Encouraging-reluctant-readers-by-taking-reading-outdoors.

How can you encourage your child to read?  According to research conducted by King’s College London, most children learn better outdoors.  They feel more curious, motivated, and happy to concentrate when they’re outside.  

Share stories under a tree, in a tent, on a picnic blanket or snuggled up in a pile of cushions and blankets.  With a bit of preparation you can go out whatever the weather. The worse the weather, the more exciting it can be!

Find stories and non-fiction books your child will love by browsing together at the library, and by picking out books that you think they will enjoy.  Extend your child’s reading with activities linked to books, and join in with activities yourself – enjoyment and enthusiasm are infectious.

Here are some examples of how to get your child interested in reading through story themes.   

Potions

Picture books:

Meg and Mog by Helen Nicoll and Jan Pienkowski

Potion Commotion by Peter Bently and Sernur Isik

Paperbacks:

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy

Activity

The child makes a magic potion by mixing natural ingredients (stones, soil, weeds, leaves) with water.  Add a sprinkle of bicarbonate of soda and a dash of vinegar for a magical fizz. Encourage the child to jot down the ingredients on a sparkly notepad as they go.

Once the potion is made, the child writes a recipe, giving it a name e.g. ‘Invisibility Potion’, ‘Wishing Juice’.    The child reads their recipe to you. If you have written a recipe too, you can swap and read each other’s.

Monsters

Picture books:

Monsters Love Underpants by Claire Freedman

Not Now Bernard by David McKee

Paperbacks:

Fing by David Walliams and Tony Ross

Tom Gates: What Monster? By Liz Pichon

Activity

Make a monster by pressing clay onto a tree and adding natural materials for features.  The child writes a fact card for their monster detailing the monster’s name, age, special powers, what it looks like, what it eats, where it lives, and what it likes to do.  Ask the child to read their fact card (and yours too, if you have joined in).

Picnics

Picture books:

Florentine and Pig Have a Very Lovely Picnic by Eva Katzler

The Teddy Bears Picnic by Gill Guile

Paperbacks:

The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

Activity

Support the child to read and follow instructions from a children’s cookbook to make picnic treats (Florentine and Pig contains recipes).  Write a picnic shopping list together and, as you shop, encourage the child to read and follow their list.  

Before the picnic, the child writes invitations to toys or friends.  After the picnic give the child an attractively presented thank you letter from a guest (the letter should be at the child’s reading level).   

Gentle Giants

Picture books:

George’s Amazing Adventures: Jellybeans for Giants by Adam & Charlotte Guillain

The Smartest Giant in Town by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

Paperbacks:

The BFG by Roald Dahl

The Gentle Giant by Michael Morpurgo

Activity

Outside, hide a letter from the story giant.  The letter should provide details about the giant and its life and also ask the child questions about themselves.

The child finds the letter by following props or footprints relevant to the story.  For instance, The Smartest Giant in Town props could be a trail of discarded clothes.

Once the child has read the letter, they write a reply to the giant.

Treasure!

Picture books:

Mr Men: Adventure with Pirates by Roger Hargreaves

The Pirates of Scurvy Sands by Jonny Duddle

Paperbacks:

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

Scarlet Silver: Swashbuckle School by Sarah McConnell and Lucy Courtenay

Activity

Write and hide clues that lead the child to hidden treasure (perhaps chocolate coins).  Make the clues descriptive, incorporating some directional language: ‘Turn right by the garden table and walk towards the flower bed’.  For extra engagement, write some clues in secret writing.    

Once the child has completed the treasure hunt, they could create one for you to follow!

What else can you do to encourage a reluctant reader?

At Tutor My Kids we believe that with the right support reluctant readers can be inspired to read for pleasure.  

  • Set an example.  If your child sees that you love reading, they soon will too.
  • Read to them.  They are likely to appreciate exciting stories that are above their current reading level.
  • Motivate children through their interests.  Encourage them to choose books independently, and at the same time introduce them to books you think they will enjoy.

Remember, writing is everywhere – indoors and outdoors.  It’s on signposts, labels, instructions, cereal boxes, flyers and so on.  Wherever they are, encourage your child to engage with the written word and they will soon be a fluent, interested reader.

How-long-should-my-child-have-a-tutor-for?

How long you engage a tutor for will very largely depend upon the outcome or purpose of the tuition and the academic starting point of your child. Tutor My Kids provides tutors in Ely, Cambridge and surrounding areas and work with a huge variety of students from age 6 to 18.

Purpose and outcomes of tuition

There are many reasons that you might choose to engage a tutor to work with your child. It might be because of upcoming exams where you’ll need a GCSE tutor to support your child through the exams, or following a dyslexia or dyscalculia screening or assessment or concerns raised by your child’s school teacher that they’re below expectations for their age. The length of time that you work with a tutor can vary hugely, depending on the reason for seeking help in the meantime.

For GCSE tuition, we tend to suggest that year 10 is a good time to start looking at this. It’s not unusual at Tutor My Kids for all our GCSE tutors in key subjects to be fully booked by September of the year preceding the exams, so it’s good to think about this sooner rather than later. It may be that in fact, your child doesn’t actually need help until year 11, but by getting in touch with a tutor or tutoring company early, you can get on a waiting list early. Equally, if they’re struggling and not keeping up, there may be value in doing some groundwork in year 9 to put them in the best possible position to succeed in years 10 and 11.

You may find out at a parental consultation or end of term report that your child has fallen behind and is below age-related expectations. This means that they’ve not attained the knowledge and skills that would be expected for their year group. There may be many reasons for this: summer-born children can be behind because they’re younger and less mature when they start school, your child may have missed school due to illness when some key areas were taught – this is particularly prevalent with maths and can create maths gaps (take a look at maths gaps – why they occur and the problems they cause). There may also be general or specific learning difficulties, such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, global delay, ADHD, Autistic Spectrum disorders which make it much harder for students to concentrate, process information, retain information and therefore be at or ahead of age-related expectations.

Dyslexia, dyscalculia and other learning difficulties can make it really hard for students to learn at the same rate as other students.

Length of tuition

The length of time that you have a tutor is really largely dependent on their academic starting point. For GCSE tuition, if they’re just a grade off where they need to be, to start in year 11 is usually fine. If they’re well below the level that they need to be in year 11, then earlier intervention is invariably better.

If your child is behind because of gaps, and no learning issues, then tuition usually fills those gaps and no further tuition is needed after that initial period, unless other gaps in learning occur.

Learning difficulties, such as dyslexia and dyscalculia can make it incredibly hard for students to keep up at school and it’s not unusual for attainment to remain below expectations for many years, through no fault of the student, teacher or parents without help. Additional tuition can make it easier for your child to learn and retain the information. One-to-one tuition can make a massive difference in situations such as this, but often this help will be needed for many years in order to get the students the grades they need to pursue their goals.

If you’d like more information on dyslexia or dyscalculia screening, or tuition please contact Tutor My Kids at hello@tutormykids.co.uk or call the office on 01223 858421.

If you’re a teacher who is interested in beoming a tutor in Ely, Cambridge, Newmarket or Huntingdon, please take a look at our tutor page and get in touch by email to arrange an informal chat to discover if it might fit with your present commitments.

Why-a-maths-assessment-is-key-to-getting-the-best-tutor-for-your-child

At Tutor My Kids, tutors in Cambridgeshire, a maths assessment is a usual part of our process of putting in the right tutor for your child. It enables us to assess your child’s abilities, their maths gaps and how they approach their work. The importance of getting the right tutor in terms of personality and approach, who will bring out the best in your child is, in our opinion, an integral part of getting the best tutor for your child.

Whether your child is struggling with the basics or the more advanced work makes a huge difference in finding the best maths tutor for them. A strong mathematician may benefit from a tutor who can really question and stretch them, whilst an underconfident student needs a much more gentle, encouraging approach. Establishing this can make the all the difference between ‘ok’ tutoring and exceptional tutoring.

Establishing where your child is with their learning

How confident a student is with their maths is a key determiner to the kind of tutor who will work best with them. Students who are working on the higher paper and are looking to get the best grades for sixth form, invariably need a supportive approach, but one which challenges them to think strategically to tackle the type of questions at level 8/9. A student who has always thought of themselves as a weak mathematician will need someone who can fill in missing gaps, gently, to raise their confidence and enable them to gain the marks they need to pass their GCSE maths. The new GCSE exams need a particular set of skills – see What’s different about the new GCSEs and what skills are needed?  Whilst dyscalculia is rare, it can be a problem. At Tutor My Kids, we do offer dyscalculia screening. Take a look at How dyscalculia screening helped a parent. So, it’s absolutely key to establish where your child is with their learning. Then we can look at the personality match between the student and the tutor.

Getting the personality match right

At Tutor My Kids, we think that getting the right personality match for your child is absolutely key to great tuition. We always meet you and your child in your home, to get a feel for your home ‘culture’ and your child’s personality. We establish what kind of approach will best support your child. We meet all our tutors at Tutor My Kids face to face and know the kind of students that they most prefer to work with – some love pushing the most able students, others simply adore helping the students that don’t ‘get’ maths. This joint knowledge and personal approach helps us to get the best possible match of tutor for your child and your family.

Putting it all together

This is where the magic happens. We put together your child’s level, approach to learning, confidence and personality and bingo we get a great tutor matched to your child to help and support them in their goals. It’s brilliant when we get this right! Student’s simply fly! See our client testimonials and tutor testimonials for a taste of this.

If you’d like more information on tutors in Ely, Cambridge, Newmarket and Huntingdon, take a look at our For Parents page, email Rachel or call Rachel on 01223 858421.

If you’re a teacher interested in finding out how to join our amazing team and working with really well assessed students, please take a look at our For Tutors page, email Rachel or give her a call on 01223 858421.

 

Maths-Gaps-Why-they-occur-and-the-problems-they-cause

I’ve never met a child without some gaps in their maths learning; it’s inevitable. How they affect a student depends on where the gaps in their knowledge are.

Why gaps in maths knowledge occur

Gaps in learning maths can occur for a huge number of reasons. Maths is hugely sequential, which means that many new concepts build upon previously taught ones – miss one and you may have problems. Missing learning can result from any number of factors: missing lessons, not grasping a concept fully before the class moves on, losing concentration, teacher absences and a host of other reasons. It’s not unusual for sight or hearing problems to be picked up part-way through a school year which means children may not have been able to see or hear the lessons well. On top of that, there have been curriculum changes.

New curricula

In 2014, the new primary school maths curriculum was introduced, which meant that (in order to move us higher up the international education rankings) pupils were expected to know more maths earlier. This means that if your child was born in 2002-2004 (and to an extent 2006-2008), there were in the thick of that and may have more gaps than younger students. These years had to get up to speed really quickly for the new year 2 and year 6 primary school SATs, which was a problem for many. I wrote about this in  2015 – Why is my child finding maths particularly hard at the moment?

Plus to compound that the new GCSEs are very different from the old ones – take a look at  What’s different about the new GCSEs and what skills are needed to succeed. These exams require a more thorough understanding of the curriculum, more skills in problem-solving and ability to retain knowledge of all the curriculum.  It’s hardly surprising there are many students struggling.

What problems are caused

Gaps in maths cause difficulty in taking on board new concepts, which can delay or pause learning in some topics. If these gaps are very early (foundation or year 1) in the curriculum, it can mimic the effects of dyscalculia – see Does my child have dyscalculia? Gaps later in the curriculum tend to have a less profound effect, but can still be problematic.

Much of the tutoring that our teachers do at Tutor My Kids, in maths, is gap filling. Whether it’s dealing with a year 3 child who’s struggling or a GCSE student who needs to simply pass their exam.

For information on maths tutoring, click here,  email Rachel or call Rachel Law on 01223 858421.

If you’re interested in becoming a tutor, please take a look at our tutor page, the kind words from our tutors and our other blogs.

 

 

 

 

How-Dyscalculia-Screening-helped-a-parent

How dyslexia screening enabled a parent to make plans to support her daughter.

What is dyscalculia?

Dyscalculia is having specific difficulties with maths around size of numbers (being able to know if a number is greater than another number), being able to estimate how many counters there are in a group (subitising) and in recognising patterns (really important for learning number bonds and times tables). So, why can dyscalculia screening be useful?

In the same way that testing for dyslexia can be useful – see 4 reasons to arrange an dyslexia screening, it can give useful information to give to school so they can focus their efforts in the classroom or through their interventions for your child. It can also help you to support your child at home yourself or with a private tutor.

Recently, we had a parent approach us who was concerned that her daughter might be dyscalculic because she had always had difficulties in maths. Dyscalculia is quite rare; it’s estimated that between 3-6% of the UK population may suffer, so we discussed whether it might be dyscalculia or historical maths gaps that might be causing her current difficulties. Take a look at Does my child have dyscalculia for more information on this.

How the screening works

Mum felt that arranged a screening would allow her to know if there was an underlining issue or simply maths gaps. The screening was carried out in the comfort of her home, where her daughter was most secure by Tutor My Kids and took about an hour. The screening came back as negative, which was a huge relief to mum. But, there was still the issue to deal with of why her daughter behind.

How the screening helped this parent

Having ruled out dyscalculia, We very much thought that it was maths gaps. that were causing the issues and needed to be sorted.

Maths is a hugely sequential subject and rather like building a wall, it’s important that the foundations are secure before adding further layers.  And filling in those layers (think underpinning a subsiding house!) when they’re missing. Most children have gaps in their maths knowledge. If they’re in the very early years, this can have quite an impact on maths learning and attainment. At Tutor My Kids, we think that it’s really important to get the right tutor and this is especially true with maths tuition.

With this parent is was really important to get a primary school teacher, who had taught early years, to tutor, so the very early gaps could be filled and this girl could get her maths learning back on track.

For more information on dyscalculia screening, click the link, email Rachel or call Rachel Law on 01223 858421 for advice.

 

 

 

 

 

4-Reasons-to-Arrange-a-Dyslexia-Screening

1. You’re worried

You may be concerned that your child’s reading or writing is not where you or your child’s teacher might expect it to be. Often parents say that something just doesn’t seem right – maybe your child is bright and excelling at maths but comparatively weak in English. Maybe they’re very verbally articulate but can’t put their ideas down on paper well. Take a look at Could My Child be Dyslexic for typical symptoms.

2. You’d like to put your mind at rest.

A dyslexia screening is a relatively inexpensive and often quicker to arrange than a full diagnostic report from an Educational Psychologist. It gives a good level of detail to put your mind at rest that there are no issues in that area or give you information to help and pursue more detailed testing if needed.

3. You’d like school to help

Dyslexia is no longer a condition which the council will ‘statement’ for and there is no obligation for them to help. In our experience, however, schools do help as much as they can and find our screening reports on pupils’ strengths and weaknesses useful. If they are not already putting interventions in place for your child, they can (subject to school budgets) arrange these.

4. You’d like to help your child’s confidence

Children with dyslexia or dyslexic tendencies can feel that they are stupid because they’re not able to read, write or spell as well as their peers. This is, of course, completely rubbish but it can affect a child’s sense of self-belief very badly. Realising that there’s a reason why they find some things hard can be really liberating.

Get in touch

Contact Rachel Law on 01223 858421 for an informal chat or email Rachel. Rachel can advise if a dyslexia screening would be a good option or if other options might be better for you and your child.

 

 

Are-you-confused-by-the-new-GCSE-grading-system?

The new GCSEs are now in place.  The new exams and grading system for maths, English Language and Literature was introduced for the exams in summer 2017. The remained subjects joined them for 2018.

Why-do-we-have-a-new-grading-system?

The exams are new and having a new grading system helps employers to identify that students have studied this more challenging exam. It’s a very visual way of signalling this change in the education system.

How-do-the-new-grades-work?

Grades 9 is there to show the students who have exceeded the old A* grade. Grade 7 is an A, grade 8 a strong A.

Grade 6 is a B

Grade 4 is a C – a standard pass, with grade 5 being a strong pass.

Grade 3 is between a D and an E, grade 2 between an E and an F, grade 1 between an F and a G. Grade U (ungraded) remains unchanged.

So, a grade 4 and above is a pass.

At the moment, grade 4 is a pass and I think it’s realistic to expect it to stay so for the moment, but given the focus on improving our rankings in the international edcuational league tables, I think it’s entirely possible that this may change and 5 may become the official pass mark. However, given the movement of grade boundaries in 2018 to ensure pass rates remain consistent with previous years whilst the new exams bed in, I think this will be some years hence.

For more info on GCSE exams and tuition in Cambridgeshire, please click the link.

 

 

Can-you-keep-up-with-Keats

Private tutor Cambridge

If you’re a teacher who can help kids Klarify (sorry!) Keats, we’d love to hear from you.

With the new English Literature and Language exams we’ve got huge demand for GCSE English tutors in Ely, Cambridge, St Ives, Huntingdon and Newmarket who can simplify Shakespeare,  de-mystify Dickens and untangle Keats (my alliteration fails me with Keats!).

We’d love to hear from you.

Do take a look at our For Tutors page, one of our recent blogs – Are you a teacher who’s forgotten what a joy teaching is? To find out what some of our tutors think of working as a Tutor My Kids tutor, take a look at their stories. For an informal chat, please email Rachel Law or call her on 01223 858421.

 

Could-you-earn-enough-by-tutoring-alone?

TutorMyKids private tutor

This is a question that we’re asked quite often, especially when teachers are thinking of leaving a teaching post. It is a bit of a ‘how long is a piece of string question’ as it almost entirely depends upon how much you need to earn, however a number of our tutors at Tutor My Kids only work as private tutors. These tend to be teachers who tutor English, maths and science in Cambridge, Ely, Huntingdon, Newmarket and surrounding areas, but there are options that can supplement income too.

Daytime and evening tuition.

At Tutor My Kids we have tutoring opportunities in the daytime and evening. We usually tutor students after schoool, for our private clients, but we also work with home educated children to support parents in the teaching of their children during the daytime. We also work with schools in Cambridgeshire to support their inclusion work, alternative provision and providing tutors to support Looked After Children. This provision can be after school or during the school day. We’re increasingly needing teachers who have daytime availability to satisfy this demand for Alternative Provision work.

Combining tutoring with other options.

Many of our tutors in Cambridgeshire combine their teaching with other options. Some teach part-time and/or supply teach in the local schools in Ely, Cambridge and surrounding areas. Some have caring responsibilities for elderly parents or young children. And a number mark exam papers which provides additional income as well invaluable insight into the nitty gritty of exam marking schemes! Private tuition provides great options to work in a more flexible way.

Curious?

Do take a look at our For Tutors page, one of our recent blogs – Are you a teacher who’s forgotten what a joy teaching is? To find out what some of our tutors think of working as a Tutor My Kids tutor, take a look at their stories. For an informal chat, please email Rachel Law or call her on 01223 858421.

 

How-to-choose-a-good-tutoring-agency

TutorMyKids private tutor

Choosing the right tutoring agency is a combination of a number of factors – where they’re based, what they specialise in, who they recruit, what they’re like to work for and their fit with you.

Geography

Check the geography that the agency covers and, most importantly, where most of their clients are. Tutor My Kids teachers tutor in Ely, Cambridge, St Ives, Huntingdon and Newmarket.

Specialism

Does the agency specialise in certain subjects? What do they have most demand for? Most agencies will have most need of maths, science and English tutors, but will also need other tutors too.

Teaching Experience

Some agencies are very happy to take on a wide variety of tutors, other specialise in just teachers. If you’re a teacher, you may find yourself better valued in an agency, such as Tutor My Kids whose tutors are almost exclusively teachers.

Size of agency

Large agencies may have more opportunities, but you may get lost amongst the many other tutors, or it may simply feel less personal. A smaller agency is more likely to know it’s tutors and clients well and offer a more friendly service. At Tutor My Kids we think all our tutors are amazing and because we’re small get to know our tutors well.

Clients

It’s also worth asking what a typical client is for the agency? Are they largely independent school or state school – you may have a preference. We’re really lucky at Tutor My Kids as at least 60% of our clients are referred to us by other clients. This means that we tend to have like-minded clients and typically our clients want their students to have more confidence in the subject but also generally. We feel that they’re arranging tutoring for their kids for the right reasons.

What are they like to work for?

This can be hard to work out, but check out their testimonials and ask to be but in touch with existing tutors if in doubt. We’re always delighted when we get testimonials from clients and tutors. Check ours out by clicking the links. I’m also a firm believer in trusting your gut instinct when you chat to them.

Get in touch with Tutor My Kids

For more information on becoming a tutor click the link, email Rachel, or call Rachel Law on 01223 858421 for a chat.