Fun Summer Learning – Indoor Games

Fun Summer Learning and Indoor Games

Choices

There are thousands of games to play – far too many to discuss here, although I will mention a few.  Don’t limit yourself! All games have at least a few teachable moments.

Note:  I used the name “indoor games” simply to contrast with “sports” which I am not writing about today.  Of course, you can play these games almost anywhere.  Also, most of the card games and board games are available as video versions, too.

Try to choose games your children will enjoy and then find ways to incorporate learning without limiting the “fun” element.  There is no need for “drills” (unless your children tend to like drills!).

Not all games have the same intellectual challenge, of course.  The games you play will be determined, in part at least, by your children’s age and/or current skill level.  Introduce new, different, or more challenging games as they mature.  There is no need to start with something complicated.  In fact, there are always times when we might enjoy playing something less challenging even when we do have the ability.Board_games,_card_games_are_all_fun_at_VSP_(7490672204)

Social

There are very useful lessons to learn around the actual playing of games.  For example, learning how to lose graciously.  This is not to be outdone by learning how to win graciously.  Take the time to each your children that game playing is not a personal judgement of value.  The real value is in connecting with others, having fun, and learning a few new things.  Having learned this with game playing, they might begin to understand how this works even in the academic world.  Your “results” are not “you.” (Ironically, taking that pressure off usually results in much higher marks.)

Patience and taking turns are obvious game-playing lessons.  Don’t underestimate the value of the social part of game playing.

Allow your children to teach you a few tricks.  One of the best ways to learn is to teach others.  Not only do we retain a lot more once we have taught another, but we will engage more and want to do even more. Hey, and you will be the cool parent who knows the “Easter egg”,” method, or shortcut.

Spending time together, talking, recounting stories, relating to other activities that may or may not be related to the game, all of these are important developmental and learning points.

Math

For math skills, games such as Cribbage or Monopoly are great choices.

Many card games have a math component – especially adding or patterning.  Crazy eights, Go Fish, Euchre, Uno.

Board games involve counting (sometimes adding), patterns, making logical decisions or choices, even spelling!  Scrabble, Snakes & Ladders, Trains, Chess, Checkers, Equate, Bingo, and lots more.

Math Games PBS KIDS

Cool Math Games

Reading

Reading directions to any game can be helpful.  You might even be surprised when your children read the directions to you.  I know many people who have been playing a game for years without realizing that they are not following the directions!  (Of course, it is up to you whether or not you prefer your version of the game.) Reading directions helps you learn how to play, but you can also check back from time to time to see if there are any additional plays or allowable moves that have not been tried.

Look for reading opportunities on blogs or sites that provide commentary, reviews, or approaches to playing.  These can be very interesting – not to mention helpful.

For younger children, there are lots of online games as well.  Here are some reading games from PBS.

Reading games PBS KIDS

Writing

Have your children start their own blog, writing reviews of games, telling stories of particularly great (or not so great) instances while playing. They can create rating lists,3470437230_8763467515_q include graphics, look for links or other material to incorporate.  In other words, they can practise a lot of the same academic skills required in school without feeling like they are in school!

Video Games

Video games have plenty of learning opportunities.  Many have story lines or the opportunity to create things like entire cities, farms, civilizations, etc.  You often get to create your own characters, too! Take some time to discuss all of the interesting artifacts, methods, and potential goals.

Many of the same learning opportunities mentioned above relate to video game playing, too. Reading about the game, writing about the game, practising math skills, etc.

I am definitely not a video games expert by any stretch of the imagination.  I have provide a link to some kids games that should do the trick, however.

Best Games for Kids

Above all, have fun!

Remember that learning is all about fun. It will enlarge your world.

If you want some help in this regard, please get in touch.Tutoring Central blog

Website: www.tutoringcentral.com

Video: Fun Summer Learning – Indoor Games

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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

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween

or

All Hallows Eve

On Tuesday, there will be lots of ghosts and goblins roaming around many village, town, and city streets!  boo-1295226_640

Halloween falls on October 31, which in the old Celtic calendar was the last day of the year, its night being the time when all the witches and warlocks were abroad.  On the introduction of Christianity, it was taken over as the eve (even or e’en) of All Hallows or All Saints.

(Brewers Dictionary of Phrase & Fable)

Of course, most young people know that the most important part is “trick or treating” – and the treats are the most important part of all!!

While you are out trick or treating make sure to follow a few simple rules to stay safe.

  1. Don’t go out alone. If you aren’t with a parent, get together with a small group.
  2. Make sure you can see through your costume / mask – or don’t wear a mask.
  3. Dress in bright colours or use reflective tape to be sure you can be seen by drivers.
  4. Approach homes that are well lit and look like they are ready for trick or treaters.  (Don’ttony-detroit-362133 go near dark homes and NEVER enter a stranger’s house.)
  5. Save your candy until you get home.  You will want to check it over or have a parent check it first.
  6. On a similar note – Don’t eat your candy all at once!
  7. Having a cell phone would be good, too.

For more tips: Caring for Kids

This week’s video: Happy Halloween!

Have fun, enjoy, and be safe.

www.tutoringcentral.com

Reading for Speed and Comprehension

Reading for Speed and Comprehension  – The SQ3R Method

I already know how to read!Reading-297450

I hear this from students a LOT – often with a roll of their eyes.

Yes, you know how to read.  You know how to decode words; and, hopefully, you have some comprehension that goes along with that reading.

Reading texts or textbooks is quite different – or should be.

You generally don’t read a menu in the same way as you read a novel or a comic book.  There are different methods for different reading material.

Using a READING METHOD will not only help you remember the material but also, with practice, will speed up your studies!

I strongly recommend that you use the following method – or one very similar to help you.

The SQ3R Method (developed by Francis P. Robinson)

S          –          Survey

Q         –          Question

R         –          Read

R         –           Recite

R         –          Review

What’s the big deal?

Here is the deal!

Survey

When you need to read a chapter from your textbook or online, take a few moments to survey the entire chapter.  Look at pictures, headings, sub-headings, the chapter outline, chapter summary, and review questions.  At this point you are simply familiarizing yourself with the chapter (or some other text).

Questiongold_question_mark

Next, you will create questions for yourself from the headings and sub-headings.  For example in a geology textbook, you might come across the sub-title “Cinder cones.”  What are cinder cones?  Later you see “Composite cones.”  What are composite cones?  What is the difference between cinder cones and composite cones?

Read

Now you begin to read.  This is the step most students begin with, so they have had no warm-up.  Their brain “muscles” are coming in COLD!  While reading, look for the answers to the questions you asked.  You can also look for answers to any questions posed within the chapter.  Now you are actively reading and engaging with the material.  Most students begin reading and are generally reading passively.  In other words, they aren’t getting much out of this first reading!

Recitefunny-2029437_640

You can now recite the answers to your questions aloud (or “aloud” in your head if you are not able to speak in your study location).  Also, this is a great time to write notes.  Write down the questions you asked yourself, and then provide the responses in your own words.  (Of course, you will use words and terms from the textbook as well. More about this in later blog.)

Review

Review the material right away.  After you finish the chapter, do a re-read of your notes.  Do they make sense?  Do you need to add something?  Is everything going to be clear a week from now? If not- you DO need to add something to clarify.  You might want to draw a diagram or provide some arrows to reveal connections or similarities, etc.

That would be so slow!

I agree that when you read the directions it seems like this method would take a long time.  But looks can be deceiving. Taking some time “up front” will save a lot of time and frustration later.

Having surveyed, asked questions,  and found the answers, you will already have learned far more than you would on a straight reading.

Taking notes, reciting, and reviewing will help solidify this knowledge.

Later, when you review your nightly notes and the week’s notes (revolving review) you will begin to see that you remember more and more even though you are reviewing quickly.  When it comes time to do a quiz or test, your review time will be shorter, yet you will have far better recall.

Use a reading method, and you will receive higher grades!

Even better, you will have learned the material more fully.  Next year, or next semester, will be even easier.  Your “network” of knowledge will be stronger with more connections and deeper connections.

Feeling like a genius yet?

Well, maybe not – but you never know. Use a reading method, and you are at least on your way to achieving your best results ever.

This week’s video:

Reading for Speed & Comprehension – the SQ3R Method

Don’t be shy.  Get in touch, ask a question, or leave a comment.

Of course, if you would like a personal coach, I would be thrilled to set up a program for you or your child.aaron-burden-236415

Website: www.tutoringcentral.com

 

Frustrating Punctuation? Here is the solution.

Punctuation Made Easy!

Alert: Check out the awesome offer below.

(Can’t Wait?  Click here for the offer.)

Does punctuation sometimes drive you crazy?

Maybe, maybe not; however, a lot of people have difficulty knowing when to use a comma versus a semicolon.

What is a colon, anyway? (No, I’m not talking about the one in your body. Yuck.)

How do you use quotation marks correctly?  Wait! What!  There are double quotation marks and single quotation marks?  Nice way to make things even more difficult.

Writing well includes the proper use of punctuation.  I have read many stories and articles, including essays, speeches, and book reports, that have many great ideas and some excellent development; however, I have to re-read many of the sentences because they are not punctuated properly.

Any teacher, professor, or – for that matter – reader will tell you that he or she prefers to read a sentence only once before moving on.  Nobody wants to have to “decipher” what you meant to write.

If you want to start raising the grade TODAY, then learn to punctuate your sentences correctly, particularly when writing longer articles because they are the most challenging to read when they are not punctuated well.

As I mentioned in a previous blog, keep it simple!  Complicating matters does not help the reader, the teacher, the professor, the editor, or you.

Of course, as you become a better writer, you will use more complex writing, but you will do so with the tools to make it easy to read and to comprehend, regardless of its complexity.  Like any professional, you make it look easy when you really know how to do it.  One of those tools is knowing how to use punctuation.

So, don’t let punctuation drive you crazy any longer. normal_crazy_mean_dog

Here’s the awesome offer!

$10.00

The Punctuation Made Easy course is in its final stages of development.

It will launch in October, and I have set up a pre-sell price of only $10.00!  (The listed price after launch will be $40.00.)

But wait there’s more!  (Okay – a bit cheesy, but there really is more.)

Register for the Punctuation Made Easy course and receive the following:

FREE:  

Upon registering:                       Student Survival Guide (32 page downloadable book)

After beginning the course:   Test & Exam Strategies course ($20 value for FREE)

Bonuses:

You will receive discount coupons for three more optional courses:

  • Basic English Writing
  • Paragraph Writing
  • Essay Writing

                       All this for $10.00  Register Here!

Punctuation Made Easy

This course will help you improve your writing. With the right punctuation, your sentences and articles will shine! Step-by-step lessons and quizzes will solidify your knowledge.

Work at your own pace, own space, and own time.

Although the course is asynchronous, I do answer questions.

I also schedule free online question/answer sessions. (Optional)

 Over Twenty Lessons + quizzes

  • Introduction
  • End Punctuation – 3 lessons
  • Comma – 9 lessons
  • Semicolon
  • Colon
  • Apostrophe
  • Quotation Marks – 3 lessons
  • Other punctuation – dash, parenthesis, brackets, ellipsis, slash
  • Concluding bits

Don’t forget to register – the deal only lasts until launch!

This week’s video:    The Punctuation Made Easy course.

Remember, I would love to be your coach.  Check out the website or get in touch for further options and learning experiences.

Website: www.tutoringcentral.com

 

Become an Excellent Listener and Get Positive Results!

Become an Excellent Listener and Get Positive Results!

Pardon, what did you say?sound-159915_640

Listening is not simply hearing.

I am sure that you have experienced many times when you “heard” something, but you did not pay attention to it and have no idea what the person said to you.

Of course, we can’t pay close attention to everything we hear each day, or we would go crazy.  We need to sort the important from the unimportant.  We need to “weed out” those bits of information that aren’t going to help us.

When you are studying, however, you can learn certain tactics to help you get into the zone so that you don’t miss the bits you really need.

You can train yourself to be a better listener.

Be Attentive

Sit up straight and look alive!  Don’t just “look” alive, but be alive.  Sometimes it takes a little effort to engage yourself in a particular topic or to listen to a speaker that does not automatically entertain, but you can train yourself to do better.

I know in today’s world that everyone wants splashes of colour, musical backgrounds, dancing ponies, and so on in order to learn; however, not only are these not necessary – they are often more distractions to learning than helpful additions.

Okay, I might be exaggerating a bit, especially with the dancing ponies, but you get my point. Not every teacher, not every class, not every book, has to “force” you by being entertaining ad nauseam to get you to learn.  The learning is actually your job!

Oh my God!  He said it.  I have to DO something!

Yes.

Learning is up to you.

Not entirely, of course; but you are the main component.  So, here comes another horribly shocking fact.  If you don’t want to learn, you won’t.  If you find a subject boring, then that is your fault.  You need to do something about it.

Go into every class and every course with the attitude that you are going to get the most out of it.

You are going to be alive!

Make Eye Contacterik-lucatero-310633

If you are listening to a teacher, or even a student’s presentation, always try to make eye contact.  Your eyes are like a window, but they also reflect in some sense.  You probably have experienced this yourself sometimes.  You are talking to someone, and he or she keeps looking away or staring into space.  When this happens, you get the distinct feeling that they are not particularly interested in what you are saying.

What happens then?

Well, you abbreviate what you are saying, or you simply stop.  The speaker does not have any motivation or encouragement to keep going if the “listener” is not listening.

Social cues are very important.  If you are not attending to the teacher, he or she will know!  Trust me.  It doesn’t matter how large the class is either.  You might think you are “lost in the crowd,” but you are not.

Not only is it a courtesy to make eye contact and engage with the speaker, but you will learn a lot more.

Once the teacher knows you are not prepared to listen, your grade begins to fall.  The teacher might not even be conscious of this effect, but it will happen.

Not only that; but, if the classroom is filled with many non-attentive students, the teacher will not be encouraged to give as much as she or he would in front of a more positive group of actual listeners

It’s human nature!  We all need a little support to reach our best performance.

Help your teacher, and she or he will be able to help you even more!

(Note:  Don’t stare, of course – but make frequent eye contact.)

Be Open

While you listen (and make eye contact), think of possible questions rather than interrupting with your opinions (at first). You want to give the speaker – whether that is a teacher, professor, other student, etc. – a chance to present all of his or her ideas and explanations before making too many judgements.  Of course, you are always going to be thinking about what you agree with and what you don’t, and these thoughts can formulate your questions. But you want to remain open to new ideas, contradictory thoughts, opinions that you might automatically disregard under other circumstances but that could change depending on this presentation or argument.

Sit Near the Front

You will want to be able to hear the teacher / presenter.

You will have fewer heads bobbing in front of you and being distracting.  (Or entirely blocking the view.)

The instructor will notice (note above) that you have come to learn.

It will be easier to make eye contact and focus on the lecture rather than other students, movements, windows, etc.

Remember, you want to be in control.

Listen for Verbal Cues and Watch for Non-Verbal Cues

There are lots of possible verbal and non-verbal cues, but here are a few.

Repetition – If a teacher is repeating a point several times, it is likely because he or she sees this as important.  In other words, worth noting.

Slowing down – speaking very carefully.  (Don’t forget this.)

Speaking more loudly. (I’m driving this point home to you.)

Literal verbal cues such as saying, “Here is the clincher!” or “This piece is important.”

Listen for the words in the following list:

Most importantly, therefore, to summarize, as a result, on the contrary, first of all, for these reasons.

All of these (and more) are key words or phrases that should make you perk up your ears!

If your teacher is writing on the board, listen (and take notes).

If your teacher is deliberately making eye contact with several students as she or he is making a point, this is probably important.  Make sure you “zero-in” on what is being said.

If your teacher is gesturing dramatically (my grade 9 math teacher used to smash the chalk on the board whenever something very important was being delivered) – concentrate on what he or she is saying because these actions usually indicate important material.

There are always exceptions to the rule.  A teacher might become suddenly passionate about something completely unrelated to your algebra or essay writing assignment; however, if you are paying attention to these verbal and non-verbal cues, then you can sort the salient data from the chaff as you hone in on what is being said.

Avoid Classmates Who Like to Distract

It will be very difficult for you to follow all the advice given above if the classmates that are near you keep fidgeting, whispering, passing notes, texting, showing you their latest YouTube video finds or funny Facebook pictures, etc.

Get away from them during class.

Enjoy their antics, their great personalities, their humour, and their judgments and comments for the lunch hour or after school.  They could be the best friends ever outside of academics, but you need to take control when the learning is about to happen.

Remember that you have the power to take control of your learning.  Using these tips will help you become an excellent listener and get positive results.

A personal educational coach can help you or your child achieve the best results.

I would love to be your coach.Boy books

Website: www.tutoringcentral.com

For more tips, check out this week’s video.

Listening Well

Improve Your Writing with Compound and Complex Sentences

Improve Your Writing with Compound and Complex Sentences

What are they?

I talked about simple sentences in the last blog entry.  Today, I am covering both the compound and complex sentences.

(Both video links are listed below.)

All of these are simply different kinds of sentences based on structure.

Compound sentences are basically two (or more) simple sentences combined in some manner. In other words, a compound sentence has two or more independent clauses. Of course, there are certain rules and conventions that dictate how they can be combined.

Some of the most common and useful methods are to use coordinating conjunctions.

Remember that there are seven of these:  for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so. (Use FANBOYS as a mnemonic to remember them.)  Notice the comma before the coordinating conjunction when joining to independent clauses.

Examples:monster-426994_640

The creature was quiet, but it smelled like pizza, so everyone knew where it was.

Julia loves to cook, but she loves eating even more!

Often conjunctive adverbs or transitional expressions can be used to join independent clauses to make compound sentences. There are lots of conjunctive adverbs and transitional expressions, but here are a few very useful ones to get you started:  however, therefore, moreover, then, otherwise, furthermore, specifically, instead, as a matter of fact, for example, on the other hand, for instance, as a result, at any rate, at the same time.  Notice the semicolon before and the comma after the conjunctive adverb or transitional expression when joining two independent clauses.

Examples:chicago-1404489_640

Everyone enjoyed the parade; however, the weather was not pleasant.

One should eat a healthy diet; on the other hand, it is not a sin to have a treat now and again.

Complex sentences contain one independent clause and one or more dependent clauses.

Reminder:     Independent clause = can stand alone

Dependent clause = cannot stand alone (requires more                                                              information or needs to be attached                                                              to an independent clause).

Examples:elephant-311102_640

After the party ended, everyone went home to bed.

The purple elephant loves to dance at night when nobody is watching.

Now you have three of the four kinds of sentences by structure: simple, compound, and complex.

Use each one in your writing to provide variety and a nice flow.  It is always easier to read text that is not stilted or boring.  Mixing it up can solve this problem.

Your writing will be easier to comprehend as well if there is some variety.  There are several ways to achieve this including using longer and shorter sentences, using varied vocabulary, and providing different kinds of sentences by structure.

Also, you will have more fun writing when you incorporate new skills and techniques.

As always, I encourage you to take a few lessons or a writing course.

I would love to be your reading / writing coach!

Website: www.tutoringcentral.com

web writing dark front (2)

For more tips, check out these videos.

Compound sentences

Complex sentences