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Study smart this Christmas

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

Gah! Exams always appear at the most inconvenient times, don’t they? When it’s hot in the summer, or just before or after Christmas.

The truth is, exams are a process that we all go through in life. So rather than feel ‘doom and gloom,’ aim to study smart this Christmas.

Here’s our roundup of top tips so you can do just that this festive season:

  1. Hit the target! List tricky subject areas and focus on them, not what you find easy. If you are daunted by something, mooch over to YouTube. Countless teachers now add videos to share. This is especially good if you can’t get on with trawling through exercise books to revise. Targeted revision like this will also mean you have plenty of time to enjoy yourself as well.
  2. Book some fun! Star Wars: the Last Jedi is hitting the screens now. Book advanced tickets, if you’re looking for a galactic buzz this Christmas. If you’re not a die-hard fan, get yourself out the house doing something you love. Jump about at a trampoline park maybe? Or else check out local attractions.
  3. Revise and recall! One of the best ways to retain information is to revise for short bursts (of half an hour) and then apply that knowledge by testing yourself. This way you’ll feel like you’re making solid progress. Maybe do a test on algebra, or study a couple of poems and write a comparison essay? Use online papers from exam boards, or just google it. You’d be surprised by how many free papers are online!

And if you hit a brick wall over Christmas, write a list of the things you struggle with and resolve to do something positive about it when you are back at school.

Arranging a tutor can be one of the quickest and most helpful ways to knock uncertainty on the head. Drop a line to 121 Home Tutors for further advice. With a fab team covering many areas across Cheshire and Manchester, we’re sure to have someone to help you.

May the power of the force be with you this Christmas!

Why hire a private tutor?

Sunday, October 15th, 2017

Why are more and more parents turning to private tuition to support their child achieve? Everyone has a personal reason, of course.

However, as one of the top tuition services across Manchester and Cheshire, here are just four reasons we constantly come across:

A confidence booster

If your child is struggling at school, and just can’t get a handle on a weaker subject, private one to one tuition can help your child get to grips with a tricky topic fast.

Unable to ask for help

Many children are introverts, and hate asking for help in class. Usually the fear of looking ‘stupid’ in front of peers can scupper them from sticking their hand up. Over time, struggling becomes the norm, followed by plummeting grades and student stress.

One snag is that if you went to school in the Dark Ages (!!), you’ll know that many subjects are taught differently nowadays.

So if you don’t feel confident teaching trigonometry, Science subjects or 19th century literature, a private tutor can help! Besides, most children prefer their parents to be parents – not teachers.

Teacher change/issue

Some children feel lost when their teacher leaves – often finding it hard to transition to a new one.

Sometimes, too, teachers are so busy fire-fighting poor behaviour in class, that your child’s problem gets inadvertently over-looked.

Quality time with a tutor can help your child re-engage with the subject again.

Lagging grades

If your child or teen comes home from school with a bad report and shame written all over their face, you’ll know how hard the fall is when grades slip. And worse, some children find it so hard to claw back by themselves…

A private tutor will not only help your child work out why their grade slipped in the first place, but help them develop new strategies to ace it next time.

Finally, a good tutor will help your child believe in themselves more rather than feel such shame at failing. After all, learning from failure is the way we all learn in life.

Call 121 Home Tutors today

Call Alison and the team if your child is struggling, if they need a boost to their grades, or you want your son or daughter to prepare for an entrance or mock exam.

The Science Behind How to Study Successfully

Thursday, October 5th, 2017

It’s true! Science proves beyond doubt that there are certain learning and revision techniques which just work. If you find studying for your GCSEs or A Levels a hard slog, try these little beauties:

  1. Keep on movin’:

    Yes… Gone are the days where you have to stay cooped up in your bedroom for hours on end. Studies show that the brain is more active if you not only switch study locations regularly, but if you move around every hour too. What’s not to love?!

  2. Exercise your mind:

    Would you believe that getting regular exercise increases your capacity to think, remember information and solve problems? It does. No excuses now!  

  3. Variety is the spice of life: 

    Not only will studying one subject per day bore you silly, it’ll be counter productive over time. Chop and change subjects every hour with a break in between to help memory recall and keep your brain tip top. 

  4. Get some shuteye: 

    What’s just as important as exercise? Sleep! The days of staying up all night revision cramming before an exam are over. Remember: deep sleep nurtures and repairs brain cells. Fact! Interested in more sleep science? Check this link out. 

Study skills rusty? Unsure how to do your best?

Studying isn’t easy – especially when you seem to have a million and one things to do. That’s why it can make all the difference in the world to get some expert help from a one to one tutor.

With private tutors available across the Manchester and Cheshire areas, there’s someone there to help you find your way. With tried and tested revision tips ‘n tricks on hand, you can get through it all with confidence. Get in touch with Alison and the team for a no-obligation chat today!

Do you get the new GCSE grades?

Sunday, September 3rd, 2017

Have you got your head around the new 9-1 grades yet? It’s a tricky old business if you’ve got used to A*- G grades for the past 30 years! So easy to be at sixes and sevens with it all!

No wonder there has been some confusion, not least because both A and C have two numerical grades – not one. How do they break down?

9 is a super A* grade with only the top 3% of students expected to achieve it. 8 is an A*, whereas 7 translates into a lower A. 6 is a B. C is a 5 and 4. With D as a 3, E and an F as a 2, and G as a 1, it will take some time before we understand these grades back to front.

To C or not to C?

Controversy over what constitutes a C grade has hit the headlines for the past year. Originally, 5 was promoted as being a strong (more desirable) C grade pass.

Education Sec. Justice Greening then stressed that pupils needn’t resit GCSE Maths or English if they achieved grade 4 – leading to the view that 4 was now deemed a standard pass.

Whether this is understood in the wider world just yet remains to be seen. Certainly, future employers in the Manchester and Cheshire areas will need to be educated themselves about how the new system works. But let’s be positive…

Let’s embrace change

Despite all the controversy, numerical grades are here to stay. And while it is tempting to try to compare them to previous years, it is pointless to do so since the exams have changed in nature. English and Literature GCSEs are all closed book exams with no differentiated tiers.

And with Maths – though still offering higher and foundation tiers – there’s no doubt that the higher papers have much more demanding content than ever before.

And while the new exam specs are different to before, it’s better to see them as do-able challenges rather than horrible hurdles.

Your child is more than a number

As ever, it will take at least another year or two before everyone gets to grip with the new numerical system. By 2019, numerical grades will be phased in across all subjects anyway.

Ultimately, for new students just about to embark on their GCSE courses this year, it’s essential to remember that you are more than a number. If you are finding it hard to get to grips with your GCSEs, always ask for help. Of course, our team of top tutors are always on hand…

Summer Term Results a Wake-Up Call?

Tuesday, July 11th, 2017

No parent wants to admit that their child is struggling with a subject or behind. But the facts speak for themselves…

Year 10 and 12 students often face mock exams in the summer term – only to find they are not where they need to be. With two full terms to go before, panic can easily set in.

Year 6, transitioning into year 7, will be either inspired by their SATs results or gutted by them. Even though this year’s end of primary SATs results were slightly up – with 61% of children reaching the expected standard in reading, writing and maths – this still leaves almost 40% of children struggling…

And worse, as they head off to enjoy a taster day at secondary, tucked in the back of their minds is that they’ve failed their first six years’ of education…

I’m rubbish

Though failure is part of life, there’s no mistaking how hard it can hit our children. Some feel ashamed that they don’t measure up, while others dread going back to school for fear of being teased.

Others, however, take it personally – as if their results are a reflection of them as human beings. If your child has ever cried, ‘I’m rubbish!’ or, ‘I hate myself’ you’ll know how devastating it can be.

That’s why it’s essential to fight feelings of failure head on:

  • Praise your child like mad. Never underestimate the power of accepting your child for their efforts as well as achievements – however small
  • Help them put the exam grades in perspective. Rather than bemoan the marks with them, discuss how to improve in the future. This will encourage them to see that failure is something to learn from
  • Arrange a spot of tuition over the summer holidays and even into the autumn term to help your child get back on track

Look forward, not back

Student stress is well documented – sadly. That’s why it’s even more important to support our children earlier to help build resilience and coping strategies as they go through their education.

If summer tuition could help your child look forward, not back, please get in touch for a no-obligation chat. As many parents across Manchester and Cheshire tell us, it’s so nice to speak to someone who understands.

Eat Smart to Boost Exam Performance

Thursday, May 25th, 2017

Did you know that food CAN improve exam performance? In fact, when you ‘eat smart,’ you can give your brain a massive dose of much-needed energy. Essential when you’re flat out revising and sitting exam papers…

Tasty tips to feed your brain

  1. Don’t skip meals… Breakfast has been proven to be the best meal of the day for teenagers sitting exams. Not only will you perform better, you won’t be struck with hunger pangs just at the moment when you’re trying to think of that quote or formula! Opt for energy-giving porridge and oat brekkies. Nosh on protein such as eggs and nuts to fill you up for longer.
  2. Drink like a fish. Water hydrates you, whereas sugary drinks eventually zap energy. If sipping water isn’t your thing, add sugar-free juice to water instead. It’s a much better option than fizzy colas or sodas as it helps keep you alert, keeps headaches at bay, and helps you perform for longer. Milk is fab too!
  3. Snacks to snaffle. Exams can drain your energy big time! Tempting as it is to raid the biscuit tin as soon as you get home, nibble on nuts instead! Fancy a fruity something? Opt for bananas and apples which slowly release energy into your bloodstream helping spread your energy out over the day.

And if you are a ‘stay-up-late-to-revise’ type, aim to get some shut-eye earlier than usual. A lack of sleep can affect your memory, as well as slow your thinking down. So get yourself tucked up in bed by 10pm!

Whether you’re in year 5, 10, 11 or 13, a healthy mind and body will boost your chances of passing those pesky entrance, GCSE or A Level exams first time round.

Call the tuition team

And don’t forget, when you need an extra helping hand, our team of tutors are on hand with support, motivation and learning techniques. Spanning the Manchester and Cheshire areas, there’s always someone here to help you through.

What’s your secret revision weapon?

Monday, April 24th, 2017

Facing GCSE or A Level exams can feel like you’re stepping into battle! And there’s no turning back…

So, you have to decide right now: are you going in fully armed ready to take on anything? Or will you have no plan of attack and simply try and dodge the bullets?

Metaphors aside, what’s one of the smartest secret weapons you can use in your run up to the exams? The internet! Where a treasure trove of past papers doth lie. YES! That’s the secret. Practice papers…

Better still, most exam board websites have them – including marking schemes. Dynamite!

Why are practice papers such a fantastic resource?

Simple! They:

  • Help you familiarise yourself with what to expect in a typical paper
  • Reduce your stress levels since the more you practise, the better you become
  • Allow you to check your answers against the examiners’ marking scheme
  • Help you get used to juggling different topics at the same time
  • Give you an opportunity to test yourself to exam conditions
  • Give you insight into the range of answers that examiners are looking for
  • Help you highlight weaker areas to focus on as part of your revision

Of course, there is only so much you can do in the lead up to your exams. That’s why testing yourself against exam standard materials can’t be beaten!

How to win the long term learning battle the smart way

If your child is in year 10 or 12, the smartest move is to plan ahead.  As our local tutors and teachers across Manchester and Cheshire say every year, they always come across a stressed-out teen who’s left revision to the last minute.

Far better to iron out any learning hurdles this year, than have a huge mountain of them next. Booking a tutor early rather than leaving it to year 11 or 13 is also a clever move. Many of our tutors are so popular that they are booked ahead.

If you don’t want to miss out, contact Alison – 121 Home Tutors’ head tutor – for a chat to discuss the best plan of attack!

Four fab stress busters!

Monday, April 10th, 2017

Have you noticed your child showing signs of stress? Given that over half of schools across the UK recently reported an increase in kids feeling more anxious, stress is becoming a more common childhood experience than ever before.

With endless pressure to pass exams and achieve – on top of the usual hormone battles – the mix is a potentially damaging one.

Firstly, bad stress impacts on learning. Anxiety stops the brain from processing and retaining information. As a result, frustration can set in – leading to children feeling overwhelmed.

Of course, stress can be a motivator. It’s a natural part of life… That’s why it matters that we help children to feel more empowered by the challenges ahead, not daunted by them. Here’s four ways to do it.

Strategies to beat stress

  1. Set realistic goals: Rome wasn’t built in a day. When you help your child win the smaller challenges, it helps build their resilience to cope with the bigger ones. Achievable step-by-step targets across several months also break down the enormity of the final exam.
  2. Make mistakes: Making mistakes helps children learn. If your child writes a story or essay, or does a subject practice paper and the result isn’t what they expected, encourage them to think about the result differently. Rather than dwelling on negatives, get them to ask: what could I have done better? Or What worked well? Reflecting on what went wrong and right, encourages a more balanced response.
  3. Think positively: Negative self-talk is something we all need to deal with at times. But in children looking for acceptance and success in life, it’s even more important that we teach our children to feel good about having a go, to accept failure and then move on to the next challenge. Encourage your child to see that doing their best on the day is good enough.
  4. Pamper yourself: Exams are not everything in life. Help your child get what their body needs: sleep, nourishing food, relaxation, fresh air. Don’t pass on your deep worries about them passing or failing exams; just try to encourage them instead. This will help them relax during downtime rather than dwell on problems.

Top local tuition to fix learning problems

Whether you live in the Manchester area, or across Cheshire, it can make a difference to seek out support with an experienced tutor. Our 121 Home Tutors team can be reached by getting in touch today.

Exam Countdown Starts Now

Monday, March 13th, 2017

Is your child facing GCSE or A Level exams this summer or next?

As we see each year, the exam season seems to appear from nowhere – catching out students and parents every time. Time really does fly – especially when you are studying for finals.

Trouble is, once panic sets in it can be hard to revise properly. So let’s look at what you can do to make the most of your time left.

Taking exams this year?

First off, let’s get cracking with a revision timetable. This will help you organise your time better over the next few months.

  • Jot down how many subjects you have, breaking each one down into papers. (Most English Lang GCSEs have two papers, for instance)
  • Then prioritise: which subjects must you get a good grade in? Which subjects are a priority, based on your mock exam results?
  • Revise by doing, not just reading. It’s no good just reading your text book: always do something proactive while you are reading. Flash cards, mind maps – anything to test your recall.
  • Test yourself silly afterwards. Doing past papers under timed conditions is the key to doing well in the summer exams. You’ll know what you’re in for, and won’t be so floored by the time restriction.

How to plan ahead for 2018 exams

The biggest mistake is to think you have loads of time left. You don’t! Before you know it, it’ll be September. You’ll have just two terms to go before the finals!

Could you do with some 121 sessions to get ahead? Which key subjects are you struggling with now? Do you lack confidence, or you’re already worried you won’t get the grades you need?

One option is to secure a fab tutor to help you iron out these niggling issues this year so they don’t turn into huge issues next year. As parents tell us, this approach in year 10 or 12 has made a huge difference.

Don’t miss the boat

Remember, the best tutors are sought-after. And can be almost booked up come September. If your child needs help now, do call 121 head tutor Alison to discuss your child’s situation.

With tutors covering Wilmslow, Bramhall, Stockport and Manchester, including across Altrincham, Trafford and Cheshire, get in touch to see how we can help.

Exam failure isn’t the end of the world

Tuesday, December 27th, 2016

Have you just taken your GCSE or A level mocks and didn’t get anywhere near your predicted grades? Perhaps you’ve exams after the holidays, and are worried you are just not performing at your best just now?

Yes, that’s me. What now?

First off, you’re not alone. Thousands of students like you will be feeling the same crushing disappointment, the same ‘punch’ in the pit of your stomach.

It’s natural to feel gutted that your mock grades don’t match your potential at this moment in time… However disappointing, it’s important to not let yourself feel too overwhelmed.

Instead, as our very experienced tutors and teachers will tell you, now is the ideal opportunity to dust yourself down and look at the big picture… Here’s our top three suggestions on how to handle mock exam disasters:

  • Learn from your mistakes

We’ve all made them. Trick is to use your exam papers to identify where you went wrong and how you can resolve these weaknesses by the final exams. Are you weaker on specific papers than others? Is it a question of timing? Was it your exam prep which might have something to do with it?

  • Fight back with positive action 

Once you’ve pinpointed where you went wrong, use that information to put together your ‘fight back’ regime! Perhaps you need to try different revision techniques? Perhaps you need to practise more exam questions under timed conditions? 

  • Keep your chin up

An exam is only truly a ‘fail’ if you let it. Accept this happened, and move on with determination that these pesky exams are NOT going to get the better of you! Having a positive outlook will help you more than anything just now.

Focus your mind on your long-term goal. Once you’ve decided THAT is worth fighting for, it will make it easier for you in the coming term to leap beyond this annoying blip, and achieve the future success you deserve.

Tackle tricky topics with targeted tuition

Aside from reading more of our exam success tips, you can always get in touch to arrange some focused tuition with one of our experienced GCSE or A Level tutors.

With a pick of the best tutors across Manchester or Cheshire, dedicated 1-1 personal tuition can help you revise all those tricky topics that have held you back before.