All posts by JK Educate

Three Key Steps to Establish Effective Home-schooling

Education is changing, and it has quite probably been irreversibly altered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Educators – including parents – and students are having to adapt to new ways of learning; internet access and technology have become essential, and a pressing national issue relating to the lack of equal access for all children.

With the return of universal home learning, we need to face once again how important it is for parents to look after their children’s education and try to make sure their children have what they need. This can feel like an intense responsibility, especially as school resources can differ dramatically in how interactive and inspiring their home learning lessons and learning materials are. Not every day of home-schooling will feel successful or even comfortable, but nobody expects parents to recreate a perfect school environment at home and you should try to be kind to yourself as well as your child.

Fortunately, there are countless resources available to parents facing home-schooling. And of course, we can help with some fundamental advice as well as further one-to-one support if it’s needed, to fill any gaps in learning.

THREE KEY STEPS TO ESTABLISH EFFECTIVE HOME-SCHOOLING

1.     Get the home working environment set up to encourage focus and learning

2.     Set a realistic daily timetable (and build in some relaxation and wellbeing support)

3.     Identify and assemble the resources that suit your child and their learning needs.

 

 

1.     A CALM SPACE FOR LEARNING AT HOME

Help your child create a dedicated work area, whether they prefer to work in the family kitchen or in their own room. The area should be well-lit and quiet, with everything they need to study kept close to hand. Some people prefer to study with background music in the room or through their headphones, but you should discourage the use of a mobile phone for this unless it’s on airplane mode, so that no distracting notifications can pop up on the screen. Mobile use should be confined to break times. Clever apps such as Forest can encourage teens to focus on work – they’re rewarded by having their on-screen tree grow tall while they are off their phones for a set period, but it will wither if they keep checking Snapchat when they should be studying.

While your child is working, try not to use your own mobile or watch tv in front of them, or create unnecessary noise or distraction. You might be working from home yourself, in which case everyone can hopefully stay focused together, depending on the level of parental input children need while they are learning!

It’s important that students also eat well, and parents can help by cooking their favourite meals, including fresh fruit and vegetables and plenty of protein. Sleep is the other essential. Everyone needs to wind down properly before going to bed, ideally without screen time, to sleep well.

2.     SCHEDULING LEARNING AND LEISURE TIME

Schools’ approaches differ. Some schools set a timetable for the work, with live lessons on Zoom or Microsoft Teams, while other schools simply set work tasks and signpost children to online or textbook resources. Children generally like routine, and they are accustomed to the rhythm of the school timetable. Capitalise on this by setting a timetable at home, to reduce daily negotiations about when and how long the learning sessions will be.

If you don’t have a timetable provided by the school, create your own, print it out and display it prominently, perhaps on the fridge and certainly at your child’s workspace. There are templates available online, including on the Twinkl website. Follow the proportions of learning from your child’s usual school week, putting emphasis on the core subjects of English, maths and sciences for students up to GCSE level.

However, you need to be realistic about what you can achieve in the first week or so and allow yourselves time to adjust to the new situation. You will need to assess how they like to learn, if you don’t already know. Then structure their day accordingly, especially if they don’t respond well to a strict timetable and genuinely learn better through a more relaxed, fluid approach that still covers what’s required.

Encourage older children to review what they need to do and to prioritise. Perhaps you can have a daily chat about what needs doing, what’s hardest, and what feels impossible and might require extra help from you or from their teacher. Consider even agreeing aims and expectations on an hourly basis, if that will help your child feel supported and stay focused.

We have previously published more general advice on helping your child to learn and encouraging them to read, and Scope’s advice on Lockdown learning is also a useful read.

Protecting Wellbeing

It’s best to keep to the usual household routines, and ensure your child takes adequate breaks during the working day. They should take short 5 to 10-minute breaks every hour or two, with occasional longer breaks to really take their mind off things: walking the dog, playing games, or even an hour of watching Netflix.

Exercise and fresh air are important for everyone’s wellbeing, even during wintry weather. Consider establishing a daily family routine that includes a walk, an energetic Nintendo Switch sports game or joining in with the Joe Wicks workouts on YouTube. It might also be worth investing in a subscription to a meditation and relaxation app such as Calm or Headspace, to help your child (and you!) to switch off completely and regain some composure during the stress of Lockdown. Cosmic Kids Yoga is another fun yet relaxing option for younger children.

Further Resources for Wellbeing and Mental Health:

3.     LEARNING RESOURCES

Your first step should be to establish how your child’s school is facilitating their ongoing learning, and what online support and teacher contact is being provided. This will obviously affect your timetable and how many resources you need to find for yourselves.

To keep things interesting, even if your school is providing a full online teaching day, it might be useful to have alternative sources of information, learning and entertainment, so we have pulled together some valuable online resources to help you:

General Resources:

Primary School Resources:

  • Reading lists for primary school pupils
  • Education Quizzes – revision quizzes covering all areas of the curriculum for KS1 and above
  • ICT games – English and maths games for EYFS and KS1
  • Phonics Play – phonics and spelling games for EYFS and KS1
  • Spelling Play – spelling activities for Year 2
  • BBC Bitesize and BBC Teach are both great resources. The BBC has also announced daily primary programming on CBBC
  • CBeebies – a range of stories, videos, games and activities for EYFS

Workbooks for EYFS, KS1 and KS2:

Secondary School Resources:

IF YOU NEED MORE HELP…

Tutoring and educational advice can be valuable in this situation and we have helped many families to continue to achieve their goals and potential despite these difficult circumstances. JK Educate’s flexible online tutoring works beautifully, as demonstrated here in video demonstrating the service. We offer this teaching for all age groups from pre-school to undergraduates, carefully matching each student to the best tutor for them. Our dedicated home school mentoring service includes a daily student-tutor check-in, help with organising the workload and the opportunity for students to seek help with detailed aspects of their work.

If you would like to learn more and find out how either of these options would work for your family, please contact us on 020 3488 0754.

 

Learning at Home – from Homework to Full-time Home Schooling

happy father and daughter at sofa looking at digital tablet

We can all remember a time when learning at home simply involved getting set homework done on time, perhaps some coursework and then revision at home before exams. This has changed during 2020, with COVID-19 leading to most students doing all their work at home and online for several months.

Schools have re-opened, but more families are now undertaking full-time elective home learning for school-aged children, most university teaching seems likely to take place online, and the possibility of track and trace self-isolation periods means that the need to study part of a term’s work at home remains a potential reality. Learning at home is here to stay, at least for the time being. We are going to talk about it here in all its forms, from routine homework to full-time elective home education, and discuss how you can support your child’s education at home.

Routine Homework

With the return to attending school comes the return of regular homework that needs to be handed in for marking. Getting back into the routine of doing this within a weekly timetable has proved challenging for some children. How can parents support them in this?

Homework Basics

First of all, encourage your child to review what they need to do each day and prioritise, so they don’t feel overwhelmed. Perhaps you could have a daily chat after school about what needs to be done, and what’s hardest and might require extra help from you or their teacher. Remember that it’s always best to tackle the hardest homework first, before children start to get tired.

A regular time and place for homework is essential. Whether they prefer to work in their room or in the kitchen, make sure there are minimal distractions and that your child has all they need close to hand. Ideally remove distractions by putting their phone in another room and not having the tv or radio on while they are trying to concentrate.

Be clever about how you motivate your children to work. Some children enjoy doing homework, while others need more coaxing and encouragement. You know your child best. Let them see that you value them doing their homework, but in a relaxed way that doesn’t apply any pressure. You can also help their work seem engaging and fun if they ask you to be involved, but remember it is their homework and not yours. Make praise the primary reward for your child’s completion of their work and remember to be specific about praising the effort, rather than how clever you think they are.

Overcoming Resistance

“I hate English! I’m not doing this stupid homework!”

There is almost always an underlying reason for this type of protest and resistance to study, so as a parent you need to investigate that. Talk to your child to ask for their reasons and then talk to their teacher. What else is going on that might be affecting their attitude to studying? Of course, the homework itself could be too hard or too easy and therefore seems either boring or daunting, in which case a conversation with the school is a good starting point, whatever the age of your child.

Keep Talking

Talk with your child and really listen to them. Let them know that you support their homework efforts and appreciate how difficult it can seem. Homework is a key part of school life and invaluable in helping children to become independent learners, so it is vital that children learn to accept it as such. Educational consultants can provide invaluable extra help if you are struggling; there is always a listening ear and sound advice available at JK Educate if you need it.

Home Learning When Away from School

It is possible that some children will need to return to home learning part-time or full-time, for short or longer periods of time over the next few months of the pandemic. This might happen if, for example they need to self-isolate, or if their school is wholly or partially closed for a period due to infection rates. If this happens they will need support just as much as they did during the national lockdown.

Schools differ dramatically in the resources available to them and therefore in how interactive and inspiring their home learning lessons and learning materials are. Many parents have felt that the onus is on them to ensure that their child’s education is not suffering because of the need to learn at home. They have told us that they feel an intense pressure from juggling this responsibility with their own work and perhaps also looking after younger children at home. If this is how you feel too, remember that there is expert help available in the form of online tutoring or JK Educate’s home school mentoring service. This service includes a daily student-tutor check-in, help with organising the workload and the opportunity for students to seek help with detailed aspects of their work.

Full-time Elective Home Education

More families are now undertaking full-time elective home learning for school-aged children. A House of Commons Briefing Paper published in July 2019 estimated that “in 2018 there may have been around 53,000-58,000 registered home educated children in England; and that the number has increased in recent years”. It seems likely that this number has further increased this year, as recently indicated by Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman in an interview with The Guardian. Some parents are worried about their child’s lack of educational progress during lockdown and want to take control of their learning in case schools close again. In addition, some families might have simply found they prefer home learning, their children have not wanted to go back to school, or health concerns have made staying at home to learn permanently seem a better option than school.

The Department of Education’s elective home education guidance for parents asserts that “educating children at home works well when it is a positive choice and carried out with a proper regard for the needs of the child.” It is certainly not any easy route to take, but it can work very well for certain children. We have been delighted to support families who make the choice, especially in providing specialist subject teaching to prepare for GCSEs or A Levels.

A team of skilled tutors is carefully selected for this crucial work. A designated Training and Monitoring Manager liaises regularly between the tutor, the parent and the student. Lesson planning, teaching impact and student progress are all closely monitored. Tutors are encouraged to share their observations and successful teaching strategies; this helps their manager to identify any emerging issues so that early interventions can be made with specific recommendations agreed upon by the tutors, the manager and the parent.

One home schooled student who worked with a team of subject specialists achieved one or two levels higher than the predicted grade in all 9 GCSEs and consequently gained entry to their school of choice to study A Levels. Another student had felt unmotivated and unhappy – and ultimately unable to continue attending school – at the end of Year 9. Our team of tutors worked together to support him throughout Year 10, boosting his confidence, organisational skills and appetite to learn. He felt able to return to school for Year 11, which his tutors agreed seemed the best thing for him. A very positive outcome.

For further information on home schooling, read the Department of Education Elective Home Education Guidance for Parents.

Home Learning Support

Parental involvement and a supportive home environment are known to have a very positive effect on how children learn. Education Scotland identifies parental engagement as a key driver in education excellence. It clearly states that: “Parents who take on a supportive role in their children’s learning make a difference in improving achievement and behaviour. The active involvement of parents can help promote a learning community in which children and young people can engage positively with practitioners and their peers”.

It can be challenging for parents to find the time and space to provide the ideal supportive study environment at home, for homework or for full-time home learning. However, it helps enormously if you simply let your children know that you appreciate and support their efforts, and you listen to their concerns. JK Educate are also always on hand to provide advice and support. Feel free to call us at any time to discuss your concerns. We are here to help.

 

Looking Ahead to GCSEs and A Levels in 2021

This is a time of great uncertainty for pupils of all ages, but especially for those who should have been sitting public exams this year or will be sitting them in 2021. Students who missed out on taking their exams face uncertainty about the grades they will be awarded; those starting Year 11 or Year 13 are anxious about the work they have missed, even if their school’s online learning provision has been very good, and what their exams will look like next year.

There has been a lot of discussion and speculation about these matters in the media over the last few weeks. Options being discussed include starting the 2021 exams a month later, open book exams, a reduced curriculum or more choice of questions and possibly taking more account of school assessments.

The implications of any of these options are enormous for children, teachers and schools, especially in the midst of planning a full return to school in the autumn with social distancing measures in place.

It has been announced that Ofqual is consulting on pushing back the start date for GCSE and A level exams next year to account for students’ lost teaching time during the coronavirus pandemic. Implications obviously include exam boards being able to process the marking and issue results in good time, and the knock-on effect on university offers.

An article in Tes has described other possible major changes to how GCSEs are run in 2021. The proposals from Ofqual include removing the need for geography field trips and practicals in science GCSEs, and greater choice in history GCSE questions. These changes are intended to mitigate the effects of lost learning during lockdown, although The National Education Union has reportedly said it was “unrealistic” to think that these measures could make up for months out of school. Read more here.

The Department of Education has confirmed that pupils will continue GCSE and A Level studies in all subjects this autumn. It’s also been announced that there will be the option to sit any GCSE or A level exam in the autumn, if students and parents are unhappy with the centre-assessed grades they receive in August. Read more. If you think this might be the case for your child, then it makes sense for them to maintain learning momentum over the summer. Do remember that we have tutors available in all subjects to provide flexible and targeted online tutoring during the summer months and into September.

We can also provide support for students entering their GCSE or A Level year, to ensure they are up to speed with the curriculum, ready for the final year of study before these important exams. And we are always here to give you free expert advice and support, whatever your situation and concerns. Call us any time on 020 3488 0754.

Learning at Home During the Pandemic

 

Download our free home learning pack by clicking the link below:

Lockdown Education Information and Resources for Parents

 

The COVID-19 pandemic and the measures put in place to slow the spread of the disease have thrown families together and changed the way that everyone is working, socialising and studying. These are worrying times, but the closure of schools doesn’t mean that your child’s learning progress needs to be lost, if you can keep them engaged with the love of learning.

There are many opportunities to enjoy stimulating content online together, including recorded theatre performances, virtual tours of art galleries and of course taking part in daily PE with Joe Wicks on YouTube. Listen to audio books – ideally with your child reading along from the book – and read to each other every day. Every day at 11am, you can also take a break and listen to David Walliams reading one of his World’s Worst Children stories on the World of David Walliams website, if your children are at that age. You could practise maths concepts whilst baking together, such as using ratios to increase and decrease quantities of ingredients when baking for a different number of people than a recipe states.

Younger children don’t even have to know they are learning. They just need encouragement to stay curious about the world (even if right now it’s only your back garden or the contents of your kitchen cupboards), about books, or about a favourite topic such as dinosaurs.

Parental Impact on Learning

Parents have always been able to help build learning skills in their children; by thinking of themselves as extra teachers to their children, they can help them make the most of their learning opportunities. This has been literally brought home to parents under the COVID-19 pandemic, with children conducting all their learning there. In the absence of teachers, parents are being called upon to fulfil that educational role as well as their parenting responsibilities. General ways in which parents can support learning include showing a genuine interest in topics being studied, making learning a fun family activity, and encouraging children to see failure as an opportunity to improve and succeed. Parental support and motivation are key to children’s progress.

Extra Support

Children will often need parental support to understand the work that’s been given to them and what output is expected of them. They may also need help organising their studies at home, such as timetabling the work given out online from school during term time and over the holidays. Not every parent will feel able to provide this support or have the time to give it. This is especially likely if parents are trying to work full time from home through the “stay at home” period. This is where JK’s online Home School Mentoring service can bridge the gap, with daily tutor contact by video calls, to ensure that children are on track with work and can ask questions about elements of their work they don’t understand. Tutors are offering support to parents through this service too, to optimise the learning environment at home.

In addition, if your child has been struggling with any aspect of schoolwork, this might be just the time to consider some gentle short-term online tutoring. We have brilliant tutors available to provide short-term trouble-shooting subject tutoring online at all levels, using our fully interactive online classroom.

Home Studying Basics

A regular time and place for your child to do their schoolwork at home is essential, so this doesn’t need to be negotiated each day. Agree with them when they will work, unwind, exercise and chat online with their friends and the family they can’t see in person. Children generally find structure reassuring. Ideally remove any possible distractions such as the tv, mobile phones or siblings, but with everyone at home together the latter may not be possible, so consider giving them some headphones to wear instead! Keep all that they need to study close to hand – their workspace can be anywhere in the house, but it should be well-equipped, so they don’t waste time searching the house for a highlighter or a hole punch every five minutes.

Encourage your child to review what they need to do and prioritise. Have a daily chat about what needs doing, what’s hardest, and what feels impossible and might require extra help from you or online from their teacher. Again, if this isn’t feasible, consider seeking external help. It’s always best if they tackle the hardest work first, before they get tired, and then it’s easier to push on to the end of the session if they know the later homework is easier or more fun.

Regular breaks are important. Try to keep children hydrated and have healthy snacks on hand. Encourage a quick dash into the garden to play with the dog or have a quick game of Swingball during their break, to get them moving and clear their mind ready to return to their work.

Encouragement

Be clever about this. Some children enjoy doing schoolwork, while others need more coaxing and encouragement. Let them see that you value them working, but in a relaxed way that doesn’t apply any pressure. Try to be generally positive in the way you talk about it; try talking about studying and learning or exploring knowledge rather than working.

Children can naturally feel resentful if they are having to work while you watch tv or scroll through Facebook on your phone, so it can help if they know you are occupied doing jobs around the house, reading or paying bills. Of course, many parents are working from home themselves now, if they are lucky enough to be able to conduct their work online.

Rewards and Consequences

Younger children will generally want to please you; older children are a bit different. They can however understand better that the work they do is for themselves and their own future success, career and earnings, although admittedly the cancellation of this year’s GCSE and A level exams has possibly made this type of motivation a little harder to maintain.

Set expectations and make clear the rewards for working and the consequences for not doing the work. Make praise the primary reward for your child’s completion of their work and remember to be specific about praising the effort and for example how they overcame obstacles for a piece of work, rather than how clever you think they are. This is especially important now, when all their efforts are essentially solitary, and they don’t have in-class discussions to bring their studies alive.

happy father and daughter at sofa looking at digital tablet

Keep Talking

These are difficult and stressful times for children as well as adults. This period of enforced home schooling is difficult for everyone; it will certainly help children to become independent learners, but this will be more difficult for some than for others. Talk with your child about the COVID-19 situation in an age-appropriate manner and ask them how they feel about it in general and about its impact on their learning. Make sure you really listen to them and contact the school if you need extra advice or support. Educational consultants can also provide invaluable extra support and there is always extra help and a listening ear available at JK Educate if you need it.

Stay safe and keep well at this testing time.

Lorrae Jaderberg and Katie Krais

 

New Online Home Mentoring Service Launched to Support Parents

For many families, this is the second week of home schooling, working with the support sent home from school.  We have been hearing from our families that sometimes they are confused, stressed and worried about managing it all, at a time when they least need it. It can be especially difficult when parents are trying to work at home and if there are several children in the family, all with different work to do.

Thinking about how we can help you, and having talked to many parents this week, we have created a specific service to address this issue and that we hope parents will find useful if the need arises. We want very much to work alongside families and schools at this time and help in any way we can. We’re all teachers, we understand how difficult managing this additional workload at home will be – especially if you are also trying to work from home at the same time.

For detailed information on our new Home Mentoring Service click here

JK Response to Latest Government Announcement

The government has announced on Monday 16th March that they are keeping schools open, but will be ‘keeping it under review’.  At JK Educate we have online tutoring support already in place to support your children as and when you need it, using our online teaching platform with it interactive whiteboard and document sharing facilities.

We can offer one-to-one support and tutoring online as well as online group sessions.  These groups are for all key stages with full curriculum content available in all subjects.  Group lessons can also be created on a bespoke basis for your child and their friends – you are most welcome to arrange a group of chosen children and an agreed topic and we will then arrange a tutor to deliver this.

If you would like to know more about JK’s online provision to support children during this time of uncertainty, please call Katie Krais, Joint Managing Director, on 07956 111 728.

Supporting Children’s Mental Health

Reflecting on Place2Be’s Children’s Mental Health Week (3rd to 9th February 2020), we would like to take some time to explore the vital issue of child wellbeing and mental health.

Resilience and Bravery

The theme of this year’s Children’s Mental Health Week was Find your Brave. This is how Place2Be explain this on their website:

“Life often throws challenges our way. Bravery isn’t about coping alone or holding things in. It’s about finding positive ways to deal with things that might be difficult, overcoming physical and mental challenges and looking after yourself.”

This is so important. Children need to find their own coping mechanisms and build up resilience, but the adults close to them can obviously help them too. Parents play an important role in supporting their wellbeing, but so do educators.

At JK Educate, we constantly deal with children as they face the somewhat scary, stressful situations presented by school entrance tests and external exams. Even quite young children often have an awareness that how they do in exams will impact their futures and we need to handle that carefully. Our tutors are all trained to deal with their students with kindness and reassurance, whilst keeping a watchful eye on how they are coping.

Sometimes a book can provide children with some useful tools to build their resilience, when they don’t know how to – or are reluctant to – talk about what they might need. Books can also provide the starting point for conversations between parents and children that might otherwise be tricky to begin. The School Reading List have gathered together a very useful collection of books about resilience and confidence. Specific book titles we have found to be popular include Matthew Syed’s motivational book You Are Awesome and The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse by Charlie Mackesy.

“Mental Health Epidemic”?

Today’s children are faced with myriad pressures and distractions. They feel the expectation for them to succeed in exams at all levels, whilst being bombarded with messages about the climate crisis and gloomy economic forecasts in the news, that suggest their generation’s overall prospects aren’t bright. They also often feel enormous pressure to be constantly available and visible online, and alarming numbers of children are being diagnosed with mental health disorders.

According to NHS data, as quoted by the Young Minds website, 1 in 8 children have a diagnosable mental health disorder; that’s roughly 3 children in every classroom. Even taking into account the possibility asserted by BBC’s Reality Check team that these numbers may be amplified by proportionately more children seeking help than before, this is an alarming number. It is also a huge challenge to educators and parents alike.

Even a quick think about the factors affecting our children’s wellbeing might yield a long list of negative influences. Here are just three of the key areas of concern:

  1. Online Life

The ubiquity of online technology is often cited as a threat to mental health and the number of children constantly connected continues to grow. A recent Childwise report, based on interviews with over 2,000 children in the UK aged 5 to 16, shows the pivotal place of the mobile phone in young lives. It reveals that an increasing number of children feel lonely and that a quarter of 9-16-year-olds would like more time away from their mobiles.

The BBC have reported on these findings, noting that over half of children keep their mobile phones beside their beds overnight, 42% never switch off their phones, and 44% feel “uncomfortable if they are ever without a phone signal”. This is a worrying statistic, with its implications of dependency and extreme fear of missing out. It’s perhaps not surprising to anyone who’s heard “What’s the WiFi code?” being the first thing children say as they arrive at friends’ houses and coffee shops around the country. It’s not easy to encourage children to unplug occasionally, but it could be an important step towards reclaiming some family time and improving their sense of wellbeing.

  1. Unsuitable Content

The OFCOM Children’s Media Use and Attitudes Report 2019 has involved conducting around 3,500 interviews with children and parents nationwide. The findings included that children are now more likely to see hateful content online, with half of 12-15-year-olds who go online having seen hateful content in the last year, and 45% seeing content which might encourage them to harm themselves.

OFCOM have highlighted parents’ rising concern about children seeing unsuitable content online at a young age. This can be difficult to deal with emotionally and can lead to mental health difficulties in the years that follow such exposure. And this is without even mentioning the sometimes-overwhelming daily pressures of social media: to ensure any photos they look perfect, to gather Likes and to always have a witty comment to add.

What can parents and teachers do? The OFCOM digital protection guide for parents is a useful resource for parents trying to protect their children from any negative effects of being online. Global initiatives such as the Safer Internet Day on 11 February also provide information and support to both parents and educators.  Other valuable information about staying safe online can be found on the Thinkuknow and NSPCC websites.

  1. Academic Pressure

In addition to the pressures of modern life and technology, there are of course well-documented effects of mental health problems arising from the pressures of modern schooling and exams. The NSPCC have reported a surge in the numbers of children contacting them because of exam pressure they feel is coming from their school, their parents and even from their own high expectations. Recent reports have included high stress levels felt by primary school children facing SATs, but numbers peak with GCSE and A Levels. The NSPCC figures show that Childline gave 2,795 counselling sessions about exam stress in 2018/19, most commonly with students who were preparing for GCSEs.

Positive Steps

Some children are seeking help, but many don’t know how to ask for it, or might not realise that feeling depressed or anxious about their work isn’t how everyone feels. It is therefore sometimes up to parents to identify that their child is already suffering or is at risk of being overwhelmed by academic life.  This is where parents can help, by asking their children how they feel and listening carefully to their responses. Parents can also direct children to resources such as Childline’s advice for exam stress and pressure or perhaps seek some professional support for their studies and the pressures arising from them.

Parents don’t always have the expertise, the time or the patience to help children who are struggling or to understand why they don’t seem to be working effectively or working “enough”. JK Educate’s education consultancy services have been designed to support families in many scenarios including this one. What we offer is constantly evolving to meet clients’ needs in this and many other areas.

Our mission statement underpins everything we do: Your child. Our priority.

We always put the child first. Everyone has individual needs and therefore everyone needs an individually created programme of support to suit them. This is not just about academic content but also the broader support needed by young students and their families, from general advice to specialist referrals when required. Our in-house experts offer mentoring, help with study and revision skills, work planning and revision timetables. We also often arrange short-term tutoring in the one element of one subject that is causing a lot of unnecessary worry.

Our support can be ad hoc rather than weekly, can be for a short period, an intense block of sessions, a one-off or take the form of some ongoing support. It’s important that the help you receive fits your family and your child’s emerging requirements at any time.

Looking Forward

We aren’t mental health experts, but we sometimes see children and families struggling and always try to offer our support and signpost to experts who can help. We know of course that there is no magic formula to prevent mental health disorders, but parents and educators can still do our best to enhance children’s general emotional wellbeing where we can. We know that by thinking ahead in anticipation of upcoming pressure points, it is possible to offer timely, tailored support. This individual support can often lower anxiety levels and boost self-esteem in the face of exam and deadline pressures.

The February half term is a good time to take stock and decide if any extra help and support is needed, from tutoring and study skills tips through to considering some talking therapy if the need is there. An early intervention, however small, can often prevent a lot of stress and unhappiness further down the line. We care about our families and want to provide the best possible support to them. Remember that we are always available to chat with our clients and offer our support with free advice and recommendations.

Choosing your Child’s Next School

It can be daunting and bewildering to choose a new school for your child, whether it’s a change in school driven by a family relocation, or the move from primary to secondary education.  Armed with the right information and your in-depth knowledge of your own child, however, it is possible to identify the ideal school for them.

Deciding What You Want

You can establish some basic school selection criteria by being clear about what is important to your family and your child. You need to decide where the school needs to be in relation to home, for example, whether you want a day school or one that offers boarding or flexi-boarding, and whether or not you want your child taught in a single-sex environment. Bear in mind which specialist areas are important to you, both in the curriculum and in extra-curricular activities such as sports and the arts, then establish which schools support and indeed excel in those areas.

Evaluating your child’s options for senior school can be particularly stressful, and the amount of information can be quite bewildering. For secondary school, the basic options are state, state selective and independent.  A state school’s admissions criteria will often simply come down to the distance you live from the school; for state selective and independent schools, your child needs to pass their entrance assessments!

Doing your Homework

It sounds obvious, but the first step is to thoroughly research the schools. You can do your initial research online, noting Ofsted reports or Independent Schools Inspectorate reports, but look at when the inspection took place and whether there have been major changes since then, such as a change in Headteacher. The Good Schools Guide is always a great additional resource.

It’s helpful to look at league tables as well as senior schools’ GCSE and A Level or IB results and leavers’ destinations but do remember that these results are attained by groups of individual children and cohorts might differ in ability and ambition. This is where Value Added figures can reveal a lot about the quality of teaching in schools with less exacting academic entrance requirements. Those requirements are a key piece of the research jigsaw of course, particularly if the schools are academically selective.

Competition for school places in London seems to get more competitive by the year, and part of your early research might involve choosing your entry point. The 4+ and 7+ are becoming increasingly popular routes into selective independent schools, but the 11+ remains the major competitive entry point to both independent and state selective senior schools. Some combined day and boarding senior schools in the independent sector have also added two-year lower schools, therefore adding an 11 plus admissions opportunity to what used to be simply 13+ Common Entrance.

Making a Longlist

To create an initial list of schools to consider, it is a good idea to focus initially on academic standards to ensure that your child will be able to cope, but also won’t be bored. It is vital that a child goes to an appropriate school. It can be as difficult for a child to go to a school that is below their academic level as it is to go to one which is beyond their ability. In both cases it can be a negative experience for the child, which is why it is essential to find out your child’s academic potential.

How do you know which schools offer the right academic level for your child? The first step in fact is to establish how our child is performing at school in relation to the national average and assess their academic potential to establish whether they should be looking at selective schools. Equipped with detailed academic knowledge of both your child and potential schools, you can create a longlist of potential destination schools that would be the best academic fit for them.

Knowing Your Child’s Academic Potential

How do you establish your child’s true academic performance and potential? This is where professional academic assessments come in – a tailored assessment provides a benchmark that gauges how they are doing compared to others. Academic assessments show how a child learns and highlight their strengths and weaknesses, as well as establishing their academic potential. It is this depth of information that allows consultants and parents to work together to identify the right school environment for a child’s future education.

To gain entry to most state selective schools, the child would need to be scoring in the top 5% nationally. So, if the child was performing at that level or showed clear potential to do so, JK would be happy to offer tutoring to help them show their best on the examination day. However, we firmly believe children should only be prepared to sit entrance examinations for schools that are appropriate for them, not tutored to get them into a school beyond their natural ability where they would ultimately struggle.category/tutoring


Visiting the Schools

Open Day events can give you an overview of the facilities and how a school rises to an occasion, but it’s also very important to visit schools during a typical working day.  First impressions are very important. Just like buying a new house, you will get an immediate feel for a school, based on its architecture, atmosphere and people.

Pay attention to the class sizes and pastoral care, and whether students seem focused and well-behaved. Ask questions about extra-curricular activities on offer and whether the school has special resources that might fit your child’s interests, e.g. a music recording suite.  Go back to the basic criteria you decided upon at the start of your school research and take along a list of things to look for and a list of questions about anything you are concerned about regarding the school.

Speak to students, parents and teachers at the schools if you can and make a definite point of meeting the Headteacher so you can ask about any specific issues you’ve identified from your research or through the local grapevine. Ask questions about discipline, anti-bullying measures, staff turnover and school trips, to help you get a feel for the environment.

Always take your child with you on school visits and watch their responses to the school as you move around it: do they seem engaged, relaxed and enthusiastic? Different schools have different styles and it is important to choose one where your child will feel comfortable and motivated.

Creating your Shortlist

Take time to weigh up all the different aspects of possible school options before making important decisions. Each child is different, so you need to think in terms of the best school for your individual child. Schools have different styles and academic standards, and it is important to choose one where your child feels comfortable, motivated and will thrive. You need to stay focused on what is important for the development of your own child and their needs.

You can then evaluate your longlist of schools against all the other criteria that are important to you as a family. These might include location, provision for sports and the arts, facilities and extra-curricular activities, culture and discipline, pastoral care, and simply how the school “felt” when you visited it. Those that match your needs the closest will become your shortlist of chosen schools for which your child will study and sit the entrance exams.

If you need help with this, JK’s extensive knowledge of the school system and of specific schools allows us to guide you in your choice. We can help you target your school applications carefully so that your child only sits examinations for schools that would suit them best. As in many areas of life, information and preparation are the best possible foundation.



Getting it Right

Our advice is to do your homework early and if appropriate, ensure that your child has the right preparation to achieve a place at a school where they will thrive, be happy, and achieve their full potential.  Listen to advice, listen to your child, and never assume that the “best school” for your child is always the one at the top of the league tables. It is always the school that best suits your individual child – academically, socially, ethically and geographically.

 

 

JK Educate Offers Free Tutoring to Students in Wuhan

Online tutoring is proving to be an ideal way of teaching students who are in isolation because of the new coronavirus and unable to attend school. The interactive technology of an online classroom allows teaching to take place with a shared screen, allowing tutors and students to upload documents, write together, see each other and keep a copy of documents.

The use of online tutoring has certainly been invaluable to students in isolation in China’s Hubei province, where the coronavirus outbreak began. JK Educate delivers online tutoring to a growing number of students in China. They heard from their contacts that children in Wuhan would benefit from tutoring, to avoid falling dramatically behind in their studies while their schools were closed.

11+ tutoring in London and online tutoring from JK Educate

Over the last few weeks, JK Educate has been tutoring students in Wuhan free of charge. Joint Managing Director Lorrae Jaderberg comments: “It is a pleasure to be able to offer help to students in need at this difficult time in the region”.

CHRISTMAS AND THE GIFT OF READING

The Christmas holidays are the ideal time for family fun, great food, party games and outings. The learning needn’t stop at this time, but it should be kept fun and festive, especially for young children. Classic board games help reading skills and improve word power, from Boggle to Scrabble or Articulate, and others such as Monopoly require some numeracy, not to mention a little cunning.

Puzzles, reading Christmas cracker jokes aloud, following recipes for festive meals or baking, and even writing a wish list to Santa, are all opportunities for younger children to boost their learning during the holidays. Most of all, however, after a wintry family walk, what could be better than for the whole family to curl up together with a hot drink and a wonderful book?

BOOKS AS GIFTS

Books make great gifts for anyone of any age, but especially children, and we have some ideal recommendations for you.

Younger readers can boost their developing reading and phonics skills by reading along with a parent or older sibling. They can be treated to a world of adventure through classic books you may have read yourself, such as Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren, or Stig of the Dump by Clive King, the story of Barney and his discovery of a cave-man friend. Classic Christmas books for young children include Clement Clarke Moore’s wonderful illustrated poem ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas, which is a magical book to read aloud to children on Christmas Eve. Others include The Snowman by Raymond Briggs and Michael Bond’s Paddington and the Christmas Surprise.

Christmas activity books for children such as DK’s Lego Winter Wonderland or the Usborne Little Children’s Christmas Activity Book can also help with learning and channel their Christmas excitement!

There are myriad titles available that are ideal for newly independent readers, from Witch for a Week by Kaye Umansky, to Piggy Handsome: Guinea Pig Destined for Stardom! By Pip Jones. Let’s not forget that non-fiction can be fun too: The DK My Encyclopaedia of Very Important Things includes fun facts, colourful illustrations and games. If you have a budding scientist in the house, help them explore that with Al’s Awesome Science: Eggsperiments by Jane Clarke and James Brown – a story that includes real experiments to try at home – that’s a twist on the Christmas activity book for children.

Older primary school children might feel inspired by the true tales of courage and endurance in Survivors by David Long, or enjoy a little escapism in fiction such as the marvellous Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend or perhaps Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson.

Senior school students might feel they don’t have time for reading for pleasure, but it can provide real escapism during stressful exam preparations. Ideal Christmas books for older children include Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol, David Logan’s best-selling book for teens Lost Christmas, or The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper. The His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman has been fascinating teenagers since the first book was published in 1995 and is attracting renewed interest with the launch of the new BBC television adaptation.

READING VARIETY

Variety can keep alive a burgeoning interest in reading, so it’s a good idea to encourage children to read an eclectic mix of graphic novels, fiction, non-fiction and poetry. An appreciation of books can also be boosted by switching between audio books and reading on a Kindle, tablet or paper books, and watching film adaptations of books they’ve read. There are of course countless Christmas books for children online, both as downloads and to order in the traditional paper form.

JK Educate works with book expert Clare Zinkin, who regularly produces exciting new primary school age group reading lists for us to share with our clients. If you would like to learn more about this service, or even talk about commissioning a bespoke reading list to meet your child’s specific needs and interests, let us know.

USING READING TO RELAX

If your child has entrance exams in the new year, try not to talk about them too specifically, but encourage them to keep their studies ticking over. You might wish to consider a few tutoring sessions in person or online to keep the momentum going, or choose to keep them engaged in learning and reading widely at home. Older students with GCSEs or A Levels in their sights will probably need to keep working and not get too carried away with the festivities, but family time and relaxation and are important at any age. We all know that quiet immersion in a good book can be the best way to unwind and switch off. It is one of life’s great pleasures, both at Christmas and all year round.