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Home activities to help your child in the classroom

Improve Literacy Newsletter

15 February 2008 - Issue 2


In this issue:

1. Back to School - Home activities to help your child in the classroom
2. More recommended reading and child literacy websites
3. Readers' tips


Hi everyone!

Now that the school term is well and truly back in session, in this issue we look at activities you can do with your child outside school that can help his or her progress in the classroom - particularly in reading and English language-related disciplines.

Let's get straight into it.


1. Back to School - Activities to Help Your Child in the Classroom

a. Record your child's favorite book

Recording a favourite storybook on to cassette enables younger children to enjoy it again and again. It's great if you can invite other family members to choose a story and record it on tape, or even get them to join in with the reading and play different characters. This keeps things fun and exciting, while the repetitive element allows your child to become familiar with the sounds of words and the musicality of the narrative, and gives an early introduction to vocabulary.

b. Read aloud to your children

Even if your child is able to read on his own and is attending school, it's always a great idea to read aloud to him. Try a book that is just above his current reading level, as more often than not kids are able to understand what is read to them better than what they read to themselves. Even older children enjoy having old favorites read to them.

Encourage younger readers to discuss illustrations or to take turns reading out loud. You can never underestimate the importance of spending time out of school reading their favourite books with them.

c. Talk about words

Talk about the written words you see around you every day. Ask your child to find a new word each time you go out. Whether it's at home, on a trip to the shops, at the local library or the zoo, make sure you give everything a name, ask your child questions, and discuss new and interesting words and objects. Point things out to your child, and you are more likely to develop a fast learner.

d. Keep reading fun

Let your child learn to associate reading with fun, not just with 'school'. Preventing reading from becoming a chore and just an activity that children are forced to do against their will is a big challenge for parents. A great way to achieve this is to create a special place where you and your child can read. This could be a favourite corner of the couch, a 'furniture tent', or even somewhere like a treehouse or a den in the garden.

e. Lunchbox Notes

Secretly tucking small notes inside children's lunchboxes or schoolbags can give them a lovely surprise when they discover them. Lunchbox notes will encourage reading and remind children how special and loved they are. You can download some from Reading Rockets website: http://www.readingrockets.org/books/fun/notes

f. Discuss your child's reading progress with teachers

Don't be afraid to approach your child's teachers and ask them how she is doing in class. If you have real concerns, try to organise an after school hours meeting with the teacher, and prepare a list of questions you might want to ask about how you can help your child to improve in reading, or in class in general.

g. Check your child's homework each night

This will show your child that you are supportive and interested, as well as allowing you to monitor his progress and keep problems in check.

h. Limit TV viewing on school nights

Rather than banning television viewing altogether, some parents find success in using TV as an incentive to encourage their child to do his homework. The best outcome would be to replace the TV viewing with a cosy reading session, which can be just as enjoyable for all parties involved. If the book you are reading together is a school book, so much the better.

i. Just ask!

Simply ask your children how their day at school was, and what they did. Then ask them to tell you all about it, as well as what books they read, and what happened in them. You may be surprised to find that they want to read them again with you at home.


2. More recommended reading and child literacy websites

Continuing on from our last issue, here are four more reading and child literacy websites that we recommend. We've written a brief critique of each one:

Reading is Fundamental - http://www.rif.org - America's largest non-profit children's and family literacy organization, with advice, tips, articles and activities for educators and parents. Has a good online read-aloud-stories section and a handy 'RIF Favorites' list on the homepage.

Kid Source - http://www.kidsource.com - Not the most engaging looking website, but holds a vast amount of useful information about child education, healthcare and literacy. Includes forums, articles and an online store. A great reference site.

Kids' Reads - http://www.kidsreads.com - Offers an exhaustive list of the latest (and older) children's books, as well as contests, book reviews, author interviews, biographical information and even tips about starting a book club! It has some good and quirky categories to keep it interesting for young readers.

Reading A-Z - http://www.readinga-z.com - offers thousands of printable teacher materials to teach guided reading, phonemic awareness, reading comprehension, reading fluency, alphabet, and vocabulary. Slightly drier than the other sites, but an impressive resource if you want to get to grips with the more technical aspects of literacy and reading.


3. Readers' Tips

Sally from Bristol, UK says: "While I'm working in the kitchen, my son sticks letter fridge magnets to the fridge door and tries to imitate the sound of the letters. He is now just starting to create simple words. It's great because I can keep an eye on him, and even ask him easy questions about the words and sounds".

Niamh from Launceston, Australia says: "I helped my four-year-old make a bookworm out of some card, which he then coloured in. Now whenever we finish a chapter of a storybook we add a bit more decoration to the bookworm. He loves to see the bookworm develop, and pleads with me to read with him so he can add more to it!"

Wendy from Framingham, US says: "My daughter and I choose a recipe from a cookbook once a week. I ask her to read out the ingredients from the book and write them down on a shopping list. Then when we are at the grocery store I encourage her to read the product labels and ask her if there are any new ingredients that she hasn't heard of. She loves the fact that she has been involved in making the meal and is learning too".

Keep sending in any tips that work for you, and we will try to show them in future editions.

 
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