Rewards For Good Grades: Good Idea Or Disaster Waiting To Happen?

rewards for good grades image 1As a parent, at one point or another you may have found yourself telling your child something along the lines of:

“If you get an ‘A’ on your Biology test, I’ll take you shopping,”

Or: “Clean your room and you get to play video games for an hour.”

Now, on the face of it, rewards for good grades seem like a win-win situation on both sides: you ensure that your son or daughter are keeping up academically, and they get rewarded for their actions. And providing an incentive for good grades is not exactly a new invention: it’s probably been going on as long as parents have been getting report cards.

However, many psychologists think that paying for grades or providing other extrinsic rewards for academic performance is a mistake, setting the stage for poor attitudes towards school and actually a decrease in academic performance over time.

Are they right? Or do rewards for grades actually motivate kids effectively? We discuss in this post.

For more tips on topics like motivating your kids, click here! We’ll keep you up to date with our latest tips, strategies, and resources to help your child tackle his/her assignments.

Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic Rewards For Students

There have also been many studies where rewards correlate with negative consequences (like this review paper from Grand Valley State), while other studies would argue that rewards are what allow students to achieve their goals (like this one from Harvard University and Edlabs).

But as it turns out, we may not actually be talking about the same thing. So in order to better understand both the advantages and disadvantages of having rewards, let’s take a look at the two different types of rewards students can receive.

Extrinsic Rewards

If you are a parent, then this is probably what you use the most in terms of rewards. Extrinsic rewards relate to physical or tangible items that are awarded to a student for recognition of accomplishments. Most of the time, students are aware of the extrinsic award that they will achieve and will work towards accomplishing their goals for that specific purpose.

rewards for good grades image 2

Examples of these types of rewards would be studying for a test in order to get an ‘A’, or competing in a triathlon in order to get a trophy. They are driven by the desire or motivation to gain something in particular, or even to avoid a negative outcome.

Intrinsic Rewards

Intrinsic rewards, on the other hand, are driven by the desire to engage in a behavior because it is personally rewarding. There is no tangible item that the student can gain from performing an activity; their self-motivation and emotional well-being is their reward.

Some examples of intrinsic rewards would be helping build a house because you find it brings joy to you, or playing an educational game because you find it challenging and exciting. These examples show an internal motivation to participate in an activity for its own sake.

The Benefits of Rewards for Good Grades

Extrinsic rewards can facilitate a student’s interest in something that they originally did not have interest in. It allows the student to acquire new skills and knowledge, which can eventually lead to intrinsic motivation if the student continues to pursue the activity.

Extrinsic rewards can also be seen as a form of positive reinforcement; it is a way for students to understand that their performance is adequate or deserving of praise. According to one study conducted by a Cornell professor, C. Kirabo Jackson, students who are rewarded for earning good grades on AP tests tend to score higher on the SAT and choose to attend college at higher rates than those who are not rewarded for grades.

Intrinsic rewards, on the other hand, have long-lasting effects and are generally self-sustaining. It gives the student a sense of meaningfulness and accomplishment for learning to master a certain subject, skill, or activity.

Students who have intrinsic motivation do not place much emphasis on grades or physical rewards, but rather on their genuine interest on the matter at hand. This allows them to think outside the box and use their creativity as they further develop their passions or interests.

The Disadvantages of Rewards

Extrinsic rewards are generally effective for short-term goals only, and can often distract students from fully learning or understanding the subject at hand. The rewards also need to be consistent and increased during certain times in order to work.

Often, teachers have found that once tangible rewards were removed from situations, students lose their motivation and interest. According to a study by psychologist Edward Deci, this can have a negative impact on a student’s intrinsic motivation.

Deci divided college students into two different groups and asked them to complete a puzzle. One group was paid, and the other was not. Deci found that the paid group did not continue to solve the puzzle once the experiment ended, whereas the unpaid group continued. He argued that receiving a monetary or extrinsic reward can reduce intrinsic interest, or even prevent students from forming intrinsic interest altogether.

Now on the intrinsic rewards side of the story, although they yield very few disadvantages, they do require more preparation and can take time to develop.

Each student is an individual, and finding what will intrinsically motivate them can be tricky. This may involve getting to know the student’s interests and figuring out ways to connect those interests to the material. Teachers must also be passionate and enthusiastic about the subject themselves; this is key when sparking intrinsic motivation in students.

Should We Still Be Rewarding Kids For Grades?

Rewards are often necessary when it comes to helping students achieve their academic goals; however, they must be used correctly and in moderation in order to be effective.

Extrinsic rewards can be beneficial if teachers and parents understand that it is for a short-term goal and that the student will most likely only be temporarily interested in the material.

Although in some cases, extrinsic motivation can lead to intrinsic motivation, where students look forward to earning intrinsic rewards. It is true that it may take time to achieve those intrinsic rewards, but the results will show long-term effects and can often build a student’s character.

What do you think?

At Educational Connections, we’re big fans of fostering intrinsic motivation, but we also know there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. So over to you…

How do you handle this situation with your son or daughter?

Let us know in the comments!

If you found this article helpful, get more tips and tricks here! We are here for you and your family and want to provide you the resources to help your child have a successful school year.

What Are the Benefits of Summer Tutoring?

As the summer approaches, you may have your hands full with planning family trips, barbecues, and pool parties. With all the excitement of planning the summer, it is easy to forget about summer assignments and learning. So why would a family choose to tutor over the summer? What are the benefits of summer tutoring?

The Benefits of Summer Tutoring

Studies have shown that students lose up to two months of content knowledge over the summer if they do not have academic support. That’s about 30% of the progress they have made over the school year. For many students this “summer learning slide” adds up overtime and can ultimately make a huge difference in a student’s high school and college career.

Luckily there are a number of things a student can do with an Educational Connection’s tutor over the summer to avoid summer learning loss.

Fill in the gaps. If your student struggled with subject material throughout the year or had trouble grasping certain concepts, then it is very likely they will lose 3 months of progress without support. Studies have shown that this gap will only widen each summer as students progress through their academic career. This can be prevented by enlisting in the help of a tutor, who can help your student build solid foundations in their areas of weakness. Our tutors can review past material with your student, find out what type of learning style or teaching methods work best for them, and customize a plan that will target your student’s weaknesses and turn them into strengths. This will allow your child to feel much more confident and motivated upon entering the next school year.

Get ahead of the game. Want your student to get a jump-start on the next school year and to be ahead of the class? Summer is the optimal time to get ahead. Our tutors can work with you to figure out a plan that would best fit your child’s needs and introduce activities and concepts that your student would normally learn in the upcoming school year. In addition, your student may be taking new classes in the upcoming school year that they may be unfamiliar with. We can help reduce the stress that comes along with unfamiliarity by matching them with a tutor who can preview the material with your student and give them the confidence they need when the class begins.

Enrich and spark an interest. If your student worked with a tutor over the school year, then it is extremely important to keep sessions consistent over the summer. This will provide a sense of continuity for your student, and help them maintain the newly-learned skills they have acquired over the school year. There are many different ways our tutors can provide enrichment; it does not always have to consist of schoolwork! Does your student happen to love animals or building machines from scratch? Summer is a great opportunity for your student to explore these passions that they may not have had time for during the school year. Our tutors come from a wide variety of backgrounds and can support your student’s interests by introducing programs and activities that would excite and motivate your student while tying in academic programs.

Make the most out of the summer by taking advantage of the summer tutoring programs and opportunities Educational Connections has to offer. We can ensure that your student is staying up-to-date on their summer assignments, and will be well prepared for the next school year. Don’t let your child be a victim of summer learning loss; contact us today to make sure your student is fully supported over the summer and is confident upon entering the next school year.

 

How Do I Know if My Child Is Gifted?

http://www.creativitypost.com/images/made/images/uploads/education/iStock_000010714612Small%202_610_300_s_c1_center_center.jpgAs a parent, one of your most important responsibilities may be ensuring that your child is reaching their full potential by allowing them to explore their passions and interests. In your course of encouragement, you may notice that your child is exceptionally good at adding large numbers easily in their head, or that the painting they brought home from art class looks like it belongs in the National Gallery of Art. But how do you know if these traits constitute your child as being gifted, or just very talented?

According to the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC), “Gifted individuals are those who demonstrate outstanding levels of aptitude (defined as an exceptional ability to reason and learn) or competence (documented performance or achievement in top 10 percent or rarer) in one or more domains. Domains include any structured area of activity with its own symbol system (e.g., mathematics, music, language) and/or set of sensory motor skills (e.g. painting, dance, sports).” Even with this explanation, it is still difficult to determine whether your child is gifted or not.

However, there are some characteristics that most gifted children have in common. Let’s take a look at the five signs that may indicate that your child is gifted.

1. Absorbs information like a sponge.

Most children forget what you tell them almost five seconds afterwards; however, there are some who can retain almost anything. It may shock you if you hear your student recite entire chapters of a story that was read in their class, word for word. Gifted students often retain a wide variety of information and are able to recall it at a later time.

2. Picks up things early and easily.

Many students do not begin reading or writing until they are in school; however, gifted students can often learn this at home by mimicking others. Simply picking up a book or scribbling with a pencil can lead to developing early academic skills. Artistic and musical abilities also come naturally and easily, where children may have perfect pitch or can draw things to perspective.

3. Pays attention to detail.

A five hundred piece puzzle that may take someone days or even weeks to complete, may take a gifted child only a couple of hours. All they have to do is look at the picture on the box and then figure out which colors and shapes match up on the pieces. They also may put toys away where they got them, or will notice if something has been moved from its usual spot. Rather than getting excited to ride a bike for the first time, your child may be more interested in how the bike is made and works.

4. Understands Complexity

Many young children give up or lose interest easily if they are attempting to solve a complex problem that is beyond their capabilities. Gifted students, however, welcome the challenge and opportunity to think creatively and abstractly. It gives them the chance to think outside the box and use their intelligence to its potential. The next time you give your kid a Rubik’s cube, check to see how fast and eager they are to solve it.

My Child May Be Gifted

If your child meets one or more of the characteristics mentioned above and you believe he or she may be gifted, then it might be a good idea to get them tested. Identifying giftedness can be tricky, and using traditional testing methods such as assessments and IQ tests can make it easier. Many parents have also found speaking with their student’s teachers and counselors and getting their feedback and input to be helpful when making this determination.

There are schools that cater to students with gifted abilities, and familiarizing yourself with what is offered can help you figure out what is best for your student. Remember, it is important to be aware of these signs of giftedness and take action when you notice them. Your insight and instincts can help your child unlock their unique gifts and creativity.

Why Does My Student Lack Motivation?

As a parent, it may feel frustrating when you know your student lacks motivation to succeed in school. When you ask them questions about their classes or what they’re working on, you may receive a very short answer or a shrug in response. When you bring up the topic of college and ask what schools they are interested in, your student may say, “I don’t know” or attempt to shy away from the conversation. When your student brings home their report card and shows you less than desirable grades, they may not care when you seem upset. Since you understand the value and importance of education, why is it that your student cannot?

Motivation is an intrinsic feeling that comes naturally to many students, however some do not experience this. You may be surprised to learn that it is often not the student’s fault when there is a lack of motivation, but rather that there are outside factors that affect this. In order to help your student become more motivated, it is important to first understand the reasons behind the source of the problem.

unmotivated studentThe material is not engaging

When your student says he is bored in the classroom, it must not be taken lightly. This could mean that he is disengaged from learning and may not understand what is being taught. However, this very well could be a result of how the teacher relays information to the students. If the teacher is unaware of his students’ interests and is unable to make the material fun and relatable, then often students are unwilling to learn and do not feel motivated.

Difficulty and pressure in the classroom

When your student feels that an assignment is beyond their capabilities, he often shuts down and does not want to try. He may be afraid of failing or of feeling inadequate, and will using avoidance and procrastination as his way of coping. If teachers do not offer support to their students or hold lower expectations, students will not trust in themselves or their abilities. According to an article written by GreatSchools, “Teachers should assign challenging, meaningful, and achievable tasks that promote motivation and link effort and success. If teachers take the stance that they are the source of all knowledge and that their students are incompetent, their students are more apt to tune out, stop trying, and fail.”

Not being challenged enough

On the flipside, your students may feel that the material being covered is too easy and it is not challenging enough. They may find it uninteresting and be unwilling to complete it because they would rather pursue other activities. This does not mean that your student isn’t bright or does not have the ability to succeed, it just means that he needs different tasks that will help stimulate his brain and more time to explore his passions and interests.

What can I do if my child is unmotivated?

Since is difficult to monitor how your child learns in the classroom or the teaching style of the instructor, it is important to ensure there is support at home. Let your child know the value of academics and that they are worthwhile; they are more likely to adopt your attitudes if you do so. Explain to them that is it okay to fail sometimes, because that is part of the learning process. This will allow them to take on more challenges and explore what they are truly interested in, which will in turn spark motivation.

If you decide to reward your student for completing academic tasks, make sure to do so sparingly. Extrinsic motivation is typically associated with short-term goals, which means progress often vanishes once the reward disappears. However, there are benefits to extrinsic rewards; they can often ignite a new interest or passion if a student is performing a task that they normally wouldn’t without a reward. This can develop long-term motivation if they develop their own goals to work towards.

Remember, with a number of students to teach in the classroom, it may be difficult for a teacher to pinpoint which students are not being challenged enough. Ask your student follow up questions if they express the material in school is too boring or easy. Which classes do they find to be too boring? Which problems are too easy? What would they rather be doing? It is important ask this in order to figure out what your student’s interests are and to help them develop goals. By realizing what their passions are, students can lead a path to academic achievement and keep their motivation consistent.

Remembering What You Read

In a world where technology has taken over the interests of our youth, brain-stimulating activities such as reading have been put on the backburner. Students may argue that they read all the time – when they are texting or surfing the web. However, this is not the same as traditional reading, which incites thought-provoking questions and instills creativity.

Many students may say that their interest in reading has declined, because they do not read well or cannot remember what they read. Schools try to provide reading comprehension activities that relate to what students are interested in, but teachers say that this often does not matter, because many of their students are years behind grade level when it comes to reading proficiency. Although the rise of technology can be partially to blame, there are some strategies students can use in order to improve their reading skills, which can also re-spark their interest in reading.

Here are 5 tips students can use to help them comprehend and remember what they read:

1.       Read with a purpose

This sounds simple enough; students believe their purpose for reading is to either answer questions administered by the teacher, or to get an ‘A’ in a class. These can be considered end goals for a reading assignment, but the purpose pertains to the meaning behind the reading and how the purpose is being fulfilled through the actual reading. In other words, students should ask themselves, “Why am I reading this? What should I be learning from this?” This will help students remember what they are reading if they continuously check for how the purpose is being fulfilled throughout the text, and allow them to focus on the relevant parts.

 2.       Skim the text

Teachers often reprimand students for skimming their reading assignments, however if used correctly, skimming does often have its benefits. It helps prime the memory, orient thinking, and create an overall sense and understanding for the material. Skimming should not be used in place of fully reading text, but rather prior to fully reading, in order for students to get a better idea of what is about to come. It also puts emphasis on headings, pictures, graphs, tables, and any other key items that will help students realize what their purpose is of reading.

3.       Highlight sensibly

Highlighting a few keys words as you read the text can help provide mental pictures and reminders as you go along. Just remember, it is not necessary to highlight full sentences or focus too much on what must be highlighted – this can often be counterproductive. When students become preoccupied with marking up a book, they do not pay full attention to what they are reading, and often must go back to re-read the text. After highlighting a few key words, it is important for students to create a self-quiz or outline to make sure the material is being memorized. This will help support memory foundation and create an aid for studying in the future.

4.       Read in pictures

As strange as it sounds, pictures can capture the essence of a hundred words, and are much easier to remember than words. It can be helpful to make mental images of headings and sub-heads of a story, so that students can form a reference when they go back to review material. When reviewing something such as script for a play, students should try to study the meaning of the script in depth, which will automatically produce mental images and memory. Associating words with the real meaning and context creates engagement for the reader, and allows them to become interested and connected to the material. This will greatly help students remember what they have read, if they have a genuine interest.

5.       Put it all together

Students should remember that using all of these tips together will yield that best results when it comes to comprehending and remembering what they’ve read. Start off by understanding the purpose behind the reading; what is it that you are trying to learn? Try skimming the text for clues of the purpose. This will also help students familiarize themselves with the material and set the tone for what they are about to fully read. While reading, they should highlight key words that pertain to the material, while trying not to over-highlight unnecessary information. Always visualize and create mental images for what is being read; students will realize that pictures create much stronger memories than words alone.

How to Deal with Boredom

Far too often you hear your student say how much they do not like school, because of one simple fact: it is just too boring. It is difficult to argue with this statement, because as a former student yourself, you may remember how boring it really was at times. Unfortunately, it is not easy to make the teacher be more engaging or force your student to be somehow become interested in the material. However, it is important to remember that boredom is not something that should be take lightly; it can cause a student to become frustrated and disengaged with school, which can ultimately result in low grades.

Fortunately, research has come far, and there are many solutions available when it comes to combating boredom. Here are some strategies you can tell your student to use to not only avoid being bored in the classroom, but while completing homework and studying as well.

Defeating Boredom in the Classroom – Tips for Students

Stay focused and listen. This sounds easy enough, and it may be something you try to do already, but giving yourself reminders to stay focused can be most effective. Whenever you find that your mind has wandered from the lesson, put a check mark in the corner of your notebook paper. This will give you motivation to stay focused and avoid giving yourself check marks. You will find that you retain much more information if you actually focus on what the teacher is saying.

Participate. If you find that your eyes are starting to glaze and your head is slowly lowering onto your desk, find a way to stay involved in the subject. Raise your hand and start asking probing questions about the topic that other students may not have thought of. This could ignite a classroom discussion or a debate, which can help get all the students interested. Or, if you have been separated into a group and given an assignment, volunteer to be team captain. Giving yourself an important role or a purpose to learn can help fight boredom tremendously.

Doodle away. You may have been told in the past to stop doodling on your paper and to concentrate. What you may not know is that doodling actually helps with concentration and can be used as a memory aide. In fact, doodling can help you avoid daydreaming altogether. According to an article by TIME magazine, “Doodling forces your brain to expend just enough energy to stop it from daydreaming but not so much that you don’t pay attention.”

Tackling Boredom during Homework Time

Find an “uncomfortable” homework spot. Avoid doing homework in comfortable areas that allow you to be lazy and unfocused, such as your bed or the living room couch. It helps to sit in an upright chair at a desk or table with plenty of room for you to spread out your materials. Finding a suitable spot to complete your homework can increase your concentration by double and allow you to become more engaged in the material.

Prepare yourself. Before beginning your homework, make sure you have supplies and materials that you will need. If you are missing something that you will need for an assignment, such as a ruler or a pair of scissors, you may easily procrastinate on getting started with your assignment and let you mind wander. In the case that you are fully prepared to complete your homework but dread tackling a particularly boring assignment, take ten minutes to warm up your brain by reading a chapter of a novel or a magazine. This will help get the gears in your mind running and put you in concentration mode.

Listen to music. Although the debate is ongoing, studies have shown that listening to music during homework completion can help improve your focus and absorption of material. However, it must be the right kind of music; classical music has a soothing effect that stimulates the mind and the brainwaves, which can be extremely beneficial. Loud, lively music can also stimulate the mind, but not in the right way; it will cause you to become distracted and to want to do something else you would enjoy rather than homework.

Studying Without Boredom

Rid yourself of all distractions. Studying can be rather boring on its own, and it is better to not have any entertaining distractions that would keep you from studying. Find an area of complete solitude; lock yourself in a room if you have to do so. Turn off your cell phone and put it somewhere out of sight. You can check your phone during the designated study breaks you give yourself, but keep it to five minutes only. If you must use a computer to study, make sure to block all social media websites. You can install an add-on to do this at HackMyStudy.com.

Be creative. Taking notes, highlighting, and re-reading will not only bore you further, but can also be ineffective ways of studying. Engage yourself in the material by making up a song about the topic, which can include important dates or information that you will need to know. It will not only help you remember and retain what you will be tested on, but it is a fun way to make the material come alive and spark fascination.

Challenge yourself. You can battle the boredom by creating thought-provoking quiz questions you think your teacher may ask. Answer the questions to the best of your abilities, and then grade your answers (be fair to yourself!) This will show you what you areas you need to study further and what you can improve upon. Making a challenge game out of studying will not only keep your brain stimulated, but will cause you to explore the material in depth until you fully understand all concepts and information.

College Prep Timeline

As a parent, you know that college is one of the most important milestones in your student’s life. Writing a strong essay and scoring high on the SATs can be crucial when it comes to getting accepted. However, it is often the case that students, and parents as well, do not put much consideration into the application process until senior year. At this point, students are involved in so many activities and worrying about keeping up with schoolwork that it can make the whole college selection process very stressful.

So when is the right time to begin planning college? Numerous studies and college websites indicate that students should start thinking about college the moment they enter high school.

Students may argue that they do not know what they want to do for the rest of their lives upon entering high school, or that it is too early to be thinking about such long-term plans. This may be true; however there are some simple, no-pressure steps your student can take to ensure they are on the right track.

Here are some easy things your student can do each year of high school to help prepare them for college:

Preparing for College in Freshman Year

At this time, college may not be the top priority in your mind, however it is still a good idea to start educating yourself about the college process. Colleges like to see if you are on a certain track in school, whether it be math intensive or even business related (taking marketing or economic classes). Think about the classes and electives you’ve enjoyed taking in the past, and try to incorporate these interests in a diploma program that works best for you.

Also, take the time to have some fun and join a bunch of clubs and extracurricular activities. Don’t think about it too much, just join whatever seems interesting or what you think would be exciting to try. Maybe you have always wanted to learn how to cook, so you decide to join the culinary club. This may also spark an interest and open new doors to future careers that you may not have considered before.

Preparing for College in Sophomore Year

After experiencing a good amount of clubs and extracurricular activities, it is time to start narrowing them down to the ones you think would have an impact on your future. If you love writing and you are part of the creative writing club, then it may be beneficial to seek a leadership role within the club. This looks great on a college application, and shows how passionate you are about a certain subject if you would like to major in it. Also, research scholarship opportunities that relate to your interests or competitions where you can enter your work for awards.

If you feel it is manageable, discuss taking challenging academic courses with your parents and counselor. Make sure that the classes you decide to take on are something you are thoroughly interested in and can excel in; taking advanced classes without much consideration can damage you GPA if you are not ready to handle the coursework and load.

And don’t forget to take the PSAT!  This is extremely important in order to figure out a baseline and help you prepare for the upcoming SAT.

Preparing for College in Junior Year

Okay, now this is the time to get serious! You will want to research schools that offer majors you are interested in, and learn about what they can provide in terms of campus life and activities. Take campus tours and familiarize yourself with the college atmosphere, and select a few schools that you feel you could succeed at. Learn all you can about their application processes, and what they look for in potential candidates.  If possible, sit in on an actual class in order to really get a taste of the college experience.

Colleges find a student’s junior year to be the most crucial when it comes to grades, and you will want to make sure you are performing to the best of your abilities. Study diligently for upcoming midterms and exams, especially if you are taking AP classes. Do not slack off or lose focus on your goals, and always ask for help from teachers, tutors, or parents as needed.

This is the year you will take the SAT. Many students dread taking this for the first time, however it is not uncommon for students to achieve lower scores than expected during their first take. You can familiarize yourself with the test and get an idea on what to focus on improving before taking it for the second time. It is always beneficial to get a tutor to help prepare your student for the SAT and provide important test-taking strategies.

Preparing for College in Senior Year

It is time to apply everything you have learned in the past three years and begin your college application process! Narrow down the list to the top few schools you are interested in, and figure out what is needed for each school. You will need to fill out applications, prepare essays, and gather letters of recommendation from teachers and counselors. Have a plan in mind for completing this in the beginning of the school year in order to avoid rushing and last minute submissions.

If necessary, retake the SAT after taking the time to prepare, study, and improve your areas of weakness. Colleges will only consider your highest scores out of each section, so it is best to take the test more than once. Be sure to sign up for the test early in the school year, as it may be too late to take the test after the fall.

Taking these steps will help prepare you for college well beforehand and make for a smoother application process. Your senior year is not meant to be the start of the process, but rather a way to fine-tune and tie up any loose ends that you have been preparing for. Selecting the best school does not need to be a stressful; you just need to plan out your steps beforehand and make decisions that will work best for you.

Private Tutoring versus Group Tutoring

http://comfylearning.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/one-on-one.jpgOne-on-one or group tutoring. Which one is better for your student?

At Educational Connections, we have worked with thousands of students, providing a number of different tutoring services. Over the years, we have found one-on-one tutoring to be much more beneficial and effective than group tutoring in terms of results and overall experience. We offer primarily one-on-one, in-home tutoring services for these specific reasons:

Customized Lesson Plans

One of the biggest and most important benefits of one-on-one tutoring is the ability to have customized lesson plans for your student. When the tutor is able to focus on one individual student, he or she can pinpoint their strengths and weaknesses and come up with a plan that would work best for them. If the tutor finds that a student does not understand certain concepts, they have the flexibility of spending extra time reviewing them until the student fully grasps them.

In group tutoring, this is not possible; often tutors and instructors must follow a pre-planned curriculum, which causes some students to get left behind. Group tutoring focuses on overall improvement and strategies, whereas one-on-one tutoring focuses on students’ specific needs and goals.

Less Pressure, Less Distractions

Since many students are taking the SATs and ACTs around this time of year, test prep tutoring is commonly done in group form. However, having your student tutored in a group for test prep has many disadvantages.

When your student is surrounded by peers, it may be difficult for them to voice their concerns when they are having trouble with the material. They may feel self-conscious about their abilities and would forego asking questions, because they are afraid of what their peers may think. In one-on-one tutoring, there is no fear of sounding “stupid” or being laughed at, because the student is not in competition with any others.

Your student is also much more likely to become distracted in group tutoring, especially if their friends are present. They may engage in side conversations and will put less effort and dedication into their sessions. One-on-one tutoring helps cut out these distractions and allows the student to focus on learning, which will maximize their score increase.

The Student-Tutor Bond

Educational Connections understands the importance of finding the right tutor match for your student in terms of experience and personality. One-on-one tutoring allows you to select the best tutor who can help your student succeed and reach their full potential. Your student is much more likely and willing to learn if they are working with someone they are getting along with. In group tutoring, this option is not possible; your student is forced to accept a tutor who may not be the best match for their needs.

One-on-one tutoring also allows a tutor and student to form a strong bond, which will help the student grow academically. Once the tutor has established rapport with the student, the student will feel comfortable asking questions and trusting the tutor’s advice. In addition, the tutor helps motivate and build the student’s confidence by praising their accomplishments and acknowledging milestones reached. Having a figure that can provide your student with that specialized, one-on-one attention can make a huge difference in their life.

Whether you student is falling behind in school or would just like to advance his or her skills, we have found one-on-one tutoring to be the best option. It focuses on your student’s individual needs, and allows the tutor to come up with a game plan that would work best for your student. Group tutoring can often discourage students from asking questions or seeking specific help, whereas one-on-one tutoring encourages students to voice their concerns in order to pinpoint difficulties. You can also expect to see a huge boost in confidence and independence by allowing your student to work with a tutor who will best fit their personality and needs.

The Power of Positive Reinforcement

As a parent, your student depends on you for guidance and support, especially when they are struggling in school. Parents and teachers are often so focused on students achieving good grades that they forget the key to success relies in positive reinforcement. In the heat of frustration and disappointment, you may resort to anger by telling your student, “You need to study harder!” or ask, “Why can’t you just pay attention?” when you see a poor grade. Pointing out your student’s flaws and failures rather than accomplishments can have negative consequences.

Studies have show that positive reinforcement has much more of an effect than any other disciplinary method. It allows students to realize they have done something right and praiseworthy, which in turn causes repetition in good behavior. Here are some things to remember when providing positive reinforcement to your student:

Timing is Everything

According to a behavioral guidelines checklist issued by Utah State University, positive reinforcement is most effective when it is given immediately after the behavior. The shorter the amount of time, the stronger the relevancy and connection will be to the behavior and positive reinforcement. Most importantly, the reinforcement should be presented enthusiastically and with a smile.

In addition, the praise should be more strategic than casual. If you commend your student on everything he or she does, it will sound a bit phony and eventually, it will lose its power. That being said, it is also not a good idea to reserve praise for only extremely noteworthy events. This will cause you to lose your chance to reinforce good behavior on certain occasions. The best
thing to do is try to find a healthy balance between frequent and intermittent reinforcement.

Encouragement Builds Confidence

Students often feel defeated in school, especially when they receive such little praise by teachers. They are constantly hearing what they are doing wrong instead of right, which causes them feelings of self-doubt and hopelessness. However, many parents do not realize that providing students with positive reinforcement can negate the feels of self-doubt.

Dr. Edward Hallowell of ADDitude Magazine told a story of when he was younger and his soccer coach decided to have him start at center forward one game. Hallowell had always felt he was a less than mediocre player, and expressed this to his coach. His coach told him, “I think you’re the best player for that position. If I make you play it, maybe you’ll believe it, too.” Hallowell then realized he had someone who believed in him, which boosted his confidence and determination and led his team to win the game. Sometimes, students just need someone to set reasonable expectations and let them rise to the occasion. A little encouragement can open new doors in a child’s life.

Avoid Accidental Reinforcement

You may not realize it, but as a parent, you could be reinforcing negative behavior with your student. Children often use attention as a way of getting what they want, and if their parent gives in, then it is more likely that behavior will be used again in the future. For example, if your child has a class project due the next day that they have not started, they may beg and plead for you to help them. If you decide to help them, then it is reinforcing their behavior and it will teach them that whining will allow them to get their way. Instead, it is best to ignore this behavior; it will send the message to your student that they must hold themselves accountable.
Parents and teachers often make the mistake of enforcing extrinsic motivation rather than intrinsic motivation. Studies have show that offering external rewards for good behavior, such as money or gifts, has short-term effects. Also, offering such rewards undermines a student’s intrinsic motivation and their common sense for self-regulation. It is always better to offer verbal positive reinforcement in order to gain long-term effects and boost self-worth and value.

In a world where praise and commendations are offered few and far between, we need to remember that positive reinforcement is what allows students to repeat good behavior. Students rely on our encouragement to succeed, and need to hear that they are doing a good job in order to stay on the right path. Giving your student only negative feedback will cause them to feel defeated and frustrated, which will only enforce negative behavior. Take the time to praise your student for their accomplishments, no matter how big or small they may be.

5 Study Tips That Work

You’ve heard every excuse in the book as to why your student can’t study. You try to provide the tools to study, by offering a quiet space away to offering incentives, but nothing seems to work. It could be that your student has tried all of the common study techniques, and may need to try something new and different.

As unconventional as they may seem, take a look at five of the top study techniques proven to be effective

1.     Sad classical music can work wonders

http://www.thehealingatelier.com/images/music2.jpgStudents often think that fast, happy, upbeat music will get them in the right mood for studying. This type of music can make you active, but not in the right effect; it may make you want to dance or go out with friends, which will cause you to lose focus. Instead, put your trust in the musical masterminds of Chopin and Beethoven. Sad, classical music helps with concentration through its melody and rhythm. It raises the level of serotonin, which will in turn spark the creative process in your mind.

2.     Watch TV in another language

Learning another language can be tough, especially if your student is past their primary years. However, it can be made easier with the help of some common electronic devices. Many have found it useful to default their TV to a foreign language, where they can read the subtitles in order to decipher the translation. It may also be a good idea to set your phone in another language; it can be challenging at first, but it will allow you to learn new words as you navigate through the functions. Always keep a foreign language dictionary nearby for the words you do not know.

3.     Don’t be afraid to take breaks

There comes a point when your student will start to stare blankly at their notes after hours of studying. This is a sign that your student needs a break and requires time to let their brain rest and recuperate. However, the study breaks must stay short (no longer 15 minutes) and should stay conducive to learning. Try exercising or eating something healthy, or even completing a crossword puzzle. Feel free to take the breaks frequently, too. Studies have shown that by taking a 10-minute break after every 50 minutes of studying will help you feel more focused, refreshed, and relaxed upon returning to studying.

4.     Youtube videos are your friend

The next time you tell your student to turn off that Youtube video and hit the books, you may want to think again. Although many Youtube videos are created purely for humor and entertainment, there are other channels that cater to different educational subjects and topics. Veritasium, for example, is a science blog that shows students how to conduct their own experiments using household materials, while providing scientific explanations. Not only are these videos fun to watch, they can help make the learning process easier, especially if your student is struggling with concepts in school. Educational Youtube videos can provide a fresh perspective that neither you nor your student knew existed.

5.     The power of tea

http://kinkycurlycoilyme.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/black-tea-rinse-for-natural-hair.jpgIt may sound strange, but by drinking a cup of tea before a study session, you can see an increase in concentration and problem-solving skills. Black tea has been proven to help relieve stress by lowering levels of cortisol, the hormone that produces anxiety. Green tea does the same, and also improves alertness, attention span, and productivity according to a study by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. If your student constantly dreads studying or loses focus easily, try giving them a cup of tea and see how their study skills improve.