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Posts Tagged ‘Primary’

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. 


My child is struggling with phonics – do we need a tutor?

Monday, September 30th, 2013

Most children in the UK learn to read using phonics. We know some parents struggle with how to support their child, especially if they aren’t familiar with how phonics fits with learning to read and English.

Recently we had a call from a concerned parent in the Knutsford area. Her daughter has just gone into Year 2 at a local primary school. They’d worked hard over summer, continuing to read books and working on sounding out words she was struggling with. Her mum told us that she’d come home from school one day in tears, they’d been working on phonics in class and writing stories. Her daughter feels like she isn’t as good as her friends at reading and writing and her confidence is really starting to suffer.

Some parents don’t think it’s appropriate for primary age children to have tutors. But tutors at this age aren’t focused on hot-housing or helping children pass exams. Their focus is on helping a child learn fundamentals (such as the building blocks of English and Maths) so they can progress through school as confident and happy pupils.

We asked our tutors for their top three tips for helping primary age children with English basics:

  1. Make it fun. Kids feel enough pressure at school so ensure any reading and writing activities at home are light and enjoyable. Remember you can read anything with your child – a comic, packaging, a website – anything that gets them comfortable with language.
  2. Be supportive. Focus less on what your child is doing badly and heap praise on anything they do well. This well help to build their confidence.
  3. Consider a private one to one tutor, someone who can come into your home and support your child’s learning. Look for someone with relevant experience with children of a similar age.

If you’d like to know more about primary tutoring for English and other basic subjects in areas including Macclesfield, Knutsford, Cheshire and Manchester contact 121 Home Tutors today.


Fractions for five year olds

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

In the last few weeks there has been a lot of press coverage about imminent changes to the national curriculum, aimed at raising standards within education.

One of the most significant changes at primary level will be the introduction of the computing curriculum, which will see five year olds creating computer programmes rather than learning how to use word processing packages. They will also be taught how to keep their personal data safe on the internet.  The computing curriculum will be backed by up changes to maths teaching with younger children being taught more complex maths such as fractions.

Internet savvy youngsters

Although some of the proposed changes have been criticised these suggestions make perfect sense. Our children live in an increasingly technological world with many careers entirely dependent on the ability to use that tech. The right thing to do is to arm students with the skills they need to succeed in 15 years time when they are looking for jobs.

We’re always looking for tutors with strong digital and technology skills to support primary and secondary students as we feel this will become increasingly important over the next decade. If you’d like to help your children become more comfortable with technology then a private tutor can help – we even have tutors who can help you learn to write a computer programme! If you’d like more information on private tutoring for computing then call 121 Home Tutors today. 

How young is too young for tutoring?

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

Would you hire a private tutor for your two year old?  Believe it or not some parents do. Recent reports have suggested that parents are signing very young children up for elocution lessons to prepare them for future educational settings such as prep school or Oxbridge.  So is tutoring at such a young age necessarily a bad thing?

  • Many parents argue that they have to get a tutor for their young children not because they want to but because of the education system. It’s not an issue in every part of the country but in London there is fierce competition for good state schools and many parents turn to paid for education and entrance exams to give their child a decent education. What this does mean is that some children need some help to prepare for those tests and so tutoring might be a necessary evil.
  • Children are meant to learn – it’s what we’re programmed to do. Most children, given the chance, will absorb huge amounts of information and love learning. That doesn’t mean that tutors should be the ones doing the teaching but parents are busy and sometimes might need a bit of a support (but we do think teaching for young children is best done by those closest to them).
  • We’ve written before about tutoring for primary school children and how it can help with confidence and teach them to love learning.  There are plenty of reasons why using a tutor when your child is 5, 6 or 7 might be a good thing.

If you’d like to know more about tutoring for younger and primary aged school children drop us a line. 121 Home Tutors cover Manchester and Cheshire.


How did you learn to read?

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

Can you cast your mind back and remember how you learnt to read? How does it compare with how your children have learnt to read? In most UK schools children are taught to read using a phonics system (decoding words by sounds) but the debate about whether this is the best method continues to rumble on.

Alison,  our MD recalls how she learnt to read…”I remember being read bedtime stories , my mum thought I could read but then worked out I’d memorised the stories! Then I just remember reading lots books  alone. I can’t really remember any school input though do remember lots of copying [but think that was handwriting lessons!]”. There’s a great opinion piece here on the best way to teach children to read and we thought we’d share some top tips from our tutors who have helped hundreds of primary and secondary children improve their reading skills.

  • Phonics might feel very foreign, especially if you didn’t learn to read that way but it’s worth improving your own knowledge (buy a basic phonics book or ask your child’s class teacher) as it’s a great way for most children to learn the basics of words and reading.
  • A word of caution about phonics – it doesn’t work for all children, some really struggle and if your child doesn’t seem to grasp the basics then it’s time to sit down with their teacher (and possibly a one to one tutor) to develop different learining to read strategies so they don’t lose confidence and fall behind.
  • Make sure that you instill that reading is fun. There may be important school books to read but magazines  and websites are just as good. Your child is more likely to want to learn if they are enjoying themselves.

Our last tip would be to give your child access to reading books, whether that’s buying them or using your local library or charity shops. If you think your child needs support with reading then we can help – call 121 Home Tutors and chat to us about reading support at primary and secondary level across Manchester and Cheshire (Heaton Mersey, Northenden, Cheadle, Alderley Edge).


Numeracy skills add up to good job prospects

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

When was the last time you had to do a bit of mental arithmetic at work? Tot up your hours for a timesheet?  Understand a graph or chart for a presentation?  Last week the BBC reported that 17 million working age people in England have only primary school level maths skills and there are fears that poor maths and numeracy skills are damaging Britain’s economic performance.

A charity, National Numeracy, is asking employers to help workers improve their numeracy skills as part of their plan to help a million adults over the next five years.

So what is numeracy and why does it matter? Numeracy isn’t just maths, it’s more than adding up.

“Numeracy is a proficiency which is developed mainly in Mathematics but also in other subjects. It is more than an ability to do basic arithmetic. It involves developing confidence and competence with numbers and measures. It requires understanding of the number system, a repertoire of mathematical techniques, and an inclination and ability to solve quantitative or spatial problems in a range of contexts. Numeracy also demands understanding of the ways in which data are gathered by counting and measuring, and presented in graphs, diagrams, charts and tables.” (Department for Education and Skills)

If you read the description above it’s easy to understand why many jobs require basic numeracy skills – from using a till to analysing information.  We also know that a lack of numeracy skills stops people getting jobs in the first place and then holds them back when they want to progress in their career.  And numeracy skills play a vital role in our every day life – from understanding which mortgage would be the best for you to working out if a 3 for 2 deal really is good value.

How can you help your child to develop the basic numeracy skills they need to succeed in a future career?

  • The most important aspect of helping your child with numeracy is giving them a positive attitude to numbers and maths, avoid negative language or telling them that ‘maths is hard’. The great thing about numeracy is that it’s all around us – you can have fun with it in the supermarket or playing simple games at home.
  • Find ways to make numeracy and maths fun – there are some great ideas on the National Numeracy website
  • Track down resources – there are books, websites and tutors that focus specifically on  numeracy skills and can embed these skills with younger children. If you have an older child or are an adult who wants to improve your numeracy skills then one to one tutoring is a great solution and can be done in your own home.

If you’d like more information on one to one home tutoring for numeracy in Manchester and Cheshire (covering Sale, Trafford, Wilmslow and surrounding areas) then contact 121 Home Tutors.

End of term reports – what do they mean?

Monday, June 25th, 2012

It’s just a few weeks until the end of the academic year and that means school reports will soon be coming home. A school report is a good time to reflect on your child’s progress over the year and start to identify any areas where improvements could be made. At 121 Home Tutors we often get asked by parents to work on specific areas that might be a problem over the summer holidays. This year we’ll also be offering summer schools where your child can have fun and keep up their academic work over the long break.

If this is your child’s first report or they just bring back bad memories of your own school reports then here are a few things to think about:

  1. Don’t think about the report too much before it arrives.  Hopefully by now you have developed some sort of relationship with your child’s teacher and have dealt with issues as they have come up during the year. It’s best to deal with what’s in the report when it arrives rather than second guess the contents.
  2. Focus on what your child has done well. You may have your own expectations for your child but it’s a good idea to praise them for achievements (even the small ones) and positively focus on areas where they struggle. This will help build up their confidence.
  3. Each school will have its own reporting system and if you don’t understand what it means then do go and speak to your child’s teacher. They may refer to National Curriculum, levels and grades. Most schools are happy to hear feedback on reports so if you feel the report isn’t giving the information you need then approach the school to discuss how improvements might be made.
  4. It’s worth remembering that a class teacher has to write reports for EVERY pupil in the class. That’s a lot of reports to write and it does mean you may not always get the in-depth detail you want. Most teachers will be very open to having a chat if you have concerns about the report.
  5. Talk to your child about the report – ask them what they think about it and any areas where they think they need help and support. This is where a 121 private tutor can come in handy – you can focus on a specific area over the summer and ensure your child starts the next academic year in the best shape.

If you’d like to discuss private tutoring and summer schools in Manchester, Stockport or Wilmslow & Cheshire areas (we cover areas including Altrincham, Didsbury and Hale) then contact 121 Home Tutors.

Moving from primary to secondary school

Friday, June 15th, 2012

In just a few weeks thousands of children will be leaving primary school for the last time as they move up to secondary school in September. This is a major change for most children as they have been in the same environment for the last 5 or 6 years.

So what can you do to help your child transition easily from primary to secondary school?

  • Recognise that this IS a big deal for your child. They have known nothing else for the last few years and suddenly everything is changing. Lots of schools will have end of year assemblies and celebrate your child’s time at primary school but you can also do this at home. Maybe make a memory book of things they enjoyed about primary school and leave a section for ‘things I’m looking forward to about secondary school’.
  • Be prepared to answer your child’s questions. If you can cast your mind back to when they started primary school they may have asked questions about when they could go the toilet, who they would go to if they got hurt. The questions might be different this time but they will be there – make the time to sit with your child before the summer holidays start and go through any concerns they have (they could be very simple – where does the bus pick me up to more complicated –  none of my friends are going to my school). If you do it before the holidays it gives you the opportunity to check information with your current school or the secondary school they are going to.
  • It’s time to buddy up. Do they have a friend who is going to the same school? It’s worth making arrangements for them to ‘look out’ for each other. But do bear in mind that many schools may allocate children to classes based on academic ability so long held friendships can suddenly disappear overnight. Some children cope well with this and others find it very traumatic. This is the time to be supportive and encourage new friendships. As a parent it will also be hard for you to get to know a whole new set of parents but if you make an effort it can help your child forge strong relationships early on.

This summer holiday should be a blissful stress free experience for your children as they look forward to a positive start in a new enviroment. If you have any concerns about your child coping academically in secondary school in the Manchester area (we cover Didsbury, Hale, Trafford and many other areas) then a 1-2-1 Home Tutor can help with private tuition in your home, do contact us for a chat.

Helping your child with phonics

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

In the next few weeks 5 and 6 year olds across England will be tested to check their phonics reading ability. One of the leading teaching unions is calling for a boycott of the tests saying that it might make 5 year olds feel like they are a failure and devastate their confidence at an early age.

The Government wants all children to be taught to read by using phonics (which is already happening in most schools). This is where children learn sounds and groups of letter sounds. The test is being used to identify children who need more support but teachers think it won’t tell them anything they don’t already know.  Every child at the end of Year One will take the 10 minute test which will check their understanding of 20 ‘normal’ words and 20 ‘made up’ words. If your child is struggling with phonics and reading then how can you help them?

–          If you don’t know what phonics is then arm yourself with some information – ask school for the basics or track down a good phonics based book. It’s a good idea to try and find a book that marries up with the way in which your child’s school teaches phonics.

–          Start at the beginning. Children sometimes struggle with phonics and reading because they haven’t grapsed the basic letter sounds or groups of letters. It’s worth revisiting the basics first.

–          Throw the books away. Sometimes the pressure of constantly reading books can hinder a child’s progress. Instead think about reading comics, books on a kindle, magazines, cereal packets or road signs. Make things fun.

–          Don’t compare. Children progress at different rates and there is often a gender difference. If you are worried about your child’s progress then it’s best to discuss it with their teacher rather than another parent.

–          Look into specialised one to one tutors who can help build your child’s confidence and ability in an environment where they feel safe and supported.

If you need help with phonics and reading help for your primary aged child in Manchester including areas such as Sale, Didsbury, Trafford and Urmston then contact 121 Home Tutors.



Is there ever a stupid question?

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

New research suggests that secondary school pupils are so scared of looking stupid in maths lessons they will not tell their teachers if they do not understand. The survey found that most children would rather ask friends or family than risk the embarrassment of getting the answer wrong and many felt like they should already know the answer.

As adults we know this feeling isn’t restricted to children. How many times have you been sat in a conference or meeting wanting to ask a question but unable to do so in case you look daft? Have you ever been in a situation where you didn’t want to double check something in case the person accused you of not listening? And we know you can all remember being in the classroom and hearing ‘weren’t you paying attention in the last lesson’ ‘do you ever listen’ ‘you should know that we covered it last week’. So if we feel like this as adults then how can we expect children to enthusiastically thrust their hands up to answer in a classroom situation?

If the fear of looking silly is totally natural then how we help children (at both primary and secondary level) overcome their fears and get the most out of their education?

  •  Tell them it’s natural! Talk to your children, explain that you felt the same way when you were younger and that even as an adult you experience those same feelings. Children feel less alone when they know someone else is going through the same thing.
  •  Work on classroom confidence – this is one of the main reasons people come to 121 Home Tutors. We can work on subjects slowly and build up confidence so students feel they have a sufficient depth of knowledge to answer a question well.
  •  Focus on internal success. Your child doesn’t always have to shout out. Sometimes it’s enough to say the answer in your head and have it confirmed by what someone else says.
  •  Write it down. If your child feels like they can’t say things out loud then get them to write questions down and discuss them with their teacher (or even you) at home.
  •  Teach your child there is never a stupid question. Some of our biggest leaps in knowledge happen when we take risks and make mistakes.

Did you know private tutoring can help with classroom confidence? We have English, Maths and German tutors at primary and secondary levels across Manchester and Cheshire). Contact us today.