Fun Summer Learning – Writing!

Fun Summer Learning – Writing

Yes, writing can be fun!

The key is to find a topic that you want to write about and then jump right in.  Don’t hesitate, do not pass GO, do not second guess yourself.

Make a list of your children’s interests: sports, video games, television shows, movies, superheroes, toys, etc.  Encourage them to get excited about writing about their favourite topic(s).

For example, if Johnny is obsessed with transformers, he could write a review about a certain transformer.  He could instructive article explaining how to manipulate the transformer. He could compare this transformer with others in his collection, and so on.

Children often want to share what they know and what they are passionate about.

Writing a blog about one’s interests is a great way to share information.  Search for other blogblogs or sites on the same topic. This will allow you to practise reading skills, too. Connecting with others and following their sites will increase the number of your readers and their participation.

If you are worried about Internet security, ensure that you have the passwords and go online with your children, or monitor them.  You can control the comments that come in or read them in advance of your writing time.

Don’t be too pedantic!

You don’t need to correct every spelling or punctuation mistake.

Gently make suggestions.  Reword a confusing sentence as you read it, allowing your child to make the change if he or she catches your meaning.

The more your children practise writing, and of course reading other articles, the better they will become.  You might even point out a few errors that other authors make that are similar to your child’s errors.  The next time he or she is writing, this “correction” might be more obvious.

Of course, all of this is child dependent.  If your children have no issue with proofreading and editing, you can go full throttle with doing so.

If you don’t want to blog, you can always start a journal.  Part of the fun is searching for a nice book in which to keep a journal. Having said this, any scribbler or even a binder with loose-leaf sheets can serve. You can always decorate the cover yourselves!children writing

Your children can write a journal just like a blog, or they can do a more traditional journal in which daily events, feelings, and thoughts are recorded.

If you want, you could delineate a few daily topics. For example: Write one good thing that happened, one not so good, one new experience, one funny or interesting story, etc.

Of course, you can create cartoons with text, write a short story, even begin a novel if your children are keen.  I have met several students who are really challenged with writing; however, given the chance, they get very excited about writing a science fiction story or a fantasy!

Remember – look for that KEY.

Above all, you want to have fun with your creations.  The whole goal of learning is to find interesting avenues into new discoveries.  That’s not to say there is never any “slogging” to be done, but even that can be fun in the end when you are proud of the final accomplishment.

Need a little help along the way?

Tutoring can make a massive difference – especially when the tutor loves learning himself or herself and projects that enthusiasm to the student.

Free information meetings available! (Online or in-person.)

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Our Rose of Sharon this year!

Website:  www.tutoringcentral.com

This week’s video:

Fun Summer Learning – Writing.

 

 

 

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Fun Summer Learning – Read!

 How Can I Help My Child?

Read

One of the most important activities you can do with your child at any time is to read.
Summer is an excellent time to begin (or add to) your reading schedule. You can take a book almost anywhere and e-readers let you carry thousands of books with you. Once downloaded, you don’t even need a Wi-Fi connection.
Reading a variety of materials can connect you to a whole new world either in fiction or a “new-to-you” nonfiction topic. Of course, start by choosing material that is interesting to your child. That is the best jumping board into increasing reading level, reading speed, and reading breadth in the long run.
Once someone finds the joy of reading and begins to see all the benefits, he or she will start expanding the horizons.boy reading

Read
1.   Read to your child.

2.   Let your child read (or “read” *) to you.

3.   Share reading – especially great with plays or stories that contain a lot of dialogue.

4.   Model reading by reading to yourself.

There is nothing better than sitting together in a room and quietly enjoying your individual books.

* Sometimes “reading” means flipping the pages and learning how to scan from left to right without actually reading.  Sometimes “reading” means a lot of adult intervention to help move the story along.  The important bit is that you are beginning the process to become a true reader. 

Talk about the book or reading material.

This works no matter what method of reading you use because decoding and saying the words is only one piece of the true reading process.

Caution:  When talking about a story or text, don’t make it into a quiz or “test” situation.  Let the discussion be more organic and enjoyable.

Talk about plot (the events).
For example, how do the events relate to real life or current events?

Talk about characters.
For example what do you think about the protagonist?

Does the antagonist remind you of anyone?

Ask what would you have done in a given situation.

As you read, make predictions about what might happen next.

Ask about a character’s motive.

Talk about what the characters might be feeling.two-boys-3396713_640
Above all have fun!
Learning is all about fun. Not only do we learn more, but we retain the information better, when we enjoy the process.

Note:  I realize that with some children reading can be a chore. Don’t worry; keep at it. Sometimes you have to endure a little struggle and less fun until you get to the ‘goods.” Stay positive and enthusiastic about reading, and you will be surprised long term.

There are loads of resources online to find suitable reading material, but here are a few.

Middle School Book Lists

Children’s Choices Reading List

Popular High School Reading List

Required Reading in High School

Teen Book Lists

As always, I am here to help.  If you would like a little extra learning practice over the long summer months, please get in touch.Tutoring Central blog

Website:  www.tutoringcentral.com

E-mail:  tutoringcentral@inbox.com

This week’s video:  Summer Tutoring! How Can I Help My Child?

Summer Learning – Let’s Get Started

Why bother learning in the summer?
 Are there any benefits to learning in the summer?

There are many excellent reasons to keep learning over those long summer months.

Avoid the summer slide!
Note: Water slides are acceptable
You might have already heard of this. Students, particularly those that aren’t academically strong, lose a lot of ground over the summer months. A small amount of practice makes dramatic differences come September.

It doesn’t take longclock
A couple of hours a week is all it takes in most cases.
Remember that an hour of tutoring is often more focused than six hours of school time.

I do understand that some students are very reluctant to take part in summer learning; however, I remind them and their parents that over the two to three months of summer tutoring, with only a couple of hours a week, they will have spent 16 to 20 hours in tutoring. There are approximately 1560 hours in that same time.

So, out of 1560 hours, you spend only 16 to 20 hours at the tutor!

It is not expensive
The fees for tutoring pay off big time in results. Not only will the student do better in the fall but he or she will be set up to excel for the whole year the results are exponential.
A student who believes in himself or herself will be happier and more willing to keep trying. Who doesn’t want happiness anyway!

If you think education is expensive – try ignorance.

Summer learning is more relaxing

The pressures of school are off for the summer. There won’t be any major projects, speeches, book reports, math tests, etc. for a couple of months.  I try to impress upon my students that the whole goal is to learn – not necessarily to pass a test.  Just keep doing better than the last time and keep moving forward.  Pay attention to the learning and the grades, when you are back at school, will take care of themselves!

Learning is elevating and tasty!boy_blue_blueberry_kid_fun_childhood_happiness_young-885140.jpg!d
Learning new ideas and how to express them is not torture – or, at least, it shouldn’t be. (Hint: you are with the wrong tutor if it is.) We humans do better physically and emotionally when we keep learning. We are curious by nature, so we should feed that need to know. True, it sometimes takes effort and a wee bit of tedious practice, but the end result is so sweet.

Don’t hesitate

It is near! I realize that we are just now entering into May, but summer comes quickly setting up a plan now will make the transition easier. Being a consistent learner brings the best results.Tutoring Central blog

Call or email to arrange online or in person tutoring lessons today.

Website: www.tutoringcentral.com

Video – Summer Learning – Let’s Get Started!

How Do I Make My Writing Sophisticated?

But, how do I make my writing sophisticated? 

I hear these kinds of questions, especially from high school or university students.  They feel that their writing should now “sound” more intelligent, so they add all kinds of words, clauses, and phrases that tend to do quite the opposite!

Here are better ways to improve the quality of your writing:

Make your writing clear. light-bulb-clear-bayonet-fitting-725x544

Make your writing concise.

Make your writing understandable

Provide support, detail, explanations, anecdotes, and so forth to help the reader understand your argument, point of view, or opinion. Spend time to fully understand your own thoughts and connections to the material so that you can write about the ideas intelligently.

These are far more important than complicating the issue.

When students, or any writers for that matter, force their writing – the quality becomes worse.  Making something “sound” more complicated than it really is does not help the reader (or the teacher ) in any way.

Your ideas can be original and attractive, but they don’t need to be mired in arcane language or complicated sentence structures that lead the reader nowhere.

I have read students’ essays that aim to impress, but the writing is so convoluted that the meaning is lost.  When I ask them to explain, they often say, “I’m really not sure what I meant, but doesn’t it sound good?” Their hope is that the teacher or professor will find something in that mess to admire.  This is a very poor method!Ernest Hemmingway

Some of the best writers, in fact, make a concerted effort to ensure that their writing is as uncomplicated as possible. That does not mean “dumbing-down” (as one of my students said to me recently).  It means that you are doing your job to help the reader comprehend your intentions.

It is the ideas and thoughts that are important.  You want the reader to be impressed, or at least persuaded, by your argument, opinion, or description.

If the reader does not understand your work, he or she will not be impressed.  (Although I have heard people say, “He must be a great writer, I couldn’t understand a word of it!”)

Work on sentence structure and grammar.  Make sure you follow the basic rules and conventions of writing.  Don’t think of the rules as restrictive. Recognize that they actually free the rest of your mind to be creative in thought, networking ideas, and expounding upon your take on a particular topic.

Want a place to start?  Try these discount coupons, and I will help you.

Paragraph Writing

Essay Writing

Punctuation Made So Easy

Brush up on the basics and apply them well, and you will see higher grades.  Better yet, the quality of your writing will continue to improve.

Of course, as you become more proficient, you might notice that your sentences are longer and more “sophisticated,” but they retain the clarity of purpose as well.

Most of all – keep writing!

As with any skill, you get better with practice, especially if you pay attention to the weak spots.  Try to take on constructive advice and make the necessary adjustments to keep reading-86070_1920improving.

For more information, lessons, and programs check out the website.

Website: www.tutoringcentral.com

This week’s video:  “How Do I Make My Writing Sophisticated?”

Register for the FREE  Student Survival Guide – How to Become an A+ Student

Run-on Sentences Ahhhh!

Run-on Sentences Ahhhh!  emotions-2167461_640

When you proofread and edit your work…

WHAT!

Yes, you should always proofread and edit your work. Do not be afraid of putting a little extra effort in.  It will pay off in the long run.

Let’s try that again, shall we?

When you proofread and edit your work, watch for run-on sentences, and make the necessary corrections.

A run-on sentence is basically two or more sentences written as if they were one.

” Once upon a time, there was an evil tutor named Ron he always asked us to proofread and edit our work even when we thought our sentences and spelling were perfect he is so mean.”

The sentence above should actually be three sentences instead of one.  Look for subjects and predicates and any connections.  (If you are not sure about subjects and predicates, check out my Basic English Writing course.)

For example, this sentence is a run-on:  “Susan loves to dance she loves the movementbalance-3223319_640 she is so graceful.”  (There are three separate subjects and predicates incorrectly joined.)

Here is a possible correction: “Susan loves to dance because she loves the movement, and she is so graceful.”

You can see that it is still one sentence. The subordinating word “because” and the coordinating conjunction “and” with a comma correct the problems in the first version.

Many students think that a run-on sentence is simply a long sentence.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Some very long sentences are not run-on sentences.  If the phrases and clauses are joined correctly and all well related, then there is no problem with being long.

Also, a short sentence can be a run-on sentence.

For example:  “He fell down he cried.”  This short sentence is a run-on.

Here are four solutions:  “He fell down.  He cried.”cry-2764843_640

“He fell down, and he cried.”

“He fell down and cried.”

“He fell down; he cried.”

(Most teachers don’t like joining independent clauses with a semicolon, so I recommend avoiding this method, although it is technically correct if the clauses are very short and closely related.)

Note that my sentence within parenthesis is fairly long, but it is not a run-on!

A full sentence should be one complete thought.  Of course, you can have many adjectives, adverbs, and even clauses and phrases that add interest to your sentence. They must, however, be incorporated correctly.

When proofreading your work, watch for run-on sentences, and use one of these methods to edit:

  1. Separate the independent clauses (sentences) with end punctuation.
  2. Use a coordinating conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so) to join them.
  3. Use a conjunctive adverb such as “however” or “therefore” to join them.
  4. Use a subordinating word such as “although’ or “because” to make one of the clauses dependent.
  5. Rewrite the sentence so that one independent clause (sentence) is turned into a phrase, adjective, or adverb.  (Note example above could become:  “He fell down crying.”)

Need more help?

Contact me to set up some personal programs for you or your child.

Don’t forget the Basic English Writing course.  Register, and you will receive discounts for several of my other courses, too! Tutoring Central blog

Website:  www.tutoringcentral.com

E-mail:  www.tutoringcentral@inbox.com

This week’s video:  Run-on Sentences

How Can I Help My Child Succeed? The Long Haul!

Be prepared for the long haul.

Learning is a process, and children (adults, too) don’t all learn at the same rate.

In fact, children don’t even mature at the same rate or grow at the same rate physically, so why would we expect them to learn at the same rate?  Why do we think all ten year old’s are ready for the same math or language learning at exactly the same time? It does not make sense.  maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com-Four-Different-Sizes-Colour-Five-Young-Boys-Ball-1300645

Your child might excel in one area and be behind in others.

Your child might be behind in all areas.

Your child might excel in one grade and fall behind in another.

Enough of that.  You get the picture.

The point is that you love your child, and he or she needs your support at any stage and throughout any challenge.  This support needs to be unconditional love but also, at times, a tough love.  You have to be the adult in the relationship because there will be occasions when “I don’t want to” just isn’t an option. Even democracy has limits and rules!

Never give up!

I never give up on my students, so you should definitely never give up.  Oh, believe me – some of my students wish I would give up; but, over the long haul, many of them have thanked me for making them stay on track even when they fought back. 5653340435_e5b7118536_m

No doubt, you will face trying times when you have explained the same concept for the one hundredth time (more than likely what seems like…) and your child looks at you as if he or she has never heard about this concept in his or her life!

Take a deep breath (or ten) and try to think of an alternative way to explain or walk more slowly through each step.

Use the internet to help you.  For example, there are lots of videos that might have a unique way of explaining the material.  Each person has a different learning point and access doors, so alternatives can be helpful.

WARNING – Blatant plug coming here:

Hiring a tutor is a great way to help ameliorate some of these issues.  An independent tutor will often have more tools at his or her disposal. Thinking outside the box is often necessary when you tutor a wide variety of learners and you are not restricted by a bureaucracy.  You can focus on that particular student and his or her own unique learning style.

Your child might have a slow pace that keeps him or her behind others at the same age or grade level.  Don’t panic.  Take a proactive approach, and help your child take a proactive approach as well to make change.  The important point is to keep moving forward.  Despite what you might have heard, this is NOT a horse race!

On several occasions, I have seen a student suddenly blossom.

Anecdote warning!

One young student of mine did not read anything beyond his name (first name only – three letters long) and a very few memorized words until he was nearly eleven years old! The so-called “window” should have been closed; however, I am a firm believer that our brains are receiving information even when we are not always fully engaged or able.  The instruction he received must have been making connections because he suddenly started to read.  He found out that books have a lot to offer; and, before you know it, he was reading more and more – and not basic learners, but stories only a little below his age level.  Yes, he read slowly and needed lots of help at first, but he was reading!  It wasn’t long before his pace improved as well.

Other students I have seen have not made quite the same dramatic improvements, but many have suddenly boosted their performance after a long plateau.  Parents sometimes think it is a miracle.  It is not a miracle; it is staying the course and never giving up.

Cautionary note:

The plateau (or plateaus) should not be left dormant.  Keep the information coming and the practice schedule on track.  Remember that sometimes change comes suddenly in a burst, but in reality all that “drip, drip, drip” of information was working and making connections in the brain at some level all along the way.

Never give up.

What if your child is never going to be an A+ student? school-2

So what.  That is not important.  Lots of students who don’t reach the A’s or even B’s manage to do amazing things in the world and in their lives – but not if they don’t try. You should still encourage your children to do as much as possible – reach for their highest achievement.  Just because they won’t be the top student does not mean that you or they should give up or coast.  They don’t know what they can do until they try.  The don’t know how high they can get unless they reach for it.  They don’t even know for sure that the A is impossible!

Prepare yourself for the long haul with your children, and never give up.  Don’t despair.  Keep helping them work toward their goals and instill in them the desire to keep trying.

You might be pleasantly surprised with the outcome even if it isn’t exactly as you initially imagined!

I know you can do it. And I know your child can as well. If you need help, please get in touch.  Tutoring Central blog

Website: www.tutoringcentral.com

Video: The Long Haul

How Can I Help My Child Succeed? Don’t Be Too Helpful!

Yes, there is such a thing as being too helpful.

Don’t be too helpful!

When you are sitting with your children and helping with homework, try to be more Socratic.philosophy-2603284_640

Ask questions.

Wait for answers.  Sometimes, you might need to wait for a long time – but that’s okay.

Lead them to the right path if possible with questions or suggestions or comments, but let them explore and discover more. Yes, you will need to watch or listen to them going in the wrong direction sometimes, but let that run itself out for a while to see if they capture some of the essence.

Of course, there are times when you need to “walk them” all the way through and maybe even show them the final answer – or an example of a suitable final answer.  Most of the time, however, you will want them to arrive at the answers through their own explorations.

Discovering how to find appropriate answers by making mistakes, falling down, getting up (metaphorically at least), and trying again helps learners remember the procedures -if for no other reason than they don’t want to have to go through all the missteps again.)

If you give them the answer all of the time or show them the steps for every question, then they will never remember for long.

Anecdote warning! stop sign

Here is an example.  Theo’s mom came to me and exclaimed that her son knew how to complete the fractions questions perfectly when doing them at home; however, he always scored terribly on the quizzes at school.  She was convinced that he had some sort of block when it came to tests or quizzes.  Now, this is a possibility, but I have found that the “block” is usually caused by a lack of knowledge.

Once I started working with Theo, it was clear that he had no idea which steps to use in each case.  At home, mom was constantly providing reminders, “Now multiply the numerator by the same number.”  “Add the numerators.”  “Oh, no, no – don’t add the denominators – only the numerators.”  Etc.

The poor boy had never managed to get all the way through one question on his own!

If your child can’t do a few questions from step 1 to step 10 on his or her own, then he or she does not know the material.  This applies to any subject.

If mom or dad or a poorly informed tutor is providing hints or answers when preparing for a science test or history exam, then the learner does not fully know the information yet.

Of course, using hints and leading questions as mentioned before can be helpful during the learning process. Just make sure that your child can complete questions independently at the end of this process. gold_question_mark

This is also a teacher’s job and a tutor’s job.  It is NOT to give answers.  It is to teach learners how to get answers!

Everyone wants to be helpful, but the truth is you are not being helpful if you don’t let your children struggle to make their own discoveries.  They need to do the work to get the best reward.

As a parent (or teacher or tutor) is it difficult to watch your children squirm and struggle?

Yes!

Parenting is a difficult task; however, by being tough and helping only when needed, you will be giving your children the very best assistance.

So, pull back once in a while.  Remember the Learning Space?  Perhaps leave that space to your child sometimes. See if Johnny or Ingrid can complete the task on his or her own.  Let them fail occasionally, and use that failure as a lesson moving forward.  What went wrong?  How can the approach be improved?  What was missing from the final answer?

We learn so much from our mistakes as long as we keep working to change the path.

I know you can do it.  I have faith in you and your children.

For more help, check out the website or sign up for some lessons. Resize of photo_50494_20110720

Website:   www.tutoringcentral.com

Video:  Don’t Be Too Helpful!