Why It’s Important To Try Something New Each Month

At Spectrum Tuition, we’re always looking out for ways to learn and develop new skills. Recently, we stumbled upon an inspiring TED talk by Matt Cutts called “Try something new for 30 days.” In this talk, Matt recommends a simple method for learning new skills, making the most of your time and building confidence. He argues that each month we should pick a new challenge and spend the entire month trying to complete it. Some of the things Matt tried during his trials were…

  • Riding to work every day for a month
  • Giving up sugar for a month
  • Writing a novel in a month

As Matt explains, a month is the perfect amount of time to add or subtract a habit from your daily routine. 30 days is not so long that it is unachievable, but it is also long enough to show a significant improvement or to make a significant achievement. He also argues that developing a new skill every month makes your month more memorable and, most importantly, builds self confidence.

But what does this have to do with education? Well, here are some ideas for challenges that your child can set themselves for the next month.

  • Limit screen time to half an hour a day for a month
  • Walk to school every day for a month
  • Do their homework as soon as they get home for a month
  • Read a book every week for a month
  • Practice their times tables every morning for a month

These goals seem achievable; surely, anyone can do something for just a month. But you’ll be surprised by how much little things add up to big results. These simple goals can have a dramatic impact on your child’s education! So, what will you and your child try this month?

 

Selective Entry Catch-Up Classes Over The School Holidays

Is your child sitting an ACER or EDUTEST scholarship exam in Term 1 or the Selective Entry High Schools Examination in June next year? Are you worried that you may be too late to prepare or feel your child might benefit from a revision workshop covering all the skills they have developed over the course of this year? Maybe there’s a particular area of the exam, such as essay writing, numerical reasoning, verbal reasoning or creative writing or mathematics, that your child is still baffled by.

If this is the case, then we have the summer program for you! This summer, Spectrum Tuition is delighted to offer limited places in its intensive ‘Selective Entry Exam Catch-Up Classes’. Classes will run over three days from 15th – 17th January 2018 at Footscray North Primary School (Cnr Rosamond Rd & Mephan St, Footscray).

Classes will cover the foundational content students require for all six parts of the exam.

Students will learn:

  • How to structure and write effective, engaging narratives, and persuasive essays in fifteen minutes.
  • How to quickly and accurately solve mathematical and numerical reasoning problems by drawing on BODMAS, algebra, factors and multiples, and other core mathematical concepts covered in Terms 1 & 2 of the selective course. The scholarship course will focus on topics specific to the ACER scholarship exams which are often held in February.
  • How to speedily and accurately interpret common types of verbal and logical reasoning questions covered in Terms 1 & 2 of the selective course.
  • How to read a range of texts and respond to comprehension questions under pressure.
  • How to manage your time through timed tests

Our expert tutors will work through core concepts step by step, building your child’s confidence and giving them the support they need to do their absolute best on the exam.

Classes will also help students apply the knowledge through practice exams giving your child vital experience working under strict exam-style conditions.

BONUS OFFER! Enrol in the summer selective program and get an exam package PLUS our best selling essay writing bundle (valued at $238) absolutely FREE!

 

Places are strictly limited. Book now to avoid disappointment. Click here to find out more!

Our First Yellow Brick Code School Holiday Program

Over the September school holidays, we held out first Yellow Brick Code coding workshop! Twenty students, aged from 5-8 joined us on an adventure through the fictional world of Codeland with our friendly code block characters. Using a combination of story telling, games and activities, we introduced students to the fundamental skills that they need to create their own fun video games. And, best of all, we all had a great time!

Today, we thought we’d share some of the highlights of each day.

Day 1: On the first day, students were introduced to the four code blocks, Kieran, Christina, Chloe, and Cody, who invited them on an adventure across Codeland to retrieve 9 magic batteries. In order to find these batteries, students had to complete various challenges across the 3 days. First, students had to travel through the Forest of Bugs, and learn valuable debugging skills. Then, they had to brave Mount Persistence, where they learned the importance of not giving up when faced with difficult problems. We also learned the importance of responsible computer use, and how to avoid sharing personal information online. Then it was time for a game!

Using a fun game, we taught students how to direct a character through a maze, using simple direction blocks. Once students got the hang of it, we showed them how to they could use this skill to program a character to move around their computer screen.

Day 2: On the second day, we used our coding skills to help an old lady find her missing diamonds. In order to do so, we had to learn how to “loop” or repeat coding commands. We then used these skills to draw images using only code! By this point, everyone was getting the hang of coding.

We then played “my robot friend,” a game that required students to pretend to be robots and follow simple instructions. This was a fun way understanding the concept of “events,” which are actions that cause something else to happen in a computer program. Once we all understood the concept of “events,” we had a go making an animated story starring a playful puppy!

Day 3: On day 3, the code blocks met a brave knight and a fearsome dragon. Students had to use all of their skills and cunning to program a computer game in which the knight ran around collecting flags, while avoiding the dangerous dragon. It was a lot of fun making a video game from scratch, but we made sure we took lots of breaks to get some fresh air and play some games outside.

By the end of the 3 days, our students helped the code blocks find all of the 9 magic batteries. To celebrate their impressive efforts, each of our students received a certificate, recognising their impressive persistence and coding abilities. We were so impressed with how much progress our students made over just 3 days!

We all had so much fun at Yellow Brick Code that we’re currently planning our next school holiday coding program for the summer holidays. If you’d like to know more, click here to join our mailing list, and we’ll send you the first chapter of our Yellow Brick Code picture book!

Why Every Child Should Learn To Code

Have you ever wondered why we teach our children to read, write, ride bikes, play musical instruments, or swim at such an early age? Probably not. After all, it’s commonly accepted that these are important or necessary skills that will help children throughout their lives. Furthermore, we all know how quickly young kids pick up new skills. So it makes sense that if a skill is important for your child’s future, you should help them learn it as early as possible, right?

So why aren’t we teaching our kids to code?

This may sound like a silly question. After all, many people of our generation consider coding to be a niche skill, only important if you want a career in IT. But, in the coming decades, digital literacy will become one of the most sought-after skills in the job market. Last year LinkedIn’s list of top 10 most important career skills included data analysis, web development, mobile development, SEO marketing, information security and user interface design. And, with the rise of automation, these skills are going to become even more vital to your child’s ability to secure a stable and rewarding career. Simply put, now is the perfect time to start teaching our kids to code.

As Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, writes: “In fifteen years, we’ll be teaching programming just like reading and writing… and wondering why we didn’t do it sooner.” So why wait?

What Are The Benefits Of Teaching Your Child To Code?

Aside from just improving your child’s future job prospect, the development of digital literacy offers a number of other benefits. Kids who learn to code at an early age also develop the following skills:

  • Logical thinking – coding requires students to use logical thinking to solve problems
  • Creativity – student are required to come up with unique solutions to achieve a goal
  • Mathematics – coding offers a chance to apply mathematical concepts to concrete situations
  • Perseverance – the ability to persevere when faced with unexpected or difficult situations in central to coding
  • Communication – coding is the language of the 21st century, and allows students to to interact with the world around them
  • Responsibility – the sooner students learn how to safely navigate the internet, and the more aware they are of the risks or online spaces, the more secure and responsible they will be

What Can We Do To Help?

Despite the innumerable benefits of teaching kids to code, the Australian education system is still taking its time to catch up. In Victoria, coding is often only taught at a high school level, and then often only as an elective subject. So what do you do if you want to give your child a leg up?

That’s where we come in! We have created Yellow Brick Code, a fun, interactive school holiday program to be run during the upcoming September school holidays. It is designed to introduce students aged 5-8 to the exciting world of computer science, while giving them the opportunity to meet some wonderful new friends over their school holiday break! Over 3 days, your child will learn skills in algorithmic thinking, programming and creative expression through stories, videos, hands on physical activities, games, fun programming challenges, and a group of colourful characters like Kieran the code block.

So, if you want to give your child an invaluable first step into the world of coding and digital literacy, as well as a fun and engaging way to spend their school holidays, check out Yellow Brick Code today!

 

Questions To Ask Yourself If Your Child Is Considering Sitting A Selective Schools Exam

Over the past few years, we have worked with countless students and parents to help them prepare for the Selective Schools Exam. Successfully gaining a place within a Selective School is obviously a once in a lifetime opportunity, and one that can have a phenomenal impact on the educational possibilities of the lucky students who are selected. That said, with all the pressure surrounding Selective Schools, it is often easy to forget that Selective Schools are, quite simply, not the best choice for every child. While Spectrum Tuition obviously encourages all of our students to strive for their potential, we also think it’s important that parents and students give serious consideration to the difficulties that come with applying for, and even receiving a place in, a Selective School. In that spirit, here are four questions you should ask yourself if your child is considering sitting a Selective Schools Exam.

 

Does My Child Thrive In Competitive Environments?

For a lot of students, attending a Selective School can come as a crude shock. When they start, most Selective School students are used to being top of their class, and have generally found their schoolwork easy. However, once they start attending a Selective School, they suddenly find themselves surrounded by other extremely talented and motivated students. As a result, Selective Schools are often very competitive environments. Some students respond well to such environments; competition motivates them to work harder. However, some students can be demotivated. It’s worth considering how your child responds to challenges before you sign them up for a Selective Schools Exam.

 

How Far Will My Child Have To Travel To Attend A Selective School?

The other things to consider is practicality. If your child does get selected to attend Melbourne High School, Suzanne Cory or Mac Rob, how far will they have to travel? This may sounds like a silly question, but an extra hour or two of commute time each day can have a dramatic impact on your child’s ability to do their homework, participate in extracurricular activities and get a good night’s sleep.

 

Is My Child Ready For The Pressure Of A Selective Schools Exam?

Finally, you should also consider whether your child is ready for the pressures of a Selective Schools Exam. Students who sit the Selective Schools Exam have to tackle one of the most complex and competitive challenges ever faced by a high school student. The exam requires students to write essays and narratives under extremely strict times limits, tackle complex logical problems, and demonstrate a familiarity with mathematical concepts that are often not taught until later years. While the exam presents an opportunity for talented and committed students, it can also be a very stressful obstacle.

This is not to say that we mean to discourage students from sitting the Selective Schools Exam; on the contrary, we at Spectrum Tuition believe that all students deserve the chance to pursue their goals. But we also think that it’s important for people to go into these exams as informed as possible about the challenges that lay ahead. If you would like to have a conversation about whether the Selective Schools Exam is right for your child, or if you would like to know more about how you can help your child prepare for this exam, feel free to email us at enquiries@spectrumtuition.com or call us free on 1800 668 177.

Why Strong Readers Are Not Necessarily Strong Writers

There is a very common misconception that students who read a lot will automatically become good writers. On the surface level, it makes sense. After all, reading extensively allows students to develop a large vocabulary, appreciate different perspectives and gain an understanding of how different texts are structured. As with any skill, the first step towards becoming proficient is to watch a professional at work.

On the other hand, nobody learns to drive a car by watching their mum drive; nobody learns how to shoot baskets by watching basketball on television; and nobody learns how to bake a perfect souffle by just reading recipe books. In all these situations, practise is the key. While this all seems obvious, to be a strong English student, people often forget the importance of practising writing. Like any skill, writing requires constant practise. Here are some skills that you can only get from practising writing…

1. Practising writing builds muscle memory

Students often forget that writing is not just a mental task; it is a physical one as well. When students sit their VCE exams, or if they sit a Selective Schools or Scholarship test, they are required to write long, well thought out essays or creative narratives under a strict time limit. Quite often, under these situations, students’ hands get tired before their brains do. Students who haven’t practised writing essays or narratives on a regular basis will find it hard to write quickly enough, or for long enough, to get all of their great ideas on the page. On the other hand, students who recognise that writing (like all tasks) needs practise, are much more likely to have the physical and mental skills they need to succeed.

2. Learning to read and learning to write are two completely different skills

Reading is obviously a wonderful skill for building imagination in students; but it is, in the end, largely a passive activity. When you are learning to read for the first time, you need to recognise the shapes of letters and words and decode them using your knowledge of sounds and phonics. Then when you have built up the required skills to read a story, you get to sit back and let the author take you on a journey.

When it’s your turn to do the writing, suddenly your job becomes a lot more difficult. How do you even start? What is the right word to use to communicate the right message? How can you grab and maintain your reader’s attention? How do you conclude in a satisfactory way? What about grammar/ spelling/ punctuation? You’re given an empty page that you’re supposed to fill with ideas. This can be incredibly stressful, and many students face writer’s block as a result. Learning specific writing skills and practising writing is a good way to get better at generating your own ideas, so you can succeed every time. The more you practise, the less intimidating the empty page will look, and the more techniques you will learn for generating ideas in order to become a successful writer.

3. Practising writing demystifies the art of writing

Have you ever read a great essay or a great story and thought, “How on Earth did they do that?” It’s a common experience, and it’s part of the fun of reading. When we read good writing, we’re not necessarily trying to figure out how the author is doing what they’re doing, we’re just enjoying their work. This is one of the reasons why it’s not enough to just read extensively if you want to learn to write well. Put simply: reading good writing doesn’t teach you how to be a good writer yourself. On the other hand, when you practise writing regularly, you start to notice the patterns, the little tricks that you can use again and again to make your writing successful. Practising writing allows you to look behind the curtain and seeing the mechanisms that make up a successful piece of writing.

Of course, practising is hard. And it’s not the kind of thing you can just do without guidance. That’s where we come in. If you or your child wants more guidance on how to practise their writing, feel free to email us at enquiries@spectrumtuition.com or call us on 1800 668 177 to book a free assessment. Alternatively, you can book online by clicking here.

If your child is preparing for a Scholarship or Selective Schools Exam, you might also want to check out our custom Writing Bundle. This bundle contains our best selling persuasive essay book and narrative book.  After reading these books your child will have the skills required to write a compelling and well structured narrative and persuasive essay!