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Reading and Writing at Home

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Q1  How can I help with reading and writing?

How do children learn to read?
If I am listening to my child read, and they get stuck on a word, what should I do?

Q2  How should I approach homework?

Too little homework
Too much homework
Homework that is too difficult
Knowing when your child does or does not get homework
Marking and feedback by teachers
Finding a quiet space for your child to do homework

Q3  How can DynaMo help with home-learning?

Q1    How can I help with reading and writing?

Young children learn a great deal from parents about reading and writing, before they start school. They learn to talk and listen to what you say. They learn about looking at books, asking questions about stories and starting to write.

When they go to school, the help you give them is just as important. The more chances your child has to enjoy reading and writing at home, the better. Little and often works well.

With young children it helps to:

read stories together
talk about the story together
let them see you reading and writing
make shopping lists together
help them to read signs and labels when you're out together
visit the public library
share songs and rhymes
listen to tapes of books and songs
talk about TV programmes

With older children it helps to:

read with them and talk about ideas in information books, stories, newspapers or magazines about hobbies, music, TV, sport
encourage them to read 'everyday' print - in DIY manuals, TV guides, catalogues
give them plenty of chances for writing - in notebooks, diaries, scrapbooks or on a computer
help them to notice the spellings of common words, e.g. because, many
help them to read signs and labels when you're out together
encourage them to look at words
check and remember how words that they use often are spelt




How do children learn to read?

Children learn to read best when they have many ways of working out the meaning. These are like searchlights. The more lights that are turned on, the easier it is for them to read.

The 'lights' include:

the sounds of letters
the shapes of letters and words (that they recognise by sight)
the meaning (what will come next?)

The more opportunities that children have at school and at home to enjoy reading, the sooner they begin to be confident about it.



If I am listening to my child read, and they are stuck on a word, what should I do?

You could:

let them read on; they may be able to work out the word
point to a picture, if this helps them with the meaning
give them the first or last sound and see if they can read the word
read the word for them

You could read along with them. If they are stuck, first pause, then prompt, then praise.

Encourage them to talk about the ideas in the story.



Q2    How should I approach homework?

It is good for children to do some school-related activity every day at home throughout the year. In the early years, from age 3 to 7, this means 15 to 30 minutes a day:

drawing
looking at picture books
listening to stories
telling stories
making something to take to school
reading with your child
playing word or number games

It is recommended that junior schools set about 30 minutes homework a night, for children to practise what they have been taught and to develop independent learning skills.

The quality of homework tasks and children's sense of achievement is more important than the amount of time it takes.

It is also essential that children have a balanced life, including time for physical activities outdoors, social activities and personal interests.

However, homework can be a difficult issue for parents. The most common concerns are:

too little homework
too much homework
homework that is too difficult
knowing when your child does or does not get homework
marking and feedback by teachers
finding a quiet space for your child to do homework

These questions should be addressed in the school's homework policy, if it has one.
First of all, discuss the issue with your child's class teacher and find out what the policy says should be happening. You can ask the teacher or school office for a copy of the policy.

However, some schools don't have a written homework policy. Different teachers in the same school can have very different views on homework. Some primary teachers are completely against setting homework, while others regularly give children activities to take home from the very start. This can be very confusing for parents and reflects badly on the school. If this is the case, take it up with the head teacher or chair of governors.




Too little homework

If you feel your child has too little homework, ask the teacher to set appropriate activities for your child to take home. Towards the end of term you can ask teachers to give activities or suggest materials for the school holidays.

Too much homework

If you feel your child has too much homework, set out the reasons why you think it is too much:

Is your child getting tired?
Is the work too difficult to do in the time available?
Is the homework boring or inappropriate?
Does it all come in a rush, instead of being spread out over the week?
Does your child have other interests that you want them to follow?

Discuss these reasons with your child's teacher.

Homework that is too difficult

If the homework is too difficult, find out from your child what the difficulty is and encourage them to discuss it with the teacher, or talk with the teacher yourself. It does not help your child to do their homework for them. You can help your child by asking questions which encourage them to remember what they have been taught or to look things up.

Knowing when your child does or does not get homework

If you don't know whether or not your child gets homework, ask the teacher to set it regularly on the same days each week or to use a homework journal.

Marking and feedback by teachers

Your child needs clear feedback on homework, so that they know what they did well and how they could do better. If they are not getting this and you are concerned about how your child's homework is marked or discussed by teachers, raise your concerns with the teacher first of all. If you are not satisfied, go to the head of department or head teacher.

Finding a quiet space for your child to do homework

If you have difficulty finding a quiet space where your child can do homework, ask your school if they have a quiet area for work after school. Many schools and public libraries are now setting up homework clubs.

Q3    How can DynaMo help with home-learning?

DynaMo introduces dynamic learning - a new way for children to learn using:

Television
Internet
Videos
Activity books

Each part of the service provides fun, educational games, ideas and things to do that complement and support children's work at school. By using DynaMo, children reinforce key skills involved in reading and writing, number, time, shape, science and history.

There's a guide to the service available on this site or you can phone 0181 746 1111 for programme listings and more information.




 

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