Tag Archives: bedtime

How to get a home tutor really cheap

readingtogetherI heard on the news this morning that more and more families are hiring home tutors. While that may be a good thing if your children need particular specialist help, there are things that you can do that will have a much deeper effect on your children’s education and also on the happiness of your family. They are not only cheaper, they are free!

The press and politicians love to bash schools. They do it to sell more papers and gain more votes. The care and education of the children comes a long way down their list of concerns.

Schools actually do an amazing job. Each year they are asked to achieve more and more, and are given a hard time if they can’t squeeze more into the same sized brains that enter their doors each year. The world is changing just as fast for teachers as it is for you I. Schools and teachers are doing an amazing job keeping up while meeting unhelpful political targets. Teachers want to teach, not win votes for politicians.

Teachers only have so much time in the day and rarely have time for a one to one sit down with your child. If they do, they are probably, subconsciously making sure there is no physical contact and that no part of the conversation can be misconstrued.

Children come home from school tired. They’ve been working hard all day. The last thing they want is to see the smiling face of a home tutor when they get through the door! They’ll put up with it and may even, reluctantly, learn something because, generally, children do what they are told.

You, as a parent are the best home tutor a child can have and you come free! Every thing you do is a potential learning situation. Separating colours for the wash, weighing and measuring, counting, adding and taking away. So many irritating moments can be made simpler and more fun but remembering to turn it into a game. I know it’s hard to remember when you are exhausted too, but it does make it so much easier than fighting and arguing.

But there is one simple thing you can do that no teacher or home tutor can do that will change the lives and educational prospects of your children more than anything else.

Snuggle up together at bedtime and share a book.

You don’t have to be the greatest reader in the world or be able to do all the whacky voices. You are your child’s hero, so whatever you do will be great. If you can make the time to spend twenty minutes or half an hour reading to your child every night, you will be increasing their educational prospects more than any other intervention could ever hope to.

However sophisticated we think we are, we are still apes and we still need moments of physical closeness to bond. It is that closeness that children crave that modern life does its best to exclude. If children learn to relate reading with the best, cosiest time of their day, they will want to learn to do that magic trick themselves.

Following along as you read, is the best way to learn those long words and see them being decoded before their eyes. Learning to read is the hardest job any of us encounter in our lives. It requires thousands of hours of practice to become fluent. And fluency in reading is the key to pretty much every subject in education. Even sport has become an academic subject! Without fluency, don’t waste money on home tutors. They will force learning in one ear for it to pop out of the other. A tutor should enhance a hunger for knowledge, not be there to force it in.

The stories you read at bedtime will stay with your children for ever.

And, if you remove TVs and computers and any other electronic distractions from the bedroom, you’ll find that children who’ve had that special, bedtime story and a quiet review of the good bits of the day or prayers, if you are that way inclined, will go to sleep happy in the knowledge they are loved and that someone has the time to care about them.

This can be your quiet-time and relaxing end of the day too – every day.

Five ways to improve your bedtime storytelling skills

Bed Time Story for CatsIf you want your children to quieten down at bedtime, there are six little magic words that work almost every time. What are they?
“Who wants to hear a story?”
Simple, huh? Yes, it really is that simple. Your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews will all respond willingly. Children are hard-wired to snuggle up and listen to stories. So how can you make the experience even better? Try these five tips.

  1. Make the time. Children can sense if you are in a hurry. If you rush your way through a story, they will feel cheated and nag you for more. It becomes a vicious circle – you want them to calm down and go to sleep but all you succeed in achieving is to wake them up and leave them huffing and puffing with a sense of grievance that will keep them awake, calling for endless glasses of water!
    Let them absorb the story and see all the pictures until you reach the final and satisfying ending. you may then still need to answer some clarifying questions. Remember, this is how children really learn.
  2. Get a good book. If you are not sure what to choose, ask. Everyone has a favourite and will be happy to tell you all about it. Ask at your bookshop or Library. Librarians are really nice people and are incredibly knowledgeable about books. It’s their job to help you and, like most other people, they really enjoy helping their customers.
  3. Rehearse. Yep! even if it’s a quick flip through, get the feel of the story you are about to tell. Try out the different voices. “VOICES!” I hear you say, in panicked tones. “Isn’t that like acting?” yes, it is, but children will love you for trying. It doesn’t matter how bad you are, children are the most forgiving audience. The skills you learn reading to children will improve your confidence and public speaking skills. You could pay thousands for this kind of advice and experience!
  4. Make it a special time. Wait until supper and baths are over, the favourite TV program has finished and it is definitely bed time. Have just a low bedside light on and snuggle up. Make a cosy, safe little world inside the glow of the lamp into which you can introduce fabulous imaginary worlds.
  5. Picture Books are not for babies! Picture books are for sharing. Teenagers and adults love to share a picture book if they feel they are allowed. I know I read picture books to them quite often! While you read the words, children read the pictures and begin to fall into that dream-like state that will calm them down ready for sleep.

Bedtime reading is the greatest gift you can ever give to a child. You will improve their reading and writing skills rapidly and sweet dreams lead to a rested child that is going to do better at school the next day.

Like anything in life, bedtime storytelling needs a little time and effort. At the end of the day, this is hard, but you might just find it gives you a moment to recharge your batteries too!

These are my favourites: