For most children, summer is a time to leave classes and homework behind. While summer is a holiday from school, it does not have to be a holiday from learning. The summer holiday is great for recharging your children’s batteries, because if they are not using the skills and knowledge that was learned in the classroom, they will find themselves lagging behind when school starts up again.Children can lose on average two month’s worth of knowledge over the summer if their brains are not actively engaged in educational activities.
Kip McGrath Luton can offer you the perfect solution to this problem. Our summer school runs Monday to Friday throughout August. Your child can attend one or more 2 hour teaching session per week and complete a small amount of homework. After an initial assessment we can pin-point any areas of weakness that need to be targeted and put together a programme of work designed to focus on these areas and prepare them for the coming school year. This small amount of effort can make a huge difference and mean that your child is ready to learn in the new school year instead of having to spend the first month relearning skills and wasting valuable time.
Who Comes To Kip McGrath Summer School?
✓Children sitting the 11 plus exam ✓ Children who need to catchup in Maths and English ✓ Children who have learning difficulties such as Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and Autism ✓ Children who lack confidence in their abilities ✓ Children who are not working at the level they are capable of
Monday 3rd August to Friday 28th August
10.00 am to 12.00
If your wish you child to attend our summer school please feel free to call us on 01582 402225 to arrange the initial assessment and discuss in detail your child’s individual needs. Or fill in this contact form and we can arrange a convenient time to call you back.
All our English courses are taught by qualified English specialist teachers and focus on 2 main areas.
Creative Writing Creative writing is something many students find challenging! This module breaks down the elements needed to become more confident in relation to creative writing. Students are encouraged to plan, think about their audience and the tone and style of their writing in order to produce a piece with quality and depth. Special attention is given to detail and description, and the student is shown how to apply their knowledge to all types of writing.
Reading and SPaG (Spelling, punctuation and Grammar) This module helps children to understand the difference between nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs, and the finer points of using an apostrophe and speech marks. A whole range of grammatical activities will enable your child to understand how the English language works. It will also focus on the student’s understanding of a range of texts at an appropriate level, and also to extend their vocabulary. They will be shown how to find the right answers by skimming and scanning, and also how to work out an answer if it is only implied in the text.
At Kip McGrath our aim is to put the fun back in the subject and build confidence in both mental maths and problem solving through clear and simple explanations. The student drives the pace of the lesson so if more revision time is needed there is no pressure to ‘move on’ to the next topic. Maths skills are consolidated by applying knowledge to problem solving questions. We help develop these skills by teaching the student to read the question and extract the maths needed to answer the question effectively.
One of the changes in the 11+ is the timing of exams. These now take place in September rather than October as in the past. To help with maintaining learning and keep brain cells “fresh” during the summer holidays, we will be holding 11+ Intensive Courses. We recommend that your child attends at least 3 days a week during the summer school.
The course will widen the knowledge base of students so that they are equipped to answer the broad and challenging English, Maths and non-verbal questions. They will be taught examination strategies and how to think positively when faced with a question they find daunting. Students will write a mock exam extracted from the new specification.
Picture the scene, you’re helping your child with maths homework and you come across a calculation which you have worked out in your head in seconds, or even worse, a younger sibling has blurted out the answer. However, your child is still sitting there, crunching up their face, trying to think hard about the answer. Maybe your child thinks that the answer should appear by magic in their head? So you wait, and encourage and try not to rush your child as that is when the panic sets in. You’re putting pressure on your child to hurry up, when clearly there’s nothing to hurry up about because that answer is not materialising. In the end your child guesses the answer.
As a teacher I have seen this many times. The child doesn’t actually have the skills and strategies to work out the answer. So they try to think if they have done something like this before and then remember that answer. It doesn’t work of course, as maths is all about application of skills to new situations. Once you teach the methods, the child should be able to use them in any situation.
So this article will try to address the problems that are caused by poor mental maths. How can you help? Does it really matter in this high tech world where we have calculators on our mobile phones?
Children who are weak in maths will also struggle with mental arithmetic. They work things out too slowly, often get the answer wrong and fail to retain important number facts. Weak mental maths skills means that a child will make silly mistakes in their calculations and will struggle to finish the work set. In older children, they rely on the calculator and when you ask them to work it out on paper, they have forgotten how to. So practicing mental maths will help your child in all areas of maths and boost their grades.
Encourage your child to work things out in their head. One of my students was doing the question “7+3”. I know that he can put a number in his head and count on, but when I saw him working it out, he counted 7 fingers, then counted 3 fingers and then added them up. This took him twice as long as it should have. If you want to know more about the “counting on” method, which is used in schools, Topnotchteaching explains it really well.
He was doing this because he lacked confidence and counting out the numbers gave him a sense of security, it was buying him time to get the answer right. Children don’t like mental maths because they have a greater chance of making mistakes, and have nothing to “fall back on”. The only way of getting over this is form a habit of working things out in their head.
Don’t expect a child to learn number facts for the sake of learning them. Times tables, number bonds and knowing the number of grams in a kilogram are all examples of this. These can be learnt, or even crammed for tests, and just as easily forgotten. Maths is like a language. Unless it is used regularly and in different contexts, it will not be remembered. For example, times tables need to be learnt and then used in word problems, applied to fractions, used in division questions and used in everyday life. We use maths in our daily routines, more than we realise. Find the maths in your child’s life and help them realise that maths isn’t just something to be used in the classroom, it is all around us.
Here are some simple strategies to help strengthen mental arithmetic.
The most important skill is to learn times tables. This article gives you some practical ways to teach times tables.
Practice mental maths as a daily routine.
Have a set of questions saved on your phone or your computer or even printed out and fire these at your child. Make it look like a game so that it’s not too overwhelming.
Are you worried about your child sitting the 11+ exam in September?
Does your child lack confidence/ need to catch up/ forget what they have learnt too easily?
WE CAN HELP
The Kip McGrath Luton South summer school has successfully helped students aged 4 – 16 to:
Bridge the gap when going into a new school year, moving from primary to secondary or nursery to reception
Help children catch up if they have fallen behind at school
Learn how to revise, study and prepare for GCSE exams effectively
Prepare for the Buckinghamshire (and other counties) 11+ exams in September
Build confidence and enjoy learning
Be one step ahead when they start the new school year
When a child starts school in September after a 6 week summer break, teachers have to help them catch up on all the work they have forgotten. Most teachers will tell you that this is called “THE SUMMER BRAIN DRAIN”. But this can be avoided by enrolling your child on our summer school.
The sessions are in the mornings from 10.00 am, so it still leaves the rest of the day to enjoy the summer. There are only 20 places available, so book now.
Maths word problems are a common area of concern for parents because they don’t know how to help their child. Hopefully this article will give you some strategies to use so that problem solving is not a problem any more.
In my experience, there are 2 reasons why the child cannot do the maths word problem:
1. The child does not understand the question.
If comprehension is weak, then the child will struggle to see what he needs to do. A weak reader reads mechanically and approaches a sentence word by word, and misses out on the bigger picture. They will often read the whole question and then give you a blank look, because they haven’t thought about what they are reading.
I use “DRAW” method to help children understand a question. For example in the following question:
“There are 4 boys with 6 sweets each. How many sweets altogether?”
Ask your child, what they could draw a picture of from the information in the question. You might need to explain the meaning of the word “each” or the word “altogether”
Another strategy I use is called the “FLOW CHART” method. This might be more suitable for older children, where they have to work out problems involving more than one step. Change the sentence into a flow chart or diagram where each step is connected by an arrow. For the following problem, you might need to teach your child how to half a number. I have written a blog post on this topic.
“Damien had 6 stickers. His Mum gave him 10 more. He then gave half to his brother. How many did he have left?”
The “TRANSLATE” strategy is also a useful way of getting children to understand the word problem. Children need to understand the maths language used in questions. At the simplest level they need to understand that the word “and” in a question means + in maths. This blog I wrote on the topic may be useful.
The following example is a GCSE level question and requires an understanding of the word “profit”.
“A shopkeeper sold 16 articles for a total of £400 and made a profit of £48.00. How much did each article cost him? “
2. The child cannot do the maths required for the problem.
After ensuring that your child can understand what to do, you then have to make sure they can do the working out. For example in the question below,
“A shopkeeper sold 16 articles for a total of £400 and made a profit of £48.00. How much did each article cost him?”
the steps are as follows:
£400-£48 = £352
£352 divided by 16
If the child cannot do column subtraction or long division, she will struggle.
Problem solving questions usually involve the four basic operators in Maths. At a higher level, they may involve knowledge of time/percentages/algebra and fractions. If this is the weakness in your child, ensure that he or she gets to learn these skills first.
Practice loads! do loads of past papers and if you run out of past papers to do, do them again, especially the questions you didn’t do so well on.
After revising a topic, go through past papers but only do the questions on that topic. For example if you’ve just revised circle theorem, do past paper questions on circle theorem only.
Your textbook is full of explanations and worked examples you can follow, study and use to improve your understanding. It’s generally a good idea to find a topic you need help with, read through the explanation (looking up anything you don’t understand), before following along with the examples.
After every exam paper, make a list of what you did poorly on and revise it.
Revise with a friend or work in a small group.
You can explain maths to your friends.
Your friends can explain things to you.
You can work together on problems.
You can test each other.
One of the most effective ways to learn a new skill is to write down the steps you have to take – either as a list or as a flowchart.
Make flash cards, but double sided ones, the reverse side having questions on it or page numbers from your text book where you can find these questions. You could have a set for each of the following:
FORMULAS. The formulas you need to memorise for the exam
METHODS. How to work out a problem, for example the method for working out Pythagoras.
DEFINITIONS. Write down the meanings of maths words you need to know.
NEED TO KNOW. In maths there are quantities and number you must know off by heart. Such as grams in a kilogram or square numbers. One side has the question, the other side has the answer.
Make a cheat sheet. This is one sheet of A4 paper with a summary of everything you need to know.
Go online and revise topics by watching videos or practicing questions online.
Create mind maps. There should be a word/question or something in the middle of the page, with questions, facts or methods coming out.
Create posters. Make them colourful and big so that they catch your eye. Display these posters on your walls so that you see them all the time.
Use highlighters and shade/colour in important facts from text books and workbooks.
If you have a really good set of notes or still have your maths workbooks from school, then you can write questions in the margins to jog your memory as you read.
Use sticky notes to write down formulas and facts, they are quick and easy to do, as you learn each fact, just throw the sticky note away.
LOOK at a worked example of a question. COVER it. WRITE it yourself and work it out from memory. CHECK to see if you’ve done it right. If you’ve missed something out or done it wrong, TRY AGAIN.
If after all this you are still not getting anywhere, let us do the work for you. Book a free assessment and let us take care of things.
Magnetix are construction toys, but they are also very useful for teaching about space and shape. I get children to make different shapes with them, including 3D shapes. But in this article I am focussing on quadrilaterals, because they can be the most confusing ones to learn about.
Here is how not to do it……..
For each shape children need to know:
number of sides
length of sides – whether equal or not
sides parallel or not
all sides equal length
opposite sides parallel
all interior angles 90 degrees
2 long sides, 2 short
opposite sides equal length
opposite sides parallel
all angles 90 degrees
To make a rhombus, just make a square and tilt the sides.
all sides equal length
opposite sides parallel
none of the angles are 90 degrees, 2 acute angles, 2 obtuse
To Make a parallelogram, make a rectangle and tilt the sides.
Exam results are out this week, and I’m hoping the 40 or so students I helped this year have achieved the grades they aimed for. I get a lot of calls from panicking parents and students who don’t know what to do when they fail their GCSE English and Maths exams. It’s not the end of the world. Here’s a guide to what you should do next if you get a “D” grade or below.
Most people think of a fail as NOT getting a grade “C” because this is the minimum grade expected of students if they want to go into further education. In fact, getting that all important “C” in English and Maths is so important that universities can refuse to give you a place even if you’ve got A* s in all your other subjects.
So a lot of students have to re-take their GCSEs. I have taught students taking their GCSE’s for the first time and those who are re-taking. Students re-taking their exams face the following problems:
Students often have fewer lessons when retaking because they are at college and often have a busy timetable dedicating more time to the new subjects.
They are either over-confident and get complacent. They think they will pass because they’ve done it all before. They have all their other subjects’ work to do as well and tend concentrate on those.
They can get too negative and start thinking that they will never pass. Some get a mental block and continue to fail….
Students are very rusty – the last time they did maths or English was at least 3 months ago.
Students quite often GET THE SAME GRADE again!
To avoid all of the above, retake the exams as soon as possible and be prepared to do more work!
GCSE ENGLISH RE-SIT
If you do not achieve a “C” grade pass in English language, then you can re-sit the exam in January 2013. The exam is on 10th January 2013.
As a general guideline, if you got a “D” overall then you can re-sit in January. Anything lower than that means that you have to repeat the whole year and retake the exam in June next year. You can re-submit your controlled assessments and speaking and listening assignments from year 11 if they are good.
If you want to re-sit in January then you’d better get your skates on! I’ve calculated that there are only 18 teaching weeks left. First you will have re-learn all of the course, then make sure that you know what you need to do to get a “C” grade and finally get in plenty of exam practice. If you do mock tests and past papers, then these should be marked and graded so that you know where you are going wrong. You can either mark them yourself or get them marked by a teacher. If you are re-sitting in June next year then you have more time, but you also have more work to do.
GCSE MATHS RE-SIT
The GCSE Maths re-sits are in November. There are 2 papers, paper 1 is on 6th November 2012, and paper 2 is on 8th November 2012. The results will be published in January 2013. There are only 11 teaching weeks left, so don’t waste any time.
It is important that all the main exam topics are covered several times before the exam, but if you are short of time, then prioritise the topics you need to know to pass the exam. A good way of doing this is by doing a mock test and looking at the results to see what you know and don’t know. Then work on what you can’t do.
Don’t just revise ‘favourite’ topics – this won’t be enough, something must be changed this time around.
As with GCSE English, get in plenty of exam practice and get used to working under timed conditions. Always mark the papers or get them marked and monitor how you are improving.
My blog article on understanding your examination results slip will help you to work out how close you were to a C grade.
Nobody wants to retake exams, but if you do find yourself in this situation, let us help you pass. Book a free assessment and we will show you the way.
A solid maths foundation is vital for children to succeed. Without solid math skills, children will probably have a lot of trouble in school and afterwards.
I often get asked the question “how can I help my child with maths at home”?. If your child is struggling with maths, there are many ways to help, but before you do that you need to know what the problem areas are.
Some of the traits that I see in children who are weak in maths are:
They don’t understand the language used in maths like “less”, “more than”, “half of”, “share”, “total” and “difference”.
They have difficulty retaining basic number facts. They will take a long time to work out something in their head and often make careless mistakes.
They often use long-winded ways to work out something on paper. For example, I saw a child work out the sum 100 – 42 by drawing 100 dots and crossing out 42 of them. I saw another child work out the sum 250 ÷ 5 by writing out the 5 times table.
They cannot “translate” number word problems into maths calculations. For example: if Sam, Tim and Emma each eat 4 sweets, how many is that altogether? Children either don’t know that this is 3 x 4 or they may know that this but not know their 3 times tables.
Your child may not have such general difficulties; it could be a more specific problem like understanding fractions, or getting to grips with geometry. The point is that you need to get to the root of the problem. Fractions are related to division and multiplication. Is it because your child hasn’t grasped the basics of these skills yet? Difficulty with geometry could be just a simple matter of not learning the rules for working out angles in a triangle. Whatever the cause, there are ways in which you can help your child fill in those gaps.
Help Them Learn Their Times Tables.
Times tables is the bricks and mortar of basic maths knowledge and it is crucial that your child has plenty of opportunities to learn them. Don’t rely on school to the job for you, as many children will need a lot of exposure to learning times tables.
First get your child to write out the times tables, and then try to get them to learn “parrot-fashion”. If it’s just not sticking then an easy way to help is to write them on your child’s fingertips or use stickers as shown in the pictures below.
Another place for great ideas is here. I also get children to recite times tables going forwards and backwards, and sometimes I get them to recite from half way through the tables. It just breaks up the monotony and introduces a new challenge.
Use a Multi-Sensory Approach.
It has been shown that children retain information better when they not only see it, but when they hear it and also when they can put it into practice. Making maths practical and relevant to everyday life can get a child to use all of their senses and at the same time giving it a purpose. Maths is all around us and we can use our surroundings to help our children with maths.
To teach measures:
teach your child to use a ruler or a tape measure with accuracy. If you are into gadgets then why not invest in an electronic tape measure (often used by estate agents).
Point out quantities of things on food packets to show them the difference between grams and kilograms or litres and millilitres.
Look at angles on objects around the room, see how many right angles your child can spot.
Involve your child in cooking, getting them to read the scales when weighing out ingredients.
If you are baking cup cakes and the recipe only makes 12 but you want 24, use this as an opportunity to teach about ratios and equivalents.
Play with water using different sized containers, predict how many small cups can fill a large container and measure how much water the containers hold.
To teach place value and money:
Show your child a till receipt and look at the quantities in pounds and pennies.
Take your child shopping and equip them with a calculator. As you shop they can work out the bill.
Get your child used to handling money, recognising coins and working out if they have/don’t have enough money.
To teach about tens and units, read our blog post here.
Talk Maths Language
Use mathematical words like “total” and “difference” when talking to our child. Other words to use are “rotate”, “divide”, “more than/less than” and “fewer than”.
Here are some more ideas:
Plant sunflower seeds and get your child involved in measuring how much water to give each day, measuring how tall the seedlings are growing and comparing the length of the seedlings.
Make sandwiches and get your child to decide how many pieces of cucumber to put into each sandwich, how much cheese to weigh, or how many slices of bread to take.
Get your child to help you with spring cleaning. They can sort things into different groups for you, place objects in order of size, measure the amount of space they have made by clearing out the clutter and simply just counting all their possessions.
Invest in a dart board to get children working out the totals, for younger children you can buy a simpler version of a dart board which uses Velcro darts.
Use every opportunity to count things, whether it’s during a walk to the shops, or how many bounces on the ball or timing how long it takes to take a shower.
Schools used to pick the brightest pupils in the year and allow them to take their GCSE maths exam early. This was called early entry and the pass rate was very good. These students could then take on an additional maths GCSE like statistics. Nowadays, the majority of pupils are sitting early entry GCSE maths whether they have a good chance of passing or not.
This article by the BBC and this paper by the department for education summarise the consequences of this practice. But I want to tell you my story….
Last week, all the students who sat their GCSE Maths in November 2010, got their results. Last week, I had many calls from panicking parents whose year 11’s failed to get that grade C. These now have to re-take their exam in March or in May this year. They will have to revise everything again but this time they will have other subjects to revise as well so the pressure will be much greater.
Having assessed these students, I’ve come to 2 conclusions:
that they should never have been entered for the exam in November in the first place. I assessed a student who got a “U” (ungraded) in the higher paper suggesting that at best he was a low “D” grade at the time of the exam and that he could have done worse because of exam day nerves. The grades possible in the higher paper are “A*” to “D”. If a student gets lower than the pass mark for a “D” then they fail.
that the students have already forgotten some of the maths they studied for the exam. In the majority of cases, the students who told me they got a “D” in the exam for example, got an “E” in my assessment. The student who got a “C” in the exam got a “D” in my assessment.
These students are cramming for exams and are being taught to pass exams and not to learn skills which can be applied to real life or in further education. A good friend of mine who teaches A level Maths at College says that the students who pass the early entry exam, struggle with A level Maths because they have forgotten everything they learnt by the time they start college. He has to spend the first 2 weeks of the A level course going through basic maths skills to make sure that the children are able to cope with A level standard work. I teach A level Chemistry which needs a good foundation in maths. I find that I have to teach skills like being able to work out ratios, re-arranging an algebraic formula and using a calculator. And the same goes for english skills, like comprehension and being able to answer a question so that it makes sense.
It’s an old argument and one that will always exist as long as exams exist. Students take pride in getting their GCSE’s early and they pride themselves in getting more GCSE’s. Schools have a reputation to keep, and league to tables to worry about. Many teachers view pass rates as a reflection of their own teaching. We all have our own agenda. I just wish that parents didn’t have to get dragged into all this!
How To Help Your Child With Place Value and Counting
Knowing how to “count on” in maths is a fundamental skill. This skill is also used when children are working out the next number in a sequence and place value. Counting is easier when the numbers are written on a number line so start with a number line if you are doing this for the first time with your child. You can purchase number lines and 100 squares from most good school supplies shops. Alternatively write out a number line for your child. Just as important as seeing the numbers is hearing the numbers, so children need to say the numbers as they use them. In particular this helps children when tackling bigger numbers and fractions. If your child is old enough then you can also get them to write out the number in words.
Counting in Ones
Age 4-5 – choose a number between 10 and 20. Ask your child to count on from that number. For example if your child chooses 12, then ask them to count on another 2 numbers.
12, 13, What are then next 2 numbers?
16, 15, What are the next 2 numbers?
If your child cannot remember the next number, then allow them to use a number line or to write out the numbers.
Age 5-6 –choose a number between 20 and 99. Repeat as above. The difficult numbers to count on from are 29, 39, 49, 59, etc
28, 29, What are the next 2 numbers?
58, 59, what are the next 2 numbers?
31, 30, what are the next 2 numbers?
Age 7-8 – choose a number between 100 and 999. Repeat as above. The difficult numbers to count on from are 109, 119, etc and 199, 299, 399 etc.
108, 109 what are the next 2 numbers?
398, 399, what are the next 2 numbers?
998, 999, what are the next 2 numbers?
401, 400, what are the next 2 numbers?
Age 9-10 – choose a number between 1000 and 9000.
Age 10-11 – choose any number between 10,000 and 1,000,000
Counting in Multiples
Counting on in multiples of 2 for example can re-enforce times tables and odd and even numbers. Ask your child to count forward and backward in 2’s from any random number (must be age and ability appropriate so refer to previous paragraph).
Try counting forward and backwards in multiples of 5, 10, 100 and 1000.
Counting in Fractions
Counting can help to address the gap in understanding fractions as numbers in their own right.
Use fractions as a natural part of your vocabulary. For example you could ask your child to give you 2 halves of an apple.
Cut an apple (or similar) real or drawn into quarters. Ask your child how many quarters are in the apple. Count the pieces one quarter, two quarters, three quarters, four quarters and ask your child to write down the fractions. 1/4, 2/4, 3/4, 4/ 4 . Cut a second apple and ask your child to keep counting the quarters 5/4, 6/4, 7/4, 8/4 and to continue to write the list of fractions.
Ask them what is another name for 4 quarters? (1)
what is another name for 8 quarters?(2)
what is another name for 6 quarters ?(1 2/4 or 1 1/2)
Encourage them to use the apples or drawings to find the answer.
Help your child to draw circles (two or three) on paper and mark them in thirds.
Ask them to count in thirds and to write the sequence.
Ask them what is another name for 3 thirds? (1)
what is another name for 6 thirds?(2)
what is another name for 5 thirds? (1 2/3)
First teach your child that:
2 halves = 2/2 = 1 whole
3 thirds = 3/3 = 1 whole
4 quarters = 4/4 = 1 whole
5 fifths = 5/5 = 1 whole
Then we move onto counting.
½, 2/2, 3/2, 4/2,
This says 1 half, 2 halves, 3 halves, four halves.
½, 1, 1½, 2,
Half, 1, one and a half, two.
Once your child can count backwards and forwards in halves then try other fractions.
Visualisation is essential so encourage the use of real things to chop up into fractions and drawings.