MST science

Create a Scientifically Inspired Homework Space

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When homework and revision are a challenge for students, many parents struggle to know how they can help. One simple way you can be involved is by setting aside a place at home where your student can work effectively. Environment plays a big role in supporting your child’s revision efforts. One 2015 study by the University of Salford found as much as a 16% difference in student performance could be attributed to environmental factors including lighting, temperature, and customisation.

Home learning environments are growing increasingly important as families look online for courses to help students maintain their skills or tutoring to help improve their scores.

Helping your student find a dedicated spot for homework and revision allows them to work more quickly and efficiently. The best space is quiet and has sufficient room for supplies and revision aids. Ample research has gone into how to make school and office environments more effective and these same ideas can be applied to your home too. Here are a few tips from the experts to help get you started.

  1. Ergonomic is best

A desk or table is the foundation of a good workspace. According to the charity BackCare, a quarter of all secondary students in the UK suffer from regular back pain. An appropriately sized desk plays an important role in keeping your student pain-free, both at school and at home. When it comes to purchasing a desk one size does not fit all. Consider instead buying classroom tables, which are available in multiple heights, so that you can select one in your child’s size.

  1. Light for Success

If possible, put your student near a window. The natural light and airflow has been shown to promote good health and create a positive learning environment. A quality desk lamp is also essential for those evening homework sessions.

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How Leicester’s Premier League win can help you to succeed in your studies

Absurd. Astonishing. Amazing. Unbelievable. Remarkable. These are just some of the words that describe Leicester City’s recent Premier League win. But, impossible? No. As their manager Claudio Raniero said when he wrote in The Players’ Tribune, “This is a small club that is showing the world what can be achieved through spirit and determination. Twenty-six players. Twenty-six different brains. But one heart.”

PICTURE ALEX HANNAM - Burton Albion v Leicester City - Claudio Ranieri - STORY

Previously plodding along at the bottom of the Premier League, at risk of relegation, they were thought of as failures; people didn’t take them seriously. Even the bookmakers’ odds last summer on them winning the Premier League were 5,000-to-1. Can you imagine how those players felt when they ran onto the pitch facing a top-notch club? Knowing that no one believed in them? Their focus at the time must have been to simply get through the match. Not win it. And this is how I think a lot of my students feel about their schooling and exams. Their focus is on the finish but not on the win. Why?

In my work as a tutor I see many children who have convinced themselves they are bad at maths or science or they are unable to do it. This most certainly comes from the fact they do not have the time in the classroom to repeat things, which leads to misunderstanding of the subjects, then bad marks, then frustration, anger and finally disengagement. If you have no fans cheering you on, or no Raniero believing in you why would you keep heading back for failure? It is hard to have belief in yourself when you have not seen success.

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Like Raniero I believe nothing is impossible given hard work and determination. I am testament to this. I went to a rundown school in Moss Side where I failed all but two of my GCSEs. But a few years later I was doing a PhD at Cambridge. This turnaround was due to a change in my focus and the desire to challenge myself but also from an inspirational physics teacher I met when doing my resits. He believed in his students and made the subject engaging. I wanted to learn and succeed because I was interested. And when I began to see good results my confidence grew and my attitude changed. I believed I could achieve and I knew the measure of work this would take. It was never easy but I persisted, as Leicester did. Once you taste that success you fight for it.

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Counting on a Good Start: Pre-School Maths

 

Pre school maths tuitionAs dad to two daughters under-5, pre-school learning is a topic that is close to my heart. I tutor  children from as young as 6 years old so I appreciate the impact of those early years; those vital development stages before official education begins. This tender time when the foundations of all later learning are built, through play, interaction and everyday activities.

Children begin learning about number, shape and space as they play with objects, pour water in the bath or share with their siblings. I was recently playing a game of catch with my 4 year-old, (currently at nursery). We were playing ‘up to 10′ and when my daughter got to 7 I had asked her how many more points to win. She paused for thought and a few seconds later replied ‘3.’ I will admit I was (pleasantly) surprised for I had not taught her any formal maths. It made me realise how children gain experience of more complex concepts in a practical context. For instance, children develop an implicit notion of probability, something that researchers have even found in babies. Developmental Psychologist, Alison Gopnik describes this fascinating experiment:

Eight-month-old babies were shown a box full of mixed-up Ping-Pong balls: mostly white but with some red ones mixed in. The babies were more surprised, and looked longer and more intently at the experimenter when four red balls and one white ball were taken out of the box — a possible, yet improbable outcome — than when four white balls and a red one were produced. nytimes.com

The groundwork that is laid for later mathematical learning through stimulating experiences and an enriching environment in the early years can’t be underestimated. In many ways children’s earliest learning is the most important, just as strong foundations are essential to any building. I often find that difficulties students are having in maths can be traced back to more basic concepts that were not properly grasped. For instance a primary school child who hasn’t fully understand the concept of ‘place value’ and can’t explain that 12 is one ten and 2 units will be totally lost when it comes to arithmetic beyond the most simple sums.

So, how can we as parents support our children’s emerging mathematical skills and understanding in the pre-school years?

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Ten things to remember as a parent in exam season

As parents our priority is ensuring the needs of our children are met and during exam time this need is at an all time alert! With additional pressures and worries it is important you are able to provide sufficient support to help them cope. So this week we consider how, as a parent, you can sail through the choppy currents of exam time without feeling overwhelmed with the strains and stresses yourself.

You will need to be many things for your child; their facilitator, their soundboard, their support and their parent. So here are some things to remember to help you with this during exam time.

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No. 1 Remember to give them space…

Space and calm to revise is crucial. They need to feel as relaxed as they can about revising else it is a pointless task. Avoid trying to control how they study as this only adds undue pressure. They need to feel responsible for their own learning. This does not mean, of course, leaving them to their own devices and hoping they pick up a book! Ask them when they are planning to revise and how you can help with this e.g. ensuring the house is quiet at certain times or being available to test them.

No. 2 Remember planning is key…

Planning will ease their concerns as well as yours! Sit down and write a list with them breaking down all the subjects they need to cover, or help them devise a revision timetable. A plan will help them to stay focused and reduce your need to check up on them!

No. 3 Remember your exam days…

Looking back at how you coped during exam time can help give you an insight into how your child is thinking. No matter what your results were, this period was probably accompanied with worry, anxiety and even a sense of isolation. Were your parents supportive? What would you have appreciated from them? Can you give this to your child?

No. 4 Remember this is all part of growing up…

Experiencing challenges is essential for a child’s emotional development. Through preparing for and sitting exams they hone crucial skills such as patience, organisation, concentration and resilience, all of which are needed for success and survival in the adult world. Think of this time as a naturally tough but necessary phase for your child.

Private tuition by MSTNo. 5 Remember to provide all round support…

Cooking nutritious meals, having healthy snacks on standby, encouraging them to break for a cup of tea or go for a refreshing walk with you are all great for ensuring they are getting the correct sustenance mentally and physically. Be their support by letting them know during breaks you are available to them to offer assurance or distraction. It is also important to notice changes in their behaviour. Are they eating properly? Are they getting enough rest? How is their general mood? Look, listen and respond to your child.

 

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