Helping your child prepare for the SATS

One of the biggest things for a primary age child child is the SATs, whether it be at year 2 or year 6.
SATs are tests taken by schools as part of the national curriculum. They are a good measure of how the school is doing and also give a good indicator of a child’s ability at the end of a key stage.
For a year 2 child, the tests are usually sat in the summer term towards the end of the year and are done within a class setting. 


Although it is something that will be spoken about a lot in school, it is not something you need to worry about. Preparation will be the main focus in school and your part at home will be supporting just as much as you normally do. Year 2 children will often sit practise questions and have reading practise tests in the style of SATs papers to help them get to grips with the things they may be asked so this will help children to


At the end of Key Stage 2, children are tested on three areas of learning: maths, reading and spelling. Writing and maths are no longer formally tested by a SATs paper, but teachers will find a best fit level and submit that as their assessment instead. 


You should be involved in the run up to the tests on how the revision and preparation will be organised. Most schools will offer breakfast clubs or booster sessions to help children with their revision. These sessions will focus on how to answer specific questions and some of the skills that may be tested, although no one knows what is in each paper until the tests are opened on the day. Your children will have looked at past papers and will have some idea of what lies ahead when they open the test paper.


In order for your child to approach the SATs in the best way they can, it is vital that they do not worry. In your role as a parent, it is down to you to reassure them and check that they aren’t getting stressed out about this time in their school life.


A lot of parents start to approach teachers at the start of the year to find out ways they can help their child and to ensure they do the very best they can.


To help your child at home, a good idea would be to sort out some sort of revision timetable that will help them focus on an area of learning.  Chances are that children will begin to have more structured and directed homework tasks sent home based on what they may need to cover. Sometimes, schools do the opposite and focus on very little homework so that children are not overwhelmed. How much time you put in depends on you and your child. Some children will happily spend hours ‘revising’ and looking at textbooks but others will want a ‘little and often’ approach that allows for breaks and for information to be consolidated. A change of scenery may also help, perhaps a coffee shop in town or a picnic blanket in the local park, fresh air is also a winner!


Your school may give you examples of past papers to help you support your child and, although these are important as part of their revision, looking at other different materials can also be a huge help. Using a variety of worksheets focussing on various required skills is also a good idea. The internet is a wealth of information and googling a simple spelling term can nearly always throw up useful links to online activities and downloadable worksheets.


Revising out and about is also good. A lot of the maths paper often relies on mental calculation, a good way of doing this is shopping! Estimating, calculating percentages of sale items and working out change can be covered with a trip to the supermarket and is fantastic hands on revision! Mental maths is an important part of their learning so if you want to help them to learn their times tables and become solid in those, it will, no doubt, give them excellent foundations with which to tackle the rest of their maths paper. Back in the day, times tables used to be learnt by ‘rote’ but now the emphasis is on using them to check calculations, solve divisions, and help with calculations. Make sure they know them inside out, back to front and can answer worded problems using them!


A word of warning if you are planning on purchasing any revision guides though, the format of SATs papers changed in 2016 and not all revision guides will reflect this unless stated on the cover. Your school may be able to help you find a suitable guide, particularly with maths and calculation strategies. 


We all like to know that we are succeeding at something and children are no different. Its a good idea to make them feel like progress is being made with their revision so making some sort of tracking system or chart could be a good idea. Recording results in bright colours, stars or charts could help to encourage a positive mindset and, in turn, help your child feel more relaxed about the onset of their first test. Seeing a score improve on a weekly basis will do wonders for their confidence!

Another skill children will be expected to show is working under pressure. SATs tests have strict timings and, if your child is not sure how to manage their time, particularly under pressure, they may find this aspect stressful. Practise doing a set task for homework against the clock. Encourage them to look at the clock every so often to negotiate how much work they need to get done and how much time they have left. Another important thing for them to remember is that if they are struggling with a question, leave it and allow some time at the end to go back to it. 

Encourage your child to complete their homework and revision tasks with some degree of independence. Unless they have any additional needs, your child is unlikely to get any extra support during the tests. Ask them to complete the task and record the areas they have struggled so that they can discuss this with you or their teacher afterwards. 

It’s important that any concerns you have are discussed with your child’s class teacher. A child’s perception of their strengths and weaknesses can differ greatly from that of the teacher’s. Perhaps ask the teacher if there is anything that can be worked on so that you can consolidate with extra tasks and fill the gaps at home. 

SATs are a big event in the life of a primary aged child and, although you want to prepare them in the best way you can, they shouldn’t take over your lives. It’s a great opportunity for your child to show off what they know but it shouldn’t be something that works your child up to the point where they are worried or overly nervous. Keep it in perspective, enjoy the usual hobbies your child has and remind yourself and your child that it’s not anything to worry about!

 

by Lauren Channing

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