There are many things that parents can do at home to support their children but it is important to find a balance between school learning and extra work at home. The school day is very busy and some children are genuinely tired at the end of a week at school.
The best thing that you can do is to involve your child in ‘real life’ activities – talk to them about what you are doing and ask them to help you. However, we do recognise that some parents are keen to support their child’s learning at home so we have put together a list of ideas and links to websites which may help you to achieve this.
- Establish routines for regular practise of key skills, including the following:
- Reading together. It’s still really important that your child continues to read aloud to you. The emphasis should be on reading fluently and with expression, understanding more complex plots and broadening their vocabulary as well as building an understanding of how punctuation and grammar are used. There is never an age when this is not an enjoyable and useful way to spend 10 minutes a day
- Times tables practice. Good times-tables knowledge is vital for quick mental maths calculations and problem solving. Not all children learn times tables in the same way; to support your child’s learning, work out what will make times tables stick in their mind, whether that’s singing them, putting them into practice with puzzles, playing games with them or writing them out.
- Practise weekly spellings. Spelling is an area of learning about which many parents are concerned. For tips on how to support your child learn their weekly spellings see the ‘Helping with Spelling’ section below.
- Use resources available on the internet.There are many resources online to support with English and Maths. We have provided a list of our recommendations below.
- Paid resourcesMany publishers produce workbooks designed for practise at home. In school, we use the CGP revision booklets in both English and Maths to support children’s learning.There are also many ‘revision’ apps available for children to use at home on tablets.
BookTrust tips on reading with children of any age
Set aside some time
Find somewhere quiet without any distractions – turn off the TV/radio/computer.
Ask your child to choose a book
Sharing books they have chosen shows you care what they think and that their opinion matters. This means they are more likely to engage with the book.
Sit close together
Encourage your child to hold the book themselves and/or turn the pages.
Point to the pictures
If there are illustrations, relate them to something your child knows. Ask them to describe the characters or situation or what will happen next. Encourage them to tell you the story by looking at the pictures.
Encourage your child to talk about the book
Talking about the characters and their dilemmas helps children understand relationships and is an excellent way for you to get to know each other or discuss difficult issues. Give your child plenty of time to respond. Ask them what will happen next, how a character might be feeling, or how the book makes them feel.
And lastly, above all – make it fun!
It doesn’t matter how you read with a child, as long as you both enjoy the time together. Don’t be afraid to use funny voices: children love this!
For ideas of questions to ask children during reading, download our ‘Parent Reading Prompts’ in the parents resources folder.
This website has lots of ‘read the passage and then answer the questions’ style activities, which will be really useful practise. It is an American website, but replicates SATs style questions pretty well.
In order to do well in the year 6, children need to have a technical understanding of how the English language works.
As well as being able to spell words correctly, use a wide range of vocabulary and punctuate well, they need to grasp the meaning of grammatical terms such as noun, verb, adjective, prefix, pronoun and adverb, know what phrases and clauses are and how to use them, understand what connectives are and how they work, know how to turn a question into a command, and so on. This terminology can be a stumbling block even for children who are otherwise good at reading and writing, and make the questions hard to understand. Check out our Grammar: Revision Guide for help with understanding the terminology.
The websites below contain tips and games to support your child with SPaG.
DfE’s guide to helping children with spelling
Most of us, even if we consider ourselves to be good spellers, make spelling mistakes at some point. What is important is that we know what to do when we get stuck and we know how to correct our mistakes.
The English language is a rich but complex language but, despite its complexity, 85% of the English spelling system is predictable. Your child will learn the rules and conventions of the system and the spelling strategies needed to become a confident speller.
Here are some of the strategies that will help your child become a confident and accurate speller:
- sounding words out: breaking the word down into phonemes (e.g. c-a-t, sh-e-ll) – many words cannot be sounded out so other strategies are needed;
- dividing the word into syllables, say each syllable as they write the word (e.g. re-mem-ber);
- using the Look, say, cover, write, check strategy: look at the word and say it out aloud, then cover it, write it and check to see if it is correct. If not, highlight or underline the incorrect part and repeat the process;
- using mnemonics as an aid to memorising a tricky word (e.g. people: people eat orange peel like elephants; could: O U lucky duck);
- finding words within words (e.g. a rat in separate);
- making links between the meaning of words and their spelling (e.g. sign, signal, signature) – this
Encourage your child to have a go at spelling words they are unsure of. This will give them the opportunity to try out spelling strategies and to find those that they find useful. You can help them to use the strategies outlined above and praise their efforts.
SATs Companion have compiled ways to help your child with the maths tests.
Listen to the problem
Even as teachers, we struggle to be patient with our children when they don’t understand a maths topic or get the correct answer. We end up repetitively saying “No, that’s not how you do it” and “Let’s try this again” with a wrinkled forehead and a slightly frustrated tone. But how are kids supposed to try questions again if they don’t understand the concepts?
Whether you’re working on maths homework or using online resources with your children, take a step back and some breathers (we know we all need it!). Then, have your child try to explain their thinking process. It’s easier to help them out when we understand how they’re processing the question and which part of the problem they find difficult. When you really lean into listen, you’ll be able to help your child solve similar math problems in the future.
Back to Basics
When you have a solid foundation, your learning process is often easier.. No matter what level of difficulty the questions may be, it’s all about the calculations in the end.
Help your child improve their accuracy and speed with mental maths activities. Use flash cards or have them race against the clock. Check out the websites below for some games to play online.
Make Maths Tangible
KS2 SATs Maths questions are slightly more complicated because it requires your children to use two-step methods. All the unnecessary information tends to throw off children when they attempt to solve a word problem.
If you struggle to keep your child engaged while solving problems, try rewording the problem by changing the ‘X’ amount of something to their favourite toy or candy bar. For some kids, they may need to see the objects to understand the problem. Try drawing pictures or use legos to help your child visualise the maths problem. Use the Thinking Blocks website (link below) to explore one method of visualising problems.
Familiarise yourselves with sample SATs papers
Not an easy task, as there is only one sample test paper available for the new SATs on the government website! However, it is useful to download so you can see the different styles of questions and levels of difficulty. They cover all the question styles, content and gives personalised feedback to prepare you child for the tests in May. The folder at the bottom of the page contains the sample papers and the old style SATs papers.