4 Games to Help With Verbal Reasoning

Kip McGrath Urmston Tuition Centre:

We are getting to the time of year when our 11+ pupils are well into the routine of reasoning skills homework. Even the most enthusiastic children can get bored, so vary the routine with these games which will enhance their reasoning skills but add variety to their exam preparation.

Originally posted on Kip McGrath Luton Tutor's Blog:

If you are helping your child prepare for the 11+ verbal reasoning tests, then try the following games to put in a bit of fun into your schedule.  Your child won’t even realise that they are learning skills to pass the 11+ exam.

1. Challenging crosswords – give children exposure to lots of words and therefore can improve spellings.  They encourage children to use dictionaries and encyclopaedia’s but with the added benefit of being fun.  You can play online here.

2. Suduko is a number puzzle game that children as young as 5 can do.  For younger children you can make up grids similar to these.  Sudoku improves analytical thinking in children, it teaches them elimination and logical thinking.

3. Scrabble – increases the vocabulary of a child. It teaches spelling skills to children.  It enhances the mathematical skills in a child and shows us how adding one new…

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Helping Your Child With Maths Word Problems

Kip McGrath Urmston Tuition Centre:

Struggling with word problems is a very common difficulty with all age ranges. This blog has some great tips on how to help your child with word problems.

Originally posted on Kip McGrath Luton Tutor's Blog:

Maths word problems are a common area of concern for parents because they don’t know how to help their child.  Hopefully this article will give you some strategies to use so that problem solving is not a problem any more.

In my experience, there are 2 reasons why the child cannot do the maths word problem:

1.  The child does not understand the question.

If comprehension is weak, then the child will struggle to see what he needs to do.  A weak reader reads mechanically and approaches a sentence word by word, and misses out on the bigger picture.  They will often read the whole question and then give you a blank look, because they haven’t thought about what they are reading.

I use “DRAW” method to help children understand a question.  For example in the following question:

“There are 4 boys with 6 sweets each.  How many sweets altogether?”

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Tuition with real teachers!

At Kip McGrath Urmston Tuition Centre we believe that your children should be taught by fully qualified, experienced, CRB checked teachers who have a passion and vocation for teaching. Our centre is owned and run by two local teachers, Kelly (me) and Claire. We employ several other local teachers as subject specialists, to ensure a high quality of teaching for our pupils. Our lessons are planned and prepared every week by real teachers. Some tuition centres use “tutors” or “instructors” who have no teaching qualifications and negligible teaching experience. We believe our pupils make excellent progress because we constantly assess  and plan lessons which address your child’s individual needs.

Claire and I have worked together for over 10 years – we decided to give up our job-share role at a primary school in Manchester in 2011 to open our tuition centre. We both have young families ourselves and we wanted to be able to keep doing the job we loved but have more time with our own children. We really enjoy working at the centre and helping local children achieve their educational goals. We are both primary specialists and have many years experience teaching ages 5-11. I have a particular interest in Special Educational Needs and am a trained Meares-Irlen/ Visual Stress Assessor. I also have considerable experience (both personally and professionally) of working with children with ADHD/ADD. We pride ourselves on an inclusive ethos at Kip McGrath Urmston and have a very wide range of learning resources for children with differing learning needs.

Claire was previously a Literacy coordinator and is very experienced with teaching phonics/early reading. Both Claire and I are trained and experienced in using Ros Wilson’s  Big Writing scheme which is widely used in Trafford primary schools.

Liz is our English specialist, she has many years experience teaching English and Drama at KS 2&3 and GCSE. She has extensive experience of marking and levelling GCSE papers. Liz is also very adept at working with our younger pupils and has built up a strong rapport with the children since joining us in July this year.

Vanessa is our lead maths GCSE teacher. She works at a local high school and knows the requirements of the GCSE syllabus extremely well. Vanessa is especially sensitive to the needs of less confident pupils. Vanessa lives locally and is a Brownie and Guide leader in Flixton in her spare time.

Our other maths teachers are Alec, who currently works at a Trafford Grammar School and John, who is a recently retired senior teacher with a wealth of experience teaching in Trafford schools. Alec also teaches A level maths.

Lorella is our science GCSE and A level teacher. She is an outstanding science teacher who previously worked at an outstanding High school in Trafford.

We also employ 2 teaching assistants; Rachel is our Early Years specialist. She currently works at a school nursery in Salford and is very experienced at working with children who are at the very early stages of numeracy and literacy. Ashley is a maths Undergraduate at Manchester University and supports our KS2 and 3 students with their maths. Our TAs work with our teachers and do not replace them, they offer extra support within teacher-led sessions.

We understand that choosing the right tutor for your child is an important decision and we offer a free assessment to enable you meet with us to discuss your needs.We are confident that our spacious, well equipped centre with our mix of the latest technology and traditional learning resources offers an excellent learning environment. Kip McGrath resources have been used for over 30 years and are proven and effective. Our dedicated teachers are committed to ensuring that they understand what your child needs, how they learn and how to enable them to progress.

Ring us on 0161 747 1819 to book your free assessment- most of our new pupils are referred to us by parents of existing pupils, find out why!


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Free or cheap Summer Holiday activities in Manchester 2013

Free or cheap Summer Holiday activities in Manchester. (Part 1)

The summer holidays are upon us again bringing the annual problem of how to keep your children entertained without breaking the bank. As a mother of three, I am always on the lookout for new things to do and days out that don’t cost a fortune so I’ve tried to put a comprehensive list together here! This blog covers outdoor activities, museums and art galleries. I will be listing more events and activities in Part 2, including a calendar of one off events and details of free events specific to Trafford .

The Great Outdoors! Activities to get your children out, about and active.

Dig the City

Cheap days out for children in Manchester

Dig the City – if you enjoy the great outdoors and are interested in urban gardening, head into Manchester for this annual event. We went along with our children last year and there was lots to do and see for adults and children.


The National Trust has lots of affordable days out within easy reach of Trafford. Check out their North West page for more details. Most National Trust parks and properties do allow you to take a picnic too!

National trust North West days out

National trust North West days out

Manchester Treasure Trails


Manchester treasure trails

Manchester treasure trails

We had a fantastic family day out doing one of these trails a couple of months ago; we had 8 children aged 3 – 11 years and 5 adults and everyone really enjoyed this. It is easy to stop noticing the city that you live in but these trails are a great way to make you really explore! The printed sheet, that you pay to download, guides you around an area of Manchester via a quiz aimed at children.

Playing hide and seek in long grass on Urmston Meadows

A great adventure on your doorstep!

Urmston Meadows is an excellent place to explore or just have a picnic; they also run specific events throughout the holiday. We often spend hours on the Meadows, making dens, walking and playing hide and seek; my children love it, especially if they manage to get very muddy! Click here for more details

Urmston meadows

Why not get some inspiration from the Nature Detectives website – they have loads of brilliant ideas for kids’ activities in open spaces like Urmston Meadows.

Family Friendly Cycling around Manchester.

There are many off road cycle tracks suitable for families with children. Click here for more information.

Don’t miss this year’s Skyride – the centre of Manchester is closed to cars and you can cycle around in safety!

Manley Mere

This is a little more pricey at £8 per person (under 5s free) but my daughters rate it as their best day out ever! If you don’t mind your children getting VERY muddy, it is great fun and will fill a whole day.

Click to view website

Spinningfields outdoor cinema

For days when you want to chill out! Spinningfields outdoor screen has a series of family-friendly screenings of some Disney classics during August

Click here for dates and more details

Museums and Art Galleries

We are very lucky in Manchester to have so many excellent and free museums and galleries. Many of them offer special events and workshops through the holidays that appeal to a very wide age range.

MOSI – The Museum of Science and Industry always has excellent activities for children and they have some great special events on through the holiday that are FREE! The ever popular steam train rides will be running as will the 4D cinema.

Click here for more details

a range of activities and events for all age groups

a range of activities and events for all age groups

Manchester Art Gallery

Manchester Art Gallery is running a series of free workshops throughout summer – they do get very busy though so get there in plenty of time to avoid long queues.

Whitworth Art Gallery

The Whitworth is running some very exciting free workshops based on their upcoming building work! They have workshops and projects for specific age groups; 11-14 year olds can work towards a Bronze Art Award if they attend 6 sessions.

Family friendly art workshops in Manchester

Family friendly art workshops in Manchester

The Manchester Museum

As ever, the Manchester Museum is offering a huge array of events, activities and workshops which should keep even the most difficult to please child happy! From making clay amulets, to junk modelling and then story-telling on the Magic Carpet, there is loads going on this summer!

Manchester museum

Click here for a full list of activities

The Imperial War Museum North


Themed activities will be taking place over the holiday for the whole family, their website says:

Commando crawl your way through an inflatable assault course, build a giant jenga tower and learn how to build a shelter from bare essentials.  Specially designed for young people and led by experienced and friendly instructors.  Whether you’re a Commando Joe or a Commando Jane you’re sure to have fun.”  

There are also craft activities and story telling sessions – click here for more details

John Rylands Library

A range of magic themed events are scheduled for this summer in this beautiful building. Magical story telling. making monsters, cracking codes and looking at magical books are all taking place.

John Rylands

Click here to see more details

The National Football Museum (Urbis)

From Subbuteo skills workshops to flag printing, the National Football museum kicks off the Summer Holidays in style!

subbuteo skills workshop

subbuteo skills workshop

Click here for a calendar of family friendly events at the museum

Keep an eye out for part 2 of this blog which will feature a calendar of one-off free or cheap events and other holiday activities.

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Summer School sessions at Kip McGrath Urmston Tuition Centre.

Summer School at Kip McGrath Urmston Tuition Centre

We are offering 2 hour sessions every Wednesday and Thursday throughout August for the fantastic price of £26 – that is £13 per hour for professional tuition delivered by fully qualified teachers in our spacious, OFSTED registered premises. 

Summer holiday sessions are ideal for:

  • Keeping children’s brains active during the long summer break
  • Preparing for the new school year
  • a series of lessons to target a specific weakness 
  • Y5 pupils taking Entrance Exams for Trafford Grammar schools in Autumn term
  • addressing concerns raised in end of year school reports
  • the opportunity to develop knowledge and academic skills by working on a topic of pupil’s choosing.

Last year’s Summer School was a great success, so much so that several pupils who came for holiday sessions have stayed with us all year!
We will be running competitions and allowing for some more creative learning within the sessions so that children will learn but also enjoy themselves!

We will also be running our popular 11+/Entrance Exam workshops throughout August. These are a great way to work intensively on maths, English, verbal reasoning and non verbal reasoning. At £30 for a 2 hour session these are a very affordable way of reinforcing the skills and knowledge required for the Trafford Grammar School Entrance Exams.

Great discounts for block bookings – Ring us on 747 1819 for more details or to book a place!

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Are more controls needed on who can be a private tutor?

urmston_newlogoSeveral recent reports in the media recently have highlighted the rise in private tuition in the UK and the concerns that the industry is unregulated.

I was contacted by Radio 4’s You and Your’s programme several weeks ago. They were researching private tuition and wanted to ask me some questions. Radio 4 then sent a reporter to interview me and my colleague Samantha Craig, from the Walkden centre, for some background detail on tuition. They then recorded an interview with a pupil of Samantha’s and her mother.

Samantha being interviewed by Radio 4

Samantha being interviewed by Radio 4

Samantha’s pupil and her family have had a very positive experience of tuition with the Kip McGrath Walkden Tuition Centre and this came over well in the interview.

However, the programme then highlighted the lack of regulations within the industry and emphasised that parents need to check who their tutor is and what their qualifications actually are.

At Kip McGrath Urmston Tuition Centre ALL of our teachers are fully qualified,  experienced and CRB checked. Our centre is Ofsted registered and both Claire and I (owners and teachers) are paediatric first aid trained. We feel that this ensures that we can not only offer quality teaching but also peace of mind to parents.

Unfortunately this is not the case for all private tutors; many parents are astonished when I tell them that anyone is able to offer their services as a tutor and that there is no regulation in the industry.

Many well known companies offering tuition do not routinely employ experienced or qualified teachers. Some employ large numbers of very young “instructors” who are not long out of school themselves! This is often done in very large groups with very little individual attention or thought to different learning styles.

Good teachers know that teaching is as much about understanding how children learn as much as subject knowledge. This is essential to help children make progress.

Many parents come to us from a personal recommendation which is very important but if you need a tutor and can’t get a word of mouth recommendation, the process of securing a professional tutor can be very difficult and there is little to protect you from unqualified or even disreputable individuals.

What can you do to make sure your tutor is suitably qualified?

  • Do insist on seeing a teaching qualification and an up to date CRB check if you are using a private tutor.
  • Make sure that the premises you child is taught in are safe and suitable for learning.
  • Ask to see written testimonials from parents of other pupils

More information -



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Is Sleep Deprivation affecting your child’s performance at school?

Does your child get enough sleep?

A recent report shows that an alarming number of children, mainly in more affluent countries, are suffering from sleep deprivation which is having a negative impact on their school work.

Smartphones, computers and TVs in bedrooms have been highlighted as a factor in poor sleep routines for children.

Is your child getting enough sleep?


tired-kids1One bad night may have a knock on effect the next day, possibly leading to grumpiness, lack of attentiveness and poor concentration but the effects of regularly not getting enough sleep are more dramatic. The cumulative effect of sleep deprivation can ultimately hinder progress and lead to lower grades.

How much sleep do children actually need?

Individual children will vary but children should be getting roughly the amount advised below:

  • Pre-school – 11 to 13 hours per night
  • 5 to 12 year olds – 10 to 11 hours per night
  • teenagers – 9 hours per night

I have seen the effects of sleep deprivation on primary pupils first hand; one boy in my class was struggling at school, he always seemed tired, struggled to concentrate and did not produce a satisfactory amount of work in lessons. I spoke to his parents after he actually fell asleep in class one day and it emerged that he had been watching TV into the early hours without his parents’  knowledge. Once he was getting enough sleep, he was a different child in school and began making good progress.

Most experts agree that TVs and computers in bedroom aren’t ideal and many surveys have indicated a link between lower educational attainment and the presence of TVs in bedrooms. Nevertheless the reality is that many children do have their own TVs, computers or handheld devices so parents need to know how to manage to balance this with a good night’s sleep.

tv in bed

Controlling your child’s TV time.

This article gives some great advice on how to manage screen time in your child’s room:


As the exam/SATs season is upon us, now is definitely the time to make sure your child is getting plenty of sleep!

Related articles




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Get Ready for School with Kip McGrath Urmston Tuition Centre.

Kip McGrath Urmston Tuition Centre

Starting a Trafford Primary School in September 2013?

Give your child a great start to their school life with our play-based learning programme!

The transition from pre-school to more formal learning is a significant one for children. It can affect their interest, motivation at school and their future school success. Kip McGrath Urmston Tuition Centre’s specialised Get Ready for School programme is a gentle introduction to learning which aids the smooth transition from pre-school to “big” school.

These sessions are particularly useful for children who have been unable to attend a school nursery in the year prior to starting school. Due to the number of places that are only available on a part time basis in Trafford, many families are unable to take up a school nursery place. This can put children at a disadvantage when they start Reception class.

Our Get Ready for School programme is an essential for parents who want to ensure the initial school experience is a positive one for their child.

The programme includes activities that promote both learning concepts and school readiness skills.

Alphabet Counting
Recognising letter sounds and names Writing letter sounds and names
Shape Recognition Number Recognition
Identifying colours Visual Discrimination
Memory Skills Learning behaviours
Fine motor skills Hand & Eye Coordination
Writing one’s name Pencil grip

Course Highlights

  • Fun and stress free learning
  • Carefully structured course introduces new concepts each lesson and revises previous concepts.
  • Build children’s confidence in their ability to learn and interact in a learning environment
  • Reduce the stress of the initial formal schooling experience

Course now available at Kip McGrath Urmston Tuition Centre

The sessions build children’s confidence in their own ability to learn and to interact in a learning environment.

The full programme consists 20 sessions. Each 80 minute session is fun-filled, with computer and written work in English and maths, speaking and listening tasks and practical and motor skill activities, with children working individually, in pairs and in small groups. The emphasis is on fun, positivity and confidence building.

The sessions will be run by Kelly & Claire, Centre owners and fully qualified teachers.

Kip McGrath Urmston Tuition Centre is OFSTED registered, not only do you have the peace of mind that your child will be taught in very high quality, safe and secure premises but you can use Childcare Vouchers to help towards course fees!

Course starts in April 2013, places are limited to ensure a high teacher:child ratio, phone 0161 747 1819 for more details or to book your place.

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Top 10 Questions to ask at your child’s Parents’ Evening

It’s easy to forget what you wanted to ask at Parents’ Evening, read this great advice from Kip McGrath Lisburn to help you have a productive consultation.

Top 10 Questions to ask at your child’s Parents’ Evening.

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How working memory affects learning.

Working Memory in children has been shown to be a more accurate way of predicting future educational attainment than IQ.

brainChildren with poor working memory often struggle with routine, everyday tasks like instructions, directions and learning tasks such as maths and writing.

What is Working Memory?

Working memory is like a note pad in your head, your mental working space; you use it to retain facts that you only need temporarily eg – down the corridor, past the photocopier, second door on the right. Or what is 12+45+73?

Clearly Working Memory capacity is an important component of effective learning.

Poor working memory is a feature of about 70% of children with special educational needs such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, ADD/ADHD and ASD.

Whilst about 10-15% of children will suffer from a WM impairment this is often mistaken for other learning difficulties, such as attention problems or even just lack of ability.

Children who have low Working Memory may:

  • Have normal social relationships/friendships with other children
  • Be reserved during group activities in the classroom and tend to be reluctant to answer direct questions.
  • Find it hard to follow a set of instructions or directions.
  • Lose track during more complex tasks and end up  giving up before completion.
  •  Find it difficult to keep track of where they are up to in tasks like copying from the board or miss steps out in work.
  •  Struggle to remember details about work they’ve just done.
  • Seem to have poor attention span or may just seem “away with the fairies”
  • Have difficulty with procedures that require both storage (remembering) and processing (manipulating information), the classic example being maths word problems.

How to help a child with poor WM

  • encourage children to ask for further help or reminders if they forget things
  • break longer tasks down into a series of steps with visual reminders
  • ask children to repeat instructions back to you to check they have understood.

At Kip McGrath Urmston Tuition Centre we often tutor children who have working memory impairment and realise what an impact it can have on their educational attainment and self esteem. We have recently become fully trained Cogmed coaches and are now able to offer the Cogmed Working Memory training programme.

The Cogmed programme is the only working memory improvement system that is clinically proven to be effective. Cogmed is based on a wealth of academic studies and has proven benefits for all age groups, including those with specific learning difficulties such as ADD/ADHD, dyslexia and dyscalculia.

It is an intensive 5 week online training programme, partially home based with some sessions in our centre. The online programme is based on a series of games designed to target different aspects of working memory. It measures progress and adjusts the level of challenge needed to ensure progress.

Some GCSE pupils have even found the Cogmed Working Memory training programme helped improve their revision skills!

Click here for more information about Cogmed.

read this BBC Scotland webpage for tips about improving memory in general.

Ring 0161 747 1819 for more information about Cogmed training or any of our other tuition sevices.

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