Now my little girl is at big school her learning journey is just beginning. As a parent it all seems very different from when I was at school. Maths is apparently taught by something rather sinister sounding called "chunking" - the mysteries of which I have yet to be initiated into. Reading is now dominated by phonics although there is still much debate about whether this really is the right way to teach literacy.
Numbers are not my strong point so I have outsourced maths to my husband and I'm going to be focusing on reading and writing. This means I have been researching what ideas and resources are out there to help young children with their literacy and I thought I would share what I have found with you on my blog.
Thank goodness for the internet! There are some fantastic online resources out there for parents and one that I would recommend is Twinkl. This site is designed for primary teachers and home educators and has some wonderful ideas for learning through play and worksheets that are free to download. They really know their stuff about education and its great because you know that they tie their resources in with the national curriculum so you know that they will link it perfectly with what your child is learning at school.
I have also just found the Reading Eggs site an interactive site that helps children with literacy from the ages of 3 through to 13. Although you do have to pay for this site you can get a trial lesson for free and it looks like it could be fun and engaging for young children.
Of course good old Cbeebies can also help too. If you go to their games section the Alphablocks game is a simple, easy and free way to help your child learn their letter sounds.
Learning At Home
There are load of fun activities that you can do at home with your children to encourage reading and writing skills. Here are just a few - they are really simple and don't take long to do but I think they are fun and effective:
- You could make a 'letter jar' with your child. All you need is an old jam jar or tin. Fill it with small squares of card with either individual letters or letter sounds such as 'th' and 'oo' on them (remember to put duplicates of vowels in). Then let your child delve in and pick out some letters. You can discuss the individual letters and see what words you can make from them (a bit like Countdown for four year olds). To make it even more exciting you could add some stickers or sweets into the jar too and let your child take one at the end!
- Personally I have found that a good way to encourage your child to write is by getting them to help you make lists. I usually ask my daughter to help me write my shopping list and this makes her feel very important. It also shows children that there is actually a purpose to writing and how it is important in every day life. As Christmas is getting nearer it might also be fun to get them writing letters to Santa or Christmas lists - what greater incentive for a child to learn to write than to be able to ask for presents!!
- Keep it simple. Obviously you are not going to be starting on the Tolstoy just yet but you don't even have to begin teaching your child to read by reading books. Whilst some children love to sit reading books and have the patience for it others (particularly boys) don't and I think for those children you need reading to be quicker and more interactive. You could go for a walk around town and have a go at reading the street signs and road names. Or you could set up a treasure hunt round the house with simple written clues that they have to read to get round the trail and win the prize.
- Play sight word bingo. There are some words that can't really be sounded out or that are used to often that it is beneficial for the children to learn them by sight. These are usually small words such as "the, it, and, of etc". Write these words in a grid and get your child to place a small treat on each word as you call them out. When they have a full house they get to eat the treats!
Hopefully these tips will be helpful. It is also very important to remember not to worry (easier said that done though!). Children learn at their own pace and pushing them to hard in the early years can do more damage than good - let them have fun with reading and writing and you might even have some fun too!