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

How to talk to your child about disabilities

Children are naturally curious and they notice differences between themselves and other people whether that’s disability, skin colour, ways of dressing or something else.

They might have a classmate in a wheelchair or a cousin who is on the autistic spectrum. They may have noticed somebody on television and started asking questions about them.

Curiosity is healthy and it’s okay! When your child asks questions, it is important to be prepared to answer them as honestly as you can. Here we share some thoughts to help you talk to your child about disabilities.

Don’t worry if your child asks questions in public

It can be very embarrassing when your young child loudly asks a question about somebody within hearing range, but most people with disabilities understand young children’s curiosity. Some people are more than happy to engage with children and answer questions themselves.

Try to resist saying “Don’t stare” as this gives the message that disability is something to avoid. As you walk away calmly answer your child’s questions. If you don’t know the answers be honest and say, “I don’t know”.

Keep explanations short and positive

When your child asks questions keep your answers concise and positive. For example, if they ask: “Why is that girl in a wheelchair?” rather than replying “Her legs don’t work” you could say, “Because her legs work differently to ours and a wheelchair helps her to move around”.

Focus on how aids help people – “His hearing aid helps him to hear” rather than “He can’t hear”.

Use respectful language

The words you use are a message to your child about how we value people with disabilities. Do not use words that would make another person feel ‘less than’ anybody else, for example ‘cripple’ or ‘retarded’.

Words that were once used freely may not be acceptable today. See the government guidance, Inclusive language: words to use and avoid when writing about disability.

Talk about similarities

If your child knows somebody with a disability talk about similarities between them. By doing this you communicate the fact that their disability doesn’t define them. It is important that your child knows the person has the same feelings and needs as they do.

Perhaps your child and the other child like playing football or listening to the same music? Do they have shared friends or go to the same clubs? By talking about similarities you separate the person from their disability.

Focus on strengths

Help your child to understand that just because somebody struggles in one area does not mean they don’t excel in others. A classmate with Down Syndrome might be good at art, a visually impaired child might be a fast runner.

Talk to your child about what they are good at and what they find difficult, so they begin to understand that everybody has strengths and struggles. Encourage them to offer help when they see somebody finding something difficult, just as they would want help themselves.

Treat medical aids with respect

Your child may need to learn that medical aids such as canes, guide dogs and wheelchairs are not toys, but are there to help a person. If your child wants to stroke a guide dog, for example, give a short explanation why not: “Let’s not distract the dog because he’s helping that person to see. He isn’t a pet”.

Share positive images of disabilities

Integrate positive images of disabilities into your child’s daily life by including a few age-appropriate books and toys in their collection that reflect diversity. If you type ‘books about disabilities’ into a search engine you will see that there are plenty of books to choose from.

There is less choice with toys. However, Orchard Toys make some puzzles and games that reflect real people – see their Woodland Party jigsaw and Giant Road. Toys Like Me have based their whole philosophy around inclusivity to ‘boost self-esteem and grow open minds’.

Do not define a person by their disability. For example, say ‘has Down Syndrome’ rather than ‘Down’s child’.

Home tuition for special educational needs

If your child needs additional help to achieve to the best of their ability, TutorMyKids will find the best tutor for them.

We will match your child with a tutor who is not only a specialist in their subject but who also has experience working with children who have barriers to learning. This includes physical, sensory, emotional, social, communication and interaction, or challenges relating to cognition and learning.

Talk to us today to discuss how we can help your child: 01223 858 421/hello@tutormykids.co.uk

10 benefits of online tuition

Online tuition has become a popular choice with parents during the Covid pandemic. At TutorMyKids we are continuing to see a rise in enquiries. Safety advantages aside, here we share our top ten reasons why you might opt for digital tuition.

  1. Finding time is easier

Neither you (or the tutor) will need to factor in travel time. As most face-to-face tuition happens after school, rush hour traffic can mean the time available for tuition is limited.

As it is easier to find time, you can choose to opt for shorter and more frequent lessons. For some students, learning more regularly in shorter bursts is a more effective strategy than less frequent, longer sessions.

2. It is easier to find the right tutor

When you learn online your tutor can live anywhere in the country. This means you have a greater choice of tutor and you are more likely to find a tutor that best suits your child’s needs.

3. More contact with your tutor

As your child will be in contact with their tutor online anyway, it is easier for them to ask for help between sessions by email or via their phone.

4. More flexibility

If your child is suddenly unavailable at the last minute it is easier to reschedule an online lesson than a face-to-face lesson.

Also, if the tutor finds that your child would benefit from additional, unplanned resources during the course of the lesson they are more likely to have them at hand because they are at home.

5. Sharing resources

Teaching online enables the tutor to share files, videos and links during the course of the lesson. Resource sharing via a storage cloud means that practice exam questions and study materials can more easily be shared as there is no need to print reams of paper.

6. Technology assists learning

Online whiteboards, Google Earth, Google Maps and screen sharing are examples of online technology that helps to further students’ learning. Visual technology can increase a student’s engagement and enhance their understanding of tricky concepts.

7. Develops IT skills

Learning online helps students to develop the information technology skills they need in today’s job market. Students will communicate through chat platforms and video conference. They may need to upload assignments, convert files from Word to PDF, conduct searches, install and update software and more.

8. The best of both worlds

Online tuition provides a balance between traditional ‘distance learning’ and face-to-face tuition. Students become independent learners and at the same time receive guidance and support through live interaction with a tutor.

9. Develops independence

Online tuition enables students to take greater ownership of their learning without an adult standing over them. They are more responsible for organising their own time and become better at learning independently. Whatever their next step in life, being an independent, self-motivated learner will be essential.

10. More relaxed

Some students find online learning more relaxing than face-to-face tuition because nobody else is physically in the room with them.  They can feel more empowered and in charge of their own learning as there is less social pressure than there might be with somebody sitting beside them.

Book an online tutor today

During the Covid pandemic our tutors have discovered many benefits to online tuition. We offer maths, English, science, humanities and language tuition online.

All our tutors are highly qualified with years of experience, and they know how to motivate students of all ages to perform to the best of their ability. We will match your child with the tutor who is best suited to them so they get the most from online learning.

To discuss how we can help your child, contact us today: hello@tutormykids.co.uk/01223 858 421

Getting involved in the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch 2021

The RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch runs from 29th-31st January. To get involved, you need to choose one of those days to spend one hour counting and identifying the birds in your garden. The data you collect enables the RSBP to create a snapshot of bird numbers to monitor which birds are thriving and which are not.

Getting involved can be a great January mood booster for the whole family. Children will learn to identify birds and it might spark a lifelong interest in caring for nature and the environment.

Getting involved in the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch 2021

Visit the RSPB website and sign up to receive details and a free bird guide.

It’s a good idea to invest in some children’s binoculars if you haven’t got any  – they cost very little online.

Bird-themed arts and crafts

Feed children’s enthusiasm for birds with these easy ideas:

Bird cake

Attract more birds to your garden before the Big Garden Birdwatch (or any time of the year) with the RSPB’s bird cake recipe.  This is not a project for children with nut allergies and all children need to be reminded that bird cake is not safe for them to eat.

Birdfeeder

Follow the RSPB’s instructions to make a birdfeeder from recycled materials.

Bird bath

You could make your own bird bath from terracotta pots and paint it with children. There are plenty of instructions online.

Birdcam

Find out what birds visit your garden when you’re not there by setting up a Birdcam. Birdcams cost £40 upwards.

Photography and painting

Encourage children to take photographs of garden birds. They could print a photograph of their favourite bird to paint or draw with water colour paints, crayons or chalks.

Edible birds’ nests

After spending an hour outside bird spotting, enjoy a hot chocolate and an edible bird’s nest together!

Birds nests are made by mixing melted chocolate with shredded wheat and allowing them to set (see Art and Soul’s delicious recipe). Once nests are set, place some mini eggs in the centre. Be aware that mini eggs are a choking hazard for young children, so cut them in half (as you would with grapes).

Feather art

All you need are scraps of fabric (old clothes and bed linen will do), some craft wire and tape or glue to create your own feather art. Children’s imaginations are the limit.

For more bird-themed art ideas visit Danielle’s Place.

Decorate eggs

Here are some different ways to decorate eggs. These crafts are suitable for children of all ages.

Collage owl

Create a collage owl by sticking shapes cut from old newspapers and magazines onto a sheet of black or dark blue card.

Cut a light sheet of newspaper (with little print) in the shape of a body, a darker (more densely printed) head shaped piece, followed by black circles for the eyes, dark print for the claws and an orange/yellow print beak.

To get an idea type ‘owl newspaper collage’ into Google Images. You can use an owl template as a basis for the shapes – also printable from Google Images (‘owl template’).

Out and About

RSPB Reserves

To find an RSPB reserve near you visit the RSPB’s website. As well as seeing stunning wildlife spectacles and learning about conservation, children can enjoy activities such as pond dipping, nest box building and face painting in the school holidays.

Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust

For a nearby wetlands centre see the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust. Children will have the chance to go inside bird hides and see rare species such as kingfishers in their natural wetland habitat.  Some centres have tropical houses full of colourful and exotic species of plants and animals.  There are wet play areas where children can have fun splashing, stomping and wading through the water.

The Raptor Foundation

Based in Cambridgeshire, the Raptor Foundation provides 24 hour care and rehabilitation for injured raptors. Children will experience the thrill of owls and other birds of prey flying closely over their heads –  it’s an amazing experience. 

Our tutors fire children’s interest in science and nature

At TutorMyKids our science tutors are passionate about making science fun for children by showing them how it is relevant to their everyday lives. We believe that harnessing children’s natural curiosity about the world around them is the key to achievement.

Whether your child finds an area of science difficult or they are an enthusiastic scientist with a thirst for learning more, we can help. We offer tailored one-to-one tuition for children from primary school up to A Level. To talk about your child’s requirements, please get in touch today: 01223 858 421/hello@tutormykids.co.uk

Lockdown Christmas with children? Read our activities for a magical time!

The build-up

Call Santa

If you want to avoid Santa’s grotto this year you could arrange a Zoom call with Santa instead. Your child can talk to Santa or Mrs Claus, or they can see what the elves are doing in the toy workshop and what the reindeers are up to. Santa, Mrs Claus or an elf can also read your child a festive story. Experiences start from around £25.

Santa’s Lapland is another company offering a video call experience. Children meet Santa in a snowy setting and have a grand tour of his grotto. However, it’s expensive  – prices start from £85.

Christmas crafts

Poundland stock a range of easy (and inexpensive) Christmas craft kits for young children, like this Christmas card kit.

We love Red Ted Art’s Christmas star idea as it’s easy, relaxing and keeps children of all ages busy. All you need is card (a cereal box will do), oddments of wool and cellotape.

For very young children we like Happy Hooligan’s icicle ornament and Pinterest’s pinecone owl. Older children might enjoy the craft ideas on Crayola’s website.

Christmas cooking

For children who love cooking The Best Ever Baking Book by Jane Bull is full of simple but imaginative festive ideas. BBC Good Food also has easy Christmas baking ideas for children and we can definitely recommend the Snowman Biscuits!

Giving a present to a child in need

The Salvation Army work to make sure that children who are in need receive a present at Christmas. They work closely with schools, health visitors and social services departments to choose families. There are collection centres all around the country, so it’s easy to donate a present. Your child could choose a present and you could talk to them about why it is important to give and how rewarding it is to help others.

Refuge are also asking for donations this Christmas for children fleeing domestic abuse. You and your child can choose a gift box from Refuge’s website to give to a child.

Christmas Eve box

Make the build up to Christmas Day even more exciting by giving your child a Christmas Eve box to open (which could be a shoe box decorated with wrapping paper). You don’t have to spend much money.

You could fill it with bought or home-made sweet treats, a sachet of hot chocolate, a pair of Christmas socks, a book or a stocking filler game. The box can be filled with the things your child loves, and if you’re looking for inspiration there are plenty of great ideas online.

Christmas Day and Boxing Day

Family games

Take a look at these Good Housekeeping games to keep the whole family busy and entertained once their Christmas dinner has gone down. There’s Christmas Guess Who? which features members of your own family, a race to see who can open a present fastest when wearing oven gloves, a snowman bowling game and plenty more!

Christmas walk incentives

Days Out With The Kids suggest some fabulous ways to persuade reluctant children to get some much needed fresh air with the family.

We like the forest postcard idea. Cover a plain postcard with strips of double-sided tape and ask your child to collect things as they walk, decorating the postcard as they go with leaves, sticks, seeds etc.

You could also incentivise your child to walk by taking them on a Geocaching treasure hunt. Geocaching is finding hidden goodies using a handheld GPS.

Zoom call games

If you’re planning to call family and friends over the Christmas period you could turn your meeting into a party with online games such as 20 Questions. To play 20 Questions, everyone takes turns to ask each person in the group twenty questions. It doesn’t matter how well you know the other people, you will always discover something new about them. For ideas, see 200 Questions to get to know someone.

For more Zoom call games, visit the Good Housekeeping website.

Your child’s positive start to 2021

Coronavirus has disrupted children’s education over the last year causing a great deal of confusion, uncertainty and worry.

TutorMyKids home tutors are here to help children regain any confidence they may have lost, to re-ignite their love of learning and to help them achieve their goals.

If you think we can help to give your child the very best start to the New Year, get in touch by phone or email today: 01223 858 421/hello@tutormykids.co.uk

How to write an outstanding UCAS application

An outstanding UCAS application is the key to being offered a place on the university course of your choice. Here we offer you top tips to help you write your way to success.

  1. Meet the selection criteria

All universities have selection criteria. These are guidelines that they use to decide whether to offer you a place on your chosen course.

Most of the time, selection criteria can be found on university’s websites. These will tell you what A level and GCSE subjects you need, how many grade points you will need to have, and any other specific skills they look for.

As an example, if you look at the University of Portsmouth’s Biology page you will find ‘Entry requirements’ and ‘What experience you’ll need’ – these are the selection criteria.

2. Get the best grades you can

Exam grades are the most important selection criteria. It is possible that you could be rejected if your GCSE results are not high enough. If you are yet to sit your A Levels then your teachers will supply predicted grades for your UCAS application form.  It is fine to ask your teachers what these grades are likely to be so you can apply for the right courses.

If you do not receive the GCSE grades or A Level grades you were hoping for then it is certainly not the end of the world! Read our blog post, Exam resits: your guide to a fresh start.

3. Make sure your referee is behind you

Your referee is the person who will provide your predicted A Level grades and the person who will persuade the university to offer you a place on your chosen course. Make sure you make a positive impression on your referee. If you don’t turn up to classes, you are often late or you miss coursework deadlines, this will colour their opinion of you.

If your referee plans to predict A Level grades that are lower than you had hoped for then it is worth asking them whether they will raise their predictions if you improve your work from now. Remember to be realistic in your expectations though. If you have been mainly achieving a specific grade all year then this is likely to remain their prediction.

4. Write an outstanding UCAS personal statement

An outstanding UCAS application will always have an outstanding personal statement. In your personal statement you need to say why you want to study your chosen subject, what you’ve achieved in your life and who you are.

The university admissions tutor will need to be convinced that you have the commitment and ability to stick with the course and achieve the best results at the end. University admissions tutors know that students who get involved in interests outside the classroom are more likely to join in with university life and be independent-minded. Students like this tend to find living away from home easier and are more likely to stay the course.

Make sure you know the university’s selection criteria (see above) inside out and that you have read the course description. That way you can link your skills, interests and achievements to what the university are looking for.

Begin by emptying your head of all your ideas and listing them on paper. Consider:

  • Your reasons for choosing the course, which you could relate to your A Level subjects and career plans.
  • Your achievements, interests and experience and how these are relevant to the course.
  • Why you are enthusiastic about the course.
  • How you have the skills needed to do well in the course, emphasising any skills mentioned in the selection criteria.

Write as much as you can and get others to help you if you get stuck for ideas. If you are applying for more than one subject area you will need to emphasise one subject over the other. Make the point that you are interested in your second choice subject but at the same time strongly gear your UCAS application towards your first choice. It might be possible to emphasise both equally but beware of making your application too vague and general. If you really can’t decide which subject to emphasise then go back and really study the course descriptions, asking yourself why you want to choose each subject.

Always be honest on your personal statement. Your referee will read your personal statement and the university will expect you to discuss it during an interview.

Once you’ve made your notes, write your personal statement to the best of your ability. Remember you are likely to be judged on the quality of your writing too. If your statement isn’t long enough talk to family, friends and teachers who may be able to help you with ideas or remind you about achievements. If your statement is too long, remove anything repetitive, irrelevant or an achievement from long ago. You can also save space by taking out ‘nothing’ words such as ‘particularly’, ‘very’, ‘really’ and so on.

When you have written your personal statement always read it aloud. Reading aloud will help you to hear anything that doesn’t sound right. Ask another trusted person to read your statement too – choose somebody who knows you well and has good writing skills themselves.

Leave your finished personal statement to ‘rest’ for a few days. It’s surprising how new ideas will come to you in this time and how you will suddenly see how you can make it even better!

Achieve the best grades with TutorMyKids

TutorMyKids one-to-one tutors help students to achieve the grades they need for an outstanding UCAS application.

Our supportive tutors work at students’ own pace and we make sure that subject areas and concepts are fully understood before moving on. We help students to build their confidence so that they can fulfil their university dreams.

If you think we could help you or your child with forthcoming exams contact us on 01223 858 421 or hello@tutormykids.co.uk