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Of course, learning should be fun.  Why?  Because if the student is having fun, that student will be giving his or her full attention to the matter at hand.     However, I do think that students need to be taught, as well, that learning is not ALWAYS going to involve fun, and that sometimes, to conquer challenging material, some effort must be made -- mental effort, an effort of time, reading effort, and problem-solving effort.     What adult's life is ALWAYS fun?  To prepare students for adult life, and for further advanced learning, I believe that it is not ALWAYS necessary to make learning fun.   A teacher should not be expected to be an entertainer.  But a wise teacher will inject a bit of fun every now and then.

Number One:  Getting to know the student through light conversation by asking things such as:  "Do you like school?" "What is your favorite subject?"  "Who is your favorite teacher?"  "Do you have a best friend?" and similar questions.   Number Two:  Showing the student a small art or craft project or a photograph I have recently taken or worked on and talking briefly with them about it -- such as a piece of wood found in the yard that resembles an animal and is painted to look like that animal.   Number Three:  Drawing a picture with the student about a story we have read.  Then posting their drawing of the story along with mine on the wall by our tutoring table.   Number Four:  Playing cards or shooting dice to add or multiply the numbers on the cards or on the dice.   Number Five:  Letting my pet cat sit on our tutoring table during the...

First, I inject humor whenever possible, to lighten the mood.  I do this by talking conversationally to the student and soliciting his or her response, then laughing about it, if that is appropriate.   Second, I incorporate drawing or painting into the tutoring sessions.  Children love especially to paint and they do not get much opportunity to do so.  Even though it might be a bit messy, we do it anyway, painting a picture of what we just read about.   Third, I discuss the stories we have read together from their reading textbook or from another source, and ask a lot of questions about the "whys" or the "whens" of the story.  We perform subtraction problems to learn how long ago a historical event was.   Fourth, I relate the story we have read to any life experience the student may have had and ask them questions about that life experience in a lighthearted, though meaningful manner.   Fifth,... read more

While tutoring may be a help to studying and learning, a student should never depend entirely on tutoring to teach all the concepts learned in a semester course.  The world we live in is a quick world -- get in -- get out -- get 'er done.  But most educational courses such as math, English, reading, science, and social studies require more in-depth thinking.  They are not subjects that can be learned well in a quick few hours of tutoring.  Related to this is the thought that many students do not want to read lengthy texts or lengthy explanations, or wade through lengthy examples as in a chemistry course.  However, in order to learn the concepts well and to understand them and make them part of oneself, it is necessary to find the quiet time to do this type of reading and studying.  Those who really want to learn, will take heed, and invest the time and mental energy to learn thoroughly instead of too quickly, as just to pass a test or pass a course... read more

Students,   To start the new school year strong, it is very necessary to understand the first few days and weeks of instruction.  That is because in the first days, basic material is presented, upon which will be built the remainder of the course.   In a challenging course such as chemistry, earth science, algebra, or trigonometry it is doubly important to get a good strong beginning.  You do that by completing reading assignments, completing activities in the textbook or online, keeping a vocabulary list of new terms with their definitions and use in a sentence.     All of these types of studying require a lot of effort and dedication on your part.  For that type of effort and dedication, one thing you will need is energy, physical and mental energy.    So plan to make sure your body and mind have the required energy to make a strong start, and then to carry through for the entire semester or school year... read more

Parents and students who opt to obtain tutoring early in the school year are very wise.  It enables the tutor and the student to get on the same track early on, and to work together throughout the year through the midterm and through the final exam in the course.     However, many parents and students wait until way late into the course to think about acquiring a tutor.  By then, it may be too late because of the vast amount of subject matter that needs to be reviewed, learned, and put into practice.     So, for any student who has not been outstanding in his or her performance thus far, obtaining a tutor early on is very important and makes good sense.     A parent or student does not want to end up, senior year, having to get an alternative diploma because of some class deficiency.  Get a tutor as soon as possible in the school year to ensure success, and to ensure graduation!   Judy L., Ed.S., M...

High-stakes only means that if one passes the exam, one is "through the gate" and if one fails the exam, one must re-take the exam, at expense of time and money, as well as brain power.   That means that a student preparing for any high-stakes test must study diligently ahead of time to get prepared to take the test.  That might include going to a tutor for help, but it cannot eliminate the need for the test-taking student to do his own "due diligence" and study on his own so that he knows the material.     It is the student who must sit for the exam, not the tutor.  So while a tutor may be helpful, yes, certainly, but the student cannot leave it 100% in the hands of the tutor to provide all the information needed to pass the test.  The student must put forth his own individual effort to learn the types of problems that will be tested, and how to arrive at their answers, how to check his work to be sure it is correct,... read more

An ideal time to obtain tutoring is the month prior to the beginning of the new school year.  Tutoring at this time begins to orient the student's mind to the discipline of schoolwork.   Important concepts can be reviewed and strengthened, and new concepts can be anticipated and prepared for.  The student can be reminded of certain principles of learning and of proper school behavior.  Their reading skills, math skills, English skills, and geography skills can be built up to give them a firm foundation to begin their new school year.  Parents, take advantage of the month prior to school starting to get tutoring, even once a week, for your student!

I so admire parents and students who decide to attend tutoring during summer vacation.  These are the folks who realize that they must put in effort and time to get the desired educational results.  They are not lazy.  They do what it takes.  This is an admirable trait in them, that they choose to attend tutoring during what could just be a lazy, relaxing time.  They bring their student for tutoring and the student does his best to cooperate and learn. Results are not always immediate -- they will come in time.  As long as parents and students keep reaching out for education, even when school is not in session!

While in our everyday speech we may speak casually, for a student who wants to develop his intellect as much as possible, vocabulary should continually be built upon.  Any time a student encounters a word that is unfamiliar, that student should write that word down, look up its definition, and use it in a sentence.  Keeping a vocabulary notebook is a super idea for any student, even adult students.  A good way to develop one's vocabulary speedily is to read certain authors who use lesser-known words.  An example of a current author is Charles Krauthammer who recently published "Things That Matter."  Even an educated person will find words in this series of essays that can be learned.  Never underestimate the power of a strong vocabulary!

Summer vacation from school, summer vacation with the family traveling someplace to enjoy summertime offers a great opportunity for children to learn about maps:  How to read maps, how to measure distances on maps, learning the shapes of state boundaries, learning the capital cities of each state, and learning how to follow along with the travel along a road, or in an airplane.     Even learning the cardinal directions North, South, East, West, and the intermediate directions Northwest, Northeast, Southeast, and Southwest and learning about the "compass rose" on maps is an important learning skill.     Vacation is not just about going somewhere to hit the beach.  Much learning can occur during the travel process.

For the summer, it is nice to be out of the confines of a classroom, and a bit more free than you are under the direction of a teacher.  Teach yourself this summer.  That is what Maya Angelou did.  She taught herself and she wrote over 30 books, and many poems.  One of her sayings was that if you spend your time trying to be normal, you will never realize your full potential.  Summertime is a time you can let loose a little bit.  Teach yourself something new.  Research new places you might go to visit or vacation.  Study about a particular animal or plant to learn more about it and become an expert on that animal or plant.  Visit a tutor once a week to maintain your already-learned skills.  Read a new book, cover to cover.  Then read another one.  Maybe three books this summer.  Keep learning new things.  Learn to love learning.  

Many students do not realize that they need to invest time and focused personal study in order to pass challenging subjects such as Geometry, Algebra II, Advanced Math, Chemistry, or AP English.     These classes need to be taught carefully, step by step, and the student needs to make sure they master each class before entering the next class.     Many students do not take the time to look up vocabulary words they might not be familiar with.  The student should use a good dictionary, look up each unfamiliar word, write down the word and its definition so that the student can learn the word, even if it has not been explained in class.  This way the student can build upon prior knowledge.     Students need to sit and read, carefully and thoughtfully, about their subject matter.  Alone, with no distractions.   And they need to develop these habits as they proceed along throughout high school and college... read more

During the School Holidays such as Spring Break, an ideal time presents itself for some special tutoring sessions for students who need some extra help with their school work.  There is no pressure from school assignments or tests, only the opportunity to advance in reading, math, vocabulary work, or geography.  Too few parents recognize this opportunity for their children to make educational advances.  It would also occupy the children during a time of unusual excitement -- holidays.  Tutoring would be a calming as well as educational experience during any holiday season off from school. 

It's mid-January now.  Time to stop vacationing and get down to business, isn't it?     For students, that would mean things like learning the vocabulary and terminology of every subject they are studying, whether required by their instructor or not.  Learning the terminology -- how to spell the words, and what their meaning is in the context of that subject -- that is one way to truly and thoroughly learn a subject -- not just sit back and wait for the instructor to tell you what to do. Take the reins of your own education!  Start by learning the terminology and meanings of the words that apply to each subject.  Can you use those words in a sentence of our own making?  Can you discuss those words with others in the field?   Students, take charge of your own learning.  Motivate yourself!  Do not wait for others to inspire you.  Start by thoroughly mastering the terminology.  I'll bet your test scores will...

Every day, take a bit of time to read or study.  Maybe 30 to 60 minutes.  Read something that interests you, or better yet, read something you are totally unfamiliar with -- to expand your mind and expand your interests.  An interesting person is interested in things and interested in other people.  Stretch yourself to become interested in others outside of yourself.  Start in small ways, and work up to bigger things as you gain confidence.  Think about become a leader in your life in some area.  Think about learning more about a topic that you are interested in.  It could be space travel, fashion, child care, nursing, chemistry, world history, cooking, or teaching.  Or many other areas of life that could interest you.  Challenge yourself to grow a little more each day.  If you encounter setbacks, rest a day or two, then start over again to challenge yourself.  Never give up.  Keep on growing.

Getting too wrapped up in the holidays is a way not to keep your brain sharp.  Today we tend to make the period from Hallowe'en through New Years one long holiday.  Of course, we have a holiday spirit in this time period, but we, as students, should also recognize that there will be some free time during this holiday time and that we ought to utilize some of that free time to study a subject that we might not have done so well in, or to study something in anticipation of a subject we will be taking soon.  Take a bit of quiet study time to build your mental structure by reading or studying or working some math problems. Everything you learn and take as part of your mental structure will help you both now and in the future.   Delve into a topic that you find interesting and learn more about it.  Become an expert in that subject.  Read a book over the holidays.  Challenge yourself to do that. Become active as an intellectual rather than... read more

I mastered a challenging subject by making myself fall in love with that subject.  By falling in love with the subject, you will seek to find ways during your day to get with that subject, to read and study into that subject, to work problems or write definitions.   This is because by nature we avoid what we dislike.  So first off, a student must adjust his mental thinking from "hating the subject" to "really liking the subject" by just realizing that he needs more information about the subject which he can get by studying more into that subject.   Also, appreciate the value of learning new material, whether it seems important to you or not, because all new learning expands the brain, at the very least.     So if you are required to take a class you're not all that interested in, get yourself interested.  Once you are "into it" you won't be able to keep yourself away from it.  

In preparing to take and excel on the ACT Test, it is very important and very advisable for the student to obtain and prepare from an ACT Study Guide, as opposed to going in and taking the ACT test "cold" with little or no preparation.     Study Guides offer many hints and strategies which, if the student will take a little time to learn those techniques, he or she will assuredly gain points on the ACT test.  Study Guides also offer practice tests with answers so a student can check to see if their answers are correct, or if not, why not.  All of that constitutes a learning experience.   The ACT test does not measure a student's calculating ability, rather, their thinking ability and reasoning ability. For example, by examining the 5 answer choices on any particular question, probably at least 2 and possibly 3 or 4 answer choices can be ruled out for not making sense in relation to the question being asked or the data being presented... read more

The most important thing in mastering a subject is to know all the vocabulary and terminology involved in that subject and to be able to express oneself using that terminology.  I have been encouraging every student I deal with to make their own vocabulary list, with the word, a brief definition, and a sentence of their own creation.  Some students do this, others neglect this advice.  Next, one must think about the subject -- that means spend some time thinking over the ideas in that subject, and how they relate to other subjects.  Another thing is to work a lot of problems such as in math, geometry, physics, chemistry, or answer a lot of questions such as in history, or to practice speaking or listening to a foreign language when studying another language.  What I am suggesting is that a student who wishes to succeed and excel must go beyond teacher assignments.  The student must take charge of their own learning.  The student must keep... read more

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