Raise their grade by consolidating school work.
The easiest way to help your child raise their grade is by consolidating the work they do at school. Lessons often move fast at school (particularly at GCSE and A Level) and your child will receive a lot of information quickly. Teachers introduce new skills regularly. The school needs to move at this pace, as they need to follow the syllabus and the teachers’ Scheme of Work for the course.
However, children need time to consider and reinforce what they have learned, especially with a difficult subject. This is where you can help. Set aside some regular time, maybe at the weekend, to sit down quietly with them and go over what they have learned that week. If this can be a relaxed activity without time pressure, so much the better.
You can help by asking questions to check their understanding. Try to avoid asking questions that have a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. Also try to avoid questions like ‘did you understand that?’ because nine times out of ten they will tell you ‘yes’ when the real answer is ‘no’. Instead, frame questions more like this…
‘That looks really interesting! Why is it called a…?’
‘I love your diagram! What does the blue line mean?’
‘That bit is good! How did you decide what to include?’
These are exactly the kind of questions that experienced tutors use with students to try and find out if they really understand the work, and to flag up any gaps. If you spot an obvious gap in their understanding or knowledge, try not to make a big deal out of it. As long as you personally have the knowledge, use the opportunity to fill in the gap for them – show them how to do the calculation or tell them the information. Even if you don’t know you can do some work to try and find out. For example, you could research on the internet with your child and find out together.
Build their confidence to help raise their grade
If they are beginning to struggle with a subject or fall behind at school, they will usually start to lose confidence quickly. This can be a big problem, as the more uncertain they become, the harder it becomes to catch up again. As private tutors, we know that building confidence is absolutely crucial. It is something we work on in every lesson. It is amazing to see how a young person will transform and begin to succeed when they feel happy and confident with the subject.
Of course, it can be tricky to build confidence whilst correcting your child’s work. So how do we do it? The simplest answer is to use the teaching and coaching sandwich. It goes like this…
‘That is a great piece of work. Very well done! I particularly like the way you have…’
‘Just a couple of things for us to look at here. You see where you have… don’t you think it might be better if you did…
‘Overall though, you have done really well. It’s an impressive piece of work – well done!’
The critique is sandwiched between the positive, so you neither start nor finish with something negative. The rule is to always give more praise and encouragement than you give criticism.
Listen to them
Whist all the consolidation and confidence building is going on, remember to listen to them. Students, especially teenagers, tend to know exactly what is giving them a problem. If you really listen to them you can begin to target the consolidation and your help to where it is needed most urgently. Often just by opening up and talking about the challenges can make them feel much better.
If you then work with them to find a solution they will be encouraged, feel supported, and you will start to build that magic confidence. Of course, if it is something way outside your expertise, this is the point where you may start thinking about asking for outside expertise and booking a tutor.
Raise their grade by helping them organise
If you have read similar articles written by me along similar lines, you will know that I always advocate organisation. For those of you who have older children taking big courses like GCSE or A level, organisation is key. They will never feel completely on top of things if their notes are all over the place, they cannot find their resources, and if everything is so jumbled the course makes no logical sense.
As part of your consolidation work, get into the habit of helping them to organise their materials. This should include the extra work that you are doing with them outside school. At the most basic, they should have everything together, in order, in files, and their notebooks should be legible too. If that is insufficient and they still seem to be a bit lost, you can try colour coding different sections of the course. Making their own revision resources, such as flash cards, will help them to consolidate and organise at the same time. They will begin to feel more in control of the course and they will be in a stronger position when the exams arrive if they can find everything they need to revise.
Build Skills Steadily
The most effective way to raise grades across a school year, or in the months before a big exam, is to build skills and knowledge steadily. Cramming is stressful and studies show that knowledge and skills gained in a hot-house cramming environment are frequently not as well absorbed or fully understood.
It is also very important to work regularly. We know from our private tutoring practice that learning outside school is much more effective when it is carried out in regular slots than on an ad hoc basis. You should aim to work with your child in the same way. Help them raise their grade by working with them steadily, regularly going over work, building deeper knowledge and expertise with the key skills they need for their course. This will pay dividends over time.
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A Bit About Me
I am Dr Janet Rose, an Oxford University Graduate and a trained teacher. As well as being a mum, grandmother and education blogger, I am the Founder & Managing Partner of The Tutor Team
Based in beautiful, rural Wiltshire, our offices are in an old converted water mill. We are a family business, where I work with my daughter Tess, my son Anthony and my daughter-in-law Anita. I am also ably assisted by Lisa, my wonderful PA. We understand parents’ concerns about their children’s education, because we are all parents ourselves. That’s why we set extremely high standards for our tutors and are very proud to have a team of 81 qualified, experienced teachers and university lecturers offering high-quality private tuition.