Tutor Doctor Cambridge   |    

Expert tuition for all subjects, all ages and all levels in and around Cambridge

Tutor Doctor Cambridge

Expert tuition for all subjects, all ages and all levels in and around Cambridge

Teaching kids to be smart about using social media

For the majority of kids and teenagers, social media is a central part of their everyday lives. Even though there are plenty of good things about social media, there are also many dangers that you want your kids to avoid. With 90% of teens using social platforms daily, it’s important for parents to teach children how to use social media the smart way.

Why is social media good?

Social media can be used in lots of positive ways. Not only can the platforms help kids stay connected with their friends and family, it can also encourage creativity through sharing ideas, music and photographs. It also means they have opportunities to meet and interact with peers that may share similar interests or perhaps they want to get involved in a social media campaign for a charity.

The dangers of social media

On the flipside, social media can be a hub for cyber bullying, personal information being exposed, kids unknowingly talking to strangers or being exposed to age inappropriate content. Here’s just a few statistics that really bring to light some of these dangers.

  • 71% of teens post their school, town and where they live online
  • 95% of teen social media users who have witnessed cruel behavior on social media sites
  • 17% of teens say they’ve been contacted online by someone that made them feel scared or uncomfortable

For more details on these statistics look here.

Other dangers include teens becoming obsessed with social media in a negative way.  Social platforms often include ‘edited’ selfies and posts showcasing the best parts of a person’s life, which sets unrealistic expectations. In some cases, teens can get caught up in this ‘online reality’ and will compare themselves and their own lives to a peer or celebrity. This can result in them feeling as though they don’t measure up and in extreme cases can cause depression, anxiety or eating disorders.

How parents can teach kids to be smart

It’s important for you to discuss social media with your teens, teaching them how to stay safe, smart and reminding them about life offline. Here’s some points we advise covering.

Don’t accept friend requests from strangers- This one may be obvious, but make the number one rule to never be friends with anyone they don’t know. Simple. 

Privacy Settings– If there are privacy settings on a social platform, encourage your kids to use them. They are there for a reason!

Don’t believe everything online- It’s so easy for teens to forget about the real world when using social media, so it’s vital you remind them that everything they see online isn’t necessarily real or the whole story. Pictures can be edited, people aren’t always truthful and the majority of social media users only post the ‘best’ parts of their lives.

Limit social media time- Encourage your kids to spend a limited time on social media per day. We understand they want to socialise with friends, but it’s important they take part in activities away from the screen. Get them to read a book, go out and meet with their friends face-to-face or help you with cooking dinner. We guarantee it will do them the world of good!

Be Friendly- Mean behaviour is unacceptable in the virtual world, just as it is in the real world. Make it clear to your kids that they should treat others online as they would like to be treated. Being respectful and friendly doesn’t cost a thing! It’s also crucial to remind them to always communicate with you if they feel as though they’re being bullied or are receiving unkind messages. This way action can be taken before it gets out of hand.

Think before they send- Explain to your kids that most of what they post online can be seen by complete strangers. Ask them to be smart and think carefully before they hit enter. Specifically, it’s always a good idea for them to avoid posting locations of events or parties, phone numbers or any personal information.

Keep an eye! It’s a good idea for parents to keep an eye on their kids Facebook profiles or Instagram pages but from a distance. If you start being too nosey, they may feel as though you are invading their privacy, which can cause trust issues or mean they block you out completely which no parent wants.

Choosing the right backpack for your child

Backpacks are one of the most practical school items and allow kids to carry just one bag instead of juggling P.E kits, school books and science equipment separately. Even though backpacks are useful, often they can get extremely heavy, causing strain on your kids’ muscles, joints and cause back pain. That’s why it’s important to choose one that’s suitable for your child before they start the new school term.

What problems can a backpack cause?

Surprisingly backpacks can cause more problems than you may think. With many kids carrying multiple school books, school equipment and personal items around all day long, the weight of the bag can soon add up. When a heavy bag is placed incorrectly on a child’s shoulders, it can pull them backwards, meaning they have to bend forward at their hips or arch their back. Over time this can cause the spine to move into an unnatural position, causing neck, back and shoulder pain. Improper backpack use can also lead to bad posture or put kids at risk of being unbalanced when walking around school, which could be dangerous, especially when walking up and down stairs.

How to find the right backpack

Here are five things to look out for when finding the right backpack for your child.

  1. Wide and padded shoulder straps- Narrow straps will dig into your child’s shoulders- we always advise looking out for wide straps that have padding on so they will be more comfortable.
  1. Padding on the back- Again this will provide comfort for your child and support their back. It also means any stray sharp objects or pencils won’t push through the material.
  1. A waist clip/belt- Waist clips are designed to distribute the weight evenly across the body. This will take the strain off certain areas and make the rucksack much easier to carry.
  1. Lightweight- Opt for a bag that doesn’t add too much weight onto the overall load. We recommend canvas materials over leather.
  1. Lots of compartments- Having lots of compartments can also help distribute the weight across the backpack, rather than everything being crammed into one section.

Using backpacks correctly

As well as choosing the right backpack, it’s also important that they’re used correctly. Even though some of these tips may be obvious- your child may need a little reminder.

Use both shoulder straps- Advise your child to use both of the straps on their backpack at all times. Bags that are slung on one shoulder- can cause strain on certain muscles.

Tighten Straps- Your child’s backpack should sit close to the body, resting evenly in the middle of the back- not sagging down! To ensure it’s resting correctly you may need to tighten the straps.  

Pack Light- Doctors have recently advised that kids carry no more than 10-15% of their body weight in a rucksack, so encourage your child to pack light! Do this by asking them to plan out their bag the night before, only taking the books and equipment they need. Kids can also make use of their lockers throughout the day, taking out heavy text-books or P.E kits, until they need them.

Keep kids reading this summer

Summer is often a much-needed holiday for kids, but also means a break in learning, which can start to have impact on any newly developed skills learnt at school. It can be particularly problematic for children that have started to progress in reading, which is the cornerstone to any child’s academic performance and success. That’s why it’s so important to ensure your kids have plenty of opportunities throughout the holidays to practice reading so they can continue to grow and develop their skills. Here’s some easy ways that you can keep kids reading this summer!  

Summer Reading Challenge

Why not get involved in our fantastic Summer Reading Challenge? We provide a challenge reading list, worksheets for each book, and it’s an easy way to ensure your child’s reading and writing skills are constantly improving throughout the long break.

Find some good reads

One of the easiest ways to keep kids reading during the summer is making sure they have access to books and lots of them! During term time children often have specific books they’re required to read for exams, so it’s the perfect time for them to indulge in books tailored to their interests. Start by heading to your local library every few weeks and letting them explore. Libraries often have a huge variety of books suitable for kids of all ages and levels. Remember, there may be other types of books such as auto-biographies, nonfiction, magazines or comics that capture your child’s attention. There’s no such thing as bad reading, so let them choose their favourites. Doing this may even help convert the most unenthusiastic readers.

Reading at the right level

Ensuring your kids are choosing books at the right level is crucial if you want them to enjoy reading throughout the summer. It’s important for kids to be reading at their independent level, which will help them grow in confidence with every book they complete. Make sure you’re aware of your child’s independent reading level by consulting with teachers or their school reading diary. Help them tailor their choices with this in mind. Books shouldn’t be too easy as they can become boring, but at the same time if they’re too challenging, reading can become off putting. However, it’s still important that your kids are tackling books that are slightly more difficult. Doing this will ensure they maintain but also develop their reading skills, all in time for the new school term.

Make reading interactive

Whenever possible it’s always a great idea to make reading interactive. Do this by asking your child to read books aloud to you that are a little outside of their usual reading range as this can really help build up their vocabulary. Alternatively, you could listen to an audio book, which is a fantastic option for trickier books and ideal for car journeys or entertainment whilst you’re conducting household tasks. Finally, why not read aloud to your child? We recommend the Harry Potter books for this as they can be a tough read. Reading a chapter per night aloud will make reading a fun and immersive experience, and believe it or not help your child become a better reader!

Discuss what your child is reading

When your child is reading independently, it’s great practice to discuss with them what they’re reading. Kids will not only enjoy you taking an active interest and re-telling the story in their own words, it’s also an excellent way for you to monitor how well they’re understanding the book. Ask about the characters, what problems they’re facing and any new words they’ve stumbled upon.

Taking the stress out of the summer holidays

It’s no secret that the summer holidays can be a stressful time for parents and for kids. Often schedules are full to the brim with plans and activities, everyone has high expectations, not to mention regular routines and sleep patterns go a little haywire. We’ve put together some tips to help minimise stress and make the long break fun and more importantly memorable for all the right reasons.

Be realistic

It’s so easy for every day of the holidays to be jam-packed with activities, family visits and play-dates. However, this isn’t realistic and will only mean that by the time the new term comes around everyone will be exhausted. If the first few weeks have already been busy, remember, it’s okay to slow it down. Even though activities are lots of fun for everyone, downtime at home can be just as good. Days spent at home provide the opportunity for you and your kids to recharge and just relax!

Basic routines are key

Kids crave routine, so if it’s been lacking, then bringing a simple structure back will do the world of good. Start by encouraging your kids to do their regular chores, complete small learning tasks daily, eat meals at the same time and stick to a reasonable bedtime. Maintaining basic routines like this will also help when it comes to the back to school transition.

Lower expectations

Summer holidays are often associated with high expectations not only for kids but for parents too. Often these expectations can ruin plans, cause stress and tension or just put too much pressure on everyone. Lowering expectations or having none at all is guaranteed to ensure everyone has an even better break. Do this by going with the flow and enjoying every moment- big, small, good or bad. 

Be open to change

Being open to change is sure to take the stress out of the holidays. Plans are never set in stone, so having a plan ‘b’ (and ‘c’ if you like) is going to be handy and provide you with options if you need them. Remember, weather can change, cars can break down, kids can feel under the weather or be tired and grumpy. Having an alternative plan such as spending the day having a picnic at home and building dens with the kids, or spending an afternoon in the local library are great back up ideas that don’t require planning or resources! 

Give yourself a break

Even though the summer is a holiday for the kids, it’s also a break for you too. Don’t stretch yourself too thin as this will only make you feel tired and not to mention stressed!  Make sure you prioritise what ‘has’ to be done and say ‘no’ if you’re not feeling up to booking in another activity. Instead, schedule in some ‘me’ time, which is going to make a huge difference when it comes to you enjoying the holidays. Go out for a walk to the park, book in a coffee date with a friend or just spend some peaceful time reading whilst the kids are asleep.

Laugh as much as possible
Kids pick up on their parents’ stress and tension. So, if you’re stressed your child will probably be feeling this way too! Having a sense of humour and laughing as often as possible, no matter what happens, will be sure to leave a positive on any situation, making the summer break memorable and fun.

Keep learning active during the summer holidays

The arrival of the summer break doesn’t mean learning has to stop. With nearly two months off school, not keeping learning active can have a huge impact on your child’s education and academic success. Here’s some excellent ways that…

Tips for parents preparing for the summer break

As the school term draws to a close, you and your child may be looking forward to the long break ahead. However, transitioning from the school term to the summer holidays certainly has its challenges. Not only is the long break usually less structure…

Helping your teenagers get more sleep

Believe it or not adolescents need around 9 hours of sleep a night to function optimally and to be physically and mentally healthy. However, telling your teens they need to sleep for this amount of time every night, it’s likely they’ll just laugh at you! What teenager has time to sleep for 9 hours a night, with busy exam revision schedules, hectic social lives and the constant buzzing of their phone? In fact, recent studies show that only 8% of teens get the sleep they need, with others averaging on around 6 hours on school nights. We know how vital a good night’s rest is for teenagers, which is why we’ve put together some easy changes that are sure to have a positive effect on their well-being and happiness.  

Parents do know best!  

We all know that as soon as your children hit puberty, they can start to ignore things you say and dismiss rules you’ve set in place. However, there’s plenty of evidence showing that parents who set limits around bedtimes and media usage actually help teens make better decisions in the long run. Make sure you remind yourself of this and even when you think they’re not going to listen, simply remind them of why you’re encouraging specific rules.

Be consistent

Consistency really is the key when it comes to building healthy sleeping habits and ensuring your teens get the 8-9 hours they need per night. Firstly, you need to ensure that your teen goes to bed as close as possible to the same time every night, but to also stick to the same schedule during the weekends. If their sleep pattern shifts dramatically on a Friday and Saturday night, the chances of getting it back to normal on a Sunday are going to be slim.

Commitment 

It’s definitely an easier job to enforce set bedtimes for younger children and much trickier when it comes to teenagers. You both need to be willing to put in the effort, and as parents, commit to showing them the importance of getting enough sleep. Typically teens aren’t likely to change their sleeping habits until they realise that sleep will make them feel better and also improve their performance and concentration at school.

No late-night snacks!

We all know how much teens love to snack late at night, just because they ‘can.’ Remember, a bag of crisps or a chocolate bar just before going to bed isn’t going to help them drift off – in fact, quite the opposite and can postpone sleep. Make sure your teenagers know that snacking after a certain time is off limits and we guarantee they’ll find falling asleep so much easier!

Organised mornings

The easier the morning routine, the more time your teenager has to sleep. Encourage them to get uniforms and clothes ready, pack up books, complete due in homework and shower the night before, meaning they don’t have to spend time doing these tasks in the morning.

Screens off an hour before bed

Finally, limiting screen time in the evenings is perhaps the most important change to implement. So much research has found that turning off all electric screens and devices and hour before bedtime is extremely beneficial when it comes to falling asleep and quality of sleep. Electronic screens emit a glow otherwise known as a ‘blue light’, which has been proven to send signals to the brain, suppressing the production of melatonin, preventing teens from feeling tired. So, if there’s one rule you start to introduce first, make it this one! No more ‘chilling out’ by scrolling through Facebook or Instagram – encourage teens to read a book instead. This is going to relax their brain, and they’ll be drifting off in no time at all!  You could even point them in the direction of our summer reading challenge, designed specifically to get kids and teens reading more.

Educational podcasts for kids

Podcasts, even though a fairly new phenomenon, are certainly something to embrace when it comes to learning. Not only are there hundreds of specially produced podcasts for kids and teaching out there to choose from, they’re free to listen to and an excellent learning tool in the classroom or at home. They can be used to deliver a certain subject, explain topics in a new way, or just provide an alternative teaching method. As they continue to grow in popularity, we thought we would choose our favourite educational podcasts so you can share them with your students!

What is a podcast and how can I listen?

A podcast is very similar to a radio show. Each channel has episodes, which are all usually in audio-only format. Lengths of episodes really vary and can be as short as two minutes or as long as an hour. Normally, each podcast channel will have a rough schedule and produce a certain number of episodes per week. Again, this can range from daily to monthly.

Podcasts can be accessed and listened to via a smart phone or tablet using a podcast app or directly through a desktop or laptop computer. Normally listeners will subscribe to their favourite podcasts, meaning any new episodes will directly show up on the app. For more detailed information on listening to podcasts check out this handy article.

To make it easy for you, we’ve picked out our favourite educational podcasts suitable for kids to listen to at home or in the classroom.  

1.Good for Reading/Book reviews: Book club for kids

Age: 9-14 (but can be appropriate for most ages)

Overview: Each episode of this podcast follows a different group of kids who spend time discussing a young-adult book in detail. Most episodes also feature a celebrity reader and a brief interview with the book’s author. This is a perfect podcast for kids who are really into reading and need some new reading recommendations, or for those who need a little encouragement to read more regularly.

Give this episode a try: Episode 41 – Foxheart by Claire Legrand

2. Good for Science: Tumble

Age: 6-12 (but can be appropriate for most ages)

Overview: Tumble is a science podcast that shares stories behind science discovery, exploring how science works as a process. Covering a wide range of interesting topics from dinosaurs, the quest for the edge of the universe, the deepest part of the ocean and everlasting batteries, it really will appeal to kids and be a great and educational listen.

Give this episode a try: The Call of the Antarctic Dinosaur with Julia Clarke

3. Good for Ethics: Short and Curly

Age: 7-12 (but can be appropriate for most ages)

Overview: This ethics podcast all the way from Australia investigates relevant dilemmas for kids such as; is it okay to lie, and is it okay to fight back against a bully? It’s a really informative podcast, that’s relatable and a perfect addition to a lesson covering general wellbeing or ethics.  

Give this episode a try: Why can’t children vote?

4. Good for History: How Stuff Works: Stuff you missed in history class

Age: 7-16

Overview: This bi-weekly podcast explores a huge range of fascinating historical world events, perfect for kids (and adults) who have a passion for history. Each episode is short, interesting and packed full of fun information, perfect to add to the end of a history lesson! Covering a huge variety of areas such as Marie Antoinette, slavery and even the history of Halloween! A quirky series bound to be enjoyed by students and teachers!

Give this episode a try: The Unsinkable Violet Jessop

4. Good for Maths: The Math Dude

Age: Any

Overview:  The Math Dude podcast is ideal for kids or teens struggling to understand maths. Host Dr. Jason Marshall provides clear and easy to understand explanations of maths terminology, principles and even gives simple tips for solving basic algebra. We guarantee this podcast is going to strengthen your student’s basic skills and help them understand the language of maths!  

Give this episode a try: How to think about division, Part 1

5. Good for Teens: 411 Teen

Age: Teenagers

Overview:  This podcast hosted by Dr. Liz Holifield is a fantastic recommendation for teen audiences. Each episode features in-depth discussions on areas such as resume writing, smartphones, gender issues and violence. An excellent channel, full of helpful and useful content that’s sure to engage even the most distracted teen!

Give this episode a try: 411 Teen: Total Package Girl

3 ways to teach kids self-control

Most children are impulsive by nature, meaning sometimes it can be tricky for them to exercise self-discipline and control over their behaviour and actions. However, with recent studies showing that kids who displayed greater amounts of self-control,…

Last-minute revision tips for exam success

Exams can be the most daunting time of year even for the most hardworking students. With multiple exams to revise for, a busy school schedule alongside lots of nerves, the weeks during exams can be extremely overwhelming, so much so, that it can have a negative impact on exam performance. At Tutor Doctor, we know how crucial the week before an exam is, especially with feeling prepared and knowing what to cover. We’ve put together some last-minute revision tips to ensure exam success and help students feel calm and collected during this high-pressure period.

Know the Syllabus

Our number one tip for exam success is knowing what’s included on the syllabus for the particular exam you are studying for. Often teachers will have a basic set of objectives their students are required to achieve. Ask them if they can provide you with a copy or see if they can provide you with specific syllabus details. This will help you narrow down the key areas that need to be studied, meaning you can focus on revising topics that are going to be in your exam rather than material that isn’t necessary.

Past Papers

Past papers are going to be your new best friend during exams. Often schools have these in abundance, so ask your teacher if you can have a couple from previous years. Complete them under timed conditions, this way you become familiar with the format, are aware of the time constraints and get used the type of questions that are going to come up. It’s great practice for identifying areas you may be struggling with as well as confirming how much you actually know. This makes it much easier when doing last minute revision as you can spend more time studying the things you find trickier. When it comes to completing past papers, always remember to read the question carefully as the way a question is worded can easily confuse students. If you’re struggling to understand, break the question down or come back to it later.  

Talk about what you’ve learnt

It’s important to schedule in verbal revision discussions in the weeks leading up to your exam. Whether this is with your friends, family or a teacher – just half an hour explaining a subject out loud with no notes gives you a fantastic opportunity to test yourself and consolidate your revision. From here if there are areas that you’re not quite sure on, you can easily adapt your revision to cover this, meaning when it comes to the real thing, you’ll ace it! Another top tip is to not talk about what you’ve learnt with friends in the corridor 5 minutes before heading into the exam. This will only send you into a panic worrying about all the things you don’t know, when in reality you know so much more than you think.

Exam Technique

Remember, exam technique can be just as important as having great subject knowledge – in fact it can make all the difference between getting a good and great grade. In the weeks before, it’s always helpful to practice and perfect your exam technique. Areas to focus include carefully reading questions and instructions, as well as considering timings and roughly how long you have to spend on each section. Many students run out of time during an exam, meaning they miss out on crucial points. For more tips to boost exam performance, check out our blog post here.

Don’t overdo it!

We know that in the days leading up to your exams, revision is going to be priority. However, it’s important to not overdo it, as this will only cause exhaustion, stress and overload your brain which isn’t going to help. Remember to take regular breaks, try 50 minutes on, 10 minutes off. Scientific research indicates that doing this means you have a much higher chance of remembering what you’ve just been studying. It’s also a great idea to take an hour off to relax- try going for a walk, reading a magazine, meet up with a friend for a chat or just spend time around the house with family members. You can then return to revision with fresh mindset! 

Older Posts >>

Maths Tutoring

Photo showing maths calculator

Science Tutoring

molecules

English Tutoring

Photo of English Books

Exam Preparation

Photo showing classroom ready for a test