Lady Elizabeth Hastings

  1. For Parents
  2. Home Learning

Home Learning Ideas

Reading

Reading has proven to have many cognitive benefits—not only for children, but also for adults. Increased concentration, mental stimulation, vocabulary expansion, memory improvement and the building of knowledge are just some of the benefits of reading. Below are the top five tips to support your child’s reading at home.

1. Read everything you see and encourage your child to do so too

Encouraging your child to read everything they come across will stimulate their curiosity for the world around them. For example, when children start to read newspapers, magazines or even store names, they will begin to make connections between words and their understanding of the world.  

2. Use fun and inventive ways to practice spelling words with your children

Making reading fun will help your child practice spelling and leave them feeling more engaged. Spelling games also help to reinforce familiar spelling patterns. Hundreds of spelling games can be found online, but some of the classics include HangmanText Twist and Word Search.  

3. Embolden your child to go beyond their comfort zone

Children respond to positive reinforcement. If your child appears intimidated to reading longer books or words, encourage them to take it one step at a time. Instead of reading an entire chapter of a long book, perhaps you can challenge them to reading just one page or one paragraph of a book. If your child has problems reading a new word, you may want to help them sound out each syllable and explain the meaning of a word. 

4. Make reading an enjoyable activity

Set time aside so that your child can curl up on a couch to read. Spending quality time next to them reading and letting them know that they can ask questions also reinforces a positive association to reading. By creating an environment which makes reading enjoyable and relaxing, your child is more likely to read without seeing it as homework or a chore. Books do not always have to challenge a child. Encourage them to just read and explore the story and ask them what they think about the book.

5. Share your enthusiasm for reading with your child

Parents can be the best promoter for reading. When children see their parent’s enthusiasm for a book, a story in the newspaper or magazine, they are more inclined to be interested in reading the same story. If you happen to read something interesting on the internet, or in a book, share with your child why you found it interesting and incite a discussion around the topic. You can also ask your child to help you choose a book that they are excited to read.

Writing

It’s an important form of communication and a key part of education. But in today’s technology-driven world, kids aren’t given many opportunities to practise and improve their ability to write. This leaves many parents wondering how to improve their child’s writing skills.

It takes time to develop strong writing skills, and it can be a tough task to accomplish. Thankfully, there are many things that parents can do at home to help improve children’s writing skills.

1 Create writing worksheets

For young children just learning to write, try creating a worksheet where they can trace letters and words. Write out letters and words, place another piece of paper on top, and have your child trace onto the blank piece of paper. You can also create a connect-the-dots game by having your child trace along dotted lines and then tell you which letter or word she or he finds.

2. Try different materials

Switch it up by writing with something other than a pen or pencil. Sidewalk chalk on the driveway, finger painting, or a salt writing tray are all fun writing activities that will also help build kids’ writing skills.

3. Write letters

Today, writing letters is a bit of a lost art. Encourage your child to write letters to friends or family members. Distant family members will especially love receiving handwritten letters and it’s a great way to work on improving writing skills for kids. Pen-pals are also a fun idea, or you can even write letters to each other and leave them around the house to find

4. Encourage journealling

Keeping a journal is a great way to express thoughts and ideas while also working on improving children’s writing skills. Plan an outing to pick a fun journal with your child and encourage them to write in it as much as possible. Make it a part of his or her daily routine.

5. Create a writing space

Set aside a little corner in your house that is completely devoted to writing. Having an area dedicated solely to writing will help free your child from distractions so he or she can focus on practicing writing skills.

6. Invest time

Make sure your child knows you’re available to help with spelling or proofreading whenever he or she needs it. When you make writing time a priority for you, it will make it easier for your child to improve his or her writing skills.

7. Connect their interests

Think about your son or daughter’s favourite book series. Or maybe he or she is obsessed with dinosaurs. Whatever his or her interests, connect them to writing. Have your child write a new short story about his or her favourite characters, or let him or her create a story all about dinosaurs.

8. Create story prompts

A fun way to improve kids’ creative writing skills is to have them write short stories. Cut out pictures from a magazine with different characters or locations, or write down different words. Place these in a container or glue them to cards to use as writing prompts for creating a unique story. This also makes a fun activity for the whole family to join in.

9. Model it

There’s no better way to learn something than to see someone else doing it. Let your children see you writing, often. When writing is a normal part of your daily life, it will come more naturally to them. Anything goes: a simple grocery list or letter to the teacher, holiday or thank you cards, or even a sweet note to your child.

10. Use technology to your advantage

There’s no getting around the fact that technology plays a huge part in our lives. Use it to your advantage by having your child create a blog. This can help your child work on improving his or her writing skills by encouraging frequent writing habits.

11. Make it part of your daily routine

Make sure there’s time each day to do some writing in one way or another. Whether it’s writing a grocery list, writing in a journal or composing a letter, practicing writing every day will go a long way to improving kids’ writing skills.

12. Praise their work

Show lots of interest in your child’s writing and stories. Ask questions, celebrate when he or she brings home a good piece from school, and encourage his or her writing as much as possible.

Maths

1. Discuss Maths with your Child at Home

Talking about mathematics in contexts such as cooking, crafts, travelling, and playing with your children is the best way to make this discipline an active part of your children’s day-to-day lives. For them, using maths will become just as normal as everything else. 

Environment is key: as long as you provide a reason for children to discuss maths, they will do so. This is why it’s up to parents and carers to lay the foundations for future academic success. The more you talk about math in a positive way around your children, the more likely they are to start taking a personal interest in it. Do not hesitate to ask them questions about maths, for example, ask them how to solve mathematical calculations while baking or on a walk. Exercises like this will help develop their recall skills and put them at ease with maths, making for a smooth transition into technical learning in the future.

2. Learn Maths Through Playing Games

Playing cool maths games with your children will also provide you with a good opportunity to learn basic maths. Learn about counting, sorting, telling time, number sense, comparing, reasoning, probability, estimation, and rounding in primary maths. For example, you could ask your children to measure the amount of pasta in a bowl or count the pieces while you cook. Lego may also be used to visualise operations such as addition and subtraction or multiplication and division. For the younger children attending preschool, why not get them to colour in digits to teach them about writing numbers?

3. Use Your Child’s Interests to Help with Maths

You will be pleasantly surprised to see how quickly kids learn when they’re enjoying themselves. There are also many free maths websites with lots of math resources, puzzles and fun maths games for kids such as TopMarks Maths and Math Playground. You could even download a free math app onto your tablet. Some budding mathematicians may even learn math at home without knowing that it is related to their studies at school. Learning to identify your children’s interests and include them in their education is an excellent way to keep them engaged.

4. See Maths in Everyday Life

For many children, there is no real link between the content of their maths lessons and everyday life. However, there is an opportunity to demonstrate this link in your home, in your garden, or while doing the weekly shop. For instance, ask your children about counting the change in your purse or to calculate the total sum of your purchases as you make your way around the shop. If you enjoy cooking, why not give your child the role of sous-chef for the day and get them to help with the recipe? Measure the amounts of flour, sugar, count the eggs, convert the measurements from imperial to metric and estimate the cooking time, converting minutes into hours and using the clock to work out when your cake will be baked. All of a sudden you’ll see how removing the pressure of timed maths tests makes learning easy, as children learn to appreciate the applications of maths in a given situation. This method of learning is far more fun than spending hours on math worksheets, homework or maths quiz questions.

5. See More than One Solution to a Maths Problem

Children need to learn that math is more than calculators and equals signs. There are always several ways to solve any maths problem nd many maths tricks that will make your life easier. For example, for simple operations and estimation, why use a calculator when mental calculation can save you time? By showing them that there are several paths to the same answer, you will help kids develop critical thinking and logic skills as they learn to consider each approach.

6. Create a Suitable Environment for Learning Maths 

Children develop their early maths skills by getting to know the world around them. It is the responsibility of the parents to develop and nurture this natural curiosity by sharing their personal experiences with maths and helping children to appreciate that maths all around them. For instance, point out the mathematical elements of how their house has been built and look closely at the bookshelf that their Dad made. You could even try modelling this with Lego bricks. However, it is impossible to do well in maths if you’re working in the wrong kind of environment. Whether it’s sitting down to do maths homework or to have a private maths lesson, trying to concentrate in a busy or disorganised area can be too difficult for some. Give your child a learning corner decorated with a number line and with kids learning games and educational toys such as building cubes or modelling clay, so they are free to feed their appetite for knowledge in a calm and familiar environment.