If there’s one thing more important than remembering facts or how to solve maths problems, it is curiosity.

A curious child will always be interested in things, in working things out and learning new things.

A tutor can help foster curiosity by using real-world applications for maths and setting homework which isn’t just 1/2 + 1/5, but is about people, things and the world around us.

When I set homework, what makes me the happiest is not a 100% score, it’s when a child says something like “I don’t know if I got the answer right, but I’ve been thinking about it and have figured out another way to solve it.”

One of the most useful ways to help your child at school is to get ahead of the curriculum. This means identifying what’s coming up at school next week and spending time preparing for it.

For example, if your child is going to start percentages next week, it is MASSIVELY useful to spend some time ahead of that week learning about percentages.

This way, once the child is learning percentages in class, they are not scared by it and in fact already know the basics, such as 50%, 25% and how to work out 10% of anything.

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A child has to learn they best way to learn for themselves. A great place to start is with short but frequent and short study periods.

Many studies have shown that this approach works better then less frequent and longer sessions.

In addition to this, I suggest that frequent switching between subjects also helps with retention and has the side effect of keeping the child in question awake!

For example during a weekend or holiday, a great place to start would be something like this agenda:

EACH SESSION 45 MINS

9AM: Maths

10AM: English

11AM: History

1PM: Science

2PM: Modern Languages (e.g. German / Spanish)

3PM: Geography or ICT

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If you need help identifying specific maths topics which need help, or if you need further help or advice with study planning please get in contact:

Planning, discipline, strategy and tactics are all required to make the most of Year 5 and the summer holiday leading up to the 11+ exams which usually take place each September in the first or second week back to school.

My top advice is to combine past papers you can download, papers you can buy, and short one-page or ten-minute tests.

Doing exam paper practice is useful to help a child learn how long they have and how to pace themselves during the exam.

Doing papers you can buy is useful, but I would advise to photocopy them for your own use so your child can practice papers more than once.

Short one-page or ten-minute tests are useful to target specific areas that need help – e.g. ratio & proportion.

Finally, there’s online tuition which can help fix any gaps and give the child more confidence going into the exam.

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If your child needs help in general or with specific topics please get in contact:

Don’t Panic! Here are three simple sentences which I have found to have positive impact on a child’s mind-set

Don’t Guess

Sometimes when a child reads a question in a SAT test or 11+ entrance exam, they panic. Then their brain starts to close down. Then they start to guess, which is just about the worst possible thing to do.

It is hugely important to not panic and the first thing to remember to help stay cool in an exam is to not guess.

Break it Down

Often on first reading, a question is difficult to understand. That’s why it is very important to break it down. That’s exactly what the examiners want the child to do – to extract the numbers and relationships from the text of the question. If there are ten red apples and fifteen green, the child should write down 10R and 15G – in part to engage their brains in breaking down the question.

Often there’s an “Ah-ha!” moment, when after breaking the question down, a child suddenly realises what the question is asking. By the “Ah-ha!” often doesn’t happen unless the break-down comes first.

Work it Out

Once a child has all the required information they can begin to work out the answer. But this short sentence isn’t just about working it out, it’s about SHOWING that you’re working it out.

Remember that if a question in a paper is worth 3 marks, you can bet that at least one of those and possibly two is for showing your working out.

Whether you’re staying at home or heading off somewhere on holiday, there are easy ways to keep up with Maths

It’s never easy persuading a child to get on with some maths whether you’re at home or away on holiday or with relatives.

The first and most important thing to do is manage expectation. Don’t spring a ten-minute maths paper on your child unexpectedly. Instead, agree and plan up front what will be done and when.

It is FAR BETTER to do a little each day than a lot once a week.

In that respect the ten-minute maths books are very useful – as are freely available maths worksheets such as Ninja Maths and Maths is Fun.

TRY THIS: Have a chat with your child making it clear that a reward such as screen-time can only happen once they’ve shown you a completed worksheet (e.g. from Ninja Maths).

Make it clear that they should do this every day – maybe with the exception of Sunday 😉

If you plan to have a mock exam at home, it is vitally important that you discuss this in advance with your child and agree a date and time in advance.

It is also important to make it clear that the marking process will take place after the mock-exam at which point the child is expected to re-try any questions which they did not answer correctly.

Also worth noting that bribery really works, so relating screen-time or some other reward works well up to a certain age.

If all this seems tough – remember this quote:

If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.

Attributed to Eppie Lederer, the woman who wrote under the “Ann Landers” pseudonym in 1975.

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By far the best way for a child to learn fractions (and then decimals and percentages) is to actually draw then by colouring in shapes

Once a child has spent some DRAWING fractions they will have the confidence and ability to make the leap into numbers without the need to see shapes.

In an online tutorial I start with simple shapes and fractions – for example to colour in a half or a quarter of a rectangle broken down into four squares.

Once a child is used to this, they can SEE how to add 1/4 and 3/8.

Once a child has moved on from drawing fractions visually they can always go back to this method if they need to for more advanced geometry.

In an online tutorial a child has time to solve ten or more fractions by drawing them out, with which I will be assisting.

It can take as little as one or two sessions for the child to “click” how fractions work. You can almost hear it!

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When possible, a child should practice their maths every day, feeding back to parents and the tutor any questions which they found difficult

Think of getting better at maths as getting better at playing an instrument.

If a child misses a day or so here and there it shouldn’t matter too much. But to not practice for a week (even through long holidays) is a mistake and will move a child’s abilities in the wrong direction.

Tutoring is a great way to target any questions which a child finds difficult – in a way that teachers simply can’t because they’re looking after so many children at school.

A child should try to practice maths every day, make a list of any questions they found difficult (e.g. from school homework or from home study workbooks). It is VITALLY IMPORTANT to let your tutor what your child found to be difficult so they can focus on that subject in a tutorial, practice more, understand it, and deliver results in the exams.

Please contact the Tutor Dragon if you need any help especially using homework to target weaknesses to fix:

A fantastic by-product of the online tutorial is the child gaining confidence to ask valuable questions as they learn

I have noticed over the years that when a child first starts being tutored, they are very reserved and often hesitant about either saying they don’t understand, or asking any further questions.

This is understandable and is a challenge for the online tutor.

This generally improves over time, but one excellent way to bring this forward asap is to get a child to ask ME a questions.

For example, I might ask a child to work out a percentage or a fraction division relating to money. After I think they’ve got the hang of it I ask them to ask me a question.

On the iPad they might write something like 1/4 divided by 3/7. I tell them in advance that I might get it wrong (on purpose hopefully) and they have to check my working out and let me know how many marks I deserve.

This is a great way to up the dialog and to make sure they can answer their own question. It is often a bit of fun and very engaging for the child.

Sometimes I like to make an obvious error to make sure they’re fully engaged.

The by-product of this is increased questioning from the child which anecdotally also transfers into the classroom which I see as a huge win for the child.

Bespoke online maths tuition can significantly improve your child’s ability by focusing on the topics he or she needs to focus on the most

At school a maths teacher has to work with a lot of children across a broad range of abilities. This works in general, but if a child is struggling with one particular topic – e.g. fractions and percentages, the teacher may not be able to give the child all the help they need to master the topic.

This is were online maths tuition is so valuable.

The Tutor Dragon can focus on the one topic your child has been struggling with to make sure they master that topic.

The outcome is three-fold;

Firstly, your child will be much more confident in the classroom. It cannot be overstated how important this psychological aspect of learning is.

Secondly, by overcoming one topic, it raises your child’s numeracy in general. Learning how to work out percentages involves a lot of multiplication, division, addition and subtraction as well as relating maths to the real world.

Thirdly, higher scores in the exams. A high or low score in a few questions relating to fractions for example can make the difference between an A and a B, or a B and a C for example.

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Reminder: You’ll need an iPad or touch-screen and a stylus – free Tutor Dragon notepad and Dragon stylus when you sign up for your first paid tutorial.