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6 of the Best Games to Help Your Child Code

In a rapidly developing digital world, coding is the ‘Next Big Thing’.

In September 2014, programming was introduced to the National Curriculum and is now compulsory computer learning for all children aged 5 – 16. As a parent, it can be difficult to support your child in this new area of the curriculum, of which the majority of parents are inexperienced in.

We’ve put together a list of the 6 best games to help your child develop the computational way of thinking they need to code. You might even learn something yourself!

  1. Tynker (suitable age: 5-13)

With Tynker, children can create games and mobile apps by arranging blocks of code. It allows them to use their imagination and turn their ideas into animated stories or art, keeping them enthusiastic about learning. There are different levels to the game which allow the child to develop an understanding of basic concepts before gradually introducing more advanced aspects of coding such as syntax driven programming.

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Find the game online at:

  1. ‘An Hour of Code’ (suitable for any age)

The makers of this interactive online game teach children to code by enabling them to create animations of their favourite film characters. This includes ‘Code with Anna and Elsa’ from the Disney hit ‘Frozen’ and ‘Star Wars: Building a Galaxy with a Code’.

Access the games by visiting:

  1. LEGO WeDo 2.0 (suitable age: 7-11)

Lego WeDO 2.0 is a useful starting point when children first begin to code as it’s an exciting way to learn programming where results really come to life. The innovative idea combines LEGO programming software with links to projects in the National Curriculum, encouraging your child to design their own LEGO models.

Find out more at:

  1. Erase All Kittens (suitable age: 8-13)

Erase All Kittens (EAK) is an online game in the early stages of development that has been extremely highly reviewed by its users. The game focuses on a creative story-telling method where users save kittens while learning to code HTML. If your child loves cats then this is the game for you!

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For more information on EAK, see:

  1. Scratch (suitable age: 8+)

Scratch is one of the most engaging coding games on the market. Children can create their own interactive games, holiday cards and stories, as well as share them with their friends. The only limit is their imagination!

ScratchJr is also available for beginners to programming and allows children to create characters and animate them by piecing together graphical programming blocks.

For more information about Scratch, see:

  1. Kano Computer and Coding Kit (suitable age: 8+)

Would your child like to build their own computer? With Kano they can do just that! An illustrated storybook guides children in assembling the computer and they earn rewards for coding changes to their games. By playing the game children receive an introduction to a number of programming languages such as Python and Javascript.

Find out more at:

What is your experience with coding? Have you any other top-tips for parents? Tell us all about it in the comments section.


What is the ‘Asian method’ of teaching Maths?


What it is ‘Asian Method’ of teaching Maths?

The ‘Asian Method’ of teaching Maths, different to the way ‘we teach maths’ is also known as the ‘mastery’ approach and originates in the Far East, being used in regions such as Shanghai, Singapore and Hong Kong. It first came to England in 2014 but an additional 8,000 schools will be offered the chance to teach it after a government announcement earlier this month – meaning that half of primary schools may adopt the method.

How is it different?

The first major difference is that children would be taught as a whole class rather than being split up depending on their perceived mathematical ability. The idea is that the whole class progress at the same speed, with those who grasp concepts more easily being encouraged to deepen their understanding rather than getting ahead of classmates.

The method focuses on building a depth of understanding across all students in the class with the support of high quality textbooks. Students are encouraged to visually represent mathematical concepts and to ‘begin with the answer’ – i.e. pupils could be given the answer to a problem before working through the steps that get to it. Rather than a teacher explaining a concept and then students practicing individually, the teacher will teach pupils interactively at a more regimented pace.


Why is it spreading?

The reason the mastery approach is spreading is largely due to 15 year-old students in Shanghai, Singapore and Hong Kong out-performing their peers in other countries, such as the UK and the USA, in international tests.


The most significant advantage is that no pupil in the class gets left behind and the ‘less able’ are not demoralized by being placed in a ‘lower performing’ group. Theoretically, this should empower children and ensure that they all have the best chance of scoring highly and there should be less disparities between classmates’ results. It also ensures that pupils do not fall behind and then find it increasingly difficult to catch up as the academic year progresses.


The downside of a whole class progressing together is that it puts social pressure on pupils who may find the lesson more difficult. These students may feel anxious and resent their lessons. Having such a regimented system of learning may also negate creativity amongst pupils as their thinking becomes more formulaic with a group. It is also important to note that using international tests to determine ways of teaching doesn’t take into account other factors that might impact performance. For example, Maths teachers in China are trained for 5 years and more specifically to the age level they will teach, whereas training in England is much shorter.

Do you think that the Mastery Method should be introduced into our educational system or is our current system working well as it is?

Please get in touch with us via our Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to let us know your thoughts.

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Tutoring to inspire enterprising behaviour

This is a guest post from one of the founders of Clever Tykes, a series of children’s storybooks written to inspire enterprising behaviour in Key Stage 2 children. Ben Cook explains how expert tutoring helps to develop key traits in children.


I recently read Genie Tutors’ previous post on tutoring programmes during the summer and I’d like to explore those principles in a little more detail. I’ve accrued a lot of experience working with parents, teachers and children in Key Stage 2, particularly seven to ten years of age. The difference in attitudes of children of different backgrounds is significant, and that was, in fact, one of the primary reasons we developed the Clever Tykes books.

The series was born out of the principle that children who grow up with an enterprising role model in their family are more likely to grow up to start a successful business. The idea is that the more creativity and confidence we can instil in children, the better their life prospects. Tutoring programmes certainly have their role to play in enterprise education.

Schoolteachers do their best to provide children with a broad and well-rounded education. However, the demands of the national curriculum and having exams at every turn, puts pressure on teachers to prioritise academic subjects. This is especially true for children in secondary school and moving into Key Stage 4. This is why additional teaching with a tutor that understands the need to develop a broad range of skills is likely to separate an academically strong child from a prime candidate for a range of careers.


But why is enterprising behaviour so important?

Being enterprising refers to having a number of skills such as independence, resourcefulness and resilience as well as having a positive attitude towards life and its challenges. These are the characteristics that not only help a child succeed in education but in their career, especially should they wish to start a business at any stage.


And how can tutoring help?

Small group tutoring is a unique experience and one that helps develop these new traits. Tutors also serve to develop those skills not necessarily developed in the classroom environment. Another, often overlooked, benefit of having a tutor is that a child has a new role model in their life, focused on building a positive “can do” attitude. Clever Tykes’ research has highlighted the importance of role models in a child’s development process and a tutor represents something alternative to a parent and a teacher who can help raise aspirations and build confidence.

Children very quickly adopt the traits of those around them; it’s exactly why we’re wary of them falling in with ‘the wrong crowd’. Private tutors at Genie typically have a very positive outlook on life, work and education and having this attitude adopted by children is perfect, especially if you’re unsure how they’re obtaining it from their school experience.

The combination of developing new knowledge and skills as well as having a positive role model in their life makes having a tutor a real benefit for children of all ages. Whilst younger children are more impressionable and likely to adopt these traits more quickly, arguably it is more important that older children, closer to entering the world of work, benefit from tutoring. It shows there is never a wrong time to start tutoring to help children be more enterprising.



Competitive school sports days


It’s around this time of the year that many schools begin to ease out of the stressful academic year and exam season by having students participate in fun activities like summer fetes and sports days.


There’s been plenty of conversation around the competitive nature of sports days, with progressive education practitioners campaigning for it to be stamped out. On one hand, sports days put lots of children at a disadvantage with the focus of physical ability rather than creativity or problem-solving skills.


As Albert Einstein said, “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid”.


Having said this, competition is a pivotal part in any child’s growth, a part of the school system that comprises the ‘hidden curriculum’ area of learning. It focuses less on academic development, and more on personal and social development.


Competition is a necessary part of life. For some it starts when we compete to attend the best secondary schools, universities and eventually, careers. Should we not begin to teach competitiveness at a young age to prepare students for life after education where ‘taking part’ simply isn’t enough?


An Ofsted report found that in the most successful schools, both state and private, headteachers recognise that competitive sport can help build a positive ethos and boost grades.


So, what are the pros of hosting competitions in schools?


Firstly, it teaches children that cheaters never prosper, highlighting the importance of playing by the rules and reinforces the idea that cheating comes with consequences.

Secondly, it teaches us how to accept defeat gracefully. Unfortunately, you cannot always win, but what’s important is how you learn from your loss and apply it. Learning these lessons at a young age allows children to manage expectations, something that could benefit them later in life. Learning how to be a good winner is also a major social lesson, without which, could lead to awkward social encounters, especially when moving into secondary education.


Academic benefit


Activities such as these also have been found to have a positive impact on academic prowess. A study published in the Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise in August, 2007 found that students who were active in sports like soccer, American football and even skateboarding performed 10 percent better in core subjects like maths, science, social studies and language arts.


Goal-setting and team work


Competition is also a great way to set yourself goals. Though using this in a sports context, this is important for many areas of life such as improving grades and work ethic.

Many reports have also highlighted the necessity of sport and physical activities to mental wellbeing of young people. The Youth Sport Trust says Physical Education can be used to raise the self-esteem of young people and give them confidence.


Learning how to work within a team is a skill we need to learn at a young age to make sure school work and our professional lives are successful. Sports activities such as relay races and tug-of-war show that sometimes you need teammates and peers to be successful!



On a final note, we should not overlook the fact that encouraging children to partake in sport can help to reduce the risk of many physical problems such as cardiovascular disease and obesity. These are issues that schools can help overcome through physical education and participation in sports day creates motivation for children to improve their health and fitness.



We’re firmly behind schools hosting competitive sports days and believe the traits developed are incredibly important for children. Besides, without sports days, we wouldn’t have the opportunity to witness heart-warming moments like this.

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Summer tutoring programmes

We discussed in a previous blog how important it is to avoid the ‘summer slide’ that children suffer whilst away from school for up to six weeks. Tutoring programmes are both the perfect way to negate the summer slide but they serve an even greater purpose when it comes to preparing children for higher education and even employment later in life.


       We’re going to look at the link between summer tutoring and better employment skills and prospects.


There is a range of summer programmes available to children of all ages. These programmes can be utilised to develop academic skills as well as increasingly important ‘soft’ skills and a positive attitude towards work and education. Getting children into the habit of working towards a goal not directly related to school or the classroom is a great way to show children that dedication in other areas is equally valuable. Unless someone grows up to be a teacher, they are unlikely to ever enjoy regular six week holidays during their employment.


Similarly, people who go on to be incredibly successful professionals or business owners often work outside their normal hours and
are truly committed to their career. Many of our summer programmes actively encourage children to think and behave in a more enterprising way. It’s incredibly important that children adopt traits such as resourcefulness and independence, especially as they move
towards higher education and these skills become imperative to performance.


     Here’s where tutoring programmes specifically crafted for the summer break become so valuable.


The modern world is developing so quickly, as is the world of work. There are jobs today that simply didn’t exist as little as five or ten years ago and this is a challenge facing educators across the developed world. Whereas schoolteachers are bound to a restrictive curriculum, private tutors have the freedom, especially in the summer to focus on a range of topics and skills. This enables tutors to continue developing academic skills like literacy and numeracy whilst building in new skills. Children in the modern world must ‘learn to learn’ and be able to grasp new technology and ideas quickly. Creating a mindset that helps children see hurdles as challenges rather than obstacles is one of Genie Tutors’ main focuses.


Humans are the master adaptors but we only adapt when provided with new stimulus. All of our tutors are passionate about developing a full range of skills in students to better prepare them for the coming academic year, further education and the world of work.


If you’d like to know more, please enquire through our contact page.

Our Top Tips For Keeping Minds Active Over Summer Holidays

Last week, we shared our thoughts about the proposed reform to school summer holidays, following reports that a Yorkshire Council shortened the school summer holiday by a week to help students retain the information they had learned throughout the school year.

Regardless of your stance on this debate, it has been proven across numerous studies that on average, students score lower on tests at the end of the summer than they do at the beginning of summer (on the same test).

So how can you keep your child’s brain active throughout the summer break and minimise the effects of the summer slide? Here are our top 9 tips!


  1. Get cooking!

With step-by-step recipes, not only do kids get the opportunity to practice their reading skills, but work on following instructions and are encouraged to be creative when decorating. Through working with measurements, scales and quantities, budding chefs are improving their mathematical knowledge whilst having fun (and, causing quite the mess)!


  1. Read!

It may sound obvious, but if no time is put aside for reading then it can easily fall by the wayside. Making sure that you read your child a bedtime story a few times per week, or ask them to read to you whilst you run errands can really help ensure that they stay on top of their learning.


  1. Let them organise trips!

If you’re planning a holiday or a day trip, set your little one the task of planning the logistics around the trip. Give them a map to see if they can trace your proposed route, get directions and research prices of attractions. This not only will help improve their geographical, English and math skills, but teaches them some vital critical thinking.


  1. Look for the lessons out of every activity!

If you are planning on visiting another country, get talking about the history of the place whilst you are there. Taking a trip to the beach? Engage your children in a discussion about ocean life and the water cycle. Even a day out at the cinema can be engaging if you talk about the storyline and the lessons learnt through the narrative.


  1. Keep a diary

Give your kids a plain notebook and art supplies for them to decorate however they’d like and encourage them to keep a diary with a summary of their summer holiday activities in it. This will get them working their artistic skills, handwriting and English – it will also keep them busy for a good half hour of the day, which can’t be bad!


  1. Join an activity group

Get them to join a local activity group. Whether it be a group based in sport, arts or even gaming, being involved in an activity outside of school or home will keep their social skills sharp come September and allows them polish their teamwork skills.


  1. Play games!

Putting aside an hour per week for a family board game session is not just fun, quality family time, many of them offer learning opportunities. Monopoly is great for brushing up on adding and subtracting through money handling, Scrabble is perfect for improving spelling and expanding vocabulary and if you don’t have time to sit down with them, set them some Sudoku puzzles! If you want something a little different you could try Days Of Wonders Games. Ticket to ride is a great game for basic arithmetic.


  1. Find their passion.

At Genie Tutors, we know that learning isn’t all about grades and stats, it’s about giving children the best opportunity to chase their dreams. That’s why you need to show an active interest in their interests and passions, however fleeting. Perhaps they love fashion, car racing, cooking or even One Direction. Either way, put their love to good use and get them to research their interests and keep a scrap book of their favourite things.


  1. Sign up for Genie Tutors!

Love all these ideas but haven’t the time? We understand the struggle that summer holidays can present for working parents. Our centers throughout the country help children engage in interesting learning activities and limit regression over the summer holidays. This allows children to transition smoothly into regular education again in September and be ahead of the curve for the new school year. Find your nearest center here.