5 Ways to Pick Presents for the Struggling Student!

You know the saying: don’t punish by deprivation – reward by motivation. But you have to be extra careful when picking gifts for struggling students . Get the wrong thing, and you might just be providing greater distraction. Or worse, you’ll be ending a negative message. Here are some good points to consider:

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1. Pick Presents with a Craft Aspec

These include 700+ piece Lego kits, air fix models that have to be assembled and painted, or robotics kits. These presents help to develop focus and persistence, since it takes sustained effort to produce results. It also gives children a sense of achievement, when they see what they’ve built.
A key point to remember, however, is that you have to build it with them. If you just hand them the box, nothing will get done!


2. Pick “Unplugged” Games

Unplugged games refer to any kind of (usually) multiplayer game that doesn’t need electricity. Most people think of Monopoly or Risk, but there are better options.
Head down to places like Games @ Pi in Singapore, and check out games like Settlers of Catan or Ticket to Ride. When in doubt, ask for Eurogames (the store owners will know what you’re talking about).
These games promote social and family interaction; and because they are less dependent on random dice rolls, they sharpen decision making skills. Games like Le Havre, for example, are great ways to teach concepts like resource management.


3. Identify the Need for Sandbox Versus Competitive Toys
Sandbox toys do not contain an element of competition. Action figures, Lego, or even some video games (e.g. The Sims) can be considered sandbox. There are no real “win conditions” in these toys, as the player is not really competing with anyone.
Competitive toys have a more prominent “game” element, in that a player can win or lose. Nerf guns fall into this category, as do paintball or sports oriented toys.
Children who are more introverted (e.g. don’t like mixing with other students, dislike sports) can gain a huge energy boost from sandbox toys. These toys give them the solitude and “alone time” needed to recharge.
Children who are more extroverted may need to vent, and may actually be calmer and more well behaved after they’ve take their frustrations out in an hour long Nerf war. Just don’t be in the same room when it happens…
(For more on specific toys that can affect your child’s focus, like us on Facebook. We’ll update you on the positive ones).


4. Pick Toys that are Backed by a Book Series

Some toys are derived from book series, such as Hunger Games play sets. These toys can sometimes prompt reluctant readers to check out the books, or at least the movies. And while it’s not on par with cracking open a George Eliot novel, it’s at least a good start.
Some of our tutors can help you out, by accompanying your gift with storytelling or reading sessions from the relevant books. This is best done during the holiday periods, when no one has to rush for exams.


5. Pick Presents with a Collectible Element

For older children (aged 11 and above), pick gifts that are not “complete”. Examples are games with expansion packs, or that are continually supported (most customisable card games are like these).
It’s a little bit deceptive, but once these games hook the players they’ll want the expansion sets. This allows you to gradually purchase expansions and add-ons as rewards for good grades, or for general improvement.
It is recommended that you avoid electronic versions of these gifts, as they tend to be more distracting and addictive.
On that note, LiteTutors would like to wish all readers, students, and parents a very Merry Christmas.
May 2015 be as great a year for you as 2014 was for us!