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Archive for November, 2011

August babies less likely to go to University

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

If you are the mum or dad of an August baby then you probably well remember that first day at the school gate, watching your four year old go bustling along with children months older them. You may be the parent of a child who has just started school and you are suddenly acutely aware that they seem months behind ‘older’ children in Reception. A recent study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) discovered a link between the month a child is born in and what they tend to do once they leave school. The study concluded that children born in August (so 11 months younger than the eldest children) were 20% less likely to go to top flight universities. The study also revealed that teachers regard August babies as less academically capable. So if you are an August baby or the parent of one what you can do to ensure academic success?

–          Be actively involved in your child’s education. It could be as simple as reading and talking to them from an early age. You should have constant interaction with school and their class teacher to make sure they aren’t slipping behind and you are doing what you can at home.

–          Emotional and social development. August babies don’t just suffer from academic lag; the few months between the ages of 4 and 5 generally feature a great deal of social and emotional development. It’s worth encouraging activities and relationships that build confidence.

–          Consider tutoring. At 121 Home Tutors, we help all kinds of students (not just August babies!) but it might be that their early start at school has put them at a slight disadvantage. Private tutoring, even at primary school level, can help tackle problem areas early on and help your child develop into a confident student in the classroom. You can read more about primary tutoring in Manchester with 121 Home Tutors here.

If you’d like to know more about primary school tutoring and private tuition in subjects including English and Maths then contact 121 Home Tutors. We have primary level tutors across Manchester and Cheshire (including Knutsford, Macclesfield, Didsbury and Wilmslow).

Learning an instrument, Manchester and private tutoring

Friday, November 18th, 2011

Most people at some stage in their life have either learnt or wanted to learn how to play an instrument. Maybe you tried out recorder or keyboard at school but have had a lifelong interest in learning the saxophone?

Maybe your child has shown a musical talent or an interest in joining a band? A private tutor can be a fantastic way to get the in-depth help you need to really master an instrument or even learn more about the theory of music. At 121 Home Tutors, we know have several tutors across Didsbury, South Manchester and Wilmslow. Our tutors teach music theory and composition so you could be the next Gary Barlow writing smash hits. Or if you fancy learning something new they teach instruments including guitar, piano, saxophone, oboe and flute.

If you are a parent then private music tuition can be a great confidence builder for your child. It’s a great way to move away from the more academic subjects but learn valuable lessons such as discipline. Music is also tremendous fun and can mean anything for a child, from an interesting hobby to a way to connect with other child and even a possible future career.

If you’ve always fancied picking up an instrument yourself then what’s stopping you? Private music tutoring means you can learn in the comfort of your home and work at your own speed. We have tutors who can help you find your ability with a new instrument (whether that’s your voice, a guitar or piano) or work with you on your chosen instrument to get you ready for exams, concerts or gigs.

So what are the key skills in learning an instrument?

1.     Practice really does make perfect. To be really good at any instrument (and this really applies to learning anything) you need to practise. It needs to be regular practise and for a reasonable amount of time. This is vital if you want to progress and improve your ability.

2.     Take things slowly. Playing an instrument can be a hobby for the rest of your life so being good at it will take a while. Be patient with yourself and if you find yourself making mistakes then slow down.

3.     Focus on your achievements. Learning a musical instrument and making progress doesn’t always happen in a straight line. So one day you might be able to master a piece of music only to struggle with it the next day. It’s best to focus on the fact you got their once and can get their again.

4.     There is no right. Yes there are certain technical requirements that come with playing certain instruments but it may be that you prefer playing a guitar standing up than sitting down. Or that you learn music by ear than reading. A good tutor will recognise you have your own way of doing things and work with you to develop your talents.

5.     Be realistic. If you are learning as an adult then you will find mastering an instrument both physically and mentally demanding. Often more so than a child would. You’ll get a great deal of pleasure from playing easier musical pieces well than frustrating yourself with the impossible.

If you need help with music tutoring or learning a musical instrument then 121 Home Tutors can help – we cover areas across Manchester and Cheshire including Wilmslow, Didsbury and Alderley Edge. It’s easy to get in touch.

11 plus – how best to prepare

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

The 11 plus (eleven plus) has just taken place in Manchester schools. If your child is in Year 5 then now is the best time to start preparing them for their 11+ next year.

The 11+ (also known as the 11 plus or eleven plus) is an exam. Students take it in their last year of primary school (year 6). Students who want to get a place at grammar schools take this exam and these schools use the exam to decide who gets a place. There are a 164 state funded grammar schools in England and the well known ones in the Manchester area include Altrincham Grammar School for Boys, Altrincham Grammar School for Girls, Loreto Grammar School, Sale Grammar School, St. Ambrose College, Hale Barns,  Stretford Grammar School and Urmston Grammar School. If your child is in Year 5 then this is an ideal time to start preparing for their eleven plus next year. Good eleven plus tutors get booked up quickly and many have waiting lists, most students need a year or so of preparation before the 11 plus.

If you want to get a place at one of these schools (or another selective grammar school) then you have to take and pass  the 11 plus.

What does the eleven plus involve? It varies depending on where you live in the country but usually involves testing of verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning, maths and English. You can find out more about the specifics of the eleven plus your child will be taking from either the school you are applying to or your local LEA. The 11+ varies from school to school with most schools basing their test on the NFER (National 11 plus).

How can I help my child prepare for the eleven plus? The 11 plus is unique in that seemingly bright pupils can ‘fail’ the exam. It tests skills sometimes not specifically taught in the state school system and so you will need to do extra preparation work with your child to ensure they are prepared for the 11 plus. We usually recommend parents start with the Bond assessment papers, they offer short tests in the various topics required. They are several areas you should concentrate on with your child including vocabulary (which helps with both English and verbal reasoning), mental arithmetic and logic problems – you can read more about eleven plus topics here.

Do I need an eleven plus tutor to help my child? Getting a place at grammar school is hard, there is fierce competition for places and the 11 plus is not an ‘easy’ test. At 121 Home Tutors, we have tutors who know exactly what it takes to get a place in one of the grammar schools in Manchester and Trafford. We usually recommend tutoring starts several months before the eleven plus, giving us sufficient time to focus on the various topics and skills. Time allows your child to gain the confidence they need and practise the questions.  You can tutor your child yourself but you need to be very familiar with the materials and standards required and be able to keep your child motivated.

Is my child likely to pass the 11 plus? If you are working with a 121 Home Tutor, we can assess areas of weakness and work on them well before your child sits an eleven plus. If you are tutoring your child then it’s worth assessing their current ability and creating a plan to tackle problem areas.

If you need help with tuition for grammar school entrance tests and 11+ then contact us at 121 Home Tutors. We have helped children from across Manchester and Cheshire including Altrincham, Didsbury, Sale, Chorlton and around Wilmslow get into Altrincham Girls Grammar and Altrincham Boys Grammar, Sale, Stretford and Urmston grammar schools.