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Becoming a grammar school mom

After just over a year of tuition (a hour round trip every Thursday to get him there for his 6-8pm lesson)  and prepping for the exam at home, my son passed his eleven plus exam.
It was two years ago that he sat the exam and that was just the beginning..
He sat the exam, we waited (the longest 5 weeks ever) he’d passed!
He made his choices for school – yes he made his choices! (within reason and parental guidance). After some dispute with his father (I was adamant that he had put the hard work in and he would spend the next at least 5 years there he should make the choice). Although he’d passed this didn’t guarantee a place at a grammar school.  We chose schools based on the best that suited his needs which I think is the most important factor.
More waiting for when he had his choices in March 2016. I was over the moon he’d got into his 4th choice it was an excellent grammar school. But it was far and I was worried about him getting a train there.
He was offered another place within the same week, his second choice, a school we’d visited twice and we both absolutely loved!
Malakie had decided he wanted to try to obtain a scholarship at 2 nearby independent schools. He sat the exams and did really well. He had an interview at one he really wanted to go to but didn’t get offered a place. He was devastated at the time but I assured him he would be successful wherever he went to school.
One year on and he’s had an absolutely amazing first year.
His achievements have been phenomenal.
His made the Rugby and cricket A teams.
Became captain  of the athletics team
He was voted by the majority of his class to become the house sports rep
He’s entered a debating competition
Joined numerous lunchtime clubs
Achieved 3 awards at the end of term for outstanding attendance, progress in French and German.
Just to add he doesn’t spend all day in his books, he’s a well rounded child….plays computer, meets friends, goes to the cinema and you tubes like most 13 year olds.

I promised when I gave up full time work and pursued my business I would dedicate a lot of time to my children’s school life and extra curricular activities so I became PA mom and parent governor. Volunteered at numerous events, been a rugby mom, cricket mom and general taxi service.
My sons school is an hour round trip (on a good day) so going to parents evening is a day trip in itself.
I don’t want a medal but I want to raise awareness of the dedication needed from parents as well as the children, this has just been the first year! This obviously applies to all schools but the commitment and expectation of a grammar school pupil is huge as they have had to put so much into just getting into a competitive school.
Passing the exam is just the beginning, I didn’t say goodbye to my son as he entered secondary school WE started a new chapter in our lives.

Success is not down to luck, it’s not always an easy or straightforward journey. It takes commitment, discipline and hard work.

Parental support is eight times more important in determining a child’s academic success than social class.

A quote taken from my sons news letter as he entered Year 8.

Learning at home

Learning isn’t just about books and reading. Learning comes in all shapes and forms.
Be creative and support learning at home to enhance your child’s education.

1. Books are of course a great part of learning, but why not exchange books for other things reading materials.
Magazines, newspapers & audio books are great alternatives to physical books.
Ensure you make reading a part of every day life as its a great way to learn new things and expand knowledge. I’ve recently incorporated DEAR into our house hold  – drop everything and read. I model this with reading a physical book during this time. We have a range of fiction and non fiction books in our home and my 5 year old now loves reading me a bedtime story, it’s really built his confidence with reading.
2. Cooking and baking is a great fun way to learn. I’ve recently registered with Gousto which is an online meal kit retailer. They deliver a box of fresh ingredients and recipes to your door. My children have learnt so much about ingredients and meals from different cultures. They also get to learn to cook different things and understand different weights and conversions.
3. Play board games
Board games are a great way of enjoying family times whilst learning at the same time.
Reading the rules of any game is a great start to learning. Learning general knowledge through Trivial pursuit or practicing spellings and learning new words with Scrabble or words with friends are just some of the skills that board games develop.
4. Write a diary
If you’ve done something in the holidays – whether you’ve gone on holiday or an outing get your little one to write about it and then plan your next trip.  Not only are they developing writing skills it’s also a great keepsake for parents and kids.
5. Arts and crafts – get creative and get kids thinking. If you hate the mess, use your outdoor space, using chunky chalks and paint to create a crafty outdoor area.
Check out this website for creative craft making using things from around the home.
http://www.parents.com/fun/arts-crafts/kid/

The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.

Nelson Mandela

Try out these apps and websites over the half term

gousto.co.uk/join?promo_code=ANDRE322264

https://www.duolingo.com
https://code.org
https://www.codecademy.com
https://readingeggs.co.uk

5 top tips to help choose the correct school for your child 

With school application deadlines approaching I want to share some useful tips for selecting the right school for your child.

1. Don’t leave it till Year 6!! Many schools ope n days are in September or October each year but you don’t have to wait until then to start looking.
Many parents find themselves in a panic, stressed and with little time to make one of the most important decisions as a parent in your child’s life.
It’s never to early to plan where you want your child to go to school (primary or secondary).
Make a plan! Think about your child strengths and look at the schools in and out of your area.
Feel free to call and book an appointment to see a school yourself too at an alternative time throughout the year.

1. Visit many different schools. There are no limits to the number of schools you can visit.
This is where your child will spend at least the next 5 years so spend time carefully selecting the right school for your child. What’s best for their sibling, friend or a family member might not be best for yours.

2. Visit schools at different times. If you like a school during an open day – that’s great but remember schools have spent weeks ‘prepping’ their school for new parents. Be sure to visit at the end of the school day and definitely during a ‘normal school day’ to get a real feel for the school and the pupils.

3. Speak to the PUPILS as well as the teachers. They will give you a true reflection of the school. What does the school feel like? Are children engaged and learning? What’s your gut instinct about the school? Does the school have the right facilities and opportunities for YOUR child?

4. Find out the ‘destination data’ of your school. This will help identify the type of school and the types of children that attend the school. Where are the pupils of the school going when they leave the school. 6th form, University, employment etc. Is this on line with yours and your child’s aspirations?

5. Listen to the head teachers speech and ask plenty of questions. Ensure you and your child leave with plenty of information about the school so you can go and reflect and DISCUSS them with your child. Listen to their thoughts and opinions. Write down what you both want from a secondary school and this will help you to make your choices.

The truth behind tutoring

So many people gasped at the fact my son had a tutor at 8 years old. As a private tutor people ask in despair, omg you have children as young as 6? Yes, I have taught children this young – and I’ve had queries from parents with even younger children. I’ve even heard people say it’s cruel, why would you need a tutor that young? What a shame? They are very bold statements, especially if you don’t know the child. There are many reasons why children have a tutor and it’s absolutely no ones place to judge or question a parents decision!

My son wanted to go to grammar school, I was a full time teacher at the time and although we always did a lot of educational work at home, I knew that he would prepare best for his entrance exam with a private tutor and I was right! My son was already flourishing at school but tuition gave him other skills and helped him to pass his entrance exam to grammar school.
My children love learning so why not encourage them to learn more and enable them to have the best education they can?!
People also have assumptions about the types of children that have tuition. Let’s be clear, not all tutored children are geeks with their head in a book 24/7 and are led by pushy parents. Many children that are tutored are naturally self-motivated, well rounded children that want to learn.

 

My top 5 benefits of tuition

  1. Builds confidence – even if a child is very able at school…. tutoring allows a child to become more motivated, learn more and thus boost their overall confidence.
  2.  Improves social skills – if your child is tutored in a small group setting they will meet other children and sometimes even make new friendship groups. They will be around children that aren’t always the same as those they go to school with, which enables them to develop lifelong communication and social skills.
  3. Creates independence and maturity – it allows children to make progress at their own pace, review their own learning and improve in the areas they need/want to.
  4.  Improves work ethic – it will increase and improve study habits.
  5.  Enables increased focus and goal setting – they can identify their own areas of focus and create a positive attitude to learning.

 

These are all great attributes to a child’s, growth, learning and attitude whatever their age.

 

Top 5 studying steps to success

1. Goal setting
All children have school attainments that are set by their teacher that they have to achieve by the end of a term or year.
Use your child’s school report to set some goals. Discuss school with your child and get them to set some goals for themselves. Let them take ownership of their success. This will encourage independence. In my teaching and parenting experience, giving children ownership gives them confidence, positivity and they become even happier children.
Ask your child what he or she would like to achieve in a specific subject. By setting a goal and creating a route to achieve that goal, your child is far more likely to build their confidence. Goal setting is one of the most powerful ways to obtain positive outcomes in any area of life, including school.
A child of any age can benefit from this and it will help with self motivation and overall achievement.
Place the goals in a visual place for you and your child to see.

2. Timetables
Whether it’s the lead up to a exam or the beginning of the academic year a timetable is useful for both parents and pupils.
It’s not just about study, it can include extra curricular activities, reward days and days out. Many activities we plan with our children are educational so they are learning in a fun way without even realising it.
It’s also not about the end result or grade it’s about the journey to success. The skills they have used to achieve them are important as these skills will be transferrable to other areas of life and achievements. The skills to focus on are routines, dedication and commitment.

3. Practice, practice, practice!

This is essential to learning any new skill, sport or preparing for an exam.
The best sports people, the best musicians have all dedicated and practiced to become the best at that particular skill.
If your child gets into the habit of practice from an early age they will find it easier to succeed in the areas they want to.

4. Discipline
Discipline is key to success in everything, not just education.
Again it starts at home! Have study hour or reading hour added to your timetable.
Ensuring they make time for homework and other commitments from an early age is imperative to the success and attitude of your child.

 

5. Rewards
Reward good behaviour, achievements and successes. Everyone loves praise and rewards and children excel when they feel appreciated and good about themselves.
It doesn’t have be a huge gesture, sometimes a little card and a chocolate will show your child their hard work is worth it and they’ll appreciate it.

So no excuses, no negativity just success.

Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced everyday.
Jim Rohn

Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.