How to respond when education as you knew it is no more

How to respond when education as you knew it is no more

Exams, Mindfulness, Wellbeing
Wow, what a week! The world has changed beyond recognition in the last few days, and no more so than in education. There’s been a lot of anxiety and confusion around social distancing and how this relates to the seemingly contradictory decision to keep UK schools and colleges open. Students and teachers have been in limbo and it’s been hard to focus on anything except watching for the latest news updates. The news we've all been waiting for Gavin Williamson’s announcement this evening changed all that: schools closing and exams cancelled. People have asked for both of these in recent weeks, but the suddenness of the announcement is shocking, especially given the very recent U-turn on the “herd immunity” policy, which looked like it was putting children and education staff…
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Instant mindfulness techniques to learn today

Instant mindfulness techniques to learn today

Exams, Wellbeing
Most of us have heard about mindfulness, the popular method for controlling stress, anxiety and a host of other ills, but how many of us have tried it and found “it doesn’t work”? The thing is, learning mindfulness, really learning it so that it integrates with your life and helps you cope with life’s ups and downs, takes a long time. Lots of practice of formal techniques like sitting meditation is needed before everyday mindfulness becomes part of our lives. And meditation is hard! Those feelings of boredom, frustration and wandering thoughts are real (it’s just that noticing them and bringing the awareness back is part of the practice, hell, it IS the practice!) So what if there was a way to get some of the benefits of mindfulness without…
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How to thrive in Mental Health Awareness Week

How to thrive in Mental Health Awareness Week

Exams, Wellbeing
It’s Mental Health Awareness Week… and it’s the week my students start their exams. I’ve been all too aware of my own mental health lately (always the case when it’s a bit below par) and I figure that sharing my experience might help those wondering how they can possibly tackle the mountain of exam pressure when just living is hard enough. I first became fully aware of mental health as A Thing in 2002, when a dear friend, severely depressed, came to stay in my home. He struggled to get out of bed, to shower, to interact, to contribute to the household… almost everything seemed impossible for him and I couldn’t understand why at the time. Later, my inability to help him in a meaningful way was a huge source…
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Revision – Why bother?

Revision – Why bother?

Exams, Wellbeing
So it’s the end of the week: how have you and your young person been getting on? Is revision well under way or are they having trouble getting started? Today is all about motivation, which can be a challenge for everyone. Each day brings a new start and new ways to procrastinate! The good news though, is that even if they’re feeling like they’ve wasted the week, it’s not too late. You don’t have to wait until Monday to make a fresh start – just Start Where You Are! Go back to the plan, make some adjustment and off you go. The phrase, “Just Do It” might be a sporting cliché, but I find it a useful mantra for all sorts of things, perhaps with a choice word added for…
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Staying well in the exam season

Staying well in the exam season

Exams, Wellbeing
We’ve looked at the “why” and “what” of planning, and yesterday we explored the “how” of revision. But with all this focus on work, it’s no wonder young people and those around them find this a stressful time. So how can we keep our teenagers and ourselves as well as possible during the exam season? Well of course there are two main aspects of health: physical and mental. We all have them, at varying levels, and they’re much more closely intertwined than may people think. Physically, students need to be getting enough sleep (hopefully that’s already in their plan from Monday), drinking enough water and eating the right foods. There’s been a lot written about “brain foods” but generally the normal advice for a healthy, balanced diet still applies at…
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How to Revise – strategies and styles

How to Revise – strategies and styles

Exams
Yesterday we looked at planning for revision and making sure there’s some fun stuff in the plan too. How did you get on? Is your household feeling any more productive yet? Today I’d like to tackle the “how” bit. When I asked parents to think about their own experiences of revision, many of them said they had no idea how to use their study time, and I think it is the same for a lot of young people now. I know that as a tutor, I have a lot less time than I used to for helping people learn how to revise. It’s no good having a plan to revise at 6pm on a Tuesday if you don’t know exactly what you’re going to do with that time. So how…
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Exams – Set – Go! Plan for Success

Exams – Set – Go! Plan for Success

Exams
Last week, I ran a video challenge over on LinkedIn, with quick tips and ideas to help families prepare for the upcoming exam season. It’s especially important for teens to have some guidance during this unstructured holiday time, so I’m recreating the main ideas here for you this week. I hope you find them useful. Part 1: Plan for Success Today I want to talk about planning. Your kids’ teachers will have told them to make a revision plan. There are lots of ways of doing that, from whizzy interactive tools to old-school colouring in. What they might not have discussed is the “why” of planning. It’s not supposed to be just another timetable to fill the time while you’re on study leave. Why plan? I think there are a…
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Exams – what happens if my child fails?

Exams – what happens if my child fails?

Exams
It’s every parent’s nightmare: the envelope opened on Results Day, the tears and recriminations, the panicked rushing around trying to set up an alternative plan for September, the loss of a dream career... but it doesn’t have to be like that! In an ideal world, you could help your child avoid all of this; you’d find a way to let them sail through the exam season like a swan gliding across the local pond. After all, results are getting better each year and Freda Bloggs down the road is getting straight As, right? But there’s more to every story. Poor Freda might be working all the hours there are to make things appear so effortless; that swan is paddling its legs madly under the water! Getting revision right will help…
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How to get revising without piling on the pressure

How to get revising without piling on the pressure

Exams
I have a shameful secret, which I’ve never shared in professional circles: I DIDN’T REVISE! Yes, you’ll see me in the classroom guiding my students on successful revision strategies, drawing up timetables, discussing the best way to do flashcards… but the truth is that I didn’t do any of those things – I was far too busy. I feel sorry for the students today who have to achieve so highly just to get into an average university; they don’t have the luxury of that choice, despite the number of uni places increasing every year. And though it is comparatively easy to progress to post-16 education, the enormous pressure on schools to climb the league tables is inevitably passed on to pupils taking their GCSEs. So how do you guide your…
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Help your child maximise their exam potential

Help your child maximise their exam potential

Exams
Ease into Exams – a course to help YOU help your young person perform their best Are you supporting someone who is taking exams this year? Is your young person anxious about their upcoming GCSEs, A Levels or Highers? Are you worried about what will happen if they don’t make the grades? The Life Tutor can help! As an educator with 20 years’ experience in schools and colleges, I know what kind of exam preparation works and what doesn’t. I’ve helped thousands of students avoid exam meltdowns and I’ve picked up the pieces when things haven’t gone according to plan. Join me and a supportive tribe of concerned parents/carers as we discover: • How to create the perfect conditions for revision • How to thrive during the exam season rather…
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