3 Ways To Help Your Child Improve Their Comprehension Skills

clever comprehension academy

Many parents complain that their child struggles with comprehension.

Perhaps it’s because they struggle to understand the text, or perhaps it’s because they find it difficult to figure out what the question is asking of them.

Whatever the reason, there are things that you can do to help your child improve their ability to read and understand even the most complex of texts.

Here are five of our favourite comprehension boosting tips:

Create an environment of literacy in the home.

This is a piece of advice given by the wonderful Dr Kathryn Weston and it’s one that’s stayed in my mind for a long time.

What does it mean?

Well, many parents completely dismiss literacy at home and often prioritise Maths and Sciences because English is often deemed a less important subject. And then, all of a sudden they realise that their child actually needs to have strong English skills because literacy is assessed throughout a child’s education. Such parents then frantically begin hunting for an English Tutor and panic because there isn’t much time to help their child improve their comprehension skills.

Instead of doing this, you can create an environment of literacy in the home by doing some of the following:

  • Reading to your child at night.

  • Asking your child to read to you for 10 minutes each day.

  • Using vocabulary flash cards during meal times so that you can create table topics around them.

  • Asking them to re-write some of the stories they’ve read recently and read them aloud to friends and family.

By doing this, your child begins to understand how important it is to build strong English skills especially with regards to comprehension.

Encourage them to read a variety of classic and modern texts.

It’s so easy to encourage your child to stick with the usual “fun” books such as Diary of a Wimpy Kid but such books don’t necessarily encourage much creative thinking or help a child develop their deduction or inference skills. By encouraging your child to read a variety of texts, you’ll be helping them to create the skills needed to make studying comprehension much less difficult.

Use 10-minute boosters.

We love the CGP and Bond 10-Minute series of books because they enable children to improve their comprehension skills in such a short space of time. It’s therefore worth purchasing some of these books and gradually working through the books with them. Start by going through the books together, discuss the passages and then eventually encourage your child to complete the comprehension papers on their own. It takes just 10 minutes and it’s so worthwhile.

So, there you have it. Three of our favourite tips for improving comprehension skills.

If your child needs additional help with comprehension, consider purchasing our online course which enables students to study at their own pace. Click here to learn more.

How to use Growth Mindset to Boost Your Child’s 11+ Revision


What is growth mindset?

Growth mindset in simple terms is the idea that we should not be limited by our talents and shortcomings but that we can instead change, develop and improve.

In essence, we can develop from our talents and shortcomings by making effort, learning from our mistakes and facing challenges.

The opposite of a growth mindset is a fixed mindset.

With a fixed mindset you’ll think and believe that you’re not good or clever enough. You’ll believe that you’re born in a particular way and cannot develop further.

It’s therefore important to teach your child how to have a growth mindset so that they can transform how they view themselves and their abilities.

Teaching your child how to be a resilient learner can help them in their 11+ and other academic and non-academic  areas such as music and sport.

Having a growth mindset enables your child to be persistent even when facing challenges. This makes them more prudent at whatever they are doing.

Furthermore, research shows that children that are taught growth mindset techniques improve in their overall grades/scores within shorter periods.

How can use growth mindset to improve your child’s 11+ revision?

One of the most important strategies is to teach your child not to shy away from their weaknesses or shortcomings. Teach them to embrace their areas of weakness and make effort to improve on them. For example, rather than stating, “I’m bad at Maths,” they could say, “I’m not the best at Maths yet.”

The word “yet” is so powerful because it shows that the possibility of improving is still there.

Also, in order to develop a growth mindset in your child, you should be careful of the words you speak to them. Try not to use words that will make them develop a fixed mindset. For example, don’t use phrases such as, “you’re just not good at Maths,” or,“this is not good enough.” Doing so will cause them to believe that they can’t change or improve.

Having high expectations is another thing that can foster a growth mindset in children. Children who believe their parents think highly of them usually perform better. This is because high expectations lead to faster brain development. However, it’s important to note that high expectations should not be confused with pressure. Don’t put your child under any pressure. Whenever they fail, always encourage them and let them know they can do better.

Additionally, teach your child to face up to their mistakes and learn from them. Rather than hiding their mistakes, they should be encouraged  to embrace them.

Let your child see mistakes as a learning process not as a judgment of their abilities.

It doesn’t matter the number of time ms they fail, give them the opportunity to learn and improve.

And finally, endeavour to teach your child how to deal with their emotions. Encourage them to focus on the positives whenever they are confronted with challenges.

​How to reduce your child’s stress levels in the run-up to their 11+ exam


For many years now, the 11+ entrance exam has been a part of the English education system. The exam is used to identify which children are academically suited for grammar or independent schooling.

In preparation for the test, there is always a lot of pressure on parents and children alike. This is because the outcome of the exam determines your child’s path through the education system. The 11+ exam is a big thing and it takes most students more than a year to prepare.

The preparation and high expectations from parents can lead to high levels of anxiety and nervousness. To help with this, we’re going to discuss how you can reduce your child’s stress level in preparation for the 11+ exam.

1. Be an early bird.

Early preparation is the best and it will go a long way in the quest for success in the 11 plus exam. Encourage your child to start early with reading and vocabulary building exercises. This will allow them to study at their own pace without much pressure.

2. Love them.

Remind your child that you’ll always love them regardless of how they do. Let them know that your love for them will not be affected by their performance in the exam.

3. And breathe

Keep calm – you the parent must ensure to keep calm at all times. If your child notices that you’re anxious, you might transfer this to them and this can lead to more stress. 

4. Relax

Parents should teach their child how to relax when they feel tensed or under pressure. Allow them to take a day off to relax and take their mind off the exam. Encourage them engage to take part in different relaxation activities such as listening to music, meditation, dancing or sports. This may sound counterproductive but it is for stimulating their brain and makes them more ready for the exam. Years ago, one of my students was extremely nervous about her exam, she was literally shaking. Her mum simply took her to play tennis for the entire day, she sat the exam the following day and ended up doing extremely well. 

 5. Positivity.

You should encourage your child to be optimistic, help them to develop a positive growth mindset. This will go a long way in building their self-confidence and long-term academic skills. Keep encouraging them to visualise a successful outcome. You can even teach them affirmations and create a morning routine around positivity and personal growth.

6. Take out the pressure.

Try not to let your child feel that success in the 11+ exam is a do or die affair. You should not place the test on a pedestal. It will be too much a pressure if your child feels like the world will come to an end if they fail. 

7. Read together. 

Read to them before bedtime and get them to read to you as well. You can also ask them questions about what they’ve read. This is a way great of building comprehension skills.

Should Your Child Attend a Summer School Before Taking The 11+?

Should my child spend a few days attending a summer workshop?

Should they just have fun and skip 11+ prep altogether?


Should they take part in an 11+ summer school? 

There are so many questions and options that it can be overwhelming.

So how do you decide?

Firstly, consider whether your child has an exam within the next seven months. 

If your child’s exam is this September, October, November or in January of 2019, then it might certainly be worth enrolling them in a summer course.  

However, if your child is in Year 4 and has more than seven months until their exam then it’s a good idea to wait before booking their place on a course. 

Another factor to consider is whether your child enjoys learning in a group environment. If your child loves studying alongside others then they’d probably gain a lot from taking part in a summer course or workshop.  

One of the benefits of such courses is that students learn from others and can pick up new and exciting ways of studying.  

If you’re still stuck on the fence, assess your child’s summer commitments to see whether they can fit an intensive revision programme into their plans. For instance, if you’ve already booked a family holiday or other activities then they could potentially clash with a course which wouldn’t make it worthwhile.

Generally, we tend to notice that our students do incredibly well because they spend their summer holiday doing productive things such as revising, building their vocabulary, honing mathematics skills or completing our 11+ summer programme.

Regardless of whether they attend the course, they are committed to having a fun and productive summer which in turn leads to them achieving excellent exam results. 

We’re looking forward to meeting and getting to know our new summer school students in August.

Before you go, tell me,  how is your child spending their summer? 

Share by leaving a comment below. 


Which Is Better: Group VS 1:1 Tuition?



This is a really common question and a topic that divides a lot of parents.

To be frank, there are pros and cons to either form of tuition and the option that’s best really depends on your individual child’s needs and how they learn.


Here’s a breakdown of some of the differences, advantages and disadvantages of each approach. 


1:1 Tuition  - The Pros

Your child gets individual attention and detailed feedback. 


This has to be the greatest benefit of 1:1 lessons. However, it’s important to consider that not all tutors give feedback on a child’s performance and quite a few won’t provide feedback at the end of each lesson.  


When considering 1:1 lessons, make sure you ask the prospective tutor about how much feedback is given and how frequent it will be. 


Your child studies at their own pace. 

A good tutor will always ensure that your child is learning at a pace that suits their academic needs. This is really important. 


Ultimately, you don’t want to spend hundreds or even thousands on lessons that are either too fast paced or too slow. 

   Building a Home

With 1:1 lessons you have the benefit of knowing that your child’s lessons are building up gradually with the purpose of giving them a strong foundation in their key subjects.


Each lesson is a brick that lays the foundation for a beautiful home.


No Interference  

Another benefit of 1:1 lessons is that your child won’t be distracted or interrupted by other students. This is particularly important for children who get distracted easily and don’t cope well around their peers. 

If your child studies best on their own then 1:1 might be the best choice for them. 



Whilst 1:1 lessons can be great, they do have their disadvantages. 




If you’re on a budget then 1:1 lessons might not be the best choice as they are by far the most expensive form of tuition. 


   Academic Performance

Another disadvantage is that 1:1 lessons aren’t always better in terms of improving your child’s academic ability or performance.

For instance, 1:1 lessons inhibit the opportunity for children to learn from each other or to get tips from their peers on how to study a particular topic in an easy way.


Children often learn from their peers and 1:1 lessons take away the opportunity for your child to learn from someone their own age. 

      The Fun Factor

The final disadvantage of 1:1 lessons is that they aren’t always as fun as group classes. 

During group lessons children bounce ideas off of each other, think creatively and have fun. The fact that 1:1 lessons don’t involve other children means that the adventure and exhilaration of learning with others is taken away.


As you can see, the choice of picking 1:1 or group lessons isn’t an easy or straightforward one. You have to weigh up the pros and cons and look at them in relation to how your child learns.  


 The Hybrid Solution 

Personally, I believe that a combination of both tuition types tends to work best for most children.  For instance, having some 1:1 lessons followed by an intensive group course provides children with the best of both worlds.