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Monthly Archives: October 2015

  • Is Home Education the Right Choice?

    home education parents and child

    Making the decision to home educate your children is not usually something that can be decided overnight. As with anything these days, there are pros and cons on whatever choice you make. However, by having a solid understanding of the topic should help you make the correct decision for you and your children.

    Interestingly, some home education studies out there suggest that children who are home schooled achieve 30% higher grades in standardised tests than those of their school peers. But are these statistics enough to take the plunge of removing your children out of school and into a home education environment?

    Are there risks to home educating children?


    Of course! But don’t let that be the main reason to dissuade you in making your decision. As a parent, you want to do the best you can for your child, and again - all options need to be drawn out and carefully considered.

    One of the most common fears in home educating your children is that your child will develop social problems and have difficulty integrating into society because they may never experience teamwork-related tasks. For these reasons, parents are afraid that their children may also be more reluctant to yield their opinion or compromise with others later in life, despite having additional communication with a parent at home.

    Despite these fears of a child’s social development, a study carried out in the US showed that 71% of home educated graduates are active in their communities and participate in community projects such as coaching a local team or volunteering at school, compared to just 37% of the general population. They were more engaged and active in politics too, with 76% using their vote compared to just 29% of the corresponding US populace. Perhaps most importantly of all, 59% of home educated adults reported that they were “very happy” with their lives compared to just 28% of the general US population.

    Another potential issue is that parents may not be able to fulfil all aspects of the National Curriculum with their knowledge, especially if home education continues at GCSE and A level. Therefore, it is important to have the right educational resources and support available ready for when you need it (more on that later!). Parents having access to educational facilities you would typically use in school, such as a laboratory for science lessons is also unlikely, meaning that due to this limitation some topics will need to be theory based rather than being in a practical learning environment.

    “But home educating isn't normal!”

    home education statistics

    Anything that is out of the ordinary from what people are used to is bound to lead to debate and apprehension. Home education is no exception from this rule and it does get a bad rap from time to time in the media. However, we shouldn't all jump to conclusions that all children who are home educated miss out on a solid education and become unsociable later in life, as the majority of parents who do a very good job home educating their children. We should also be reminded that the very same thing can be said about teachers too – there are good ones, and some not so good ones out there.

    However, there are still a number of reasons why some parents wish to take charge of their own children’s education, and we should always be respectful of this.

    As an example, some parents may feel strongly enough about one of the following reasons that they wish to home educate their children:-

    • Unsatisfied with the level of teaching in local schools
    • Can provide a better education at home than school
    • Provides specific concentration on a child’s interests and weaknesses
    • Noticed behavioural change in school, compared to home
    • Increased family time & strengthening the parent-child relationship
    • National Curriculum does not fall in line with the family’s beliefs on education

    Here are some official stats from the U.S Department of Education

    Does the education system work for you?


    This is often a question parents ask themselves in their decision to home educate. We have all seen the school performance tables that are announced each year, which suggests that schools are being pressured to put a big focus on testing their pupils regularly. This again has brought about much debate as some believe that the structure in place is excessive, and regular testing does not provide pupils with a quality understanding of key curriculum topics.

    Everyone is different to how they learn and take in new information. This means that in each classroom there are different learning styles to adhere to, and some would argue that by adopting a formal structure such as the one schools use means that some children will be left behind in their learning. The education system expects children to perform in the same way, with the same approach at the same time, to the same level – and this can be difficult for some children.

    Learning at home

    learning at home

    Whilst home educating can bring many challenges, it does allow parents to tailor their child’s learning to their needs and incorporate a balance of approaches, activities and experiences to help facilitate learning and development. Some examples of these can be structured academic activities at home, or a less formal approach can be taken whereby children are encouraged to express their own interests and visit museums, social events and take part in arts and crafts etc.

    Deciding on which home education approach is best is something only parents can decide – will lessons be broad and flexible, or more narrow and structured?

    Whichever approach is adopted, parents need to know that support is always available.

    There are countless groups available to help home educators find suitable resources and advice, and we would recommend spending plenty of time researching to find which ones are the most beneficial to parents that home educate their children.

    Here are some pointers on how to get started:-

    • Look online for home education specific groups. Social media sites such as Facebook has a large selection of private home education groups you can join to interact with other, perhaps more experienced parents involved with home education.
    • Look on home school forums to find frequently asked questions, and ask yourself if these are relevant to your situation too.
    • Be prepared to get involved with other people’s ideas. Asking questions and sharing experiences with each other is what helps develop a strong community in each of the home school groups.
    • Don’t be afraid to ask questions, no matter how basic you think your question is
    • Talk to as many parents as possible, and decide which approach is most suitable.


    Famous home educated people

    To round things up, we thought we’d share with you a number of well-known figures who have had an influence on society in some shape or form.

    Here goes!

    Thomas Edison

    Thomas Edison

    Inventor of the incandescent light bulb, carbon microphone, movie camera, phonograph… the list goes on! “My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so sure of me, and I felt I had something to live for, someone I must not disappoint”.

    Frank Lloyd Wright


    Considered the most influential architect in American History, Frank was home educated by his mother until he attended high school.

    C.S. Lewis

    cs lewis

    C.S. Lewis was an English professor at Oxford University and became well-known in history for contributing to children’s literature with the Chronicles of Narnia.

    Taylor Swift

    Taylor Swift home education

    to accommodate her touring schedule, Taylor Swift  transferred to a private Christian school that offered homeschooling services. She maintained a 4.0 grade average, having completed her final two years of course work in twelve months by being home educated.

    Franklin D. Roosevelt


    And last, but certainly not least - we have the 32nd President of America, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was homeschooled by his parents and home tutors.


    Don't forget that Daydream has a wide selection of bespoke, home education products (including plenty of home education freebies!) which have been created to help you teach confidently at home,  even if you’re not an expert in the subject yourself.

    Click here to view all Daydream home education products

  • Improve Your Pupils’ Multiplication Skills with our Times Tables Challenge!

    Free times tables app

    We all know that learning the times tables is one of the most fundamental maths skills. If children are able to master their times tables and gain a solid foundation in mathematics they are more likely to succeed in their progression through maths, school and life.

    “A study published by Ofsted, the schools watchdog, says pupils without instant recall of multiplication tables struggle in maths.”

    Many children are able to recite their timetables in order, but to truly know the answer to any times table question independently is a skill that takes a lot of hard work. The national expectation is that every child will be able to answer any times table question mentally within a five second period.

    Keeping mastery of the times tables in mind, we are delighted to offer all schools the opportunity to improve their pupils’ times tables skills for FREE with our Times Tables Challenge!

    We’re 100% confident that by getting your pupils to use our FREE award-winning Multiplication app they will improve their multiplication skills and attainment levels.

    The best part about this is that it is completely free, and you can set up the learning environment just the way you like it - whether it be the teacher lead approach, or a flipped classroom.

    multiplication aled group JPG

    Can a Free App Really Help? How do I Get Started?

    Absolutely! You can start using the app immediately online or through the App Store and Google Play Store:

    Once downloaded you will be able to access the multiplication app for free, straight away – it’s as simple as that!

    In order to access the teacher portal and view all of your pupils’ progress, you will need to create a teacher and school account. This literally takes 30 seconds. However, we’d be more than happy to do this for you if you’re short of time! Just email and he will get you set up!

    How does Maths Tutor Help?

    Maths Tutor enables any time, anywhere access which means that the app can be used as a presentational tool by the teacher as well as a learning aid by pupils – in the classroom and at home.

    interactive maths lesson

    Our multiplication app challenge has already been piloted by several Daydream trial schools with great results! By simply using the app for 15-30 minutes a day, in the classroom or at home, pupils saw a rapid improvement in their Maths skills across the board.

    “The ability to recall multiplication facts quickly has meant that our pupils are now able solve a wide range of Maths problems without making basic calculation errors. It has improved numerical accuracy and has had a huge impact on the pupils’ confidence. ”

    what to do

    Unfortunately, one of the best ways to improve pupils’ times tables skills is through repetition and assessment! However, within maths tutor, we have included a wide range of activities and features to ensure pupil engagement and motivation.

    Key Benefits:

    - Self-paced learning: pupils have their own accounts so they are able work through the times tables at their own pace. Tests can be performed in order or randomly, enabling steady progression and improved confidence.

    times tables menu

    - Rewards: The intuitive rewards based system motivates pupils and encourages further engagement in maths. Pupils are able to achieve stars and trophies for their achievements, which encourages them to continue with their learning outside of the classroom. Our pilot schools reported that several pupils were asking to use the app during their break time!

    times tables reward

    - In-depth Progress Reporting: Monitoring pupils’ progress is crucial to them mastering their times tables. Fortunately, as a teacher you’ll have access to every pupil’s results through the reporting section of the app. So if you set homework tasks, you’ll be able to see who is doing well, and who perhaps needs some additional support. By viewing the detailed reports you’ll be able plan the best course of action a lot easier. Not to mention, you’ll also be able to see who in the class didn't do their homework at all – tut tut!

    real time reporting homework dog


    If there are pupils who you believe are struggling, try using the app as an intervention tool and adopt a specific learning approach to them such as assigning a one to one lesson with yourself or your LSA.


    “Times Tables Are Too Easy – Now We’re Masters!”

    Don’t forget that once times tables are mastered, there are 3 other types assessments within the app that allow your pupils to chase even more stars and trophies.

    • Quiz
    • Long Multiplication
    • Missing Numbers


    So what are you waiting for? Download Maths Tutor for free here and take our times tables challenge to see if we can help improve your pupils’ multiplication skills!

    For more information on how to get started , please visit our Maths Tutor website or contact us at for help with getting setup.

    We look forward to hearing from you!

  • How to Improve Pupils’ Problem Solving Skills

    Let’s face it, we all have problems, and sometimes they are not always easy to solve! But developing these skills from an early age is crucial to a child’s development and also plays an important part in their education. Every day we are faced with problems to solve, some are easy and don’t require much thought, whereas others are more complex such as:

    • I have no milk for my morning cereal, what am I going to have for breakfast?
    • How do I get to school tomorrow if my usual route has roadworks?
    • Will I have enough time to mark homework for 30 pupils and go to the football game later?

    Problems become no more than decisions you have to make. And as a teacher, these are skills you have developed throughout your life, and you want the solution to be almost instant and come naturally to you.

    But how do you improve them? And more importantly, how do you help your pupils enhance their problem solving skills too?

    problem solving classroom

    Feed Your Brain!

    A good start to enhancing your problem solving skills is to have hobbies that stimulate the mind and help with logical and critical thinking. Simple things such as getting your pupils to play chess at break time or playing a musical instrument will help teach you and your pupils the importance of patience and timing. If your pupils don’t take too kindly to giving up their lunch breaks for these things, there are of course other ways of developing logical thinking. Try to set up more lesson plans to include puzzles, interactive games and riddles but set a strict, challenging timer on how long the pupils have to complete each task. Doing these types of activities will help pupils to learn how to respond to different situations in creative ways. It will also help develop the ability to see things from a lot of different perspectives and become significantly more productive – and that’s good news when it comes to handing out lots of homework!

    problem solving solution

    Use a Problem Solving Method to Find the Solution


    Problem solving is all about thinking logically, and thinking about the multiple outcomes from various scenarios. Sometimes you’ll have to “think outside the box”, but if you adopt a problem solving methodology, you and your pupils will find things a whole lot easier no matter what the problem is. So what is this methodology, and how do you use it?

    Step 1 - Keep Calm

    No matter what the problem, your first point of call is to keep calm and not to panic! The best way to approach a problem is to think about them neutrally. Granted, it’s a lot easier said than done, but if you can keep your cool when encountering problems, they become far easier to solve.

    Step 2 – Simplify the Question


    Identify exactly what the question is asking!  Breaking down problems into bite-sized chunks of information can help pupils find the answer in a shorter amount of time.

    Step 3 – Think of All Possible Solutions

    three solutions

    Once you have simplified the question, try to focus and visualise these solutions in your mind.

    • If I do x, is the result likely to be A?
    • If I do y, is the result likely to be B?
    • If I do z, is the result likely to be C?
    • …and so on!


    Thinking of the solutions first will get rid of the initial negative thoughts you had when you first came across the problem.

    Fun Fact: Did you know that neuroscientists have proven that your brain cannot find solutions to problems if you focus on the problem too much? That’s why it’s great to start with an open mind to problem solving.


    So let’s put it to the Test Shall We?

    Let’s see if your pupils are able to use the above method to work out the following maths related problem:-

    Ok, some pupils may think that there is a lot of information to take in here, but the first step is to… Keep calm and not panic. Done!

    Now let’s simplify things and break down the question. We know that:-

    • 160 sweets were used
    • 8 jars were made
    • 4 more jars are needed

    So let’s think of all possible solutions to the scenario –

    Is it logical to multiply, divide, add or subtract these numbers first? Thinking of all solutions to the problem, it makes sense to divide 160 by 8 first to tell you how much one jar is worth, and multiply that number by 4. So for those who haven’t worked it out already, the correct solution to the problem is 20 x 4 which means jack will need 80 more sweets.

    Keep on top of it!

    Incorporating problem solving activities throughout the school day, and as often as possible will make your pupils become logical thinkers. Sure, they may not be making jars of sweets like Jack, but there are endless possibilities and scenarios that will help them adopt problem solving skills for real-life scenarios.

    Looking for more problem solving scenarios for your pupils? Check out our new Maths Tutor Problem Solving App! –available on Macs, PCs, iPads, tablets & interactive whiteboards


    And finally… Here’s a potential Problem Solving Genius in the making, who is looking to get off a mattress safely. Enjoy!

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