How pupils can catch up over summer
By Adam Muckle
16 Jul

All children have been disadvantaged during these past few months. They have all had to deal with a very different learning environment at home rather than at school. It is important to recognise that a lot of what they may have missed can be remedied on their return. However, like home learning and home schooling, there are ways children can catch up during the summer break for their long-awaited return in September.

There may be knowledge gaps which need to be filled, or a particular topic that is difficult to learn or issues of exam technique which require focus and attention. Study the syllabus to identify these areas and what the school has already covered, asking the teacher if necessary. There are many things children can do independently and families can work on together. There may also be areas where a professional tutor or teacher at school can provide a bit of extra support and guidance.

It is summertime and children’s mindsets will not necessarily be study-orientated, so it is important that any tasks set be enjoyable and productive at the same time. For writing, if on holiday encourage children to keep travel journals, or at home a diary. Set interesting descriptive and creative writing tasks, and short and sharp spelling, punctuation and grammar exercises. Little and often is best, and modest improvements consistently done will lead to success.

Discuss with your children what they’ve written, asking them about general knowledge and current affairs, politics, art, economics and life in general at meal times. This will help them to express themselves further and lead to clarity of thought. When they have been set a writing task, get them to think about and then plan what to write before they put pen to paper.

Reading will fuel their writing. Fill your house with books and create an environment to spark their curiosity. Investigate the reading lists that schools readily provide to see what they’d like to read. A mixture of entertaining and challenging reading material will help. I’d also recommend a dictionary, a thesaurus and an encyclopedia too. Education channels on YouTube such as TED-ED provide short presentations on many different topics in the arts and sciences.

For maths, make sure your children have revised and learned the core areas from the past year, whether that be times tables, square numbers, number sequences, fractions and percentages or measurements. Some of these can be tested in everyday life rather than formal tasks.

Now that restrictions to daily life are being eased and society now is seeing a semblance of normality, you could consider a museum or gallery visit, where children can explore areas that may spark a lifelong interest or possible talent.

It may be good to instill a strive for perfection in all things, but we shouldn’t expect perfection in children by September. There will be a recognition by the schools that everyone has been trying their best in these difficult circumstances. Work done now will not be wasted when children go back to school.

Adam is originally from Belfast and studied Classics at Durham University. After training as a Barrister, a chance conversation led him unexpectedly to tutoring. Over the past 11 years, Adam has tutored in London, throughout the British Isles, Europe, Asia and online. He is an Honorary Fellow of The Tutors’ Association, the professional body for tutoring in the UK, and served as its President from 2016 to 2019. For more information, please visit

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