Three Simple Tips for Year Six SATs

I’ve been teaching for nearly two decades and much of that time has been spent in the wonderful world of Year Six (the final year of primary school). This includes guiding the delicate transition to secondary school, the emotional Leavers’ Assembly and of course the inevitable May SATs, amongst many other life-affirming milestones. It’s a great year group to teach as children negotiate their way through a familiar environment that seems increasingly small to them (as many of them seem to grow at an exponential rate, much like Alice after munching on the ‘eat me’ cake during her adventures).

The Year Six SATs could be viewed as a rite of passage, and when they are managed properly, most children, in my substantial experience, feel a sense of accomplishment once they are over, however they have achieved academically.

Here are just three pieces of advice from an experienced teacher. Please feel free to adopt them, adapt them or ignore them as you see fit. I’d be interested to read any comments you may have in response.

1. Talk with your child’s teacher about their learning journey.

It’s important for your child to see that all the adults that look after them want the best for them and are working together towards this aim.

In the lead up to SATs, as James Clements writes on the Oxford Owl website,

‘If you haven’t already, you might also want to talk to their class teacher about your child’s progress and how they think you could best support them. It makes sense for the child, parent and school to be working together towards the same aims.’

In many schools, there are parents of children whose first language is not English. To help encourage clear communication, Mantra Lingua have developed our ‘Key Phrases For School’ talking pen and chart. With words and phrases to use with children and parents spoken fluently in 30 languages including English, it’s easy to use.


2. Support your child in their daily reading.

Make reading a habit. Catch your youngster doing the right thing and give regular encouraging comments. Talk about what they’re reading in terms of what they’ve already read and what they think may happen next and why. Have a wide range of books around in a way that Goldilocks may stumble upon – some easy to access, some more difficult, some just right in terms of their vocabulary and content. Be a member of your library and go regularly.

I have found that those children who are habitual readers, including those who find it more difficult, find accessing the whole curriculum easier and more interesting than those that seldom read. Often, they also have a curiosity about the wider world and a broader understanding of it.

Usually, after lunch with my present class, once they’ve had some reading time, we discuss where they’ve been on their reading journeys, who they’ve been with and what they’ve done. It’s always fascinating to hear about and share their travels into space, back in time to the land of the Egyptian pharaohs and into the ocean depths with bizarre-looking marine life.

According to popular children’s author and reading advocate Michael Rosen,

‘Reading… is a gateway to everything else that’s in print. We are… companions to the people in a story and they face scary things and funny things and dreadful things… a piece of fiction is like a laboratory… we can try out our emotions.’

We have a wide range of reading books at Mantra Lingua inside which children will happily lose themselves again and again, including Michael Rosen’s classic ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’, with wonderful illustrations by Helen Oxenbury, which is available in English and many other languages including Arabic, Mandarin and Gujarati.


3. Make time to draw, paint... and be crafty (but not in a sneaky way).

Your youngster’s life at school is likely to be relatively structured and it is unlikely that they are experiencing as much creative time as they’d like. So prepare to be a little messy at home. Also, sometimes not having an end goal is fine. It’s good to just get out the paints or the discarded cardboard boxes and experiment. You may well be pleasantly surprised with the outcome and the process will be fun. And your child will not be assessed on it!

The ‘Secret Teacher’ in The Guardian says,

‘If our schools are only interested in children’s progress and attainment in a limited range of subjects, how can we ever hope to build on the potential of those whose strengths lie elsewhere?’

At Mantra Lingua, we have an innovative and fun way to add to creative pursuits. Mantra Lingua's viVOS Artframe is a device that lets you play audio from your paper drawings!

Take any A4 or A3 paper and draw with ordinary pencils, pens, or paints. Collage with glitter, sandpaper, foil... anything really... to create a multi-sensory learning experience.  This can be enhanced with sound. Create your multimedia publication in minutes – no programming required. Tap with your fingers anywhere on the paper to record and playback! It's as easy as that.


There are many other tips I could give, but I do not wish to overload you. Let me reassure you that the year six SATs are a hurdle that thousands of ten and eleven-year-olds will soon negotiate and nearly all of them will be feeling a sense of achievement and relief by Thursday lunchtime on the 17th May! Good luck to you all and your families.