We would like to announce some exciting news that will enable us to help even more children and young people with their education and mental health. Taking our work further afield from The Wirral to reach students all over the UK.
Operation Diversity provides support for parents and carers who want to do more to support and empower their children and young people with Special Educational Needs & Disabilities (SEND) in education and at home. They help people to navigate the complex world of Special Education Needs (SEN) of all types and we are so pleased to be joining them to offer mental health advice too.
You can join up as a member to get access to online training seminars and a private community – if you look now there is an offer for only £1. We will be providing webinars and resources all around mental health in the very near future but there is already tons of information on there.
This is a really exciting collaboration for us and can’t wait to get helping more young people and their families.
Of course, our work back home in Wirral with our tutoring services and mental health support is still continuing! If you’d like to speak to us about booking in a session then use the contact form or e-mail email@example.com
Creativity is one of things we often just see as a hobby but it can be extremely effective as part of your self care toolkit.
Doing something you love and enjoy undoubtedly improves your mood but how many of us actually take the time to schedule it in as part of our self-care routines.
Researchers have shown that people who engage in a creative activity are more likely to eat healthier afterwards!
In fact creativity provides so much of a impact that the UK parliamentary group for Arts, Health and Well-being recommend it for it’s positive influence on mental health and well-being.
One way to get more creativity into your life is through creative writing. We are often encouraged to write down our feelings and thoughts in journals but we can expand that and enhance it by adding in some creative writing too.
Some tips to start creative writing
Don’t aim for perfection or a bestselling novel. The process should be enjoyable, don’t put pressure on yourself to be perfect. The aim isn’t to become top of the book charts, it is to work on yourself. Nobody else need ever read what you have written so don’t worry about spelling, grammar, word choice.
Write based on real memories. Again this doesn’t have to be the most gripping thriller ever or a new intriguing concept, write on what you know and what we know best are our own experiences.
Use a word as a prompt. It can be a random word, flick through a dictionary and see what you land on.
Write about emotion rather than a plot. You can try to explain what emotions feel like to you, this can often help you process feelings too.
Write about the little everyday things that you enjoy. Don’t aim for drama all the time, write about something simple as walking through a park.
Write about positive experiences from your past so you can re-read them during lower times.
So, are you going to give it a go? Schedule yourself some creativity this week 🙂
Sound therapies have long been popular as a way of relaxing and restoring one’s health. For centuries, indigenous cultures have used music to enhance well-being and improve health conditions.
Neuroscientists in the UK have even gone as far as working out scientifically which tunes relax you the most.
In fact, listening to that one song — “Weightless” — resulted in a striking 65 percent reduction in participants’ overall anxiety, and a 35 percent reduction in their usual physiological resting rates.
Equally remarkable is the fact the song was actually constructed to do so. The group that created “Weightless”, Marconi Union, did so in collaboration with sound therapists. Its carefully arranged harmonies, rhythms, and bass lines help slow a listener’s heart rate, reduce blood pressure and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Of the top track, Dr. David Lewis-Hodgson said, “‘Weightless’ was so effective, many women became drowsy and I would advise against driving while listening to the song because it could be dangerous.”
Have a listen and see what you think….does it work for you?
Are there other types of tunes that help you relax or study?
Hygge (pronounced ‘Hue-gah’) has been in the headlines for a couple of years ago now. Simply it is the Danish art of living well.
It is described as a quality of presence and an experience of togetherness, feeling warm, safe, comforted and sheltered, it can give us courage and contentment.
I picked up the book photographed above in my local library and it got me thinking about how we can apply these concepts to learning and education. After all, students can only learn if they feel safe, secure and confident so with Hygge promising an increase in these then it makes sense to utilise it.
One of the principles at the heart of hygge is the sense of belonging, connecting with others. Humans are social beings, we have a natural sense to be with others, to not feel alone.
Hygge-studying ideas to belong:
Study with a friend or in a small group. This can be beneficial as peer-teaching can take place but more importantly so you don’t feel alone. Just make sure you get some studying done!
Revise in a public place – go to a coffee shop, library, somewhere quiet enough to get some work done but where you have a sense of belonging too.
Use your study breaks to connect with other people, call (don’t just message!) a friend, talk to a relative, check in on someone who maybe struggling.
Make a study survival pack to gift to a friend
Write a postcard of encouragement to someone in your class
Spend time with your family, attend family meals together
The next principle of Hygge is shelter. Shelter means security, support, the everyday experience of feeling safe, peace of mind and trust. It can also refer to mental shelter from the pressure of life.
Hyyge-studying ideas relating to shelter
Take breaks, get some mental shelter from the stress of revising
Find quiet places to sit just and reflect
Make your study area feel like peaceful sheltered area that is safe and secure
Create boundaries – either physical by getting some alone time and mental by arranging your revision time into blocks
Consider pushing your bed against two walls so you sleep encased by two walls
Feeling comfort is at the heart of hyyge, something we all seek through our lives. When we seek comfort we usually turn to the familiar, things that have made us happy in the past.
Hygge-studying ideas to comfort
Have a routine set in place to give familiarity – morning routines and evening routines and little rituals through the day
Spend some time enjoying things from your past – look at old photos, watch a favourite movie, read a favourite book in your study break times
Comfort your friends and family too – maybe something simple as make them a cup of tea
Make your study area comfortable and a pleasing place to be in, make sure it is illuminated with natural light, the chair you use is comfortable and warm
Make your study area decluttered and tidy to comfort your mind as you work
Wellbeing is about a deep rapport with ourselves and the world around us. It is about the relationships we have with others, the feeling of happiness and contentment we have, living a wholesome balanced life.
Hygge-studying ideas to wellbeing
Feel connection with other people, go for a walk down a familiar street and smile at people as you do. Don’t lock yourself away with your books.
Practise gratitude – start each study session with mentally listing the things you are grateful for
Take a break from studying every half hour to just stop and be mindful about what is going on around you.
Accept that this period of intense studying is temporary, your whole life is not like this, it is a busy few months but then you will get a break afterwards.
I hope this has given you some ideas on how you could incorporate some of the principles of Hygge into your exam revision and studying.
I would love to hear if you have any other ideas 🙂
It is easy to assume that children see the world the same way as we do as adults.
However, research has shown that there are some very common misconceptions about science that a lot of children have.
A good teacher and tutor, knows these common misconceptions and can ask questions to tease these out of students to ensure correct learning takes place.
These misconceptions aren’t down to intelligence, in fact sometimes the opposite as they are down to children actually thinking about the world around them and what they expect to happen.
Well-designed diagnostic questions that experienced tutors use aim to elicit evidence about student learning and so result in more successful results. This is what makes a good tutor, the experience telling them what misconceptions are likely, what questions to ask to gain evidence of these and then the ability to teach and plan activities to counteract these misconceptions. You can’t do this using bought in resources!
Teachers were surveyed as part of a research project and asked to rank how difficult their children found certain concepts. These were the top ranking in terms of numbers of children who had an issue with the concept:
Babies grow into adult
Ice is frozen water
There are many sources of sound
Plants need light and water
Some materials can be changed in shape (children often just think material is cloth or fabric)
New plants are made from seeds (they often think a baby plant is inside the seed)
Sounds are heard when they enter the ear
Darkness is the absence of light (they think darkness can be turned on and off)
Electrical devices don’t work if there is a break in the circuit (they often get confused by fridges always being cold)
Growth is gradual and continuous (they often think you just grow on your birthday)
Worms are animals (they assume animal means four legged and furry)
How to deal with misconceptions
FIRST YOU HAVE TO KNOW A MISCONCEPTION IS THERE!!
I’ll repeat it as it is vital….you cannot assume anything with children or students of any age. Never assume a misconception is present or not. You have to assess. Each child is unique and sees the world in a different way, they have had different experiences and so arrive with different ideas.
Any good teacher or tutor will start a new topic or session with assessment. We often think assessment is just sitting an exam at the end of a topic but we need to assess for learning to take place too. We cannot possibly teach anything without knowing what a student knows or not.
Parents looking for a tutor
If a tutor just arrives at your house with a ready made lesson plan without ever meeting or speaking to you and your child…..please consider finding a new tutor!
It is impossible to teach or support students in any subject without assessing them first.
We are currently offering free assessment and goal setting sessions for students in Wirral and beyond. For me, this is the most important part of beginning tutoring as I will never arrive with a pre-built bought in lesson plan, I need to know your child, their strengths and weaknesses, what ideas they already have about the subject.
Karen Pine , David Messer & Kate St. John (2001) Children’s Misconceptions in Primary Science: A Survey of teachers’ views, Research in Science & Technological Education, 19:1, 79-96, DOI: 10.1080/02635140120046240
This website is great for looking at the research into misconceptions and how common they are – be warned it is addictive looking them all up!
It doesn’t have to be intimidating….although it is perfectly normal to feel nervous and anxious.
I learned public speaking the hard way. When I was a teacher I had to stand up in front of 30 uninterested teenagers five times a day and give assemblies to an even bigger group of their judgemental faces. I wouldn’t say I’m a natural public speaker at all but I realised like most things, it is a skill that can be learned and that 80% of it is confidence!
With the rise of live video on social media more of us are doing this than ever. Not to mention if you’re studying then you’re likely to have to give presentations at some point in your studies.
Face up to the fact everyone gets nervous. Even the most experience and outwardly confident speakers still get a buzz of anxiety before they start. IT IS NORMAL TO FEEL NERVOUS. Our bodies have hormones in them to make us feel nervous. Some nervous energy can actually make you speak better, so accept nerves will happen.
Focus on one detail you want to get across – when it is a big speech or you’re speaking for while then it is easy to feel overwhelmed but by focusing that nervous energy on one detail it can make it feel more manageable.
Nobody can see what is going on inside your body. Oprah Winfrey once said that her gums felt so dry in her Golden Globes speech she had to change the way she spoke to actually form her words….nobody saw that or knew that at the time. Anxiety, panic, dry mouth are all normal and they don’t mean you can’t talk – look at Oprah!
As you know dry mouth is a thing then drink water before hand, or even have a bottle/glass with you.
Breathing exercises also work and you can do them without people seeing. Breathe in and out (in for four counts and out for six). It can help calm anxiety
Meditate before the speech or presentation – there are apps and YouTube guided meditations you could do on your phone an hour or beforehand.
Power Poses….we all laughed when the conservatives in the UK started standing funny but how you stand can alter your mindset.
Say yes to opportunities. It is a skill that can be learned and that takes chances to learn so say yes to all speaking events, don’t just wait for them to appear either – search them out. Do that live social media event.
So…..what are you waiting for? Get out there, speak, own the room or your own little space of social media at least!
25th February marks the start of Eating Disorders Awareness Week , so I thought it maybe useful to put together some information about eating disorders, how you can support people, how you can get some help for yourself and what to look out for in those you love and care for.
IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW IS STRUGGLING PLEASE GET SOME HELP
Why do we even eat?
Bodies need energy to do everything, including our brains to think so in order to function and to learn we need a good supply of fuel in the form of food. Puberty is a time where extra energy is needed and so extra fuel/food too.
For some people, eating the right amount each day is very difficult for a variety of reasons.
What are Eating Disorders?
Eating disorders are serious illnesses where worry and feelings towards food take over people’s lives. Someone with an ED has a very negative relationship with food and their behaviour towards it is controlled by the disorder.
We still don’t know exactly what causes EDs. They can be linked to other mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety. For other people they can begin as a way of getting some order and control into a chaotic life, they can control food when they can’t control anything else.
There are many explanations that have been researched:
Experiential factors such as trauma, abuse, bullying, bereavements. It has been shown in studies that around 15% of people with anorexia had a negative life event in the three months to the onset of the illness.
Cognitive factors such as obsessive thought, rigid thinking patterns, low self-worth. In research it was shown that people with EDs have a higher memory than most for words such as diet, weight, body-shape.
Personality factors such as perfectionism, body dissatisfaction, low self-esteem
Sociocultural factors – preoccupation with thinness is only found in cultures where food is abundant and places where thinness is prized the prevalence of EDs is higher
Family dynamics have been researched with factors such as intrusive parenting, unremained conflicts, parents praising slenderness identified as risk factors in some studies
Genetic studies have shown a possible link to chromosome 1 in families where there are two or more people with EDs
Neural biology investigations have shown possible links to damage to the hypothalamus, serotinin levels and problems with the insula
Evolutionary explanations have been hypothesised such as ED being an evolutionary adaptive mechanism to modern environments with excess food amongst other theories.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)
Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a type of anxiety disorder related to body image. Some people assume all people with an eating disorder have BDD too but this isn’t the case. BDD can exist on it’s own as well.
People with BDD don’t see the version of themselves like everyone else does. When they look in the mirror they only see the negatives and often exaggerate this in their own mind and so see problems with their appearance that others may not even notice.
This isn’t the same as someone having a “bad hair day” or feeling own on their appearance from time to time. Puberty changes bodies and so it is common for people going through it to feel some unease about how they look. BDD causes negative thoughts that are almost constant and these thoughts have a big impact on their lives.
Binge Eating Disorder (BED)
Binge eating disorder (BED) is a disorder where people eat a large amount of food very quickly in a binge. They will do this regularly and compulsively not just on the odd occasion.
Binge eating often happens in secret, so the signs can be more difficult to spot. Like other eating disorders, it can be associated with anxiety and depression.
There are risks associated with BED such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.
This is one of the most common eating disorders. People with bulimia go through a cycle of binge eating and then purging (vomiting, extreme exercise or taking laxatives). This cycle usually happens every day and can last months. After binge eating, people with bulimia tend to feel extremely guilty which leads them to purge, feel worse and so binge eat again in a vicious cycle. As people with bulimia eat large quantities in the binges, they can often be average weight and don’t look thin.
Bulimia is incredibly dangerous as nutrients are lost during purges leading to malnutrition and physical illness. Vomiting regularly can lead to electrolyte imbalance causing cardiac problems, kidney damage and other whole body issues.
The act of vomiting brings up acid from the stomach leading to tooth damage, throat irritations, bad breath and stomach irritations.
Anorexia is probably the most well-known eating disorder, even though it isn’t the most common. People with anorexia try to keep their weight as low as possible, restricting food intake and exercising a dangerous amount in order to lose weight.
Anorexia is a controlling illness where people feel the need to monitor everything they consume and ends up affecting every aspect of someone’s life.
It can take a massive toll on someone’s physical health and effects due to lack of nutrition can include: being extremely cold, dizziness or fainting, hair falling out, growing thicker body hair, painful joints and bones.
Anorexia is a serious condition that can be fatal as people’s bodies can become so malnourished that their bodies start to shut down. Out of all the eating disorders, anorexia kills the most people with about 5% fatality rate.
I have mentioned some of the most common eating disorders but there are many many more.
Orthorexia is where people are unhealthily obsessed with healthy living. They cut out certain foods that they believe aren’t “clean” or “pure” and feel very guilty if they eat something they don’t normally allow.
Another serious issue is exercise addiction which can be an issue on its own without having a diagnosed eating disorder. People with exercise addictions are physically active to an unhealthy degree and feel they have to exercise. It can be a method of managing guilt or self-hatred and a symptom of another mental health condition such as depression.
How To Help
It can be very hard to know what to say or how to help someone with an eating disorder. Usually you cannot just help them with your words alone, they are not choosing to be like this and so saying things like “just eat more” can be very unhelpful. In fact on the whole it is usually best to not mention food at all and try not to draw attention to them eating or not eating. Commenting on eating habits can just lead to more negative associations with food and meals. Being relaxed around food is one of the most helpful things you can do.
Encourage the person to seek professional medical help starting with their GP. The GP is the person who can refer to psychiatrists and psychologists who can start treatment plans.
One of the cruellest things about eating disorders is that the person suffering often doesn’t realise they are sick or they can underestimate how sick they are, they may need real help getting the urgent treatment they need. You may need help from family members, school staff to help them get the support.