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Maintaining the Fundamental Skills at Home

In our last couple of posts, we've talked a little bit about how covering the fundamental skills are the most important for your child's success, especially in a time crunch. This post will go into further detail as to the different ways that you can help your child practice these fundamental skills - the quicker your child's recall, the quicker they will be able to answer questions leaving them ample time for the high-markers. This also allows tutors to spend less time catching children up from The Summer Slide (https://www.elctutoring.co.uk/post/you-re-the-book-that-i-want-why-summer-reading-is-essential) so we can teach them more effectively and focus on the advanced topics.



Maths:


As we have said previously, memorising the basic multiplication tables is a vital skill for maths-related questions. It allows your child to answer basic questions within mere seconds and frees up their time when answering questions that require extra attention. We recommend your child know all multiplications up to 12 x 12 by heart, and that you practice these in a variety of ways. Some examples are:


Making the unknown variable different each time. For example, wherein the unknown variable is ?:


3 x 3 = ?


7 x ? = 35


? x 5 = 20


You can apply this to other sums and numerals including addition, subtraction, division and fractions. Asking your child rapid-fire multiplication questions or having queue cards on hand is a good way of testing the speed of your child's recall ability, but we also suggest testing them in a traditional pen to paper way to 1) emulate an exam situation and 2) testing their ability to answer maths questions written in a numerical vs phonetic format. For example:


4 x 6 = ?


vs

Four multiplied by six equals what?


We also suggest asking questions in a scenario format. For example, you might say: 'I put seven apples in the fruit bowl: your father eats two, and your sister eats one. How many apples are left in the fruit bowl?' Using visual aids if possible can make this experience easier to understand and more fun.


Another recall skill necessary to have is conversion and simple percentage questions. Conversion questions may include decimals, percentages, fractions, ratios and different metric or imperial measurements. Knowing all metric units by heart is helpful and relatively easy to do since they work in units of 10. You could teach these in a more traditional method, as well as through fun activities like baking and cooking. Fractions, decimals and ratios can be taught through pictures and other aids like slicing up a cake or pie.


English:


You've heard it again and again, but because it is oh so important: READING! Reading is the most effective way to improve your child's vocabulary, spelling, comprehensive skills and creativity. The best part is, under the right circumstances reading can be your child's way to relax outside of studying - and they won't even realise it!


Traditional reading methods are great, and even without access to libraries it doesn't have to be expensive (free samples and deals are all over Amazon, and kindle versions of books cost a fraction of the price. If you have an iPad you can download the Kindle app for free!). A lot of charity shops have book sections, and you can buy bundles on eBay or Facebook Marketplace for a fraction of the price. There are even websites dedicated to selling used books like this one https://www.betterworldbooks.com/search/results and Amazon sells used books too.


Less non-traditional methods include comic books/ manga, audio books (playing an audiobook at night can help your child relax, and playing one during a long drive makes for a good substitute for music. Even if your child is asleep or not fully paying attention, their subconscious will pick up on it!) and much more. As a child my brother and I spent a lot of hours in restaurants reading the sheets given to us for colouring and puzzles, as well as reading the back of Innocent smoothie cartons. Giving your child more innovative ways to read (like including something in their lunchbox, everyone at my school loved penguin biscuits just for the jokes) makes the experience more fun and might remove some of the pressure.


Talking of car journeys and instant recall, car trips are great for testing your child's recall ability when it comes to vocabulary and spelling, as well as involving them in creative writing games. You can add incentive by making it a competition, increasing their interest in trying and boosting their confidence when they win. You can increase the difficulty in tasks like spelling games by asking your child how to spell a word backwards, or how many vowels a word has versus consonants. Creative writing can be revised by memory games and story-based games where the silliness can really flow.




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