Setting Up A Productive Study Space

By Chris Edwards

Here is a simple fact that I have always believed to be true: good, productive study cannot be done in front of the television, at the breakfast table, or in bed. No matter how clever your child might be, it is impossible for them to get the most out of their homework and study time if they are distracted. Students need a dedicated study space, free from distractions. If your child is in VCE, then this is all the more important. The mid-year holidays are almost here, and if your child does not have a dedicated study space to use throughout the break NOW is the time to create one. Today, I will give you 4 simple tips for setting up a productive, distraction free study space for your child.

1. Get Rid Of Distractions

Students are terribly easy to distract. If they have homework on their lap, a mobile phone by their side, and a television in front of them, what do you think will be taking up the best part of their attention? I can guarantee that it will not be their homework. A good study space is one that is removed from any potential distractions: a desk or a table in a quiet room in your house, away from television, telephones, video games and younger siblings. Your child should know that when they are in the lounge room or in the backyard, they are in relaxation mode; when they are at their desk, they are in study mode.

2. Make Sure All Resources Are Available

Once your child has a nice quiet working space, the next thing that might possibly distract them is a lack of resources. How many times has your child complained that he or she can’t do their homework because they don’t have the book/file/pens/eraser/pencil sharpener/papers that they need? Once your child starts looking for missing resources, their focus is broken and it is often hard for them to get back on track. Before your child starts studying, make sure they have all the resources that they will need close by. That way, they won’t have to leave their desk until their study is done.

3. Get Organised

A messy, disorganised desk is not a productive desk. Make sure your child has a system for organising their notes. You might want to invest in a set of drawers, in-trays, or folders so that your child can keep each of their subjects separated and organised. It is also a good idea to have a calendar or to do list on or above the desk, so that your child always knows what needs to be done and when.

4. Make Sure Your Child Is Comfortable

If your child is in VCE, they may often have to study for many long hours at a time. If their study space is not well set up, this can lead to a sore back, legs, arms and neck. My mum is a physiotherapist, so when I was in VCE she was always making sure that my seat was at the right height, my computer screen was not too close or too far from my eyes, and that I was sitting correctly. This may sound a bit pedantic, but it meant that I could focus on my study for longer, without getting sore and uncomfortable. For more information, there are a lot of great blogs online about office ergonomics, like this one. Worth a read!

Does your child have a dedicated study space that you find particularly effective? Do you have any tips to share with other parents? If so, let me know in the comments!


Why University Students Make Effective Tutors

Last week, a parent of one of our students was asking about our tutors. He wanted to know whether we hired any high school students to teach our classes. He was surprised when I told him that, at Spectrum Tuition, we only hire current university students. He told me that he had been to several centres that hire high school students, and was less than pleased with the results. This conversation got me thinking about what it is that makes a good tutor, and why it is that we believe that university students are best suited for this role. So, I decided to give you my top 5 reasons why university students make some of the most effective tutors. Have a read, and let me know your thoughts on this topic.

1. They are top performers

At Spectrum, we firmly believe that, in order to be a great teacher, you have to be a great learner. As such, we only hire high achieving university students. Our tutors have worked extremely hard in year 12, achieved ATAR scores in the high 90s, received offers from leading universities, and have gone on to be immensely successful in their tertiary studies. Our talented tutors are studying to become Australia’s next generation of successful doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers, accountants and academics, and are enthusiastic about passing on their passion and knowledge to your child.

2. They are enthusiastic about what they teach

What’s the difference between a high school biology student, and a university student who is working hard to pursue their dreams of becoming a pediatric surgeon? What’s the difference between a high school English student, and a university student writing a doctoral dissertation of early 20th century American poetry? The answer is passion. Our tutors love what they teach, whether it be biology, mathematics, physics, chemistry or English. And there’s nothing they love more than sharing their enthusiasm with their students.

3. Their knowledge is current

There’s nothing worse than a teacher or tutor who is stuck in their old ways, who hasn’t learnt anything knew for the past decade and just repeats the same old information year after year. One of the greatest advantages of hiring university students as tutors is that they are always learning. Because they are immersed within the academic world of their chosen field, they are always up to date with the latest ideas and developments. And because they have all completed their secondary education within the last 5 years, you can be sure that they have a current and up to date understanding of what is required of VCE students today.

Not only are our tutors top performers in their chosen field, at Spectrum Tuition, they are required to undergo regular and ongoing teaching training and development to improve specific skills relating to structuring effective classes, crafting explanations, organisation, record keeping and classroom management. They are open to learning and are determined to make their classes engaging, challenging and fun.

4. They are becoming experts in their field

Good students are full of questions. No matter what you tell them, they will always want to know “why?” A bad tutor will shrug their shoulders and change the subject; an average tutor will consult a textbook for answers; a great tutor will always have an answer. University students make great tutors because they are becoming experts in their chosen field. Not only do they know everything there is to know about the VCE curriculum, they have a wealth of extended knowledge, making it easier to answer any difficult question that they might be faced with.

5. They can relate to students

Being university students, our tutors have been through a lot over the past few years: exams, assignments, essays, tutoring, deadlines, pressure and many late nights. Most importantly, our tutors have been through all of this and have come out successfully. They have achieved excellent scores and learned how to find a productive balance between work, study and relaxation. Not only can our tutors relate to everything your child is going through, they can help to show that, they can provide a positive example of how hard work and dedication can truly pay off in the long term.

There is no doubt that, in the media, young adults are often portrayed as unmotivated, selfish and self-entitled. From our experience, this stereotype could not be further from the truth. We believe that today’s generation of university students are highly motivated, hard working and passionate about learning. The tutors that we hire see tertiary education, not just as a means for getting a high paying job, but as a valuable environment for developing their skills and knowledge. And, most importantly, we find that they are all enthusiastic about the possibility of passing on their knowledge, work ethic and passion for education onto the next generation of students. And that, really, is what tutoring should be about.

But what are your thoughts? What do you think makes a good tutor? Let me know!

New Selective Schools Exam Preparation Course Starting 20th July 2013!

It’s an exciting time of year at Spectrum Tuition. Over the last two weekends, we held our Selective Schools Mock Exams and feedback sessions. These sessions were designed to give students a chance to get a feel for what it takes to succeed in an actual selective school exam. All of the students who sat the mock exams will soon be sitting down, alongside roughly 3000 other students, to try to gain a place in a prestigious Melbourne selective school, such as MacRobertson Girls’ High School, Melbourne High School, Suzanne Cory High School and Nossal High School.

Some students sitting the exams have been preparing with us since the middle of last year in our Selective Schools Exam Preparation classes. We wish them the best on actual exams over the coming weeks!

But now is the time to start thinking about next year and ask yourselves a few questions…

Is your child talented, dedicated and enthusiastic about his or her studies?

Does your child often feel unchallenged by their current schoolwork?

Do you want to make sure your child gets the best possible opportunity in life: a good education?

Is your child currently in year 7?

If so, then you really should start thinking about preparing your child for a selective schools exam. A place at a prestigious selective school can offer a huge range of possibilities for a talented student. Students at these schools consistently achieve high ATAR scores, and go on to gain top university places and pursue rewarding careers.

However, places are extremely competitive, and the selective schools exam is incredibly difficult. That’s why many students come to our classes to gain an advantage over the competition. Our 40 week Selective Schools Exam Preparation course runs on weekends and covers absolutely everything that your child will need to succeed on the exams, including content that they would never learn in school. Topics include numerical reasoning, verbal reasoning, reading comprehension, persuasive writing, narrative writing and exam skills. Further, many of the topics covered in the mathematics portion tests material well beyond what is expected in the Year 8 curriculum.

Click here to see sample tests

The 40 week course starts at the beginning of term 2 on the 20th and 21st of July, so there’s still time to enrol! If you have any questions about how we can help to give your child the best possible chance of a excellent education, call us today to book a FREE assessment!

Or, for more information, have a look at this page.