Building confidence during online tutorials

A fantastic by-product of the online tutorial is the child gaining confidence to ask valuable questions as they learn

I have noticed over the years that when a child first starts being tutored, they are very reserved and often hesitant about either saying they don’t understand, or asking any further questions.

This is understandable and is a challenge for the online tutor.

This generally improves over time, but one excellent way to bring this forward asap is to get a child to ask ME a questions.

For example, I might ask a child to work out a percentage or a fraction division relating to money. After I think they’ve got the hang of it I ask them to ask me a question.

On the iPad they might write something like 1/4 divided by 3/7. I tell them in advance that I might get it wrong (on purpose hopefully) and they have to check my working out and let me know how many marks I deserve.

This is a great way to up the dialog and to make sure they can answer their own question. It is often a bit of fun and very engaging for the child.

Sometimes I like to make an obvious error to make sure they’re fully engaged.

The by-product of this is increased questioning from the child which anecdotally also transfers into the classroom which I see as a huge win for the child.

Bespoke Online Maths Tuition

Bespoke online maths tuition can significantly improve your child’s ability by focusing on the topics he or she needs to focus on the most

At school a maths teacher has to work with a lot of children across a broad range of abilities. This works in general, but if a child is struggling with one particular topic – e.g. fractions and percentages, the teacher may not be able to give the child all the help they need to master the topic.

This is were online maths tuition is so valuable.

The Tutor Dragon can focus on the one topic your child has been struggling with to make sure they master that topic.

The outcome is three-fold;

Firstly, your child will be much more confident in the classroom. It cannot be overstated how important this psychological aspect of learning is.

Secondly, by overcoming one topic, it raises your child’s numeracy in general. Learning how to work out percentages involves a lot of multiplication, division, addition and subtraction as well as relating maths to the real world.

Thirdly, higher scores in the exams. A high or low score in a few questions relating to fractions for example can make the difference between an A and a B, or a B and a C for example.

A Free Introductory Session with the Tutor Dragon

For a free introductory session please contact us using the form below.

Reminder: You’ll need an iPad or touch-screen and a stylus – free Tutor Dragon notepad and Dragon stylus when you sign up for your first paid tutorial.

Children learn more by doing than listening

During a tutorial a child learns a lot because they’re listening, learning and most importantly DOING…

In a classroom a child will listen, hopefully learn and then during homework recall.

In the classroom it is not possible to each each child to come up to the front and show whether or not they’ve understood how to work out perimeter and area of an irregular shape. Only when the teacher marks their homework will any lack of understanding become apparent.

In an online tutorial however, a child will be called upon continually to show they’ve understood and to recall this by solving a similar but different problem.

The aim of every online tutorial is for the child to be able to understand a topic more deeply and to use recall and experience to solve similar but different problems.

Fractions Tutorial Work Best Online

Learning fractions addition and subtraction visually is a great way to secure fractions numeracy

Fractions lend themselves to be taught online very well, enabling both tutor and tutee to colour in boxes, rub them out, add them up and simplify the answers.

Below is a screenshot from a recent tutorial I had with a Y3 child who has just begun to learn about fractions.

It is great to see a child suddenly understand that four eighths is the same as a half.

Often a couple of fractions tutorials BEFORE a child starts to learn fractions at school gives them a HUGE advantage in understanding the basics which will enable them to not only keep up with the class, but often to lead the class and the homework.

The benefits of aerobic exercise on children’s mental performance

Experiments and observations indicate that any kind of physical activity for a child has educational benefits including enhanced attention.

There’s a great new book called “Educational Neuroscience: Development Across the Life Span” which is:

“The first volume to bring together the latest knowledge on the development of educational neuroscience from a life-span perspective, this important text offers state of the art, authoritative research findings in educational neuroscience before providing evidence-based recommendations for classroom practice.”

One key take away is:

“Twenty minutes of moderate exercise improved planning but not attention in 9-10 year olds. But twelve minutes of intensive exercise such are running on a track boosted attention.”

What to do over the summer holiday before starting Secondary School

In the UK the beginning of Secondary School is Year 7 when children are typically 11 years old. Here are a few ideas on how to prepare over the summer holiday before starting.

Read a lot

A visit online or to your favourite book store is useful to start reading books which are a notch more difficult than what your child may have been used to. Of extra value are non-fiction books such as encyclopaedias covering subjects such as Geography and History.

Audio Books

Following on from the point above, listening to audio books (fiction and non-fiction) aimed at early teens is a useful way to help increase vocabulary and the complexity of sentence structure.


Yes I hate to say, but buying a few Year 7 / KS3 workbooks is a good idea – not to finish but at least to have a go and to understand some of the key concepts especially in Maths. Always useful is to start working on more complex algebra and geometry.


It almost doesn’t matter what a child wants to write about, but it is worth a child spending a good amount of time every week over the summer holiday writing about anything. It’s useful to mix this 50/50 writing by hand and writing on a computer. This is also a useful time to build vocabulary and practice more complex sentence structures.

Get Organised

Compared to Primary School there’ll be a lot more work at school and home work, so you’ll need to figure our what works best for your child in terms of keeping track of everything. I’m a fan of using post-it notes on the wall above a child’s desk to keep track of Mon-Fri and also Sat & Sun for the homework schedule. A whiteboard is also a great idea which enables the child to draw out their own organisation.

How can I encourage my child to do their homework well?

At times it’s not easy to get your son or daughter to do all their homework on time and to a good level of quality. Here are some ideas:

Don’t shout

Don’t shout if they don’t understand something. There can be many reasons to shout but this isn’t one of them. No matter how loud you should it won’t help a child understand something, in fact it will just close up their brain.

Get help from a teacher

If your son is unable to do their homework, make sure they go to the teacher and ask for help. Try calling up the teacher a couple of days later to see if it has happened and if it hasn’t, it’s over to you to arrange it.

Work it out at home

Don’t worry if you don’t understand the questions. If your daughter is trying to work out a percentage, try working out the answer on a calculator and see if they can get to that answer, or try googling how to work out this problem. If you do it together it’s an intellectual and emotional win for both of you.

Think long term

A great way to give rewards to your child is not on every piece of homework or on every test, but at the end of each half-term results. Reward good results at the end of a half-term and issue reasonable consequences if grades have slipped. Consequences should always be discussed in advance so they’re not a sudden shock for the child. A popular consequence is loss of the Xbox or screen time for a month.

This allows for the occasional mistake or poor results in a test and puts focus on the overall progression.

Email the Tutor Dragon for advice

I’m happy to answer emails when I get time so please feel free to email me with any questions regarding homework, performance and rewards & consequences.

The benefits to a child of studying in a noisy environment

Although noise in the classroom is a negative factor for learning, some level of noise and/or chaos in the home environment can be healthy.

We are not suggesting that constant noise and chaos at home are desirable, but anecdotal evidence suggests that when a child gets used to dealing with noise and unexpected events at home – e.g. someone at the front door or a crying younger sibling, it can help with a child’s ability to stay focussed during study.

This in turn can help a child during SAT’s, exams and even in a noisy classroom.


If a child can ONLY study and complete test papers in the silence and solitude of their room, this may not translate to good results in a real exam situation if the child has not built up some immunity from surrounding noise and unexpected events.

Ideas on how to structure home study

As much as the content of home study is important, so is the way you structure it, allowing for change depending on the child’s feedback.

A hundred pages of maths given to a child on a Monday and asking them to finish by Friday is not a useful approach.

Structure is just as important to a child as is the content of the work they’re doing.

One way to approach this is to split the day into morning and afternoon. Each of these can then be split into two or three working periods allowing for breaks.

Giving a child two pages of maths and two pages of English will result in better focus for parent and child in terms of what has to be done, by when and to what level of quality.

Allow the child to offer feedback and make sure you listen to that feedback. A child may offer “Can I spend the afternoon doing English because I have to write a story, so I can do the maths half this morning and half tomorrow morning?”. Creative feedback and planning coming from the child is great and unless unreasonable should be worked into your daily plan.

It potentially means more work for the parent, but it will make everyones day easier if the days work is dividd into clearly defined chunks and times.

How often should my child take a break while home schooling?

Working from home is not the same as being at school so it is generally a mistake to try and replicate the school-day at home.

Instead, find a new rhythm which works for you and your child / children.

For example breakfast may be later in the morning than usual, but it’s still a good idea to try and start work by 9am.

School normally ends at about 3:30pm, but at home study can continue to 5pm if there are more frequent breaks throughout the day.

In general it’s best to save any screen time until after the school work has been completed. It can be difficult for a child to re-focus on work having watched a movie after lunch.

If you child is working on maths, it might be a good idea to do this for up to 45 minutes and then take a break. If on the other hand the child is writing an essay or answering an English Comprehension it can be better to continue for over an hour until the comprehension has finished.