I have mentioned a few times recently that I am already doing what I call prep work for my daughter’s GCSE / IGCSE’s and I know some people have wondered about that. So let me explain
My daughter is in Year 9 and she is aiming to go to University so we know Exams are in her future. We already have a good idea on the subjects she is going to do (there are 2 that we are still deciding on) and we have had discussions on how she wants to do her Year 10 and Year 11. She wants to stick with our current model of home education where I am the main facilitator, she is not keen on online schools or using lots of external tutors (there is one possible exception for one subject which we are still discussing). I am happy to continue in this way, I am confident that my husband and I can manage the subjects she is taking but I am aware that some subjects I am naturally stronger in than others, I know helping her with Accounting will be easy for me as I am a Chartered Accountant, likewise I am actually not too worried about History because we both LOVE history (my daughter and myself) and both of us tend to do a lot of research and reading on History just because we enjoy it. And I knew that we were doing History as one of her subjects about 3 years ago so we have already been working on how you structure History answers and this past year we have even covered GCSE History content.
But there are some subjects where I feel like I need to do some prep work. Biology is one of those. My daughter wants to do an IGCSE in Biology, she really enjoys Biology but it is not one of my subjects like History is (before anyone panics and worries, my husband is my backup for Biology – it is one of his subjects, I always preferred Physics and Chemistry). But that being said I am still confident I can do Biology with her. I do need to go through the course work, look at past papers and make sure that any questions I am unsure of I can figure out. It just means I need to (want to) do the work now so that come September we are all set. So for me that meant finding a good quality text book, one that covers all the course work for IGCSE Biology, one that is logical and has everything set out. This past year we have been using a lot of Hodder Education resources for Maths and Science so they were one of my first choices as I knew from past experience I liked their text books and I found this one – IGCSE Biology Book from Hodder Education.
Now I got this book early so I could pre-read it before September but as often happens with good intentions, things change. We had actually finished our KS3 Biology work and my daughter being the kind of student she is, wanted to do more so we started looking at the Body lessons from Theater of Science and then after doing the Heart lesson we dipped into our IGCSE and read the heart pages. It was not planned, I had no intention of using it early but when one of my kids wants to learn I don’t refuse. But I can now say we liked the explanations. Yes, there are longer paragraphs than KS3 text books but that is to be expected because it covers more detail. After reading our heart pages my daughter actually sat and paged through the whole book, looking at what sections it covered and she said she is excited to start using it (that is a good sign). And bonus all answers for all the questions in the book are free to download and they even have a suggested SOW for schools – which I am thinking may be useful but I have not looked at that properly yet.
The other subject I am spending quite a bit of time doing prep work on is English Language. My daughter enjoys the fiction side, especially creative writing activities but non-fiction not as much and unseen poetry well that was a big No. I knew we had to up the poetry side of things, so after Christmas I actually changed our planned English activities and we have spent the last few months working on poetry activities and I have to admit we have made some good progress and she is no longer intimidated by the thought of unseen poetry questions. But I did still feel like I need to up my game some more so I have been reading anything on GCSE/IGCSE poetry that I can get. And yes my daughter is doing an IGCSE English Language exam and I am using GCSE resources as well as IGCSE resources for English language. I know they are different exams but there is a lot of overlap in the type of questions and the content used, so in terms of giving ourselves a good foundation we are using resources for both GCSE and IGCSE English. And I have to say I have found the GCSE English resources from the Twinkl website great for this. I have been able to download and read through so many sample questions and pages on tips and suggestions on how to answer the questions. I also have to admit I am loving these AQA Revision cards that I was given. It is so easy to slot one card in during your day – just one question that we discuss together and over time all those single questions will adds up.
So yes English Language is one where I am still doing lots of reading and collecting resources but I am starting to feel like it actually might be fun.
English Literature is the next one in my list. My daughter has actually selected Macbeth as one of her Year 9 set works and we are starting it after Easter. So as part of that we are actually going to work through this GCSE workbook. I am really looking forward to starting it because she finds Shakespeare interesting and I like the way this workbook is set out (I will write a proper review on the workbook once we have used it).
I am not too worried about her English Literature because we have already slipped in some GCSE content when we read Romeo and Juliet and Pride and Prejudice and both times she managed really well. So I think it really is about selecting the books, and then getting good quality linked resources. And just like I am doing with English Language resources when it comes to using resources that are marked as GCSE I am not being put off. The one play we know we are doing is An Inspector Calls and there are lots of great resources linked to this play that happened to be marked as GCSE, but we are still using them, because they discuss the play, the characters and give us practice questions. I am not going to avoid a good resource just because it is missing an I before the GCSE.
I found this really good GCSE Revision guide for An Inspector Calls from the Twinkl website which is perfect for our use and I also downloaded Twinkl’s lessons on An Inspector Calls.
So yes I am slowly prepping myself for my daughter’s Year 10 and Year 11, and I still have some way to go but I am giving myself time and starting early so I can do it properly and feel confident when we start in September.
Admin – the IGCSE Biology book and the English language cards were both review items given to us.