To add to the excellent advice already given above, one recommendation we followed which if not already doing so, was to use a notebook and fill it new words that DS encountered whilst reading, tv etc. I cannot underestimate the benefits of early preparation with regards to english as in our case with DS being a ‘very logical male’ found it developed over a period of time, rather than using a wham bam approach, and only really realised its value towards the end. This helped in a number of areas such as VR, synonyms/antonyms, eng comprehension, eng writing etc.
We noticed that his ability to express himself improved which in turn led to more compelling pieces of work, to the point where he would often bring both us and teachers to tears with some of his writing. Recently in his exam he had to compose himself because he brought himself to tears! – bless him
I remember a piece of practice work at the start of the year, where I asked him to “describe his last 5 minutes of last day at his current school, whilst sitting in his chair waiting for the bell.” At the beginning, he was using the ‘sky is blue like the ocean’ and ‘the grass is green like emeralds’, a year of talks about writing from the heart combined with general maturity led him to redo the piece at which point he wrote the following, of which I have extracted a few words:“....as I glanced at the clock the minutes edged closer to 3:30, and looking across the empty playing fields I could see ghosts of my former self playing with my friends, I could see where I scored my first goal, my first fall, first injury, meeting my best friend, so many memories etched in my heart. It is time for us to move on and let new children make fresh memories, I whispered goodbye as I knew this was the last time I will see though a child’s eyes these fields, these fields of dreams.”
In terms of maths, we developed basic arithmetic and then only once these were hardcoded did we bring speed into the equation, as already mentioned above, repetition will help to achieve this. One thing that I would highly recommend that helped us immensely, was to make sure that DS could actually apply his maths skills.
In summer we repaired some garden fence panels and I tasked DS with calculating fence panels, posts, sand, cement DS also researched the best value shed to house his bikes and he helped in the whole process form finding the site, ordering, building and finishing. Things such as working out surface areas of shed and panels to calculate how much paint to buy, number of blocks to use for the base etc.
Maths is integrated in our everyday lives and even in the supermarket which of two products is better value challenge would take place, using weight and cost. He has spotted a few ‘mistakes’ where the multipack is more expensive than 2 single items, so saved a few pennies
Other things to try are theoretical holiday planning including excursions, and days out to adventure theme parks where the journey is car versus train – which is better value etc, the limits are endless.
All this was in aid of developing DS applied maths skills, the best analogy I can think of is building a wall which I used to help explain to DS.
Most children are given a problem and can extract the necessary bits of info (blocks) and then begin to build a perfect gap free wall, and many including us focused on building the perfect tallest wall as a measure of progress. If you take away some blocks then some children can only build to a certain height as they hit a stumbling block (pardon the pun), and some can only build the wall if all the blocks are present and laid out neatly. What worked for us was to focus on the skill to build a wall with some missing blocks. So is DS able to build a wall using limited resources as opposed to building a skyscraper with full resources.
I stress that each child is different and the methods that worked for us may differ to someone else, so exposure to variety is the key.
Oh nearly forgot - It may sound like a cliché but one very important often underrated and easily overlooked preparation is reading. I don’t think I am qualified to express the benefits you can gain from reading, it enriches many facets and for a logical boy to go from hating english to churning through books is probably the most satisfying and rewarding feeling we have witnessed to date. I promised myself that there would be no more poems but under the circumstance the master Roald Dahl can help convey in a far superior way that I could possibly even attempt, this is rather long but I savour every word, it is one of my fav, and promise this is the last one!
Bets of luck
The most important thing we've learned,
So far as children are concerned,
Is never, NEVER, NEVER let
Them near your television set --
Or better still, just don't install
The idiotic thing at all.
In almost every house we've been,
We've watched them gaping at the screen.
They loll and slop and lounge about,
And stare until their eyes pop out.
(Last week in someone's place we saw
A dozen eyeballs on the floor.)
They sit and stare and stare and sit
Until they're hypnotised by it,
Until they're absolutely drunk
With all that shocking ghastly junk.
Oh yes, we know it keeps them still,
They don't climb out the window sill,
They never fight or kick or punch,
They leave you free to cook the lunch
And wash the dishes in the sink --
But did you ever stop to think,
To wonder just exactly what
This does to your beloved tot?
IT ROTS THE SENSE IN THE HEAD!
IT KILLS IMAGINATION DEAD!
IT CLOGS AND CLUTTERS UP THE MIND!
IT MAKES A CHILD SO DULL AND BLIND
HE CAN NO LONGER UNDERSTAND
A FANTASY, A FAIRYLAND!
HIS BRAIN BECOMES AS SOFT AS CHEESE!
HIS POWERS OF THINKING RUST AND FREEZE!
HE CANNOT THINK -- HE ONLY SEES!
'All right!' you'll cry. 'All right!' you'll say,
'But if we take the set away,
What shall we do to entertain
Our darling children? Please explain!'
We'll answer this by asking you,
'What used the darling ones to do?
'How used they keep themselves contented
Before this monster was invented?'
Have you forgotten? Don't you know?
We'll say it very loud and slow:
THEY ... USED ... TO ... READ! They'd READ and READ,
AND READ and READ, and then proceed
To READ some more. Great Scott! Gadzooks!
One half their lives was reading books!
The nursery shelves held books galore!
Books cluttered up the nursery floor!
And in the bedroom, by the bed,
More books were waiting to be read!
Such wondrous, fine, fantastic tales
Of dragons, gypsies, queens, and whales
And treasure isles, and distant shores
Where smugglers rowed with muffled oars,
And pirates wearing purple pants,
And sailing ships and elephants,
And cannibals crouching 'round the pot,
Stirring away at something hot.
(It smells so good, what can it be?
Good gracious, it's Penelope.)
The younger ones had Beatrix Potter
With Mr. Tod, the dirty rotter,
And Squirrel Nutkin, Pigling Bland,
And Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and-
Just How The Camel Got His Hump,
And How the Monkey Lost His Rump,
And Mr. Toad, and bless my soul,
There's Mr. Rat and Mr. Mole-
Oh, books, what books they used to know,
Those children living long ago!
So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,
Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install
A lovely bookshelf on the wall.
Then fill the shelves with lots of books,
Ignoring all the dirty looks,
The screams and yells, the bites and kicks,
And children hitting you with sticks-
Fear not, because we promise you
That, in about a week or two
Of having nothing else to do,
They'll now begin to feel the need
Of having something to read.
And once they start -- oh boy, oh boy!
You watch the slowly growing joy
That fills their hearts. They'll grow so keen
They'll wonder what they'd ever seen
In that ridiculous machine,
That nauseating, foul, unclean,
Repulsive television screen!
And later, each and every kid
Will love you more for what you did.