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 – Cooking!

First of all, you can have fun learning anything; however, cooking is a great way to learn many lessons.

Yes, he said, “cooking!”

Letting your children cook with you is a fantastic way to teach all kinds of lessons including reading, writing, and math – not to mention how to fend for themselves later in life. (Don’t underestimate the value of this.  Many adults eat fast food and poor diets because they never learned to boil an egg.)

Yes, boys should be in the kitchen, too.  I was a professional cook for fourteen years, so no problem.  baking-1951256_640

Reading

You can read recipes together either in books or online.  Looking for foods and recipes to try can be exciting for everyone.  Having a hand in the process is a great way to get children to try different foods.

As I mentioned with the reading recipe – ah, I mean reading blog done last time, (Fun Summer Learning – Read) you can share the reading in a variety of ways, depending on the child’s age and ability.

Writing

Copying recipes from the Internet, a magazine, or other source provides a way to practise printing or writing.  Using recipe cards and organizing them by meals and/or alphabetically offers more learning opportunities.  Your children can create their own personal binder or box of recipes.

You could start a blog of your own and have the children add photos and text, or they could each do a blog for themselves.  They could write about the recipe giving information about how easy (or difficult) it was to make.  They could write about the taste and the experience of making the meal, etc.  Children are naturally curious, but they also love to teach others, so this can be a gateway into expanding their horizons.

Math

Obviously, there are math lessons to be learned when cooking.  Your children can learn about measuring and weighing.  You can have fun adjusting a recipe.  For example, you might want only half the amount.  This gives you the opportunity to work on division and/or fractions. You might want to double or triple a recipe, so multiplication skills Measuring_Jarare practised.   There are lessons around temperature and timing as well.

Related concepts include learning to follow a sequence, following directions, and ordering steps logically.

Additionally, your children will learn to express themselves orally as you discuss food, recipes, how to follow the directions, and so on. This part of learning is just as important as the more recognizable reading, writing, and math skills.  Being able to express opinions, ask questions, and orally manipulate information will go a long way to helping them stay engaged and motivated to learn even more.

Mistakes

Yes!  Mistakes will be made.  Sometimes a recipe won’t work at all.  Sometimes the result is edible, but – “let’s not try that one again!”  Most of the time, the result won’t match the beautiful (often photo-shopped) picture. That’s fine.  You will have more successes than failures, and we learn a lot from mistakes.  Teach your children how to laugh, move past the errors, and use the mistake as a learning platform for the next attempt.

Have fun with it!  Remember learning should be enjoyable.

Look below for some affiliate links to beginner cooking courses!

Summer tutoring lessons are a great way to improve as well.  Let’s get started on the learning path together.

Website: www.tutoringcentral.com

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This weeks video: Cooking!

 

 

 

 

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Jump Into Online Tutoring – It Works!

Find a tutor

This sounds obvious enough.  You can find lots of tutors online these days.  Look for a tutor that will be a good fit for you or your child.  When you find a potential candidate, check out his or her website, videos, blogs, etc.  This will get you a feel for the tutor’s style. Of course, you want a tutor who has knowledge in your area of interest.  However, finding a good fit goes beyond subject matter.  You need to chat and make sure that the tutor’s personality and approach make you feel comfortable.

Get in touch

Allow time to chat with the tutor online.  If you are going to sign up for online tutoring, you might as well practise “working” online.  There are many excellent platforms that allow tutors, parents, and students to see and hear one another almost as if they are in the same room!  Skype, Zoom, and BitPaper work really well.  (All free to use!)

Be understanding and patient.  You will want the tutor to schedule you at a time that works for you but also for him or her, so that nobody is rushed or unprepared for the chat.  Every tutor is different, but I provide a minimum 30 minute free information meeting.  (They are so much fun, we often run over.)

This is a perfect time to see how you can interact online through one or more of the programs that the tutor uses.  For example, I show my potential clients that they can write, type, draw, share documents & videos, and share screens while we have our meeting.  Of course, we can see each other through the cameras and talk just as if we were in the same room.  It is truly amazing.

Small clip showing a tiny bit of the online abilities.

Ask away!  evan-dennis-75563

Ask your prepared questions.  Look for a tutor who is able to answer your questions to your satisfaction.  A tutor who tells you exactly what he or she is able to do and what he or she is not able to do is far more valuable than one who simply “advertises.”  Everyone has limits.  Also, tutors cannot guarantee a specific improvement, although they can provide you with common results or even examples of stellar results that occur occasionally.  Don’t forget to ask about how lessons are delivered? What times are available? How are the lessons packaged?  Is there a minimum number of lessons required? What is the cancellation policy?

Not all ABC’s and 123’s

I have touched on this before.  Learning is not only about the abc’s and the 123’s. You want an educational coach that can relate to the student and that can motivate, encourage, and help the student reach his or her goals.  Of course, if you are looking for a writing tutor or reading tutor, you want someone knowledgeable in these areas, but he or she also needs to be able to speak well enough to engage the student.  He or she needs to have a rapport and, in my opinion, a sense of humour.

Patience is essential.  For over twenty years I have tutored all kinds of students and patience cannot be overrated.  Everyone learns differently.  A tutor needs to take the time to know the student and gear the teaching style and methods to the individual, focusing on using the student’s strengths to conquer his or her weaknesses and construct a more solid foundation.

Do you feel comfortable?  children-593313_640

Sign up.  Commit to a number of lessons. Don’t be afraid to get started.  It is often this step that “trips up” the process.  Like anything new, it is a bit scary – but the rewards are amazing!

First lesson

Don’t be late!  Try to make sure that you have the time correct – particularly if you and the tutor are in different time zones.  (Of course, the tutor should aim to make this clear as well.)  Please, respect the tutor’s time.  Consistency is key for learning also, so try to make all scheduled lessons or reschedule within the same week if possible.  The first lesson is exciting, but it can be frustrating, too.  The technology is great, but it is not perfect.  Allow for a few glitches and a little learning curve to get everything right.  Smile. Enjoy.  Your tutor will help walk you through any technical issues, but there is nothing wrong with you helping each other.  The first lesson should leave you feeling comfortable, and it should provide a good start to your online tutoring experience.

Commit to the program

The first lesson is not the whole program!  Don’t expect it to suffice.  Be consistent by attending all lessons.  Be prepared.  If you are supposed to be doing something outside of the face-to-face lessons, make sure you have completed (or at least attempted) all tasks.  Write down any questions, so you don’t forget them.  Turn off or reduce all distractions.  If the instructor is talking to you, the session should not be interrupted constantly by irrelevant texts, calls, or other open programs.  Focus on the lesson.  After all, that’s why you signed on!

Here is a recap:

1.   Find a tutor – research

2.  Get in touch – have an online meeting

3.   Ask questions

4.   Feel comfortable? Register for lessons (plan for a reasonable number)

5.  Enjoy the first lesson – relax, get used to the technology

6.   Commit to the program – be consistent & prepared

The best point of all is that you have options that never existed before.  Take advantage of them.

Need more help, please feel free to get in touch.

Tutoring Central blog

Website: www.tutoringcentral.com

VideoJump Into Online Tutoring – It Works!

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.

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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

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

Topic Sentences – Location, Location, Location!

Topic Sentences – Location, Location, Location!

At the beginning.

In blogs, videos, and my courses, I have often mentioned that the topic sentence of a sunrise-1756274_640paragraph should be at the beginning of the paragraph – often the first sentence.

While this is true in many cases, it does not HAVE to be the first sentence of a paragraph.  When writing essays for grade school or secondary school, teachers generally expect the topic sentence of body paragraphs to come at the beginning. The concluding paragraph has a restated or modified thesis statement at the beginning, and this serves as its topic sentence. Of course, the introductory paragraph is a bit of an exception.  It often starts with a “grabber” and/or focus statement, and the thesis statement (serving as the overarching topic sentence) comes at the end of the paragraph.

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For most stand-alone paragraph writing exercises in school, the expectation is for a topic sentence at or near the very beginning of the paragraph as well.

Whew!

Having said all that, topic sentences can come at any point within a paragraph – even in academic writing at times.

At the end.

You can place the central idea at the end after several supporting sentences that have end-812226_640made the case for your argument or point of view. This can be especially useful in argument paragraphs because it leads the reader to your conclusion drawing them in with your amazing proofs and supports.

You knew you were amazing, right?  Of course.

Placing the topic sentence at the end of your paragraph can be effective in expository paragraphs as well. Leaving the central idea until the end can have a dramatic effect that attracts the reader to keep reading.

Of course, even if your topic sentence or central idea is withheld until the end of the paragraph, you still need to ensure that you have unity and coherence.  All the supports that come before the topic sentence need to be relevant and transition from one to another in order for the whole package to have the desired impact on the reader.  Remember that you have to “lead” them to your central idea and convince them with your message.

Nowhere – and everywhere.

Even more bizarre!

Some paragraphs don’t have the central idea explicitly stated at all! nowhere

This is often the case with narrative writing (relating a sequence of events) and sometimes descriptive writing.  This is especially true in fiction writing where many academic rules are “stretched” or broken.  You can imply the central idea with descriptions, action, dialogue, and so on. This is not to say that you never use topic sentences in fiction, but one topic sentence might serve several paragraphs rather than just one.  The continuity is important and, frankly, trying to generate a new topic sentence in the midst of a “flow” of description does not always make sense.

There you have it.  Topic sentences are not as stable as you thought.  They can move around from place to place.  Sometimes there are a couple of introductory sentences before a topic sentence as well.  Generally, I wouldn’t say the topic sentence comes in the middle of a paragraph, but it can be within it.

Still, for most academic writing, I recommend sticking to having the topic sentence at the beginning of most paragraphs.  It will serve you well.

When writing fiction, you have more freedom – but keep in mind that you still need to help the reader find your central idea using whatever techniques you choose.

Do you want to write more?  Do you want to improve your writing? Contact me, and I will set up a personal program for you. reading-86070_1920

Website: www.tutoringcentral.com

This week’s video: Topic Sentences

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Don’t Hate Math!

Many students say they hate math.

Don’t hate math!

Math can be your friend.

Really.

For one thing, math always works, if you work it well.

A.   1 + 1 always = 2

B.   5 + 8 – 3(9) – 6 x 4 always equals -38

If you “plug in” the right numbers and do the right operations, you will win!plug-1459663_640

That is a great comfort.

It means that you can get 100% on a math quiz or test.  Yes – YOU!

Try to do that on an essay.  It’s tough.

Numbers don’t lie That is why they can be your friend.  They are reliable.  (Of course, people can use numbers to help them lie.  I realize that.)

Build a foundation.

Math skills are built one upon another, so starting with a strong foundation will always help you. 

Trying to multiply fractions will give you a headache if you don’t know how to emotions-2167461_640multiply whole numbers.

Trying to complete question B above will give you grief if you did not learn about order of operations.

Yes, it does take some time to strengthen the foundation and work your way toward the more complex questions.  Unfortunately, students often find themselves in a grade that they cannot handle, and this is the frustration.  They feel like they are banging their heads against the wall, working harder and harder and falling further behind.  Until they have the opportunity to step back (perhaps more than a few steps) and establish that base, they will never truly grasp math.  Worse, they will continue to hate it for the rest of their lives perhaps!

What a shame because…

You can conquer math.  The following tips are taken from my Student Survival Guide.  This free booklet is available for registering on the website.  Just click on the title above.

small Student Survival Cover

Strategies to help you get started on your LOVE of math

Read all explanations, directions, and examples carefully. 

Take a piece of scrap paper and write out a couple of the example questions, write out each step, write out the conclusion following the example in the book.  This procedure ensures that you really do know each step. 

Use scrap paper to do many rough calculations

You can always transfer your work to “show your work” once the question has been roughed out.

(If you are using a calculator, record each step on a piece of scrap as well, so you don’t lose your place within a longer question.)

Whenever possible connect new material to tasks already learned.

Monitor frequently.

Keep monitoring yourself to make sure you are understanding the passages or directions and examples you just read.

Stop, re-read, self-test – as often as necessary to grasp the concepts.

Frequent reviews, while important for all academic courses, are especially important for math.

Do not skip over entire sections you don’t understand

Mathematics tends to be cumulative (one skill built upon another), leaving out one of these building blocks will inevitably bring your entire construction down. 

In other words, you will be lost when it comes to more complex math later this term or next year. 

Get help if you need it.

(Watch for Discount Coupon below!) 

If you are unable to “work out” the math problem using your notes and textbook, ask someone, a teacher is best. 

Teachers know how they want you to approach certain tasks, so they are the best   teacher-2985521_640          resource for explaining the procedure. 

However, if the teacher is not available, a parent, another knowledgeable student, or a tutor may be able to help you. 

Don’t be afraid to tell someone that you don’t understand.

Having said this, don’t give up right away.  Make sure you have honestly tried to figure out the procedure.  The best way to truly learn mathematics is to work with it. 

Nobody simply looks at numbers and immediately grasps the concepts of algebra or geometry.  You must learn to be patient and spend time with the procedures, rules, and steps.

Many students think math is boring.  They think it is boring because they are trying to memorize everything rather than work with the numbers and concepts, understanding mathematics more holistically.

Try to get comfortable with math; bring it closer to you – it won’t bite.  Once you see how stable and reliable it is, you might find yourself falling in love with math after all. 

Next week, I will be writing Steps to Working Out a Math Problem

As always, I am here to help.  Check out the website and feel free to e-mail, ask questions, or leave a comment. 

Website:  www.tutoringcentral.comBurst_Purple_wow_left_purple

This week’s video:  Don’t Hate Math!

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