Four easy ideas to help make the last year of primary school count!
SATs may loom large in Year 6, but your child’s learning should be about more than simply preparing for the tests. The last year of primary school provides an opportunity to secure the essential English knowledge and skills your child has been taught so far, ensuring they have the best possible foundations in place for the transition to secondary education.
A little extra support at home during this important year in your child’s education can help them deepen their understanding of important grammar and punctuation concepts, get tricky spellings under their belt and hone their reading skills.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
1) Step up the book chat
The ability to select facts and evidence from a text to support an argument is a key proficiency tested in the Year 6 SATs. It’s also an essential skill upon which your child will continue to draw throughout their education and beyond.
To help make this skill a habit, encourage your child to share their ideas about the books they read and prompt them to refer to what they have read to justify their opinions. This might sound challenging but it can be done subtly and gently through questioning: ‘That’s a really interesting point. What is it in the text that makes you think that?’ or ‘We know he’s angry at this point, don’t we? What are the clues in the text that tell us that?’. It can help to read the same book at the same time as your child, so you can take part in the debate too – a bit like a family book club!
If your child is a reluctant reader, listening to an audiobook or even a podcast they find interesting can also help stimulate the same sort of discussion – as will reading to them, if they still let you!
2) Increase test stamina
To do well in the SATs, and to cope with the increase in homework your child is likely to encounter in Year 7, will require a lot of stamina. This might feel like quite a step up at the start of Year 6. The end-of-Year 6 Reading paper requires children to read and understand three separate texts with a combined wordcount of up to 2,300 words, and answer questions worth 50 marks, in one hour.
The separate grammar, punctuation and vocabulary paper also carries a total of 50 marks but is only 45 minutes long.
If you want to start gently building up your child’s stamina now, the York Notes 3-Step Test Booster: Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling and 3-Step Test Booster: Reading will help. Each book contains a selection of timed tests that increase in length and complexity, at a rate that is designed to challenge a 10 or 11-year-old child but still feel manageable.
3) Go over key concepts
Some children find it hard to keep up with the fast pace of learning in Years 4, 5 and 6. To help fill the gaps in their skills and understanding as they enter the last year of primary school, or to consolidate things they are unsure of, York Notes Primary has developed two titles with the needs of less confident learners in mind. The Catch Up Reading and Catch Up Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling home study guides offer step-by-step explanations of key concepts with plenty of opportunities for your child to practise what they have learnt.
4) Consolidate new learning
There are still plenty of new grammar and punctuation concepts and new spelling conventions to learn in Year 6. Some of these – such as the active and passive voice – are quite challenging. As in previous year groups, children are expected both to recognise concepts and apply them in their own writing. Putting time aside to go through new content as it is learnt at school can help secure your child’s understanding. The York Notes Primary Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling: Study Guide contains everything they need to know by the end of Year 6, plus revision of concepts they will already have encountered.
Emilie Martin is a Primary Education Consultant at York Notes, and an experienced primary teacher and English subject leader.