End-of-term teacher gift ideas for classes clubbing together

It’s almost the end of the school year and time for children to say goodbye to their teacher and teaching assistants. Some classes decide to club together to buy a gift for the teacher and teaching assistants to thank them for their hard work and to show them they’re appreciated.

Has your class decided to club together to buy gifts this year? One parent (perhaps you) might be organizing a joint collection, possibly via your class parents’ WhatsApp group, so the teacher and assistants receive one lovely present rather than lots of smaller ones destined for the drawer.

Here we share some aspects to consider before you go ahead, as well as some fabulous gift ideas!

Do teachers want a present?

Mumsnet carried out a survey of 1,200 teachers and teaching assistants and discovered that nearly 70% would like a heartfelt note from the children they have taught. Many (47%) said any present is valued.

A huge 77% of teachers and teaching assistants worried that parents could feel pressured into contributing to a whole class present, and 68% were concerned that children whose parents cannot afford to contribute would feel left out.

Last year 31% of children in the UK lived in poverty, and that’s a figure that will only have risen this year.

Considerations if your class is clubbing together to buy a present for the teacher

If you are the parent kindly organizing an end-of-term present collection there needs to be consideration about family budgets and how people feel, particularly in the current climate. You could suggest parents donate up to but not over a certain amount (say £3).

On the card accompanying the present consider writing ‘From Class 2’ rather than naming all the children whose parents have contributed. That way no child is excluded if their parent has not contributed for any reason (because it’s not within the child’s control).

What if parents want to know what the gift is before I collect the money?

Conservatively estimate how much money you are likely to receive and choose something that is not too expensive. You can always add flowers or chocolates to the gift if you receive more money than you expected.

If you don’t collect as much as you predicted, you can always buy something else instead and explain to parents why the gift has changed. Obviously, the former situation is preferable to the latter!

Gift ideas for teachers

Photo book

Create a book of photos of every child in the class with a message from each of them. This takes a lot of organizing and does depend upon every parent contributing, so you need to know the parents in your class very well and be sure that they will. If you have the time and patience to manage it, this is a winner!

Framed, personalised picture

You can order beautifully framed pictures decorated with children’s names. Have a look at this rainbow print teacher gift available on Etsy. The advantage of this gift over the photobook is that it is easier to organise and doesn’t depend on every parent providing a photograph of their child.

Handmade gift

Is there a parent in your class who has a talent for crafts? They might bake special cakes, make jewellery or pottery, paint watercolours or sew bags? Something made by a class parent can be even more special to a teacher.

Jewellery

If you know the kind of jewellery your teacher or teaching assistants wear, then this could be a winner!

Vouchers

You could buy a voucher for a major store like Amazon, Cineworld, Marks & Spencer, John Lewis or Waterstones. There might be beauty salon, café or restaurants in your local area that offer vouchers for things like meals, afternoon tea and spa treatments.

The advantage of vouchers is that you can almost match the amount of money you collect to the cost of the gift. This is also a great idea if you’re not sure what the teacher or teaching assistant would like.

Alcohol/chocolates/flowers

These are usually a winner especially if you know what alcoholic drink the recipient enjoys and if they’re not on a special diet!

Summer learning booster for kids

The long summer holiday is a welcome break from school life and early starts. However, you might be concerned that the length of the break will lead to what’s sometimes called ‘summer learning loss’. This is when children start the autumn term with lower achievement levels than at the beginning of the holiday.

If you think your child would benefit from short one-to-one tutoring sessions during the holiday, please talk to us. We offer maths, English, science, humanities and language tuition.

Please contact us on 01223 858 421 or hello@tutormykids.co.uk

Children’s picture books for Pride Month 2021

Pride Month, which takes place each June, is about people being proud of who they are no matter who they love. Picture books are a great way to raise young children’s awareness of different types of families which sews the seeds for tolerance, understanding and kindness.

The picture books we have chosen here celebrate diversity and they are perfect for children up to the age of seven. They have vibrant illustrations, gentle and engaging storylines, and fabulous characters to keep children hooked!

And Tango Makes Three

Justin Richardson, Simon & Schuster Children’s Books 2007

This charming picture book is about two male penguins called Roy and Silo who live in New York Zoo. Roy and Silo do everything together; they bow at each other, sing and swim together and wind their necks around each other. Their keeper, Mr Ramsay, realises they are in love.

Roy and Silo make a nest together like the male and female penguins, but one day they notice the other penguin couples can do something they can’t – hatch eggs. Mr Ramsay sees their sadness and he finds an egg that needs looking after.

Roy and Silo are as dedicated as the other penguin couples in caring for their egg. One day the egg hatches and Tango is born. They treasure Tango, taking turns to feed her from their beaks and leading her to the water to swim.

At the end of the day, they snuggle together in their nest and fall asleep like all animals and people everywhere. The message of the story is that we all thrive on love.

The Family Book

Todd Parr, Little Brown Young Readers, 2010

This bright, fun picture book is a celebration of families. Some families have one parent, and some have two. Some families are the same colour, and some are different colours. Some families have two mums, and some have two dads… and so on.

The book is a lighthearted introduction to different types of families (some even look like their pets!) It ends with a heartfelt message from the author: “There are lots of different ways to be a family. Your family is special no matter what kind it is. Love Todd.”

The Girl With Two Dads

Mel Elliot, Egmont, 2019

Pearl is so excited she goes to bed early. A new girl is starting school tomorrow and her name is Matilda. When Pearl meets Matilda she discovers they have plenty in common – they both like to get muddy, to climb and to run.

One day Pearl notices something is different; Matilda is picked up from school by two different dads. Pearl is excited when Matilda invites her to tea because she’s never been to a house with no mum. She thinks there will be pop and sweets and cakes and definitely no strict rules. When she visits Matilda she finds she’s wrong. They have vegetables for tea and they’re not allowed to jump on the bed but have to read instead!

Told in rhyme, this is beautifully illustrated picture book about two lively little girls conveys the message that families have a lot in common no matter how different they seem.

Uncle Bobby’s Wedding

Sarah Brannen and Lucia Sotto, Hodder Children’s Books, 2021

Bobby is Chloe’s favourite uncle. They always have lots of fun together. They climb the lighthouse to look at the stars, fly kites and go on picnics. One day Chloe’s world is turned upside down when Bobby announces that he’s getting married. Chloe doesn’t want to share Uncle Bobby with anyone else and she doesn’t understand why people get married.

Sitting on the swings in the park, Bobby helps Chloe to understand why he wants to get married. He explains that they’ll always have fun together and she’ll always be his “sweet pea”.

Chloe soon gets to know and like Jamie, Bobby’s boyfriend, as the three of them spend lots of quality time together. They go to the theatre, swim in the lake and light a campfire. Chloe tells Jamie she wishes he was her uncle too, and her wish comes true!

Who’s Your Real Mum?

Bernadette Green and Anna Zobel, Scribble UK, 2020

Elvi has two mums, but her friend Nicholas wants to know which one is her real mum. Elvi says they are both her real mum and Nicholas argues that this isn’t true because her real mum is the one who had her in her tummy.

Elvi gives Nicholas a series of clues so he can guess her ‘real mum’. At first the clues are too similar because both mums both wear jeans, both have dark hair and so on. Then the clues get outrageous: “She’s the one who can pull a car with her teeth!”

As Nicholas probes further the clues become truthful as Elvi says her real mum is the one who holds her when she’s scared, tucks her in bed and kisses her goodnight. Nicholas asks, “Don’t all mums do that?” and Elvi replies: “Exactly.”

Ignite a love of reading with TutorMyKids

Are you concerned about your child’s reading? Sometimes parents worry their child is getting left behind when they hear other children are reading well. It is important to know that reading is not a race and children get there at different speeds.

However, if you think your child is struggling in class because they are finding reading difficult, please get in touch. Our specialist reading tutors are experienced in helping reluctant readers and those who may have literacy difficulties.

Please talk to us today on 01223 858 421/hello@tutormykids.co.uk

Why hire an A Level or GCSE science tutor?

If you are concerned that your child is struggling with their exam course you may be considering whether to hire an A level or GCSE science tutor.

With large class sizes and stretched resources many children fall through the gaps at school and lockdowns have exacerbated difficulties. With complex science subjects falling behind can be disastrous as teachers move quickly between topics to cover the syllabus.

Here we talk about the benefits of hiring a one-to-one science tutor to support your child.

A tutor will pinpoint areas where your child is struggling

The science subjects – biology, chemistry and physics – link together. Within those subjects there are links between topics.

A lack of understanding in one topic area can affect your child’s understanding of topics that follow. For instance, in biology life depends on biological molecules such as lipids, nucleic acids (DNA), proteins and sugars. A child who has not understood the function of these molecules to begin with will struggle with later topics that focus upon each of these molecules in more depth.

An experienced science tutor will find the gaps and focus on them with your child helping them to move forward.

Your child’s understanding of science will deepen

GCSE and A level science exam papers require children to make links between the topics and modules they have studied. Linking questions are part of the GCSE. For example, ‘Compare the transport systems in animals and plants’.

TutorMyKids’ science tutors believe that children benefit from making links between topics because it deepens their understanding. Our tutors encourage children to look back at earlier topics and to make links with what they are currently studying. The benefit of doing this is that it helps children to understand the subject as a whole and to keep earlier learning fresh in their minds.

Children who can link topics and concepts are able to provide more perceptive answers to exam questions because they understand the bigger picture. In school there is pressure to get through syllabus modules and there is not always adequate time to develop this fundamental skill.

Misunderstandings are corrected immediately

It is vital to correct a child’s misunderstanding of any concept at once for the reasons we have discussed above. If a misunderstanding persists it will hinder their grasp of new areas.

Teachers have thirty or more children in a class and it’s impossible for them to correct every child’s misunderstanding on the spot.

A one-to-one tutor is just focused on one child – your child – and therefore they will spot mistakes at once. They make sure your child doesn’t go down the wrong path and have to unlearn whatever they have remembered incorrectly.

A one-to-one science tutor provides detailed feedback

When children provide written answers to questions in class most teachers do not have time to give detailed feedback to every child.

It is not enough for a child to know an answer is incorrect. There are times when they need to be walked through their answers in depth. This is so they understand where they went wrong and the changes they need to make.

A one-to-one science tutor has the time to give your child the attention they require, and their learning will accelerate as a result.

Your child’s concentration will improve

Some aspects of science are laborious; for example, learning the periodic table. In a busy classroom, surrounded by friends it is easy for your child’s brain to wander.

With a one-to-one science tutor by their side, it is not so easy for a child to lose focus – they have got to learn. They are also in their comfortable, informal home environment which helps to improve concentration.

A science tutor will do their best to make any topic as fun as possible with games and hands-on learning, so your child may begin to enjoy themselves too!

Confidence is boosted

Once your child sees their marks improve their confidence will rise leading to a ‘can do’ attitude. Success breeds success!

Hire an A level or GCSE tutor with TutorMyKids

If your child is having difficulty with any science subject do not leave it any longer.

All our science tutors are fully qualified teachers with the knowledge and experience to tailor their teaching exactly to your child’s needs.

To hire an A level or GCSE science tutor, please talk to us today on 01223 858 421/hello@tutormykids.co.uk

How to start preparing your child for secondary school

Starting secondary school can be both an exciting and nerve-wracking time for a child. They might be leaving a small, cheerfully decorated primary school to go to a large, intimidating secondary school with a maze of grey buildings.

The good news is that most children settle into their new school life happily. Here we share some ideas that may help you to make your child’s transition easier. However, it is important not to overdo preparation as this can be counterproductive. If you make too much of the move, you could give your child the idea that they have got something to worry about when they would otherwise have taken it in their stride.

Every child is different. As a parent you know best how to support your child, so please take our ideas as suggestions only.

Find out whether your child has concerns about starting secondary school

As you engage in everyday conversation with your child they may bring up things they are concerned about. If not, ask them how they are feeling about starting secondary school in a neutral manner. Reassure your child that they can come to you with any worries they have and that you are there to help them.

If your child has any questions you cannot answer talk to your child’s current teacher (or other parents) to find out the answers for them unless your child is happy to ask their teacher themselves.

Find an older child for reassurance

Do you know any older children who attend your child’s new secondary school? If so, they might be able to help by answering your child’s questions and sharing their experiences.

Choose a child who will offer your child reassurance and not the opposite. You could talk to the child first to find out about their experiences first. The child might also look out for your child and say hello to them when they see them around the school.  

Some schools already operate a buddy scheme whereby an older child looks after a younger child for the first few weeks. You could find out whether your child’s secondary school does this. If not, they might take on board your suggestion!

Attend induction days

Most secondary schools have at least one induction day where children tour the school and meet their teachers. If these days are scheduled in the school holidays do not be tempted to miss them.

As well as a chance to become familiar with the layout of the school and to get to know the teachers, transition days are an opportunity for your child to meet new children and start to build friendships.

Induction days are the best way to prepare your child for their first day at secondary school, so make the most of them.

Look at the school’s website together

Familiarity brings reassurance. The school’s website could be a great way to help your child become more comfortable with their new school.

Depending upon the website, your child might see photos of different classrooms and even lessons in action. The website might also answer some questions they have such as how to get a locker key or where to go to buy a prepaid swipe card for the canteen.

Practice the route to school

Is your child concerned about getting to school on their first day at secondary school? They might have to take the school bus, travel by car, or walk a strange route. Many children worry about being late, especially on their first day.

If this is a worry for your child, practise the route together so your child knows exactly what to do in advance.

Go shopping

Many children love shopping for new stationary and a brand new school uniform. A shopping trip helps put a positive and exciting spin on the experience of starting a new school. Your child may feel grown up and confident when they see themselves in their smart, new uniform. 

Shop for uniform and supplies in advance, with a list to hand. That way if anything doesn’t fit your child or you have forgotten something there is plenty of time to sort it out without stress.

Relax in the summer holiday

A few weeks before your child starts their new school, give them the time and space to gather their thoughts and to do the things they enjoy most. This might involve planning fun activities with your child, having friends around to play or just going out for walks and bike rides together.

Your child will be okay

Children are more resilient and adaptable than we think. If your child is not happy after the first few weeks of starting secondary school, don’t worry. It can take time to make new friends and adjust when starting a new school – reassure them about this and that they will be fine.

Build your child’s confidence with TutorMyKids

Would your child benefit from a confidence boost in English or Maths before they start secondary school?

Our experienced, qualified tutors build children’s self-esteem through individual attention and personalised teaching. They are dedicated to helping children become self-confident learners who thrive both inside and outside school.

Contact us today on 01223 858 421 or hello@tutormykids.co.uk

National Space Day: 6 best space books for children

National Space Day is on 7th May. The day aims to encourage everybody – adults and children alike – to find out more about space and space exploration.

Most of us are fascinated by the night sky and what lies beyond our planet. Fascination with space has recently been fuelled by Perseverance rover landing on Mars and NASA’s successful Mars helicopter flight.

Here we share 6 books that will spark your child’s curiosity about space and at the same time encourage their love of learning through books.

Best space books for early years and key stage 1

Astronaut

Lucy M George and Ando Twin, QED Publishing, 2016

This is a wonderful glimpse into the life of astronauts. Children join astronauts Jenny, Chen and Kim as they blast off into space and board the space station. The book is likely to provoke interesting questions, such as why a space shuttle releases its rockets when it reaches deep, dark space. Children discover the jobs astronauts do on board the space station and the difficulties they face and overcome each day.

At the end of the book there are labelled pictures of Jenny’s equipment. There are also short, illustrated paragraphs about the other people who work with astronauts and the jobs they do.

Peep Inside Space

Anna Milbourne and Simona Dimitri, Usborne, 2016

This interactive lift-the-flap book is a brilliant introduction to space exploration. Children explore the ‘dusty’, ‘quiet’ Moon and the space around our planet with a friendly astronaut.

They lift the flaps of the space station to see what’s going on inside. They find out how astronauts keep safe in space and what stops them floating away. They discover that the Sun is a ‘fiery ball’ and that the Earth travels around it in circles.

Children are introduced to a range of space vocabulary: ‘craters’, ‘air tank’, ‘space station’, ‘Jupiter’ and more!

Best space books for key stage 1, key stage 2 and beyond…

Little Kids First Big Book of Space

Catherine D Hughes and David A Aguilar, National Geographic Kids, 2012

If you want to teach your child about our solar system, then this is the book! Although it’s aimed at young children, it’s actually suitable for children of all ages (and adults too) because it’s packed with incredible information.

Real photographs and clear, attractive diagrams make this book engaging for everyone. Explanations are succinct and accompanied by quick fact boxes. As well as learning about our neighbouring planets, children will find out about the asteroid belt, lesser-known dwarf planets such as Ceres and Haumea, what galaxies, nebulas and black holes are, how space rockets work – and that’s just a sample!

Solar System: 3D Explorer

Ian Graham, Sebastian Quigley and Nicholas Forders, Baker and Taylor (UK) Ltd, 2018

This book is most suitable for older children as it’s packed with detailed information and complex vocabulary (‘nuclear fusion’ for example).

Our solar system is brought to life in 3D with real life photographs and graphic illustrations. Children learn what rocky worlds are made of, why satellites are important, how our Earth is structured and why we have different seasons. They find out about gas giants, comet strikes on Jupiter – a whole wealth of facts.

Stars Before Bedtime

Claire Grace and Dr Jessamy Hibberd, Quarto Publishing, 2020

Is your child interested in the constellations? If so, they will enjoy this book. Although it is primarily intended to help children get to sleep through mindfulness exercises linked to the shapes of the constellations, it is also a great for identifying the constellations.

Your child might follow the constellations in the book with their finger and identify some of the patterns in the night sky. Each constellation has inspired mythology and the book tells some of these stories. Draco the Dragon, for instance, is a constellation with lots of tales associated with him. One is the story of Hercules, a great hero who fought Draco as part of twelve tasks he had to perform.

The Darkest Dark

Chris Hadfield and Kate Fillion, Macmillan, 2016

This picture book is the real-life story of astronaut, Chris Hadfield. The story starts in 1969, when Chris is a little boy playing inside a huge cardboard rocket. All day Chris plays space games and dreams of a life in space. However, at bedtime he can’t sleep because he’s afraid of the dark. One day Chris’ parents tell him if he doesn’t sleep he will be too tired to watch the Moon landing at his neighbour’s house the next day. That night Chris sleeps well and dreams of exploring the Moon.

After watching Neil Armstrong land on the Moon Chris is no longer afraid of the dark. He realises for the first time ‘the power and mystery and velvety black of the dark’ and because we have our dreams we’re ‘never really alone there’.

One day Chris’ dreams come true. The book ends with a full-page illustration of Chris as a real-life astronaut floating above our beautiful Earth.

Does your child need help with reading?

The ability to read is fundamental – it makes nearly all other learning possible. That is why TutorMyKids only recruit reading tutors who are experienced, qualified teachers.

Reading difficulties can include issues with decoding, lack of comprehension skills or difficulty tracking texts. Some children just need a short-term boost from a tutor and others require longer term support.

Whatever your child needs, we will match them with a tutor who has the right experience. Your child’s tutor will tailor their teaching to ensure your child reaches their full potential and discovers the joy of reading.

To find out how we can help, talk to us today on 01223 858 421 or hello@tutormykids.co.uk

8 ways to celebrate Shakespeare Day

Shakespeare Day is celebrated on 23rd April to mark William Shakespeare’s birthday. Although we don’t know the exact date of Shakespeare’s birthday, we do know he was born around this time in 1564.

To this day we use expressions invented by Shakespeare in our everyday language, often without realising it! Children can learn plenty about human nature and life in Tutor England from Shakespeare’s compelling characters and exciting plots.

You can introduce children as young as seven to the world of Shakespeare through engaging activities and interactive experiences.

Invent Shakespearean language

Bernard Levin, author and broadcaster, famously wrote:

“If you cannot understand my argument, and declare “It’s Greek to me“, you are quoting Shakespeare;… if your lost property has vanished into thin air, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you have ever refused to budge an inch or suffered from green-eyed jealousy, if you have played fast and loose, if you have been tongue-tied, a tower of strength, hoodwinked or in a pickle…insisted on fair play, slept not one wink, stood on ceremony, danced attendance (on your lord and master), laughed yourself into stitches…you are quoting Shakespeare.”

Explore more of Shakespeare’s invented idioms. Have fun putting Shakespeare’s idioms into sentences, or make up your own idioms inspired by the Bard (‘bard’ means poet).

Share enthralling Shakespearean stories

Read children’s Shakespeare books and listen to audio versions together. Here are our favourites and all are suitable for children of seven and above.

Shakespeare Stories by Andrew Matthews and Tony Ross, Orchard Books, 2014

Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare by E Nesbitt, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2018. An audio version of the stories is also available.

Illustrated Stories from Shakespeare by Lesley Sims, Usborne Publishing, 2010

Shakespeare Retold, BBC Teach. These stories are spins on Shakespeare’s plays told by well-known authors.

Watch Shakespeare animated tales

Animated versions of Shakespeare’s stories are available on BBC Teach and BBC 2: Shakespeare the animated tales.

Enjoy Shakespeare comics for children

We recommend Marcia William’s books: Bravo, Mr William Shakespeare! and Mr William Shakespeare’s Plays. Both books feature classic Shakespeare plays presented in comic strip format which are fun for upper Key Stage 2 children to read.

Classic Comics publish graphic novels of Shakespeare’s plays that are suitable for older children.

Immerse yourself in Shakespeare’s world

The Royal Shakespeare Company is planning performances of Shakespeare’s plays including The Winter’s Tale, so it is worth keeping an eye on their website.

On Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre ‘playground’ website there are games, puzzles, animations, and interactive guided tours of the theatre. Children can go behind the scenes to see how costumes and sets are created at the famous Globe.

Folger Shakespeare Library and the CBBC Shakespeare Day websites offer activities, funny clips, facts and puzzles that truly immerse children in Shakespeare’s world.

Another way to engage young children with Shakespeare is through images. The What on Earth? Wallbook of Shakespeare: A Timeline Illustrating the Complete Plays of William Shakespeare is a fold-out timeline of all Shakespeare’s plays. The timeline is truly immersive and so detailed it will keep children exploring for hours.

Visit Shakespeare’s birthplace (when you can)

We can’t do this at the moment, but once lockdown has lifted a visit to Stratford-Upon-Avon is the very best way to bring Shakespeare to life.

See The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust website to find out about all the activities and family events they run. You can visit Shakespeare’s family homes and his school: Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Hall’s Croft, Harvard House and Mary Arden’s Farm.

Understand Shakespeare’s language

Shakespeare’s plays were written 400 years ago and so it’s not surprising we have difficulty understanding the language.

Spark Notes’ No Fear Shakespeare provides the full text of Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets with modern translations side-by-side.

Write Shakespearean tales

Create Shakespeare-inspired stories with a little bit of help from Deborah Patterson’s My Book of Stories: Write Your Own Shakespearean Tales.

Deborah provides stories starters, magical songs and bewitching lines from Shakespeare’s stories to inspire children to create their own characters and spin-off tales.

Would your child benefit from English Literature tuition?

Across the curriculum from Key Stage 2 to GCSE and A Level, children study both modern and classic plays, poetry and prose including the works of William Shakespeare.

Shakespeare’s works were written to be performed and watched rather than studied and our tutors know this. Every tutor is a highly qualified, creative teacher who can bring Shakespeare’s stories and poems to life for every child.

Our tutors also support children to develop English Literature skills including the ability to analyse and critically compare texts and be able to support a point of view with evidence.

To find out how one-to-one English Literature tuition can benefit your child, talk to us today: hello@tutormykids.co.uk 01223 858 421

How can I improve my 2021 teacher assessed grades?

The government has confirmed that students will receive teacher assessed grades this year. GCSE and A level exams will not go ahead in summer 2021 due to the disruption caused by Covid-19.

For those who find exams stressful teacher assessed grades may be welcome, but others might worry that their teachers could award them lower grades than they might have achieved in final exams.

In this post we talk about what steps you can take now to ensure you receive the teacher assessed grades you need and deserve.

What evidence will teachers use to award final grades?

The government has stated that teachers can use evidence of students’ work from any stage in the course to inform their judgement. They must draw upon a broad range of evidence which could include mock exam results, written coursework and test results – the evidence will depend upon the nature of the course. Exam boards will set optional questions that teachers can also use to help them to determine grades.

Teachers do not have to submit grades to exam boards until 18th June. This is so they can gather evidence over as long a period of time as possible to ensure grades are fair and accurate.

For more information about the evidence teachers can use read Ofqual’s, Decisions on how GCSE, AS and A level grades will be determined in summer 2021.

How can I improve my teacher assessed grades now?

From today you need to put as much effort as you can into every online lesson, essay, test and mock exam your teacher sets for you. Make sure you attend every lesson unless you have a very good reason not to do so.

When grades are based on a final exam result it is possible for students to compensate for any weaker assignments they may have submitted by revising extra hard towards the end of the course. In 2021, however, effort must be sustained over a longer time, which takes far greater dedication and focus.

You need to be able to:

  • Manage your time effectively. Create a study routine for yourself and stick to it. Make sure your timetable is realistic and remember that work often takes longer than you think when you’re planning. For tips on time management, see our blog post, Ways to teach children time management skills.
  • Choose the best place to study. Everyone is different – some people like a bit of background music and other people need total silence. If you live in a noisy house it might be worth investing in some noise-cancelling headphones. Find somewhere where you are less likely to get distracted.
  • Balance your time. It is important to get enough sleep, to eat healthily, to spend some time exercising (even a 20 minute walk twice a day makes a difference) and doing the things you love. Spending all day in a bedroom is not good for your mental health and can be counterproductive. See our blog post, 10 stress-busting tips for students.
  • Revise effectively for mocks and tests. In our blog post, Exam resits: your guide to a fresh start we share tried-and-tested revision techniques that really do work.

When will I receive my exam results?

A level and AS level students will receive their results on 10th August and GCSE students will receive their results on 12th August.

Can I appeal if I’m unhappy with my teacher assessed grades?

The government has stated that ‘all students have the opportunity to appeal their grade’.

If you are unhappy with your grade the first step is to talk to your school or college to find out whether an administrative error has been made. Should the school or college find a mistake they can submit a revised grade to the exam board. If the exam board agrees with their decision you will be awarded a new grade.

If your school or college stands by the grade they have awarded you then you can ask them to appeal to the exam board on your behalf. Your school or college will submit evidence for the exam board’s judgement and the exam board will decide whether your grade should change.

In the event that you don’t agree with the exam board’s decision, you can appeal to Ofqual’s Exams Procedures Review Service.

It is important to remember that when you appeal your grade it can go down as well as up.

Will I have the option to resit my GCSE or A level exams in the autumn?

The government has not yet announced whether resits will take place in autumn 2021 for those who are unhappy with their teacher assessed grades. However, it is widely expected that they will do so. For more information see, Ofqual’s Decisions on how GCSE, AS and A level grades will be determined in summer 2021, p. 11-12.

In 2020 60% of students who resat GCSE subjects (excluding English and maths) in the autumn term improved upon their grade.

Would you like support to improve your teacher assessed grades?

Your dedication and hard work over the next few months will ensure you achieve the teacher-assessed grade you deserve.

Our highly qualified, experienced tutors support students to study effectively and efficiently. They ensure students understand tricky subject areas and tailor their teaching styles to each individual.

We offer specialist one-to-one tuition in English, maths, science, humanities and languages. To find out how we can help you, talk to us today: 01223 858 421/hello@tutormykids.co.uk

World Maths Day: 10 easy maths games to play at home

World Maths Day on 3rd March aims to get children excited about maths. Here we share some easy, active maths games that you can do at home on World Maths Day – or at any time you have a couple of minutes to spare.

1. Beach ball sums

Cover a beach ball in sticky labels and write a sum on each. Sums could be addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fraction calculations – anything that’s appropriate for your child. For ideas use the internet by typing in your child’s key stage and ‘maths worksheets’ (for example: ‘key stage 3 maths worksheets’).

To play, throw the beach ball to your child and whichever sum their right thumb lands on they answer. Throw back and forth until they’ve answered most of the sums.

2. Calculator jump

Outside, chalk a grid (3 squares down and four across) that looks a bit like a calculator keypad. In the first row of squares write 7, 8, 9, -. In the second row write 4, 5, 6 +, and then 1, 2, 3, = in the last row. You could substitute the plus and minus signs for multiplication and division.

Children then make up their own sums (or you tell them a sum). They jump to the numbers, signs and answers. For example they might jump to 7, +, 1, =, 8.

3. Hopscotch

Play traditional hopscotch (if you’re not sure how to play look online for instructions). As your child lands on a number ask them to tell you the number that is one less/one more/two more/two less than that number.

Adapt the game to an appropriate level for your child. You might ask ‘What’s ten more?’ or ‘What number would you get if you added 21?’ As with the beach ball game, you could look on the internet to find ideas for sums.

4. Playing card calculations

To play this game you could either just use playing cards with numbers on them or include the picture cards and assign numbers to them (ace = 1, jack = 11, queen = 12, king = 12).

Divide the cards between two players. Each player lays two cards face up in front of them and then subtracts the lower number from the higher. The person who has the higher answer wins all four cards. If the total is the same, then the players turn over two more cards.

Make the game more challenging for older children by using the two cards to make a fraction. Whoever has the biggest fraction wins the cards.

5. Simon Says

Play the traditional game ‘Simon Says’ but with maths actions appropriate for your child. For younger children learning fractions and telling the time instructions could be: spin your body (or turn your head) clockwise, spin anti-clockwise, make a quarter turn, make a half turn, take two steps left (or hop two steps left), take two steps right.

Older children could make angles using their arms: acute, right, obtuse, 90 degree, 180 degree, parallel and perpendicular lines.

6. Skittles maths

Give your child a bag of Skittles. Before they eat them ask them to count each colour and record their results in a bar graph.

Older children could calculate the ratio of each colour to the total number of Skittles in the packet.

7. Times table catch

Throw a ball back and forth with your child, taking turns to say a times table. For example, you could count in 2s. When you have the ball you say ‘two’, when your child catches and throws the ball to you they say ‘four’, as you catch and throw the ball back you say ‘six’ and so on.

8. Twister recognition

For this game you need a Twister board. Place stickers over the circles. On the stickers draw different shapes (Google ‘shapes key stage 1’ or ‘shapes key stage 2’ to find appropriate shapes).

Play Twister in the ordinary way but call out ‘right foot triangle’ etc. You could ask your child to identify shapes by their corners and sides by saying, for example: ‘place your right foot on the shape that has three corners and three sides’.

Instead of shapes, children could identify fractions or money. You could write fractions on the stickers or use pictures of coins from the internet.

9. Weigh it

This activity supports your child to make predictions and to use scales.

Pick ten random items from your kitchen – a bunch of bananas, a tin of soup etc. Ask your child to predict the order of weight by placing the items in a line from lightest to heaviest. They then test their answers by weighing the items.

10. World probability

For this game you need an inflatable globe. Throw and catch an inflatable globe with your child fifty times. Each time you and your child catch the ball record whether your or their left thumb landed on water or land. 

When you’ve finished the game, record the ratio. As 70% of the world is covered in water, the result will probably be around 7:3. Based on this ratio ask your child to predict the probability that your or their thumb will land on any of the continents if you play again. Test it out!

More maths games to play at home

For more ideas to develop your child’s maths skills see our blog post, 10 of the best (free!) maths games websites for primary children.

Would your child benefit from one-to-one maths tuition?

TutorMyKids offers one-to-one maths tuition for children from primary age upwards. Our tutors boost children’s confidence in their ability which in turn raises achievement.

Whether your child is struggling with a particular aspect of maths or needs to master a greater range of skills, we can support them. To find out more talk to us today: 01223 858 421/hello@tutormykids.co.uk

How to keep teenagers busy on lockdown weekends

Lockdown weekends can be boring for teenagers who are used to going out and about seeing their friends. Many parents worry that their children are miserable and spending too much time playing computer games.

Here we share some ideas to keep teenagers busy on lockdown weekends – hopefully one or two activities will really spark their interest.

Create an anime

An anime is a hand-drawn computer animation that comes from Japan. Creating an anime involves weaving stories and then building and illustrating a story world. Teenagers who are interested in art and design can acquire valuable new skills making these computer animations.

Escape Room challenge

Escape room games are fun for the whole family and teenagers can play with their friends. These games can be played virtually during the pandemic. See Durham Escape Rooms and Escape Live online challenges.

Go cycling

If your teenager needs an incentive to go cycling, try the Strava app. The app encourages cyclists to improve their distance over time.

Join a stage school

The Stage Academy provide online classes in singing, dancing and acting for children and teenagers. The classes are taught by industry professionals and students receive one-to-one feedback. Even before lockdown these classes were popular as they are interactive, engaging and excellent value for money.

Just Dance

The Just Dance computer game is a fun way for teenagers to exercise to the latest tracks. The game can be played on most platforms.

Learn a new language

Learning a new language is something you might enjoy doing as a whole family – see Duolingo.

If your child is learning a language for GCSE or A Level, TutorMyKids offers one-to-one language tuition online with fully qualified, expert tutors.

Learn coding for beginners

With a Code Academy online course, teenagers will learn to code computers and then apply their knowledge to real life scenarios. Coding skills are well sought after by employers and are worth the time investment for those interested.

Learn juggling

This can become quite competitive for the whole family. There are lots of instructional videos online. We like CBBC’s Learn to juggle with three balls.

Learn photography

Photography is a great incentive to go outside. If your teenager has an Iphone or Android they could take a course in smartphone photography to learn how to compose photographs by framing the subject and how to use the app to improve colour, contrast and brightness.

Alternatively, if they (or you) own a DSLR camera they could take an online course with The Institute of Photography.

Learn to sew

For free sewing classes to inspire your teenager, see the Crazy Little Projects website. If your teenager is really interested in sewing and wants to make their own clothes have a look at Bobbin and Ink’s nine week sewing lessons.

They could even make scrubs for the NHS!

Learn touch typing for kids

Touchtyping is an invaluable skill in the digital age. Learning to touchtype rather than jabbing keys with two fingers can prevent repetitive strain injury and speed up schoolwork.

Make a photobook

Most of us have got photos on our phones and computers that have been there for ages, but how often do we look at them? Your teenager could spend time usefully designing a photobook of treasured memories.

Make a podcast

Does your teenager enjoy listening to podcasts? If so, they could create their own. It’s very easy to start a podcast and many podcast hosting platforms have comprehensive, easy-to-follow guides for beginners.

Listen to podcasts

If your child is looking for something new to listen to here is a list of 20 of the best podcasts for teenagers.

Play Dungeons & Dragons

Dungeons and Dragons is a world of stories, board games and digital games. If your child enjoys fantasy adventure then this immersive world could be for them!

Solve a Rubik’s Cube

Rubik’s Cubes are back. These fantastic puzzles develop problem solving skills and encourage perseverance. Have a look at the official Rubik’s website for tips and tricks.

Take piano our ukulele lessons

Get your earplugs ready – your teenager could learn to play the piano or the ukulele online! In fact, a quick Google search will reveal that your child can learn to play just about any musical instrument they like.

Love learning with TutorMyKids one-to-one tuition

If your child’s enthusiasm for learning has waned since lockdown, they may benefit from tailored one-to-one tuition to get them back on track.

Our tutors are highly qualified and experienced. They know how to motivate teenagers and re-ignite their spark.

To find out more, email or phone us today: hello@tutormykids.co.uk/01223 858 421

How to homeschool and work (and stay sane)

We all know that it is extremely challenging to homeschool children and work at the same time. Many parents are working early in the morning and late into the night so they can homeschool their children during the day. Some parents are managing babies and toddlers whilst supervising older children. These daily struggles on top of other worries mean most parents are physically and mentally exhausted.

Here we share some ideas to support you and your family to cope over the coming weeks. We also share some of the positives of homeschooling to keep you going!

How can I work from home with a young family?

The answer is, of course, with great difficulty. By now you have probably found a way to manage. You might be homeschooling in ‘shifts’ with your partner or working very early and/or late in the day.

The most important thing is to try not to overstretch yourself. For example, if you are working early in the morning do not regularly work late into the night. Looking after young children is hard work and nobody can maintain such a gruelling routine for long without becoming run down or unwell.

If you are struggling to juggle, speak to your employer about their family policies and discuss how you can work more flexibly. Most employers know that the health and wellbeing of their workforce is paramount to the success of their business.

If you have no choice but to work for an hour or two during the day then you cannot teach young children at the same time. Don’t feel guilty if your children are spending time on the tablet so you won’t be interrupted – at the end of the day, you have work to put food on the table. Equally, when your children need you do not feel guilty for stopping to put their needs first.

Why is it a good idea to follow a routine?

Establishing a daily routine can help us to feel a little more in control of our lives. It can also help us get through the day by breaking it into bitesize chunks. Your routine needs to work for you rather than against you by being flexible (what else can it be when you are caring for young children?).

Children learn better and feel more comfortable when there is some routine to their day. Whatever routine you establish it is best to make sure your child gets up and goes to bed at roughly the same time every day, that they have regular mealtimes and regular breaks where they are active outdoors.

Do live classes suit your family?

Like secondary schools, most primary schools are now providing ‘live’ classes online alongside links to online learning that can be completed at children’s own pace.

For some families live classes are helpful as their child will sit and listen to their teacher and work independently. However, live classes do not suit every family. The timing may be difficult due to the parent’s work routine or the child may not be benefitting from them.

If live classes are more of a nuisance than a benefit consider whether it is worth doing them. Make the choice that is right for your child and your family life and talk to your child’s teacher. Schools have a duty of care and will regularly ‘check-in’ to make sure everything is alright and to find out if they can offer any further help.

Are you feeling guilty about screen time?

Your child is probably spending more time in front of a screen than they usually would. Not only are they likely to be learning online but they may also be playing computer games. Screens are a saviour for many (if not most!) parents at the moment.

Children who are deprived of friends, clubs and their usual activities may seek more one-to-one attention from parents who are struggling to juggle work and daily chores. Screens can free parents to get things done and possibly have two minutes breathing space.

However, we can’t escape the fact that hours of screen time in a day is not healthy. Too much screen time may cause difficulty sleeping, behavioural issues and physical problems, but what can we do about it?

We need to accept that these are difficult times and children are going to spend more time on screens than we would like – this might just be a habit we have to break when school returns. What we can do is try our best to balance out the day with learning experiences that are not screen-based. Here are some ideas:

How does fresh air help?

Taking breaks to go outside during the day is important for the whole family.

Many people who are working from home are spending longer hours sitting at a desk than they would if they were in the office. With no health and safety department to do ‘desk checks’ bad backs and stiff necks are the order of the day!

Going for a quick daily walk or playing a ten-minute game of football or swingball can be PE for the whole family. Children who might be reluctant to go out in the cold might be encouraged to do so if they can take their favourite toys outside. They could search for minibeasts under stones, dig holes ‘to Australia’, chalk out roads, or just stomp about in the frost. There are plenty of studies highlighting all the ways fresh air is good for us. Time outdoors lifts our mood improving our blood pressure and heart rate and strengthening our immune system. It gives us breathing space to think (especially if children are busily engaged) and it wakes us up and sharpens our minds.

Are there any positives to homeschooling in a pandemic?

Homeschooling is not for everybody. Those who homeschooled their children before the pandemic will tell you that this is a very different experience. Pre-pandemic their children regularly met with other children, they attended groups, they might have gone ice-skating or learnt in a museum.

Even so, there are still some positives parents might take from this experience, and some may resonate with you:

  • Your child’s reading may improve. Teachers rarely hear individual children read more than once a week because the curriculum is so packed. Reading is the cornerstone of children’s education so if you are reading with (and to) your child every day this is a significant benefit.
  • You can pace learning to suit your child. If they are finding something difficult you can stop to explain further, and if something is easy you can skip forward and move on. With around thirty children in a class personalised learning is hard to achieve at school.
  • Your child can spend more time doing the things they love. For example, if your child is interested in birds they could find out and write about birds and engage in a whole project about them.
  • You can learn with your child. Children might be learning about subjects you find interesting too. You could even go out of your way to learn a new skill together. For example, you might learn a language with BBC Muzzy, research a period in history, or learn a craft.
  • Although it won’t always feel that way, being at home can bring you and your children closer together and strengthen the bond between you.

Top tip for staying sane

On the weekends play games together with willing members of the family. Whether it’s Monopoly, a chasing game in the garden, watching a funny YouTube video or a silly film – it doesn’t matter as long as it makes everybody smile.

Try to make time to do something you want to do; this could be taking exercise, learning a new skill, arts and crafts or lying in a bubble bath. If you have a partner you could manage childcare in ‘shifts’. 

We all need enjoyment and laughter to help the daily load feel a little bit lighter.

TutorMyKids – Support with homeschooling

If you think your child would benefit from extra one-to-one support during this time, TutorMyKids can help you. We offer private tuition to children and young people of ages and all our tutors are currently working online. Our tutors specialise in maths, English, science, humanities and languages.

Every tutor is highly qualified and experienced. They know how to motivate children to perform to the best of their ability, even during these difficult times.

If you are juggling homeschool and work and would like extra support for your child contact us today: hello@tutormykids.co.uk /01223 858 421