How COVID has changed homeschooling.

Over the last 2 or 3 months, I’ve had a number of conversations with parents who have or who are considering homeschooling their children. It feels like there’s been a sea change in people’s thinking and acting upon those thoughts, since we’ve been living with COVID-19.

The parents that I’ve spoken to recently cite the following as influences to their thinking:

  • Shielding a member of the family
  • The improved mental health of their child during lock-down.
  • Change of lifestyle – combining education with travelling.
  • A desire for education that suits the needs of their child better.
  • To study a curriculum that is better focused on their child’s needs and career aspirations.

There are many issues to be considered, not least of which whether it would suit you! Many parents have decided that it’s certainly not within their skill-set and are delighted that schools are re-opened! Take a look at the Pros and Cons of homeschooling – it makes an interesting read, discussing capabilities as well as aptitude.

How Tutor My Kids can help.

The majority of our teachers are qualified teachers who understand the UK curriculum and requirement of the various exam boards. We can tailor a package of help that suits your child and your skills. You may be absolutely comfortable tutoring GCSE English and the humanities, but want to supplement that with a tutor for GCSE maths, for example. It may be an understanding of the exam marking schemes that leave you feeling a bit uncomfortable – are you advising your child well so they can get all the marks that are available to them? For example, the use of specific appropriate scientific vocabulary in the GCSE science exams can make a significant difference in the marks and consequently the grade awarded.

Online teaching has been a complete game changer.

Before lock-down, I’d been very reticent about online teaching feeling that it was of a lesser quality to the gold-standard of face-to-face tuition. However, I’ve found myself completely sold on this new way or working. Take a look at our other blog – Online tuition has been a complete game-changer.

Online tuition is enabling us to help out those families who are shielding, whilst still providing fully qualified teachers to deliver a bespoke curriculum for their family.

For families that are able to work remotely or want a change of lifestyle, our tutors are able to offer a first-class education to families whilst they travel and/or work in multiple locations.

Please feel free to take a look at our For Parents page and our testimonials for more information.

Online tuition has been a complete game-changer.

Online Tuition

Before lock-down, I’d been very reticent about online teaching – feeling that it was of a lesser quality to the ‘gold-standard’ of face-to-face tuition. However, I’ve now found myself completely sold on this new way of working.

Firstly, it must be said that our already amazing tutors have been nothing short of stunning, delivering superb lessons for our students, using the latest software and screen-sharing options. I think this is working well for the following reasons:

  • Many students are very happy online and we find they are more focused on the tutor, so more intensive work is completed.
  • Our tutors report that students are fully ready for them at the appointed time, meaning that they get more tuition in the allotted time.
  • We’re able to put the tutor best suited to work with the student, rather than the very best tutor who can travel to them.
  • Our tutors can help more students overall because they’re travelling less, so can deliver more lessons.

However, face-to-face tuition is still a great option for many students and with the appropriate social distancing is continuing to work well. In fact, for some students, for example, students who are out of school for health or behaviour reasons (alternative provision) it’s often the only option that will work effectively.

Whilst we don’t know if we’ll be faced with a national or multiple local lock-downs, moving forward, it’s reassuring for us at Tutor My Kids to know that we can accommodate most options.

If you’re considering getting a tutor for your child, please take a look at our For Parents page and check out our client testimonials.

If you’re a teacher who is interested in becoming a tutor for Tutor My Kids, please take a look at our For Tutors page and our tutor testimonials.

How parents can support children with dyslexia returning to school post-lockdown

For many children with dyslexia being away from school for a long period of time was a dream come true. For those children school represents struggle and at home they felt more relaxed being able to learn at their own pace. They may have felt a weight off their shoulders away from the daily pressure to produce quick results whilst sitting at a desk in a noisy classroom.

Other children may have found learning alone very difficult without the support of their teacher. Lockdown may have exacerbated the challenges they face with reading, writing, memorising and organising information.

If your child is anxious about returning to school you may be wondering how to help them. Here we share some suggestions and signpost you towards any further help you may need.

  1. Contact friends

Arrange for your child to regularly see one or two friends from their class after school. Friendships help children to feel a sense of belonging. Knowing that others care for them raises their self-esteem and helps to reduce feelings of anxiety.

To avoid seeing too many different people at this time your child could contact friends over video call. Video calling doesn’t work quite as well with small children but you could set up a game to encourage social interaction.

2. Talk to your child about their worries

It’s not always easy to talk to a child or young person about their worries. Pick a time when they are calm such as when you are out for a walk together rather than when they are in an emotional state. Be clear that their worries are not silly and that you won’t take any steps to tackle their worry that they are not happy with. 

You might start by asking your child how they are feeling about returning to school and normalize their feelings: “You’re right, the first day back is always nerve-wracking – I feel like that too when…”

3. Give children time to express their feelings

Activities can help children to express their feelings as they are more relaxed. Small children might enjoy sensory activities such as playing with homemade playdough scented with herbs and spices, making chocolate cake, or engaging in messy play with flour and water or paint.

Older children might like hands-on activities such as cooking, painting, crafting, and planting (see our blog post Summer science fun: Growing monster plants!)

4. Support your child how to manage anxiety

See our 10 stress-busting tips for students for some tips to help older children. Childline also has some advice on managing anxiety and on the coronavirus.

If your child has an ongoing struggle with anxiety you can also talk to your family GP who can put you in touch with a specialist service. Remember anxiety is treatable and it is possible to help your child to manage it so that it doesn’t impact the quality of their life.

NHS England lists some signs of anxiety for parents to be aware of. These include changes in mood, difficulty eating and sleeping and noticeably struggling to manage their emotions.

5. Talk to your child’s teacher

If your child has enjoyed learning at home and is feeling anxious about returning to a classroom environment, talk to your child’s teacher together with the school SENCO. They may need to put additional strategies in place to support your child. For example, they might give your child lesson materials such as Powerpoint slides to view in advance of a lesson, take a more multisensory approach to their learning or consider assistive technologies.

6. Plan fun things to do

Having interesting things to look forward to on the weekends and in the evenings reminds children that school is only part of their lives. It might be as simple as a film and takeaway night or a weekend visit to see a family friend.

Support for children with dyslexia

TutorMyKids can match your child with a specialist dyslexia tutor who can work in partnership with you to support their individual needs and raise their self-esteem.

To find out more please visit our parents page or get in touch: 01223 858 421/hello@tutormykids.co.uk

Homeschool activities: Children’s Art Week and maths

Children’s Art Week which is organised by Engage, the National Association for Gallery Education, runs from 29th June to 29th July.

The aim of Children’s Art Week is to inspire children to explore different kinds of art and to experiment with a range of media. Families can participate in online workshops led by artists and try their hand at everything from architecture to snow globe making.

Here we share art activities that also develop children’s maths skills. You can try these at home as part of Children’s Art Week or at any time as a way to engage your child with maths. Art and maths are closely related with both subjects requiring the ability to recognise patterns, to understand shapes, symmetry, proportion and measurement and spatial reasoning.

All the activities need very few resources. We hope you and your child have fun!

Tessellation art

Tessellation is a pattern made with polygons (shapes with three or more sides) that completely fills a space with no gaps at all. Tessellations can be seen everywhere from the brickwork of your house to the tiles on your bathroom floor!

You will need A4 card, a glue stick, and a selection of pre-cut squares, rectangles and triangles of different colours. Challenge your child to choose shapes and arrange them on their piece of paper without leaving any spaces in between. Once they are happy they glue their shapes in place. See Art Inspired by Klee for photographs and further instructions.

Older children can try more challenging patterns – their imagination is the limit!

Pi cityscape

Children don’t need to understand the concept of pi to enjoy this activity, so it’s suitable for all ages. For young children it is a good way to help them to remember that pi = 3.14 when they need to know later. Children in Key Stage 2 might benefit from watching Pi for Kids and carrying out measuring activities to develop their mathematical understanding as a supplement to this activity.

Start by printing out the single page pi poster from 10 MinuteMath. Children will also need a piece of graph paper and felt tipped pens. They create a line of skyscrapers by colouring in blocks of squares to match each number in pi – the finished result looks a bit like a bar chart. So they colour 3 blocks, then 1 block, then 4 blocks and so on (3.14…). For instructions accompanied by pictures, visit What do we do all day?

Aboriginal repeating patterns

We love this activity on Nic Hahn’s blogspot. It’s very easy to follow and the effects are beautiful. Young children will learn about repeating patterns, and older children can adapt the activity by making up more complex repeating patterns.

All you need is paper, paint and cotton wool buds. If you don’t have cotton wool buds then finger prints are fine.

Weaving patterns

This therapeutic activity utilizes children’s measuring and pattern making skills.

You will need a paper plate, either paint or felt tipped pens, scissors, and balls of different coloured wool. Children start by decorating the paper plate however they wish. They then turn the plate into a loom by cutting slits around the rim and weaving wool in and out, before weaving their design between these strands.

Cassie Stephen’s blog spot has some beautiful photographs of finished designs which will fire children’s enthusiasm. However, her instructions are difficult to follow so we recommend watching Paper Plate Weaving before you begin.

Geometric paint by number

Here children think about shapes, use a ruler and show that they know the difference between odd and even numbers.

You will need A4 paper, a pencil, a ruler and paint.  Prepare by setting out 10 different paint pots each containing a different colour – or different shades of the same colour. Number the pots 1-10.

Children draw a grid on their paper with each square roughly 4cm x 5cm (4cm across the width of the paper, and 5cm down the length). They then need to draw a large shape right in the middle of the grid – taking up most of the squares. It doesn’t matter if they turn the grid portrait or landscape. On the inside of the shape, in each grid square, they write a different even number to 10.  On the outside of the shape, in every grid square, they write a different odd number to 10. Children then paint their designs by matching the numbers on their grid to the numbers on the paint pots.

Clear instructions for this activity and examples can be found on Nic Hahn’s blogspot.

Mandala maths

This is a lovely activity for children of all ages. Not only does it takes maths and art outdoors, but children can create designs that are as simple or complex as they like. It is an opportunity for children to practise counting, comparing, matching and sorting, and to learn about symmetry and geometry.

If you’ve just been to the beach and have a collection of seashells then have a look at Nurturestore’s website for instructions and inspiration.  Don’t worry if you haven’t been to the beach lately – you can create mandalas from all sorts of natural or household materials or even toys and craft materials. Type ‘mandalas from nature’ into Google Images and you will get the idea!

Does your child need extra help with maths?

If your child is finding particular mathematical concepts challenging or is generally unenthusiastic about the subject, a one-to-one maths tutor can make a real difference to them.

Our highly-qualified tutors are passionate about maths and they want to help children to learn and to enjoy maths just as they do. They take the time to assess children’s mathematical knowledge and to identify where there are gaps so that they can tailor their teaching accordingly.

During the coronavirus pandemic all tutoring sessions take place one-to-one online. Talk to us today at hello@tutormykids.co.uk

Homeschooling Project: World Oceans Day

Monday 8th June is World Oceans Day. The aim of World Oceans Day is to inspire everybody – young and old –  to understand why oceans are important and to take action to protect them.

Oceans:

  • Are the lungs of our planet, providing most of the oxygen we breathe.
  • Are home to a diverse range of marine life which is vital for a healthy ecosystem supporting all life on Earth.
  • Regulate our climate and weather patterns by transporting heat from the Equator to the poles.
  • Are a major food source giving us not just fish but ingredients for other products too – even peanut butter!
  • Provide ingredients for medicines including those that fight cancer, heart disease and Alzheimers.

Here are some practical activities you can do at home to educate your child about our oceans, encourage them to care and to understand that the choices they make really can make a difference.

Why do we need oceans?

Watch National Geographic’s short film, How to Care for the Ocean.

After watching, ask your child:

  • What do oceans provide us?
  • What are the problems?
  • What could happen if we don’t make changes?
  • Can you think of one thing we can do as a family to help care for our oceans?

Know where your food comes from Together search the internet to find out what surprising foods come from the ocean. The National Ocean Service film, What does peanut butter have to do with the ocean? is a great place to start.

Discover what kinds of seafood come from the ocean and ask your child which they have already tried and which they liked best.

Ask your child to make a ‘Delicious Ocean’ poster by drawing and labelling all the things they have eaten that come from the ocean.

Eat sustainable fish

Watch What is sustainable fishing?

After the film check your child’s understanding by asking them what sustainable fishing is and why it’s important. Together visit the Marine Conservation Society’s website to find out what fish is currently sustainable in the UK.  

You could buy a sustainable fish and experiment with a new recipe. To find a recipe type ‘recipe with…’ followed by your fish of choice into a search engine. For example, ‘recipe with coley’.

At the current time it is tricky to buy specific food so this might be an activity to research now and carry out later! Having said that, some local fishmongers will deliver.

Reduce plastic waste

Plastic waste has recently increased due to Covid-19. We are all having to prioritise immediate safety which can mean having shopping delivered in carrier bags and buying long-life food which is often packaged in single-use plastic.

However, even during the pandemic there are steps we can all take to reduce the amount of waste that will end up in landfill. The World Economic Forum’s article Single use plastic in a pandemic: how to stay safe and sustainable is a positive article to share with your child.

To prepare for the end of lockdown your child could make a reusable shopping bag from an old t-shirt – no sewing required. Bags can be decorated with fabric pens or other random craft supplies such as pom-poms, feathers and sequins. Your child’s imagination is the limit!

Care about endangered species

Together look on the Marine Conservation Society’s website to find out which UK marine species are endangered or under threat.

Ask your child to choose an animal they would like to find out more about. Watch a film on YouTube about your child’s chosen animal – we recommend National Geographic Kids’ films. If possible, read books about the animal or discover facts about it online. Your child could make a book or write a short fact file about their animal to teach others about it.  They could also make themed crafts.

For example, if your child chose to find out more about the bottlenose dolphin they could:

  • Watch National Geographic Kids’ Bottlenose Dolphin.
  • Find out more about bottlenose dolphins from National Geographic Kids and write a fact file or make a book to teach others to love them too.
  • Make a dolphin craft – there are plenty on Pinterest and inspiration can also be found on Google Images by typing in ‘Bottlenose dolphin craft’.

Do you need a homeschooling tutor?

At TutorMyKids we believe that enjoyment is the key to successful learning. All of our tutors are qualified, creative teachers who tailor their teaching to suit your child’s needs.

Our tutors can teach your child one-to-one online or set work for them to complete with you. Whatever support your child needs, we are here to help. Contact us today at hello@tutormykids.co.uk.

Coronavirus implications for school and college students.

Many students will be affected by the Coronavirus school shutdowns. Looking at the latest information from the government, there will be a small number of year groups (Reception, year 1 and year 6) potentially returning to school after half term in early June. And only the following on secondary students and A level students: “Our ambition is that secondary pupils facing exams next year will get at least some time with their teachers before the holidays.”

Biggest Impacts – Year 10 and year 12

At Tutor My Kids, we’re looking at where we see the biggest impacts on students.

First and foremost, we foresee that the current year 10 and year 12s will be the hardest affected.

For year 10s and year 12s, at the moment they’ve missed almost a third of this academic year (getting close to 1 whole term). When you look at the entire GCSE or A level course of 5 terms, this makes 1/5th or 20% of their entire GCSE or A level courses missed.

Given the amount that has to be covered, it’s hard to ensure that all the topics are covered in a normal school year. We think this will be doubly hard with such a lot of time lost and leave massive gaps in the learning of many year 10s and year 12s.

Many schools are providing some good input for these students, but it’s not quite the same as being in school and not all students are taking advantage of the lessons and resources that are being provided. I think that there is a lack of understanding of this problem with many parents and students.

Year 5s impacted

In the same way the year 5s will be the next largest year group to be affected.

The primary school curriculum is so full that it is also tough to get children to the right level in time for year 6 SATs, especially those who have learning difficulties such as dyslexia.

I was surprised that the government had proposed returning year 6s to school (unless to help ‘babysit’ the reception and year 1 students). The gaps that they have, will (in most cases) be made up in year 7 as they transition into their secondary schools.

It is the year 5s have a greater need, I believe to be back in school, to prepare them for the SATs and prevent gaps in their learning becoming problematic – see Why-maths gaps occur-and-the-problems-they-cause/

I appreciate that students in year 5 have many years to catch up, but in reality, many primary school gaps in spelling, punctuation and basic maths remain uncorrected at secondary school as the curriculum moves rapidly onto secondary topics, with the assumption that these basic topics are secure.

What can you do to help?

First and foremost, regardless of their year group, take advantage of the resources that their schools are offering – be it remote lessons, links to learning, work set. One of our tutors has been putting together some amazing resources. See Mission-to-the-moon/ This is a great multi-subject topic block for primary aged children.

I know this is incredibly difficult for parents who are juggling work, caring for younger children, so do what you can. No one is expecting you to replace 5 hours of teaching each day! However, IF you’re schedule enables it, an hour a day is a massive help. See How-much-difference-can-an-hour-of-one-to-one-tuition-make/

Can you either remotely now, or face to face later, team up with other parents who can help with the maths, whilst you help out their kids with the English?

Get a tutor – either now or after lockdown. We’re quite busy at the moment, helping out students remotely, and anticipate that we’ll be called upon to help out during the summer (hopefully face to face by then) to help fill gaps ahead of the next academic year in September. Take a look at our ‘For Parents’ page for more details – For Parents.

For an informal chat about possible options for tuition – email hello@tutormykids.co.uk to arrange a time to talk.