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Tutoring For Your Needs • Passion For Education

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Apr 242012

What is critical thinking? There are many different definitions on what critical thinking is; however, to sum it up in the broadest form, it is a learned skill in which the critical thinker is able to dissect, conceptualize, apply, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate information and use that information to solve a problem, reach an answer, or come to a conclusion.  Critical thinkers, not only use the information presented to them, but they also use past acquired knowledge or experiences and they are able to skillfully “read between the lines”.

Why it helps – You will find that most of the kids that are in honors classes, AP classes, or other advanced placement classes, are typically children who have their critical thinking skills refined.  These kids typically are able to look at things in more than just one way and they are able to dissect information more critically.  Most of these children receive high grades and perform very well on exams.  Although these individuals were born with many of their intellectual abilities, a lot of their skills were also learned and perfected.  Therefore, any child can improve her or his critical thinking skills and improve their understanding of the material presented to them in and out of school.

Activities to do to help your children – During the long summer break, don’t just let your children spend all their time watching TV or playing video games, assign them work (hiring a tutor might be a good solution to helping your children improve their critical thinking skills).  Assign your children work that will help develop their critical thinking skills.  The following are just a few examples.

  • Read and analyze a book together – Have your children read a book, that is appropriate for their age and reading level, then have them write a book review in which they state what they liked or disliked about the book and why.  The “why” is the most important aspect, because it causes your children to think more critically about their views and why they formed such views.  You or the tutor should have read the book as well.  Make sure to discuss different elements the author used to get their point across – i.e. analyze the information presented and the different techniques used by the author like symbols, metaphors, foreshadowing, etc.
  • Assign your children an argumentative research paper, but with a twist – Have your children pick a semi-controversial topic (you might want to pick the topic for them), then have your children write, as objectively as possible, why they are for it, then have them write another paper arguing why they are against it.  Once your children are done writing both papers, have them reveal to you what they learned while writing them.  Then work together to improve their papers – provide constructive criticism, while acknowledging the positives as well.
    • Make sure to remind your children that there are different ways of looking at things and that they should learn to take in information with a critical eye and not to allow emotions to dictate their views.
    • Objectivity is essential in becoming a critical thinker; emotions can oftentimes hinder us from thinking objectively.
    • The best argumentative papers are those in which the writer is able to predict what the opposing side will argue, in order to make their point, and is thus able to take on those arguments head on.
  • Analyze the source – Read a research article with your children.  As you read it have your children analyze what the writer’s argument is – is the writer trying to convince you of something?  Make sure to take note of the sources provided by the author, taking into account if they are reliable or not and why that is.  Also be sure to point out flaws or contradictions found in the paper.  Is the paper mostly opinion based?  Or does the writer provide enough factual and objective information to prove her of his point?  Help your children to critically and objectively analyze the information presented; let them know your thought process as you work through analyzing the paper.  Be sure to point out any obvious biases or opinions that diminish the credibility of the article.
  • Analyze a work of art – Have your children analyze an important piece of art.  Ask your children questions about the piece that will allow them to think critically and to view art in a new way.  What is the point of view? Was the painting effective in presenting the desired point of view?  Why or why not?  Make sure to read the caption that goes along with the art piece or any other relevant information in order to gain a better understanding of the artist and their work.  Keep in mind that art is very subjective; the main idea is to get your child to try and interpret an image in a critical and new way.

If you want your children to benefit from summer tutoring and want to help them develop their critical thinking skills, please give us a call or send us an e-mail, and we will be more than happy to assist you.

Apr 122012

Any teacher, parent or educator will tell you that a student learns more effectively in a one-on-one setting than in a classroom.  The investment a parent makes in their child’s education can have a lasting impact on the success their child has well beyond their years in school.

Here are some of the reasons why one-on-one tutoring helps improve grades.

4)   The tutor is able to review the material taught in class and to repeat it until it is learned.  Even though we try to teach kids critical thinking techniques, we must admit that repetition does have certain benefits.  In this case, repetition and review allows the information taught in class to be further ingrained in the child’s brain during the tutoring session.  Once the child learns the basics the tutor can then move on to more complex topics.

5)   A one-on-one tutoring session provides a safe learning environment, where the student can feel comfortable to ask questions without fearing peers criticizing them if the questions are perceived as being “dumb questions”.  Students develop a healthy and mutually respectful relationship where the child can feel comfortable enough to ask questions and let the tutor know that he or she needs further clarification in order to understand the concepts being taught.

6)   Tutors are able to present the information through fun activities.  The tutor can create fun educational games to help present the information in a different way.  The child then learns a new appreciation for learning and realizes that learning can be fun.

There are many more reasons why one-on-one tutoring can help improve grades.  If you feel that your child could benefit from one-on-one tutoring, contact us and we will gladly help your child improve his or her grades, and help their love of learning grow.

To read the first part of this blog click here.

Mar 192012

Any teacher, parent or educator will tell you that a student learns more effectively in a one-on-one setting than in a classroom.  The investment a parent makes in their child’s education can have a lasting impact on the success their child has well beyond their years in school.

Here are some of the reasons why one-on-one tutoring helps improve grades:

1)   Your child gets one-on-one attention.  Oftentimes students go unnoticed in a large classroom setting; the unfortunate reality is that teachers are unable to devote one-on-one time to each one of their students.  Therefore, many students that need that extra help don’t get the opportunity to work individually with their teachers.  Because students get this individual time with their tutors, the tutors are better able to assess their strengths and weaknesses and to help provide them with the appropriate tools to improve their grades.

2)   Tutoring helps to build your child’s self-esteem. Your child learns how great it feels to be able to understand and learn the classroom material.  Once your child begins to learn the material, their enthusiasm for learning will grow and they will eventually be able to use the tools they’ve acquired in their tutoring sessions, and work independently.  There is truly nothing more rewarding as a tutor, than seeing your student’s face light up with pride and excitement as he or she finally “gets it”.

3)   Tutors are able to offer different ways of teaching.  We are all well aware that not every child learns with the same teaching techniques; therefore, tutors are able to assess what works for their students and to modify the lessons to suit their student’s individual needs.  Tutors are also able to provide less conventional, and perhaps more amusing, ways of teaching to help their students learn the material, like games for example.

All in all there are many more reasons why one-on-one tutoring helps improve grades and provide your children with the necessary tools to succeed academically.

To read the second part of this article, click here.