One question I get asked frequently is, “Should my child be studying in the school holidays?”
If the school work they have learned in previous terms is going to be tested, then it’s an obvious yes. This is especially the case for year 11 and year 12 students. However, the study plan for school holidays needs to be realistic and achievable and can even be made fun with the help of activities and fun but educational websites.
Here is my suggestion for both primary and high school students. For primary students, I recommend they spend 30 minutes to an hour in the morning after breakfast, revising or doing online Maths or English activities. Then they can switch off and enjoy the rest of the day. Doing that once a day won’t feel like a chore but will maintain what they have learned in the first two terms. If your child wants to do more, great, but start with what seems realistic and something they can stick to.
For senior students, particularly HSC students, I recommend studying 1-2 subjects per day. Again I suggest mornings after breakfast so that they can switch off at around lunchtime and enjoy the rest of the day without having to think about school work. Use the AB, ABC method to make your study time more effective. Master a chunk at a time and go back to the beginning and speed read what you have already studied.
If they at least do this, they will be doing more than 90% of students and will come back to term 3 with momentum and will not have forgotten what they learned in the previous terms.
Better to do what they can consistently than to do many hours on one day and not do anything for the rest of the school holidays. Remind your children that their free time will feel even better when they know they have taken care of what needs to be done before focusing on what they want to do.
A nice balance of work with plenty of time for much-needed relaxation and fun.
When comparisons begin to happen in primary school regarding reading levels, this can lead to a child feeling inadequate compared to other students in their class.
With any child, whether in primary or high school, I remind them that the true measure of success is whether you are improving, not if you are the best in the class or not.
A very effective technique I have been using for more than 15 years for improving a child’s reading ability and fluency, is also very simple. I recommend trying the following.
After reading one or two sentences, ask them to go back to the beginning and read again. Any word they didn’t know how to read is corrected and then they are immediately asked to go back to the beginning. This sends a message to the brain that the reading of the words is not a preference but a necessity to get right.
Also, the greatest threat to memory, especially with a child learning to read, is time. By going back to the beginning after each sentence or two, the brain recognises the words easier and reading fluency increases.
As they complete reading of the first page, continue the process on the second page. When going back to the first page, only focus on the words they weren’t confident with, to begin with, or didn’t know how to read, rather than reading the whole page again. Before finishing up their 10-15 minutes of reading (I wouldn’t focus on the number of pages read), ask them to do one straight reading of the pages they got through.
When you pick up where you left off the next time they read, I recommend they do a read through of the pages they covered the previous day before repeating the process the following day.
After doing the process, your child will be reading faster and understand why the process works. You can also make a game out of it by timing them on how fast they can read the page. (you can do a timing before the process and after so they get a sense of pride from their achievement).
At InFlow Education, this is how we rapidly improve the reading confidence and fluency in all our students. The ability to read faster, gives us back our greatest resource, time.
Try it and see for yourself what it does for your child.
After 16 plus years as a high school teacher and more than 18 years of being a tutor, it has become increasingly obvious that more and more teenagers are not just using technology but have a level of addiction to them.
Addiction is something that controls you, rather than you being in control of it. Not every teenager who uses technology is addicted to it. There are many students we teach at InFlow Education who have a balance in their lives. They tend to meet with their friends regularly for outings, play a sport or are a part of a group in some form or another.
I often hear parents talk about technology like it is the worst thing to happen to society. One one hand, I can see their point. During my generation (I was born in 1976), people had addictions too. The difference being you usually had to leave the house to get access to it.
This generation’s addiction of choice is on them most of the time which makes it more obvious and problematic. But it can also be a blessing in disguise. I’m not talking about how technology has its benefits.
I think most people would agree there are advantages that have come with the advancement of technology. There is access to information and sharing of information that is unprecedented. Our children are able to call for help when in need and ordering food has never been easier. Just to name a few.
What I am talking about here is the red flag of addiction being waved at a parent. Years ago if a child was suffering, the addiction was usually hidden and it usually took obvious substance abuse for there to be a wake-up call that something wasn’t right.
Whilst drug addiction is prevalent with teenagers, technology addiction can be an early wake-up call which can lead you to intervene before it possibly leads to more harmful addictions developing.
The number of teenagers I am being asked to coach is growing each year. Some are battling substance abuse, but most have an addiction to either their phones, gaming or social media.
The addiction led to them to coaching and learning a set of habits on how to be more self-caring, resilient, mindful, present and balanced. Life-long skills they may not have learned were it not for the addiction that led them to life coaching.
If you notice the signs early enough, the addiction might just end up being a blessing rather than a curse.
When I started my high school teaching career, I certainly didn’t see what was coming. I didn’t plan on owning a tutoring business in the inner west, become a speaker in schools, author and be a life coach. In fact, all I wanted when I started was to make a difference to a few students lives in each class I taught.
When a few students in each of my classes asked if I could teach them the following year, my answer was the stock standard, “sorry I don’t get to choose my classes”. After hearing this several times, I took it as a sign to start my own tutoring business so that any student who wanted to be taught by me, had that option.
In 2010, my life changed forever. I felt a complete shift in awareness and I have felt a stillness inside me, inner peace, ever since. To put this into perspective, at the age of 24, 10 years earlier, I was diagnosed with clinical depression and had all but given up on life.
From a place of peace, I saw every excuse a child had ever given me for not doing well at school. Some of which included, “I’m not motivated”, “I’m too distracted”, “I’m not organised with school and assignments”, “I don’t know how to study and memorise” and “I freeze in exams”.
If I didn’t already have a solution or response, I researched to find a solution to each of the problems. I then started teaching what I had learned to unmotivated classes whilst in my role as a casual high school teacher. I also began to teach it as an introduction for new students at InFlow Education. It has since become our system to success, summarised in a poster all our students receive with their tuition.
At the end of each “presentation”, I would often get, “Have you thought about becoming a speaker?”. I heard that several times before I took it as a sign to do formal presentations and have conducted seminars in high schools and for InFlow Education. During this period, I was also getting asked by students if I considered writing a book, putting in what I was teaching in my seminars. That’s how Teenage Zen – a simple path to academic success and inner peace, was born.
My transformation to a calm person living on purpose with joy for what I was doing, was not lost on people who had known me most of my life. They wanted to know how I did it.
At first, I thought it was the last book I read. However, I stopped and asked myself, “When do I not feel at peace?” All my answers fell into 5 categories. These 5 Keys became the structure for my life coaching program, I have been conducting with teenagers and adults for the past 7 years. It also led to the book, The 5 Keys to Inner Peace.
My point is this. Being on purpose is not like having a dream to do something. I think it’s great when people say it’s their dream to do something but it wasn’t a life-long dream to run a tutoring business, be a speaker, author and life coach. To me, a dream is more like an idea we chase. Purpose is when an idea chases you, gives you many signs and just feels right.
There are many people, teenagers included who are trying to find purpose or the career that will make them light up. In my experience, the prerequisite to purpose is peace. Once you are at peace, purpose will find you which will drive high performance and mastery in a field.
Peace, purpose, performance. The 3 pillars to being In Flow.
When I started my high school teaching career 16 years ago, I didn’t know what life coaching was, nor did I dream of heading in that direction. As I mentioned in a previous article, purpose found me and I have been blessed to coach many teenagers and adults over the past 7 years. Watching people transform and live life more fully is an incredibly rewarding experience for me. I also learn from the people I coach, more than they realise.
You might have heard the term Life Coaching before and like many people have probably wondered what exactly that means. It is a broad field so I won’t attempt to define how others approach it but will give you a clear overview of how I go about life coaching teens and adults.
My life coaching involves guiding people to be In Flow. Over years of being frustrated by not being able to get the best out of each student I was tutoring, I eventually realised that there were 3 pillars to being In Flow. Peace, purpose and performance. Without a sense of inner peace, typically purpose will be foggy. Without purpose, there is not a strong enough desire to perform at high levels over a sustained period of time.
There are 5 habits when practised, will have you feeling inner peace and it why my peace coaching program is typically 5-6 sessions. It is much easier to know your purpose or have purpose find you when your head is no longer noisy and you see life as enjoyable rather than something to be feared. I also guide my clients on simple ways to get clearer about what they want to do and the internal and external drives they usually weren’t aware of before.
If you feel your child might not be at peace, here is a quick way to find out where they are. Ask them to score themselves honestly (from the heart not the head) out of 10 for the following 5 statements (10 meaning they strongly agree with the statement):
I love and accept myself unconditionally and don’t want to be anyone else
What others say to me or about me or think of me, has no effect on me. I bounce back from disappointment quickly
I don’t have many negative thoughts and they come and go quickly
I live for the moment more often than not (higher score) or I spend most of my day waiting for the future to come or thinking about the past (lower score)
I see that everything that has happened in my life has happened for a reason, there is good and bad to every moment.
If they are scoring below 35 out of 50, typically they will lack consistent motivation and focus for study and tutoring may not be the best option. If they are scoring over 35, it may just be purpose and performance training (4-session workshop) or tutoring that will take them to the next level with their academic performance.
If you are considering life coaching for your teenager or even for yourself, you can meet with me for a free, no-obligation meeting at our Five Dock office or over the phone.
Life will always have challenges but it doesn’t have to be a stressful. Lea
I have had the fortune of having some wonderful teachers, not just during my school days but also my mentors since. Without a doubt, what they all had in common was the ability to support me but at the same time, challenge me to grow, not just academically but as a person as well.
It is what we have built InFlow Education on. We support and challenge not just our students but also our tutors to grow and develop as much as possible. It’s why our tutors are a cut above the rest. We keep the bar high and make decisions with our students’ best interests and our overall culture in mind.
Whilst support and challenge in equal measure makes an effective teacher, my greatest teacher hasn’t been an actual person. My greatest teacher has been pain!
Let me explain. It was the pain of doing a TAFE course I didn’t enjoy that led me to do my HSC again in one year. It was the pain of hitting rock bottom with depression in my early 20’s that ended up with me seeking help. It was the pain of past relationships which taught me to love myself first. My 5 beautiful children wouldn’t be in my life had I not done that!
It was the pain of being restricted in how I could teach as a fulltime teacher that ended up in me starting InFlow Education. It was the pain of not being able to help every student, that drove me to create the Peace, Purpose and Performance programs. It was the pain of not having high-quality tutors that inspired me to create better training and let tutors go who weren’t a good fit.
It was also the pain of a failed business partnership that taught me to be a better leader, create a better culture at InFlow Education and improve many aspects of the business. The more I have seen it that way, the less intense the pain has been for it to grab my attention to the lesson being taught.
It is pain that usually brings families to us. The pain of a result at school or their child not having self-confidence or the pain of being bullied often lead to life-long skills being learned with us. Skills and habits to build self-confidence, resilience, motivation, purpose, study skills and a path towards doing a job they love and ultimately a more fulfilling life.
Without pain in our lives, we don’t change much. So next time you or your child are feeling emotional pain, my tip would be to stop and ask, “why is this happening to me?” Not with a victim mentality but with a curious tone and look for a solution to the problem. Therein lies your greatest opportunity to grow. Pain is not punishment but life sending us lessons for us to grow in all areas of our life. It may end up being your greatest teacher too.
After 10 years of running InFlow Education, I am often asked by parents why their child loves coming to our inner west tutoring centre at Five Dock, and is more self-motivated than they used to be.
In my motivation and study skills seminar for parents and students, I teach the 3 elements to self-motivation as detailed in the book, Drive, by Daniel Pink. The findings are based on decades of research on what truly motivates us and is a highly recommended read.
Firstly I can tell you what doesn’t work anymore. Sticks and carrots. Threatening punishment or fear about their future or dangling rewards are not long term motivators anymore as the human brain has evolved.
The first step to being self-motivated is Autonomy. Simply meaning, it’s your choice to do it. This is why we offer a free trial lesson and then only enrol students who want the tutoring. No exceptions.
We want students who are long term successes in life, not getting short term results from being “pushed”. This makes for a happier environment for tutors and students. Unlike school where students don’t have a say which teachers they have, our tutors only get to stay on with high performance based on student feedback. Their voices count and they have a say in what they want to focus on in their lessons.
The second element is Mastery. This means the focus is on improvement and enjoying the journey. At InFlow Education, we don’t measure success by where a child is ranked or against other students in a group, we simply measure success by how far the student has come in their time with us. When a young person is reminded of how far they have come in a short space of time, they have a strong sense of achievement and satisfaction.
Lastly is Purpose. It’s your big why. At InFlow Education, we don’t just tutor the subjects, we take the time to get to know our students and find what will drive them to do the weekly study required to achieve better at school. We talk to their values and remind them what’s in it for them.
A.M.P – Autonomy. Mastery.Purpose.
Why InFlow Education is a place young people love attending and making progress to being more confident people and closer to doing a job they will love.