, after all.
However, the problem with switching off completely or for too long is that it becomes very hard to switch back on! The first couple of weeks in September are bound to be a shock to the system. That’s only natural and to be expected. Teachers feel this as much as students.
You will feel shattered but if you’ve tried to keep your brain in gear and at least partially active during the break, you will find the transition back to term time much easier to deal with.
Have a quick recap and read through of what you did last year
Nobody is advocating working solidly throughout the summer, but it does make sense to spend a bit of time recapping what you did last year – especially if you are in-between Year 10 and 11 or Year 12 and 13.
You’ll be surprised how reassuring it can be and how it puts you in the right frame of mind. It will also make you feel more confident about the year ahead.
It’s just about refreshing your memory. This is never a bad thing. Similarly, it’s worth spending a some time revising what you did last year. Remember, revision should never just be left to when you have exams coming up. Revise a little, a lot – and as you go through topics, not just for tests.
Get yourself prepared
From making sure your uniform still fits to getting hold of any books you need, getting prepared for new term can take many forms. Get your school bag ready and buy all the stationery and equipment you need in good time.
Getting back into the routine of term time is one of the most difficult things about the start of a new school year, but if you leave it to the day you start back… ‘difficult’ becomes ‘virtually impossible.’
Try going to bed at a sensible time at least a few days before the new term and get back into the habit of getting up early(ish) too.
Tidy your room so it can be an effective working space from Day One.
As we said earlier, the new term will be a shock to the system.
The trick is to make sure it’s not too much of a shock!
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After all the hard work and pressure is done – all the revision and all those exams – the wait begins. It can be a long and anxious wait for many, but results day will come around soon enough.
So, what can you expect on results day?
Results day for GCSE students
Results day is a stressful time for parents and students alike but as the old saying goes: there’s strength in numbers. Students normally go into school together on the day to collect their results. You will be given an exam slip with all your grades on it. It also includes a breakdown of your marks alongside each grade. This means that you can see how far off you are from a particular grade.
If you are disappointed or surprised about a grade in a subject and it’s lower than expected, you can request a remark. There is a fee for this although the school will normally cover the cost. It’s best to talk your teachers about any possible remarks as they have a better understanding of grade boundaries and how the marking process works.
Bear in mind that remarks can go up or down so you could potentially end up with a grade lower than the one you were first given. This is why it’s best to trust your teachers on this one!
There will be teachers in school on the day to discuss any questions you have and to offer advice about whether you should change your A level options. For example, if you have under-performed in a subject you were hoping to study at a higher level.
Remember, nothing – remarks or post-16 options – must be decided there and then on the day. Seek advice, talk to your teachers, and chat things through with your parents too. Don’t rush into any decisions.
Results Days for A Level students
For most A level students, the priority on results day is to find out whether they have had their university offer confirmed. You find this out before you receive your actual results. You can log on the UCAS website – as early as 6.00am.
If your results have met the requirements of your university offer, you will see ‘Unconditional’. This means you have got your university place! Unfortunately, if it reads ‘Unsuccessful’ it means that you have missed out. You might also see ‘Unconditional Changed Course’ (UCC). This means that you have missed your original offer, but the university is prepared to give you a place on a different course.
In terms of finding out your A level results; most exam boards now release results online early in the morning. Your school/college will have given you log in details to use. You can also still go into school later in the morning to collect your results.
If you are left disappointed with your results, there are a couple of key things to bear in mind. Firstly, remember that universities only receive overall grades, not the breakdown of marks. This means that if you were only a few marks away from achieving a grade that would have meant you would have met your offer, it’s often worth contacting the university to see if they will reconsider.
Finally, remember that all is not lost – the Clearing process begins on results day. This is the chance to look to look for a university place if you don’t already have one.
If you missed out with your grades, there’s still an excellent chance that you will still get a university place through clearing.
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Well, it’s that time of year again. The summer holidays are upon us, and this means that the same old perennial questions will be asked again: Why are the summer holidays so long? Wouldn’t it be better if the summer break was shortened?
On the face of it, there appear to be several potential benefits of a shorter summer holiday for students, parents, and teachers.
Benefits of a shorter summer break
the summer learning gap is a factor that has been extensively researched. studies show – particularly in the transition from year 6 to year 7 (and between years 7 and 8) – that a learning gap does exist. students lose some of the skills and knowledge that they have developed during the previous academic year. the argument is that, with a shorter break, the gap would be reduced.
what’s more, with the disparity between the attainment of poorer, disadvantaged pupils and their better-off classmates remaining a stubborn problem, there is concern that the long summer break only widens the gap.
and then there are the practicalities of the summer break. family life was very different when the long summer break was first introduced all those years ago. most mums played the role of the traditional housewife – while the dads went out to work. this meant that the summer holidays weren’t logistically challenging at all – just a lot of hard work for the mums left at home trying to entertain the kids for six long weeks!
but with many – if not most – families now having two working parents, the issue of summer childcare can be a real challenge. a reduced summer break would certainly be less of a headache for working parents, that’s for sure.
Drawbacks of a shorter summer break
However, a shorter summer break would not be without drawbacks. The vast majority of teachers in primary and secondary schools are against the idea of a shorter summer holiday. This is mainly because by the end of the academic year most teachers are burned out and desperately in need of a chance to switch off and recharge their batteries.
The same could be said to be true of students too – especially for Year 6 students who have just faced the pressure of the SATs exams, and GCSE students who face intense pressure for the best part of two years.
The pace of modern school and family life is fast. The long summer holiday gives families the opportunity to spend quality time together. It also gives young people the chance to explore interests outside of school and develop their independence.
The bottom line is this…
In all honesty, the way the current school year is designed probably isn’t the best way to support student or staff wellbeing. It probably isn’t that well matched to modern family life – and it probably doesn’t do all it could to reduce inequality.
However, the alternatives to the long summer holidays would require a dramatic, root and branch overhaul of the entireschool system, the curriculum and the way students are assessed.
As there doesn’t seem much appetite for or likelihood of such a change, the long summer holiday looks set to stay.
Therefore, the summer holidays are a much-needed chance for students and teachers to relax and recharge; to slow down; and to look after their physical and mental health.
And that’s why the summer holidays are so important for students and teachers.
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In the middle of a cost-of-living crisis – and coming so soon after the covid pandemic which dented most people’s finances in one way or another – it’s only natural for families to be looking at cutting costs and trying to tighten the purse strings a bit.
It’s why many parents may be experiencing a particular dilemma right now. It’s clear that your child could do with some extra help with their schoolwork – especially to prepare them for their exams. A private tutor would certainly help – but what about the expense?
I know… I’ve got A Levels in those subjects… Why don’t I do the tutoring myself?
The downside of the DIY approach
The first reason why you shouldn’t tutor your own kids yourself is to do with the downside of the DIY approach…
Now, of course, you might be reading this blog right now and consider yourself to be a DIY whizz – and if that’s the case, we salute you!
However, back in the real world, many of us mere mortals have looked at a slightly botched DIY job that we have just completed in the home and tasted the sour taste of the downside of the DIY approach ourselves.
You see, that’s why the professionals exist!
Yes, you might have saved some money – but the job has ended up taking you longer, caused you untold stress, and doesn’t look as good as it would’ve done if you’d employed the services of a professional.
Well, the same is true of tutoring.
Most tutors are either undergraduates who are still in – or have recently gone through – the education system and the exams that your child is facing right now; or they are qualified teachers who have years of experience in the classroom and of exams.
The ‘insider knowledge’ that a tutor can bring to the table is one of the main reasons why you should not tutor your own kids but leave it to the professionals instead.
A parent is too close to their own children to tutor them
The second main reason why it’s impossible to tutor your own kids is that the close relationship between a parent and child can create a very challenging educational environment.
Teaching your own children brings a lot of emotional weight with it. And it works both ways too. Although nobody knows their kids better than their parents, it’s still likely that a child – when they get things wrong – will take comments from parents as personal criticisms and slights; even though all the parent is trying to do is to help them get right what they got wrong.
In a nutshell, it just throws too many complications into the mix. And that is never a recipe for success.
The bottom line is this: even if you are a trained teacher, you may find it challenging to teach your own children.
Don’t Do it Yourself: Call on the Professionals
A parent can do a lot to support a child who is struggling academically, but seeking external help is often the best thing to do.
A private tutor is a fresh face and brings a fresh pair of eyes to the situation. They will know the academic content that your child is struggling with inside-out, and intuitively know how best to support them.
Call on the professionals now and talk to the TutorRight team today!