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Learning at home

Your child’s learning doesn’t have to start and stop at the school gate. You can help your child’s learning every day, by supporting and encouraging them and being excited by their learning. Here are some ideas to keep them developing their literacy and numeracy skills at home.

Make reading fun!

Reading at home should be fun and easy – something you both look forward to – a time for laughter and talk. It’s important that you share the reading, taking turns; this can be page by page or night by night. But if your child just wants to listen to you read then that’s alright to as all children like to be read to. Perhaps you could visit the library together and help your child choose books to be shared. Another idea is to read emails from family or whanau aloud, this makes the reading experience very personal and helps your child to link stories to their own life. Remind them about what they have done when a similar thing happens in the story.

Talk about reading

Talk about pictures in the books you are reading, if your child doesn’t know a word have them talk about what’s in the picture. It’s also nice to sing songs and waiata or read poems or make up silly rhymes – all add to your child’s literacy skills. It’s also important to be a role-model for your child; if they see you enjoying and talking about what you’re reading. If you’re out and about, either walking or on the bus, make sure to point out words on signs, shops and labels – these are often accompanied by pictures which can help your child figure out the words. Of course there are the favourites of any road trip…word games like “I Spy” and “Simon Says…”

Give them reasons to write

Write to each other. Write notes to your child and leave them in interesting places, like their lunch box. Ask them to write a reply. As they get a bit older you can have them write letters and notes to family members who live in different parts of the city or country…and make sure your family write back! Or you could help your child email or text. It’s important to celebrate your child’s work – a great idea is to display their work. Put it on the fridge. Be proud of it. Share it with family and friends! Whenever possible encourage your child to write, try and have pens, felts or pencils easily accessible and some scrap paper or cardboard.

Have fun with numbers and patterns
Maths is an important part of everyday life and there are lots of ways you can make it fun for your child.
Help your child to find numbers around your home and neighbourhood – clocks, letterboxes, speed signs. Count forwards and backwards (clocks, fingers and toes, letterboxes, action rhymes, signs). Try and make patterns when counting “clap 1, stamp 2, clap 3, stamp 4, clap 5…”. You can help your child learn even when they’re playing, such as doing sums using objects such as stones or marbles eg 2 + 3, 4 +1, 5 + 4. Playing card games and board games are great ways to learn maths and have fun!

Language of Learning

Cultivating positive learning experiences and successful learners is dependent on a successful partnership between home and school. I encourage parents to use ‘the language of learning’ when children come home from school to avoid the dreaded “ok”; “nothing” or “boring” responses to routine “how was school?” questions. Thinking Cap Instead of only asking ‘how was school today?’ try:

25 Alternatives To “What’d You Learn In School Today?”

When did you notice yourself most interested and curious today?
Was there a time today when you were especially confused? How did you respond?
What is one thing that was hard to believe? Not confusing, but surprising?
If you were more ____ today, how would it have impacted the day?
When were you most creative today?
Tell me one fun thing you learned, one useful thing you learned, and one extraordinary thing you learned.
What does a successful day at school look like to you? Feel like?
What sort of different reasons do your friends go to school?
Who worked harder today, the teacher or the students?
How else could you have learned what the teacher taught?
How do your teachers show they care?
What do you know, and how do you know it?
What would you like to know more about?
What is the most important thing you learned today? The least?
Tell me one chance you took today, and how it ended up.
What is one thing you learned from a book?
What is one thing you learned from a friend?
What is one thing you learned from a teacher?
What still confuses you?
What is something you say or heard that stuck with you for some reason?
Based on what you learned today in ______ class, what do you think you’ll learn tomorrow?
Tell me three facts, two opinions, and one idea you heard today.
What should you do with what you’ve learned?
When did you surprise yourself today?
What’s stopping you from being an (even more) amazing learner?

Here are a few others that parents have found useful…

“What great questions did you ask today?”
“What did you discover?”
“What surprised you?”
“Where did you travel to?”
“Why are you learning that?”
“How do you know you are learning?”
“What did you learn/do that made you smile today?
“What was your favorite part of school today?”
“Tell me your favorite moment at school today.”
“If you had been responsible for the lesson, what would you have emphasised or done differently? Why?”
“what was your “good” for today? What was your “bad”?”
“What did you improve today?”
“What challenged your thinking?”
“How did you contribute to other student’s learning?”
“What touched your heart today?”
“Did you experience anything at school that motivates you to make a difference in the world?”
“Did you experience any “aha’s” today – understanding or seeing something differently than you previously had?”
“Did you experience any moments of full enjoyment in learning today? If so, when and how?”
“Did you invent or create anything new today?”