11 + exam

Summer 2018 has been a fantastic school holiday so far but a toughie at the same time. The 11+ exam is set for our first week back to school and the girls decided that they want to have a go so, our summer has been a mixture of fun activities mixed with a lot of studying.

We’ve been going over English and maths, we’ve checked their comprehension skills and we’re taking a look at verbal and non-verbal reasoning, two areas that aren’t covered at school as they’re not part of the national curriculum.

We’ve had tears and tantrums along the way but I’ve got to hand it to them as they apply themselves and are very upset when they don’t get top marks. They have the school they want in mind and are afraid they might not get in. I can’t take the exam for them but I can help them as much as possible to try and make their dream come true.

Husband and I took the decision to not tutor the girls. The cost was a huge part of our choice along with the fact that we didn’t want to push them into doing something that was out of their reach. I couldn’t think of anything worse than gaining a place in a school only to find them struggling to keep up with the class. I certainly don’t want to set them up for failure but I do want the very best for them.

I bought a set of Bond books from Amazon aged 9 – 10. The girls were doing very well and getting 80% and over which was very encouraging. The advice at the back of the book is to go up to the next level if they are getting 80% +. So I did.

Uh-oh. I didn’t know that between the two levels there was such an enormous gap and the girls were coming across work they haven’t even covered yet at school. After a quick online discussion a friend, who is also a tutor, informed me that that level was intended for children in Year 6 who take the exam in January and therefore are slightly ahead. With this knowledge, we started to look at the girls scores in a different light and saw that actually, they were doing well. My friend also advised me to concentrate on the verbal and non verbal reasoning with continued exercise in English and Maths.

Fingers crossed. The twins will sit their exam on 6th September. If they don’t get it, it’s not the end of the world, there are plenty of other great schools out there but for the moment, we’re going for the dream.

Good luck to anyone else who’s going for it.

K2 crosswords puzzles skips

Easter holidays and isn’t it lovely to watch the children play without a care in the world? I daren’t reprimand them for a messy room of an evening when I can see they have clearly had loads of fun playing with their toys, we’re making it part of our day to tidy up at the end so ‘we know where to find everything’ for play the next day. Sounds good on paper and no it doesn’t always work but we have years ahead to perfect this idea of mine.

We also have homework to do and as I am constantly saying I am amazed at just how much the children are learning at school. Our recent parent’s evening blew me away completely when I looked at their exercise books and saw for myself the sums, the writing, the projects completed when they’re not with me, hats off to Mrs J and her assistant Mrs G for the excellent continued work.

I do believe in a little exercise throughout the holidays, I think it should never be too much but enough to tick over so on their return to the classroom they’re not overwhelmed by the work load again.

skips crossmaths

I have been sent two of the Skips books to have a look at, I have bought them puzzle books before but some are a bit too boring and get put to one side, others are a bit too complicated and therefore are no longer enjoyable but become a task.

The Skips books are constructed around Key Stage 1 and 2, they aim to improve your child’s education and give them confidence with their homework, there is a huge emphasis on parental interaction, the thing is if we as parents are positive about homework then our children will enjoy it al the more too.

I have been sent two Skips books KS1 Crossmaths and KS 2 Crossword puzzles, I have flicked through them and like what I see but I will have to order another copy of each as each child needs their own copy.

The pages are bright and colourful they are set out very easily and are appealing to the eye. The one thing I like the most is they were developed by a mum, Ash Sharma, for her child to remove all the moans and complaints associated with homework.

The books are engaging and you can do as little or as much as you like, let your child set the pace and do their own puzzles when they want.

If they enjoy it it makes life so much easier and they are learning and practising their new skills all the time too, bingo!

back to school year 1We are one week in to Year 1 and I had tears Tuesday morning from Twin 1 who didn’t want to go into school.

She did say her throat hurt and in all fairness she was exhausted the night before not moving from the sofa after teatime, so I gave her some Calpol and sent her in.

Is that really bad mum practise?

I could have kept her home, I work from home but I was brought up that unless you were on death’s door, off to school you went. Anyway moral of the story I got called at lunchtime to pick her up and then she really did look poorly, big red eyes and a hot forehead, all symptoms that weren’t clear in the morning.

Cue mum guilt.

I’m lucky that working from home allows me to be on call all the time as we don’t have anyone who can step in for us should there be a call but occasionally I do get invited up to London to attend an event or a press day and this made me realise I need to put an action plan into place. I need to speak to a school mum or neighbour and ask their permission that in the unlikely event that I am in London could they pick my child up from school and keep her until I can get back from London which would most likely be an hour at least.

I’ve heard from school mums of various little ones this week having break downs before school, crying and being taken into school by a teacher, heart breaking for a mum to stand and watch and one thing we’re all having to get used to is no contact with the teacher at all other than the contact book. This makes me feel jittery, these people are with my children all day and I am interested in what they do, how they behave when I’m not there, how they cope with various situations and of course, it’s the start of a new term, I want to know about it.

Some children are really good and relaying to their parents what has happened at school, my twins aren’t. I ask them how their day was and the reply ‘Good.’

I try to find out what they’ve been doing but if I push too hard they both clamp up and say ‘Can’t remember.’ in a real teenage way, like ‘lay off mum!’

We’re taking up a few after school activities too. Last year we did gymnastics and the girls loved it, we also did swimming which they adore too so we’ve continued those until such a time they tell me they don’t want to any more and to the mix we’ve added two new school activities, Dance and Drama.

Yes this may be too much but I’m hoping it will be more play than hard work and I’m hoping they will enjoy these new experiences and gain courage from them because that is what it’s all about. The minute they tell me they don’t want to do it anymore we’ll stop.

We had our first homework on Friday evening, 1 A4 page of sums. Count the animals in the boxes and write the number. Both of the twins forget which way round 2, 3, 5 and 7 go even though we did practise over the summer. 6’s and 9’s also need a little thinking over but slowly slowly they’ll get there. The other exercise was number lines, fill in the missing numbers like this

1 2 3 _ _ 6 _ _ _ 10

maths whomework

The girls found them easy and parents were encouraged to add extra challenges and mark the work ourselves all to be handed in by Wednesday. I added 5 simple sums as we’ve been practising over the summer (ie 1 + 3 =  ) they are easy for the girls, they use their fingers to count and they are very happy to get their ticks and smiley faces plus a Very Good written at the bottom.

I’m looking forward to getting our reading books sent home too, we need to get back into a reading routine.

How’s your back to school going?