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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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?

Make the Most of Your Homework Time & Reduce the Pain.

I get a lot of questions from my in-person students and on Quora about how to make the most of homework time and how to reduce the pain!

Some students are interested in getting better grades and are willing to do almost anything to get them.

Others are interested in reducing the pain and want something easy to make that happen.

These two goals are not as disparate as they might seem at first glance.

If you use good study skills and develop habits that will serve you well, then the pain is mitigated and the learning can truly begin.  magic

Sometimes, students are not happy with my answers because there is no magic.  In other words, there is  not a secret “trick” that you can do that will suddenly make homework as fun as pony rides (assuming you have no morbid fear of ponies) and that will insert you with the intelligence quotient of an Einstein.

No.

The tips are basic.  Most of them have been known for thousands of years!  What!  Even when the Internet didn’t exist – or smart phones – or apps – or herbs and vitamins to boost the brain?  YES!

Simple is often still the best route.  Some of the additional benefits of technology can help (or hurt) and maybe (big maybe) some vitamins and herbs can boost your brain – but you still need the foundation.

The tips are basic.

They work!

BE QUIET!       emoticon-25532_640

Sorry, I got carried away there.  But really, find a quiet location, if possible.  It is much easier to focus when distractions are reduced.  Turn off the T.V. – no smartphone (no dumb phone either) – no music* – no internet chat – no Sloppy Joes over your textbook / keyboard –  etc. Focus on one task.

                        * Music can be used to block out other annoying sounds, but is should be at a level that does not interfere with your focus – preferably without lyrics so that you don’t start singing along!

Read.  Read, and read, and read ….  I cannot stress enough how important it is to read as much as you can, and re-read for more comprehension.  You never capture everything on the first read of a substantial text.  You need to look over it several times. Read supplemental material as well.  Go beyond the minimum!

Write.  Write out notes.  Draw diagrams, create charts, pictures, graphs – anything that will help you remember.  Write on flashcards – especially useful for terms & definitions, but they can be used for all kinds of study.  Write a journal. Really?  Yes, writing down your thoughts can help you review your day and your network of knowledge.  so keep on writing, preferably handwriting.  Writing or printing by hand engages different parts of your brain.  People – and yes even young people – retain more information when they have physically written out notes compared to typing them.

Study.  I don’t mean look over your notes once, or three times, or one-hundred times.  I mean study.  Close the book, look away from the screen, stop listening to the lecture recording, and ask yourself if you can answer questions without looking or listening.  If you don’t know the answers without reading them in front of you, then you don’t know the material!  Self-testing (or you can use a buddy) is one of the best methods (not to mention the most overlooked and underused method) to prepare yourself.  Don’t cheat yourself by thinking that you know something without ever testing this hypothesis.

Be kind to yourself.  Reward yourself when you have done a good job.  Recognize the value of working hard but also the value in working smart.  Make sure you get a good night’s sleep.cup-1010909_640  Catnaps are good, too, if they are brief.  (Catnaps might be a misnomer.  Don’t sleep like your cat for sixteen hours a day!)  Make sure you eat healthy meals – small and numerous is best to keep your body (brain is included) performing at a steady rate.  Don’t let yourself off the hook!  Wait – I thought you said to be kind to yourself?  Yes, sometimes kindness = toughness.  You need to be honest with yourself – no cheating – no lapsing on scheduled homework time – no excuses.  The reward you get later is the kindness component.

Making the most of homework time:

If you are focused and using solid study strategies during your homework time, you will retain far more information; gain more knowledge; and do better on quizzes, tests, and exams.  You will be working smart which is at least as important as working hard.

Reducing the pain:

If you are focused and using solid study strategies during your homework time, you will begin to find the material is learned faster and better.  You might even be studying for less time and getting more out of it – reducing the “pain.”   You know the value of your efforts, so the pain factor starts to become less noticeable even during the sessions.

These are very broad strokes on how to make the most of homework time AND reduce the pain.

Try these discount coupons for a more involved look.

Study Skills – Become an A+ Student

Test & Exam Strategies

Of course, for a more personal touch – check out the website, and contact me.  I can set up personalized programs that will help you, or your child, reach your goals. Boy books

Website: www.tutoringcentral.com

E-mail:  tutoringcentral@inbox.com

Video:  Make the Most of Your Homework Time & Reduce the Pain

 

 

 

 

 

Read for Pleasure

Read for Pleasure

Reading for pleasure can help improve your grades but it also introduces a more positive feeling about learning.

The more you read, the more you will be able to read, and reading something you like can get you there faster.

Of course, don’t be afraid to expand your horizons as your reading skills improve.  Jump out of your comfort zone every once in a while.

Read at least twenty books this year! (Yes, you can.)all-bong-122923

Think of this, if you read at an average speed of 300 words per minute (WPM) and only 15 minutes a day, you will have read about 20 books (1 512 000 words) in one year!

There is no easier way to help build vocabulary, increase speed of reading, and improve comprehension.

Did you know that reading too slowly can hamper your understanding (comprehension) of the material just as reading too fast does?

It’s true.

However, it is also true that speed is relative to the person.  At this point you might be reading fairly slowly in order to understand – and that’s just fine as long as you make an effort to “up your game” over time.

Tips to pick up the pace

When you are reading silently, try to break yourself of the habit of moving your lips or sub-vocalizing.  Place a finger on the vocal area of your throat to see if you are doing this.  These habits really slow down your reading speed.

Use your finger, a ruler, a pen on the margin, a bookmark, etc.  to help “scan” the sentences.  Scrolling down the page with one of these devices can force you to keep moving and can help your eyes scan more effectively until they are trained.  I still do this if I’m tired or if I need to read a lot of material fairly quickly.  It just helps keep me on track.  Oh, and I have never had trouble reading (thankfully), so the method works for everyone.  (I have seen a number of professors use the same method when trying to read through a massive number of essays or reports.)

Work at expanding your vocabulary.  When you are reading and come across words you don’t know, spend a little time looking up the meaning.  Use a dictionary in book form or online.  If you are using a Kobo or Kindle, you can search the word easily on the device. You can even keep your own personal dictionary.  Do this especially with words that keep recurring.  Authors will tend to use their favourite words more than once.  Paying attention to these new words and then seeing them in various places throughout the text or novel will help you retain their meaning.

But – won’t this slow me down? kindle-785681_640

Yes, it will temporarily.  As your vocabulary increases, however, so will your reading speed for a larger variety of material over time because you will already know more and more of the vocabulary.  Just as when you began learning to read as a child, you didn’t read in “chunks” or “phrases.”  You read word  for word until things got a little more familiar.  This is the same idea. You don’t have to look up every single unfamiliar word either.  As mentioned before, focus on words that keep showing up  and words that you can’t decipher well enough from the surrounding words and sentences (context).

Talk about it! 

Try to have a conversation about your reading.  Talking about what you are reading will help you remember, but it can also aid in appreciating various interpretations.  Not everyone will see the same facts or stories in the same way.  Obviously it is fun to chat with someone who has read the book (or story or blog, etc.) but you can often have a great conversation with people who haven’t read the same information.  They will likely ask questions or have a completely different take on what you are reading and discussing, so don’t be shy.  Of course, you shouldn’t force someone to listen if he or she doesn’t want to. If you are talking to someone who is not familiar with the book or topic, it is a great time for you to work on improving your ability to consolidate information and make it presentable so that they do want to listen.  Not only will this enhance your own retention, but it will give you practice for any future written assignments or presentations. Talking about your topic so that the listener’s eyes don’t glaze over is good practice.  It will help you when you need to do presentations in the academic world.

That’s the Goaldarts-155726_640

And that’s the goal.  reading for pleasure might not have a direct effect on your school studies.  For example, the Grisham novel might not have any historical or scientific relevance, but the fact that your reading speed and your ability to understand more broadly and deeply has improved will have a positive effect. The idea that you can now discuss the themes, plot, and characters in a presentable way will bring you rewards.

Learning to have fun while improving yourself is essential.

Reading is still the best way to get you all of the benefits.

If you want more personal attention and help with reading, writing, math, and/or study skills, do not hesitate to get in touch.
I offer free information meetings online or in-person.  I would love to help you, or your child, reach your academic goals.

Website:  www.tutoringcentral.comreading-button

This week’s video:  Reading for Pleasure.

 

 

 

 

That Horrible “A” Student! I Hate Him.

That Horrible “A” Student!  I Hate Her. 

How does he do it?

She is always on the top!

He just knows the answers!

She never has to study.

I hear these comments from students all the time. If you are a parent or teacher, I’m sure you do as well.ladybug-158326_640

It’s a modified case of “the grass is greener on the other side.”

Those “A” students simply have it easier.

But, they don’t!

I have met several of these students who “don’t have to study” or “just know the answer” except they actually do study; and, by their own admission, they often don’t already know the answers.

They had to work!

Sometimes it’s mom and dad who lay down the law and make sure that there is a set time every day for homework – often more than the recommended amount of time.

Sometimes the student himself or herself takes the initiative and applies solid study skills and strategies.

You aren’t crazy!normal_crazy_mean_dog

Well, I can’t guarantee that without having met you, but you aren’t crazy on this point.  Many of these “A” students don’t want others to know that they spend time studying and practising.  Some of them will go out of their way to conceal such “horrible” aka GREAT habits.

Students don’t always want to admit that they care about school or their studies.  They often want to “fit it” and agree with fellow students who complain and whine about assignments, teachers, etc.

Other times, they want it to seem like they are simply geniuses and the answers fall from the sky like rain.  Wouldn’t it feel good if you could pretend to your friend that you simply KNOW the answers with little or no effort?

Exactly.

This week’s video:  Horrible “A” Students. I Hate Them!

So don’t be fooled.

Those “A” students don’t have it as easy as you think.

Having said this, once a student begins down the road of being an “A” student he or she will find learning faster and easier.  Just as with any skill, practising and discovering new strategies will make you better and more efficient.

The network of knowledge becomes wider, deeper, and richer.  In other words, the more you know – the more you will know because you will begin to make connections that build your knowledge structure.  This, in part, is what those “A” students are doing.

Once these habits, strategies, and networks are in place sometimes it does seem like magic even to the “A” student.  Someone asks them, “How do you know that?” “I don’t know how I know.  I just do.”

After that conversation, who could blame you for thinking that it is magic, luck, or genes?

Sometimes they study without even knowing that they are studying. If they have a keen interest in a particular subject they are probably reading every book and article they can find because they love it.  They are watching videos, television programs, and movies about the subject.  They are talking to others about it.

Then, “I didn’t study” is not quite accurate, although they might not feel like they have been studying.  Still, they are getting all the same benefits.

They are reading and re-reading.  Each article or book will review and add to their foundation of knowledge.  They will be reciting by talking to others who love the same topic.  So they are questioning, reading, reciting, and reviewing.  Remember the SQ3R Method I wrote about last week?

They are doing it automatically.

What can you do to become one of the horrible “A” students? Creativity Idea Inspiration Light Lightbulb Bulb

It’s easy.  Well, relatively easy to get started at least.

Give up the idea that “others” have it easy, and there is nothing you can do.  That is simply not true.

Start building your network of knowledge using tried and true learning strategies.

It would not hurt to “get interested.” Sometimes you have to fake it until you make it – but generally, with a little effort, you can find a key to begin liking – dare I say loving – a subject.

Approach every course with a positive attitude and a desire to gain something from it.  Try to make as many connections as you can, both within and between subjects, particularly to things you are interested in.  (Who does this historical figure remind me of in my own family?) This will help you retain more information and again increase your overall interest level.

Don’t be afraid to read, read, and read!

Don’t be afraid to spend time on your efforts.  Looking to do the minimum will never get you to the top.

Remember – Yes you can!

Do you need help to get there?  I would love to help you along the way as your personal educational coach.LTLTutoring_eighth_gueAUG16-01

Website: www.tutoringcentral.com