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Why are some kids thriving during remote learning?

COVID-19 has remodeled all facets of our daily lives. Teachers and students in particular have had to resort to virtual ways in order to engage, educate and be educated. While the rather forced transition to online teaching and learning hasn’t been easy on all students, there seem to be some who are surprisingly thriving in this medium. Let’s take a closer look at why some kids are doing exceedingly well in remote learning.

The Brighter Side

While the pandemic has shrunk the lives of many kids to just their homes and screens, not all kids are sad about it. So, what are the aspects of online learning that have aided some kids to thrive?

  • Support of Self-Pace
    Flexibility is the hallmark of e-learning. Students who do well in self-paced, flexible learning situations therefore thrive in this environment. It is this factor that hooks certain students in and keeps their attention span intact. As online materials and courses are accessible at any hour of the day, it makes students feel more in control. With recorded videos and e-notes available, students can replay and retain information anytime, in a better manner, and are able to learn at their own pace. This helps students take ownership as they’re no longer under the micromanagement of the regular school day in the teacher’s physical presence.

  • Dare we say, the Devil is in the Distractions
    It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that students have an immensely busy schedule during regular schooling. During the school day, students constantly remain on the go with sports, club meetings, extra-curricular activities, tuitions and more. But the restrictions imposed by the pandemic have cut short many of these activities enabling students to focus better on only their online classes and learning.

  • Sleep - the Best Self-Care!
    Just like many adults, children too can be night owls or early birds. The former are those who are very productive in the evening and nighttime. Most students are no longer waking up to a very early alarm clock now. The kids who have a hard time staying alert in their early morning classes are now able to get their work done in the evenings and nights. They are able to get their sleep at their own timetable now. Remote learning has provided such students with the desired flexibility that has boosted productivity.

  • Home - the Safe Haven!
    While much has been discussed about missing in-person connections and relationships at school, there are students who have benefited from this. Typically, these are students for whom school socialization is fraught with anxiety. Such as students with ADHD or students who have been victims of physical or verbal bullying while at school. For them, being able to learn from home, the ultimate safe space is a huge relief. Learning in their ‘safe place’ has boosted their confidence and productivity.

So, is this a long-term solution?

Remote learning has been a disaster for many students. But some kids have thrived. This somehow throws light on the lack of inclusivity in our education system as well.

Even as more schools are extending remote learning indefinitely, a lot of students just can’t wait to get back into the classroom. However, it is clear that even after it is deemed safe to return to school, it won’t be a complete return to what was considered normal.

Forms of remote learning have existed since the 19th century, but it was never mainstream. With the COVID era, we all have witnessed the rise of numerous online learning tools and platforms. It could be possible that remote learning, just like homeschooling, may be considered as a permanent viable option by many.

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Tips for Teachers: 5 Ways to Practice Mental Health and Wellness

In the wake of World Mental Health Day, we wanted to talk about something not a lot of people talk about. Why is it important for teachers to focus on their mental health and wellness? In your day-to-day juggle, it becomes very easy to put other people’s mental health and wellbeing needs ahead of your own. Just as during a flight safety briefing adults are reminded to secure their safety belts and oxygen masks first in any emergency before assisting others, the same holds good for mental health. Only when you are healthy and well can you care for others. How can you make sure you create a positive mental health culture in yourself as well as in your students?

Here are our Top 5 tips:

1. Be active, even at home

All of us have our own ways to de-stress and feel rejuvenated. The important things is to make the time to de-stress.

Here are our favorite, and easy, ways to de-stress:

  1. Go for a 10-minute walk.
  2. Pause, close your eyes and take ten deep breaths.
  3. Every 1 hour, take a screen-free break and move away from your computer screen or phone.
  4. Take care of your physical well-being by engaging in some routine exercise or activity.

2. Stay connected

Talking about work issues with a colleague or mentor is a great way to resolve a problem. Sometimes just expressing something out loud can help you untangle a tricky issue and your conversation partner might help you see something from a different point of view!

3. Maintain work-life balance

Be Present: Create clear boundaries between work and home. Trying to limit the amount of school work you bring home and creating an end-of-day ritual are a few ways to get started.

Set Realistic Expectations – It’s OK to Say ‘No’: While teachers are amazing multi-taskers, we are also (mere) humans. People will understand if you do not have time to take on another after-school activity, implement another classroom initiative, or mentor another student teacher.

4. Make the most of technological and online avenues for professional development

Connecting, sharing, and discussing with other educators through online groups and webinars will throw fresh perspectives on mundane tasks and activities, give you new ideas, and rejuvenate you. Sometimes, we all need to step aside from the path we're walking on to discover fresh, new ways of doing things.

5. Practice Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness could be as simple as observing each child in your class without any judgment. Your class doesn’t have to be perfectly still and quiet for you to do this! Mindfulness is all about finding the calm amongst the chaos. You can further extend it by teaching mindfulness to your students which will result in increased focus, reduced stress, and an improvement in their academic performance.

What are some of the health and wellness tips you follow as a teacher? Do share them in the comments section.

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How Voice-Technology Can Reshape the Education System

"Hey Alexa, place an order for Kellogs cornflakes on Amazon Pantry, please."

Click on the play button to hear Alexa's response:

That’s it! Your requested product is on your doorstep within a couple of days after giving the voice command to Amazon Echo, a smart speaker, and a home assistant.

Alexa, Siri or the ever-reliable Google Maps guiding you to your destination are some of the applications of voice technology popularly known to us. But the potential of voice technology is much more than this. COVID-19 has already fuelled the next wave of innovation in the education sector. While we are just about adapting to virtual learning, voice technology combined with the power of artificial intelligence is already springing up to be a key force in teaching and learning.

Educators and ed-tech companies alike are incessantly working on innovations to making teaching and learning more effective in current times.

Students in Sri Kanchi Sankara Vidyalaya, Thiruvidaimarudur, Kumbakonam learning English from Tara

While e-learning in the form of video-based or visual learning has been instrumental in aiding the learning process during the pandemic, its accessibility is questionable. While students in private schools can attend online classes fairly easily and with all the necessary equipment, those in rural schools are facing multiple challenges with unreliable internet connectivity, minimal to poor access to necessary platforms for e-learning, and the high-cost factor of devices.

As video-based learning requires a strong internet connection, it becomes a hurdle for teachers and students in semi-urban and rural India to completely rely on it. Most of the private schools rich with resources are effectively making use of Google Classrooms, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Blackboard, Tata Class Edge, etc., However, teachers and students of the semi-urban and rural regions don’t have access to technology and high-quality solutions and training like their urban counterparts.

Is there a feasible solution to this challenge? Yes. The answer is voice technology.

Why Voice Technology?

Students in Sri Kanchi Sankara Vidyalaya, Ganapathy Agraharam, Kumbakonam learning from Tara

When compared to visual learning, voice-assisted technology is not only economical and easily accessible but also comes with its own set of unique benefits. Here are a few of them:

  1. Voice-assisted technology is very light on hardware as users only need a small device that supports voice, such as an EchoDot, that is easily portable.

  2. Voice-enabled devices have very simple interfaces. So there is no intimidation or fear for people who aren’t as tech-savvy as others.

  3. The bandwidth required for voice-enabled technology to function seamlessly is much less than that required for video-based learning. 512 Mbps is the minimum bandwidth needed so even a 3G connection is sufficient.

  4. Many voice devices come with battery back-up and so, a consistent electricity supply is not required.

  5. Because of factors #1, 2, 3, and 4 above, this technology is much more easily deployed than other technology solutions.

  6. Voice-assisted learning solutions make use of the most natural way in which human beings learn - through listening and speaking. We all learn languages like this. So, using conversation-style learning, which is what voice technology is based on, ensures learning that is natural and effective.

  7. Voice technology isn’t just a passive interface. When it is pedagogically-sound and thoughtfully-designed, the interface will not only tell learners they are incorrect but also explain why and correct them.

  8. Voice technology can repeat lessons, exercises, and assessments as many times as learners need, without any fatigue. 

  9. Voice technology provides a non-judgmental environment for learners to confidently make mistakes and learn. With a voice teacher, there is no fear of embarrassment or making mistakes.

  10. Voice technology supports individualized learning as well as pair, small-group, and large-group learning. One device can serve a class of 30-50 students because of the excellent mic array that can pick up voices from larger ranges. Imagine a class of 30 students clustered around one smartphone on a video call. There’s no comparison.

  11. With big players bringing in voice technology in multiple Indian languages, learning is not restricted only to English.

  12. It is easily extendable to any academic subject and any use case.

  13. There is no concern about children being exposed to longer screen time. The ‘only audio' medium gives no chance to get distracted with visuals and therefore, kids become more attentive.

Voice technology will become the Frontrunner in Education

With minimal features but maximum capability and impact, there is no doubt that voice technology powered by AI has greater ROI and is going to be the next big education trend. Not only can it enhance learning among students but also amongst teachers. It makes high-quality educational solutions accessible and affordable to semi-urban and rural schools. Most importantly, it makes solutions scalable and sustainable.

Most of us have a ubiquitous image of e-learning which is visual-based. However, to ensure that no child (or teacher) is deprived of learning and that they realize their full potential, we must look towards and support voice technology in education.

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How to use Google Classroom: A Quick Guide for Teachers

The paradigm shift in teaching and learning has replaced the blackboard with various learning management platforms. Google Classroom is one of the most widely used platforms for learning and teaching. Google Classroom is part of the G Suite for Education (Google for Education) package that includes Gmail, Google Drive, Google Calendar, and other apps.

Why Google Classroom?

Compared to other LMS (Learning Management Systems) that have been popular over the past decade, Google Classroom is amazingly simple. Even though Google Classroom is more of a tool than an LMS, it is a ‘one-stop-shop’ for an organization. What’s more, it’s a free service for teachers and students. The (rather small) catch is that an individual cannot register until their school or organization signs up for the Google for Education package.

How to use Google Classroom effectively?

Online teaching has a lot to offer and one has to actually strive a bit to ace online classroom management. Teachers started with a lot of trepidation but are now getting accustomed to the usage of tools and techniques in online platforms.

However, effective management of online classrooms can only be achieved by understanding the nuances of using the particular platform. Here are a few tips to help one in this aspect. Chenda Jayachandran, Head Customer Engagement at Learning Matters has been training teachers for over two decades and swears by these tried-and-tested techniques. They may sound simple but are critical.

      1. Keep Parents in the Loop

In order to ensure smooth running of online classrooms, keeping the parents in the loop is a necessary step. Google Classroom has options for teachers to send out updates about students' classwork directly to the parents. Communication from school to home should be regular and consistent. It may consist of summaries of lessons completed, alerts or reminders for upcoming or missing submissions, and information about other class activities.

     2. Establish Effective Communication with Students

Establishing clear, direct, simple, and effective communication with students is also key to successful online teaching, Google Classroom has many in-built options to make this easy for teachers. In the “Students” tab, clicking the checkboxes above all of your students’ names highlights all the individuals. Clicking on “Actions” and “Email” helps in drawing attention to something you want to communicate to students. The “Move to top” button can be used when a student hasn’t submitted an assignment or to remind the students of the deadline for submission. Also, the “private comments” feature can be used to communicate with students to give feedback. In this way, Google Classroom simplifies communication with students.

     3. Connect with the Community

Teaching is more successful when it is collaborative. Google Classroom allows you to share your data with your school’s teaching community and collaborate with other teachers who teach the same grade level. You can invite teachers to join your class to help coordinate class activities. If you use Google Groups, you can also invite a group of co-teachers at the same time. Your G Suite administrator might only allow teachers and students from your school to join classes. Google Classroom makes it very easy for educators to collaborate in multiple ways. 

     4. Connect all your Resources with Google Classroom

To make the best use of the Google Classroom platform holistically, you can check out the supported integration of websites or apps available for Google Classroom. You can make use of several other in-built tools like Docs, Drive, and Calendar. Make effective use of Google Drive for collaborative writing, sharing, and commenting which provides students with the opportunities to receive immediate feedback on their assignments from teachers and classmates. By using the Calendar, teachers can streamline effective classroom management. For example, if you post an assignment with a due date, it's automatically added to the class calendar for your students to see. Furthermore, one can digitally organize, distribute, and collect assignments, course materials, and student work on time without any misses. 

Some apps partner with Google directly, while others create and publish their own third-party add-ons in the Chrome Store. For example, if you are looking for learning content online there are integrations with publishers such as Newsela, Khan Academy, and BrainPop. In order to make teaching effective with relevant videos and quizzes, you can check out Kengine - a video-enabled digital content and assessment platform. Kengine can be easily integrated with Google Classroom.


As the way students are learning is changing, a lot of other things are also constantly evolving with regard to teaching, too. Google Classroom has been introducing new features regularly to make teaching and learning easier. They take the user’s feedback very seriously. If you want to suggest a feature then go to In the bottom-left corner, click Help (?) > request feature. Enter your suggestion and then click Send.

Last but not least, learning the nuances of Google Classroom is another skill set altogether. But, it can indeed be accomplished. If you are a novice in need of extended support on the usage of this platform, sign up for our in-depth demos and walkthroughs of Google Classroom. As the sessions are handled by Google Certified Experts, get ready to be trained by professionals. Now, anyone can become a pro at using Google Classroom!

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5 strategies to increase participation in your online classroom

The pandemic-led pivot to online learning hasn’t been easy on teachers or students. While students went from sitting in classrooms to being confined at home and learning online, teachers have had to figure out how to teach remotely and get accustomed to teaching online. Even though online teaching and learning began with trepidation, the current reality has brought in distance learning as an integral part of the education system. Online learning as a modality of teaching and learning is here to stay for a while and it is constantly evolving.

Even though online teaching has certain limitations, it also has a plethora of opportunities to explore. The virtual classroom has ensured that there is no back seat in online education. In fact, when done right, online education can be surprisingly intimate! With online classrooms, every student is in the front row! Check out these 5 handy strategies to make the most of online classrooms by increasing students participation:

1. Increase Teacher Presence

The online classroom shouldn’t feel like it’s running on auto-pilot mode. The instructor should make sure that students feel connected to him or her by having one-on-one conversations in the online classroom. The online class actually embodies the instructor’s personality—a major means of connection with the audience. So, instructors should go all out to keep the class alive with their unique style, be it puns or persona.

Furthermore, the instructor should make it easy for students to get in touch with them via emails or calls (if necessary). A regularly scheduled “office hour” to address concerns encourages students to speak up if they have challenges or questions. One can also create and share a document containing recurring student queries related to the course or assessments.

2. Space Out the Content

Information overload is a real phenomenon that can confuse students as well as lead to loss of interest. Neuroscience has proven that our attention span is, at max, 10 minutes. After that, our attention starts to wane. So, spacing out content and chunking it into 10-minute segments will give students the opportunity to recall and review information, therefore committing it to their long-term memory. To keep the content engaging for all, ensure to provide information in varied formats like videos, audio, text, voice-over slides, discussions and more. Teachers should be creative and have students take turns to present or ‘teach’ as well as try debates, online quizzes, polls and so on. Digital tools like Google Classroom can be a useful teaching aid.

3. Have a Call to Action

Instructors should make students take what they've learned and use it for a real purpose, as opposed to simply writing a paper or taking a test. Each lesson should consist of a piece of information and a related, meaningful student action. It need not necessarily be an elaborate project but can be about solving a problem, writing an opinion piece, providing relevant illustrations and so on. Engage more with students by asking open-ended questions that require a higher level of reflection and thinking.

4. Provide Meaningful Feedback

Feedback is an essential part of effective learning which can foster strong relationships among a teacher and a student. However, it is essential to make the process of providing feedback a positive, or at least a neutral, learning experience for the student. Unless, there are some serious issues to address in which case it should be handled privately. Feedback helps students feel a sense of progress and rescues them from isolation. To convey a personal sense of connection, instructors can use video every now and then to deliver feedback. As feedback works both ways, don’t forget to solicit feedback from your students too. This will help ensure they are meeting the needs of their audience and improving approach.

5. Include a Community Component

Online learning should be more than sitting in front of a computer. Real engagement involves becoming a part of the larger community of learners. A teacher can create a forum to facilitate students engaging with one another. This kind of community encourages the members to probe and learn more than the assigned course pedagogy. Students will also have more opportunities to connect with instructors and fellow students, discuss coursework and most importantly, become more engaged. Teachers and students share a common responsibility for creating and conserving this learning environment. Such online learning communities can be scholastically successful as well as life-altering at a personal level when created, nurtured, and sustained by all the members of the community.

Even though online classrooms are limited in some ways, they open a virtual doorway to new learning experiences. Making online classes interesting is harder and there’s an awful lot to learn as the online learning space is constantly evolving. All it takes is a digital mindset, the right tools, a focused approach, and enthusiasm to evolve with one’s students.

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4 Easy Ways to Integrate Technology in Your Science Class

Science is an exciting subject to teach as it encompasses so many different facets of the world we live in. It also is a crucial subject to teach in school as science is the foundation of any career in engineering, medicine, life sciences, environmental sciences, and why, even in the culinary field! Teaching science, therefore, must be dynamic and without the correct resources, it is often difficult.

In order to teach science effectively and to get students genuinely interested in science, teachers must integrate any and all technology tools that are at their disposal to augment learning. A lot of teachers (incorrectly) assume that incorporating technology into their classes is expensive and difficult. This is not the case. There are many wonderful online tools available that can help teachers make the teaching of science come alive. Here are some of them, as researched by team Learning Matters.

Google Drawings

Google Drawings is a virtual board that allows users to create content by drawing, pasting images, linking videos and websites, and inserting text, shapes, tables, and other content onto a page in Google Drive. This app is free to a Google account user and doesn’t have any restrictions on the number of individuals who can use it. So, multiple people can work on the same Google drawing document at the same time from different locations. This is very helpful for team projects or to keep the class highly interactive. Students can use Google Drawings to fill in and label the parts of diagrams. For instance, the teacher could share a picture of a cell and ask students to label the parts of it. The students can circle, highlight, crop, draw arrows, and write on the image. Later, the teacher can provide comments about the work completed to each individual student. Another feature to explore in Google Drawings is Mind Mapping that uses diagrams to help you brainstorm and organize ideas visually. Furthermore, teachers can assign students to create an infographic that will demonstrate data in a better way and this will help students understand concepts better. Similarly, a teacher can also make use of concept maps and flow charts on Google Drawings to make the lesson interesting.

Watch this video tutorial to learn how Mind maps help assimilate and retain information easily.

Google Science Journal

Google Science Journal is a free app that allows you to gather data about the world around you by harnessing the sensors in your smartphone. It has more than 70 hands-on science activities and also additional experiments are available as a free download from Google partners like the Exploratorium, Science Buddies, and others.

One can simply start using the app by logging in and the sensors in a smartphone are used to measure things like sound, acceleration, and light intensity. One can also add external sensors for added functionality. This can help students conduct experiments and record their observations on multiple projects such as building a weather station or testing body conductivity. Furthermore, the platform filters the experiments conducted on the basis of grade level, features, and duration.

Watch this ToolBox activity - Fun with Friction that can be used with accelerometers in your phone to investigate motion. Experiments like these will help increase engagement among kids with science

Google Jamboard

Google Jamboard is a digital, cloud-based whiteboard product available on G-Suite. If you want to use Jamboard as a real whiteboard, you can purchase the 55 inch LCD touch tool from Google or you can also use the application from your phone or computer in the same way you would use other apps on G-Suite apps. Google enables the Jamboard service by default to all G Suite users. Jamboard allows multiple users to collaborate on the same documents, spreadsheets, slideshows, and more. Thus, it’s immensely useful in class.

Google Jamboard can be of great help in remote teaching as it works digitally as an app so it can be used on tablets, phones, and other devices. It'll even work via the web using Google Drive so it is really widely accessible. The updated Jamboard phone apps for Android and iOS allow you to draw, add notes or images, and insert content from Google Drive, among other features. Looking to get started with Google Drive? Jump straight ahead and watch this masterclass: how to use Google Drive in your classroom.

To effectively make use of the Jamboard, it is crucial to integrate important applications. To begin with, one can integrate Screencastify from the Chrome Web Store to record themselves explaining how to solve an equation. Furthermore, as Google Jamboard is part of the G Suite of apps, it integrates seamlessly with Google Classroom. Using both, one can create an assignment and attach the Jam in the ‘students can view’ option. This will let all the students have read-only access. This can then be used as notes during the lesson.

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3 Ways To Help Students Overcome Math Anxiety

Mathematics has long been the bane of many a child’s existence. It is a subject that is deemed as crucial, time and again. At the same time, a large number of students express many emotions towards it including fear, disdain, anxiety, and plain hatred. Why does math bring out such strong feelings in children? And in teachers and parents? 

Many teachers and parents, unfortunately, have the tendency to believe that students are “just not trying hard enough” in math. And sadly, many parents and teachers often fail to notice if children have actually developed anxiety towards the subject.

Math anxiety is real. It is a negative emotional reaction to mathematics that can be debilitating. This anxiety is not restricted to tests or classroom settings only but is present in real-world situations too. The worst part is, even when students know how to solve a math problem, the anxiousness can numb them. Let’s examine the different facets of math anxiety and see how we can all better support children.

Why the anxiety?

There could be several reasons for this:

  • Fear of embarrassment: Children who are scolded publicly by teachers or ridiculed by peers for being wrong, scoring less marks, or not performing well in math are prone to developing math anxiety.  

  • Parents’ predilections: As a parent, if you tell your kids, “You are not a math person”, “You are not good in math” or share your dislike towards the subject, it can influence them to not like the subject. Comments such as “I was never good in math” or “I can’t solve this”  can influence  kids to think, “If my parents aren’t/couldn’t be good in math, then how can I?”

  • Teachers’ attitudes: Teachers can make or break a child.  When pupils don’t understand certain concepts, the responsibility of the teacher is to help them learn and understand rather than assuming that the pupils have not tried hard enough or worked enough. Giving mathematics problems as punishment is the final straw!

How do you know if a child has math anxiety?

Here are some common signs of math anxiety:

    – Panicking, getting irrationally irritated, or getting teary-eyed before or during math classes, tests, and exams.

    – Constantly saying, ‘I hate math, I can’t do it’ and giving up easily.

    – Coming up with excuses to avoid doing math homework or avoid going to math classes, math tests, or quiz session days.

How to overcome math anxiety?

Anxiety impacts learning big time and children could get stuck in a vicious cycle because they are anxious. If you think your child or student shows math anxiety, the first step to take is to work on your child’s emotional intelligence. When a child considers the problem unsolvable, they engage in emotion-focused coping by working to tolerate and control distress. The child’s strategies to deal with it are a part of emotional intelligence which includes awareness, understanding, and the ability to express and manage one’s emotions. A strong emotional intelligence build-up aids in children’s coping mechanisms with regard to anxiety. 

Here are a few simple steps to aid them in overcoming this anxiety:

  • Step 1: Make the basics strong

A lot of times students try to solve math problems for the “here and now” i.e. to complete the homework or to be able to score well in one test or exam. However, skill-building in math requires a strong grasp of the foundational concepts. Adopting a gamified way of learning to ace the basic skills can help the children. Activity-based learning will go a long way towards making math fun. As an example, here is a specially-designed math activity on multiplication from Learning Matters’ grade 3 ToolBox (activity kit) called Lattice Multiplication. If you’d like to know more about the math activities in ToolBox for various grades or want to learn more about ToolBox, Contact us.

Talk to your kid’s maths teacher and work together to eradicate your kid’s stigma towards mathematics. If your kid feels suffocated working in a group due to fear of embarrassment, invest time on them, and resort to individualized learning. Set aside a little time every day to systematically review basic maths concepts. The foremost thing here is to be patient with your kid and let them advance, step by step, at their own pace. A lot of times when a kid is promoted from one standard to the other with 60%, what about the remaining 40%? Ensure the kid practices the concepts he/she is weak with even after exams and is thorough with it before starting the new grade. The basics are imprinted strongly in a kid’s mind when he/she is able to recall it. Thus, one should look at a consistent and steady schedule of practice so as not to lose touch with the basic concepts. This goes a long way towards instilling confidence.

  • Step 2: Practice amalgamation of concepts

Typically, teachers impart lesson 1 and a test on lesson 1 and then lesson 2 and a test on lesson 2. But in the semester-end or term-end exams, there might be questions which require the students to use the concepts learned in lesson 1 & 2 together. Mathematics usually has problems where one has to use various concepts together. So, once children are confident with the basics, give them exercises that combine different concepts.  When students use different concepts together, it helps them build on their retention power.

  •  Step 3: Give practice tests

At times reading and re-reading the material during the revision period prior to an exam makes one numb. Typically, we tend to forget 60% of a new concept learned within a day. 

So make your kids take random math quizzes or tests at home. This will reduce the phobia towards class surprise tests as well.  Ensure you don’t pressurize kids to perform exceptionally well in these tests. These trial drills are to be conducted only to make them confident. Avoid any kind of punishment or negative feedback that could demotivate them. These tests should aid them to build confidence and not trigger anxiety.

Taking a calm and composed approach towards your kid’s learning is highly essential. The whole idea is to normalize the concept of mathematics to children. A wise man once said, “Good mathematics is not about how many answers you’s about how you behave when you don’t know”. Teach your kids to be cool-headed when they don’t know the answers. With patience and a plan, you can definitely help your child overcome math anxiety. However, if you think the anxiety is severe then do seek professional counseling.

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3 Great Ways to Power up Your Parent Communication

Even though the pandemic disrupted the education segment severely it also fast-tracked the adoption of technology in teaching and learning. Digitally-driven classrooms are gearing up for changes as schools are now gradually reopening and the need to include parents in every conversation has become more imperative now than ever.

Why Home-School Communication?

Even though schools will reopen in a phased manner with precautions, managing apprehensive parents who are dubious about sending their children to school is going to be a challenging task,among many others, for school authorities. Communication becomes the key to tackle this issue.

Effective communication between home and school is critical for student achievement. Achieving the perfect sync between communication channels and the school’s goals and values of education is the foundation of successful home-school partnership.

Here are 3 ways in which educators can ace home-school communication:

1. Establish Clear Expectations

The majority of challenges with parents can be diminished by setting up clear expectations initially. State the do’s and don’t of communication clearly - what parents can expect from you, the modes you will use to communicate with them, what you expect from them, and what you expect from the students - to avoid confusion. Stick to a schedule to send out your communications so that families know when to look out for these. Establish a process for follow-ups such as first email, then sms, then a phone call. Make it a point to be responsive, forthcoming, and prompt in your communications. Furthermore, adapt to new situations quickly to continue the effective engagement. Remember, if you are a model of prompt, clear, and good communication, the families will follow suit.

2. Simplify Communication

Parents in any given school generally tend to have various levels of education. So, schools need to ensure that the communication should be carried out in an easy-to-understand manner. And, schools also need to realise that one size may not fit all. They may need to use several different methods to reach all families. Teachers need to be observant and notice if all parents are noting and responding to the messages shared. Simplified written communication can help to avoid misunderstandings. Communication might sometimes need to be done in local vernacular languages as well to reach all parents. Check with your school management about adopting this measure.

3. Encourage Engagement of Parents

How involved do you want parents to be? This is a very debatable topic indeed. Some teachers have experienced an onslaught of helicopter parenting with the shift to online classes. Others complain that they are simply unable to catch the attention of parents, no matter what they do. While the over-involvement of parents in online classes is a real problem, there still is a need for a basic level of parental involvement for holistic learning. When evaluating parent communication strategy, teachers need to convey that parent engagement is critical to a student’s success at school and in life. Teachers can send out surveys to parents related to student’s behaviour which will help them to understand each student as a person and a learner. This is also a great way to indulge in conversation with the parents to build good relationships.

Successfully managing home-school communication is a continuous process. Schools alone cannot address all of a child's developmental needs. Thus, there is always a constant need to have a strong partnership between schools and families to educate children. In simpler times, this relationship was natural and easy to maintain. Now as there is a paradigm shift in the education sector, even simple communication requires more thought and focus as it can prove costly when not done right.

Read: Effective Communication Strategies for Teachers with Parents

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As Simple as a Simile

as simple as 

A simile is a figure of speech that compares two different things with one another by using the words ‘like’ or ‘as’. It is crucial to use ‘like’ or ‘as’ because without these words, the comparison might actually be classified as a metaphor, or just be confusing to readers. Similes are considered to be one of the best tools for writers to create vivid mental images that spark readers’ imagination while simultaneously getting the information across.

Thus, to make the experience of reading entertaining and to captivate the reader, similes are very useful. In fact, similes should be part of your everyday speech as well as they accentuate spoken language by making it colourful and interesting.

Similes usually use hyperbole, or exaggeration, for emphasis and are found frequently in both poetry and prose. The main point to remember before creating a simile is to include a primary term - the term that conveys the literal entity to be described - and a secondary term - a term that is used figuratively to add meaning. For example, in the simile ‘The dog’s fur felt as smooth as silk’, the primary term is ‘dog’s fur’ and the secondary term is ‘silk’.

Similes are often confused with metaphors. Well, compared to metaphors similes are easy to detect as they use ‘like’ or ‘as’. While all similes are metaphors, not all metaphors are similes. Check out the following examples to understand similes better.

1. As cute as a kitten

Just picture a wide-eyed, round-bellied, soft, stumbling kitten. That adorable, helpless little thing! Kittens most certainly trigger cute reflexes among humans. Basically, when you want to call someone cute, you can compare them to someone or something that people generally consider cute.
Example: My nephew in his birthday outfit looked as cute as a kitten. Orange really is his colour!

2. As tough as nails

This means being strong, stubborn or determined. This simile can be used both positively and negatively. When used as a compliment, it means that a person can handle any problem and keep enduring. When used as an insult, it can mean that a person is unfeeling, cold, or harsh.
Example: She's as tough as nails - exactly what we need on our football team.

3. Dead as a doornail

The term ‘dead as a doornail’ was used in the 1500s by William Shakespeare, and in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol in 1843. Back in the day, doornails were hammered into a door by clenching them. When a nail has been clenched, it has been dead nailed, and is not easily resurrected to use again. So, this term is used to indicate being unquestionably or certainly dead.
Example: Times are bad; the market is dead as a doornail.

4. Smart as a whip

This simile alludes to the sharp crack of a whip which is used to indicate being bright, clever and alert. In the days of horse-drawn vehicles, one kept the horses going by flicking or cracking a whip near the animal and that resulted in a quick reflex of the horse getting alert and going faster. The expression must have arisen from this.
Example: Everybody says Tony is smart as a whip and also good with people. Those are the things that make a good manager and he is a great manager.

5. Hurts like the devil

This means pain of great intensity.
Example: Earlier I stubbed my pinky toe on the chair and man, it hurt like the devil!

6. Slept like a log

Logs are immobile and difficult to move, just like someone who is sleeping very soundly. Thus, this simile is used to indicate a good sleep. The simile ‘slept like a baby’ is also used to indicate the same. While babies don’t sleep deeply, they do sleep untroubled and peacefully, something we all wish for.
Example: After a good south Indian meal, I always sleep like a log. I think it's the rice that makes me so sleepy.

7. Happy as a clam

As open clams give the appearance of smiling, this term is used to describe happiness. The fuller version of the phrase is 'as happy as a clam at high water'. Hide tide is when clams are free from the attention of predators. Thus, the happiest time for clams is during high tide or high water. However, the expanded version of the simile is rarely used compared to the shorter version.
Example: Sharath is happy as a clam now that he has been shortlisted for the college’s cricket team.

8. Clean as a whistle

This simile has three different meanings. The meaning depends on the context in which it is used. It is used to indicate something being extremely clean (like a brand-new whistle), something that is very clear, direct and easy to understand (like the sound of a whistle), and a person who is extremely honest, ethical, or free of any guilt or wrongdoing.
Example 1: Rahul is so clean and organised. His apartment is as clean as a whistle!
Example 1: So Seema, have you understood your responsibilities in this important project? Yes, absolutely Gayatri. Your directions were as clear as a whistle.
Example 1: The new mayor is clean as a whistle, I heard. Hopefully the city will see more progress and better days under his jurisdiction.

9. Like watching paint dry

This indicates (having to do) something dull, boring or tedious. It’s not interesting at all to watch paint dry, is it?
Example: That movie was so slow and the plot so bad... It was like watching paint dry!

10. White as a ghost

This means extremely and unnaturally pale, either due to fear or illness. One can also use the similes ‘white as a sheet’ or ‘pale as a ghost’ to mean the same.
Example: My diabetic grandfather went white as a ghost when he was caught by mom in the middle of the night bingeing on laddus.

The simile is an essential literary device for writers of both poetry and prose as it can give deeper meaning that goes beyond what’s on the page. It is also a great way for writers to show their creative side. Unlike other literary devices such as onomatopoeia or homophones that our previous ‘Vocabulary Matters’ chapters elaborated on, anyone can easily make up or create their own original similes from scratch.

We are all ears, if you have any interesting and original similes to share with us. After all, each one of us is as creative as …... can you help us complete this simile? 🙂