One of the most common questions parents ask me as an Early Years Teacher is “What can we do to help our child ‘s learning at home?”.
Whether it be reading, writing, spelling or mathematics, whether the child is excelling, struggling or simply cruising along, there are always things you can do at home to support what your child is learning in school.
The education of a child is a three-way partnership between the teacher, the parent and the school.
There’s a lot of debate regarding the amount of homework children are being set these days, and this will, of course, depend on the individual teacher and the school’s homework policy. The reality is that it’s here and if parents have some great ideas and can make learning at home enjoyable and fun then everybody wins.
Believe me when I say that homework doesn’t always have to involve a pencil and paper.
Creative ways to support your child’s learning at home
To put it simply, the more kids read the better they’ll get. Daily reading to your child, listening to your child read, talking about books, borrowing from the library and reading print in every day life all culminates to effective reading habits. It helps too if the books they chose are about topics of their interest.
Be sure that your child is comprehending what they’re reading and not just reciting words on the page without gaining any meaning. Those tricky sight words such as said, they and was may need extra practise because they aren’t spelt as they sound. The English language can be difficult for little people!
Spelling and Writing
Once your child has a solid grasp of the alphabet they will begin to combine letters together to form words. Encourage them to keep a diary, write about the exciting things they’ve done on the weekend or a special holiday they’ve been on. Write the shopping list, write a recipe, write a story. It’s perfectly fine in the beginning that their stories will be full of ‘inventive spelling’, in which case most words are spelt incorrectly, but this will generally improve as they expand their word bank. Again, tricky words may need additional revision.
Here are some fun ways to practise spelling words:
Mathematics & Daily Life Skills
Generally speaking, more of the homework time is spent on English rather than Maths, but if your child needs extra help here are some games and resources that could really help:
There’s a lot of mathematical learning that can happen on the go. Practise counting and adding in the car, look for speed signs and read numbers on number plates. Examine letterboxes on your street and explore the odd numbers on one side and evens on the other. Measure quantities of ingredients when you’re cooking in the kitchen, add up pocket money ready to go to the shops, go on a shape hunt around your house, yard or playground or create shapes like these pictured below!
Children also need a chance to play after school. They’ve spent six hours in a classroom and will have a lot of built up energy to burn off when they get home. Of course family lives are busy with after school commitments, parents working, dinner to be cooked and a million other things so it might help to establish a homework routine and schedule.
Don’t discount play time. There’s a lot of valuable learning opportunities that can happen as children play make believe and develop physical skills. Construction type play with Lego or blocks is another example or learning through play, even some quiet screen time with some educational apps on the iPad are a good option.
If in doubt about your child’s progress in any of these areas, speak to their teacher who I’m sure can give you a bucket load more ideas of what you can try at home.