10 Powerful Ways To Reconnect With Your Teen And Strengthen Your Relationship

10 Powerful Ways To Reconnect With Your Teen And Strengthen Your Relationship

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As parents, we all want to have a strong and loving relationship with our teenagers. However, as they grow older and become more independent, it can be challenging to find common ground and keep the lines of communication open. That’s why taking intentional steps to reconnect with your teen and foster a positive relationship is so important. 

The teenage years can be a challenging time for both parents and adolescents. It’s a time when your child is going through various changes physically and emotionally, which can cause stress and tension in your relationship. 

As a result, you may feel like you’re losing touch with your child, who once loved spending time with you and wasn’t embarrassed to be seen with you. If you’re in a similar situation, don’t despair. It’s never too late to reach out and try new ways to connect with your teenager. By making an effort to prioritize your relationship and show your teen that you care, you can build a foundation of trust and love that will last for years to come.

In this blog, we explore 10 powerful ways to reconnect with your teenager and strengthen your relationship, providing you with practical tools to handle this difficult period. 

1. Show Love Often While Also Allowing Them Adequate Space. 

Regularly expressing love and appreciation towards your teen can profoundly impact their emotional well-being and development. It is a simple way to reconnect with your teen, yet many parents overlook it, especially when your teen seems not to enjoy the affection. However, it is still important to let them know you love and support them.  

Many teenagers go through a phase where they may feel neglected and unloved. During this phase, it becomes even more important to express your love to them regularly. Telling your teen you love them often can make them feel valued, secure, and confident. 

Frequently telling your teenager you love them is crucial as it gives them someone to trust and teaches them that they are valuable. Showing your teen that you love them helps to build a relationship of trust between you and your teen. Knowing they are loved unconditionally assures them they have someone to rely on. 

To connect with your teenager, tell them they are loved. By expressing your love verbally and through actions, you can create a positive environment where your teenager feels loved, supported and valued. Moreover, expressing love towards your teen helps them recognize their self-worth beyond what they accomplish. 

2. Listen actively: Give your teen your full attention when they are talking to you.

Active listening is critical when it comes to effective communication and trying to reconnect with your teen. Giving them your undivided attention when they are talking to you shows that you value their thoughts and feelings. This can help strengthen your relationship and foster trust between you and your teen.

Body language plays a crucial role in active listening as well. Maintaining eye contact, nodding, and leaning in can signal to your teen that you are fully engaged in the conversation. Avoiding distractions, such as checking your phone or watching TV while you speak, is equally important.

Refraining from interrupting or jumping to conclusions when listening to your teen is equally essential. Let them finish expressing themselves before responding. Paraphrasing what they said back to them can also show that you understand their message and care about what they’re saying.

By practising active listening with your teen, you’re showing them respect and modelling healthy communication skills for the future. When teens feel heard and validated by their parents or caregivers, they are more likely to open up and seek guidance when faced with challenges or difficult situations. You will connect with your teen when they feel you are a safe place for them to open up to. 

3. Avoid criticism: Focus on the positive things your teen is doing rather than criticizing what they’re not doing or could do better.

As parents, it’s easy to fall into the trap of criticizing our teenagers. We may believe we’re helping them by pointing out what they’re doing wrong or how they could improve. However, criticism can harm their self-esteem and lead to resentment towards us. Instead of focusing on the negatives, we should highlight the positives to reconnect with your teen.

Two studies conducted on the effects of parental praise and criticism found the way parents praised their children was related to how their children set goals for learning. If parents gave positive praise, the children were likelier to have good learning goals. On the other hand, if parents criticized their children, they were less likely to believe they could improve and learn better. 

However, avoiding criticism doesn’t mean ignoring lousy behaviour or letting our teens off the hook when they make mistakes. We should focus on positive reinforcement and constructive feedback instead of negativity. We can help our teenagers feel valued and motivated to continue doing well by highlighting the positives.

Positive reinforcement can go a long way in shaping behaviour and building confidence. One way to do this is by giving praise when it’s due. If your teen cleans up after themselves without being asked, tell them you appreciate their responsibility. If they get a good grade on a test, congratulate them on their hard work paying off.

Another approach is to acknowledge effort rather than results. Maybe your teen didn’t make the first team in their sport, but they worked hard during practice and improved their skills. Let them know you see how much effort they put in and that you’re proud of them. Focusing on progress instead of results helps teens to understand that success requires consistent effort. 

When teens are solely praised for their achievements, they may become discouraged or disheartened when they don’t achieve them. Acknowledging their efforts and progress encourages them to keep trying even if they don’t always reach their goals. 

It also helps them recognize that every step towards their goal is a success and motivates them to continue working towards it. This helps build grit and resilience and increases their confidence and self-belief. This is essential to the 9 Scholar Success Habits Framework we teach at GT Scholars. This free expert-led parent webinar will help you discover the 9 Scholar Success Habits. 

4. Offer growth opportunities: Encourage your teen to try new things and take on challenges.

Adolescence is a critical development period, and offering growth opportunities can help your teen build confidence, develop new skills, and discover their interests. Encouraging your teen to try new things and take on challenges is one of the best ways to foster growth. You can start by asking your teen about their hobbies or interests and help them explore options that align with those activities. This will help show your teen you are interested in their lives and help you reconnect with them on a deeper level. 

However, growth doesn’t always come easy; sometimes, it requires stepping outside our comfort zones. Encourage your teen to push themselves beyond what they think they can. Let them know you believe in their abilities and give them space to figure things out independently. If your teen struggles with a particular activity or challenge, offer guidance and support without being too pushy.

One way of encouraging your teens to do difficult things and push themselves to grow is to help them develop a growth mindset. A growth mindset is about believing that one’s intelligence, talents, and abilities can be constantly improved through hard work, dedication, and effort. 

Teaching your teen about the power of a growth mindset can be incredibly beneficial. It can help them to approach challenges with enthusiasm and perseverance rather than fear or defeatism. It can also help them to embrace failure as an opportunity to learn and grow.

Encouraging a growth mindset might involve praising your teen’s effort rather than their natural ability. For example, instead of saying, “You’re so smart” after they get an A on a test, you could say, “I’m proud of how hard you worked”. You could also encourage your teen to stretch themselves by taking on new challenges and trying things outside their comfort zone.

By helping your teens develop a growth mindset, you can equip them with the tools they need to reach their full potential and thrive in all areas of life. You can learn more about developing a growth mindset in your teen by reading our blog here

5. Celebrate their small wins: Celebrate milestones and accomplishments, no matter how small. 

Celebrating successes is the best part of any endeavour. It’s finally getting to enjoy the reward of all the hard work. However, it is equally important to take the time to acknowledge your teen’s achievements, no matter how small they may seem. Celebrating and acknowledging their small wins is a great way to reconnect with your teen. 

Celebrating the small wins can boost morale and encourage continued progress in your teen. Recognizing and appreciating their efforts and hard work shows them that their accomplishments matter to you. This builds their confidence and motivates them to set and achieve even more goals.

Celebrating your teen’s milestones is an excellent way to encourage positive behaviour. It demonstrates that they can achieve great things, whether small or big. For instance, celebrating when they perform well in school or accomplish a challenging task can inspire them to continue striving for excellence. Additionally, celebrating milestones gives your teenager a sense of accomplishment, which is crucial for their emotional and mental well-being.

Also, celebrating milestones with your teen creates lasting memories they will cherish for years. These memories will be a source of joy and happiness for you and your child while strengthening your bond as parent and child.

You may be thinking does that mean I have to throw a big party or spend lots of money on a gift for my teen every time they accomplish something? Not necessarily. It can be as simple as taking a moment to reflect on all that they have accomplished so far and expressing gratitude for the effort that has been put in. 

Celebrating your teenager’s milestones, regardless of size, can go a long way in boosting their self-esteem. By acknowledging achievements along the way, we can create a positive environment that helps motivate our teens towards their goals and personal growth. Let’s take the time to recognize and celebrate every milestone our teens reach on their journey towards becoming successful adults.

6. Provide support: Let them know you are always there for them, no matter what happens.

Adolescence can be a challenging phase in life, and teenagers often face difficulties such as peer pressure, academic stress, and the pressure of making important life decisions. Parents must provide support during these times as it can make all the difference in their teen’s life. As a parent, you must let your teenager know you are always there to support them no matter what happens.

One way to show support is by being present and available when your teenager needs you. Create an open and safe space where they can express themselves freely without fear of judgment or criticism. Let them know that their feelings matter and validate any emotions they share with you. Active listening plays a significant role here as it helps parents better understand their teenager’s perspective.

Another way to support is by offering practical solutions when your teenager faces a problem. Brainstorm ideas together on how to solve the issue and encourage your teen to formulate their solutions too. This not only empowers them but also helps build their problem-solving skills. 

The most successful people know they need a support system to build incremental and monumental success in their lives! By providing your teen with a mentor, you provide the necessary support to help them stay motivated and get ongoing accountability and guidance. Read more in our blog on the 7 reasons why every young person needs a mentor

Finally, ensure you check in with your teenagers regularly, even if they are unwilling to communicate. Remember that providing support is an ongoing process, and it is essential for parents to remain vigilant and be a support system for their teens. Sometimes just knowing someone cares can make all the difference in their life. 

7. Offer guidance rather than control: Help them make decisions without taking over or dictating their choices.

As parents, we all want the best for our teenagers. However, as they grow older, they start forming opinions and making decisions. It’s important to remember that while guiding them is necessary, trying to control or dictate their choices may lead to rebellion and resentment.

Offering guidance instead of control means giving your teenager the tools to make informed decisions. Encourage them to think about the consequences of their actions and provide them with the space and freedom needed to explore their options. This will help them learn how to make responsible choices on their own.

Encouraging independence and establishing boundaries can equip your teen with the capacity to make constructive decisions and feel empowered to exercise their judgment. Studies have demonstrated that this sense of self-determination reduces rebellious behaviour, encourages creative thinking, and improves the parent-teen relationship.

It can be tempting to step in and take over when you see your teenager making a mistake or heading down a path that concerns you. Allowing your teen to make mistakes and learn from them is crucial for their development because it helps them develop autonomy, resilience, and problem-solving skills that are essential for success in adulthood. Offer suggestions if asked but try not to push your opinions onto them. This will help you strengthen your relationship and reconnect with your teen. 

8. Show interest in their interests: Ask questions about what they like and share their excitement.

As a parent, showing interest in what your teen enjoys is essential. This helps to build a stronger bond between you and your teen and shows them that you care about their happiness. It can be challenging to keep up with your teenager’s interests as they constantly change. However, taking the time to learn and explore their passions can make all the difference.

Did you know that research has demonstrated many positive benefits associated with being supported by actively engaged parents? Studies indicate that teens whose parents play a more active role in their lives may have lower behavioural problems than teens whose parents are less involved. Therefore, showing interest in your teen’s interests and passions is essential.

One way to show interest in your teen’s interests is by asking questions. For example, if your teen enjoys playing video games, ask them which games they like and why. You can also ask about strategies or techniques they use while playing. By showing genuine curiosity and asking open-ended questions, you allow them to share more about their interest.

Another way to show interest in their interests is by participating in activities with them. For example, if your teen enjoys hiking or yoga, offer to join them on a hike or take a yoga class together. Ask them for recipes or bake together if they enjoy cooking or baking. Participating in an activity your child loves shows them that you value their hobbies and enjoy spending time with them. This quality time will help you reconnect with your teen and strengthen your relationship. 

9. Respect their privacy: Give them space when needed, and don’t snoop!

Privacy is an essential aspect of a teenager’s life. As parents, it’s our responsibility to respect their privacy while ensuring their safety and well-being. Teens need space to develop their identity, learn independence and self-reliance, and explore their interests without too much parental interference. Giving them their privacy shows that we trust them and value their ability to make responsible decisions. Building trust in the relationship with your teen can help you reconnect with your teen. 

Allowing teens privacy gives them time for introspection, self-exploration, and emotional regulation. It is crucial to distinguish when it is appropriate to invade teenagers’ personal space and when not. According to research conducted by Bobby Laird and his team over time, intrusive monitoring by parents of well-behaved kids can do more harm than good. However, if the child has already exhibited problematic behaviour, such monitoring can be protective. This is because there’s a balance between safeguarding a child who genuinely requires it and intruding upon one who doesn’t need it.

Additionally, providing privacy does not mean disregarding your teenager’s activities entirely. Parents must maintain an open line of communication with their teens while respecting their boundaries. Building trust with our children through mutual respect and understanding makes them more likely to share things with us voluntarily and strengthens the connection. 

As parents or guardians of teenagers, it’s vital to balance respecting privacy and being vigilant about our teen’s safety by having proper communication channels. Giving your teen some level of independence doesn’t mean you’re entirely relinquishing control over their behaviour; instead, it shows that you have faith in them as individuals capable of making sound decisions while still providing guidance when warranted.

10. Practice forgiveness: Let go of grudges and forgive past mistakes.

As parents of teenagers, we often witness them making mistakes. Holding grudges and not forgiving these actions can lead to developing a negative relationship with our teens and negatively impact your attempt to reconnect with your teen. Therefore, practising forgiveness is crucial for maintaining a healthy and positive relationship.

Forgiving past mistakes does not mean that we condone bad behaviour. Instead, it means acknowledging what happened, expressing our feelings about it, and working towards finding a solution together. This approach helps in building trust and understanding between parents and teenagers.

Holding grudges can lead to resentment and bitterness over time. It can also affect our mental health and well-being. Therefore, as parents, it’s essential to let go of any negative emotions associated with past mistakes and move forward with a fresh perspective to connect with your teen. 

One way to do this is by helping your teen understand that it’s not about agreeing with their bad behaviour but instead separating the action from your teen as a person. Encourage your teen to try and see things from your perspective – this can help them find compassion and understanding even if they disagree with how you see it. Additionally, talk to your teen and show kindness towards them without excusing their negative behaviour.

By practising forgiveness, we set an example for our teens to follow. We teach them the importance of taking responsibility for their actions, apologizing when necessary, and making amends. This approach promotes accountability and self-awareness in teenagers, which will benefit them throughout their lives.

Practising forgiveness will help you build a positive relationship based on trust and understanding while promoting accountability in your teen. Remember that forgiveness is not only beneficial for your teen but also for your mental health and well-being as well. Practising forgiveness will enable you to be more empathetic and reconnect with your teen. 

In conclusion, these are 10 powerful ways to reconnect with your teen and strengthen your relationship. However, it is essential to remember that every teenager is different. What works for one may not work for another. Be patient and understanding as you offer guidance without taking over. Your teens will appreciate your support and trust as they navigate through this crucial time in their lives.


Here Are Top 10 Quick and Easy Brain Foods Guaranteed to Energise Your Child’s Body and Mind

Here Are Top 10 Quick and Easy Brain Foods Guaranteed to Energise Your Child’s Body and Mind

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Did you know that the brain consumes about 20% of the body’s total energy, despite only accounting for 2% of our body weight? That’s a lot of energy for one organ! And just like any other machine, the brain requires the right fuel to work efficiently. 

Fortunately, certain foods contain essential nutrients that can enhance brain function, improve memory and concentration, and protect against age-related cognitive decline.

If you often feel your child struggles to focus on their homework, it could be time to look at their diet. While many factors contribute to brain health, including exercise, sleep, and stress management, nutrition is often overlooked. However, the food we eat can significantly impact our brain function and cognitive abilities. With the right brain foods, your child can feel more energised and focused in class and set them up for a successful day at school! 

A balanced healthy diet is the most important way to ensure your child performs at their optimal level. A healthy diet is the foundation for the development of growing children. 

Additionally, including brain foods that can help boost their brain growth helps improve their brain function, memory, and concentration. A healthy mind diet is critical for brain development, and what your child eats can affect their focus and cognitive skills.

In this blog, we’ll be sharing 10 quick and easy brain foods you can add to your child’s diet that is guaranteed to energise their body and mind. Keep reading to find out more!


What Are Brain Foods?

Brain foods are types of food that contain nutrients that have been scientifically proven to enhance brain function, improve memory and concentration, and protect against age-related cognitive decline. 

Brain foods are rich in antioxidants, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. They provide your brain with energy and aid in protecting brain cells, which helps with cognition in areas such as memory, concentration and focus.

The brain is a very important organ. It’s the body’s control centre and allows you to move, think, feel, breathe and more. Because the brain has such an important job, we must provide sufficient fuel and nutrients to help it function properly and stay healthy.

Therefore, the foods we feed our child plays a huge role in the development and health of their brains. We put together a list of 10 brain-boosting foods to keep your child performing at their best:

1. Eggs

Eggs are the number one source of brain food as they contain a nutrient called choline which helps to boost brain health. Studies have linked choline to better mental function and better memory function. Eggs are also rich in vitamins B6 and B12, essential for brain health and development. The folic acid found in eggs is important for the nervous system affecting mood and cognitive function.

One of the other benefits of consuming eggs is the antioxidant lutein that eggs contain. Lutein boosts eye health by providing protection against diseases. But research has also found a link between lutein and better cognition across domains like language, memory and learning.


2. Salmon

When talking about brain foods, oily fish is the most common type of food that is brought up. 

Many studies have shown that salmon is good for brain health and function. Oily fish like salmon is an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids DHA, essential for brain growth and function. Omega-3 provides more oxygen to the brain and allows us to retain new information while still remembering old information.

Omega-3 fatty acids help with the communication of cells within the brain. DHA supports optimal brain function and protects your child’s brain health by allowing it to function optimally. When your child’s brain works efficiently, there is less stress for both your child and their brain.

Salmon is a healthy fish in your child’s diet, packed with nutrients to feed the brain. Besides brain health, it’s packed with protein and is excellent for skin, heart, and eye health. 

However, children, just like adults, have their own preferences. If your child doesn’t like salmon, other types of oily fish contain high levels of omega-3s, such as:

  • Mackerel
  • Tuna
  • Herring
  • Sardines


3. Nuts

Another brainfood is nuts. Eating nuts regularly is good for your child’s brain and is part of the foods that increase intelligence. Nuts are packed with nutrients that are essential for brain health. Nuts contain fatty acids, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which are crucial in many aspects of brain health.

Raw, unroasted hazelnuts, cashews, almonds and walnuts are excellent choices for your child’s diet. They have been linked to better cognitive function, reduced risk of depression, better mood and enhanced memory, learning and attention capacity.

Nuts make for a healthy snack and are convenient and easy to pack in your child’s lunch box. You can also add a handful of your child’s favourite nuts to a side salad at dinner time.

Peanut butter is another great source to benefit from essential nutrients in nuts. It is an excellent vitamin E source and an important antioxidant that protects nervous membranes. Peanut butter also contains Thiamin to help the brain and nervous system use glucose for energy.

Peanut butter is versatile and can be used in many quick snacks and recipes. You could make a peanut butter and banana sandwich or slice up some green apples and dip them in peanut butter to double up on nutrients! 

If your child doesn’t have an allergy to nuts, include them in their mind diet and help provide them with some brain-boosting benefits!


4. Oats

Oats are the most nutritious hot cereals and are very common among adults and kids. Oats provide energy or “fuel for the brain” your child needs first thing in the morning. Oats keep a child’s brain fed all morning at school and are loaded with fibre. 

Additionally, oats are good sources of vitamin E and B vitamins and contain potassium and zinc, making our bodies and brains function at total capacity.

There are many ways to add oats to your child’s diet, especially if they don’t enjoy it as a hot cereal for breakfast. Add a handful of dry oats into a smoothie to make it thick. You can also add oats to a pancake, muffin, or even waffle batter or add them to your granola bar recipe.


5. Berries

Including strawberries, cherries, blueberries, and blackberries in your child’s diet may improve their memory. Research conducted with participants who ate blueberries showed increased blood flow to areas of the brain, improvements in memory and attention to required tasks.

Additional studies with children drinking smoothies made with berries showed an increase in memory tests compared to those drinking non-berry smoothies.

The antioxidants in berries support short-term memory and coordination. Blueberries, in particular, have one of the highest antioxidant values of all foods and are also very low in fructose (sugars) compared to other fruits. These delicious berries can be blended into smoothies or sprinkled on your child’s morning porridge.


6. Beans

Beans are another type of brain food you should try to include in your child’s diet. Beans are a low-glycemic nutrient-dense starch that gives the brain its preferred fuel glucose. Beans are also rich in nutrients, including magnesium, zinc, fibre, antioxidants, and folate. 

According to research, folate is essential for brain function, and folate deficiency can lead to neurological disorders, such as depression and cognitive impairment. These are excellent brain food since they keep a child’s energy and thinking level at peak all afternoon if they enjoy them with lunch.

If you’re wondering how to add more beans to your child’s diet, simply add them to your everyday meals. 

Here are some ideas:

  • Add two or more tablespoons of black beans, chickpeas or green peas to your green salads.
  • Make a delicious soup using kidney, pinto, and black or white beans.
  • You can make a delicious snack by adding black beans to your salsa or making traditional hummus using chickpeas or other legumes.
  • Add soybean foods like tofu and tempeh to your child’s diet.


7. Green Leafy Vegetables

We all know green leafy vegetables are good for our bodies, but did you know they also make for powerful brain food? Adding a healthy helping of leafy greens to our plates can have powerful outcomes on our physical and mental health. Leafy greens include spinach, swiss chard, collard, watercress, cabbage and beet greens. 

Green leafy vegetables are an ideal source of brain-healthy plant compounds, including fibre, folate, and vitamins C and K, which promote healthy brain ageing and mood. Folate is an essential B vitamin that supports neurotransmitter function in your child’s brain. These neurotransmitters are essential chemical messengers in the brain that govern mood and cognition. 

A high-fibre diet also supports mental health by nourishing the gut in many ways. Fibre helps maintain a healthy gut pH allowing for better nutrient absorption. Leafy greens are also fibre-rich, which promotes microbiome health while reducing inflammation in the gut and brain. 

Fibre also reduces inflammation and optimises the health of the microbiota, which produces neurotransmitters for mental health. Therefore eating a high-fibre diet is linked with having fewer symptoms of depression.


8. Yoghurt

Yoghurt is a much-loved healthy snack that you can include in your child’s lunchbox. There are many health benefits of yoghurt. Dairy foods contain protein and B vitamins essential for brain tissue growth, neurotransmitters, and enzymes. Yoghurt also provides protein and carbohydrates for the brain.

Recent research suggests that children and teens need 10 times more than the recommended dose of vitamin D, which benefits the neuromuscular system and the overall life cycle of human cells.

You should include yoghurt in your child’s diet as it has numerous benefits apart from being a brain-boosting food. It helps boost mental capacity, manage depression and anxiety, build stronger bones and helps with promoting healthier skin.

Although all the brain foods we mentioned so far have excellent benefits for your child’s brain health, they must also have a healthy mindset. Having a fixed mindset could affect their abilities at school, and this could mean that they need a little more help than just a change in diet. You can read our blog here to learn more about a fixed mindset and how to change it to a growth mindset


9. Lean Beef or Lamb

Iron is an essential mineral that can help keep your child focused and energised at school. Lean beef or lamb is one of the best-absorbed sources of iron. Beef and lamb also contain zinc, which helps with memory.

However, if you prefer meatless, black bean and soy burgers are great iron-rich meatless options. As we mentioned earlier, beans are an excellent source of iron. Green leafy vegetables are also a good meat substitute, and your child can get their iron supply by having a good portion a day.

Here are some tips to prepare beef or lamb so your child gets enough iron in their diet:

  • You could prepare grilled beef or lamb kebabs with grilled veggies. You could also stir-fry beef or lamb strips with your child’s favourite veggies. 
  • For a vegetarian option, grill black bean or soy burgers, then top with salsa or a tomato slice. You can also add a green leafy salad as a side.


10. Plums and Apples

We all get the midday slump where we’re reaching for something sweet to give us a boost. If you find your child feeling the same during the day, why not add some apples and plums to their lunchbox so they can snack on something healthy? 

Apples and plums contain quercetin, an antioxidant that may fight a decline in cognitive skills. Research has shown that eating plums improves brain function and thinking.

On the other hand, eating apples is linked to a lower risk of many chronic conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Apples may also promote weight loss and improve gut and brain health. Remember the old saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away!”

Knowing the importance of these super-brain foods that can help boost your child’s brain function is important. It’s never too late to include them in your child’s diet!

Incorporating brain foods into our diet is an effective way to support our brain health and function. We can improve our memory, concentration, and cognitive abilities by consuming foods rich in essential nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins.

Eating a balanced diet that includes a variety of brain foods such as fatty fish, nuts, seeds, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables can also help protect against age-related cognitive decline and reduce the risk of developing conditions like depression and anxiety. 

So, the next time you plan a meal for your child, consider opting for brain-boosting food choices that will improve their brain health and keep them energised and motivated! 

12 Ways to Start Meaningful Conversations with Your Teen

12 Ways to Start Meaningful Conversations with Your Teen

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Starting meaningful conversations with your teen is not always easy. You want to connect with them and build a positive relationship that includes good communication, but it can be challenging at times!

Being a teen these days is filled with many ups and downs. Teens experience pressure in many aspects of their lives, and they need support from their parents. In order to help them, you need to gain their trust by starting conversations with them that are authentic and spending time getting to know their needs and interests.

We will be discussing the various ways that you can start a meaningful conversation with your teen and show them that you are interested in their lives and you support them. These tips will help you engage with your teen and improve your relationship with them.

1. Focus On Using Positive and Encouraging Words

Teens may act like they don’t need encouraging words or approval, but they still need it, especially from their parents. When starting conversations with your teen, use positive words to motivate and encourage them. 

Being a teen can be overwhelming. There are always new challenges, goals and tasks that need to be completed. If your teen is going through challenges, use positive words to support them. This will help them overcome the challenges they’re facing and encourage them to work hard and believe in themselves.

Your teen is constantly growing and learning about themselves and what they’re capable of. When having meaningful conversations with them, use words such as, “You’re doing great” and “I’m so proud of you!”. This will increase their confidence and motivation.

By using positive affirmations, encouraging words and being aware of how you communicate with your teen, you will create better relationships with them and motivate them in powerful ways.

2. Allow Them the Space to Express Their Feelings

Did you know that teens love sharing? They want to talk about their day and share their feelings and opinions about things, but they don’t always feel comfortable doing so. In order to have meaningful conversations, you need to create a comfortable space for your teen. 

If you want them to express their feelings, try doing it first. You can share your feelings about certain topics or simply just tell them about your day. This will allow them to express themselves and feel comfortable sharing their feelings with you. 

If your teen is starting conversations and expressing their feelings, make sure that you are validating them. Don’t invalidate their feelings by saying, “This will blow over after high school” or “It’s not a big deal”. Whatever they’re feeling is important to them, so always listen and make them feel like their feelings are valid. 

3. Show Them That You Care About What They Have to Say

Showing your teen that you care about what they have to say is important when having meaningful conversations. You want them to open up and be honest, so when they do, listen attentively and show positive regard to what they’re saying.

For example, when starting conversations with them, always give your full attention by making eye contact and nodding as you listen. Showing that you care through your actions is just as important as your words. 

If your teen is talking about an issue or challenge, show them that you care by offering to help in any way. By offering to help, you allow them to ask questions or address any issues. This will make them feel supported and shows that you care about their opinions and challenges. 

4. Try to See Things From Their Perspective

Think back to how life was when you were a teen. Did you have a parent who had meaningful conversations with you and saw things from your perspective? If not, work towards creating a better relationship with your teen.

Many teens think that their parents don’t understand them and the challenges they face. Even though you faced challenges as a teen, every generation is different. You won’t know what your teen is going through until they communicate with you, but it is important to see things from their perspective.

Always try to imagine what they are going through and how you would react if you were in their situation. Once you understand their perspective, you can communicate positively and build a healthy relationship with them. 

5. Talk About Topics That Interest Them

Teens are not easily starting conversations because they feel misunderstood by their parents. Instead of trying to have meaningful conversations with them about your interests, try talking about things that they like and you know will be interesting to them.

If they enjoy watching movies, try talking about the latest movies that are trending. If they are into sport, try to start a conversation about a sports game or any news related to the teams they support. Encourage them to explore their interests.

Your teen will enjoy starting conversations with you and talking about their interests. This will help you build a healthy relationship with them, where you can have fun conversations and learn about what they like.

6. Spend Some Quality Time With Them

Making time for your teen is important and shows that you care. Spending quality time with them will help them to open up and express their feelings. Starting conversations with them will be easier when you spend time with them regularly.

Look for activities where you can spend time together and participate in conversations. You can ask them to choose an activity that they like. Examples of activities include walking, working out, cooking together, hiking or shopping.

Spending quality time with them and participating in the activities they like will allow them to feel relaxed and comfortable with you. This leads to meaningful conversations where they feel comfortable enough to share things with you. 

7. Support Them Rather Than Criticise Them

Teens are faced with many challenges and feel pressured growing up. Even though they feel pressured, they usually make the right decision. What they need is a parent who supports their decisions and avoids criticism. 

If your teen is doing something that you don’t agree with, start a meaningful conversation with them by stating that you care and you want the best for them. Offer your help and don’t judge them. If they feel supported, they will listen to your advice and make better decisions.

It is best to support them without pointing out what they are doing wrong. If they feel supported, they will easily come to you for help and they will take your advice without feeling criticised. 

If you would like to learn how to support your teen and the opportunities available to nurture your parent-teen relationship, click here

8. Ask Them Meaningful Questions

By starting meaningful conversations that can’t be answered with a yes or no, you are allowing your teen to open up and communicate better with you. By asking them thought-provoking questions, you will learn more about their deeper thoughts and opinions.

If you are asking questions like, “How are you?”, they will most likely reply with one word. Instead, say something like “Tell me about your day” or “Tell me about something that interests you”. This will make them participate in the conversation and keep them engaged.

By asking meaningful questions, you allow your teen to share the best of themselves. They will also have the opportunity to ask for your opinion and advice about a certain topic that they wouldn’t have discussed with you if you didn’t ask these questions. Meaningful interactions encourage self-reflection for you and your teen and build stronger relationships. 

9. Listen to Them Instead of Trying to “Fix” Them

Some parents usually try to fix a problem before they understand it. When starting conversations with your teen, always make sure that you listen attentively to them and only offer advice if they ask for it. 

Your teen needs to feel heard and know that you are listening to them without judgement. Allow them to explain a situation or problem without interrupting them or trying to “fix” the problem. Oftentimes teens will solve an issue on their own and they just need someone to listen to them and support their decisions. 

10. Don’t Force Them to Talk to You

Teens can become very self-conscious and are not always ready to share things. You shouldn’t expect them to tell you everything, but always make sure that they know they can come to you for help and advice.

If you are starting conversations with them and you notice that they are quiet, don’t ask too many questions. Instead, let them know that you care and that they can talk to you when they are ready. Giving them space is important when building a meaningful relationship. 

If your teen is struggling and you would like to learn how to keep them motivated or you want to share tips with them on how to build resilience, please click here to read our blog with tips and tricks on how to stay motivated on a day-to-today basis.

11. Get To Know Them Better

In order to connect and communicate with your teen, you need to get to know them better. You can do this by starting conversations that involve their likes, hobbies, interests and school and social life. 

A way to get them to open up is to find common ground and ask questions that will interest them. Talk about your own life and what you are interested in. If they can relate to you, they will talk about their likes and hobbies. If you don’t have anything in common, don’t panic. This is a great opportunity to just listen.

If you want to start meaningful conversations, you need to try new things with your teen and take part in their hobbies. Let them decide what to do together. For example, if they enjoy photography, you can take photos together or you can ask them to model for them. This will be fun for both of you and you will learn things about each other.

If they feel like you are interested in getting to know them and spending time with them doing something they like, they are more likely to do things with you. This will build your relationship and make it easier to start meaningful conversations.

12. Be Mindful of What They’re Going Through 

As a parent, you feel like you need to tell your teen how they should handle situations but it is more important to be mindful of what they’re going through and allow them to make their own decisions.

Instead of saying “You are not studying or participating in school”, try asking “How is school going?” or “Are you prepared for exams or do you need any help?”. By asking them questions in a sensitive manner, you can help them without pressuring them.

You should understand that their struggles are genuine and very important to them. It’s important to show up for them during their good moments, but also pay attention to the challenges they’re facing and support them through it. 

It can be really difficult for them to open up, especially when they’re struggling, so this is when you have to be patient. By being mindful and sensitive, your teen won’t feel blamed or judged in any way. This will feel comfortable starting meaningful conversations with you. 

Concluding Thoughts

Starting conversations with your teen can be difficult at times. Using the 12 ways above will show them that you care and you support them no matter what. By showing encouragement and spending time with them, you can help them grow into responsible, successful adults! 

Would you like to find out more about how to create an open communication space between you and your teen? Sign up for our free parent webinar, Inspiring Authentic Conversations with Your Teen, by clicking here! You can also get in touch to find out more about our programmes and courses by filling out this quick form.

7 Qualities of a Great Online Tutor

7 Qualities of a Great Online Tutor

Volunteer tutors What's new?

Becoming an online tutor can be a rewarding experience for you and your tutees. Not only do you get to see your tutee improve personally and academically, but you also experience invaluable growth throughout the tutoring process. A key factor that influences the effectiveness of this process is enjoyability. 

By regularly examining your tutoring sessions, you can determine if they’re still enjoyable for you and your tutees. This will help you to identify if you have gotten into a teaching rut. Such a stumbling block can interfere with the effectiveness of your sessions. 

As an online tutor, being aware of these barriers can help you work towards creating an enjoyable experience for both you and your tutee. After all, these are the environments that cultivate the most success. Whether you want to revamp your tutoring approach or you want to make your sessions more effective, we’ve got tips to help you achieve your goals. 

Here we will discuss ways that you can identify when change is beneficial and how to go about implementing factors that can help you to make these positive changes.

Build Rapport

As a volunteer tutor, you play a very different role in your tutee’s life as opposed to the role of your tutee’s parents or school teachers. This puts you in a unique position to offer support to the student that is different from the kind of support they get from others. 

Due to the nature of this type of relationship, your role as a tutor is directly related to helping your tutee thrive. The less effective your approach, the less the tutee will gain from your programme. This means that it is important that the relationship between student and teacher is built on mutual trust and respect. This is just one of the things that a successful tutor does.

The more connected your student feels, the better your student will learn and apply themselves during the programme. It may help to spend time getting to know your tutee better. Ask them about their hobbies, interests, or career aspirations. When you incorporate these into your lessons, you are bound to wind up teacher of the year!

Another way to build a strong relationship is to listen carefully to your student. Without realising it, they could be telling you where they feel you need to adjust your teaching technique. Be attentive when they express themselves and make changes where needed. 

Set Definite Goals for Your Tutees

As an online tutor, it is a great idea to set learning goals for your students. This will help give them a clear idea of what they need to work towards achieving in a given period. You can use the information you gained from their assessments and your initial meeting with their parents to determine clear learning objectives. 

These goals can then be broken down into short and long term goals. For example, you can set goals for each lesson, then per week, and finally per 12-week programme.  When completing your pupil progress planner, write down what information was covered in your session and what needs to be completed in the next session to reach your desired goals. 

Allow for flexibility where, if you notice that your tutee is not meeting their set goals, you may decide to re-evaluate these goals or consider adjusting your teaching approach or style. You may want to regularly review the goals to determine your tutee’s progress. 

Involving your tutee in the planning process and setting goals will help them to understand how important these are and motivate them to work towards achieving these goals. Allowing your tutee to feel like they have a say in the process will increase their accountability to attaining their goals.

Make Your Sessions Challenging and Productive

Being a successful online tutor means making learning relevant to your student. It is also rooted in having a good understanding of the topic you are teaching including various concepts, ideas and principles. By focusing on content relevant to your tutee’s situation, your sessions will be more productive.

A successful tutor will thus be able to adapt any teaching content to suit the needs of their student. For example, you may transform learning content into effective project-based activities or provide opportunities for real, hands-on work instead of abstract assignments or rote worksheets.

Try to provide your tutees with the opportunity for both academic and practical approaches to learning. It helps to make sure that your sessions challenge the student. Be careful not to overchallenge them. This is a common reason for the student to lose interest. Aim for a balance where the content is stimulating but not impossible to grasp.

Prepare in Advance

To be a successful volunteer tutor, you will need to set sufficient time aside to prepare. The students that you tutor are all different. They respond differently to various teaching methods and materials. When you prepare a session, it is useful to keep your tutee’s interests and needs in mind. 

You can start by asking yourself what material and approach would suit them best. It could be that some respond better to tactile learning, while other students prefer a lecture style of learning. Whatever the case may be, adjust the session to meet the student’s needs.

Aim to teach your tutee something new in every lesson. You can also focus on building on previous knowledge. It is useful to include homework for them in your preparation. This helps tutees to put what they have learned into practice. 

The materials that you prepare in advance should be from reputable sources. Aim to use content that is in line with the goals that you set in your lesson progress planner. Aim to use materials that serve a purpose rather than using these to try to pass time.

You can also request that your student send you any information that he needs help with before the session. During your preparations, you can then add this to the lesson. This will give you time to think of ways to best explain or present the work to your tutee. 

Have Clear Expectations

It is helpful for your tutee to have a clear understanding of what is required of them and what goals you are both trying to achieve with the programme. These expectations could include how much time your tutee should try to set aside for homework and extra practice.

Try to set realistic expectations as a student may also be very busy with school work and other extracurricular activities. These should be discussed with your tutee at the beginning of the programme. It is a good idea to note these down so that you can refer back to them.

Try to show your student the benefits of meeting these expectations with simple rewards. Being flexible during the process is important. Especially as your tutee’s circumstances change. This means making adjustments where necessary if your tutee’s workload increases. 

By doing so, your tutee will enjoy their sessions rather than stress about them.

Be Professional and Organised

As an online tutor, the way you approach the session influences the outcome. Be mindful of approaching the session with a lack of enthusiasm, the student may sense this and could potentially view the sessions with the same disposition. 

Even though it is a volunteer tutor role that you are filling, always professionally approach your sessions. This approach shows that you take the learning process seriously and this motivates the student to view it the same way.

Here are some factors of professionalism that you can focus on:

  • Booking your lessons in advance and confirming the date and time of the lessons 
  • Practising punctuality so that you set the precedent for your students
  • Communicating openly with the tutee’s parents regarding challenges
  • Being prepared for sessions by planning enough content to cover during the lesson that it is relevant to the student
  • Showing empathy and understanding to your students and treating them with respect

Being organised will help you to have a considerable impact during your sessions as an online tutor. If you have an untidy work area, messy notes, or no clear thought pattern, this will be evident in your teaching. Your tutee may think that you are not serious about helping them.

It is always great when you take pride in your sessions by having a neat work area, having notes that are legible and being well organised. Your students will see your approach and understand how being organised can lead to more effective learning sessions. You can even show your student how organisational skills can promote clear thinking in any environment.

Encourage Critical Thinking

As an online tutor, try to encourage your student to go beyond fact memorisation. Effective tutors like to motivate their students to share their opinions about various subjects, analyse new ideas, and ask questions about the information they don’t understand. 

Motivate your student to think about the bigger picture and where this information fits in. How can it be applied in real-life situations, how does this knowledge build on what I know now, or how will this help me to understand something new in the future? You can do this by showing them how to become problem solvers and develop critical thinking skills.

This is achieved by applying what they have learned by giving them a real-life problem where they can put their newfound knowledge into practice. 

The Bottom Line

The key to becoming a successful tutor is to always look for ways to improve your methods. By being open to growth and positive criticism, you can work towards making each lesson an effective one. Your tutees look to you for advice and guidance on how to improve in various aspects of their life. Your role as a tutor is directly related to helping your tutees work towards a better future. So, try to make the most out of the time you have with them by making your lessons fulfilling and enjoyable. 

At GT Scholars, we run a range of tutoring, mentoring and enrichment programmes for young people, aged 11-18, across the UK. If you’d like to sign up as a volunteer tutor or mentor, you can get in touch with us by clicking here.

Help Your Child Get Accepted to Oxbridge

Help Your Child Get Accepted to Oxbridge

Oxbridge University What's new?

At GT Scholars, over the past few years, we’ve helped hundreds of young people aspiring to get into Oxbridge. In this blog, we’ll be sharing some need-to-know information about increasing your child’s chances of being accepted into an Oxbridge College.

Why Should You Apply to Oxbridge?

It is a common misconception that Oxbridge is only open to families of the elite and the rare child who understands quantum physics at age of three! However, this is definitely a misconception. Oxford and Cambridge University, just like any other university in the world, are places of learning for individuals with a curious mind.

So, what’s the difference between Oxbridge and many other universities? It’s the high standard of education, the rich history and the many traditions that Oxbridge has kept, dating back hundreds of years. Alumni from these institutions have gone on to become some of the world’s greatest contributors to modern society. 

There’s no denying that the quality of education at Oxbridge is what makes them two of the highest-ranked universities in the world. Being offered admission to study at either of them is quite an achievement in itself.

What Are the Admission Rates at Oxbridge?

There’s no denying that almost every student aspires to study at one of these prestigious universities. This means applications are extremely high. Below is a table of applications and admission rates to both universities for the 2021 term. 

Oxford Cambridge
Applications 23,414 22,788
Acceptances 3,932 4,245
Admission rate  16.79%


With an average admission rate of about 17% overall, it’s quite intimidating. And, there are various factors to consider, like the 80 different courses that one could apply for. The admission rate within these courses ranges from 4% to 50%. Looking at these statistics, it is clear that only the best-prepared students are accepted. 

How Does the Oxbridge College System Work?

This structure at Oxbridge is unique. Oxford and Cambridge are made of different colleges. There are 45 in Oxford and 31 in Cambridge to be exact. Colleges are a collection of historic buildings that form little communities where students live on campus.  

This setup gives students the opportunity to immerse themselves in their studies by being surrounded by like-minded individuals. This adds to their personal development and growth.  

This college system works because it allows students to live amongst each other forming a support structure, socially and academically. It also has the essentials that students require to excel in their chosen studies such as 24-hour libraries and computer centres. Colleges can house between 300 to 500 students, which is a combination of both undergraduates and graduates studying different subjects.

Choosing the Right College

All students at Oxbridge become part of a department or faculty and college or hall. When filling out an application, applicants are asked to choose a college they would like to be part of. This will not affect their field of study and is based on their preference. 

Each college has different attributes that appeal to students. Some of the factors to consider are the size of the colleges, funding and facilities, accommodation and access. 

Applicants are not guaranteed a place at their preferred college, and they may even get offers from other colleges. Students can also state on their application, for the admissions department to find a college best suited to their application. 

We suggest doing research on each college and finding the one that resonates with your child. Click on the link for a list of colleges for Oxford and Cambridge and what they entail.   

Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”.

This means that in order to achieve what we set out to do, we must prepare – “Sharpen the axe”. When put this into the context of trying to get into Oxbridge the sharpening of the tools is the most vital step in achieving this goal.

How Can I Increase My Child’s Chances of Getting In?

Support from parents and teachers is vital in preparing children for Oxbridge. Below are some ways that they can help

Start preparation early

To study at Oxbridge, it is not just the early bird that catches the worm, but the early, prepared bird. Dr Samina Khan, head of student admissions at Oxford, believes that children should start preparing for Oxbridge at the age of 11, and not just when they reach the sixth form. 

Children need ample time to develop and master their passion for subjects. This helps to give them an advantage over others during interviews and applications. Thus, parents should make sure that their aspiring children start preparation early.

Provide additional resources 

To stand out, prospective students need to show true mastery of and passion for the subject that relates to their desired degree programme. To develop this mastery, students should go over and beyond their high school curriculum. 

Their parents can support them by funding their specific extracurricular activities, providing them with books and research resources, and allowing them to do voluntary or even paid work. 

For example, if a student wants to study medicine at Oxbridge, their parents can fund extra science classes, provide them with books and supplies that will increase their skills. They can also encourage them to volunteer at hospitals and other health facilities.

Inform them of their choices

It is important that children are not just prepared for Oxbridge, but also prepared for the journey to Oxbridge. Children need to know what they need to achieve and how much work they will need to put in for them to realise their aspirations. 

Informing children well in advance of the responsibilities of choosing Oxbridge can help to avoid building too much pressure on them during preparation. 

Pressure on any person has damaging effects, but pressure on children to achieve something has lasting negative effects on their young minds and their future. It is also important to know the difference between informing and discouraging children, as you do not want to discourage a child from having aspirations.

Take a tour of Oxbridge

Parents can encourage an interest in Oxbridge by visiting the institutions with their children. Dr Khan noted that children are growing up in an age of Harry Potter, where the traditions and historical appeal of Hogwarts are appreciated and desired. 

Unlike Hogwarts, Oxford and Cambridge are real places of learning. But they still have the charm and beauty of tradition and magical gothic architecture. Visiting would create a desire that will encourage children to earnestly put their minds to get a place. Follow the link for more information on visiting and tour times for Oxford or Cambridge.

Do your own research

The application process is difficult and lengthy. There are forms to fill out and documents to get and interviews to prepare for. It is a daunting task for a child. Parents have more experience with filling out forms and doing interviews. So, they should find out what they need and start collecting documents well in advance so as to decrease the load on their child. Parents should also do research on funding, scholarships, accommodation and other matters well in advance to prepare accordingly.

Get them a mentor

Parents may not know everything. Perhaps they did not go to Oxbridge or they did not go to university at all. And they may not know how to advise their aspiring children. Thus, getting a mentor for their children would do wonders in providing them with all the necessary skills and knowledge they’ll need. 

The mentor could be an Oxbridge alumnus or even educated in the field of interest. This could help them with the application process with resources of interest. It can also help to guide them in the right direction and boost their confidence.

Enrol them in a course or workshop

With 46 000 undergraduate applicants, it would make sense that many prospective students are seeking help when applying to Oxbridge. Thus, there are many courses and workshops available that provide valuable assistance such as developing an outstanding personal statement and how to prepare for interviews. These courses and workshops can also provide important insider information and bursary opportunities. 

Parents provide a vital support system when their children are applying to any university. This support system becomes even more important when applying to Oxbridge due to the high number of applicants, which creates a considerable amount of pressure on children. As you can see, there are several ways parents can make an Oxbridge education possible for their child, which can almost guarantee them to have a bright and prosperous future.

In Conclusion 

The best way to increase your child’s chances of getting into Oxbridge is to be prepared. Learn as much as you can about the application process, courses and key dates. Speak to Oxbridge students and alumni about their journeys into Oxbridge and what helped them gain entry to these universities

GT Scholars know the importance of preparing students for Oxbridge and want to be a helpful part of the journey. We provide a one-day course on how to get into Oxbridge which includes working with Oxbridge graduates, admissions professionals and interview professionals that will show your child how to develop an outstanding personal statement and how to choose a degree course for their chosen career. They will also support your child with preparing for interviews and give advice on A-level subjects and grades required for specific universities and specific courses.

To find out more about the How to Get Into Oxbridge course, contact us here. We also provide an excellent mentorship programme that employs a variety of well-educated and knowledgeable mentors that will give your child the edge over any other Oxbridge applicant. You can find out more about the mentorship programme here.

Understanding The Different Careers In Technology

Understanding The Different Careers In Technology

Careers What's new?

There are many benefits to pursuing one of the many careers in technology. Apart from being in demand, a career in technology can offer flexibility and the possibility to explore multiple domains. Careers in technology are also not just for those who know how to code. There are great options even for those who have more vital soft skills. 

Careers in technology also offer the opportunity to find remote work and there is great earning potential. So, how can you decide which one is right for you? I’ve written this blog as a guide to help you understand all the different career options in technology.

What Are the Career Pathways in Technology?

I’ve mainly divided the careers in technology into four subcategories: 

  • Software Engineering
  • Data
  • Network and Security
  • Management

Each of them has many different roles. As the technological field is always evolving, more positions are becoming available every year. 

Careers in Software Engineering

So, what exactly is software engineering? According to IBM Research, software engineering is: “A set of computer science activities dedicated to the process of creating, designing, deploying and supporting software.

Software engineering is a sub-field of computer science. It involves using computer programming, software engineering principles, concepts and best practices to create and maintain software. 

Software engineering involves:

  1. Gathering the requirements
  2. Deciding the architecture of the software
  3. Creating a design
  4. Writing the code
  5. Testing the code
  6. Releasing the code to customers

As you may have noticed, software engineering is a multi-disciplinary field. It involves many types of roles to create one piece of software. These roles are:

  • Front-end Engineer
  • Back-end Engineer
  • Full-stack Engineer
  • DevOps Engineer
  • Software Engineer in Test (also known as Quality Assurance Engineer)
  • UX Designer

Let’s take a detailed look at each one.

1. Front-End Engineer

A front-end engineer is an engineer who is responsible for building the User Interface of a website or web application. They deal with the part of the application that a regular user interacts with. They care about making the application accessible, beautifully styled, and functional. 

The common technologies that a front-end engineer needs to know are:

  • HTML
  • CSS
  • JavaScript

A front-end engineer also needs excellent communication skills because they often interact and collaborate with non-technical staff. Emotional intelligence skills are also fantastic because a front-end engineer needs to put himself in the user’s shoes.

The average base salary in the UK for a front-end engineer is £50,938 per year.

2. Back-End Engineer

A back-end engineer is an engineer who is responsible for building the structure of the application. They design and integrate APIs, maintain the data storage, and write the business logic. Back-end engineers care about the optimisation and quality of servers. 

The standard technologies that a back-end engineer needs to know are:

  • A server-side programming language: Java, Python, C#, JavaScript, PHP
  • Knowledge of databases: MySQL, Microsoft SQL Server, PostgreSQL, Mongo DB
  • Knowledge of networking: HTTP, REST, etc
  • Knowledge of Version Control: Git, BitBucket, etc

A back-end engineer also needs to have excellent communication skills. After all, they will often communicate with front-end engineers and UX designers because they will be the ones using the APIs created by back-end engineers. 

The average base salary in the UK for a back-end engineer is £57,163 per year.

3. Full-Stack Engineer

A full-stack engineer is a combination between front-end and back-end engineering. They are capable of working on both the front-end and back-end stack of an application. They understand how the two stacks work, especially the interaction and communication between the two. 

The average base salary of a full-stack engineer is £52,025 per year.

4. DevOps Engineer

Another great career in technology is to become a DevOps Engineer. According to TargetJobs, “DevOps engineers build, test and maintain the infrastructure and tools to allow for the speedy development and release of software.”

To be more precise, DevOps engineering is more of a methodology that serves as a bridge between software development and IT operations. DevOps engineering helps companies release products quicker and more efficiently.

The standard technologies that a DevOps engineer needs to know are:

  • Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD): such as Jenkins.
  • Source Control: such as Git, BitBucket.
  • Computer programming: Java, Python, etc.
  • Cloud Computing: such as AWS, Azure, Google Cloud.
  • Containers: such as Docker, Kubernetes.
  • Testing: such as Selenium.

A DevOps engineer needs to be someone who cares about delivering high-quality products to customers.

The average base salary for a DevOps engineer in the UK is £65,821 per year.

5. Software Engineer in Test

A Software Engineer in Test is someone responsible for assuring software quality. They check all the stages of the development process to ensure that software follows the standard set by the company. They guarantee that the products that users will use perform as expected. 

The standard technologies that a software engineer in test needs to know are:

  • Automation tools: Selenium, TestNG.
  • Programming languages: both a front-end and a back-end language. 
  • Source Control: such as Git, BitBucket.
  • Continuous Integration tools: such as Jenkins, SonarQube, etc.
  • Software Testing Tools: such as Selenium.
  • Database and SQL.

A Software Engineer in Test needs to be someone who can communicate well (both written and verbal, as he will need to write documentation). Analytical skills, they need to be able to break down complex software to create suitable test cases. Being organised and knowing how to use time effectively are also significant assets.

The average base salary for a Software Engineer in Test in the UK is £44,403 per year.

6. UX Designer

UX stands for “User Experience”. A UX Designer is someone responsible for creating products that are user-friendly, accessible and a pleasure to use. They care about the user journey and ensure that the product used by the customers leaves them with a good experience.

Some skills that a UX Designer needs to have are:

  • Research skills: understanding what’s essential for the user and how the user perceives the world.
  • Visual Communication: the ability to understand images, layouts, colours, etc.
  • Information architecture: the ability to know how to organise information so that it becomes easy and “sensable” to follow.

A UX Designer needs to be empathetic because they’ll have to put themselves in the shoes of those customers who will use the products. On top of this, knowing how to communicate is a must, as they’ll need to be able to express their ideas to other members of the team.

The average base salary for a UX Designer in the UK is £45,033 per year.

Careers in Data

Data can be simply explained as a piece of information processed by a computer. Nowadays, data is almost becoming a new currency because it allows businesses to understand more about their customers. 

Data is a fast-growing field, and many of the roles available are not yet clearly defined. However, I have gathered at least three main branches that are worth mentioning, and these are:

  • Data Science
  • Data Engineering
  • Data Analysis.

1. Data Scientist

A data scientist is responsible for processing and analysing data into valuable and actionable information to improve a business. They allow us to make more informed decisions. Data science involves different sub-disciplines, such as statistics and software engineering.

Some technical skills that a data scientist needs to know are:

  • Programming: Python, SQL, and R.
  • Statistics and probability.
  • Data management and data visualisation.

Data scientists also need excellent communication skills because they must communicate their findings to those in charge of decisions. Being a good team player and critical thinker can help massively. 

The average base salary of a data scientist is £49,309 per year.

2. Data Engineer

A data engineer is responsible for converting raw data into valuable information for data scientists and business analysts. They create products that will be part of a system or an internal business process.

Some common technical skills for a data engineer are:

  • Programming languages: SQL, Python, Java, Scala.
  • Cloud computing: AWS.
  • Data management tools: Apache Spark, Apache Kafka, Apache Cassandra, Apache Hadoop.

A data engineer needs to have good communication skills, as they’ll need to be able to communicate technical concepts to a non-technical audience. A business-oriented mindset is a great asset, as they’ll need to understand how data can add value to an organisation. 

The average base salary of a data engineer is £56,569 per year.

3. Data Analyst

A data analyst is someone responsible for helping the organisation make better decisions through numbers and data. They estimate the quality of the data, try to understand the meaning of data, and present the data to the upper management.

Some technical skills required to become a data analyst are:

  • Programming language: SQL, Python, Oracle.
  • Data Visualization tools: Tableau.
  • Spreadsheet tools: Excel.
  • Machine Learning: predictive analysis and artificial intelligence.

A data analyst needs to know how to communicate because they’ll need to tell the team about their findings. Problem-solving, as they’ll need to be able to solve any issue that technology cannot overcome. 

The average base salary of a data analyst is £32,170 per year.

Careers in Network and Security

All companies are connected to a network to run their business successfully. This means that we need people to manage those networks and to ensure that they are kept safe and secure from suspicious and malicious attacks.

Careers in Network and Security are in high demand. Overall, I gathered three leading roles that offer great opportunities, but more roles are emerging. These roles are:

  • Network engineering
  • Network administration
  • Security analysis

1. Network Engineer

A network engineer is responsible for designing and maintaining computer networks in a company or multiple companies. 

Technical skills for network engineers are:

  • Knowledge of security management: firewall and security.
  • Knowledge of different operating systems.
  • Knowledge of Python scripting.

A network engineer needs to know how to communicate well, be analytical and be able to troubleshoot problems.

The average base salary of a network engineer is £38,589 per year.

2. Network Administrator

A network administrator maintains the network of a company on a day-to-day basis. They also deal with network hardware. 

Some technical skills for network administrators:

  • Knowledge of computer hardware.
  • Knowledge of system administration.

A network administrator needs to communicate well with coworkers and stakeholders. Being an incredible problem-solver and a critical thinker are also significant assets.

The average base salary of a network administrator is £25,303 per year.

3. Security Analyst

This is another great career in tech. A security analyst is someone responsible for inspecting for any possible attacks or illegal activity. They also design new security systems or upgrade the existing ones. 

Technical skills for security analysts are:

  • Knowledge of computer networking fundamentals. 
  • Understanding of cyber security fundamentals.
  • Knowledge of incident response management.

A security analyst needs to be a great communicator because he’ll need to be able to communicate security incidents to coworkers and stakeholders.

The average salary of a security analyst is £42,687 per year.

Management Careers in Technology

Careers in technology also have space for people with more vital soft skills, which is good at managing people, software products or projects. These roles are:

  • Engineering Management
  • Product Management
  • Technical Writing
  • Scrum Master.

1. Engineering Manager

An engineering manager is someone responsible for helping the software team overcome any issues that might hold them back. 

Some skills that an engineering manager needs to have include:

  • Technical skills: it’s excellent for engineering managers to be technically competent
  • Management skills: they need to be able to communicate effectively and empathetically with both the team and the stakeholders and establish a sense of trust with them.

The average base salary of an Engineering Manager is £54,864 per year.

2. Product Manager

Atlassian gives a great definition of the role of a product manager:

“A product manager is the person who identifies the customer need and the larger business objectives that a product or feature will fulfil articulates what success looks like for a product, and rallies a team to turn that vision into a reality”.

Some skills to become a product manager are:

  • Learn about the fundamentals of product management.
  • Gain business domain knowledge (the users and the industry).
  • Project management skills, perhaps through some certifications.

The average salary of a Product Manager is £52,036 per year.

3. Technical Writer

A technical writer is someone responsible for creating well-written documentation. They spend a lot of time researching to create a piece of paper.

Some excellent skills to have to become a technical writer are:

  • Excellent written skills.
  • Understanding of programming: technical writers primarily work in the IT field.

The average salary of a technical writer is £37,764 per year. The compensation can vary a lot, and often technical writers end up making more often by freelancing.

4. Scrum Master

A scrum master ensures that the team follows the Scrum values. They facilitate Agile software development ceremonies, support the team’s organisation, and teach the Scrum Framework to team members.

Some skills to become a scrum master are:

  • Understanding of Agile, Scrum and Lean principles.
  • Outstanding verbal and written communication skills, as well as listening skills.
  • Pursue a Scrum certification.

The average salary of a scrum master is £62,500 per year.


In this article, we talked about the different careers in technology. As you may have noticed, there are many great options available. You don’t need to know how to code to break into a career in technology. Hopefully, you now have a good idea of what the different careers in tech are and a better understanding of which you’d like to pursue.

Volunteer Spotlight – I think that you can learn critical skills by talking to other people who have been through it already.

Volunteer Spotlight – I think that you can learn critical skills by talking to other people who have been through it already.

Volunteer spotlight Volunteers What's new?

Can you tell me why you decided to volunteer your time with GT Scholars?

I feel very fortunate in terms of the work that I do, which is impactful in some shape or form. I feel that I was able to get into this position because I’ve been very lucky with having a private education. I wanted to try to make it possible for others to realise that there’s an interesting route to go down through University and then into either academia or policy or somewhere in between.

I started looking around for a mentoring programme based on that. It’s been something that I’ve wanted to do for some time to try to help out with things like presentation skills or writing and approaching assignments, and how to make it more systematic and more structured and easier to do and ultimately more successful.

Have you ever had a mentor?

Yes, I have. I have had several, but the most impactful was my second supervisor for my PH. D. who is a scholar of strategic communication and insurgency with a background in journalism and documentary production and several other things. He was someone who I spent many hours talking to about a whole range of things over the last five years, and he really helped me understand that there was more to the work that I was doing than I had initially thought.

What did you gain from having a mentor?

I come from a very focused background in terms of the research that I do and he helped me bring in a lot of other kinds of theories and cultural references into the work that I do. He helped me think about it in a way that was a lot more ambitious and ultimately more interesting as well. His continuing presence and willingness to talk to me about anything in relation to the work I was doing is invaluable to me.

How important has support been in getting you to where you are today?

My job involves a lot of writing and a lot of thinking about data in various ways or using different methods to reach useful conclusions based on diverse data sets. So it’s been driven by the interactions that I’ve had with people who are more senior to me and smarter and more experienced. I would say that it’s everything. The whole approach that I have at work now is a result of an amalgamation of years of receiving advice from people who had more experience.

There are so many people to whom I’m massively indebted for the things I’ve learned from them, whether in relation to methodology or thinking about data or structuring an argument or presenting research.

Why do you think mentoring is valuable to young people?

Well, I think with certain things there is a trick to doing things in the right way, and I wish that I had known that when I was younger, like the importance of time management. I think that you can learn that stuff by talking to other people who have been through it already. Another big part of my job is doing briefings to the various sized audiences, sometimes very small, sometimes hundreds of people at a time.

The importance of public speaking and presentation skills is a critical skill to have. I think that the reason this particular programme appealed to me was the fact that I saw it as an opportunity to talk with young people and get them to do an informal knowledge sharing to an audience of me which isn’t a formal presentation or anything like that.

Getting practice on a week in week out basis, talking about stuff that they learned the previous week or things they found difficult or assignments that they’ve completed or approaches they took towards doing specific things. I feel that could hopefully go some way towards helping them generally in the delivery of presentations and speaking to audiences and comparing ideas.

What have you gained from volunteering with GT scholars?

It has been such an eye-opening experience as to how applied young people are today. Speaking to the mentees I have had regarding their experiences and the challenges they faced with regards to Covid and how they’ve tried to overcome them. All of that has been a really interesting experience for me. 

I hope that the conversations that we’ve had have been even a tiny bit useful for either of them because it’s a challenging time that young people are having to live through today for all sorts of reasons.

What part of the volunteering process have you found the most fulfilling?

The most satisfying thing has been, in both cases, initially that first conversation being quite a difficult interaction, one where neither of us knows the other and don’t know anything about each other. But going from that, having a regular conversation where you know the other person, know your mentee and know what they’re doing and can have a normal chat about what’s going on. I guess the building of familiarity and the normalising of the conversations is, I think, a nice thing, and that’s why I have opted for doing shorter calls more regularly than longer ones.

What do you think is the most important skill in being a volunteer mentor?

I think probably time management, having the regular spot each week and also having regular communication with my mentee.

Is there anything you’d like to add about volunteering with GT Scholars or something that you would like possible volunteers to know?

The programme is really good. It seems to me like something well worth giving a bit of time to support each week. A couple of hours every month isn’t a big thing to take out of your work schedule. I guess that’s something to keep in mind, to get involved doesn’t mean that suddenly you have a really big drain on time.

I encourage other people not to be deterred by worrying about the meetings taking too much because it is useful. You can get a lot done in a conversation or series of conversations.

Scholar Spotlight – I would like to encourage all young people to join this programme because it’s going to help bring out the best in you and help shape you in what you want to achieve.

Scholar Spotlight – I would like to encourage all young people to join this programme because it’s going to help bring out the best in you and help shape you in what you want to achieve.

Scholar spotlight What's new?

We had the pleasure of interviewing one of our scholars recently, who joined our Bright Ambitions programme last term! Faith talks about how the programme has helped her improve areas that she struggled with, build her confidence and ultimately achieve her goals!

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Faith and I am 15 years old. I’m currently in Year 11. I’m very passionate about helping people and my hobbies are sports and cooking. I am part of the sports leadership team in my current school. My favourite sport is swimming and I have been part of a few swimming clubs, in which I have won several medals.

Why did you decide to join GT Scholars?

I joined GT Scholars to help build my self-confidence and improve on my weaknesses. 

I saw some flyers at our school so I did a bit of research and I felt like GT Scholars had a lot to offer and decided that this was something I wanted to be a part of. This is because I wanted to help myself to gain more confidence with reading out in class and public speaking. 

I saw that the mentoring sessions were good because I watched some of the videos and people were talking about it. I figured I needed help with maths too, as I was struggling through a few topics, so I felt like it was a good opportunity for me.

Did you have any other specific goals that you wanted to achieve by joining us and what were they? 

I wanted to be more confident about achieving an A in my subjects, to ensure that I go to a good sixth form. I also wanted to be able to manage my time, organise my schedule properly, and be able to carry out specific tasks without holding on to them for too long. 

And do you feel like you have reached these goals?

I think that I have reached these goals to an extent.

What was your favourite part of the programme?

My favourite part of the programme was when I spoke to my mentor about my goal of studying medicine after sixth form and the fear I had due to the criteria I have to meet. My mentor pointed me in the right direction, and I intend to use her advice. She provided me with articles in preparation for medical school, which I found useful. 

I also didn’t feel confident about reading out in class or answering questions, even if I knew the answer but my mentor, Clare, created this exercise and told me to go and pick a part of my favourite book or write something on my own which I could read in our next session. I had to read it to her and analyse it. I think that helped me a lot because I was able to verbally analyse and express myself more, project my voice and take pauses when I needed to and she gave me very interesting feedback on how I could improve what I was doing.

Some of the feedback she told me was that I could work on pacing my voice. I could pause more in between what I was saying and I could try and add more expression to what I was trying to say. I think that feedback helped me a lot and I intend to use it.

What was the best thing that your tutor taught you?

I would say it was the circle theorem because we hadn’t done that in school yet. It really helped me to get ahead of the class and understand more. My tutor set exam questions from past papers and we looked over them and worked through them.

Can you tell us what your mentor and tutor are like? 

My mentor, Clare, is a very supportive person. She helped me understand the process of going to medical school and some of the things I needed to do that would help me achieve my goal. Clare really worked towards my goals with me. She created schedules, timetables and everything that I needed to know to help me to achieve my goals.

My maths tutor, Sam, helped me to understand topics that I didn’t really get in class. He was very supportive, understanding and patient. I was struggling in maths and he took time off his day to help me with that. I feel like he has helped me achieve a higher grade. I’m going to keep working towards reaching my full potential.

What advice do you have for a scholar that’s thinking of joining one of our programmes?

I think that if someone wants to join this programme, it will be a very good idea because it helps to build your self-confidence. The programme also helps you get a better understanding of subjects that you may not understand and it shines a positive light on what you want to do. I would like to encourage all young people to join this programme because it’s going to help bring out the best in you and help shape you in what you want to achieve.

Volunteer Spotlight – Once you reach your potential, then you can exceed your potential!

Volunteer Spotlight – Once you reach your potential, then you can exceed your potential!

Volunteer spotlight Volunteers What's new?

Can you tell us why you decided to volunteer with GT scholars?

I decided to volunteer with GT Scholars because I felt that my background in teaching could help students who are struggling with school work. So I felt I had something to offer.

Is that why you decided to volunteer in general? Have you volunteered before?

No, I haven’t volunteered before. Yes, that is why I decided to volunteer with GT Scholars.

Can you tell me a little bit about you and what got you to where you are today?

Well, as I said, I have some sort of background in teaching, and I realised there are lots of people out there who need help with teaching. And because I know lots of things to do with English, I thought I could help with GT scholars.

And have you ever had a mentor or a tutor before?

When I was in University, I had a mentor and a tutor. And that experience of having a mentor and a tutor in University, which helped me through my course, made me realise just how important it is to have a personal mentor and a tutor for educational purposes.

What did you gain from having the mentor and the tutor?

Well, just like in school, when you have lessons and you’re noting down things or things that you find difficult or things you find embarrassed to talk about in public before other students. You can have a mentor and a tutor, as I did in the University, that you could bring up with things that you found difficult or things that you’re just, as it were, perhaps maybe too embarrassed to say you’re struggling with and that personal connection that you form with a tutor helps you improve not only your personal confidence, because that’s an important thing that you help students personal confidence, but you also help their educational confidence. They’re able to understand things more clearly.

How important do you think the support has been from the mentor and the tutor in getting you to where you are today?

Well, it’s great to support, first of all, the self-belief that you have; a self-belief in the classroom when you don’t understand things and you continue not to understand things or find things too difficult, you lose self-belief. The mentor gives you that self-belief because you begin to understand things. You understand, they’re not so hard, and it’s not beyond you. And ultimately, I think the tutor or mentor helps you reach your potential, both as an individual and also educationally. Once you reach your potential, then you can exceed your potential. So, a tutor is very very important

Why do you think tutoring is valuable to young people? 

I would say one of the principal values of tutoring is learning how to communicate your difficulties beyond “I don’t understand” or “it’s too difficult”. It also helps the students focus on what they find difficult. So they learn how to focus on the bits they find difficult, on the bits they don’t understand. And that’s the benefit of tutoring is that a student begins to look at themselves as a learner more than they have a tendency to look at them, learning things. They look at themselves. 

They understand what they’re good at, what they’re bad at. They understand how they think. It teaches them how to think. We tend to think that thinking comes naturally and it does, of course, but there’s a way to think and better ways to think. I think all the skills it teaches you, all of those the cognitive skills that you need, and it teaches you to examine your own self cognitively. And that is an important thing about tutoring.

What have you gained from volunteering with GT Scholars?

My principal gain from tutoring with GT Scholars is the personal satisfaction of having a pupil come to me with disbelief in themselves and an array of difficulties that they think are beyond them. And then at the end of the tutorial, not only understanding how to deal with those educational difficulties but equally understanding how to process information and how to think about information and then how to do school work. It’s that personal satisfaction of having someone who doesn’t feel, they feel that school is not for them. It’s not their place. And to come out thinking that school is for them, it is their place. Learning is their place. And in some cases, having students have their horizons expanded rather than just closed horizons. Those are the things I’ve got from volunteering.

What part of the entire volunteering process have you found the most fulfilling? 

I think the most fulfilling thing is helping with their English literature score. That’s always fulfilling because you can really bring out the flavour of literature and poetry to people and enhance their understanding of poetry. That’s one thing. And also teaching students grammar and punctuation. Because when you say grammar and punctuation It’s like Kryptonite to most students. They get scared, they panic. But when you can explain it to them and then it makes sense to them. Once it makes sense, then they can make sense of their own writing and how to write.

So those are the two things I’ve gained, exposing students to literature and understanding just how interesting and important it is, and equally exposing them to understanding grammar and punctuation.

What do you think the most important skill is to be a volunteer tutor?

I think the most important skill is being a volunteer person, you have to want to help. It’s a willingness and a desire to help people and particularly young people. And that is the most important skill you need. I think once you have that willingness to do it, any work that you have to do will propel you to do that. It’s willingness. I would say willingness.

And then is there anything else you’d like to add about your time as a volunteer at GT Scholars? 

Yes. I would just say to other people who want to volunteer with GT scholars. It’s only 1 hour every week, so it’s not a great amount of time and you can interact with students, many of whom I’ve come across do want to learn, they just need some guidance on how to learn. And there is a deep satisfaction that you get when you turn students around and they become self-motivated learners.

Volunteer Spotlight – Tutoring helps to overcome obstacles, and it gives individual attention, which is sometimes actually what’s needed!

Volunteer Spotlight – Tutoring helps to overcome obstacles, and it gives individual attention, which is sometimes actually what’s needed!

Volunteer spotlight Volunteers What's new?

Why did you decide to volunteer?

When it came to Covid, I was worried about my job security, so I started looking into tutoring as an alternative. I thought let’s get up to speed with what I need to do to tutor. It could be an option for me if It materialised that I didn’t have job security. I got all of the GCSE revision guides and student books to get my head back to where I needed to be to think about tutoring chemistry and physics. 

When it became apparent that my job was secure, I thought I’m not going to waste that time and effort I’ve put in. I decided to find somewhere I could use it. I did some Googling and I found GT Scholars and decided that I will try and help somebody and support somebody who needs it and hopefully help them with their long term goal by tutoring them. So that’s how it all came about!

Tell me a little bit about you and what got you to where you are today, with regards to tutoring and your job in general?

So many years ago, I did my degree in animal science. As a child, I lived in the country and I was surrounded by nature and I was always outside turning stones over and seeing what I could find or sketching birds – I knew all of the bird species. I took my GCSE’s in school and I took my A levels and then I didn’t really know what I wanted to do or which direction to turn. I had no main focus, so I just got a job in a call centre. 

I worked in a call centre for several years, but it wasn’t really hitting the spots I wanted it to hit in regards to where I wanted to be. And so I actually went to University much later. I didn’t study until I was 32, actually. So I graduated when I was 35, and since then I’ve been in Zoo education. 

I’ve worked in zoos as a keeper originally and then followed on in the line of the Zoo education. For the last eight years, I’ve been working for an organisation called Zoolab,  we’ve been operating for over 20 years, and we go out to schools with invertebrates and vertebrates and teach national curriculum-based topics, anything from reception class right through to Universities.

You can be on your knees with three to five-year-olds right and then in the afternoon presenting to 20-year-olds. You have to change the style of your delivery to make the presentation appropriate to your audience. 

So during your time at University and at school, have you ever had a mentor or a tutor and did you find it useful? And what did you gain from it?

This is what I love about the GT Scholars idea. When I was at school, I don’t recall so many options available. We did have choices when I took my A levels. It was very much about going to University, but I don’t remember talks about doing things other than University. I don’t recall all the mentoring and guidance so much. 

I just think it’s so important because it’s a crucial turning point towards a path that you’re pursuing for the rest of your life. That path could take you to a career that you love, or it could take you to a career that perhaps isn’t really where you want it to be. Having that additional one-on-one time in the class environment, I think, is so beneficial. It’s extra guidance that as a teenager stepping out into the big wide world is really beneficial. 

There’s a lot going on when you are a teenager and you can feel quite vulnerable. So I think any guidance and support is so important and beneficial, especially for families that don’t have additional support and families from disadvantaged backgrounds. So this is why I really welcomed volunteering for GT Scholars because mentoring and guidance is very important.

Do you think tutoring is valuable to young people?

I think it’s great for self-confidence. I’ve noticed that with my own scholar. One lesson a couple of weeks ago, he actually said to me ‘We’re doing a topic in class that we’ve been doing in our tutoring sessions and I knew what they were going to say. I knew that was the formula. The fact that he knew something and was slightly ahead of the game in this particular topic really motivated him. I think that’s self-motivating because you suddenly feel ahead, which perhaps he hasn’t felt before.

I think there are so many advantages. There’s the potential to improve your work and planning and study habits because you are given homework and expected to work with the technology that interacts with the tutor.  It’s a good learning experience, people in a class of 35 at school often have different levels of learning and different methods that don’t suit everyone. One on one time allows a student to look at a topic that they may not have understood in class and break it down with the tutor by using a method of tutoring that suits that individual. 

Tutoring helps to overcome those obstacles, and it gives individual attention, which is sometimes actually what’s needed. Some people work better by learning in small groups or individually rather than in a big class. I can say to my scholar, Do you have anything you are struggling with within the school that you want to bring to me? Are there any topics you want to bring to me rather than me directing the study? It encourages self-directed learning as well.

And what is the biggest thing that you’ve gained from volunteering with GT scholars?

So much! Really, I’ve had to learn!! The education that I do day-to-day is in groups. But very few times I’ve done one-on-one sessions, so I’ve had to understand different methods of learning, and I’ve had to be patient. It certainly allows you to think about being a bit more patient. There are weeks where my scholar perhaps hasn’t been punctual or he hasn’t attempted his homework and there are weeks he’s been amazing.

It’s about being patient and diplomatic with it, having an understanding that every two students are different and will learn differently. I’ve enjoyed the whole learning experience about tutoring, seeing how it works, and what doesn’t work. 

Tell us about your experience with your scholar

I think as time has gone on, I’ve gotten to know my scholar well. I know what he likes, he likes basketball and because of this, I try to make our sessions inspiring and fun at the same time. When we do our recap at the beginning of each week on our online Jamboard, I have got a big picture of Michael Jordan, the basketball player, and I’ve got six Post It notes on the screen. My Scholar has to answer those questions, if he gets them correct then he gets a digital slam dunk on the screen.

That’s our fun recap at the beginning to just bring ourselves back to speed where we were the previous week. We will then learn a new topic.  I will get my Scholar to tell me some cool facts about Michael Jordan. I think it’s important to make the sessions fun and engaging to make your scholar enjoy learning. 

So what do you think are the most important skills for a volunteer to have?

Patience and adaptability! Sometimes you need to adapt to last-minute changes that may happen, so being adaptable and patient is key. I think a sense of humour is important too. If you can make your sessions more engaging, the scholars remember those sessions.