Posted in Freebie Friday

It’s Freebie Friday!

Wow, how is it Friday already? This week has gone by in a blur – it’s been half term holiday here at The Homework Fairy Godmother Hideout and I swear both my kids have turned into stomachs on legs with the amount of food they’ve consumed!

So hear are are four new bookmarks for you to print out!

Just click HERE to download the free copy of all four bookmarks!

For best results, print out on cardstock, or on paper and laminate.

Save those page corners!

Happy Friday, lovely people!

Posted in Mental Health, Transitions, Uncategorized

5 Things Your Child Might Be Thinking About Their Next School Year…

… and how you can help!

It’s half term, summer is here, Year 6 SATs are over, surely our kids are breathing a sigh of relief and enjoying life, right?

There are many kids (mine are two of them!) who are looking towards the end of this school year with some trepidation. The end of the school year means change – change of class, change of teacher, change of classmates and for our Year 6 and Year 2 kids – change of school.

Here’s five things your kids might be worrying about – and how you can help!

I don’t know my new teacher…

Virtually all schools now run transitions days or weeks where children get to spend time with their new teacher in their new classroom. However, these days are often right at the end of the summer term – your child may be getting worried before then!

What you can do:

  • take a look at your school’s website or reception/office and look at the photographs of the staff. Chat to them about the different teachers they can see. How many do they know? What would they tell a new kid about the teacher they have had this year?
  • talk to your child’s teacher. They should be able to arrange for your child to meet teachers that they may have in the new school year.

The work will be too hard…

Schools are really good at sharing current work in displays around school, on their websites, and now even on social media! Our kids can look at this and think to themselves, “I’ll never be able to do THAT!”

This can lead to feelings of inadequacy and fear of failure.

What you can do:

  • Remind your child that this work is what has been produced AT THE END of the school year – those children have learned a lot since September and probably wouldn’t have been able to produce that work at the beginning
  • Reassure your child that their new teacher will KNOW your kid’s abilities, strengths and weaknesses BEFORE the new school year starts – their current teacher will pass on LOTS of information to the new one!

I won’t be with my friends…

This is a tricky one. While teachers DO make an effort to make sure that every child has friends in class, if your child is being placed into ability groups (as is usual moving to a large secondary school), your child may not be placed with their best friend if they are of differing abilities. And sometimes, certain friendships might not be conducive to effective learning… I remember being split up from my best friend in my third year at Junior School because we just wouldn’t stop talking and distracting each other!

What you can do:

  • Reassure your child that they will get to see their friend at breaks and lunch times. You might want to arrange for them to see each other after school or at weekends so they can spend more time together
  • Remind them that you know how hard it is to make new friends sometimes, but they will get to know other people in their class
  • Talk to their current teacher – they can take friendship groups into consideration when new classes are being organised

I won’t be able to find my way around…

This was a huge worry for The Teen when he was in Year 6 and getting ready to transition to High School. He has the directional ability of a drunk bluebottle, so I admit I was a tad concerned too!

What you can do:

  • make sure your child goes to transition days – the high school The Teen goes to now does a whole transition week, where the Year 6 kids spend five days in with their new form tutor. They learn their way around as a group, and by the end of the week feel much more confident.
  • most schools are happy for you and your child to visit the school after school hours so you can look round again – this is often REALLY useful if your child feels intimidated by the sheer size of some of the students! Most Year 10 and 11s tower over me, let alone The Tween!

I might get bullied…

This one is very, very common. Our lovely Year 6 kids going to high school or Year 2 kids going to Junior school are used to being THE BIGGEST KIDS in their school. They are the big fish in the little ponds, and going back to being the youngest again is daunting. ALL SCHOOLS should now have a policy on bullying, and should be proactive in making sure it doesn’t happen – but it still can.

What you can do:

  • Check out the new school’s policy on dealing with bullying – it should be on their website, and if not, contact the school office and ask for a copy.
  • Find out who you need to talk to if your child is bullied – I found The Teen’s Year 7 form tutor and the head of year both fantastic to talk to, and very effective at dealing with a particular issue The Teen had. Make sure your child knows who this person is!
  • Stay calm – sometimes our kids worry that we will go storming in, protecting our beloved babies roaring like a lion – and they feel we would make the situation worse. Even when you are spitting bullets, keeping calm is essential when both TALKING ABOUT and DEALING WITH bullying.
  • Reassure your child that IF bullying happens, you will work with them to deal with it.

Check out the blog post about SATs stress and anxiety to find other ways that may help your child if they are anxious about September HERE.

I’d love to know how your kids are feeling about the new school year in September! Hit me up on Facebook here or on Instagram here – or leave me a comment below!

Posted in Freebie Friday

It’s Freebie Friday!

Guess who’s on time this week? MEEEEE! So here’s your Friday Freebie of four bookmarks, reminding you this week to Believe, to Dream, to Hope and to Love.

Just click HERE to download the free copy of all four bookmarks!

For best results, print out on cardstock, or on paper and laminate.

Save those page corners!

Happy Friday, lovely people!

Posted in Freebie Friday

Freebie Friday… errrr, I mean Monday!

Last week was a little on the stressful side in this house! Firstly – SATs. The Tween didn’t stress as much as I anticipated, thank goodness, but she was utterly exhausted at the end of them. She was very clingy and needed company a lot more than normal, so I switched off from work, social media and we did mum-daughter stuff! Cookies were baked, we drew, we watched films, we sang, ate a shit-tonne of chocolate and she’s back to her usual bubbly self.

Secondly – we had our old bathroom ripped out and a new one is almost in! (Yeah, I really didn’t think that timing through, did I!) We have survived with a bathroom with a sink that didn’t drain, a bath that had no working hot tap, a leaky toilet cistern, a black hole under the bath, and ratty old lino on the floor for nearly two years. The only way to have a bath was to run a hose from the hot tap in the sink – and the hose didn’t stay on by itself, so you had to hold it in place, or it leaked into the sink that didn’t drain – it wasn’t pleasant! Even though we are going to have a fantastic bathroom at the end of it, changes to routine are not easy for both Teen and Tween – and me! – to handle, so we all can’t wait for it to be finished!

So my usual Friday Freebie is (just a teeny-weeny) bit late – but better late than never, right?

Click here to download the bookmarks… and support the #campaigntokeepcornerspristine !

Have a wonderful week!

Posted in SATs, Uncategorized, Year 6

Aargghh! SATs Stress!

SATs week is nearly upon us – Key Stage 2 SATs (that’s Year 6) will begin on Monday 13th May with the SPaG tests (Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar), with the reading test on Tuesday 14th May, Maths Papers 1 and 2 (Arithmetic and Reasoning 1) on Wednesday 15th May and the final Maths Reasoning paper on Thursday 16th May.  Key Stage 1 SATs (that’s Year 2) will also take place in May, but the exact week will be set by individual schools.  The phonics check test for Key Stage 1 will be on or after Monday 10th June.

This can be a highly emotionally charged time for our kids.  Even if you have a very calm child (The Teen wasn’t worried about the tests themselves as he liked working on his own in silence!) the anxiety other children may feel can also influence them (I once had to go in to school to calm down The Teen who was hyperventilating and shaking because so many of his friends and peers were upset and worried).

So how can we help them? Here’s a few ways!

Affirmations

Teaching our kids positive affirmations can help their self-esteem.  Keeping the affirmations short and snappy and getting them to repeat them after you say them, or write them down on a post it note or diary/journal may encourage resilience.  I’m sharing some affirmations every day over on Instagram this May!

Listen

We can listen without judgment, or without trying to solve the problem for them – being able to vocalise their worries can be incredibly valuable to a child.  It is really important to try to JUST listen – I know we all want to jump in with our views on what needs to be done to help because we just want to make it better but knowing that we will listen without interrupting can really help our kids to open up!

Praise

Give as much praise and encouragement as you can – about anything you can! 

“Thanks for emptying your lunchbox, that’s a big help!”

“I’m incredibly proud of you for …”

“I love being your mum/dad/family member…”

“I missed you while you were at school/while I was at work today…”

Sleep

Sleep is SOOOO important!  Having a lack of sleep not only contributes towards low mood and anxiety, it’s not going to help them concentrate during these last days of revision or during the exams!  Make sure that your child is getting enough sleep, and that they are getting some time away from the ever-present tablets and phones they are so often glued to.  Getting to bed a bit earlier but having time to read is a fantastic way to help them relax. 

Keeping it calm

Yes, they’ve left their dirty clothes in a pile on the floor again.  Give them a bit of slack – choose your battles wisely over the next couple of weeks and try not to react if they are more irritable than normal.

Roll with the differences

They might be more clingy than normal, or they might isolate themselves more than normal.  Check in with them regularly – a quick “Do you need anything?” will reassure them you’re there for them.

Have something to look forward to

You might want to do a countdown to a summer holiday, or get them involved in planning a day trip or meal out for after the exams.

Journaling

Some children may find that writing a diary or a journal can help with anxiety.  Being able to write down their worries or fears can be a way to vent their emotions safely. 

Outside interests and friends

If your child wants to keep up with their outside interests or their friends outside of school, this is a great way to take their minds off their current worries.

Eat healthily

Yes, I know that getting vitamins into some children is like trying to get a camel through the eye of a needle (how The Tween has managed to survive considering his idea of five a day is the number of chicken nuggets he wants to eat is beyond me) but eating well really helps with feeling good and using their brain!  Although they might not feel like eating before their exams, encourage them to eat breakfast! 

Try some relaxation techniques

Laughter, stretching, deep breathing, exercising, listening to music and meditating are all activities that increase the ‘feel-good’ chemicals in our brains.  You might like to try some of these together (The Teen has just read this over my shoulder and said, “Fat chance, mother!” but perhaps your child is less contrary than mine is!)I

Here’s hoping we all get through this SATs season as unscathed as possible!

Photo by Ben Mullins on Unsplash

Posted in Mental Health, Uncategorized

Mental Health in May!

May is Mental Health Awareness Month in the United States – and it’s seventy  years since it was first started in all the way back in 1949.  Here in the UK, we are coming up to Mental Health Awareness Week, which starts on Monday 13th May – ironically, this is also SATs week for our Key Stage Two kids, when they are likely to be more stressed than usual!

As parents, we feel confident in picking up our children when they fall – putting plasters on grazed knees, soothing away nightmares, giving Calpol for a fever, but dealing with their mental health can be frightening and make us feel helpless.

Throughout May I’ll be sharing hints, tips and resources to help YOU help your child if they are becoming anxious or worrying about school, friendships, bullying, loneliness, body image, exams, the new school year and new classes/schools. 

And remember – mild anxiety and worries are normal parts of life for all of us, adults and children alike.  But if you think your child is at risk of harming themselves, or are constantly struggling with anxiety, low mood or depression, please reach out for help:

Posted in Maths, SATs, Uncategorized, Year 6

Unpack the RUCSAC to help with Maths!

It’s all very well learning how to do all the maths operations – addition, subtraction, multiplication and division – and being able to put them to work with fractions, decimals, percentages and angles, but our Key Stage Two kids need to know how to use them to solve word problems!

In the Key Stage Two SATs, two out of three of the maths papers are reasoning papers – they are worded questions where a student needs to work out what operations to use to solve a problem or puzzle. This can be really intimidating for many children!

We can help them by getting them to use RUCSAC to approach the question!

Here’s an example from a past SATs paper:

R – READ!

First things first – read the question carefully! What is it asking? It’s asking:

It’s asking for the number of chocolates Ken has bought.

U – UNDERSTAND!

OK, so we need to know how many chocolates Ken bought. How are we going to work this out? Let’s look at the information we’ve got:

He bought THREE large boxes containing 48 chocolates, and TWO small boxes containing 24 chocolates. Three lots of 48, and two lots of 24.

C – CHOOSE!

So let’s choose what mathematical operations we are going to use. In this case, we are going to have to use both multiplication and addition:

3 x 48 = and 2 x 24 = and then add the two answers together!

S – SOLVE!

Using whatever method we feel comfortable with (column method, grid method, repeated addition) we can now work out the calculation! In the SATs exam, when we see this box and the wording ‘Show your method’, it is important that you write your calculations down in the box provided.

To get the full two marks, you’ve got to get the right answer AND show how you got there! If you don’t get the right answer, but show the correct method, you will still get a mark for doing the right mathematical operation.

A – ANSWER!

And the final answer is 192! It is really important in the SATs exams that the answer is written in the box provided (see the above image) – IF THE ANSWER ISN’T IN THE BOX, YOU LOSE A MARK, EVEN IF YOU GOT IT RIGHT!

C – CHECK!

Check your answer – have you answered the question? We needed to know how many chocolates Ken bought altogether, and we worked out that he bought 192 chocolates. So now let’s quickly check the calculations are right to get to that figure – check to make sure we’ve made the right multiplication calculations and then the right addition.

One last point – in the SATs exams ALL children can ask for a question to be read out to them. It’s really important to encourage them to do this, especially if they are unclear about what the question is asking. Although a teacher cannot explain what is needed to answer the question, often just having the question read to you helps to clarify what the question is asking. This is the guidance the government gives to teachers and teaching assistants:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/762829/KS2_access_arrangements_guidance_.pdf

And that’s our RUCSAC unpacked!

Sample SATs maths questions found here

Top photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Posted in SATs, SPaG, Year 6

Be Determined To Get The Right Determiner!

A determiner is a word that shows us the noun in a sentence – a, an, the, each, many, every, these, those – and even a number!

For example:

AN apple was given to EACH child EVERY day for THREE weeks.

THE is known as the DEFINITE ARTICLE – it refers to a particular item.

For example:

I would like THE apple. (You want a particular apple – I bet it’s that juicy red one!)

(Note: Although we can also use the words this, those and these to denote a specific noun or nouns, they AREN’T definite articles – only ‘the’ is known by this term. This, those and these are sometimes known as ‘demonstrative determiners’ – imagine that you are demonstrating what you are talking about by pointing to them! You don’t need to know this for Year 6 SATs!)

A and AN are known as INDEFINITE ARTICLES – they don’t refer to a specific item.

For example:

I would like AN apple. (You would like any apple.  You’re not bothered which one!)

It’s easy to work out whether you need to use A or AN in front of a noun as long as you know your vowels – A E I O and U! If a noun begins with a vowel, you use AN – if it doesn’t, you use A!

For example:

I placed AN orange on A plate.  (Orange begins with a vowel, so you use ‘an’, whereas plate begins with a consonant, so you use ‘a’!)

(Note: The determiners myyourhisherits, ourtheirwhose are known as ‘possessive determiners’ because they show that the noun belongs to someone or something. You don’t need to know this for Year 6 SATs either!)

Photo by Christine Wehrmeier on Unsplash