If x equals y and b is the square root of 4ac, how many apples does Little Johnny have to give the teacher? Confused? You're not alone... and that's where Sarah-Louise Hayton of Thinking2Morrow enters the equation.
How would you describe Thinking2Morrow to someone considering enrolling their child in after-school tuition?
We teach maths and English to students of all abilities in a fun learning environment; we support children who are struggling, stretch able students, and coach for internal and external exams amongst other things. And because our courses are tailored, students work on what they need to. We're lucky that we are small and flexible so that we can change our courses to match what your child is doing at school.
Why tuition - do you have a background in teaching?
Yes, 20 years of it. I trained and taught in primary for a number of years both in New Zealand and the UK. I have also taught computer skills in secondary students and to adults. I have always liked the way that the combination of good teaching and computers can make such a great difference to the kids, and I saw that put to effect when I taught and managed an established after-school programme for a few years. Like most things, education is one of those activities where you've got to be flexible and keep up if you're going to get the best from it. So after a couple of years I got hold of the "latest and greatest" education software, put in fun systems like our rewards prgoramme, and opened the doors at Thinking2Morrow. The rest, as they say, is happy history for me and Thinking2Morrow's kids.
Have you always wanted to teach?
Definitely, and from a very early age! I went straight from high school to teacher's college.
Could you run this business without having been a teacher?
For us to be successful an understanding of the NZ school system is crucial. We run our programmes alongside the NZ curriculum and my background allows me to do curriculum-based research for each of our key subjects.
What ages and stages do you tutor?
From Year 1 through to Year 13. With the juniors we work on finding areas that need strengthening, and building onto existing skills. For seniors we follow what they are doing at school and help prep for exams.
How involved can the parents be?
We work very closely to create a partnership where we are working together on the child's education and academic confidence. We start with a free assessment to measure skill levels, then we plan a programme together that is constantly evolving and being modified as their child progresses. A bonus of my teaching expertise is that I have a unique insight into all ages of teaching, for example knowing what primary-aged children will need before they hit high school.
Do you think parents are unduly worried about academic progress these days?
Well there's only so much a school can do. Parents want more, and schools struggle to provide 'extras' outside of mainstream learning. Here, children are tutored in groups of four. Small group learning has proven wonderful fo confidence building, and it is fun and enjoyable (whereas one-on-one can be quite intensive). A confident child will learn more at school - and here, of course.
Are you the only tutor?
I employ carefully selected and trained university students as they can really relate to the children, and the kids' walls come down a lot quicker!
Are the kids tired from school by the time they get to you?
They can be a bit tired, but our methods overcome that. For example the juniors will work for 10 minutes, then a game for 2 minutes, back to work for 10 minutes, and so on. We also have a reward programme where the kids earn points - based on homework, passing tests - and then redeem the points for prizes that range from fun stationery to iTunes vouchers. Working towards this definitely re-energises them!
What's your favourite part of the job?
When I see kids start out below standard with no confidence, then I see them blossom... they come in and tell me they won an award at school. It's truly rewarding and just further grows my passion for enhancing learning through computers in education.
And what do you like most about working here in Remuera?
As cheesy as it may sound, it's my students, their parents and the Thinking2Morrow team that really are the highlight of being here. Yes it involves learning - and homework (lol) - but it's done in a way that's fun, which works for everyone!
Do you have future plans for Thinking2Morrow?
I've had the business for five years now, so I'll just continue to grow it stronger. There are no expansion plans... because it's my own business I can keep it small, boutique, and therefore craft and adapt individualised programmes for our students.
What's something your students and families might be surprised to know about you?
Well they all know Floyd the Shih tzu (who has his own workstation under my desk!) but what they might not know is that his main mode of transport into work is in a backpack, on the back of my scooter, wearing his own custom goggles!
305a Remuera Road
Ph: 520 0220
Photos by Vanita Andrews and words by Fiona Wilson. This article first appeared in the May 2017 issue of The Hobson.