How we work

The core of what we do, is to ensure that children have the literacy and numeracy skills they need to succeed at school. The transition to High School requires more then these skills. To equip children with the tools for success, we teach study skills and critical thinking skills. For children concerned about friendships and/or bullying, we also teach social and emotional skills to help them become solutions focused young adults.  Every approach we take and every resource we use, are guaranteed to be informed by evidence based best practices. Regardless of your child's needs, I am very confident that we can assist them along their journey through school. 

There are a few different paths we can take, depending on your child's needs and your own personal commitments. We offer one hour after school sessions across Canberra or holiday programmes throughout the year. Regardless of which path you and your child choose, it is recommended that you book in for the free assessment. These assessments will provide us with your child's academic age/stage level for literacy, numeracy and critical thinking skills.  From there, we work together to design an individual learning plan. The plan may incorporate the following:

Literacy (see blog for links to further information)

Reading: once we know your child's reading age/stage, we provide them with a range of strategies that are unique to their individual needs. Depending on your child's needs, we may focus on literacy foundations including phonological awareness and comprehension strategies. Using a gradual release of responsibility model, your child will learn strategies which will allow them to become confident, independent readers. If your child is already an independent reader, then we will help to expand their vocabulary and critical thinking skills so that they can confidently tackle more complex reading material. These strategies work in unison with our lessons that teach writing strategies. 

Writing: after assessing your child's writing ability, we develop an individual learning plan that focuses on their greatest areas for improvement. Students learn a range of writing strategies that are required for them to not only survive High School, but to thrive. Your child will develop strategies to improve their ability to write creatively and critically when writing responses to literature, persuasive essays and scientific reports. 


Modelled Maths 

This approach is brief and dynamic. The teacher introduces the learning experience, demonstrates effective strategies and makes explicit the mathematics to be focused on in the session.  The teacher “thinks aloud”. The students observe, ask questions and, directed by the teacher, model the strategies for themselves, explaining their workings. 

Guided Maths 

This involves the teacher guiding a small group of students with like needs as they think, talk and work their way through a mathematical experience. Following a brief introduction by the teacher, students have the opportunity to choose strategies and materials they will use.  The teacher elicits responses from the students to determine their concept development (and misunderstandings!) – it has to be more than “I did it in my head”.

Independent Maths 

This follows directly after a guided maths session where students work individually with the teacher prompting and helping at each student’s point of need.  Students engage in independent mathematics directly related to the work they were doing in their small teaching group. canberra tutor canberra tutoring Queanbeyan private tutor


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Further research


What Is Transition? Transition is a process of moving from the known to the unknown (Green, 1997). Students go through transitions when they start school, when they leave their primary school to go to high school and when they leave school to go to tertiary institutions or to the work place. 

Transition is, therefore, experienced by all students (of course including students from Canberra and Queanbeyan. Starting school is one of the major challenges facing children in their early childhood years. A successful transition, particularly in the early years, has been demonstrated to be a criterion for determining academic achievement (Department of Education and Training, 2005b; Dockett & Perry, 2003; Sanson et al., 2002). Since 1999, Dockett and Perry have conducted several studies in New South Wales on transition to primary school and the implications for children. Their studies (1999a, 1999b, 2001, 2003) reveal the importance of these transitions for students success in later life. Dockett and Perry (2003) suggest that children who made a smooth transition between home and primary school, and experienced early school success, tend to maintain higher levels of social competence and achievement. These important outcomes have been supported by Early et al. (1999), who cite many studies pointing to the period of early schooling as of unique significance in children s lives (Alexander & Entwisle, 1988; Eccles et al., 1993; Ladd & Price, 1987).

They claim that the transition to kindergarten is a pivotal time in a child s development (Early et al., 1999, p. 26) because a child s transitional experience will affect their future success at school and in life. Alexander and Entwisle (1988, 1993) have also reinforced the importance of transition from home to kindergarten as a critical component of long-term school success. Based on their longitudinal studies of Grades 1 and 2 students in Baltimore primary schools, in the US, the authors noted that children s long-term academic and non-academic success was affected by their transitional experience into school. 

Transition from primary to high school is also considered to be a key milestone. While experiencing adolescence, children undergo more developmental changes than at any other time in their lives

That transition into high school

during adolescence is considered to be an important issue is evident from research that shows students’ experiences of transition influence their educational success (Barratt, 1998; Department of Education and 

Training, 2005b; Dockett & Perry, 1999a, 1999b, 2001, 2003; Early, Pianta, & Cox, 1999). Thus, schools that have had little emphasis on ways to ease transition have had higher failure and dropout rates among their highschool students than schools that had specific programs to ease transition (Legters & Kerr, 2001). Attention given by education departments and institutions in Australia also emphasises the importance of transition. For example, education departments in recent years initiated forums and seminars and associations (e.g. Middle Years of Schooling Association, Queensland) have been established in recognition of

transition as an important issue for adolescents. The Department of Education in New South Wales 4

has implemented a focused strategy to improve transition practices among particular groups of schools through its state-wide Linkages Project. The aim of this project is to link primary schools to their feeder high 

schools to gather information about new incoming students. The project promotes continuity of literacy and numeracy development in Stages Three (Primary 5 and 6) and Four (Year 7 and 8). It is based 

on the premise that “students’ learning plateaus or declines” (Department of Education and Training, 2005a, p. 1) on entering high school and disengagement can continue on to high school. For this reason, the project focus is on continuity of learning for students, particularly those deemed at risk. Adolescence itself is a transitional state where adolescents undergo major developmental changes. These changes include cognitive, physical, emotional and psychological aspects. That students experience these changes while perhaps entering high school for the first time, makes transition an important educational issue. At this point they have to cope with the double transition of personal developmental changes and changes to their learning environment, covering such aspects as its physical size, curricular, academic, geographical and structural settings. The growing body of literature concerning student transition from primary school to high school seems to be based mainly on academic and practitioners’ views on 

childhood development and developmental needs of children. That there is limited empirical work in this field investigating adolescents experience of transition while they undergo it, demonstrates a need for further examination of this area. All students experience transition at least twice in their school lives (McKnight, 2000): 

at the beginning of primary school and then secondary or high school. Transition into high school is a significant phase (Legters & Kerr, 2001) because it coincides with adolescent developmental changes. It

has a major effect on students since they undergo cognitive, emotional, physical, social and psychological developmental changes at this time. Transition from primary to high school is also considered to be a key milestone. While experiencing adolescence, childrenundergo more developmental changes 


than at any other time intheir lives except for infancy (Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development, 1989; Stowell et al., 1996). These changes include physical, cognitive, emotional and psychological changes which have been captured by a number of key psychologists. Their perspectives are considered in the next section which focuses on the three main stages of schooling and the link to key theories of adolescent development. At each stage of schooling children experience different developmental changes. For this reason each stage of schooling – infant, primary and secondary – which coincide with some of the developmental changes 

facing a child – is discussed. This is followed by a discussion on adolescence as a 

transitional state and the various developmental changes associated with this stage 

of adolescents’ lives. According to Piagetian theory on stages of cognitive development, young adolescents from the age of 12 are at the beginning of the formoperations stage, the last stage of cognitive development (Atherton, 2002; Brown, 1970; Lythgoe, 2001). “During puberty, the intellectual nature of a child undergoes transformation 21 and becomes more and more like an adult. Thus, early adolescents are in a 

transitional intellectual state between child-like (concrete) thinking and adult-like 

(formal) thinking” (Caissy, 1994, p.102). Children in this stage are capable of thinking logically and abstractly, reasoning theoretically (Boeree, 2000; Caissy, 1994), and have the ability to think about their thoughts. That is, 

they are capable of reflective thinking (Shelton, Elkind & Farel, 2001). It is at adolescence, therefore, 

that they move from the concrete to the abstract realm of understanding (Education Queensland, 2001b; Kruse, 2001; Sutherland, 1999). Development of skills during this stage determines future success or failure at school and work as well as the ability to form meaningful, lasting relationships (Gattis, 1995; Green, 1999). 

However, not all adolescents move from the concrete to the abstract realm at the same rate, which could affect some of their learning abilities and in turn could cause emotional and psychological problems. Students who are not coping with school work because of their differing cognitive rate of development will fall back in their work. This would affect their school performance not only academically but also socially since poor performance can affect students’ self-esteem (Kaplan, 1996; Pinnell, 1998). This last stage of cognitive development coincides with the time of puberty and high school transition making this a very important stage of development to the researcher.Piaget’s (1968) theory of cognitive development has implications for teaching and learning and these implications with respect to adolescents are considered here. 

During transition into high school, young adolescents move into the formal operations stage and personality formation takes place. Teachers play a critical role at this point by ensuring that the pedagogy used in classrooms allows children the 22  opportunity to move beyond the concrete level of thinking to allow for abstract thinking to begin. Some students at this stage can examine academic and social criteria of learning through a methodology that allows them to experiment and discover learning (North Carolina State 

University, 2001) because some are now capable of thinking abstractly and not just at the concrete cognitive level. Based on this premise, teachers should provide a more stimulating and interactive classroom 

environment that develops the ability to form opinions, make decisions and draw conclusions. There is a need for teachersto provide adolescents with a learning environment that can encourage them to “fuse together prior knowledge and new experiences to problem solve [to] develop cognitive abilities” (North Carolina State 

University, 2001, p. 1). “Educators must plan a developmentally appropriate curriculum” (On Purpose Associates, 2001, p. 2) while teachers must provide relevant and appropriate experiences for adolescents to

promote the building of cognitive structures of thinking for these students to move to a higher level of 

thinking at the abstract level. Teachers need to promote higher order thinking skills through their learning activities for students to achieve an abstract level of thinking which would in turn promote feelings of 

success at high school and make transition successful for many.However, several Educational Theorists Piaget’s theory has been criticised because he examined the behaviour of “the average child”, and did not allow for any exceptions (Edwards, Hopgood, Rosenberg & Rush, 2000; Powell, 2005). For example, Powell (2005) stated that “[n]ewresearch has shown that infants follow some of the stages at a much earlier age 

than Piaget theorised. As an example, the concept of object permanence has been observed at an earlier age than Piaget predicted. Furthermore, infants have been found to conceptualise at an earlier age” (p. 2).


There is a mismatch between the cultures of primary and high school (Eyers, Cormack, & Barratt, 1992; Luke et al., 2003a; Mullins & Irvin, 2000; Yates, 1999) and the consequent discontinuity is a key problem for students when moving from primary to high school (Akos, 2002; Education Queensland, 2001a; Green, 1997; 39 Meece, 2002; Wiles & Bondi, 2001). These students experience discontinuity in several ways (Green, 1997; Perkins & Gelf

er, 1995). They can experience physical discontinuity, discontinuity in teaching staff and discontinuity in peer relationships (Elias, 2002; Ministerial Advisory Committee for Educational Renewal, 2003). These discontinuities can alsoput an additional burden “for even the heartiest individuals” (Akos, 2002, p. 339) to cope with the new learning environment. The differences between the old and new school environment can add to the pressure of being an adolescent. When transitions are not managed properly, children can suffer from academic, social, emotional or behavioural problems (La Rue et al., 2003; Riley, 2003). Hence, it becomes incumbent on educators to be aware of the particular types of challenges confronting students in a range of forms when they move into high school. Drawing on empirical studies investigating areas of transition as well as practitioners’ viewpoints based on their professional observations, these issues are now discussed.

Discontinuity and Transition Physical discontinuity can make the transition from primary to high school more 

difficult (Akos, 2002; Cotterell, 1982; Elias, 2002; Hallinan & Hallinan, 1992; Hatton, 1995; Johnstone, 2002; Kirkpatrick, 1992). Students are used to having a home room throughout primary school. When students enter high school, they move from one classroom to another throughout the day for each lesson. This enforced 

geographic mobility between classes, traversing across the campus, has been identified by Pletsch, Johnson, Tosi, Thurston and Riesch (1991) as one of the three major sources of stress faced by students during transition. This sudden lack of continuity and not belonging to a physical space represents a change of routine for students. When students move from class to class in a high school, they also have to juggle with their books, lockers and being punctual to class, all of which is new (Hatton, 1995; Kirkpatrick, 1992; Schum

acher, 1998; Walker, 2002; Weldy, 1990). The discontinuity in the teaching staff between primary school and high school can add another difficulty for students in making a successful transition. In high schools teachers are subject specialists. This canresult in students having as many as ten teachers (Cotterell, 2002; Vines, 2002; Weldy, 1990). In primary schools, students usually have one teacher who is responsible mainly for their education with the exception of relieving teachers and some specialist teachers. Making the move to high school places children in an unfamiliar academic and physical environment with multiple teachers each teaching a specialist subject (Johnstone, 2002; Kirkpatrick, 1992; Mizelle, 1999; Yates, 1999). Discontinuity in peer relationships also affects some students entering high school. The friendship based on a whole class system 

in a primary school tends to change as children move to high school. Students are regrouped for different subjects and this can cause anxiety about maintaining their peer relationships (Elias, 2002; Hinebauch, 2002). 

The various discontinuities described above affect children by exposing them to many teachers, a newphysical location, movement between lessons and making new friends, also imply a mismatch between the cultures of primary and high schools (Eyers et al., 1992; Luke et al., 2003a; Mullins & Irvin, 2000; Yates, 1999). Further 

challenges include the social, curricular, geographic, physical and organisational aspects of the high school 

(Cotterell, 1982; Hatton, 1995; Kirkpatrick, 1992; Wiles & Bondi, 2001; Yates, 1999) These issues are now discussed.