In the primary phase of education, it is important that children secure the fundamentals. This truth especially holds for the fundamental topics in English and Maths, without which future academic progress is made significantly more difficult.
Experienced primary tutors tell us that they are able to make the most progress when their pupils are expected to work on these fundamentals independently between tutorials.
Below, then, is Keystone’s list of the best materials parents can use if they want to set some structured independent work for their children. Materials have been chosen that both focus on the fundamentals and are sequential. We hope they prove a source of challenge and enlightenment.
- The new National Curriculum is generally clearer than one might expect. It is full of parent-useful information, e.g. spelling recommendations.
- Toby Young has produced an unfascinating but clear-headed guide to the new curriculum, written specifically for parents.
- Civitas have produced Core Knowledge textbooks that lay out the – ehm – core knowledge recommended for UK pupils on a year-by-year basis. You can buy the individual books here, or look at the sequence here.
- Schofield and Sims are affordable, clear and properly sequenced.
- Vocabulary from Classical Roots does exactly what you would think and hope.
- Bond’s English Books also offer a clear and sequenced programme.
- Schofield and Sims are similarly affordable, clear and properly sequenced.
- Singapore Maths is a linear, mastery-based approach that has caught the eye of the UK’s Department of Education recently. More Primary Schools are now using its approach, though parents may be interested in buying the books too. Here is the UK curriculum version; here is the original sequence.
- Bond’s Maths Books also offer a clear and sequenced programme.
We say that practicing Reasoning should be like brushing your teeth: never particularly pleasant but pretty painless when done little and often.
- The Bond Books are probably the safest sequential textbooks.
- For parents whose children are sitting computerised tests, we would recommend subscribing to one of the online verbal reasoning test engines, such as:
Parents often ask us for “big narratives” that will help their children get an introduction to the broad sweep of British and World History. These books are particularly recommended:
- Robert Lacey’s Great Tales from English History
- H E Marshall’s Our Island Story and Kings and Things
- Roy Strong’s Story of Britain
- E H Gombrich’s Little History of the World
- Susan Wise Bauer’s The Story of The World (n.b. part of a series)