Reading at home
Make reading fun
Reading at home needs to be fun and easy – something you both look forward to, a time for laughter and talk.
- find a comfortable, quiet place away from the TV for the 2 of you to cosy up and read for 10-15 minutes
- if you or your child start to feel stressed, take a break and read the rest of the story aloud yourself – keep it fun
- make some puppets – old socks, cardboard tubes, cut-outs on sticks – that you and your child can use to act out the story you have read. Or dress up and make it into a play
- play card games (you can make the cards yourself)
- read songs, poems and rhymes - sing them together, too.
Here's a tip - when they are reading, your child will still be coming across words they don’t know. When this happens, you could remind them to think about what they already know to do when they get stuck. If that doesn’t help you might ask "What word would make sense that starts like that?" or "What do you know about that word that might help?" If they still can’t work it out – tell them and praise their efforts.
Take your child to the library
- help them choose books to share
- find other books by the same author or on the same topic (or look for more information on the web – you might have to be the reader for this one).
Here's a tip - help 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 the story and the pictures, other stories you have read, and experiences you have both had that are like those in the story
- Sometimes you can be the listener, sometimes the reader and sometimes you can take turns. They might like to read to the cat, the dog, their teddy or a big brother/ sister
- All children like to be read to, so don’t stop reading to them – no matter how old they are
- Encourage your child to read all sorts of things – the TV guide in the newspaper, street signs, food labels. Simple recipes are great – you get to eat what you’ve read about, too.
Here's a tip - talk with your child all the time – and give them time to talk with you.
Writing at home
Make writing fun
- encourage your child to write – on paper or on the computer. It is OK for you to help and share the writing. Give lots of praise
- make a photo book and get your child to write captions
- scrapbooks are fun, too. Old magazine or newspaper pictures about a favourite subject, dogs, your family, motorbikes or the latest toy craze, pasted on to blank pages – with room for captions or stories, too
- play with words. Finding and discussing interesting new words can help increase the words your child uses when they write. Look up words in the dictionary or on the Internet or talk to family to find out more about the meaning.
Here's a tip - talk a lot to your child while you are doing things together. Use the language that works best for you and your child.
Give them reasons to write
Help your child to:
- write lists – ‘Things I need from the shop’, ‘Games to play when I am bored’, ‘Things I want to do in the holidays’. The last one can be cut up and go into a box or bag for a lucky dip when the holidays finally arrive
- write out recipes or instructions for other people to follow (especially fun if the instructions are for an adult)
- keep a diary, especially if you are doing something different and exciting. Your child can draw the pictures or stick in photos. Their diary could be a webpage on the computer
- write letters, cards, notes and emails to friends and family and the Tooth Fairy – you might write replies sometimes, too
- cut out letters from old magazines and newspapers to make messages write messages for others to find in their lunch box or under their pillow.
Here's a tip - display their work. Put it on the fridge. Be proud of it. Share it with others.
Talk about their writing
- Make up a different ending for a favourite story together and get them to write it down
- Ask them to write about pictures they draw. Get them to tell you the story
- Keep writing fun and use any excuse you can think of to encourage your child to write about anything, any time.
Mathematics at home
Talk together and have fun with numbers and patterns
Help your child to:
- find and connect numbers around your home and neighbourhood; eg find 7, 17 and 27 on letterboxes
- count forwards and backwards starting with different numbers
- make patterns when counting forwards and backwards
- do addition and subtraction problems by counting forwards or backwards in their heads
Here's a tip - being positive about mathematics is really important for your child’s learning – even if you didn’t enjoy it or do well at it yourself at school.
Use easy, everyday activities
Involve your child in:
- sorting (washing, odd socks, toys, cans) while tidying up
- telling you what their favourite things are – food, sport, colour reading - notice and talk about numbers.
- ask questions about the pictures like “how many birds are there?”
- a shape and number search together wherever you are, like numbers of shoes, shapes of doors and windows.
Here's a tip - mathematics is an important part of everyday life and there are lots of ways you can make it fun for your child.
For school holidays/weekends
Get together with your child and:
- use mathematics words during play (treasure hunts, obstacle courses, building huts) - "under', "over", 'between", 'around", "behind", "up", "down', "heavy", "light', 'round", "your turn next","before", "after", "left" and "right", "square", "triangle"
- play with big cardboard boxes using words like "inside", "outside"
- play games and do puzzles; eg jigsaws, "I spy something that is longer, bigger, smaller than..."
- do water play using different shaped containers and measuring cups
- bake – talk to your child about the recipe/ingredients and how many pieces you need to feed everyone
- dance to music and sing/clap to favourite songs, make and play stick games, make up addition and subtraction problems using numbers to 20 look at a calendar – "how many days/weeks until an event?", "how many days in the month?", "how many weekends?".
- Encourage your child to look for patterns.
Here's a tip - the way your child is learning to solve mathematics problems may be different from when you were at school. Get them to show you how they do it and support them in their learning.