Helping your child with reading
Be confident that your child will learn to read. Show that you enjoy reading by having lots of different reading material at home and by giving books as special presents. Children value reading through watching members of their family and write every day. Encourage your child to read anytime, anywhere.
Children often enjoy reading more if it is shared. Make time away from television and interruptions to read aloud with your child. Read in your home language if your first language is not English. Encourage your child to read by sharing such activities as:
- reading signs and posters
- following a street directory
- checking the television guide
- choosing a video
- using a recipe
- reading game rules
- reading the newspaper aloud together
- playing word games including crossword puzzles
- reading instructions
- looking at letterbox leaflets
- finding brands at the shops
- reading magazines comics, poems and rhymes
Listen to your child ready every day. Here are some ideas to use now and then, but remember some reading should just be for pleasure:
- look at the cover, title, pictures and talk about what the book might be about
- talk about the story so far and what might happen next
- after reading, talk about the story and ask questions
- talk about the pictures and how they add meaning to the next
- take turns when ready harder book
Remember the three Ps for new words: pause, prompt, praise. That is, allow your child time to work out the word (pause), use clues taken from the context(prompt) and praise your child for trying. If necessary, however, simply tell your child the word. Talk to your child’s classroom teacher or the principal for further help and advice.
Helping your child with writing
Read your child’s writing or have him or her read the writing to you and comment on the positive aspects. For example, “I really like the way you’ve described this.”
- Praise your child for having a go at writing words that are new and explain how to spell words which are causing difficulty.
- Talk to your child about the choices an author or film maker might make to create a book, play or film in a particular way. Talk about language choices and why characters look or behave in certain ways.
- Read and talk about the writing that your child brings home from school.
- Praise your child for using neat and legible handwriting.
- To help develop spelling and vocabulary, play word games such as I Spy, Scrabble, Boggle, Scattergories and crosswords.
- Have your child label things that he or she designs or makes.
- Make a photo album or scrapbook with your child and have him or her write captions for the photos and pictures, or encourage your child to keep a diary of a special event, e.g. a holiday diary.
- Make the writing of notes, letters and stories a normal part of family life.
- Involve your child in helping to complete forms.
Helping your child with spelling
Many writing activities are related to spelling. Help your child with those areas of spelling with which you feel confident. Remember that not all English words can be spelt correctly by “sounding out”, e.g the words “you” and “said”.
- Talk about how you spell and what you do when you don’t know how to spell a word.
- Have your child write at home, e.g. writing shopping and birthday lists, filling in forms, writing notes to family members, writing phone messages and reminder notes, replying to letters or sending cards.
- Provide a dictionary and use it together. Remember that dictionaries are more useful if your child has a knowledge of the alphabet and how a dictionary works. Talk about how you need to use the dictionary sometimes.
- Encourage your child to practise new words, say them, write them from memory, then check them.
- If your child can’t find a strategy to help spell the word; simply tell them how it’s spelt.
- Encourage your child to try to spell new words, then praise the parts that are correct, and suggest what else is needed. For example, if your child has written “little” for “little” you might say. “You have five of the six letters right. One of the letters should be doubled. Can you tell which one it should be?”
- Teach your child that spell checkers can be useful but are not always effective, e.g., when the child types a word that sounds the same such as “sure “for “shore” or when the computer uses American spelling.
Helping your child with talking and listening
If you are used to speaking a language other than English at home, it is important that you continue to support your child in maintaining the home languages. This will also help your child with English.
The following suggestions apply to all languages, including English.
- Ask your child to talk to you about a wide variety of topics. Tell your child if you are unfamiliar with aspects of the topic and ask for more information.
- Talk with your child about the ideas and events in stories as you read books together.
- Listen to your child as he or she tells you about events that did not involve you. This helps children clarify their ideas and prepares them for writing.
- Sometimes ask your child questions that can have more than one answer, rather than questions that have a very limited response like yes or no.
- Talk about different ways to solve problems.
- Ask your child to give reasons for this or her choices when making a decision. Listen and respond in ways that encourage further thinking aloud, rather than ending the conversation with your opinion.
- Talking with older children is valuable for developing you child’s talking skills. Provide opportunities for children to talk, e.g., planning something together.
- Provide opportunities for your child to listen to and share ideas with a range of people from various backgrounds and age groups.
- Show by your behaviour that you are listening, not just hearing. Build on your child’s responses. Interact with them. Ask questions, add information and make links between ideas.
- Talk at a normal pace and volume and use adult words.
- Talk about ways of talking and listening effectively, e.g. not walking away from the person you are talking to or listening carefully on the phone to remember messages.
Numeracy involves using mathematics efficiently in our day-to-day lives. Every day we use number, measurement and space. Each time we shop or go to the bank we use numbers. Our understanding of space is used to pack a lunch box or to park a car. We need to understand how to measure things when we sew, cook, build, tell the time or listen to a weather report.
One of the earliest skills children have to develop is counting. To “count” we need to match the number words with the correct number of “things”, then we need to remember the numbers in order.
What can you do at home?
- Ask your child to count the number of plates, cups and pieces of cutlery used to set the table.
- Count with your child the number of buttons as you do up a shirt or blouse.
- Encourage your child to count the number of pegs you use to hang out washing.
- Count the number of eggs in a carton, and again after you remove some.
- Count the number if steps it takes to go from the front door to the footpath.
- Play Dominoes, card games and board games involving once or two dice. This will help your child to recognise number patterns.
- Play a game of Snakes and Ladders. Use two dice and encourage your child to add the two numbers rolled.
- Use dice that have numbers instead of dots to help your child read and recognise numbers.
Helping your child with measurement
Children need to observe how measurement is used in practical situations. First, they need to talk about the things that we can measure and the things that we can use to measure them. Then they will need to learn about the units we use for measuring, such as litres, kilograms and metres.
What can you do at home?
- Give your child different sized plastic cups and a larger container to play with in the bath or shower. Encourage your child to guess how many of each cup it will take to fill the container.
- Talk about how many cups of each ingredient are used in a recipe when you are cooking together.
- Put sand in a large plastic tub so children can fill containers with sand. Sieves, colanders, plastic spoons, old clean margarine tubs, plastic bottles and funnels are useful for playing with sand.
- Have children weigh themselves. Weigh other family members and family pets.
- Use modelling dough to roll out two “snakes” of different length. Talk about one snake being “shorter” and the other “longer”.
- Record your child’s growth on a height chart.
- Talk about events in terms of time. For example, “It’s going to take about three minutes to cook this, so you might have time to butter some bread.”
- Mark special events on a calendar and talk about how many days until the event and which day of the week the event will be on.
- Watch the weather report together and talk about the forecasted temperatures for the following day. Ask your child what they might need to wear or have with them.
Helping your child with space
Mathematics is also about ideas relating to shapes, objects and their position. Children need to be able to describes shapes and objects and their position.
What can you do at home?
- Talk about the position of an object when putting it back on a shelf. “The teddy is next to the car.” Let’s put the doll of this box.”
- Look for objects inside or outside that are shaped like a circle, triangle, square or rectangle. Look for different shapes and shapes in different positions.
- Fold paper to make a hat, boat or aeroplane. Talk about the shapes you are making.
- Make your own jigsaw from a picture in a magazine.
- Use boxes and containers of different sizes to play” stacking” games.
- Talk about the route you are taking when walking to school or to the park.
- Make biscuits using cookie cutters or make pretend biscuits from modelling dough. Talk about the shape of each biscuit.
- Involve your child in craft activities such as making your own gift wrapping by printing shapes onto paper using corks, empty cotton reels or sponges.
Source: Taken from brochures ‘Helping your child with numeracy’ and ‘Helping your child with literacy’ funded by the Commonwealth Department of Education in conjunction with the NSW Department of Education and Training.