Don’t Panic! Here are three simple sentences which I have found to have positive impact on a child’s mind-set
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.
It is important for a child to continue maths work throughout long holidays with a combination of workbooks and tutorials
During the long summer holidays (and other such as Easter and Christmas) it is very important for a child to;
A) Work their way through workbooks, and;
B) Have regular tutorials to tackle any questions which could not be solved
The advantage of online tutoring is that a child can have a tutorial no matter where in the world they are, including on holiday. One a week is typically fine, or twice a week for children in UK Year 5 who will return to school and start their 11+ exams in the first week or so of Y6 as they also ramp-up for the Independent School Entrance Exams.
Summer maths camps are of use, but are typically focused on getting as many children to attend as possible which diminishes the value delivered to each child. In addition the homework is generic, whereas the homework from a tutor is targeted.
Workbooks are also of importance, assuming the parents have time to mark all the work and can offer advice on how to solve questions which the child cannot. This becomes more difficult in the first year or so of Secondary School when teenagers are tackling algebra and more advanced trigonometry.
Keep up the workbooks while on holiday and if you are interested please contact me for a free no-commitment tutorial session anywhere in the world:
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.
It is vitally important to know how many marks a question is worth and to think how to pick up all those marks
Some questions on an exam paper are worth one mark. For example an 11+ paper that might be a questions such as 1.5 x 3. For such questions it is fine to write down the answer.
If a question has two marks available that normally means the person doing the marking wants to see some working out or articulation of an intermediate result. For example if the question is how much change would you get from £10 when buying two pens at £2 each.
Most exam papers progress to longer and more complex questions as they go along. If a question has four marks available it is worth a child checking that first and then spending literally ten seconds working out what they need to articulate on the paper to secure all four marks.
Think of it as a game.
You’re driving Super Mario along the road and you want to drive over the coins as you go picking up as many points as you can.
I’ve seen very clever children lose marks on mock tests I’ve run because they’re sometimes “too” clever. They can work out the answer to a four step question (see the example below) in their head and just write down the answer. Unfortunately the answer is only worth one mark. It’s all the working out and sub-totals which score the other three marks.
As part of my tutoring I focus strongly on exam technique, including making sure you’re picking up all the points as you go.
Contact me using the form below for a free introductory online maths tutorial:
Experiments and observations indicate that any kind of physical activity for a child has educational benefits including enhanced attention.
There’s a great new book called “Educational Neuroscience: Development Across the Life Span” which is:
“The first volume to bring together the latest knowledge on the development of educational neuroscience from a life-span perspective, this important text offers state of the art, authoritative research findings in educational neuroscience before providing evidence-based recommendations for classroom practice.”
One key take away is:
“Twenty minutes of moderate exercise improved planning but not attention in 9-10 year olds. But twelve minutes of intensive exercise such are running on a track boosted attention.”
In the UK the beginning of Secondary School is Year 7 when children are typically 11 years old. Here are a few ideas on how to prepare over the summer holiday before starting.
Read a lot
A visit online or to your favourite book store is useful to start reading books which are a notch more difficult than what your child may have been used to. Of extra value are non-fiction books such as encyclopaedias covering subjects such as Geography and History.
Following on from the point above, listening to audio books (fiction and non-fiction) aimed at early teens is a useful way to help increase vocabulary and the complexity of sentence structure.
Yes I hate to say, but buying a few Year 7 / KS3 workbooks is a good idea – not to finish but at least to have a go and to understand some of the key concepts especially in Maths. Always useful is to start working on more complex algebra and geometry.
It almost doesn’t matter what a child wants to write about, but it is worth a child spending a good amount of time every week over the summer holiday writing about anything. It’s useful to mix this 50/50 writing by hand and writing on a computer. This is also a useful time to build vocabulary and practice more complex sentence structures.
Compared to Primary School there’ll be a lot more work at school and home work, so you’ll need to figure our what works best for your child in terms of keeping track of everything. I’m a fan of using post-it notes on the wall above a child’s desk to keep track of Mon-Fri and also Sat & Sun for the homework schedule. A whiteboard is also a great idea which enables the child to draw out their own organisation.