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World Book Day – why dressing up gives children a great access point to learning.

World Book Day is just around the corner. Taking place on the 3rd March across the United Kingdom, the likelihood is that your child’s school is already preparing some kind of event. In anticipation of the day, millions of children will prepare to get their favourite fancy dress outfits out of the cupboard and show them off in front of their classmates. At Genie Tutors, we think this opportunity is not only great fun for kids and parents, but the very act of dressing up as your favourite book character is a great opportunity for kids to really embrace the joy of reading and learning.

One of my own fondest memories at primary school is of World Book Day. I managed to win the £5 voucher for best costume, my mother’s brown double breasted overcoat drowning me and my large, curly black wig itching on my way up to collect the prize. I was dressed as Hagrid from the Harry Potter series, and while winning the prize was a nice bonus (£5 at the time was an incredible amount of money!), the real reason this day stands out is because I was able to interact with literature in a way I never had before. Being the tallest in my class, I had always felt an affiliation with the half-giant Hagrid, a character often judged solely on his size. Being able to become that character really helped develop my understanding and interest in him and in the series of books more widely.

In the modern world of flashing screens and infinite distractions for young children, the act of dressing up as a favourite book character is a fantastic and interactive way to get children involved in reading. Bringing the characters to life in such a vivid manner allows your child’s favourite books to become more enticing than they ever have been on paper alone.

Furthermore, the classroom experience of having groups of children all dressed up collectively also helps develop the learning experience on World Book Day. At Genie, one of our core philosophies is that children learn more effectively when they are able to bounce ideas off each other to reach a goal. By dressing up and going to school, the children are almost definitely going to talk to other pupils about their favourite books. They’ll talk about why they dressed as the character they did and why other children should read the book they’ve chosen. Children are bound to expand their boundaries when Long John Silver talks about the parrot on his shoulder, or when Charlie talks about his sparkling golden ticket. Being able to learn from one another in an authentic and enthusiastic environment should give many children a reinforced urge to read and continue learning.

This is why we at Genie Tutors love World Book Day. It is not only a day to raise awareness, the day has effects on children’s development and enthusiasm to progress some of their core learning skills. So when you’re ruffling through the back of your wardrobe for the perfect accessory to your child’s costume, don’t sigh. Instead, embrace World Book Day, because it represents a fantastic learning opportunity!

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The Whys and Wherefores of Small Group Teaching

Following our blog post on the benefits of teaching in small groups, which covered the benefits of confidence, educational progress and social skills, one of our tutors has added a touching personal testimonial to the discussion. Lillian Kendrick, who runs Genie Tutors Edgbaston and Genie Tutors Harborne, has written this inspiring story for Genie Tutors that aptly demonstrates the strong learning culture that we try to foster.

 

The Whys and Wherefores of Small Group Teaching

 

The main arguments in favour of small group teaching, from both educational and social viewpoints, have been well-documented – children become more confident, teaching can be targeted to individual needs and so on. I’d like to mention a couple of other points from my own experiences as a tutor.

The very nature of a small group creates an atmosphere of familiarity, and over time a relationship develops, based on the principle that ‘we’re all in this together’. Pupils from different schools share ideas and compare approaches to topics, resulting in a broadening of their knowledge and experience. Pupils become aware, through sharing, that there are many different routes which can be taken to arrive at the same conclusion. For example, in one session looking at long multiplication, with 5 pupils preparing for 11+, every child had been taught differently in school. The pupils took it in turns to demonstrate ‘their’ methods to each other and decide which they preferred to adopt. I learned a few things on that occasion too, as a couple of the methods were new to me.

Small groups give children the opportunity to take a more active part in their own learning by exploring and discussing approaches in a way they don’t have time for in school.

 

Lillian’s experiences are heart-warming, and allow us to see the other skills that children improve whilst being tutored in small groups.

By allowing children to share their ideas in a fresh environment and encouraging them to make their own choices about their individual learning methods, they are practising social skills that will continue to be of value to their development right through to their adult lives.

The emphasis on personal development whilst achieving educational goals is a key part of Genie Tutors’ principles.

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Why tutoring is a year round activity – not just for the exam period!

As January, a busy time in the academic calendar, comes to a close, many students will be able to indulge in a well deserved rest this weekend. Notebooks and worksheets can be substituted for television remotes and mobile phones for a bit of “down time”. Come Monday, however, these students will no doubt be told, by a teacher, tutor or parent, in some iteration that their work is not over. Predictable though it may be, it also carries truth.

The reminder that education is a constant feature of a child’s life, and not merely a focus for the months of June and January, must be carried over to the world of tutoring. Often, parents and children alike will look at tutoring as a service that can carry pupils through a single test. However, at Genie Tutors we believe that year round tutoring brings our children much larger benefits than short term bursts of extra education.

Firstly, it’s important to remember exam preparation is a long term process, not simply crammed into the days and weeks before an examination. Pupils will learn exam content over the course of several months. By attending tutoring over this whole period, our tutors will be able to accurately identify gaps in a child’s learning or areas where they need extra help more effectively than they would in a few short sessions, as this tutor describes well.

Another benefit to year round tutoring is the prevention of the so called ‘summer slide’. The ‘summer slide’ is a well known concept in education, and it states that children can often regress drastically over the summer period when not in any form of education. The summer break is important to kids, but it is equally important to keep their brain active during this period. Tutoring is the perfect way to provide your ­­child with a fun and engaging educational activity without the stress of full time education – helping your child even more once they get back into school.

Tutoring also has numerous benefits to children’s lives outside of pure educational benefits. As our previous blog talked about, there are numerous social and confidence related benefits to working in small tutoring groups. Interacting with a cross section of children in small groups inspires confidence and ingenuity. Also, putting a child into last minute exam tutoring could well decrease confidence and self motivation  –while long term tutoring can be perceived as a regular activity that can then help a child develop.

With more contact time comes more development. At Genie Tutors we strive to help children reach their target grades at school, but also wish to inspire broader educational and personal progress in our children. This two pronged approach to education delivers fantastic results on all measurable levels, for long lasting development in your child’s education.

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5 ways a parent can help their child prepare for exams.

 

The January exam season is well under way. Exam periods for children can often invoke images of bunkering down beneath piles of books and wallpapers being barely visible under the collage of mind maps. It will most likely be a stressful time for a child and in turn can make a stressful environment at home. As a parent, exam periods are usually a balancing game, you don’t want to be hovering over your child’s shoulder, as that often doesn’t help them learn, but you want to provide the most care in a trying time of the year for your son or daughter.

 

Below are five ways in which a parent can help their child through exam season.

 

  1. Make sure your child isn’t spending every waking minute at their desks. Whether this is making sure they eat dinner at the family table, or just taking short breaks after an allotted time period, this small relaxation period is exactly what children need to be able to concentrate properly. At school the walk between classrooms between lessons is perfect for this and making sure the idea translates to revision at home will give significant boosts to study productivity.
  1. Make sure you are on top of the practicalities of exam season. Think of going to an airport – a stressful time for the family is managed by keeping all of your important documents in one location. Making sure your child has a copy of their timetable, all the necessary equipment and all the learning resources they need for their exams in one place removes a lot of the faff that can put additional stress on the period.
  1. “Drink plenty of fluids, eat a good healthy breakfast,” are the words of the author of The Ultimate Study Skills Handbook. Though written for university students, this advice is doubly important for school age children. Without nagging, assure your child has plenty of water available while revising, and make sure they have a healthy meal the night before their exam. Save the takeaway as a post-exam celebration! Also remember, eating breakfast helps with children’s concentration throughout the day, so make sure they are properly fed on the day!
  1. It is likely that your child will have multiple exams over a single exam period. One thing that can often derail a child in between exams is trying to deconstruct how the exam went. It’s important from a parental perspective to celebrate the hard work that has gone into taking the exam, rather than lament the potential result. Give your child some relaxation time to clear their mind through a fun activity, and remind them that one missed answer won’t change their life!
  2. Help your child organise their study space. Trying to learn can easily become very frustrating if you aren’t organised in your approach. A simple misplaced worksheet can add to the stress of revising and put up barriers to learning where they need not exist. Best done as early as possible, assist your child in making sure the environment they are working in is comfortable and organised – making sure they are also happy with the space they have for revision.
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5 Benefits of Small Group Learning

5 Benefits of Small Group Learning

Over recent years, a continuing theme in education is the overcrowding of state schools.  Reports of 100,000 pupils being put into overcrowded state schools during 2010 soon changed to sports halls being converted into classrooms in 2014 and a Notting Hill primary school with a 92m catchment area.  One thing we can be sure about – modern education has become a crowded and competitive market.  As these changes continue to take place we start asking ourselves is there any benefit to small group learning? and does class size effect children’s performance in school?

One thing we really value at Genie Tutors is our ability to take children out of that stressful, crowded surroundings and into a smaller and relaxed setting to enhance your child’s ability to learn. Therefore all our tuition centres provide a small group learning environment designed to progress your child on a weekly basis.  Find your local tuition centre here.

Below are just five benefits to learning in smaller groups and why Genie Tutors provided this service.

1. Flexible Learning

One advantage of small group learning is that time can more flexibly be allocated to where it is needed. If one or two children are struggling with a concept, then it is likely worth the entire group working a bit harder on said topic, or failing that, it can be easier to monitor the rest of the students whilst taking one student to the side for individual attention.

2. Inspiring Confidence

Often when pupils don’t participate in large group discussions, it can be an issue of self belief, rather than the assumed laziness. However, in smaller groups, the informal atmosphere can often allow tutors to bring all students into the conversation, giving them the encouragement they need to participate. Furthermore, for those in single gender or faith schools, tutoring can also be an important factor in increasing social skills with people of other backgrounds.

3. More Opportunities for Feedback

All too often at schools, feedback for students can be limited to marked work and annual parents’ evenings. In smaller groups, feedback on work can go well beyond an A* to F grade, or a score out of 10. Furthermore, in the more informal and relaxed environment, students are more likely to receive instant feedback on their ideas as they are contributing more to discussions, which is hard to replicate on a larger scale.

4. People can be Patient

Lesson plans in modern teaching can often feature an airtight schedule. In the world of 30 child classrooms and constant testing, if one child needs a bit of extra attention on a particular topic, this can often slip through the cracks. This is not the fault of teachers, but merely a reality of the current education system. However, in small group settings, tutors and teachers are much more likely to be able to deviate from a less rigid plan and allow kids to develop at their own pace.

5. Small Groups can Build Team Working Skills.

The more intimate environment of a small learning group is also great for building teamwork skills. Whilst students may sink into the background or get distracted in large settings, a small, tight knit team working towards the same problem or project places a child in a situation where they have to be socially active, bringing both educational and social progress forward at the same time.

Find out how small group learning at Genie Tutors can help your child by searching for your local tuition centre or you can request a call back from us, to book a free trial at your closest centre.