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SATs skills: Preparing your child for KS2 SATs

It won’t be long until that week in May when your child will be sitting his/her KS2 SATs. They are heading into a busy preparation time at school with their teachers targeting the areas that need more work, or perhaps focusing on past papers. Even though the school will be doing all they can to prepare your child, you may still want to help them at home. Your encouragement and support could make a big difference.

Teacher and guest blogger Vicky Bowman shares ways to help hone their skills and boost their confidence.

Familiarity with test format and content

As a teacher, I spend a lot of time familiarising the children with the test format and content. I like to make sure that the children know exactly what the test will look like, how it is laid out and where they should write their answers. As a parent, it would be helpful for you to be aware of this too. Past papers are available to download for free on the Gov UK website. There is no harm in looking through these with your child. Get them to explain the paper to you — it will make them feel like the expert!

Reading and interpreting questions

This is one of the most important skills and can be applied to every single test that your child will sit. Again, lots of work is done on this at school, but even more support from home could really help as children can sometimes misread or misinterpret what they are being asked to do.

Your child will need to read, interpret and understand a huge range of questions in all papers. My advice would be to use past papers, revision guides and tackle them together.

Look at the following SATs-style maths question and follow the steps below in order to answer it:


Miss Mills is making jam to sell at the school fair. Strawberries cost £7.50 per kg. Sugar costs 79p per kg. 10 glass jars cost £6.90. Miss Mills uses 12 kg of strawberries and 10 kg of sugar to make 20 jars full of jam. Calculate the total cost to make 20 jars full of jam.

  1. At first, read the question to them and ask them to pull out the key information. In this case, it would be the costs and quantities.
  2. Then, explore just what the question is asking them to do. I like to get children to underline or highlight the main instructions too, just to focus them on what is being tested. They should here highlight the items, their costs and the final question of ‘calculate the total cost’.
  3. Ask your child to explain what they would do to answer the question, or where they might find the information for the answer. Do they know what mathematical operations are needed to answer this question?

There is no need to always complete the answer — simply reinforcing the technique of ‘how’ to answer is really effective.

Stamina

There is no denying the SATs are a challenge. Each paper involves children being able to concentrate, sometimes for up to an hour without stopping, as well as being able to read quite a lot of information. Anything you can do to support this would be beneficial.

  • You can help your child to gradually build up their concentration. It’s best to take small steps; spend longer on reading or maths homework, for example, but don’t suddenly increase your expectation of what they can achieve. It may be a while before they are able to concentrate fully for 20 minutes. It might be something as simple getting them to spend longer on a task or a piece of homework; encouraging them to use all the available time by checking their work carefully at the end. Then spend time going over the work with them and ask them to explain some of their answers.
  • Incorporate rewards or breaks for working to a time limit. For example, after 15 minutes let them have a rest, a snack, a run around or even a sing — whatever motivates them! Slowly increase the time limit they must concentrate for but keep the incentives going.
  • Practise simple time management by challenging your child to see how many times tables or simple maths calculations they can complete in a given time period. You could build this up steadily and gradually give them more time.
  • Why not work on their reading skills by selecting a few pages from a book of their choice and reading it for a given time-period, then giving a summary of what’s happened? Or, you could race to locate certain words across a given set of pages in a time limit. When reading together, ask your child to explain what has just happened or what they think of the character at this point in the story. What evidence have they used to make this judgment? Can they go back into the paragraph and find it? Anything that encourages any form of reading at length can help.

Confidence

Confidence is crucial. Above all, your child needs to feel good about themselves and believe that they are ready to do their best. We need to give them this confidence. As a parent, your role here is so important.

  • Take an interest in what they bring home from school and support any homework linked to SATs preparation. Help them when they need it and be full of praise for all the effort they are putting in.
  • Take an interest in what they bring home from school and support any homework linked to SATs preparation. Help them when they need it and be full of praise for all the effort they are putting in.
  • Ask for any practice papers to come home from school if your child wants you to see how they have done — even if they found it hard. Get them to explain what the answers were and where they might have gone wrong. They will love being the teachers and showing you just how much they now know!

Ultimately, remind your child that they are good at so many things and let them know that as long as they do their best that is all that matters.

Other resources

About Vicky Bowman

With over ten years experience as a primary teacher, Vicky has a real passion for teaching English, reading, Modern Foreign Languages and all things performing arts related.