Every year our children are put through standardised tests that allow teachers and parents to compare students against children of the same age in the general population. What parents are normally provided with is an indication of where their child sits on a scale with a score between 90 and 110 being average. Different schools use different tests but the main ones you may hear about are NFER, and PTM (Progress Test in Maths) and PTE (Progress Test in English) formally known as PIM and PIE tests.
The purpose of these tests is to flag up those children who may require intervention and they are not tests that can be revised for.
So what should you do if your child has a score which is deemed below the national average. First of all, don’t panic! Remember that this is just a snap shot of your child’s learning on the day of the test. There may be reasons why your child may not have performed as well as you might have hoped. It is important that you speak to the teacher and check that they feel that the result is a true reflection of what your child is capable of or were they having an off day?
If it is clear that your child is falling behind then what action can you take?
Ask the teacher for a further breakdown of the results. What particular areas did your child perform below average in?
In English, are they falling behind in a particular area? Spelling, punctuation, grammar, reading? When it comes to reading are they reading fluently? If not, what areas of weakness do they have? If they are reading fluently, is their comprehension letting them down? If they are not progressing to show a deeper understanding of texts then intervention may be necessary. There are lots of things you can do at home to improve literacy skills. Reading with your child on a daily basis and discussing the texts with them will improve all areas of their learning. Questioning your child on what they have read orally will really help them with their comprehension skills and you should not only ask them to pull out facts from the text but also ask them to use those facts and observations to come to an assumption or conclusion. If your child is struggling with the basics of reading and is unable to comprehend because they are unable to decode the words then speak to the teacher about intervention. You may wish to look into some extra tuition outside school if you feel that you are not able to fill in the gaps in their knowledge at home.
Similarly in maths, find out what particular areas they are struggling with. Is your child fluent in basic maths facts and procedures? Do they have a conceptual understanding of number and the relationship between numbers? Are they able to use the basic facts they have learned to solve basic and more complex problems? Apart from drilling your child on basic facts like number stories and times tables, it is important to emphasise why maths is necessary when practising skills in the home. Show them that maths is something we use every day and not just in the classroom. Make a game of arithmetic – when out shopping for example you could ask your child to be working out the total cost, or change required. Cooking is a chance to revise fractions and measure. What is today’s temperature? Or the average temperature of the week when looking at a five day forecast? Every day experiences can be fun and interesting, while giving children opportunities to go over the skills they need. There are also lots of apps and websites that can allow your child to practise their maths skills in a fun and non-stressful way. Doodlemaths is a great app for all areas of the primary maths curriculum and allows your child to collect rewards for progress made. There are also a multitude of apps for practising times tables out there. One of my favourites is Hit the Button.
Remember that some children take longer to develop than others and you should not panic if your child is falling below what you expected academically. There is lots of help available for parents from the school, educational resources, apps and tutors such as On Target Tuition if you feel you need outside intervention. The first step is to work out exactly where the gaps in your child’s knowledge are and work together to fill them.
If you feel your child could benefit from some extra tuition please visit www.on-targettuitionlisburn.co.uk to find out about how we can help or call us on 9267 5071.
By Clare Rimmer (MA Hons, PGCE Primary Education)
Teacher/Director11 plus, 1to1 tutoring, advice forum for mums, helping kids education, kids education, Pre-School education, Supplementary education