School’s Out, Reports are In

School’s Out, Reports are In

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:

  1. Praise Progress

    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.
  1. Effort Counts

    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.
  1. 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.
  1. Build Relationships

    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.

Children’s Writing, Creativity and Exam performance

Children’s Writing, Creativity and Exam performance

We receive lots of inquiries about students and their problems with writing. The connection between the tech age and writing is apt in this instance. We have great tools to enhance children’s learning, however while these tools are a standard in classrooms, how much time is actually spent in the quiet contemplation of writing by pen and hand.

As I search for images of children writing, the most appealing are those taken outdoors surrounded by nature or in a warm cosy corner of a house.  To me writing is an art form and one that has been forsaken in favour of technological tools that  thrill a child’s visual senses. However are their senses being awakened to the detriment of an inherent creativity that lies within all of us.

As a child I was an avid reader and writer.  Without realisation, they provided me with priceless opportunities to grow in areas of self discovery, contemplation and self expression.  As  I speak with parents on the subject of the child’s reticence to write,  I am grieved by the lack of emphasis on this skill in many classroom settings and carry a concern that it is a dying art.

The huge issue however is this; children falter in their enjoyment of writing, they struggle with the development of ideas and an understanding for the structure of writing and how to engage the reader. How does this really affect a student’s performance at school?

For many who read this short expose, they will wonder why it is so important to be a skilled craftsperson of pen and paper writing. My answer will always be twofold. On a personal level, handwriting is a creative act that uses a part of the brain that will be lost if not used. On a practical level, it is the medium by which we expect our children and youth to perform in examinations and thus the reason for the many inquiries I receive on this subject – children struggle with short and extended written answers in pen and paper examinations and how can WE help.

For further support and an understanding about methods you can use to assist your child OR how Nepean Tutoring can offer blocks of lessons to bring the writer in your child to the fore, you will find me excited to discuss this topic with you.  Access the contact form at and I will schedule a time for a no obligation call.

Learning- An unexpected Journey

Learning – An Unexpected Journey

Five and a half years ago, I fell on black ice in England and smashed my shoulder to pieces, which left me in a state of trauma. The loss of my home in rural England, my isolation from loved ones, my lack of income and, most decidedly, the need to return home for some serious treatment and rehabilitation catalysed my return to Australia and the end of my European chapter.

The healing process for this injury involved three bouts of surgery, over a year of rehabilitation and many hours on my own to think about my future as a teacher and to re-evaluate my ideas about learning.  It was during this time that I began to conquer many of my own personal disappointments as I fought to overcome the loss of my dream to teach and travel throughout Europe.  I was thrust into a state of isolation emotionally, physically and financially, and could have drawn up the bed covers and wallowed in my own pity party with good reason.

However, after almost two years, I slowly found the confidence to begin a little work again. While convalescing, I decided to move out from my comfort zone into a new learning journey and investigate how I could utilise internet technology to build a small business – how to build a website, how to market a product and to learn what all the social media fuss was about.  As thus, with many birth pains, Nepean Tutoring was born.  What started in a little rented unit in Penrith in January 2012 and has thrived far beyond my initial expectations.

Previously, I had been a classroom teacher for twelve years in Australia and for a year in the UK. I loved the creativity that this career provided me; to be able think outside the square and help children learn in ways that best suited them was exciting and rewarding.  I always believed that a productive classroom was a busy place where all children were engaged in learning which they enjoyed (whether that be in small groups or independently).  I liked the idea of child-centred learning,  but also believed that left to their own devices entirely,  many children would acquire gaps in their learning that would interfere with their ability to remain confident and actively engaged in the formal school arena.

With a passion to teach others that learning is about many facets of a child’s development, I had a strong desire to change the way tutoring was perceived in the community. I learned the importance of listening closely to the concerns of parents and students, and to begin to offer what I believe to be a unique model of home tutoring across all grades and subjects.

I had always known that the first objective should be for students to desire to learn, to feel confident they could overcome any difficulties with support, and that they be treated with respect and dignity. I also knew that the development of creative thinking, the ability to express ideas outside a prescribed paradigm, and fostering a child’s joy of discovery were keys to success.  Learning through all our senses and adding to the formal learning model, rather than regurgitating it outside the classroom, has become central to my learning journey as a tutor.

Today, teachers and parents are faced with many challenges and demands, and I feel  that Nepean Tutoring offers a model in which we can work together as a support team to provide successful  learning outcomes.  Moving forward, I intend to further explore the needs of our community in the home tutoring niche, and continue to listen to the ideas of the tutors who work with me, along with the parents who trust their children to our expertise.  My own learning journey, during the past three years, has been full of invaluable experiences – but they are only of value if they are utilised to assist others.

Do I need a Tutor for my Child?


The decision to seek a tutor for your child can be somewhat daunting and confusing.  There are a variety of reasons you might head off on the journey to find a tutor for your son or daughter:

  • You may have noticed they don’t seem to be reading or writing as well as their peers.
  • They are expressing frustration with Mathematics and inform you they do not understand certain concepts.
  • Perhaps a teacher has told you that your child is struggling with a particular area of their learning.
  • You receive a less than favourable report that shows a drop in or little improvement in their grades.
  • Your daughter or son is preparing for the HSC and is drowning in the demands placed on them to complete assessment tasks and maintain a study program.
  • Your child has missed a block of schooling due to illness and requires some catch up tutoring to bring them up to speed.
  • Your own intuition just tells you they need some help.


These are some of the common reasons we receive emails and phone calls from parents seeking a tutor for their child. What I have come to learn, in the dialogue between myself and parents, is that they simply want to provide their son or daughter with the ability to work to their potential, to be given the confidence to do so and to have a mentor who will regularly encourage them on a one to one basis.


Children and teens are well aware when they are not reaching their personal goals or are struggling to keep up with school expectations.  Over time they can develop a sense of “learned helplessness” if problems are not arrested early. You might see a change in their enthusiasm in going to school, hear them complain about school in general and notice a reticence to engage in their homework tasks. In a busy classroom with twenty five plus students it is so easy for a student to slip through the cracks and this is when we find they have lost confidence in their ability to catch up. Tutors come to the rescue and solve these problems by


  • building a good relationship with the student
  • bringing activities and tasks that allow a student to succeed in the first instance
  • And, finally, working with the student to fill in the gaps which enables the student to be better prepared in the areas which they have found challenging.

student classroom The tutor/student relationship is crucial to success. When a student is comfortable with their tutor, they are morereceptive to learning, are more likely to overcome their fear of failure, to ask questions and are therefore more willing to tackle previous learning issues without frustrations. Matching the correct tutor with a student is the most important first step. From my dialogue with parents it is about knowing that your child needs a good “role model”.  If a mentor type relationship can be established, a student is more receptive to allow the tutor to capitalise on their strengths which in turn will give them confidence to work with the tutor to overcome their weaknesses.

There is no set time to look for a tutor, but it is best to offer your son or daughter help sooner rather than later.

How Can a Speech Pathologist Help Your Child

For many parents hearing your child utter his/her first word is one joyous moment. Although their speech skills don’t stand out on their first few stages of speech development, language acquisition is not a problem for most children.

Every child develops at his/her own pace. For most children, they will outgrow communication challenges like an occasional stutter, but not in some cases. It is estimated that 7-10% of Australian children experience speech and language difficulties and in the US, about 10 percent of all Americans have some speech problem.

What is Speech Disorder?

Speech disorder refers to a condition in which a person has problems creating or forming the speech sounds needed to communicate with others.

A child with a speech disorder may have difficulty with articulation, voice, fluency, or any combination of these.
Speech disorders include:

• Articulation disorders: difficulties producing sounds in syllables or saying words incorrectly to the point that listeners can’t understand what’s being said. (e.g “Race” may sound like “Ways” or “Sick” may sound like “Thick”.)
• Fluency disorders: problems such as stuttering, in which the flow of speech is interrupted by abnormal stoppages, repetitions (st-st-stuttering), or prolonging sounds and syllables (ssssstuttering).
• Resonance or voice disorders: problems with the pitch, volume, or quality of the voice that distract listeners from what’s being said. These types of disorders may also cause pain or discomfort for a child when speaking.
• Dysphagia/oral feeding disorders: these include difficulties with drooling, eating, and swallowing.


So how can you determine if your child’s speech skills is within the normal range or if he/she needs professional help?

It can be really confusing but there should be some signals that should alarm you as a parent. If your child has difficulties expressing him or herself and cannot follow instructions at all, if he/she seems to use fewer words compared to other kids of a similar age group and mispronounces key sounds, then it is best that you should seek the advice of a speech pathologist.

Speech Pathologists and What They Do

A Speech Pathologist also known as a Speech Therapist, specializes in communication disorders. They assess speech, language, cognitive-communication, and oral/feeding/swallowing skills, and identify if your child has a specific communication problem and provides the best way to treat the disorder.

A Speech pathologist creates creative and positive therapy programs for children with speech disorders. They work on creating a positive learning environment by engaging family members to encourage and support kids with communication disorders.

If you suspect your child to be suffering from speech disorder, then it is never too early to seek advice. Ignoring the early signs of communication disorders can impact your child’s confidence, skills and learning. Early intervention can make a big difference to your child’s life.

Is a Phonics Approach to Reading and Spelling an Outdated Teaching Strategy?

Best practice Literacy Teaching has been the subject of much debate over the past decades. For many years large classrooms of children sat in sterile classrooms being drilled and practiced on what have become known as the basics. “Rote Learning” became a term to delineate outdated teaching strategies and a more “Child Centred” approach to teaching became “in vogue” where programs of learning were devised around the needs of the child.

This theory however could be seen to be very misguided. It begs the question: What really are the needs of the child? The idea of learning styles and preferences coincided with the idea that teachers were obligated to constantly adjust their lesson plans to meet these needs. Suddenly, teachers were implored to employ strategies that required ongoing assessment and readjustments to their original goals and objectives. In the process the real purpose for formal schooling got lost in a sea of ideas and innovative strategies to keep children engaged and happy whilst in the classroom.

More recently, some of the more innovative strategies that have been bandied around our formal education system have foregone the traditional method of a phonics approach to literacy. While many children will learn to read and write incidentally, others do require the good old fashioned methods that ensured phonemic awareness until recent times.

A sequential phonics approach to literacy ensures that children will be armed with the foundation stones of reading and writing. It is essential that young children learn every sound in the alphabet and every blend that is formed through our alphabetic system to become competent and confident readers and spellers. If teachers fail to impart these basic skills to their students, young learners begin to accumulate the gaps in their learning that lead to serious literacy problems in the middle and senior years.

At present, Australian literacy levels are far below those of students some thirty or so years ago.  Sadly, in the wake of this deficite students in their teenage years are failing in their ability to read confidently and therefore do not develop the critical thinking skills required for academic success. There are many arguments against a traditional phonics based method of literacy teaching, but if we are to prepare students for 21st century learning, they need to develop the ability to be analytical and critical readers and writers. They need to be able to access information and comprehend its content. Also in order to achieve well at tertiary level education, they need to be able to understand the structure of language which includes accurate reading and writing skills.

Over the coming months, I invite you to watch this site as a realistic phonics based program of reading and spelling is presented to subscribers of Nepean Tutoring. Get ready as we wind back the clock to when a strictly phonics approach to literacy was the hallmark of excellence in reading and spelling.