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Developing Skills Together Part II - Maths and English

If you've not read our previous post on working alongside your child, you can read it here:

While our last post focused on Creative Writing, this one will focus on Maths and English skills. However, before we get into it, don't think that tutors or teachers expect parents to do this with their kids, especially not every day. For the most part, kids have been getting on with their homework alone fairly well, and it is important that kids don't become reliant on others to help them as it hinders the development of their independence and confidence.

If possible, working alongside your child for 1-3 sessions a week for just half an hour will work absolute wonders, as it will help them develop their analytical skills, boost their confidence, help them to understand constructive criticism, see academic work as an aspirational adult task instead of something 'only kids have to do' and allow them to exercise these new skills when you leave them ton their own devices.


The method for this one is a little different to our Creative Writing method. As Creative Writing is about being original, it was important that you worked separately before comparing your answers. With Maths however, there is one objective answer meaning a little method copying is okay, so when you and your child attempt a Maths question together make sure they are aware it is okay to glance at each other's work under these specific circumstances of collaborative learning.

Not a lot of parents feel confident with Maths as they don't tend to regularly exercise what they learned in school, and often don't recognise the methods their children are learning. What is important to know is it not only fine, but helpful if this is the case! You don't need to be a Maths wizard to help your child with their work. Because you and your child are allowed to peer and comment on each other's working out whilst still in the midst of problem-solving, you will inadvertently end up helping each other to reach the answer. The point behind this exercise is to show children that adults can struggle too, so if you put in the hard work they will follow suit.

English/ Comprehension

Unlike Creative Writing, English Comprehension is like Maths in that it expects answers that can be supported by evidence of 'working out', which often consists of P.E.E (point evidence explain). Even simple two marker questions are answered incorrectly time and time again, but by working together children and parents can produce a brilliant answer. Adults usually have a better ability to understand what a text is about, whilst children have a better grasp of the methods they are expected to use when answering questions, even if their evidence and reasoning is misused/ missguided.

For example, you as a parent might understand why a character is behaving in a certain way, but you would lose marks because you have forgotten to explain your point or give evidence by quoting from the text. Your child may have made their point, given evidence and explained, but they have lost marks because their point is too literal or off base due to a misunderstanding of the text. In this example you could help guide your child in the right direction by rereading certain sentences, see if they can come up with other points than the one they have written. At the same time, they can show you how you could flesh out your answer with evidence and further explaining your point just like they did.

How can this apply to multiple-choice?

The method used in English Comprehension can also be used here. Individually select your answers, and then after you have finished have the both of you explain your reasoning behind your choice. You could also use the Maths method and glance at each other's working out during the process, comparing problem-solving methods used that one of you might not have considered before. It is important to note here that it is not necessary for the parent to get the right answer - after some discussion, let your child have a second attempt and give them the win, providing them with a much-needed confidence boost.

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