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We played a lot of games in kindergarten; so it came as no surprise when the first grade was almost identical. This was Ms. Huff’s first year teaching and my education paid the price: I scored below my grade level on multiple subjects. School administrators decided that Ms. Huff would make a better kindergarten teacher two years later. However, the questioned still remained about what my parents and the school were going to do about my low test scores (I bet you can guess what the school suggested). Fortunately, my parents concluded that my test scores should not condemn me to another year in the first grade. My parents decided to enroll me in a reading camp at the University of Houston that summer. I had no idea why I was in this class. Things were different – we worked. The class helped me develop a foundation and maybe even a false sense of confidence. After that summer, I can remember walking into my class and asking my teacher if I could be the second grade reading champion... read more

Tutoring is available from many places: friends, neighbors, school resource persons and here on Wyzant. Creating lessons which engage and teach students is important in this competitive arena. Fun lessons are memorable lessons.   Here are things I like to incorporate in order to engage students in a fun way.   1) Be sure to know what the student wants. If it is "fun", but at the end of the session, the student didn't learn what they wanted to, is it successful? Doing the footwork and research by asking the student particulars regarding their interests, in specific a way possible it important. "The student wants to learn long division and how it relates to fractions" is much more specific than "Third grade math"   2) Utilize videos. YouTube is a great resource for many subject areas. Using a video to capture attention at the beginning of the lesson is a great tool.   3) Listen. This ties in with #1, but... read more

As a tutor, it can be easy to slip into monotony-particularly with regular students that you see on a weekly basis, or for multiple hour blocks at a time. Here are 5 simple tips to help make your tutoring sessions more fun, productive and interesting !     1. Get physical. This works especially well with children ages K-6 because, after sitting all daylong in the classroom, they may need to get some wiggles out of their system. "Simon Says" is a great way to have them re-engage their listening skills. For ages 7-12, I recommend a relaxation exercise or a brisk walk to get the brain back on track!   2. Play games, all sorts! Remember, you're being paid to do what the textbook can't, and that means it is up to you to bring a different, more unique approach to the subject. From trivia games to ball games, scavenger hunts and modified board games, there are so many ways to tap into the different types of intelligences out there!    3... read more

Whether it be one of my academic students or one of my youth fitness students, I always stress being prepared and organized.  Being consistent with these simple steps will lead to a more effective and fulfilling learning experience.   But I also stress approaching each tutoring/coaching session with an open mind and a sense of humor.  Whether it be a sharing funny joke or an interesting story, I believe that this helps to keep things loose and the mind open to learning.   Whenever possible, I also encourage a change of venue, such as conducting a tutoring/coaching session outdoors (i.e., back yard or a local park) or at the local library to occasionally break away from our usual tutoring location.   I look forward to meeting with you and sharing in a FUN and Effective learning experience! 

I am new to this blog but I wanted to send out a quick note. Tutoring can be an excellent opportunity for students to catch up, expand on what is already known, or even get ahead in their classes. Making the subject enjoyable to the student is the most important factor in getting that student interested in the topic. It doesn't matter what the subject is, if the student does not find it enjoyable, they will not like to study and learn about the material. Here are 5 quick tips that help make lessons fun.     1)  make the lesson come to life. Act out the story or draw a picture.   2)  relate the problem to the student. In math, make your word problems involve the students name as well as things they personally enjoy doing!   3)  Have the student be the teacher. The student should be able to explain the topic in their own words, plus, they like being in charge for once!   4)  Make the lesson into a game!   5)  Turn... read more

S., aged 14, invested a bit less time for homework last week, as she was very busy. However, she did experiment with pen-and-ink and has purchased markers and graphite pencils, as well as two sketchbooks of better paper. She is going on vaction soon and I hope she will take her sketchbooks along. I suggested she start to think about drawing portrait and figure. I brought along "Anatomy for the Artist" by Jeno Barcsay and showed her how the artist breaks down human anatomy into components. The book is informative about the skeleto-muscular structure as well. We also discussed the problems of foreshortening while viewing objects (and bodies) in space. I suggested she draw a self portrait sketch or a portrait sketch for homework. Later, I emailed her links to figure sketches by great artists, from Durer and Da VInci to Singer-Sargent and Giacometti. I also brought some small pages of good textured papers of various colors for her to try out, as newsprint... read more

1. Relate materials to the students preferred interests. For example, if the student likes animals, you can teach categorization and counting by having a student count all the horses in a farm full of animals, teach paragraph writing by letting the student choose an animal to write about, teach volume by having a student discover how many square feet an animal needs for a pen and then have them create a pen of that size, etc.    2. Mix it up. Sometimes too much of a routine can be a bad thing. Always be willing to find new ways to teach the same topic. Use crossword puzzles to teach vocab instead of just having students write out definitions, teach simple math skills with color-by-numbers sheets (e.g. color sections red whenever the answer is 2), use white boards and race your student to see who can do the problem first (obviously the student should be first often!), let younger students doing writing exercise with a crayon of their favorite color from time... read more

Tutoring can be fun! Exciting! Educational! It doesn't mean that a student is lacking intelligence; it means they are smart and motivated enough to take the time to become stronger in a subject! There are many ways that tutoring can become an adventure! First, all learning activities should take place in a fun, stress-free environment. Studying in the same room can become suffocating, so let's go to the park or library! An additional way tutoring can be fun is to provide plenty of snacks! Rewards in the form of food, (one skittle per page, making cookies when homework is completed) help keep the student focused and motivated, and provide vital fuel for their brain! A third way to make tutoring exciting is to involve the entire family! Make it a game! Have a difficult spelling test? Practice with a parent. Learning to read a hard book? Read aloud after dinner! Another way tutoring can be made fun is by dressing for success. Break out that new shirt and heels! Grab your cowboy hat... read more

The best 5 Outside the Box tips for tutors I highly recommend involve the human senses. Creating a stress-free environment or lowering stress in students is key to successful learning.   Here are my simple top tutoring tips:   1. Setting! Meet in a calm, stress free WyzAnt approved setting where both tutor and student (and their parents) are comfortable.   2. Smile! Tutors with a smile and genuine presence who communicate with kindness and caring creates trust.   3. Listen! Your students can fill you in on everything you need to know to further tailor lessons toward their needs. Listening to them creates a mutual shareholding investment. Simply put, it strengthens the bond between student and tutor ensuring success.   4. Praise! Students and humans do better when praised and encouraged. Use opportune moments to guide students on the learning process when they express understanding. It builds confidence in themselves... read more

Tutoring lessons don't have to be a chore! Both the tutor and their student should enjoy the learning experience, so here's some advice... Learn from what you know I was fascinated with baseball statistics at a very young age. What made learning math so much fun was that not only could I visualize a batting average, which was simply the sum of hits divided by the sum of at-bats, but I wanted to learn. It's important for tutors to recognize that connecting with students in terms that they understand or even prefer can make a lesson much more enjoyable. Popular science Why count miles to Train Station B when we can calculate miles to Disneyland? Using examples with popular themes can become an entertaining way to learn new concepts. Just make sure you don't get carried away and end up in Disney World! The big reveal Tutoring can become tedious and repetitive if a student becomes stressed, which can have a negative impact... read more

I am always so happy to hear comments from my students and parents about wanting to come visit me!  I love it when my students think that working with me is fun because I try really hard to make whatever we are doing fun.  Recently, it seems that everyone is working on homophones and spelling challenges.  I make games out of it by writing the words on cards and playing "memory" or making up little sayings, like "you hear with your ear."     One of my students who came to me from another tutor shared in a conspiratorial tone, "She wasn't very fun.  You're fun."  If kids don't want to come see you, they won't learn.  If they don't feel safe and cared about, then they can't be open to learning experiences.  Kids don't want to try new things and make mistakes unless they know that you are there to support them in their efforts.  

It's easy to grow bored or frustrated when studying for any subject. I found through the years that the following tips can help keep you focused and engaged to effectively learn your course are:    5) Fit the subject to the audience!        Example: I tutored a freshman college economics class at Florida State University and found that they learned the best by using economic units in terms of pizza and beer. At the time, this is what they were most interested in and I found them to be most engaged when I related the course emphasis on something that was currently relevant to them.    4) Take a nap!        Example: I found that in my personal learning that after reading over 300 to 400 pages of material my brain would go into shut down mode. I was exhausted so if I had a little bit of time between work and my next class I would nap. When I awoke, I found that I did twice as much work as I would... read more

Tutoring may be boring at times, but with children, it is essential to make the process fun. Most importantly, the child needs to be engaged in learning and understand what is going on. Without this, tutoring is pointless.   The first tip in tutoring is to not be so serious. The tutor needs to present themselves as friendly, making the child feel comfortable. You may want to make jokes, laugh a little, or just have a smile on your face. This helps the person relate to you and not feel pressured to be perfect. After all, tutoring is seeing the mistakes people make and correcting them. The second tip is to stray from the crowd. Do not do the same things over and over again. People need variety. Variety of problems, examples, explanations, etc. To give a person a well rounded education and knowledge of a subject, you need to cover all of the points. This relates back to keeping the attention of the person. Third, tailoring your lessons to the student is key. Not... read more

As a tutor who works mostly with children I can say that the chief issue I encounter with my students is that they are just not interested in the work that they struggle with. They wont care about a subject unless they are invested in it. So, here are some things I do to help make it more engaging. 1. I like to use props. Especially with English students. Instead of writing a sentence I act out a sentence and make them identify the parts of speach that my sentence has. This also works with math if you use change to teach fractions. 2. I apply the work to them. I don't use made up word problems I use situations in my students lives to make word problems. This is why it is important to really get to know your students. 3.  I talk to them. When a student doesn't want to focus and just wants to talk I listen until they say something that can be applied to the lesson. They love this because to them it seems like their idea, and therefore a good thing. 4... read more

I received a draft of an essay from a student last week.  She asked me to proof it and give her feedback.  The essay was for a scholarship.  In short, it was a mess.  There was no introduction, no thesis, no clear points -- in other words, it was nearly a random collection of grammatically incorrect sentences. There was really no place to start editing/proofing.   I guess I could have said lots of comforting things about how the student had tried and how the thoughts were there but the format needed work.  However, both comments would have been lies.  Now that I am retired and out of the classroom, I have become more honest.  In the college classroom, it was drilled into me as a young teaching assistant that I needed to have something positive to say on every assignment.  As a retired professor, I do not feel that need - at least not as strongly.   Tearing students down is not the right thing to do.  However, telling... read more

1. Colors help the brain absorb information better. It also makes any subject at hand more interesting and appealing to the eye. 2. Note taking should never be a duty, I like to incorporate fun ways to write out notes that'll help with memory. 3. Music to set a relaxing but stimulating mood for the student. 4. Every 15 minutes, students need a quick break from focus to keep their attitude positive and upbeat.  5. The finish line should always be promising and have a silver lining. I like to let my students have something to look forward to when they complete their task at hand. 

1.  Patience.  A key element to any successful tutor is patience.  Many students may have difficultly understanding a particular subject the first time through; it is important to be able to interpret the individual needs of the student and develop a unique approach to learning.   2.  Have a sense of humor.  I enjoying using humor in order to approach the subject material and give a "light-hearted" approach.  Using humor has allowed me to ensure that the student is engaged and interested in the material.  It is often easy to zone out during a lesson, humor is a way to help the student retain the information and remain involved in the lesson.   3.  Explain it back.  My top strategy for working individually with any student is to have them explain the concept back to me.  If the student knows the subject well enough to explain it back to someone else, then it is not much of an issue for them to remember... read more

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