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Expect the unexpected in your exams

Thursday, May 24th, 2018

Every year, the GCSE and A Level examiners outdo themselves by throwing in cryptic questions which only Sherlock Holmes could crack!

This year is no exception – if the Science and English exams are anything to go by… How can you get round this? It’s all bananas … or is it?

How to handle the unexpected

  1. Learn to think. First, exams are not designed to get you to merely regurgitate facts. It might seem like that, but in reality, education is designed to make you THINK on the spot. Many exams ask you to solve problems, or use the information you’ve learnt.
  2. Take a deep breath. Does an awkward question throw you off beam? Don’t let it. Sit with it for a minute or two. Try to re-think the question in your own words – in your head. Even write notes round the question to generate ideas. Sometimes, abstract questions need a little more thought. Take a deep breath, don’t let it outface you, read it again and again.
  3. Don’t expect the obvious. English Literature exams are perfect examples of this. Students pray that the main characters come up in the questions, and then when they are nowhere to be seen, internal panic spreads across the exam hall like wild fire. (Cue Lord of the Flies!) It makes sense to learn about some of the other characters and poems in your texts. But, more importantly, if you know WHY the writer included them in the first place – and there is ALWAYS a reason – then you won’t find it so tricky if other characters are the unexpected stars of the exam paper show.
  4. Practise practise practise. This goes without saying – the more you practise exam questions, the more you’ll be able to fend off an attack of nerves when a ‘bonkers’ question pops up.

If you are in year 10 or year 12, it makes sense to start your exam prep early so you can handle those tricky little beasts with ease. Your final year flies by so fast, that it’s worth taking this on board early.

If you’ve still got two weeks of exams to go after half term, spend half term planning for the unexpected. As you just never know…

As ever, contact our tuition dream team here in the heart of Cheshire if you want to get cracking early. With a bunch of the best tutors across the Manchester area too, we’re ready when you are.

How to survive the first week back at secondary school

Monday, September 7th, 2015

For many children, the first week back at school after a long holiday break can be a nerve-wracking time.

If your child is moving up into secondary school, however, he or she may not be with their usual friendship group. Plus, in secondary school, children don’t stay in the one classroom with the same peers. They are put into academic or mixed ability groups.

With lots of unfamiliar faces, plus a different set of subject teachers and a bigger environment to negotiate, the first week in a new school can be overwhelming.

Most senior schools support year 7 children through this transition time. Often a separate dining hall and play area are set aside to help children get used to their own year group first.

Plus many schools have a buddy system to ensure that children at the new school are never alone.

Tips for parents

As for parents at home, it can be an anxious time too. What helps is to establish a steady routine early on. Getting your child’s school bag ready the night before avoids complete chaos the next morning.

Packing their lunchbox and getting breakfast bowls/spoons out ready can also give you extra time each day.

Bed time routines are equally as important. Over the summer, early bed times go out of the window. Playing on an iPad or Playstation stimulates the brain too much. So encourage a calmer wind-down activity before sleep: reading or a bath.

If your child shows signs of struggling with a subject early on, it’s best to support them with it as soon as possible. With a new curriculum on the cards, children are facing much more challenging lessons.

Luckily, we’ve a host of lovely private tutors across Manchester and Cheshire who can help your child with tricky subjects! Just get in touch!

Is your child struggling at school?

Monday, January 26th, 2015

School isn’t always ‘the best days’ of a child’s life. Sometimes, every day can be a hurdle, a battle. Sometimes a child is labelled as ‘naughty’ whereas in fact there could be an explanation behind his/her behaviour. Sometimes bright children do badly in tests and exams too.

Before jumping to conclusions, it’s essential to do something proactive so the situation doesn’t continue to slide:

  1. First contact the school to rule out whether problems are caused by bullying, being in the wrong set, friendship issues. Pastoral issues can hugely affect a child’s performance at school. If not, is there an undetected learning difficulty.
  2. Ask for an assessment; book an appointment with the school’s SENCO. (Special Educational Needs Coordinator) What tests could the school conduct to rule out SLDs? (Specific Learning Difficulties) The obvious ones spring to mind: ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and Dyscalculia.
  3. Arrange a test undertaken by a speech and language processing specialist to check auditory processing and memory issues. While the symptom might be Dyslexia, the cause behind it might not be.
  4. Support your child at home. One to one attention is critical. Children who already feel lost in the system struggle terribly with homework. Can you sit with them every night? Can you arrange a tutor to give them the support they need? At this stage, it’s important to raise your child’s confidence.

Remember: children develop at different ages. So even though a ‘problem’ presents itself now, it might disappear as time goes on.

If you are concerned, and feel that some one to one support would help your child cope, you can book a tutor through 121 Home Tutors. If you’re in Manchester or Cheshire, we’re here for you.

Is homework a battlezone?

Monday, January 12th, 2015

Sometimes it can feel like it! Especially this time of year with Christmas hols throwing routines out the window.

For some of you, the homework battle might be all year round – the cause of many an argument or tantrum. Rather than let this negative situation continue, here are some useful tips to help:

1. Stick to a routine

If you are at home after school, this is easier to implement. Encourage them to complete their homework first so they can pursue their other interests afterwards. Get a copy of the homework timetable too so you can help them plan their time.

2. Praise Praise Praise

If your son or daughter battles with self-confidence, often this attitude is transferred to homework. Comments such as ‘I can’t do it’ or ‘I hate this’ reveal your child is struggling. And needs help.

Stay calm, read through the homework with them, and sit with them (if possible) while they do the task. Plenty of ‘that’s great’ and ‘well done’ will weaken that negativity cycle over time.

Why not make them a hot chocolate drink while they do the task? Make it a pleasant experience so your child doesn’t feel like it’s torture!

3. Inject fun into learning

There are some great online resources nowadays, plus apps, to hook your child’s interest in a subject. BBC Bitesize has some fab learning games, for instance. Or Google it! Fun online games Maths KS2/KS3.

Check out YouTube too; it’s an infinite source of ‘how to do’ videos.

It might not happen over night, but stick with it. Of course, if your skills are a little rusty and some one to one support would help, give us a call at 121 Home School Tutors.

Our bunch of tutors across Manchester and Cheshire are experienced at inspiring switched-off kids in no time at all!


‘Tis the season … for revision

Monday, December 1st, 2014

Tra la la la la la la la la. As the term winds down and festivities gain pace, it can be hard for children to manage revision during this jolly season!

With mock exams often before or just after Christmas, and some entrance exams in January, how can children avoid exam panic and still enjoy the holidays?

Here are some holiday revision tips to give your child a head start:

  • Draw up a timetable. First make a list of different topics you need to cover – including topics you find challenging. Break the topics down into manageable chunks to help you spread revision out.
  • Do previous papers. Sitting a past paper (in the time allowance) helps you whittle down the areas you need to focus on. Focus on these areas rather than everything over the hols. This will help keep revision in perspective at this time of year.
  • Stick to a study regime. If you are away for the holidays, or family are visiting, there’ll be plenty of temptation to NOT study. Instead, stick to a system. Perhaps work mornings, then reward yourself afternoons off. Alternatively, if you have plenty of free time on your hands, mix up your revision with physical activities.
  • Learn on the move. Google revision apps. You’ll find a host of great iPad/iPhone, Android and iPod touch apps to download. A nice way to revise on the sofa, in the car or while waiting for family to finish their Christmas shopping.

Whatever you do, don’t panic. If overwhelm or brain freeze sets in, some revision sessions with a tutor can make all the difference. Drop 121 Home Tutors a line!

Tutoring and education news

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

Here’s a round up of what’s happening in the world of education and tutoring…

Did you know you can get a ‘placement consultant’ to help get your child into the ‘right school’. A kind of head hunter for 8 year olds!

Four and five year olds will be tested on literacy and reasoning from 2016

What does the gender gap mean for boys and girls in school (and once they leave)

University applications on the rise

If you want to chat to us about anything that’s happening in the world of education and tutoring you can find our details here. 

Too old to learn?

Monday, January 27th, 2014

If you left school early, are out of work, want to retrain for a new job or just need something new and exciting in your life then tutoring could be for you.

You might be wondering if tutoring would be the right thing for you, you might be a bit scared about taking the first step back into learning. Maybe you think grown ups don’t go back and learn things they should have known years ago. But you’d be wrong. We’ve helped hundreds of adults learn – from brushing up their basics maths and English skills to learning a new language for a work move.

One to one tutoring is a brilliant way to reintroduce yourself to education:

  • You can work in your home.
  • You can work at your pace.
  • You can work with a tutor to decide exactly what you want to learn.
  • You can cover topics from GCSE English to aptitude testing for your next job.

Here are our top tips for finding the right tutor to work with…

–       Search for a reputable tutoring company where the tutors are checked.

–       Meet the prospective tutor and ensure you feel confortable with them.

–       Decide what you want to achieve from the tutoring and what success will look like to you.

–       Agree the practical bits like when and where you will meet and any charges.

If you’d like to know more about adult one to one tutoring in Manchester (Sale, Didsbury, Chorlton, and other areas) call 121 Home Tutors. 


Is tutoring too tiring?

Monday, December 16th, 2013

Over the last few months there have been lots of reports that tutoring can be damaging to children. Just this month one headmaster said private tutoring overloads children with work and makes them too tired.

If you’re thinking about hiring a private tutor how do you ensure it’s a positive experience that benefits your child? Here are our top tips.

  • Work with an experienced tutor, checked by a reputable company. That will mean they will understand how tutoring works and what an ‘average’ child can cope with.
  • If you decide to use a tutor then be prepared to spend some time with the tutor explaining what your child is like, what you think they can cope with and what ‘normal’ is for your child. A good tutor will also get to know and read your child but no one knows them better than you.
  • Make sure your tutor has a plan and that it fits in with other activities and isn’t overloading your child on any day or week.
  • It depends on your child but we wouldn’t normally recommend tutoring for more than 2 subjects at any one time.
  • As soon as you start seeing signs that your child isn’t coping with tutoring or it is negatively affecting their performance in school then reassess things with the tutor.
  • Ask your child how they feel – can they cope? Are they too tired?
  • Build in plenty of down time for your child – they need to blow off steam!

If you need help with finding a private tutor in Manchester (we cover all areas) or Cheshire (Didsbury, Wilmslow) then call 121 Home Tutors today.


We hope you all have a fantastic Christmas break and look forward to seeing you back reading our blog in 2014.


Shhh – don’t talk about your tutor!

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

Do you use a private tutor for your children? Have you been tutored yourself? Do you talk to other parents about it or do you keep it private?

This month Harry Wallop discussed tutoring  – and how tutors now outnumber those who work in the NHS, solicitors or teachers. His view was that tutoring is almost underground, something rarely discussed and a bit of a secret.

In our experience that’s not the case. We have many parents who share the details of their tutor with other parents. We know lots of parents who chat about their child’s difficulties with other parents, often leaning on them for support and advice. In Harry’s article he focuses on the race to get children into ‘good’ or selective schools and it’s this competitive element that seems to lead to more secrecy – parents don’t want other parents to know their kids are getting an extra boost!

But for some parents the opposite is true and they want everyone to know they can afford a private tutor and boast about how well their child is doing.

There are no rules when it comes to having a tutor – you don’t have to tell anyone or you can tell the world. But what you might find is that the key to finding a really good tutor is word of mouth recommendation.

If you need help finding a private one to one tutor for your child in Manchester or Cheshire (covering Sale, Heaton Moor, Trafford) call 121 Home Tutors today.


Starting school at 2

Thursday, November 28th, 2013

How did you feel the day you took your child to school aged 4 or 5? Do you remember your own first day? How would you have felt taking a much younger child to the school gates?

This month Baroness Sally Morgan, chairwoman of Ofsted suggested that two year olds from disadvantaged families should start in ‘school nurseries’ to improve their education and life chances.

In the UK we have an existing network of childminders and nurseries with a number of hours of free education available to 3 and 4 year olds (soon to be extended to 240,000 of the poorest two-year-olds).

However the government is exploring options for making school based nursery places available to younger children (they are normally only open to 3 and 4 year olds).

The concern for many is that the school environment is not the right place for such young children. The idea of supporting disadvangted children is a good one but possibly not in an environment that may cause them additional stress and is more focused on academic progress rather than their emotional needs.

Lady Morgan said that her concern was that some children were not ready to enter school at 5 and early entry could benefit them. She said: “They’re not ready to learn at school. Weak parenting, low educational attainment of parents, poor diet, poor housing and so on.”

We often work with primary aged children and even at that age they learn a lot through play. Younger children build their whole world through play and they need opportunities to grow in a safe, nurturing environment where they have easy access to their parents. In many European countries children don’t start formal education until 6 or 7 and there is no determental effect to their education.

Maybe rather than focusing on educating very young children we should instead focus on how we can support parents in giving their children the best start in education and life.

If you need to talk to someone about primary level tutoring we can help (we cover Manchester and Cheshire). Call 121 Home Tutors today.