11th June 2018 Annabel Yates, English Tutor at StudyBox Sutton
Reading is a vital skill for children to learn as they’re going to need it in their everyday life. Even if they’re not reading books, your child will have to read instructions on the board at school and on test papers. Not being able to read can often make children feel isolated from peers and create low self-esteem. However, if you keep encouraging your children to read, it can expand their imagination as well as their vocabulary and grammar – as well as improve their spelling. Books are a great way to do this as they provide engaging stories and expose children to different sentence types and vocabulary that they can use in their own writing.
Some students are reluctant to read as they find it boring and difficult. To help combat this issue it is often helpful to start reading books with interesting covers, with pictures that are about stories they recognise or that friends are already reading.
For example, a book many children want to read is the Harry Potter series. This is because it is a well-known story that many other children they know have read, as well as having movies that children have often already seen. These types of books are then more accessible to children.
If books like this still don’t gain your child’s interest, it can often help to choose a book to read together. You can then take turns reading a paragraph each or each reading a different character’s part. This is something I do when my students are reluctant to read as it makes them feel like they are reading less and makes the activity more engaging.
Understanding what they have read is an important skill that children will need, especially when they begin taking exams. To make sure your child has understood what they’ve read it can be a good idea to ask them questions after they have read each chapter – this can be done straight after they’ve read it or a little while afterwards. The more they remember over a period of time the more you know that they have understood what they’re reading.
At StudyBox students are often encouraged to complete comprehensions during the lesson – something they will have to do in their SATs in year 2 and 6. The students who read at home often find the comprehensions easier to complete. This increases the child’s confidence in their own abilities as they know that this is a task that they can complete well.
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English Tutor at StudyBox Sutton
5th June 2018 Harriet Nokes, GCSE Tutor at StudyBox Wallington
We’ve all heard about or are experiencing first hand the recent reforms to the education system, starting with the way in which 16-year-olds are tested at the end of year 11.
Teens are being challenged like never before, so it is important to know how the new GCSEs work, to understand what students are experiencing this summer.
The government wanted to make these changes so that the new GCSEs would be more ‘demanding and challenging’ for students. The new, two-year course aligns more with the essay based, analytical and evaluative skills needed at A-level. This is better preparing students for their future.
It also makes tests ‘fairer’, the government argues, through the limited coursework, there is across the curriculum. Previously, coursework has been varied and dependent on school’s teaching methods. This way, everyone has the same chance at the end of two years to show their skills off in an exam.
The government changed the grading system to give more opportunity for students of all abilities to achieve higher. Students may now achieve a standard or a strong pass, allowing those who achieved a grade C under the old system to be rewarded a higher grade. Similarly, higher achieving students can now strive further for something higher than an A*, so a level 9 was created.
Firstly, grades are different. Instead of A*-U grades, they have been replaced with 9-1, where nine is the highest grade achievable. A grade 9 will be harder to achieve than an A* and, now, both a grade 4 and 5 is viewed as a pass. A 4 will be a standard pass and a 5 will be a strong pass. Pupils will need to re-take English Language and Maths exams in the next years if they don’t achieve a 4 or above.
Coursework is also different too. Only in subjects where it is crucial to show a skill, such as drama and dance. This makes the final exam at the end of the two-year course more important than ever.
Other changes will include compulsory double or triple science (foundation or higher), a single science will no longer be available.
One thing to remember in the face of the new GCSEs is that we are all in this together. This is new to every parent; student and teacher so don’t panic!
Prepare for an exam in whichever way is best for you; be it flash cards, posters, past papers or any other way that makes you comfortable. Little and often is always good when revising, and be sure to take necessary breaks.
Remember, you have a great long summer ahead of you, which will make the work you put in now all the more worthwhile!
GCSE Tutor at StudyBox Wallington