Tag Archives: tutoring

Practical Tips for Your First Physics Class – Part 1

Tips from a Private Irvine Physics Tutor: Practical Tips For Your First Physics Class


The internet is full of tips and tactics from bloggers, tutors, and teachers about how to excel in physics. Unfortunately, the predominant advice is the ever-prevalent generic comments that students have been hearing about every class in every subject for years: “go to class,” “do your homework,” “do extra practice problems,” “take good notes,” etc. If you’re lucky, your basic physics tips might also include some points about being good at math and trying to understand the concepts instead of just memorizing – book your private Irvine physics tutor.

You already know these things. These tips are continuously repeated and are not helping you better prepare for or succeed at physics. Here, we will cover six specific and practical tips that can help you get through your first physics class, whether it’s high school, AP, or college.

1. Be an expert at formula manipulation

Formula manipulation is typically an algebra 2 concept where you have an equation with multiple variables that you can alter to solve for specific variables or plug-in specific values. For example, the volume of a pyramid is V = 1/3 A H where A is the area of the base and H is the height of the pyramid. However, we can manipulate this equation to instead give us height instead of volume by dividing both sides by A and multiplying by 3: H = 3 V A

This skill is essential in physics where you constantly move variables from one side of an equation to another and substitute numbers and variable for other variables. In our pyramid example, we might have to substitute in an area equation to find the height: A = L W where L is length and W is width. This could give us the new height equation: H – 3 V L W

If this example did not seem very easy to you, you need to go back and practice a lot of these types of problems. Take equations with many variables and practice isolating each individual variable one at a time.

2. Be an expert at basic trigonometry

Your physics class likely won’t require you to know all of the identities and properties of trig functions that you may have learned/are learning in your precalc or trigonometry class, but you do need to be very good at your simple sine, cosine, and tangent definitions with right triangles, as well as the Pythagorean theorem. Don’t forget your SOH-CAH-TOA, make sure you can do a2+b2=c2 in your sleep, and practice finding missing angles and sides of right triangles even when they’re upside down or inside out.
Basic trig is vital for early vector problems. It is also common to break diagonal lines into their x and y “components.” Don’t fall for it if someone tells you to “just use sine” “or just take the cosine” when you’re doing these problems. Draw the triangle and figure out why you’re using that trig function. It will save you when the problems get harder later.

3. Know your units

90% or more of your physics work will revolve around only three basic units: the kilogram (kg) for mass, the meter (m) for length/distance, and the second (s) for time. You can break up almost everything you do into just these three simple components. The unit for speed is m/s. Think miles per hour translated to meters per second instead. Being an expert with your units can help your understanding of the equations and help you check your answers.

For example, a basic physics equation is the definition of force: F = M A where M is the mass of an object and A is its acceleration. The unit for mass is the kilogram, and acceleration is meters per second squared. Multiplying these we get kg*m/s2. In class, they will call the unit of force a Newton, but we now know that a Newton is just a kg*m/s2. When you hear new units like the Hertz, the Joule, or the Pascal, remember that you can break them up into these basic parts. This can help a lot with topics like conservation of energy. (Note that the units for temperature, Kelvin (K); current, ampere (A); and amount, mole (mol) are also fundamental units that are used to a much smaller extent in physics 101).

The first three tips can help you prepare for physics and understand what’s going on. You will be very confused if you don’t know your triangles and basic trigonometry. You’ll also be very behind if you can’t quickly modify equations and substitute variables. Finally, understanding the units and their basic components can set you up to actually understand some of what you’re doing when you do examples.

Michael C. is currently a private math, science, and standardized test tutor with TutorNerds in Irvine and Anaheim.

tutor logo Ask A Nerd! SAT Subject Tests All blog entries, with the exception of guest bloggers, are written by Tutor Nerds. Are you an education professional? If so, email us at pr@tutornerds.com for guest blogging and collaborations. We want to make this the best free education resource in SoCal, so feel free to suggest what you would like to see us write.

When to Hire a Tutor? A Few Common Misconceptions

When to Hire a Private San Diego Tutor? A Few Common Misconceptions


This article will explain some of the optimal times to look into private San Diego tutoring for yourself or your student.  There are many common and conflicting misconceptions about when during a class or school year a student who needs additional help should start tutoring.  Some parents subscribe to the method of hiring a tutor right before major tests to improve studying and improve their child’s grade.  Some believe that after a certain amount of time into a class or semester that it is too late and that a tutor would have little to no benefit.  Others believe nearly the opposite – that a tutor should only be used later in the class after the student has thoroughly proven that they cannot attain success in the class on their own.

These ideas stem from greater misunderstandings of how tutoring should work (and how it does work if hiring from an experienced and reputable source).

You can see a tutor more than just before a big test

First, tutoring is not exclusively a band-aid that can be slapped on right before a test to cram information and get an ‘A’.  A good tutor will be able to correct poor study habits, identify important information, and execute an effective study plan with a student.  However, this studying needs to be continued, and if there is a significant gap between what the student has learned and what the teacher expects the student to know, then that gap will only continue to widen without more intervention.  Students do usually find some success with this style of scheduling, but most would find much more with a more consistent tutoring pattern (READ: “Tips from a San Diego Tutor: Keeping in Touch After Graduation”).

A tutor can help even towards the end of your class

Second, a large part of a tutor’s job is in diagnosing problems and prescribing solutions.  A tutor needs to decipher why the student is not reaching his or her goals and use their experience to help remedy the issue.  In many cases, these problems can be alleviated or fixed entirely in days or weeks, rather than months.  Whether it’s helping you find which fundamentals to memorize for your final, having an experienced pair of eyes look over your last paper, or an effective teacher helping you understand those boring lectures for the first time all semester, a tutor may be the solution you need to find more success even at the end of a class.  Unless all of your assignments are turned in and your tests completed, it is never too late to consider outside help.

It is never too early to be proactive in your education

Third, students are experienced in the subjects, classes, and tests that they teach.  As such, they often know what skills and prerequisite knowledge are important beforehand.  They also know what will be emphasized, what the common problems are, and how the courses or tests are usually structured.  With this knowledge, a tutor can help teach and prepare a student even before they’ve had their first class.  You do not need to wait until you or your student is failing before you hire a tutor.  Students with experienced tutors who begin their tutoring early can expect to have a much better understanding of the material, a routine schedule for developing studying and work habits, and the tools necessary to be successful in the class and any progressive classes following it.

Do not believe these common misconceptions about tutoring.  A tutor’s job is to help students achieve the most success in their education goals.  They are experienced and know how to accomplish this task.  An experienced professional can help you – it isn’t too late, it isn’t too early, and there doesn’t have to be a test the next day. Book your experienced San Diego tutor today!

Michael C. is currently a private math, science, and standardized test tutor with TutorNerds in Irvine and Anaheim.

tutor logo Ask A Nerd! SAT Subject Tests All blog entries, with the exception of guest bloggers, are written by Tutor Nerds. Are you an education professional? If so, email us at pr@tutornerds.com for guest blogging and collaborations. We want to make this the best free education resource in SoCal, so feel free to suggest what you would like to see us write.

Los Angeles Tutoring Tips: Four Habits of Successful Students

Four Habits of Successful Students

Doing well in school requires a lot more than just smarts. You have to develop habits that ensure you’re getting the most out of your classes and that you’re productive when you get home. Creating such scenarios takes effort on your part. If you’re consistently missing homework assignments or doing poorly on tests, then it’s time for a change. Take a step back and review how you approach your academics. Waiting until the last minute to work on a project? Staying up all night cramming before an exam? If you keep up the same habits, you’re going to keep getting the same results.

Approaching your academics with structure will give you confidence. Many students feel overwhelmed when they think about their schoolwork and any looming deadlines. Productive study and work habits will help mitigate this anxiety and keep you focused.

Our private Los Angeles tutors are here to offer some tips. Our tutors are all highly educated, which means they’ve developed many beneficial habits in and out of the classroom. Below are four habits every student should adopt.

1. Write Things Down

There are many benefits to writing things down in the classroom. The most obvious is that you’ll be able to review it later when you’re working on an assignment or studying for an exam. Don’t expect a test only to include things from the textbook. If your teacher is talking about it, then it’s in play to be on the exam. You don’t have to write everything down word for word, but important concepts, names, dates, etc. should all be noted. A second benefit of writing things down in class is that it helps you remember it later. Further, this applies to important dates, deadlines, and events. Teachers aren’t going to hold your hand and remind you when a deadline is on the horizon.

2. Have a Designated Homework Hour (or Two)

Homework is a drag. After a long day of class, the last thing you want to do when you get home is crack open a textbook. This feeling of “homework dread” often leads to procrastination, which is never a good thing when it comes to academics. If you put your homework on hold, you’re more prone to forget about it. Mark on your calendar a dedicated hour (or two) for doing homework. Even if you don’t have hours worth of homework, spend the time reviewing upcoming deadlines and taking note of your progress.

3. Book a Private Los Angeles Tutor

We aren’t just saying this because we are a tutoring company, we are saying this because it works. Most of our experienced tutors benefited from tutoring while they were in school. No matter how well you do in school, you can still benefit from some extra help and structure. Tutors will help you catch up in any class in which you’re falling behind as well as teach useful study and schoolwork habits.

4. Learn From Your Mistakes

Your teacher just handed you your first C+ of the semester. You’re not happy, but you also didn’t bomb it (READ: What to do if You Failed a Test). Smart students will review the test to see what they got right and what went wrong. Don’t wait until you’re cramming for your final to try and catch up on all the things you did poorly on throughout the year. It is okay to vent a little after a poor grade or low test score, but shake it off and vow to do better. Review the test with your private Los Angeles tutor and catch up on any grey areas. You’ll be thanking yourself come finals day!

Call TutorNerds today to book your private, in-home Los Angeles tutor.

tutor logo Ask A Nerd! SAT Subject Tests All blog entries, with the exception of guest bloggers, are written by Tutor Nerds. Are you an education professional? If so, email us at pr@tutornerds.com for guest blogging and collaborations. We want to make this the best free education resource in SoCal, so feel free to suggest what you would like to see us write.

Back-To-School: 4 Ways to Help Your Kids Adjust

Four Ways Parents Can Help Their Kids With Back-To-School


Some parents are happy to see their kids head back to school, while others might get a little sentimental. Either way, every parent wishes for their kids to do well in school. After a long summer, many students are a bit rusty. They’ve been out of the classroom and have adjusted to a summer schedule. Now it’s time to get back on a routine and stay focused. The good news is that parents can help their kids adjust back to school life. Here are four tips from a private Los Angeles tutor to get you started!

1. Set a Schedule at Home

For many, school schedules are much different from the summer schedule. Late nights, few responsibilities, lunch at different times each day. In other words, summer is a bit more chill, which is why it’s often hard for students to adjust back to a daily schedule where meals, classes, and after-school activities happen at the same time every day. Odds are it will take a week or two to adjust, so don’t rush the process. You can do your part at home by sticking to a schedule of when you wake your kids up, when you eat dinner after class, and an allotted homework hour helps them stay on track.

2. Encourage Your Kids to Be Vocal in Class

Too many students fall behind in their studies because they are either too embarrassed or shy to speak up and say they need help. Most teachers are more than happy to go over something again or explain differently, but they won’t do it unless you say something. Telling your kids that it’s okay to ask for clarification or extra help will set them up for success.

3. Book a Private Tutor

We’ve said this before, and we will repeat it, don’t wait until your first report card or exam to find out you need a tutor. Tutoring builds confidence, establishes effective study habits, and helps kids learn in their own way. The best thing you can do is to book a private Los Angeles tutor before you start failing tests and falling behind. If your kid struggled in math or science last year, give them the confidence to improve by booking a private in-home tutor from the first day of class. Our experienced Los Angeles tutors work around your schedule and are available seven days a week. How convenient is that? Call us today to book your tutor.

4. Talk to Your Kids About School

Ask your kids about what they learned in class that day; be curious and ask a lot of questions. If they only seem to talk about a subject they enjoy, ask them about the others and how they feel they are doing. When your kid summarizes what they learned in class, it helps with their mastery of the topic. The more they talk about it, the more they will remember what they learned and will appreciate your interests in their day. This dinner conversation is also an excellent opportunity for you to take notice of a class they might be struggling in and get them help before they fall too far behind.

Don’t wait until your first report card to learn you need a private Los Angeles tutor! Call TutorNerds today.

tutor logo Ask A Nerd! SAT Subject Tests All blog entries, with the exception of guest bloggers, are written by Tutor Nerds. Are you an education professional? If so, email us at pr@tutornerds.com for guest blogging and collaborations. We want to make this the best free education resource in SoCal, so feel free to suggest what you would like to see us write.

5 Things Every Rising Senior Should Do This Summer

5 Things Every Rising Senior Should Do This Summer

Senior Should Do This Summer

College juniors are excited that the academic year is finally coming to an end.  In many ways, college is almost over but there is still a lot to do before graduation. Additionally, once college is officially over students will need to start looking for jobs and adjust to a professional lifestyle. There are some things students can do the summer between their junior and senior year to make the last year of college and the graduation process run smoothly. Unfortunately, students who don’t keep track of graduation requirements and other relevant details may end up being a fifth-year senior at the last minute. It’s better to stay on top of things and plan ahead to have a great final year as a full-time student.

1. Look through transcripts

The first thing rising seniors should do is look through their transcript. Many students find out they are just one or two courses short of graduation, which can prevent them from getting their diploma the following spring. If a student made a miscalculation earlier on, there’s still time to make it right before the start of senior year. One option is to take some elective courses over the summer to get extra units. Another option is to take a heavier load of courses starting in the fall. Most universities have a range of what is considered “full time.” It might be better to take five classes instead of four and still graduate on time. If students are at all confused about this process, they are encouraged to speak with one of the academic advisors who can look through everything and make sure the student is on the right track.

2. Arrange work experience

Rising seniors are also encouraged to arrange some relevant work experience over the summer. This may consist of an internship or a paid position. Either way, it’s a good idea to have something productive listed on a resume the summer before graduation. Students who are overwhelmed with what they have already completed throughout the academic year and would rather just relax should know that many internships are only one or two weeks long but still add to a student’s resume. It’s important to have real life on-the-job experience as well as something impressive to put on paper.

3. Volunteer

Another great way to beef up that student resume over the summer is to volunteer. Sometimes, jobs within a professional field are simply unavailable to students who have not yet graduated. However, there is almost always a need for a volunteer. This is different from an internship in that students can set a more flexible schedule. For example, if an internship is from 8 to 5 Monday through Friday, that’s when the intern works. Volunteers, however, can say that they’re available Thursdays and Fridays from 2 to 6 p.m., for example. This is a great option for students who need to attend summer classes or need to have a part-time job to make ends meet (READ: 5 Ways to Survive Spring Semester as a Senior).

4. Meet with professors and TAs

It’s a fabulous idea for students to meet with their professors or teaching assistants over the summer or as the term is wrapping up. This doesn’t have to be a formal meeting in the professor’s office; it can be a simple meeting over a cup of coffee on campus. Professors and TAs can be a great resource when it comes to planning an entry-level career search or looking for an internship. Most of them have great connections and knowledge that other people simply don’t possess. Also, meeting with professors gives students an opportunity to ask any additional questions. If nothing else this meeting will let the professor know the student is genuinely interested in their major field of study and will maintain a professional connection for the future (READ: 3 Warning Signs of Senioritis).

5. Arrange and informational interview

Another great thing for rising seniors to do over the summer is arrange an informational interview with somebody in the field they plan to go into. This should not be confused with an official job interview. An informational interview is simply asking someone who is already a seasoned professional to provide some mentoring or advice. This gives students the opportunity to put questions without the pressure of having a full-time job on the line.

Summer is the perfect time to catch-up and get ahead on your schooling. Call us today for information on our Irvine summer tutoring.

tutor logo Ask A Nerd! SAT Subject Tests All blog entries, with the exception of guest bloggers, are written by Tutor Nerds. Are you an education professional? If so, email us at pr@tutornerds.com for guest blogging and collaborations. We want to make this the best free education resource in SoCal, so feel free to suggest what you would like to see us write.


Online Study Tools: Khan Academy | TutorNerds

Give Math and Science a Chance with Khan Academy

Math and Science; you either love ‘em or hate ‘em. Students can breeze through memorization of formulas and chemicals or they’re completely frozen with “physics fear.” When working with kids and adults, tutors strive for more than explaining a subject better. The reward comes when students begin to enjoy the topic. We all have tricks up our sleeve, and many of those can be accessed right at home. Here I share with you one of my favorite websites that work to make math and science a little more manageable.

There’s a good chance you’ve run across a Khan Academy video before. The site has been growing rapidly since 2008, gaining notoriety lately as they continue to make it easier to learn for free. What started as a Sal Khan’s attempt at supplementing his cousin’s math instruction from afar, Khan Academy now actively assists students in primarily math and science subjects all across the globe. This site is perfect for students struggling with math concepts or visualizing tough physics.

The format is simple: Sal, the Founder, talks about a subject in the simplest terms you’ve ever heard, and shows his work via a computer tablet. He explains, “I teach the way that I wish I was taught. The lectures are coming from me, an actual human being who is fascinated by the world around him.” It seems too simple to be effective, but it works.

Once you complete a video you have the chance to practice what you’ve just learned with exercises. Even if you’re still struggling, hints within the exercises help to ensure you’ll eventually get it. Beyond just visiting the site for a quick answer, Khan Academy tracks students as they learn. With a quick sign up process, students can follow their learning as they progress. It’s not necessary, but it’s helpful and fun to see how much you’re improving.

Since the site is still growing, some topics may be missing. But rest assured their team of young, innovative educators is always working on new content, so check back often. Regardless, the next time you’re stuck on a problem or dreading that chemistry homework, take a quick visit to Khan Academy for a little extra help.

tutor logo Emotional IQ vs. Intellectual IQ | by TutorNerds All blog entries are written by Tutor Nerds. Are you an education professional? If so, email us at info@tutornerds.com for guest blogging and collaborations. We want to make this the best free education resource in SoCal, so feel free to suggest what you would like to see us post about.

Orange County parents and students, listen up! Beat the summer slowdown with a private, in-home tutor. We work around your schedule so you can stay sharp while having fun in the sun. Read: 10 Reasons You Need a Summer Tutor. What are you waiting for? Call us.

 Emotional IQ vs. Intellectual IQ | by TutorNerds Teach.com

7 Tips to Maximize Your Tutoring Sessions | TutorNerds

Tutoring Sessions: Maximize Your Success

As tutors, we do our best to maximize our client’s session. We come with our guides, supplies, and minds prepared. Many times we have only an hour or so with each student, and that hour goes by fast. If our students aren’t ready or prepared, much of that precious time is wasted. Make the most of the time you have with your tutor by following the suggestions discussed below. You’ll get more out of your session, both financially and academically.


1. Get help early

If you start falling behind, find some support. In classes like math that build upon previous skills, waiting too long to ask for help can be detrimental to your grade. A tutor is the perfect person to review with weekly to ensure you’re staying up to speed

2. Be ready to learn

Every session is different, but the following list includes most of what you’ll need during a session: textbook, syllabus, specific assignment and instructions, relevant notes, quizzes and tests already graded. It may seem like a lot, but remember tutors have to understand what you’re working on and where you’re stuck before we can help you.

Stack of colorful books (cut-out, white background)3. Ask questions

We’re there to answer any questions you have, even the ones you think are silly or obvious. We feel good when you understand the material, so get rid of your stress and ask away; we’ll work with you as long as it takes.

4. Know what’s expected of you

Even though we don’t mind answering your questions, many simple ones can be answered by reading the syllabus, checking assignment instructions or speaking with a teacher. Make sure you look over all required readings and instructions before a tutor arrives. If you’re still stuck, a tutor can help, but a teacher is sometimes the best resource for specific questions.

As you can see, tutors don’t ask a whole lot. Following those four simple tips can make your next session easier and more enjoyable for all involved. However, knowing what you shouldn’t ask of a tutor is important too. Some call tutors superheroes, but there are a few things even the best tutors won’t tackle.

5. Your excuses are futile

We were all students before, so we’ve used the excuses or heard them at one time or another. Be honest with a tutor if you haven’t studied or been doing your homework. The sooner we know your situation, the sooner we can start working in the right direction.

6. Tutors won’t do the work for you

Again, we were students before. We know we can answer the question; we’re here to help get you to that point. You’ll have to learn it eventually, so let the tutor help you.

7. A tutor can’t implant knowledge

A tutor can only help you study so much before a test. If you haven’t been studying at all, don’t expect a tutor to fill your brain with all the answers the night before. They’ll do their best, but cramming at the last minute isn’t effective for most students.


Now that you have the tips, Los Angeles, implement them! Contact us today and we’ll match you with an amazing tutor.

The Dynamic, Not Dreaded, Group Project | TutorNerds

Communication and Compromise

A group project is one of those experiences students need to work through. Not only is it good practice in communication and compromise, it’s an experience they will likely confront again in their professional careers. The experience doesn’t have to be filled with stress, frustration or negative feelings towards each other. If students enter with the right attitude and a solid plan, they’ll be much more likely to succeed as individuals and a group.


Start Out Strong

Spend time finding out where everyone’s strengths are. Someone may like to type and someone else is a tech guru; make the best out of your group’s tool box. Sometimes it’s tough to get everyone moving. The more motivated you are to help organize the group and volunteer for work, the more other students will too. However, make sure all the work doesn’t get split between one or two people. Everyone should be doing an equal amount of work.

As a group, the members should create a timeline of assignment dates and an earlier turn in date. Give yourself a one to two day cushion if you can, this will come in handy when members are behind or issues arise. Before leaving, ensure assignment of duties are clear and how progress will be reported to the others.

Make Meetings Ultra-Productive

Topics of meetings should be decided upon ahead of time. There is nothing worse than organizing schedules and not having anything useful to do with all your time together.

Designate someone as a moderator, either permanently or in rotation with others. This person keeps everyone on track, ensuring certain work is done by the end of the meeting. Before you begin, decide how long you want to work together and stick to it.

Try not to spend group time working independently. Everyone should come to meetings with something to include. Your time there should be spent together; not doing things you could have done on your own.

When is it Time to Seek Help?

Some people are hard to like, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work with them. Personal differences shouldn’t affect grades; however, uncooperative members shouldn’t be ignored. Before going to the instructor, consider:

• Are other members in the group noticing the same behavior?

• Is the member’s lack of cooperation greatly affecting the project?

• Is the problem a personal issue that can be worked out between members?

• Is the member experiencing difficulties at home or outside school that are affecting the group?

If the member is simply not interested, it may be time to approach the instructor. Doing this in person with other group members is best. Explain what the problem is, avoiding any personal attacks against the uncooperative member.


Not Convinced You’ll Need These Skills Later on in Life?

These finial tips have implications far beyond projects in school. For instance, everyone communicates differently. Stay focused on what’s being said and not necessarily on how they’re saying it. When others don’t fulfill commitments, let anger take a back seat. Try a different approach and find out what could be troubling them. Most importantly, try to be the better person. If you have the right attitude, projects tend to move a little smoother. Finally, if you need someone to talk to before going to the teacher, don’t hesitate to seek your private tutor from TutorNerds for advice and wisdom. Trust us, we know the importance of teamwork.

Basically, teachers are hoping you’ll learn how to teach and learn from each other. Even if you don’t agree on everything, and you likely won’t, respect each other’s ideas and find compromises where you can. There will be many more group projects in your adult life, learn the lessons now and not when your salary or your job is on the line.

It takes a team, Orange County!

4 Motivation Techniques for Every Student

Low on Motivation?

Many of us are lucky enough to have fantastic support systems behind us. They cheer us on when we ace tests, and listen when we need to vent about a difficult project. There will be a day, however, where we’ll be the ones who have to motivate ourselves. No one will be around to get you moving, and if you don’t there will be consequences. Take a minute to check out some great tips on how to motivate yourself, whether it’s finishing that last homework question or studying all weekend for finals.


1. Bring Out Your Inner Competitor

A competitive attitude can do wonders mid-semester. Sometimes we get bogged down in the small assignments or continuous reading requirements. Use your competitive nature to bring the spark back. Take a look at your grade in the class and determine how you could improve it. Is there a student who’s been getting perfect grades on exams? Try to be that student next time around. It can’t hurt trying, and who doesn’t want better grades?


2. Not competitive? Take pride in what you do instead.

If competition isn’t your thing, at least be proud of the work you do. You must choose to care about homework and studying; no one can do that for you. Doing your best even when you don’t want to is a life lesson many people never learn. You’ll be doing yourself a huge favor by accepting it early on.

3. Treat yourself, within reason.

There’s something about a reward that makes even the most mundane tasks doable. As homework inevitably takes a toll on your motivation, consider adding small rewards to your daily or weekly study sessions. For example, if you know you have a large exam at the end of the week, break studying into parts. After each part is completed, reward yourself for your hard work. Don’t go crazy; all night Netflix binges won’t help you in the long run. Instead, treat yourself with a smoothie or a play session with your pet. Try to stay away from black hole activities like web browsing or video games. Get back to work and reach for that next goal!

4. Have a reality check.

As private tutors we hear it constantly, “I’ll never use this in the real world.” Let’s put this idea to rest; you will. Homework is given for a reason, even if it’s a reason you don’t agree with. There will be times in the future you’ll have to complete tasks that are mundane, repetitive, or seemingly useless. You may be paid to do it, or have to as part of being an adult. Learn to accept the sometimes uninteresting parts of work and move on. As students, we can choose to remain frustrated or choose to look beyond it and realize this temporary irritation will soon be a distant memory.

There you have it, Los Angeles. Now let’s get motivated!

Mindful Learning | TutorNerds

Mindful Learning: Meditating Good Grades

“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” – Thích Nhất Hạnh

The first time I practiced mindfulness, unbeknownst to me at the time, happened around third or fourth grade. Our teacher rounded us up for an assembly in the library. From what I can remember, the presenters were local actors, brought in to teach us their trade. Naturally, the acting tips came off as a bit trivial – like many of my contemporaries, I wasn’t an actor. Though, something did stick with me from that assembly; something they taught us at the very end.


At the time, I didn’t know I was meditating. They approached it in an organic, almost tricky way. The actors had us all lie down and close our eyes. Despite its all around cheesiness, one of them put on an ambient, Brian-Enoesque loop on his keyboard. We all surprised ourselves at the level of quiet we had attained. Maybe it was the post-lunch lag, or the “a nap actually sounds good right now” mentality, but the actors had hushed up a large group of excited students – not an easy task. As we relaxed, the soft-spoken actor instructed us to take deep, mindful breathes. “Imagine you are floating on a cloud, away from all your distractions and worries” she said.

Did I know I was practicing mindfulness? No. Did I know this technique could be used for anxieties other than stage fright? Sadly, no. But what I did know, was that I felt focused, relaxed, and attentive. Imagine our class after the session. Once a wild herd of children leaving for an assembly, we returned cool, calm, and reflective. It’s hard to recall, but I’m sure, for the remaining hours in that day, we were ideal students.

So why do I bring up this story? Because practicing techniques such as meditation and mindful breathing in school shouldn’t be a novelty. They’re proven methods for promoting focus, attention, and calmness in that pesky amygdala. For instance, in an article on Kqed.org, author Katrina Schwartz claims,

“Studies of mindfulness programs in schools have found that regular practice — even just a few minutes per day — improves student self-control and increases their classroom participation, respect for others, happiness, optimism, and self-acceptance levels.”

Any student could benefit from less anxiety. The school year is wrapping up. Are your grades good enough? Are you prepared for the ACT? Breathe in: “you can do this. Your teachers, Tutor, friends, and family are all here to support you” Breathe out: “all the anxieties, worries, and stress.” Within moments of mindfulness, a student can stop paying attention to distractions, and focus on the task at hand.

slide3aThis is proving particularly beneficial in low-income schools, where students are distracted, and quite frankly, too scared to focus by the life that’s happening outside of class. In areas where most students have been victims, or know victims, of violent crimes, it’s hard for them to leave that frustration at the door. As a result, teachers in these areas spend most of their time dealing with angered, emotional outbreaks, instead of teaching curriculum. To avoid resorting to punishment, many schools are turning towards mindfulness. For example, some schools begin and end each day with a short meditation. (Watch this video from the Huffington Post to see a prime example of a ‘mindful school.’)

In addition, students are applying these techniques not just to class, but to the rest of their lives. “Students now have a common language to use when they want to calm each other down and fewer students are being sent to her office” states Schwartz, in regards to a low-income school’s principal.

Being mindful doesn’t only benefit students. Many teachers and tutors are finding focus from this practice as well. To illustrate, many believe meditation improves multitasking abilities. In How Meditating Helps With Multitasking author Tina Barseghian explains a multitasking study  where meditators and non-meditators were given an array of stressful tasks to complete. The results found those who practiced meditation were less stressed when completing the tasks, and even spent more time (focus) on each individual one.   “The meditators said they practiced the breathing they’d learned and listened to the little voice in their head saying “slow down.” They focused on the immediate experience and less on their evaluation.”

In a world where distraction is paramount, maybe it’s time educators started teaching mindfulness the same way they teach responsibility and honesty. All you have to do is look at the array of ADD and ADHD cases to see we need to prepare students for a changing world. In order to do so, tutors, teachers, and educators must be focused as well.  To recall the wise words of a Vietnamese monk, who wouldn’t want an anchor as natural as their own breath?

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Further Mindfulness reading:

4 Ways Mindfulness Transforms Your Life

More Mindfulness, Less Meditation

Buddhist Monk Encourages Mindfulness