Brush up times tables so they know all their tables up to 12. ‘Work out which ones your child has a difficulty with and start by learning the easiest first,’ says primary school teacher Kevin Godby. ‘But make sure you do it gradually. Don’t try to plug all the gaps straightaway or else it will become a chore.’
Liase with your child’s teacher to find out about any particular difficulties they have, so you can reinforce these topics at home. You will already know broadly where your child’s strengths lie, but scrutinise exercise books carefully to see if certain mistakes are being repeated.
Brush up on spelling by testing high frequency words and look for common grammatical errors, such as misplaced apostrophes. Make sure your child knows how to use speech marks, semi-colons and colons correctly, too. One practical tip is to continue to read with your child, even once they’re perfectly able to read their own bedtime stories. ‘My children are diligent in doing their own work, so I tend to leave them to it,’ says mum-of-three Nicola. ‘But I read loads to them even when they’re older and I can see how highly that pays off in their overall performance.’
Start thinking about past SATs papers and look through the SATs revision guides on TheSchoolRun. ‘Ask your child’s teacher early on when and how much they intend to look at old SATs papers in school, because schools have differing approaches,’ suggests mum-of-one Maureen. ‘Some play the tests down and don’t do much when it comes to past papers, while others ramp it up and go for overkill. You need to know because this will affect how much you do at home.’
Does your child understand how SATs questions are worded? For example, do they know that ‘find the product of’ means multiply? Look through past papers together to make sure. This is also a good time to make sure your child can work out conversions quickly – revise percentages, decimals and fractions. And don’t forget to look at reading comprehension. Go over exactly what the question is asking for and make sure your child can pinpoint the part of the text they need to refer to in the answer.
Don’t neglect other subjects. ‘Learning about history and geography will have a good spin-off in English and maths,’ says Kevin Godby. ‘It is important to keep a balance because it keeps children interested and motivated. You could pinpoint half an hour, some days a week, for SATs revision work, but don’t do it every night – keep it short and sharp. And let your child use any type of media such as emailing and texting to practise creative writing. Ask a relative to join in the emailing to make it more fun.’
Polish up vocabulary for creative writing. ‘Practise a few stock subjects, such as “my holiday”, “my surprise”, or “my dream trip” because they can be adapted to suit lots of the questions which come up,’ suggests mum-of-two Christine D. ‘We play word games on journeys, too. One person starts with a short sentence, for example, “The cat sat on the mat”. Take it in turns to add an adjective or adverb, and in a few goes the sentence becomes “The large, ugly cat sat quietly sleeping on the green, frayed mat”.’
SATs are timed tests, so get your child used to completing the questions in a specific amount of time. ‘It’s important to emphasise the necessity of going back to check over work in a test and to know when to leave a question and move on if it’s too difficult,’ says Christine. ‘Go over the need to show workings.’
Time for the tests! Relax and help your child make the most of normal activity clubs, sports and switch-off time. Exercise helps to reduce stress – your child will sleep better, perform better and feel more confident.