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How To Start Preparing For The 11+ Exam

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“My child’s 11+ exam is next year, how do I start preparing for it?”

This is a great question and one I hear often.

In fact, I wrote a guidebook on this very topic almost a decade ago. It’s rather dated now, especially as the CEM was only introduced in 2013, but I’m hoping to produce an updated version of the book in the nearby future.

In the meantime, here are some tips to help guide you through starting your child’s 11+ prep. These tips are also somewhat applicable to the 7+, 8+, 9+ and 10+ exams.

Be Honest

I know we all think our children are perfect but the unfortunate truth is that not every child is suited to the 11+. Some children don’t have the drive or determination to study for what can feel like hours on end. Some (in fact most) children would rather watch TV all day or take part in tons of activities after school than to spend their evenings or holiday periods studying for an exam. Before you even begin to consider the 11+, think about whether your child is naturally bright, be honest with yourself. Does your child have natural academic potential or are they lagging behind academically? Does your child want to sit the exam? Do they want to go to a grammar or independent school? Think about these things and be honest with yourself. Don’t hesitate to ask your child questions and discuss whether they’d like to go through the 11+ process.

Start early

I know that not all parents are fortunate enough to have discovered the 11+ early, but as a general rule of thumb, early preparation makes a tremendous difference. If you can, start laying a foundation for your child’s educational success as early as possible and avoid leaving exam prep to the last minute.

Begin with research

Research which schools you’re applying for and if possible, consider visiting them now. Sometimes parents start 11+ preparation and then find out months later that the school they’re applying for doesn’t even test a certain subject so it’s best to know where you’re applying to first. Then you can plan accordingly.

Start small

The Bond books are a great starting point. Start with the lower age bracket (e.g. 7-8) and then work upwards. Go through questions that your child is struggling with most and check the ones they got wrong so they don’t repeat mistakes.

Get focused

Focus on improving your child’s overall vocabulary, English and Maths skills. These skills aren’t just important for the 11+ but for life! The stronger their English and Maths, the more likely they are to do well.

Find a routine

Get into a routine. This is important so that it becomes a habit for your child to study every day and it helps them to manage homework alongside 11+ work.

Don’t solely D.i.y

Find a good tutor. You don’t have to use one but it’s a good idea to see which tutor your child clicks with and then to join their waiting list early so that your child can have a few lessons with them closer to the time of the exam. Some parents don’t use a tutor at all and that’s fine but it’s good to have a second opinion from someone who has a strong track record of getting children into the particular school(s) you’re applying for. If you don’t want regular lessons, just book a few assessments with them and they should be able to give you a report of their observations.

Stay calm

Stay calm and don’t panic because children pick up on these things. Try to encourage your child to have a positive mindset about exams and education in general.

I hope these tips have been useful.

Here’s to your child’s success!

The Tutoress Team.

11 Brilliant Books For 11+ Boys Who Hate Reading

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Click the play button below to listen to the list of recommended books as well as additional tips for helping your son with his reading.

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Happy bank holiday weekend!

I hope you’re having a wonderful Monday and are enjoying the warm weather.

As we prepare for our 11+ summer course, I am inundated with messages and calls from parents asking for tips on how to help their sons with reading. 

Generally, it seems that reading is the domain of girls and I’m always amazed by how much my female students tend to love reading whilst the majority of my male students hate it. There are so many potential reasons for this but if I start on them, I’ll be writing forever.  

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As a proud bookworm, I’m constantly looking for the best books and stories for children aged 8-12 and always become incredibly excited when I stumble across a great undiscovered book. It’s like finding a hidden gem.

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If you have a son who absolutely hates reading, then hopefully this quick list of 11 of my favourite reading books will be helpful. It’s not a definitive list but it should act as a starting point and hopefully inspire you and your son to keep hunting for more great stories.

Without further ado, here we go:

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  1. Storm Breaker by Anthony Horowitz 

  2. HIVE by Mark Walden 

  3. The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins (this trilogy is especially great for helping children to come up with clever ideas for cliffhangers, inspire their creative thinking skills and improve their story writing structure. I’m a huge fan!)

  4. Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

  5. Shadow jumper by JM Forster

  6. The Maze Runner by James Dashner 

  7. Thieves Like Us by Stephen Cole

  8. Evil Genius by Catherine Jinks

  9. Traitor Series, Andy McNab

  10. The Door or No Return by Sarah Mussi

  11. Sure Fire by Jack Higgins

There are a few other great finds such as The Cherub Series by Robert Muchamore.

Has your child read any of the above books? Which was their favourite? Are there any other great books that you love?

Let us know by leaving a comment below.

 

How To Help Your Child Improve Their Comprehension Skills (Audio)

Happy Sunday!

I’ve been thinking about recoding audios instead of written blog posts for a long time and finally had the chance to record one today.

In this audio, I discuss:

  • The tactics that parents can use to help their child engage with literature and improve their comprehension skills.

  • Strategies that students can use to improve their comprehension skills and score higher marks.

If your child struggles with comprehension (especially inference, elaboration and deduction) then this is for you.

Here’s a summary of some of the tips I share:

  • Be involved in your child’s learning, especially with regards to their reading. Let them read to you as often as possible.

  • Read in short bursts rather than forcing your child to read for long periods. It’s better to read little and often than not at all.

  • Read a wide variety of texts including poetry, biographies, newspapers and age-appropriate magazines/comics.

  • Incorporate your child’s passions, interests and hobbies into their reading - make it fun.

  • Be strategic about approaching exam questions so that your child can maximise their scores (I talk about this in a bit of depth so it’s worth listening to hear the tips shared).

I hope the audio is useful and if you have any questions or comments, please click on the comment box below and share them.

Here’s to your child’s success!

Victoria, The Tutoress.

Tutor Organization Series: A Tutor's Guide To Organising Your Tutoring Curriculum

I'm super excited to reveal that this post is part of a tutor organization series brought to you by some of the world's top tutoring experts: Adrianne Meldrum (of The Tutor House) and Amy (of Tutors Nirvana). 

As a tutor the prospect of getting organised can seem incredibly daunting. Thoughts like 'how do I plan a lesson?' ' how do I get organised?' and 'how do I keep track of all of my materials?' are likely to run through your mind.

Getting your tutoring curriculum organised isn't just something that's important for new tutors who are just starting out, it's also pertinent for experienced tutors who've been teaching for several months or even years.

People might assume that tutors are naturally quite organised (and yes, most of us are) but getting organised isn't that easy. Today, I'll be sharing some of my most loved tips on this very topic. Buckle up and get ready to take notes! 

How to organise your tutoring curriculum

Firstly, it's important to schedule regular time within your schedule specifically for the purpose of getting organised. Ideally, tutors should spend at least 1 day of each week focusing on planning and preparation as this maximises your chances of being able to handle almost any situation.

One thing that I do is that I have a tutoring diary where I write everything down including lesson plans, expenses and my tutoring schedule. It's pivotal to pick one book, notepad or diary that's used for organising your schedule.

Subject Maps

Once you have a tutoring diary and you have a good idea of your schedule, the next step is to write down what subjects you teach (include all of them- even the ones you teach less frequently) and to then map out a topic plan for each subject.

For instance, if you teach English to primary school students (students under 11 years of age) you might want to cover topics like spelling, grammar, punctuation and creative writing. Once you've mapped out the main topics for each subject, create a new map that highlights all of the topics within that subject, for instance, if you teach English you might break down 'grammar' into sub-topics like prepositions and nouns.

Once you've created these two subject maps, you'll have a much clearer idea of what topics you'll cover during your lessons. Now, I'm sure you're thinking, 'what if the student doesn't need to learn  a topic that I've written down?' That's perfectly fine- you can tweak or amend the subject map whenever you like so that it meets the needs of your students. If you have time, you could even create a subject map for each student you have.

The key is to remember to prioritise organisation in your schedule and give lesson planning greater attention.

In terms of keeping a track of your tutoring files and books, I strongly suggest getting a filing cabinet so that you can file your resources in order of subject/age/student. This makes things so much easier and allows you to easily pick up files without having to worry about where they are. Quite simply, a filing cabinet is a god-send for any tutor who's serious about going pro.

There are also a few more things you can do to stay organised such as:

Arranging books in order of need. In other words, keep the books and resources that you're most likely to need soon in areas that are easy to reach so that you don't have to spend hours looking for them.

Have a file box that contains resources and learning materials that you use most often. Keep materials that you don't desperately need in a filing cabinet and label them so that you know where they are.

Motivate yourself to stay organised by incorporating things you like. For instance, I love all things vintage. To motivate myself to stay organised, I treat myself (on occasion) to vintage inspired stationary. There's something about seeing a pretty vintage notepad, diary, book or organisational resource that gets me excited about staying organised. Could you do the same and incorporate something you love?

 

Important things to know before starting a dissertation

 

During the dissertation hand-in day, all students feel stressed out about the achievement of these important papers that have resulted from an exhausting crusade of researching, structuring and writing. For me, more than one year has passed after my fist encounter with the Undergraduate Dissertation Handbook and I still remember how I felt my heart trembling with the thought of the massive amount of work that was in front of me. Now that that stressful episode of my life has passed, I am beginning to identify the things that would be very beneficial for me if I was aware of them back then.

This article will provide useful tips to those who are currently working on their dissertations or will start working on them soon.

You need the best supervisor!

If you have been assigned to work with a supervisor who doesn’t provide effective recommendations or is unresponsive, you need to make a change. Don’t be afraid to ask for a change because if you don’t get the right advice, you won’t use your best potential and you will deliver mediocre work.

There should be a valid reason for making a switch and the request should be made early in the process. You don’t have to look for the best expert on the topic you are developing. What you need is a supervisor who will always be reassuring, reliable, approachable and detailed in their feedback. During the process of developing your dissertation, you will have some weird questions that will require email correspondence. Your supervisor should always be there for you, no matter how important those questions are.

Prepare for an unimpressed environment

When you start preparing yourself for the dissertation, your friends, family and all known and unknown people will start asking what you will be writing about. When it comes to dissertations, people always expect for impressive answers and you won’t be able to impress the environment in the early stage of the process. You should be prepared for some discouraging looks of disappointment and confusion, but you must not be affected by that kind of feedback. You should be aware that most people expect some dramatic answers when they ask about the topic of your dissertation, such as genocide, war and revolutionary ideas. After all, they are not the ones working on the dissertation and if you feel confident about your topic and you are interested in developing it further, make sure to stay positive about it.

Never ask your friends about the amount of work they have done. This would only stress you out and make you paranoid, or it would make them paranoid. Arrange your time effectively according to your own research and writing abilities, not according to others’ schedules.

Prepare for the freak out phase

During the dissertation development process, you will certainly experience a phase during which you will doubt the entire thesis and you will wish to leave everything behind and start from zero point. This usually occurs a couple of months before the ultimate deadline. The decision to start over is justified only if your mentor recommends you to do so because of some serious flaws in your work (which is a highly improbable scenario). You have to be aware that it is normal to panic, but you must keep focused and that stage of insecurity will pass.

Staying focused: Final tips

Don’t be disappointed by the fact that a lot of the early material will have to be edited out from the final version of the dissertation. Don’t be inclined into including all possible ideas that you have, because that would disturb the flow of the dissertation and make it look pointless.

Be prepared for a lot of printing! This may take a large portion of your weekly budget, so make sure to print only the necessary files and try using the free services of your friends and relatives during this process.

Writing a dissertation is a serious process that requires an immense amount of work and devotion, which means that you will have to put it on the first place, in front of other essay demands, sport commitments and social life in general. Even if you are extremely organized, you will have to go a step further and make more detailed plans of your time, without leaving any space for deadline panicking attacks!

Don’t be afraid of all the work in front of you because finishing your dissertation will definitely be one of the best experiences in your life. Every single atom of effort is worth for this important piece of work, so make sure to do everything in order to make yourself proud at the end of the process.

This is a guest post by Lois Weldon. Louis is a writer at uk.bestdissertation.com. She lives happily in London with her husband and daughter. She adores writing tips for students and is passionate about Star Wars and yoga.