Gamification of learning is the idea of applying game principles (e.g. scoring points, competing with others, leader boards) to education to increase interest and engagement in learning.
Physical (non-digital) games are routinely used by teachers, especially in primary school, to encourage team work, participation, cooperation, and expend energy. In both primary and early high school, online maths games are used, like physical games, as an additional learning tool to make maths fun and interesting, especially as concepts become more complex.
There are countless examples of online maths games including coolmathsgames.com, Mathletics, and mathsisfun.com, which are used to practice addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, telling the time, fractions, percentages, and more in an entertaining way.
But do online games produce results or are they a distraction from serious learning?
Online maths games are not a substitute for instruction and explanation and must be balanced with other approaches to teaching. Educators and parents must be aware that games:
can be a distraction from learning if the student does not know the learning outcome or purpose of the game
may encourage a reliance on extrinsic motivators (e.g. peer recognition, status, grades) rather than intrinsic motivators (e.g. personal satisfaction, improved self-confidence)
might lead to the assumption that recall speed equals success.
There are, however, many benefits of gamification in learning, especially maths, such as:
Developing problem solving skills through experimentation and strategic thinking
Encouraging resilience and persistence
Giving students the freedom to fail, using mistakes as a motivator to try another way
Tailoring challenges at a level and pace appropriate to the individual’s ability
Providing an immersive medium to encourage focus and attention to learning
Inspiring curiosity, particularly in theoretical subjects
Developing computer literacy and confidence
Increasing retention through interactivity
Enhancing pattern recognition and understanding of numbers
Giving instant feedback and visible progress (rewards, level-ups, badges) which increases the desire to learn and improve.
Games are an excellent way of demonstrating that learning can be enjoyable and rewarding. Online maths games are especially useful for bridging the gap between the classroom and home because they provide a meaningful way of practicing concepts in a way that doesn’t attract the usual groans when ‘homework’ is mentioned.
If your child uses online maths games, a great way to support your child’s learning is to talk to them about what they are learning from the game. Try using conversation starters such as:
What skill are you practising?
What strategy did you use?
How would you change your strategy next time?
Encourage your child to reflect upon their learning and to remember that learning takes place in all areas of life: within and outside of the classroom, and, like reading, in real and virtual worlds.
During school holidays, and especially after the tumultuous term we’ve just had, no one would argue that our students need a rest. Time away from school brings with it the question of whether they should take a break from their studies, and if so, when school and tutoring should resume.
Whether we realise it or not, many students, parents, and even teachers, believe that tutoring is only necessary during the 9 or 10 weeks of term time, and that it’s only useful when the student has assignments or homework. But that’s not the whole picture. An understanding of the role of a tutor in your child’s education may be helpful at this time.
So what do tutors do?
The role of a ‘tutor’ has more in common with concepts such as ‘guard’, ‘guide’, ‘mentor’, and ‘coach’, compared to ‘teacher’ which is more synonymous with ‘instructor’, or someone who models a procedure or concept.
At Nepean Tutoring, we want to emphasise that tutors are far more than homework helpers. The role of a tutor is to guide students to the point where they become independent learners. Independent learning skills benefit the learner beyond an academic context, equipping them with critical thinking and problem solving skills to carry them into future decision making situations as they step out and live their own lives.
The purpose of tutoring is to guide students to become independent learners through individual attention and a structured approach to skills development. With consistent effort, over time, students are capable of:
Starting homework and assignments on their own
Knowing where to find reliable information and what to look for
Understanding texts and taking notes in their own words
Developing and articulating their own ideas
Habit coaches affirm that regular practice is fundamental to skill development, whether that be playing the guitar, achieving fluency in French, becoming a prize-winning novelist or a world-famous sportsperson, or learning to read and write.
The benefit of your commitment to a 10-week tutoring package is that scheduling in regular revision allows students to work on their weaknesses and fine-tune vital learning skills before the pressure of keeping up with the homework and assignments begins. It reinforces a habit of learning that is vital for success. The first week of tutoring, particularly for secondary students, should be dedicated to a combination of:
Goal setting and planning their schedule to balance study with extra-curricular activities
Revision of difficult concepts
Instruction on study skills, exam techniques and essay writing
Encouragement to maintain a positive mindset
When the student doesn’t have specific content from school, tutors use the student’s interests to make the sometimes tiresome work of practice and revision more engaging through activities that encourage curiosity and foster a desire to learn. This is particularly relevant for our younger students.
The skills and confidence to tackle life’s problems independently is the greatest gift that we as parents, tutors, and educators can give to future generations. A week or two of tutoring without the pressures of homework and assignments can make a huge difference in developing curiosity and persistence, which are essential characteristics of learners who successfully adapt knowledge and experiences to solve school and life problems.
Nepean Tutoring is dedicated to providing effective and dynamic educational support and developing foundational skills to equip and inspire the next generation of inquisitive, independent learners. Our 10-week packages ensure that we don’t lose important learning opportunities in that process.
Many students go through stages where it appears they are wholly disinterested in school. They might say, “School’s boring,” and without elaborating further, parents feel powerless to help.
Closer observation or speaking to their teachers might reveal underlying factors such as low self-esteem, trouble at home, conflict with friends, physical or mental illness, learning difficulties, or that they are over- or under-challenged in the classroom. Knowing the cause is helpful, but what do you do when nagging your child to do their homework or threatening to take away privileges is has lost its effect?
Ultimately, motivation has to come from within, but parents and teachers can play a significant role in inspiring students to learn. The key thing to remember is that learning is not confined to the classroom. We are constantly gaining knowledge about history, culture, politics, people, and the environment from the news, our entertainment choices, and our discussions with others. As we reflect on our own experiences and empathise with the experiences of others, we are challenging and developing our opinions, and acquiring wisdom for future decisions.
Here are a few approaches you can try to stimulate your child’s curiosity:
Identify their learning style (visual, auditory, kinaesthetic, introverted, extroverted, etc) and try a different approach to school work that is more appealing. For example, tackle a maths problem by drawing diagrams or study for a history test through a family discussion about the causes and effects of World War One.
Encourage participation in family discussions. Sometimes students disengage because they are afraid of getting the answers wrong. Informal discussions about current affairs or theorising about what will happen next in your favourite television drama allows for students to ‘take risks’ in a safe environment where they don’t feel the pressure of comparison. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge when your child has a good idea or if you decide to change your opinion. This lets them know that it’s okay to be wrong and that there is no shame in reviewing information and changing your mind.
Get out of the house. Go for a walk together to review content for an upcoming exam or unpack a daunting assignment. This might also create space for the student to talk about other issues or struggles which are affecting them.
See a movie together. Use their current film, TV and Netflix viewing to discuss plot, themes, soundtrack, and casting. Understanding the storytelling techniques of media they are interested in can spark ideas about the novels and films being studied in class.
Make links between the student’s interests and passions and the classroom. If they love sport but hate reading, find articles of game results or personality profiles to make reading more relevant. If they love food but hate maths, try doubling or halving a recipe together to see fractions in action.
Highlight progress, no matter how small. Celebrating their wins will help them to see the positives in what they are learning and develop vital self-confidence. Even if their level of improvement doesn’t correspond to your standards of achievement, recognising their accomplishments according to their standards can go a long way towards improving their self-esteem.
Still no luck? Many students find that a fresh face or a new approach can help them to reignite an interest in learning, or deal with any underlying learning problems that are causing them to disengage. At Nepean Tutoring, we boast an extensive team of experienced, enthusiastic, creative tutors. Simply Contact Us and we’ll match a tutor to suit your unique requirements.
NAPLAN is not the be-all and end-all of a student’s learning career, but it does provide a helpful indication of those areas in which they require some extra attention. The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) who facilitate NAPLAN do not recommend excessive preparation for the tests as this can contribute to unhelpful exam anxiety and can even cause students to feel as though they are not good at a certain subject because they did not achieve their desired grade.
The ultimate goal of school is to teach students how to learn, so that they can become curious, open-minded, and discerning citizens, which is increasingly valuable in a technology-driven global economy.
Commencing a regular tutoring routine is an investment in your child’s learning because it gives students the one-on-one time they need to address the areas they struggle with. At Nepean Tutoring, our tutors aim to do far more than bump up a NAPLAN score. We can help to familiarise students with the exam format and complete practice papers, but our main focus is to empower students to be engaged and interested learners, who develop literacy and numeracy skills that they will use for life.
Its not too late to Contact Us to see how we can support your child for NAPLAN and beyond.
The future will be digital!”According to Prof. Pamela Snow, 1 in 7 fifteen-year-olds do not meet OECD reading standards. The OECD is an international organisation focused on facilitating a global economy. Part of this includes researching and determining international education norms and sharing successful teaching practices from other countries.
The minimum national reading standard for Year 9 students is roughly equivalent to the average Year 5 reading level. According to prevent NAPLAN statistics, 20% of Year 9 students are at or below this level. That Australia’s literacy and numeracy averages rank below several developing countries is concerning for many politicians, educators, and parents because many of the jobs which were once termed “low-skilled” (jobs where workers were not required to have above average literacy or numeracy levels) now have minimum literacy requirements. This means that now more than ever, preparing our children for future employment necessitates giving deliberate attention to developing sound literacy skills.
Have you ever considered the power of words? Words can be used to rally supporters, inspire nations, change opinions, sell products, and guide emotions, all though the use of vocabulary and tone. Literacy, quite literally, can empower your child to change the world! And the good news is, reading is a skill that can be taught, practiced and learned. Teachers play a fundamental role in introducing students to subjects, words, and ways of sounding out and recognising words. However, in the classroom, a teacher can have up to 30 students to teach, mark homework for, and write reports for. It’s impossible for them to give struggling students all of the time they need to learn how to read, write, and handwrite. Whether your child can read well or struggles, transforming your home into a word-friendly environment is a key step you can take to foster an enthusiasm for learning to read and write, and to extend vocabulary and writing skills. Here are a few successful habits you could consider adopting in your home:
Read aloud together regularly. This could be one page a day over breakfast, or reading a chapter together before bed. Children copy what they do, so if you are enthused about reading and spending time with them, they will be too.
If your child is able to read independently, continue this habit by spending time reading silently in the same room and then discussing what you are reading.
Engage children in reading activities as part of everyday life. Ask them to read the recipe while you’re cooking, street signs in the car, grocery store catalogues before you recycle them, or the instructions for your new IKEA furniture. Pictures and illustrations prompt children to make an educated guess about words by looking at their context.
Encourage children to write regularly. Ask them to write the shopping list (even if you dictate the items so you don’t end up with 5 boxes of Coco Pops!), write on birthday cards or postcards, or write reminders for themselves to remember their PE gear on Tuesdays.
Make regular family excursions to your local library. Allow your children to feel empowered by pick and choose what they would like to read. Most library memberships are FREE if your child goes to school in the local government area.
For extra support, consider private tutoring for your child in the comfort of your own home. Tutoring is an investment in your child’s learning, giving them personal, one-to-one support to address their struggles and help them to develop confidence in their ability to learn and see improvement.
It has never been more important to learn how to read and write, and the good news is it’s never too late to start! Contact Us today to see how we can help to inspire your child’s passion for literacy and learning.
It’s the end of another busy school year and our students are settling into a well-deserved break. But beneath all the excitement of summer holidays lurks the bi-annual report card anxiety.
As parents and carers, we might look forward to seeing where our children have improved since their mid-year reports and see what they need to focus on next year. Others of us dread reports because we have seen the same comments year after year and feel at a loss as to how to change them. Sometimes it seems as though conversations with our children about talking less in class, doing their homework, or participating more in class discussions are falling on deaf ears.
Reports are a useful communicative tool between teachers and caregivers, and are an excellent guide for measuring a student’s progress and working out the most effective ways to support their learning.
Here are a few tips for tackling report card conversations:
Start discussions with a note of encouragement. Congratulate your child on completing the year and giving it their best shot. Recognise their achievements, whether or not they received any awards.
Grades are important but so is a child’s attitude towards their classes. Outside the classroom, life-long learning happens though fostering curiosity and engagement with areas of interest, which isn’t so easily measurable. Encourage their efforts and nurture their passions.
Notice Likes and Dislikes
What patterns do you notice between effort and grades? Does your child love Maths and excel easily? Do they invest significant effort but don’t achieve the marks they were striving for? Are they apathetic towards any subjects? Understanding the student’s likes and dislikes allows you to extend their knowledge of that subject, as well as use examples from the subjects they enjoy to increase the relatability of more challenging subjects.
Ask your child to assess their teacher’s comments. Do they agree or disagree? Can they identify areas where they want assistance or specific changes they need to make? Let them know you care about them as a person as well as a student and use these reflective conversations to encourage the student to suggest solutions.
“We’ve had the talk. Now what?”
Do you want to challenge your child to expand their skills in their favourite subject?
Does your child need help to develop the self-confidence to conquer challenging content?
Do they need assistance with study skills or motivation?
Nepean Tutoring boasts an extensive team of tutors experienced in primary, high school and tertiary coaching. Spaces for 2020 are filling up fast, so now is the time to contact us to see how we can help you and your child to achieve their learning goals.
If you would like a tutor to commence in the summer holidays, simply let us know and we’ll match you with the best tutor for your requirements.
If you have any questions, please contact us and we would love to have a chat.