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 !
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!
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!
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
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 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.
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.
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!
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
Teacher, School welfare officer/support officer/SENCO
Your local CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services)
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:
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!
AN apple was given to EACH child EVERY day for THREE
✔ THE is known as the DEFINITE ARTICLE – it refers to a
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.
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!
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 my, your, his, her, its,our, their, whose 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!)
Conjunctions are words that are used to join sentences, or bits of sentences together. There are a couple of types of conjunctions:
✔ Co-ordinating conjunctions These are the words that join two sentences together – we can use FANBOYS to remember what they are – For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, So. For example: I was hungry so I made myself a sandwich.
✔ Subordinating conjunctions These join two parts (clauses) of a sentence together. There’s another mnemonic to help us remember them – I SAW A WABUB! If, Since, As, When, Although, While, After, Before, Until, Because. For example: I’m going home before six o’clock. When Mikey comes home, he will have a snack. The subordinating conjunction always comes before the part of the sentence that wouldn’t make sense on its own!