Year 6 SATs are Coming | What Support Does Your Child Need?
by Andrea Robson
Tutoring in Marbella
With the holiday season here is very nearly here and for many children in Year 6, this may well involve significant amounts of time studying for the tests in May.
This is the second year of testing based on the new curriculum, and the government has issued the following document, which some parents may find informative: UK Standards & Testing Agency
Year 6 children will sit the following tests:
• Reading Comprehension.
• Grammar & Punctuation.
• Mathematical Reasoning (2 papers)
The children are expected to reach a score of 100. Anything above 114 is defined as exceeding the expected standard and below 100 means they are not meeting the expected standard.
Schools have been working with the children for some time now, so hopefully they are well prepared, and feeling confident.
If you would like to help your child over the holiday period, there are a few very simple things you can do to support them. These activities focus on the basic, yet fundamental, skills that are at the heart of the tests:
• The multiplication tables (up to 12 x 12).
• Basic spelling rules (google statutory spellings Year 5/6).
• Reading and talking about what has been read
Even spending half-an-hour a day over the holiday period can make a real difference, both to your child’s academic score, and to their confidence around sitting the tests.
Sometimes though, studying with your 10 / 11 year old isn’t that easy. That’s where having a tutor can help. As a neutral, non-judgemental third party, with experience of successfully tutoring children through the new SATs, I can work 1:1 with your child in the short run-up to the tests. This will give them the extra boost that will really help ease the confusions they may have around various subjects, and help them manage the stress of taking the tests.
What are some of the ways tutoring can help with, so close to the SATs?
In the Mathematics Reasoning papers, the questions are heavily language based – they are phrased as a question, rather than just a straight forward calculation, as in the Arithmetic paper. It is common that children know how to carry out the basic calculations, but have difficulty interpreting the language of the question. In this way, the children need to work out what the question requires them to do, before they can answer the question. Tutoring can help them reinforce the language for the different types of question (e.g. product means to multiply) so they know which calculation to use.
The Mathematics papers are structured so that the questions become more complex as the test progresses. Some questions carry 2 marks – one for the working out, and the second for the correct answer. In this way, children can still pick up a mark for attempting to solve the problem, and showing relevant working out, even if they get the answer wrong. Even if they know the answer, they must show some form of working out, otherwise they will only be awarded one of the two marks. With this in mind, children can get all the answers correct, yet still not get full marks for the paper, because they did not show their working out. If children know how to look out for these questions, they can ensure they gain as many marks as possible.
Many of the more challenging questions are multi-step – this means they require 2 or even 3 different calculations, or mathematical processes. This means the children need to know which order to carry out the calculations to successfully arrive at the correct answer. Being confident in knowing what to do, in which order, is an important mathematical skill.
In the Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling papers, going over basic spellings is vital to gain those extra marks.
The Grammar and Punctuation paper can be challenging, not least because there is a great deal of content. Reinforcement of the basics can really help for this paper, as well as having the opportunity to clarify some of the more complex terminology as “adverbial noun phrase” and “past / present progressive tense” which the children are required to know.
Finally, sometimes children just need an opportunity to ask questions about something that they are unsure of, but for one reason or another, do not ask their class teacher. It could be they are embarrassed to ask something they feel is “too easy” or they don’t want their friends to know. The advantage of my coming to work with your child at home, is that it’s completely safe for them to ask all the questions they want, and go over any of the basics they are unsure of. This can only boost their self-esteem, which will support them when the tests arrive.
What about stress and staying calm during the tests?
Many children struggle with test anxiety and this can negatively impact of their performance on the day. It is my experience that children often report some, or all, of the following during tests:
• Get “stuck” on one question, meaning they spend far too much time on it, and therefore lose time to answer other questions.
• Drift off and cannot refocus.
• Mind goes blank with panic and confusion.
• Mind “whirls” and they don’t know how to stay calm.
• Over correcting a simple answer and not going onto the next question.
• Feeling faint, sick or dizzy.
• Sweaty palms
• Distracted by other children who are all working and this makes them panic.
• Confusion when looking at the clock and not knowing how much time is left.
• Pacing themselves incorrectly, spending too much time at the start so they don’t complete the paper.
• Learning How to Learn
Additionally, it is very common for children to lack the necessary “study skills” needed to successfully manage their time and stress during the testing period. This can include needing to know how to move past any of the below:
• Rushing through the test and not checking work.
• Lack of skill or knowledge in terms of exactly what checking their work means and how to do it.
• Misreading the question.
• Finishing early and not using the time to check their work.
If any of the above sounds like your child and you, and they, are interested in their having a bit of extra support before the testing season starts, then please contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
My website Inspired Learning
has many blog posts for parents about boosting their child’s self-esteem, and I invite you to follow my Facebook page, Inspired Kidz.