Since the new curriculum has come in the expectations for our children has increased. The new SATs papers (tests taken at the end of year 2 and year 6) are more challenging than in previous years, yet somehow teachers are expected to reach these new expectations. Not only have the teachers got to reach these higher targets, they also have to do it in such a way that it is fun and enjoyable; at the end of the day they are only children.
Speaking to parents they want their children to meet the desired expectations (who wants to be told their child is below age related expectations) and some are looking else where to help their children achieve this. Employing a tutor is not a new idea and has been used by millions of parents but are they a waste of money? Are there things that you can do to help your child achieve without spending a penny?
There is of course times when a tutor is needed. I have been taught by a very supportive maths tutor but that was when I was struggling with A level maths! More and more it seems parents of primary school children are using the services of a tutor, in my opinion, completely unnecessarily.
There are two areas, which tutors mainly support with, English (including reading and writing) and maths. Both these subjects have stigmas surrounding them. They are subjects we are forced to learn until the age of 16 whether we like them or not and regardless of our ability. This results in parents saying, and believing, they cannot teach their child because they were rubbish at it at school. This is utter nonsense! However, it may mean we have to over come our own fears and dislikes of a subject.
As parents, we are the first teacher our child will have, we are the only consistent teacher our children will ever have. By assuming that schools can provide all the academic teaching our children will need, we are selling them short. I am not for one second suggesting that we should be sitting down and forcing our 7 year olds to learn their times tables parrot fashion. Children need time to be children, to play and have fun.
Why can’t these things happen together? All children love playing with their parents, they love watching their parents learn and struggle with the same things they do. I am a huge advocate of family time, of the importance of playing with our children. It provides a great opportunity of modeling all those behaviours we expect from them, eg coping with losing and winning, struggling to find the correct answer etc.
There are loads of games that could be played to help your child secure those fundamental, basic skills. Things like reading, comprehension, spellings, counting, multiplication tables, hand writing, can all be taught at home with a little imagination.
Test each other, make up rhymes or silly songs to go with words that are tricky, make it in to a game show or create a board game together.
Snap/matching pairs – write out one of the times tables on bits of card, it could be cereal boxes, write the answers on a different card. These could then be used for snap or matching pairs.
Using car number plates – the average number plate has two numbers on them, times them together, add them, subtract them. Use one number from on car and times it by a number you choose. Set each other challenges, who can get 3 right in a row.
Practicing hand writing does not have to be done on a piece of paper, it can be done in sand, on someone’s back, in the air, on the bathroom mirror. You could write a shopping list, a letter to a TV character (they might even get a reply) or a list of instructions to find treasure!
When watching TV with your children ask them questions about what is happening, how the characters might be feeling and why, can they predict what might happen next?
Read for 10 minutes a day with you child and really importantly talk about what they have read.
I over heard some women discussing reading with their children while at the zoo a few weeks ago. I was shocked by what she was saying. She was telling her friends that she didn’t have time to read with her children, how could the school except her to not only read with her children but then ask questions about what they had just read. The support she was being asked to give was completely free and just involved spending time with her children!
What I don’t think she completely understood was that by reading with your child, even for just 10 minutes a day, would have huge impact on the progression her children would make.
There are so many things you can do with your children to support their education that don’t involve tutors. They are things you can do at home with a bit of imagination and are perfect for getting away from the box and spending time as a family. We all know time in a hectic household is precious so if there was just one thing you can do to help your child, make it reading with them every day!