The MagiKats Blog
S is for Silly Season
Isn’t it incredible we live in a world where if a child posts a letter to Santa Claus via Royal Mail, they receive an answer? Christmas is a time for fun, celebration and general silliness. At MagiKats, we think writing to Santa is a fun way to foster a love of writing. You can teach about letter writing format and salutations, alongside how to write an entertaining letter.
I really enjoyed last year’s reply and I’m really looking forward to your visit. My favourite part of Christmas is when we get some snow. What’s yours?
A is for Amazing Jokes and Facts
Santa loves to be entertained by jokes and facts. Encourage your child to write one of each to Santa.
Santa, did you know the Eskimos have 52 different words for snow because it is so important to their lives? Please make it snow for Christmas.
Here is a snow joke!
Q: What kind of math do Snowy Owls like? A: Owlgebra.
N is for Naughty or Nice
Santa has to know if you’ve been good this year. Your child can make a list of all the ways they’ve helped out. This is an excellent way to remember good times and write these down.
I’ve been awfully good this year and helped out a lot at school and at home. Here’s how … mufti day … around the house … with grandma … the garden …
T is for Tree
Santa likes to know you have been doing well in school. Try out some fun tree decoration ideas using maths:
This year, I helped decorate the tree by making stars. Each one had different numbers of points on them. I prasticed my numbers and counted 56 baubles, 14 crystal drops and 7 reindeer decorations in our Christmas box. I made snowflakes by measuring out different patterns with a ruler and cutting these out. Our tree looks great!
A is for Asking for Presents
Santa loves to give presents. Encourage your child to think about presents that are fun, and also improve their Maths and English skills.
This year I would really like some books by Jacqueline Wilson and a cooking set because I’m in charge of dividing the Christmas pudding up. I will be measuring out how much each person gets to eat and how many ice cream scoops each. I’m in charge of checking we have 4 roast potatoes each and one whole carrot each for my family dinner of 9. We need 36 roast potatoes and 9 carrots!
It’s easy to have a little educational fun at Christmas. Writing to Santa is a great way to get into the spirit of the silly season and start thinking about presents! And when it is all over, be sure to make it more fun after Christmas when writing thank you letters to relations:
- Make it a challenge to get numbers into their thank you letters.
I’ve grown 5cm since summertime so size 7 jumpers are perfect for me.
- Challenge them to use one interesting phrase or joke in each letter:
My favourite Christmas joke for you is: What is the first thing the elves learn in school? A: The “elf”-a-bet!”
- Make this a fun project from the start by including a photo of them using the gift in a silly way.
Grandma and Grandpa, thanks for the IPAD!
From all the team at MagiKats HQ
I’ve been thinking about a quote by Jean-Jacques Rousseau on motivating children.
The training of children is a profession where we must know how to waste time in order to save it.”
This makes sense to me if I think about all the times I’ve patiently explained something to a student at MagiKats. The time just ticked away in the background. Eventually, the student ‘got’ it, smiled at me, and we moved on.
Motivating children to do their homework
At MagiKats we’ve motivated students for more than a decade to complete MagiKats homework tasks. But how did we do it? Keep in mind this is on top of homework they get at school. Astonishingly, pretty much all of them agree to do the extra homework we give them!
As far as schools of thought on motivation, there would seem to me to be four options:
- Telling them to get on with it (also known as ‘the quickest way’).
- Doing their homework with them.
- Offering rewards for the completion of homework.
- Advising when asked, but not being a ‘helicopter’.
Which method motivates children to do homework?
No particular method is best or worst. The first probably applies if you’ve done all the other ways (at some point) and now your child will just get on without you. At MagiKats, our Maths and English workshops most resemble the fourth point. I guess the reason is, we are there to mentor our students, not tutor them. We find the strongest motivation to do well lies in having someone assure you of the right answers without pushing the solutions onto you. Too quick? Too fast? Too pushy? That approach destroys motivation.
What are the benefits of the advisory approach?
That’s easy – ownership! When students understand they are going forward, they seem to want more and more. The MagiKats advisory approach nicely fits for school routines and household chores too. Letting kids be part of a household ‘team’ (and not just viewed as the ‘guests’) leads to the idea ‘one day you could be running your own household’. This is ownership. This is empowering.
How to explain all aspects of washing the dishes, doing laundry, or even preparing a family meal is a patient challenge. But it can be done! When the jobs are underway, remember to stand back and not be too available. Don’t cramp their style. Let them do it! ( You could always quote Rousseau in the background. )
So, are we wasting our time motivating our children? Absolutely not!
From the team at MagiKats HQ
On holiday last summer, I found myself staring blankly at a sign in my hotel’s lobby. This sign said; “you are looking at our top priority”. For some strange reason I actually stopped walking through on my way to the lift and stared at this bit of wording. What had caught my eye? They had placed the words on a mirror. The “top priority” was me.
Effective Communication with MagiKats
As I made connections between the visual wording and the sound of me reading it inside my head, my eyes engaged with the mirror. I felt so important, for just a moment. Of course, this reminded me of how at MagiKats we make our students feel special, and how we practise effective communication with our students.
The MagiKats Golden Minute
When students arrive at the centre, there’s a warm greeting and a “golden minute”. Our “top priority” customers soon get down to business. They have a chat with the MagiKats Principal about homework tasks and what their parents have said on their tracking sheets. They get congratulated for good work at home and in previous sessions.
MagiKats Workshops Communication
Over to their MagiKats Mentors, students address gaps in learning through corrections and ways to improve. Once onto workshop tasks, individual attention by mentors covers any Mathematics and English challenges. Students engage in group and individual work, progressing through MagiKats’ stages of learning. Stages are designed to suit ability, (not curriculum level), as MagiKats is a programme the students own and manage. At the end of a session everybody provides an emoticon feedback ‘face’ and mentors write comments geared towards progress. We also award stamps and prizes.
At Every Point, There Is Communication
After workshops, mentors note special achievements too, and the students receive congratulations and prizes for good work from the Principal. They may even be invited to go public with their name on the good work board. From start to finish, the student is at the centre of all communication. As our “top priority”, we practise effective communication skills, encouraging them to enjoy learning without limits.
Special Moments with the MagiKats Community
MagiKats is a multi-centre operation and there’s nothing more exciting than being awarded a prize at our bi-annual award ceremonies. We invite mentors, principals and parents, even school teachers, to celebrate the achievements of our students. We usually make the local paper too!
Our MagiKats parents are in touch with us by email, phone or in person at regular parent meetings. We also invite everyone to our annual Open Day, and we make appearances at our local community carnivals and fairs. Our open approach to effective communication makes us a bit like a large family and everyone feels a special part of it, and of course, our students are the centre of everything we do!
By the team at MagiKats HQ
Are you one of those parents who, without realising it, has been quietly mulling over the comments made either in your child’s report at the end of last term or at the parent teacher meetings you recently attended? Are you, perhaps slowly, coming to the conclusion that your child needs additional help, probably in Maths or English , although for teenagers in high school you might be considering specific subject tuition?
Finding a tutor, either where the tutor teaches each child on an individual basis or in small groups, can be a daunting prospect. Whilst the financial commitment is significant, finding the right programme of study for your child led by a tutor whom both you and your child find sympathetic can be far more difficult and emotionally draining .
What type of tutor does my child need?
Firstly, you will need to identify whether you are looking for an intensive “quick fix” solution addressing some very specific needs within a limited time frame or whether your child will need help over several years, perhaps initially targeted at specific weaknesses that you or your child’s teachers have identified. If it is the former, and particularly if your child needs help for a specific exam, then you probably need to consider one-to-one tuition, or perhaps your child has a friend who needs similar support and you could share the cost (and the travel to and from the tutor’s home!) with another parent.
If you decide that you are seeking long term support, the financial commitment of individual tuition will be significant; an attractive option in such cases is finding a tutor who offers group tuition at a study centre in your area.
MagiKats Tuition Centres will set your child short assignments to complete at home as well as weekly workshops where your child has the opportunity to study with other children of similar age. You will normally be asked to mark the assignments so that your child can receive immediate feedback and, whilst this can seem onerous (or perhaps intimidating if you feel your own skills in the subject are lacking!), it does mean that you are able to monitor the work your child is being asked to undertake without your child feeling you are interfering. The workshops allow group/partner work to take place and remove the pressure that some children feel in a one-to-one situation. Centres also offer resources at workshops which support your child’s learning through all three recognised styles (visual, auditory and kinaesthetic) whilst putting together a programme which is specifically aimed at your child’s needs. MagiKats Tuition Centres are part of a network which has been operating for many years and has a wealth of experience and material to draw on as well as established revision and holiday programmes.
How can I choose the best tutor?
Once you have decided on the type of tuition which will suit your child’s needs best you will have to find the best person to provide it. It is essential that you and your child meet with the tutor (or at MagiKats, this will be the Principal) and that there is empathy between you; communication is key and you should expect to receive regular feedback from the tutor. It goes without saying that the safety of your child is paramount and you should always ensure that the tutor or staff at a study centre have undertaken the appropriate checks - all staff at MagiKats are appropriately qualified, experienced and checked.
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