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Last week 27 May

So, as always, every child I work with shone in their own way, but I can only give edited highlights here. But here are the kids that really stood out…

Leanna and Ethan both created brief stories and they were amazing! Both children really challenged themselves and I was super proud!

Oscar is showing a real maturity to his learning and this is reflected in his work.

Nathan has a great growth mindset going on. He might find something hard, but it isn’t stopping him from trying his very best and succeeding.

Andrew and I had a wonderful lesson up at Beecraigs this week. There was a lot of real life learning going on and our nests were amazing. He especially impressed me with his perseverance. Building a nest isn’t easy, his first attempt failed, but instead of getting frustrated he simply gathered more materials and started again with a new design.

As for the business, what has been happening behind the scenes? Well, my summer time table is almost full now which has taken a lot of juggling!

I have also launched a second business, Love Outdoor Learning.  This is all about getting children outside and learning in nature. I will soon have Wednesday lunch time and Saturday morning clubs starting up and I am available to work with schools. Have a peek at our website and Facebook 

Dyslexia

As a tutor I work with a few children who have had recently been diagnosed with dyslexia.  Often it is the parent’s who struggle more than the child.  They wonder if or how to tell the child, what it means for their future and sometimes even what they have done wrong.  The simple answer is you know what is right for your family, but you have done nothing wrong, nothing at all.  You wouldn’t ask yourself this if your child had blue eyes or was tall, so why ask it about another fundamental part of them?  There is often a sense of relief to the child when they find out.  They realise that it is not their fault learning can be hard at times.  But there are also a range of other benefits to being dyslexia.  These can include –

Determination

It is at this stage that parents struggle to see how dyslexia has helped form their wonderful child already.  For a start, they are going to have a range of coping mechanisms already in place.  They have found what works for them and they use it.  These children are often determined and find a way to make the world work for them.

 

Spotting Links

Those with dyslexia can often see the big picture a little clearer than those without.  They can often identify the odd one out or find the thing which is out of place.  This helps them memorise and identify complex images, a great skill for engineers or scientists!

 

Thinking in Pictures

Whilst those with dyslexia can have huge verbal dictionaries they tend to think in pictures.  This can make thing lego or art a lot easier for them.

 

Business Entrepreneurial Skills

One in three entrepreneurs in the states have dyslexia.  Their brains perhaps are more strategic and creative than others and this can be a real business advantage.

 

Highly Creative

Johnny Depp, Picasso and Davi Pilkey (author of the Captain Underpants books) are just some famous creative people who have dyslexia.  Depp needs to learn his lines and Pilkey writes books, just because your child has dyslexia does not mean they are in any way restricted.  Plus, they tend to be more creative!

 

There are many more strengths of dyslexia.  It really is not a bad thing!   Have a look at the below image for an idea of some careers where dyslexia can be of benefit!

 

dyslexia strengths

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This Week – 13th May

The sun is shining into my conservatory this morning as the sound of bird song fills the air. What a wonderful start to my Sunday. It is just a shame my laptop is being a tad temperamental so I’m writing this on my phone!

So this week has been a wonderful one, as every week tends to be! But what has really stood out?

I am at that magic point of early tutoring when children really start believing in themselves and start developing confidence. It is wonderful to see, such a privilege. Well done Mathew and Evie!

Then we have children who have been tutored a while and have the confidence and maturity to make decisions about their learning, well done Lewis and Sean!

My Wednesday night maths group was pleased to welcome 3 new children this week. They were warmly welcomed by the other children and that group is now at capacity.

In terms of the business, well I completed the 2 day paediatric first aid course. I am also starting to make plans for the new academic year, there are exciting times ahead!

My final thought this week though is a conversation I’ve had with a number of friends and tutor mums this week. When a child is young we expect them to learn to walk and talk at different ages. Why then, do we expect school learning to be different? Children learn at different rates and this is ok!

How I Began Tutoring

After my post about supply teaching last week I have had a few people contact me and ask about tutoring.  Now, I do not claim to be an expert, I have made plenty of mistakes and I am sure I will make many more.  But here are a few tips to get you started, if you want to!  It is simply what has worked for me

To begin with, you need to decide your business/ teaching ethos.  In my case it is that children learn through play and I use a play-based approach as often as possible.  I also adore outdoor learning and use this.  This is what makes me different to others and how I market myself.  Yours will be something different, something personal to you.  Use it!

Resources – do not go out and buys loads!  I have a lot of materials from being a teacher for years but there is only so much I want to and can carry.  My basic kit is a good pencil case, a decent mini white board and pens, a small dictionary, dice with various numbers of sides and games which I can print or adapt.  I also provide jotters and folders but you do not need to.

Pricing – do your homework here. Sites like Tutor Hunt, Tutorful etc can help. I started off setting my price way too low and slowly upped it as I took on new clients.  You are under selling yourself in setting your rates too low.  I strangely found that business increased when my prices did.  As the wise Mr Specter once said, you do not pay the plumber for banging the pipes, you pay him for knowing where to bang.  People may try and haggle your price but that is your professional worth, do not allow this.

Tutor Space – you need to decide whether to tutor from home (if you do then you must update your insurance policy) or from theirs (update your car insurance policy).  Both have pros and cons.  I do a mixture of both and it works for me. If you are tutoring at your home, you need a dining table or desk. If at their home, you really do not need much at all.  I would suggest that if you are tutoring at someone else’s’ home for the first time you think about safety.  Let someone know who you are meeting, where and ensure they call you are a time close to the appointment ending to make sure you are ok – almost like internet dating!

My final tip here would be not tutoring for people who are too close to you, i.e. family or close friend’s children. I found it could make things awkward and just wasn’t worth the stress.  A little distance is a good thing.

 

Once you have done all that, it is time to get the ball rolling, get out there and start letting people know who you are!

Advertising – I have found word of mouth to be my biggest form of advertising. I started by posting up on Facebook that I was starting tutoring and got my friends to share it. It really was that simple.  I also created a profile on Tutorful and whilst they do take a cut, it was a good way for me to start.

I have a Facebook page for the tutoring and find that generates some business, especially when I share it on local groups pages.  A quick search with local town names on Facebook will give you that. It is worth seeking permission from an admin of the groups to make sure you can post and know how regularly you can post.

I have a website, though it isn’t something you need early on.  It has generated minimal work for me, but it is nice to have and does give the business a professional appearance.

I have not used google/ facebook or any other forms of paid advertising as folk say they get minimal return.

I also have both Twitter and Instagram accounts but they are more about brand awareness.

You can also use sites like Tutor Hunt where the parent pays for your details or Tutorful where the site takes a cut. It really depends on your area which works best.

Timing for Advertising – I love my Facebook page as the analytics let me see when best to post as most members online. Generally, though, I find the start of a term gets some new business but just before and after parent’s nights I have got lots.
So you have found your first student, what next…
Once you find your first student you need some paper work.  I always give my Terms and Conditions beforehand but take a copy for them to sign when I am there.  I also have a contact form, so I have their details, I usually email this before my first appointment with them.

My first session is all about building a relationship with the child and the family.  I will play a few learning games with the child and chat to them about their likes and dislikes both in and out of school.  I might run a wee test to assess their abilities and then feedback to the adult.  My first appointment with a child usually takes around 1hr 30 min but I will only charge them for the hour.  That extra time is invaluable to me as the weeks progress whilst working with them.

I tend to make termly plans for each pupil, this is quick and easy and you find a format that works for you.

 

Moving forward…

Once you are tutoring regularly you need to think of a few more things.  Though, you may wish to do these before you start.

I have a great accountant who does my books for me, it means I do not need to stress about tax returns.  He is worth his weight in gold!  It doesn’t take me long each week to update my financials.

I also have an amazing insurance agent.  She has been a gem, as my business has evolved it has been very handy to have someone I can check with to ensure I am covered.  She also got me a better deal that I could have got myself – believe me I checked!

There are some great tutor groups on Facebook where you can get advice and support.  I recently set up the Scottish Private Tutors page on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/440958926349136/ ) but there are others out there too.

 

My final thoughts…

Taking the leap into tutoring can be daunting but it can really be worth it.  You can make it what you want, from a single session a week for extra spending money to a full-time business.  I know it can be terrifying though and to that end I am happy to meet folks in the central belt for a cuppa and chat to those elsewhere.  I was terrified before I started and I love tutoring now.  For me, it is the best bits of teaching without the stresses!

 

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Outdoor Learning Ideas

In my weekly update last week I mentioned outdoor learning.  Today I thought I would share some of my favourite activities, across the curriculum, that are easy and quick to do!  Some of these have come from Pinterest, some from CPD courses and some from my own warped mind.  My philosophy here is that outdoor learning should compliment your teaching, it should never be an add on.

 

Splat Spelling

A part of spelling is word recognition.  Could you write the words outside in chalk and get the children to then throw water balloons?  Each time a balloon hits a word they need to read it and then use it in a sentence.

 

Jump Spelling

Write the letters of the alphabet, in whatever order you like, in chalk.  Children can then jump from one letter to the next to spell the word they are working on.  Their partner can check the spelling is correct as they go!

 

Senses Poem

I see… I feel… I smell… I taste… I hear…

Simple sentence starters which are suitable for any age group.  The children can write or draw the rest of the line.  I love to do this lesson each season and see how the poems progress.  At the end of the year you have a wonderful poem which reflects on the changing of the seasons.

 

Time Line

Sometimes it is hard for children to comprehend just how long ago, or how recently, something happened.  A while ago I was teaching a class about the stone age.  I created cards for different historical events from the stone age through to the present day.  Each step a child took represented 100 years.  They quickly understood the concept of time in a way that made it meaningful for them.

 

Around the Clock

I had a class last year that were struggling to remember their 5-minute intervals.  I had tried everything in class and nothing seemed to help.  I decided then to take the lesson outside.  The children were in groups of 4 and each drew a large clock.  I would then shout a time, i.e. 5 past or twenty-five to and the children had to jump to the appropriate number.  This really seemed to help all children begin to understand and remember!

 

I Need/ I want

With a younger class den building can be a great way to explore the difference between needs and wants.  They can design their den using basic materials, tarps, string, tent pegs etc.  They start adding things like Playstations, beds, fully functioning kitchens etc to their designs.  This helps open a discussion over what is a need and what is a want.

 

Natural Art

I love Andy Goldsworthy’s art.  It soothes my cluttered mind and children just seem to get it.  It explores colour, texture, shape and more besides.  I often use his style of art as the stimulus for the first lesson I have outside with the children each year.  The children create something beautiful but you also have the time and space within the lesson to explore some behavioural techniques and ensure the class understand that when learning outside the playground becomes the classroom.

 

One of the great strengths of outdoor learning in Scotland is how well we all share ideas.  There are 2 websites I truly love though.  The first is Juliet’s http://creativestarlearning.co.uk/ and the other is https://www.ltl.org.uk/scotland/resources.php.  Both have ideas for every age, stage and curricular area.

What are your favourite outdoor learning activities?

 

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