Support your child with spelling

 

Imagine trying to write in a different foreign language every time you wrote something. Think how difficult that would be. That’s how I heard reading and spelling described to be by one dyslexic learner.
A key point you need to remember before a child can start to learn to read or spell is that they need to recognise what each letter or blend of letters stands for. For most people reading or spelling the word ‘shout’ is probably fairly easy as it can be broken into manageable frequently used letter blends: sh/ou/t.
Ensuring your child has a confident knowledge of these blends will set you off in the right direction. If necessary go right back to the beginning and practice/learn the sounds that each individual letter in the alphabet makes. (At the end of this section I shall give you some ideas of games to play to assist you with this).
Once the child is confident with each individual letter; start working on the simpler, most common blends. By working through them in a systematic order will give your child confidence as it will support them in reading and spelling a larger number of words rather than choosing blends at random. You will no doubt find that your child is already familiar/ confident with some of the blends and you can skip over them fairly rapidly. Others you will need to spend more time on. Before you start looking at these blends please do ensure your child is confident with spelling simple cvc (consonant, vowel, consonant words; cat, dog, hen, ten…) as rushing too quickly ahead now will have detrimental effects as you try to progress on. Trying to run before you can walk, nearly always ends in failure.
Where to start:
1. Once you are confident your child is familiar with every individual sound in the alphabet and can spell simple cvc words, move on to double letter blends where each letter in the pair has the same sound: -ll, -ss…
Show them how to blend the sound (let the letters run into each other) before introducing them to words. Although there are obviously more, these two blends alone will assist with spelling/reading words such as:
Bell, bill, fill, hill, ill, kill, mill, pill, till, will, well, tell, wall, tall, fall, doll.
Boss, loss, toss, kiss, miss
This has already introduced the child to many new words.

2. Next move on to groups of words where the sounds are made up of single consonants such as: cl, tr, br, dr,
cl tr br dr
Clock
Click
Clever Trot
Tram
Brag
Drink
Drop
3. The next closely related group is –ck. Two different letters that create the same sound: duck, truck, muck, pack, sack, lock, dock

4. The next group of words are those which start with two consonants that make different sounds: st, sp, tr, gr, pl, fr, sl, tw, gl, sn, sw, dr, fl, sk, cl. As you can imagine this opens up endless new opportunities for words. In the table below are just a few examples from the many available:
st sp tr gr pl fr sl tw
Step
Stop
stun Spell
Spin
spot Trip
Trap
tram Grip
Grab
Grit Plod
Plot
plug frog Slam
Slip
slop Twin
Twig
gl sn sw dr fl sk cl
Glad
glum Snip
snap Swig
Swim
swam Drop
Drip
drag Flag
Flip
Flop skip Clip
Clap
clam

5. This then leads us on to words that end in two syllables that make a different sound. Again these open up endless possibilities: -st, -ck, -lt, -sk, -ft, -nt, -mp,
-st -ck -lt -sk -ft -nt -mp
Best
Vest
Rest
Nest Duck
Clock
Frock
Felt
Belt
Desk
Tusk
Dusk
Gift
Lift
Ant
Pant
Bent
Sent Camp
Damp
Stamp
Mint
6. Moving on we come to: sh, th and ch. Start with words that start with these sounds first, then look at words which end with these blends
7. Having mastered the above 3 blends, look at wh.
8. The next set of words is the ing words and this introduces many words which by now will be fairly easy to read: ring, sing, bring, fling, king, bling…
They will also notice that many of the doing words (verbs) end in ing: singing, bringing, talking, snowing, jumping and walking. Again the list is endless.
Here you will also need to point out that many of these doing words (verbs) double the last consonant when the ing is added: running, swimming, stopping, skipping and slipping.
Most of the time the rule:
Double the last letter when adding “ing”
will work, and is a great guide to go by.

9. Next come the vowel blends: ee, ea, oo.
“ee” and “ea” are tricky as they have the same sound, so start with ee and then move on to ea rather than trying to tackle both at once.

10. “-ar”, “-or” and “-er” are the next set of words to focus on. This set of blends includes words such as:
ar or er
Bar
Car
Far
Tar
Jar
Par
Arm
Farm
Barn
Art
Part
Start
Card
Shard
Hard Or
Fork
York
Stork
Port
Cord
North
Horse

Her
Herd
Silver
Sister
Brother
Herb
11. The “magic –e”.
This really is a tricky concept to understand that the e at the end of the word, is affecting the sound of the vowel with in the word. Normally, the rule is when a three letter word has an e at the end of it, the vowel name is used instead of the vowel sound (a becomes ay).
An example of this would be: hop +e = hope.
Again please do wait before introducing this concept to your child as it is an important one to grasp and rushing in too soon will just cause frustration and undo all your good work up to this point.
12. Finally we are left with the silent letters, augh (laugh) and ough (cough), ph when it sounds like f and the soft letters such as g in gentle.

How do we teach these sounds?
As the child learns these blends, point out to them how a word can be broken down into individual blends making it more manageable. Always, support them if required. Remember to build their confidence: as the theory of self-fulfilling prophesy suggests: if you believe you are able to do something you are more likely to succeed. Equally if you do not have this confidence in having the ability to succeed, the likelihood of success if dramatically reduced.
Below I have outlined some of the more popular games I have used in my lessons. Obviously you may want to tweak them to suit your child’s own individual needs. But hopefully they will give you food for thought:

Bingo:
Create two playing boards. On each one put a word belonging with that particular blend in each square. You then have two options:
1) Create a set of cards with the same words on as the ones you used on the playing boards, or
2) Create a set of cards which have a picture pair for the words mentioned above. Eg the word sheep would be matched up to a picture of a sheep.
You then lay all the individual playing cards face down in front of you. You turn it in turns to turn one over. The person who has the corresponding playing card on their playing board covers that word on their board. You may need to help read the words for the child. You don’t need to be a great artist to create this game as it can be done through simply pasting images from Google if it is for your own usage.

Pairs:
Similar to above except, this time all the cards are cut up into individual playing cards. They are all laid face down in front of you. You need to turn over a corresponding pair (2 matching words or a matching word and picture). Don’t use too many words as the game becomes too complicated and too timely. This is a great game for helping with short term memory issues.

Fishing game:
Again this is a similar idea to above. This time each word and picture is stuck to individual paper fish. Each fish has a paperclip slipped through it. Make a rod (I use short garden canes, with a piece of string attached to one end. At the other end of the piece of string I attach a small magnet which can be brought quite cheaply). Lay the fish out on the floor (I normally have them facing up, but this is entirely up to you) then take it in turns to “fish” out a corresponding pair of fish; matching word and picture or two matching words.
Riddles:
Write a selection of short riddles based around the blend you are learning. Ask the child to complete the riddle using the correct missing word. If you are doing this, it is always advisable to have the words written on the page so the child can copy them to assist with their spellings.
Word searches?
I’ve put a question mark next to this as some researchers argue that given a dyslexic child a jumble of letters and asking them to find specific words is not to be recommended. However, I have found that most children enjoy doing word searches, and if you do it yourself and set it at a level your child will not find too difficult they can then participate in activities similar to every other child. Work with their abilities.
Make a phonics book:
Buy or make a cheap notebook. On each page put a letter blend at the top of the page as a heading. Each time a child learns a new word or blend, ask them to write the word down on the appropriate page. Maybe they could draw a picture next to it, or cut out a relevant picture from an old magazine. This can also be adapted to making posters.
I have chosen these six activities as children I have worked with have enjoyed them. And, like I have said previously, I am a firm believer that if a child is enjoying themselves, they are more likely to be relaxed and to be in a suitable frame of mind to learn.
I have put together handmade phonics packs which include each of these activities (apart from the phonics books) and are available to buy through my website if preferable to making them yourself.

5 things to consider when choosing a tutor

 

We are all individuals and our reasons for needing a tutor will vary widely.
Regardless of your reasoning for seeking out a tutor, here are 10 points you might want to consider:

1. Where will the lessons take place?

Are you willing to travel to a central location for the lessons or the tutor’s home? There are obvious advantages to this including the tutor will have all their resources on hand to easily adapt the lesson if necessary. However, if you hold a busy schedule and have other children that you would need to take with you to drop your child off, is it easier to try and find a tutor who is able to come to your house.

 

2. What would you expect to pay for a tutor?

The price charged by tutor’s varies widely. Some tutors will charge as little as £10/ hour. These are often online lessons carried out by students. If you travel to a tutoring centre/ a tutor’s home where the tutor is physically present you will expect to pay more. However, the range of resources available will be greater and the because the tutor is present it is often easier to hold the student’s attention. These are often group lessons. Another alternative, is to pay a premium and have the tutor travel to your home so you are relieved of the need to travel and possibly hang around somewhere whilst the lesson takes place. It also means that because the lesson is taking place in your home you are better placed to see what is happening in the lessons.

 

3. Do you want your child to have one to one tutoring?

Very often when children are struggling, they feel unable to ask questions in front of their peers. It’s hard to put your hand up and admit that you don’t understand what is been explained. One to one tutoring offers the child an hour of the tutor’s undivided attention. They can focus purely on what the child needs to find confidence in. They can pay attention to the areas where your child needs to grow. Everything has a consequence and here you would expect to pay slightly more for the lessons.
The advantage of group lessons is that your child will also have support of peer learning.

 

4. How does your child learn best?

When I was young, I used to love reading books, making notes and writing essays. I know for many people this would be their worst nightmare!
When we tutor, we always use a range of activities: games, worksheets, code breaking, discussion, mind maps.
You need to find a tutor that has a similar teaching style to your child’s learning style. We need to acknowledge that we are all individuals and as such we all teach and learn differently. Find a tutor that will embrace your child’s individual needs and requirements.

5. What experience and qualifications do you want your tutor to have?

To some people this won’t be of importance, they will be more concerned with the rapport of the tutor and their ability to pass their knowledge onto their child. I have met very intelligent tutors who have no ability to teach. I’m not a qualified teacher but I have a degree in childcare and education.

I have nearly 20 years of experience working in a huge variety of educational settings, but I’m not a qualified teacher. I have had tutors working for me, freshly out of A’ Levels that have had amazing feedback and I regularly get asked if they are likely to come back. I have tutors whose experience is working one to one with special needs children in a private schools, those whose background is accountancy, business growth, teachers. They are all amazing but without being qualified teachers some people will have their doubts to their abilities.
When I started tutoring, I had my own doubts but it was explained to me that teachers are taught to teach one way. If the child does not grasp this method at school will they grasp it at home?
Another lesson I have learned that reinforces this was when I was at school. My dad was an accountant. He lectured occasionally at the local college to help pay for our family holidays but he wasn’t a teacher. We had been learning solving equations at school and I couldn’t get it. The teacher had gone over it so many times and she was clearly getting fed up with me.
At home that night Dad spent an hour or two going over it with me in his words, using his own techniques, and I got it. It was crystal clear. I still use his explanation when I explain it to people today.

Like I say, we are all different and have our own learning /teaching style. What suits one person will not always suit another.
I hoped this has given you food for thought if you are considering getting a tutor.
If we can be of any further help, please do get in touch here

Learning the 9 times table

The 9 times table is one of my favourite times tables because there are so many tricks to help you to learn it.

The most commonly known one is that, when written down the units decrease by one each time and the tens increase by one.

When you write out the 9x table the tens will increase by 1 and the units will decrease by 1 each time.png
But there is also the fact that if a number is devisable by 9 the digits that make it up will add together to make 9.

3x9 = 272+7 = 9 shocking fact

Examples of this are:

10 x 9= 90
9+0 =9

2×9= 18
1+8 = 9

12×9 = 108
1+0+8= 9

Then there’s this one and I think this is the cleverest trick of all:

 

Hold your 2 hands out in front of you, palms down.

Imagine you want to work out what 3 times 9 is.

Put down the middle finger of your right hand.
Imagine all the fingers of the left of that middle finger are worth 10. All the fingers to the right are worth 1 (they’re your units).

That means to the left of my middle finger I have 20. To the right I have 7.
3 x9 = 27
It works for each of the questions in the 9 times table from 1 to 10.

 

Imagine I want to work out what 7×9 is.

Put the finger next to the thumb on your right hand down. (This is your 7th finger)
Everything to the left is once again worth 10. Everything to the right is worth 1 (a unit).

This time I have 6 tens and 3 units.
7×9=63.

I can check this is right because 6+3 =9

I’ve found one of the best ways to teach the times tables is through the use of games. At Starr Tutoring we use pairs games, snakes and ladders, fishing games (probably my favourite) bingo etc.

The repetition of playing the games helps to reinforce the times tables facts.

Games are also a great way to make learning fun and to help a child relax. Everyone will learn better when they relax and are enjoying themselves as that is when the brain is more susceptible to learning.

Twitter heading
I have set myself the challenge that in my life time I will help 1 million children find confidence in their times tables through the use of games.

To help me to achieve this you can download all the templates that we use at Starr Tutoring to create these games so that you can play them yourself at home.
You will also gain the link to my e-book: Teach your child their times tables – the fun way!

This e-book goes into more detail explaining how we learn and the importance of using a wide range of resources.

cover

I can have kept the price down to just £12. Not because I question the value you will receive from it, because I think you will receive great value from it if you play the games with your child, but so that it is accessible to as many people as possible.
If £12 is too much for you though, or you have a child with special needs, your child is a young carer, a foster child, etc. let me know. For every course that is paid for another person will receive it for FREE.

For more information on the 1 Million Times Tables Challenge, click here

If you have found this post interesting or you think someone else may benefit from it, please do like and share it.

Any questions, do ask and I will do my best to answer them.

Thanks for reading

Dawn

Supporting your child with maths for the 11+

As the summer holidays begin the 11+ will be forefront of many people’s minds.

How can they support their child and help them to pass the 11+?

You will know that the 11+ is broken in verbal and non-verbal reasoning, English and maths.

Supporting your child with maths for the 11+ blog banner

 

The benefit of additional support in maths is that regardless of which school the child goes to in year 7, this additional support will stand your child in good stead.

There are many worksheets that can be downloaded for free or text books that you can buy to support your child. These are great as they will prepare your child for the type of question and content they will encounter in the exam.

However, you may decide (and I would encourage you to consider) alternative revision techniques than just worksheets and text books. If you want to read more on the benefits of using varied learning styles you can download a section of the e-book I have written in supporting children with their times tables.

Download the chapter of the e-book here

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Teachit maths is a fantastic website for presenting mathematical resources in alternative formats it traditional worksheets.

They use codes to break (also very valuable in the 11+), dominoes, etc. Many of the resources can be accessed on the free plan. All that is necessary is submitting your name and email address to register. (I’m not an affiliate, it’s just a website I’ve found that has some amazing resources and is well worth checking out).

Here are 3 of my favourite alternative games for supporting your child’s maths and helping them to pass the 11+

noughts and crosses

Noughts and crosses can be adapted in so many ways.

This game is so quick and easy to create.

Draw 2 lines vertically. Then draw another 2 lines crossing them horizontally.

In each square (where I have drawn a number in the illustration) write an example question. Before you can claim your square and head towards your row/ column of 3 you need to answer the question.

This is a very brief description but I hope it makes sense.

I will go into more ways of how to adapt it in future blogs.

Rummikub

I love this game. It is fantastic for encouraging your child to look for patterns and sequences.

Even beyond the 11+ I am confident you will receive hours of fun from it.

For the benefit of the 11+ I normally allow pairs and odd numbers to form a sequence as well as just as straight run of numbers.

Pairs

This is another fairly simple game to produce. Create a grid on a piece of paper which is approximately 6 squares by 4. (Leaving you with 24 squares).

On 12 of these squares write a maths problem/ question.

On the other 12 squares write the corresponding answers.

Now place all 12 squares face down on the table between you.

Take it in turns to turn over 2 squares. If you pick up a question and corresponding answer you win the pair and get another go.

If they don’t match place them back down and the other person gets a go.

The person with the most pairs at the end is the winner.

Regardless of how you choose to support your child with their maths for the 11+ I highly recommend that you ensure your child is confident with their times tables.

A thorough knowledge of the times tables is like providing a strong foundation when building a house.

It’s obligatory to progress on to higher more difficult levels.

I have recently put together the 11+ million times tables challenge.

I explain it in more detail in the following page if you are interested:

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The 1 Million Times Tables Challenge

Any trouble downloading the extract or if you are looking for a tutor this summer to help your child stand a better chance with the 11+, please do get in touch.

Speak soon