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Improve Literacy Newsletter

19 January 2010 -- Issue 20

Hi there!

As it's the start of a new year we thought it would be a good idea to get back to basics with some hints and tips on getting your child into the swing of the school year.

Let's get started!

In this issue:

1. 5 steps to 'back to school' success
2. Recommended websites that can help you and your child prepare for school
3. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter
4. The Improve Literacy website

1. 5 steps to 'back to school' success

a) Go and meet the teacher

If you know that your child has any academic weaknesses or issues then this is a great opportunity to raise these with the teacher. If it's a teacher she has had before, it's still a good idea to catch up, to see if there is anything he or she can offer YOU advice on, from a home education point of view. You could also ask the teacher to provide regular feedback on your child's performance, not just in reading but in all subjects.

b) Establish a routine

After the chaos of the Christmas holiday, it's important to introduce some structure back into kids' lives to get them used to school life again. Having a fixed reading time before bedtime is a great way to do this, and it also allows a good opportunity for some good parent-child bonding.

c) Limit TV & computer time

With the right content, television and computers can be useful intellectual stimuli for a young child, but excessive viewing, particularly of entertainment TV shows, is of no real educational value, and can be a real distraction for lots of kids. It's a good idea to limit TV and computer game time, or if that isn't easy, at least try to introduce educational content into the 'mix'.

d) Review their school books

Talk with your little one about the books he is going to be reading and studying this academic year, and show interest and enthusiasm in the subjects in question. You'll be surprised how quickly it rubs off! Talking about similar topics and/or books that you read when you were at school is a good way to show your child the natural progression of the learning process, and introduces some familiarity into their study routine.

e) Lead by example!

Show your child that reading isn't just for the classroom, and let her see you reading in and around the home. This will allow her to make a connection between reading and everyday life. You could also read aloud to your child, even when he has started school. Reading his school books aloud to him is a great way to get him familiar with the stories, and helps set the context for when he goes to read it on his own.

2. Recommended websites that can help you and your child prepare for school

Below is a selection of websites and resources we would recommend visiting for good advice on getting your child prepared for the school year ahead.

a. Family Education -

This fabulous and very detailed website breaks down its information in a number of different ways. Whether it's helpful hints and tips broken down by school grade level, advice on different academic subject, school resources or even special needs, it's pretty much all there in an easy to access and easy to read format.

b. Kidspot -

Kidspot's Back to School section houses a useful checklist of objects and paraphernaliafor parents of kids going back to school, such as lunch box stickers, school supplies and stationery. It also has handy articles and even lunchbox recipe suggestions in a vibrant and usable design.

c. Reading is Fundamental -

As you might expect, the Reading is Fundamental website's Back to School section focuses on ways to get young children back into reading and writing now that school is back in session. The site provides Back-to-School booklists, advice for parents of emerging readers, hints and tips for Back-to-school reading, and innovative ideas for educators to start the school year.

d. Reading Rockets -

The Reading Rockets website has wide-ranging advice for parents of students in their first school year. Ranging from tips about reading together to finding out who's who at your child's school, it's a site that can be relied on as trusted resource.

e. Kids Health -

The Kids Health website provides more general tips and advice to children who are starting school, such as what they should expect on the first day, what they should do if the first day doesn't meet their expectations, and a few simple health and diet tips to give them the best shot at ensuring their school term starts well.

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