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    Every day can be a new beginning.

What are your favourite children’s books?

Tuesday, May. 10th 2016

One of THE best ways to teach your child how to enjoy reading, is to model being a reader yourself. Whilst instructional, directed teaching of decoding skills is critical to young and developing readers, so too is the reading process itself. Especially if mum and dad are seen doing it and enjoying it.

ALL readers have favourite books and authors. As adult readers, many of us have very fond memories of discovering a new author, or a new series of books written by a new author. We remember the pure enjoyment of being unable to put the book down, often resorting to ‘torch-light reading’ in order to finish the next chapter.

Well, many of those authors and the magical stories they told, are still around and freely available.

One of the very best ways you can demonstrate the joy of reading, is to read to your child and be seen as a genuine reader, simply by reading.

This week’s reading tip, is to write a list of your favourite authors or children’s stories and place it on the fridge. This can easily become a springboard for discussion and maybe even a birthday present or two. Enjoy the memories. 🙂

Learning with awareness

Tuesday, Mar. 22nd 2016

There’s a beautiful dance of the mind that starts with stimulating the senses in some way and ends with taking action. However, we often forget the silent steps of reflection, contemplation and feeling, that gave the dance some meaning.

During these steps, attention dives deep inside and weaves its magic with invisible threads that connect ideas with possibilities, experiences with meaning and dreams with resolve. This is true for all of us but especially for children, as they are less hindered and don’t have as many personal and societal ‘filters’ that often second-guess some of these steps, thinking that ALL action is the same and action is just action.

However, it’s in the gaps between attentive tasks, when the mind is released from the tight grip of immediate matters that unexpected solutions, eureka moments, sudden realisations and moments of clear insight can emerge. our students, euphemistically refer to these moments as ‘Jot-Doining’ ( a fun play on dot-jointing – when things finally make sense to us at many levels ).

A quiet moment, when a student starts to ‘gaze away’ from the task at hand, may allow an answer to a problem they have been trying to solve for hours.

We’ve shut the door to a large part of our mental experience, and we have evicted a valued tenant, our own steady source of wisdom, patience and insight.

In our ignorance, we swamp these rich moments with more noise, mistakenly assuming they were empty and wasted. A brain in a state of forced focus, operates very differently to a brain set free. It’s the difference between listening to one instrument, or a whole orchestra. In a busy mind, attention jumps randomly from instrument to instrument, creating a cacophony of noise that holds little pleasure and delivers little reward. It’s only when the busyness subsides, that attention opens widely enough to allow the rest of the orchestra to join in. It’s the synchrony of many parts working in harmony that creates the magic.

Yoga for Learning ~ Developing your child’s confidence and self esteem.

Wednesday, Sep. 9th 2015

The ancient science of yoga provides some of the best tools for strengthening young bodies, minds and emotions: asana ( stretches ), breathing, visualisations and positive communication. Combine these and you can equip your children with valuable tools to make school life significantly more pleasurable, together with important tools to take into adult life.

One very desirable outcome is self-confidence. Numerous studies continue to demonstrate that good self confidence with assist children at school, in relationships and later in life, in the workplaces. If coupled with the quiet humility that yoga tends to manifest, your little one will be well-equiped for the road ahead.

Yoga practise for children is not a panacea of course but it certainly helps create and build an inner backbone that significantly helps them become more resilient, especially in the early high school years.

Having tools like yoga, significantly adds to children’s ‘learning toolbox’, enabling them to adjust to the many learning challenges ALL learners must face.

Namaste.

Whether you say “I can” or “ I can’t”, you’re right!

Monday, Aug. 24th 2015

Your parents almost certainly disciplined you for using all sorts of bad language when you were young. You may have even had your mouth washed out with soap for saying certain naughty words. However, there’s a few bad words you probably didn’t get into trouble for using.

Let’s take a look at the word don’t for a moment. If you say “I don’t want to be fat” or “I don’t want to be single”, your subconscious mind doesn’t register the word don’t. Instead your mind hears “I want to be fat” or “I want to be single”. When you say statements like this, whether to yourself or others, you are focusing on what you don’t have, so you will get more of it! Instead, you would be far better saying “I want to be slim and healthy” or “I want to be in the relationship of my dreams”.

By focusing on what you don’t want, you are sending out a negative signal (or vibration) to the universe, and what you give out you will get back. If you focus on what you do want, you are sending out a different signal (a higher vibration) to the universe.

Another really negative word is the word try. When your body hears this word, it shuts down. When you say “I’ll try to go to the gym tomorrow”, you are not committing to doing it. You are giving yourself an out and allowing all kinds of excuses to rear their ugly head and prevent you from going to the gym.

When tomorrow comes, you will most likely look for reasons not to go to the gym. You’ll be too tired, too busy, too hungry or whatever. When you say “I will go to the gym tomorrow” you are making a definite commitment to yourself, so when tomorrow comes, you are more likely to actually go.

An example of the word try that you may have heard from your friends, or even used yourself, is “We should try to catch up on the weekend”. If you read between the lines, what that really means is I’m really busy and I’m not sure if you are a high enough priority to fit into my schedule. If I have some spare time and I can be bothered, I might give you a call. How different is that to saying “Let’s catch up this weekend”?

The only exception to this rule is when you use it when someone scores a “try” in football – that’s perfectly acceptable! In this case, it’s used as a noun, not a verb, which you would do to remove from your language all together.

Another naughty word you would benefit from removing from your vocabulary is but. When you use the word but in a sentence, you cancel out whatever you said just before it. For example, “I’d really like to exercise more but I work long hours and I have to look after the kids.”

Can’t is one of the worst words in the English language. When you say “I can’t“, you are giving up before you have even started! Can’t is a defeatist word that comes from a pessimistic attitude. Eliminate it from your language and replace it with “How can I?”

The question “Why me?” is also a representation of the attitude of the person who said it. It is a thought that constantly occurs in the minds of people who have a victim mentality. Instead of thinking your circumstances are happening to you and are out of your control, focus on what you can change. If you feel yourself sliding back into victim mode, repeat this powerful phrase; “I have the power to change my reality.”

If you say “I should do this” or “I should stop doing that”, you are not committing to it. Although you are recognising the need to make a change, using the word should does not enable you to find a solution to your challenge. You are criticising yourself and at the same time accepting a situation you are not happy about. Put simply, you are should-ing all over yourself! Next time you say or think the words I should, replace it with the question “What do I need to do differently?”

The challenge with the word problem is it sounds difficult, feels heavy and does not lend itself to being solved. A problem puts a heavy weight on your shoulders, whereas a challenge says “How can I do this?” Swap the word problem for the word challenge if you want to help yourself and others work out a solution.

 

Breathing for easier learning

Wednesday, Jun. 24th 2015

Why would we want to manipulate breathing, since it is a completely natural part of the life process?

Breathing is such a spontaneous process that we don’t pay too much attention to it. However, most of us do NOT breath anywhere near appropriately and, as a result, are often deprived of our vital life force. This is especially true when we are attempting to learn something new.

When breath is modulated it can exert profound effects on the brain activity and the nervous system, as well as intercede the involuntary ‘trigger-response’ processes of the body such as heart rate, blood pressure, pH and body temperature.

Slow deep breathing coupled with the practice of holding the breath momentarily between breaths has the effect of widening the gap between neural implulses and their responses, thereby reducing brain activity and ‘wiring’ the brain to shift emphasis from the sympathetic stress response, to the parasympathetic relaxation response.

By alternating the breath through both nostrils, the left and right hemispheres of the brain are stimulated equally, resulting in balanced mental activity and achieving optimal brain functioning.

A helpful strategy is to focus on breathing out more fully and prolonging the exhales which help regulate the ratio of oxygen to carbon dioxide. This calms you down and enables you to perform better when under pressure. An especially useful technique prior to and during exam time! J

“Mum, I’m bored!”

Wednesday, Jun. 17th 2015

Boredom might just be one of the most valuable experiences you can give a child. Until they are faced with this empty space, they will never learn to let their attention uncoil to its full potential.

Sometimes boredom is one of the greatest experiences you can give a child. In fact, it must be experienced during the early years if they are to have any chance of surviving in a world where attention is constantly under assault. Like a stabled horse, the child whose mind is constantly entertained, develops a short and restless attention span, always reined back in too soon. Fed with answers, protected from failure and steered through possibilities, how can they learn the deep satisfaction of breaking through, the awe of discovery and the pleasure of finding their own connection with life? They grow as they have been nurtured. The pathways they will need later to come into their own skin and fulfill a life of real purpose must be laid down early.

As a parent, one of your most important roles is to protect and guide your children’s attention. To help them see that the beauty arises in those idle moments. To support them to discover that wisdom and creativity can be uncovered in stillness. These will be critical skills as they grow up living in a noisy and distracted world.

When is early, too early or too late?

Thursday, Jun. 11th 2015

When we know that something important or fun is on our agenda, it’s important that we plan and prepare as fully as possible. For our little ones, beginning their school journey is exciting and often, overwhelming. It can be daunting for the child, as well as mum & dad!

The child’s focus, is, naturally enough, aimed squarely at the plethora of human interactions they face. So many teachers, so many new children, so many new and very unfamiliar spaces, so many new rules, so, ‘where’s my mum anyway?  I want to go home and play!’

All of this can be totally overwhelming for young learners. Structured learning of content is often not the highest priority during the initial school semesters. As a result, important foundational understandings, especially pre-reading competencies in phonics, are often missed completely. This unfortunately can set the child up for a future as a struggling reader. The implications of this can, in many cases, significantly undermine self-confidence, often leading to under-performing school results and a school experience of struggle and anxiety as an under-achiever.

The transition into ‘big school’ is a big enough stress on a young soul, without concerning themselves with any notion of what this ‘learning’ business is all about. This is where a structured, systematic, Literacy and Numeracy rich early and pre-school learning program can be invaluable.  It allows the  child to enter ‘big school’ equipped with vital foundational understandings of these important skills. Not only does the child possess important skills, they perceive themselves as a competent learner. A learner capable of taking risks. A learner capable of making this important life transition with ease and grace.The school experience becomes a richer, more pleasant and vastly more enjoyable experience.