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.
Although noise in the classroom is a negative factor for learning, some level of noise and/or chaos in the home environment can be healthy.
We are not suggesting that constant noise and chaos at home are desirable, but anecdotal evidence suggests that when a child gets used to dealing with noise and unexpected events at home – e.g. someone at the front door or a crying younger sibling, it can help with a child’s ability to stay focussed during study.
This in turn can help a child during SAT’s, exams and even in a noisy classroom.
If a child can ONLY study and complete test papers in the silence and solitude of their room, this may not translate to good results in a real exam situation if the child has not built up some immunity from surrounding noise and unexpected events.
By far the best way to approach the 11+ and/or SATS and independent school entrance exams is to mix and match between ten minute tests and full exam paper simulations.
Ten Minute Maths Tests
Often there is no time for a child to sit a full simulated 11+ exam paper, especially during the week when other homework is at hand.
Ten minute tests are best done during the week, in the car, at a cafe or wherever you happen to be.
Three ten minute sessions spread over a day is generally a more effective strategy than one 30 minute session.
One further tip – a child should not go straight from doing a test to screen time. A period of relaxation and mental consolidation is best after a test, not stimulation via TV or the Xbox!
Eleven Plus Exam Simulation
In tandem with ten minute tests, one or two full exam simulations per weekend is a good idea.
Here are some useful strategies:
The child should tag any questions they found too hard. These are the ones you need to focus on.
Make sure you go through the paper and mark it immediately after the child has finished.
Do not berate the child for any questions they got wrong or did not attempt. Instead, see such questions as an opportunity to review how to approach this kind of question to gain more points in the future.
If the child shows a gap in their knowledge in a particular topic over a number of pages – e.g. algebra, then spend an hour to review that topic to strengthen the child’s ability in this area. Targeted tuition like this is invaluable.
For more ideas and information please contact me for a free trial session.
Most tutorials are an hour, but we should question why this is, considering most group lessons in a school environment are 50 minutes.
A tutorial session should not be taken up with the tutor sitting there marking work while the child attempts new questions from a workbook – all of that should be done between sessions. Beware of tutors who do this.
When a tutorial session is one-to-one less than 50 minutes should be enough to address a topic and for the child to have learned something, understood it and applied it to a question or two which they haven’t seen before.
We find that 30 minutes is a good amount of time to address a specific issue – for example a child not understanding how to multiply and divide fractions and then simplify the answer.
For more general tutorial sessions such as reviewing percentage in general, forty five minutes works well.
Remember that it’s up to you and your child to bring to the tutorial session what you want to get out of it. Specifically, email your tutor ahead of time saying “Tomorrow we’d like to focus on angles and types of triangles because John doesn’t understand how to do his homework”. The more specific you can be, the more your child will get out of their tutorial sessions.
If your child needs any help please contact us for a free introductory session: