Advice for Parents

Academic Advantage Tutoring

Tips for parents to help their children learn

Together, the classroom teacher and parents should, ideally, work as a team to provide learning opportunities and foster a love of learning. Sometimes, there are gaps in a child's understanding and mastery of skills. This is where, as a private tutor, I can become an effective member of the team, diagnosing  difficulties and working one-on-one to support your child's educational needs, rebuild his/her confidence and self-esteem and assist your child in gaining an academic advantage at school.

Every day, you can create learning opportunities for your child/children.  A positive attitude to learning and mastery of the concepts, skills and strategies can be developed by integrating some of the activities (suggested below) into your family life.  

Choose the activities which suit the age and ability of your child. Begin with easier tasks where he/she will experience success and gradually build on those skills before you attempt more challenging tasks.  Some of the activities are games whilst others are more practical applications of language and maths skills. If your child can recognise the value of a real-life activity, that will help to keep him/her motivated to complete the task.

Remember to offer encouragement and praise as this will build your child's confidence and make the learning experience more enjoyable.

Helpful hints for Maths

  • Plan family activities referring to a clock and/or a calendar to reinforce concepts of time - minutes and hours, days, weeks, months.               
  • Planting seeds or seedlings gives the chance for measuring and recording growth and discussion about the seasons.                
  • When shopping, help your child to estimate the total cost, the change due and to handle the notes and coins required for  payment.             
  • Buy play money (notes and coins) and play "shop" using junk mail catalogues e.g. toys, groceries etc.                                                                 
  • When baking/cooking, help your child to measure out the ingredients to reinforce units of capacity (mL and L) and weight (g and kg).  
  • Board games (such as Snakes and Ladders and Trouble) use number skills. Educational bookstores also sell flash cards,  card games and computer software to assist with mastery of maths concepts  e.g. counting, addition, fractions etc.
  • Search the internet for free maths games. These offer an educational alternative.
  • Building, renovating, planning of garden beds and construction of cubby houses all give ample opportunity for estimating and measuring of length, area and volume. Start with centimetres (cm) and metres (m) and add the more accurate measurement using millmetres at a later stage.
  • Prior to your child even starting school, you can practise counting a small number of objects,  perform counting rhymes and songs and  complete maths activity books e.g. where your child will learn to recognise the numeral for three and colour in three objects on the page. Being able to recognise numerals up to 10 and count using one-to-one correspondence will give your child a head start with their early maths learning. 
  • Encourage practical applications of counting, such as setting the table with the correct number of knives, forks and spoons.

Helpful hints for English 

  • Make a habit of reading to/with your child from when they are a baby. It can be a part of their daily routine e.g. at bedtime. It is a wonderful way to bond with your child, helps with speech and language development, fosters imagination, encourages an appreciation for books and is linked to reading success at school.
  • In those important early years, you as the parent are the main teacher of oral language. You are the role model that your child will copy so it is important to speak clearly using correct grammar and sentence construction.
  • Singing songs, making up stories, using puppets and acting out plays together will help your child with their speech and language development.
  • Broaden their vocabulary by playing a game of "Simon Says" and have your child follow instructions which include colour names, positional words such as under/above, in front of, behind, beside or next to, low/high and naming body parts e.g. "Simon says touch just above your eyebrow" or "Simon says stand behind the small chair"  or "Simon says put your left hand beside the red cup". This will develop listening skills as well as extend your child's vocabulary.
  • Singing and dancing  "The Hokey Pokey" will also reinforce body parts, co-ordination and  differentiating left from right.
  • Young children will enjoy activity books which teach letters and their sounds.
  • To reinforce phonics with young children, play a game of I Spy while travelling in the car e.g. I spy with my little eye something beginning with the letter S (and make the S sound if needed). The first person to name the object is the winner.
  • Buy gifts which are labelled with  your child's name such as mugs, hat hooks or plaques to go on the door of your child's room.
  • You can improve your child's visual memory by playing the following game. Show him/her a tray which holds several objects for 10 seconds and then cover with a tea towel. Ask him/her to recall as many objects as possible. There are many other memory games using cards with pictures, words or numbers available. Have fun with them!
  • Read for practical purposes such as reading recipes, instructions for games or for constructing or assembling furniture, toys etc.
  • Flash cards, word games (Upwords, Scrabble, crosswords)  and software which also help teach letters, word recognition, grammar and spelling can be purchased from educational suppliers and department stores.
  • Place labels all over the house to reinforce early word recognition of common household objects. Challenge your child by asking him/her, for example, to find four items starting with the letter T.
  •  As he/she gets a little older, reading comprehension can be developed by discussing the story together and asking your child a wide variety of questions (covering strategies such as recalling facts, time sequence of events, making predictions, drawing conclusions, distinguishing between fact/opinion and real/make believe and finding out the meaning of unknown words or phrases).   
  • Teach your child how to answer the phone and take messages.
  • Help your child to make a book using photos of a birthday party, pets, a family outing or holiday.  Write text under each photo. These books become treasured items that your child will want to read over and over again and share with other family members, such as grandparents.
  • Encourage your child to write letters and emails to friends and family members. Writing an invitation, thank you note or correspondence to share family news gives the writing task a practical purpose and he/she will certainly enjoy receiving a letter in the mail or the inbox of your computer that is meant just for him/her.
  • Other practical writing tasks are compiling a shopping list, a letter for Santa or keeping a diary. Having a real-life purpose that the child can recognise as valuable keeps your child motivated.