As the lockdown continues, we’re sure you must be running out of ways to entertain your child, never mind keep them engaged in learning. In previous blogs, we’ve offered suggestions of how to make the most of home learning, so now – especially as we enter the holiday period – we thought you might appreciate some ideas for fun games you can play with your child that are also educational, so they will be improving their literacy skills without even realising.
Even once Term 4 resumes, you might find these games make a welcome break from your child’s daily learning, so keeping one or more as part of your daily routine will be a great way of building their vocabulary and phonemic development.
Play word games while walking with the family – I Spy, finding something beginning with a certain sound. This is an easy one that you don’t need any materials for and takes very little effort. Be sure to use sounds rather than the letter names, which will better assist their reading acquisition.
Make a treasure hunt in the garden or house with clues they have to read. This game requires a little more time investment and creativity, but is great fun and the reward mechanism involved is something children love. It might be somewhat onerous to make this a daily, or even weekly activity, but every couple of weeks or once a month is a good idea, as it gives your child something to look forward to – and gives you the time to think up more creative clues and hiding places.
Invest in some crossword puzzle books, or download some printable crosswords and do them together. Easy crosswords are fun and educational, such as these: https://www.puzzles-to-print.com/crossword-puzzles-for-kids/ We also love this website, which has crosswords based on the books of Roald Dhal. This is a great way to combine reading and games. You can spend time reading the books first, then work on the puzzles, which is a clever and fun way to nurture comprehension.
Word searches are fun too, but it’s important for younger children to source puzzles that use lowercase fonts. You can find some lower case printable wordsearch puzzles here https://30seconds.com/mom/tip/15256/Printable-Word-Search-Puzzles-for-Kids-10-Activities-That-Help-With-Spelling-Vocabulary-Memory-Much-More
Download and work through the ICR Literacy Guides. Head to the RESOURCES page of our website, where you can request our Literacy Guides, which break down reading development into easy bite-sized chunks, with guidance on each topic. We post a new guide every month, so you can request all of the guides currently available, then check in each month to get the next issue.
Set aside time for reading together each day – making it fun. Not all children have a natural love of reading, so if reading time feels stressful for your child, or they find it difficult, they are going to resist. Think of ways to make this a special time of the day for them. For many children, simply having some quiet, uninterrupted time with you and reading together and maybe enjoy their favourite drink or snack as a treat is enough. But you can also get creative with this, and have your child create a tent where you can snuggle up together and read, or if the sun is shining, make a little picnic in the garden to accompany your reading time. Take the time to invest in making this essential learning time special and in no time you won’t have to persuade your child to read – they will be the one reminding you.
Make a list of words and play a “yes” or “no” game to work out each word, with questions such as:
· Does the word begin with the sound /cuh/?
· Does the word end in a vowel?
· Does the word have two syllables?
Make up silly rhymes, even inventing nonsense words. This can be so much fun and as the rhyming is the important part of this exercise the words don’t even have to mean anything.
Take turns in coming up with words that begin or end with a certain sound. You can also turn this into a more physical game, for example, by combining it with a game of ‘catch’. Think of a sound, then each person has to think of a word beginning with that sound as they catch the ball. Keep going until you run out of words, then start again with a new sound.
During these difficult covid times, education remains of paramount importance and includes the vital component of homework. We know this can be a challenge – especially if students are already completing their daily schoolwork at home, as well as their I Can Read lessons. It’s tempting to overlook homework, but homework involves essential activities which support and reinforce your child’s classroom and online learning. It is important that students know how to tackle homework, in order to reinforce what they learn from their lessons.
We’ve pulled together some useful tips on how you can best support your child to complete their homework during lockdown.
First, your child needs to know and understand the task required. Take a few minutes to sit with them to make sure that he or she fully appreciates exactly what is required to complete the set homework.
First, make sure your child has everything they need to complete the task without having to break their concentration to look for whatever item is missing.
If the task requires handwriting, does your child have clean paper and a good pen or pencil before they start?
If they can complete the homework on a computer, does he or she have access to the device for the duration of the task in order to complete their homework uninterrupted?
It’s a good idea to break the task up into a few sections defined by time. For example, divide the homework into a beginning section, a middle section and a final section. By allocating a set time for each section – say 30 minutes, your child won’t find the task overwhelming and feel discouraged by an hour and a half of continuous homework.
This technique gives them a sense of progress and achievement as they go and makes the work feel much more manageable.
Sections of writing tasks
- Most writing tasks involve an introduction, a middle section (body), and a conclusion. An easy way to organise the task is to commence with a plan.
Ask your child to plan his or her work by making brief notes outlining the introduction, then jotting down points to expand on in the body of the piece, then finally, a couple of points for the conclusion to summarise what has been said.
- Have your child take a break after the plan is completed. Then use another session to write the introduction, using the notes from the plan. The introduction may be only a paragraph if necessary, but should set the scene for the text.
- Give them another a break (unless they are keen to carry on) before commencing the main body of the writing. This is the longest part and several paragraphs may be needed to develop the story, or to list details of a report to support the introduction. The middle section may be done over two sessions if necessary.
- Finally, they can write the conclusion by summarising the points made and the premise of the writing.
The length of the piece of writing will determine how many breaks you would like to use to make the task accessible for your child.
READING AND SPELLING HOMEWORK
If the homework consists of reading a story and learning some spelling words from the story, divide the homework into sections. For example, if your child has a week to complete the homework before their next lesson, read the story over two or three sessions, ask the comprehension questions and learn the spelling. Separate these tasks so that the homework is completed over several days, rather than all at once.
Ten minutes reading every day (if your child is learning to read) is preferable to one long session of reading in which the child may be decoding new and unfamiliar words.
Children can tire easily with long tasks, which may affect their enjoyment of reading in the long term. Keeping sessions short makes tasks less arduous, and provides something to look forward to during the break.
Tackling homework demands comes down to using time well. Only work as long as your child is able to before taking a break. If your child works on a task for 30 minutes, perhaps a ten minute break will be in order. Reward positive and cooperative behaviour with small rewards that you know will be effective with your child (though be sure to avoid sugary treats that will affect their ability to concentrate). Allow your child to take breaks but always set a restart time. Say, “We’ll have a short break but you will resume the task in 10 minutes, okay?”
Perhaps agree on an activity they look forward to once they finish their homework, such as playing a favourite game, going for a walk, watching a favourite TV show.
Breaking up tasks into smaller manageable units makes the job seem less onerous and this principle can be applied to most homework challenges.
For younger children, please also remember to check out our series of fun and educational Literacy Guides, which will help you to keep the literacy momentum going between pre-reading and reading lessons. https://icanreadsystem.com/resources/
If you’ve found this article helpful, please let us know and we will write some more along these lines. If there are any particular topics you would like us to address, again, please share your ideas with us and we’ll be happy to include our advice in future articles.
Contact us via email on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 02 9972 1419.
A response to the Department of Education’s latest innovation!
NSW Education authorities are now making an assessment for phonics compulsory for 2021 Grade 1 students. It’s about 20 years late!
Frankly it’s ridiculous. The evidence cited by Sarah Mitchell (State Minister for Education) has been available since the 1970s. Clearly an assessment for phonics sensitivity is required but most so-called education experts do not appreciate that, while phonics awareness is a necessity, it is NOT sufficient for the beginning reader. One wonders how it is possible that a government isn’t up to speed on the research.
The reason is that the Department of Education doesn’t follow the research. Remember how it wasted $450 million on the failed system called ‘Reading Recovery’ which didn’t recover many participants even though a plethora of vocal teachers lauded it. It was applied because of political pressure from a minority of interested parties without the benefit of any supportive data.
This new ‘initiative’ from the NSW Dept of Education won’t hurt. It will mislead parents and teachers into believing that, by returning to a phonics inclusive approach, the solution will be found. The Department is playing catch up, again!
Phonics alone is NOT an effective way to teach reading.
Applying phonics as part of the learning process is clearly an improvement on whatever failed systems the Department currently applies, but it does not teach children how to read. Why the Department continues to trot out simplistic non-existent solutions beats us. Do they think that parents will blindly accept their poorly thought-out approaches?
Research has identified a number of necessary variables required as part of the English language acquisition process and phonics is clearly one of them. Phonics is basically the ability to associate a sound with a written letter. There is also the assumption that those tested will somehow have no difficulties processing the sequences of sounds/letters. This is false because many children will easily follow this approach innately without appreciating their actual cognitive activities.
We have no aim to be inflammatory, or political here – we are simply driven by our passion for the subject and our work of more than 20 years, built on solid research that the Department of Education chooses to ignore. This passion led us to create the unique I Can Read system, a proven and complete bottom-up based system which has taught nearly half a million children to read since 2003 and has never had a failure with its core programme. The I Can Read methodology is completely driven by research and was created by Australian registered educational psychologists.
Created here in Australia, our system was accepted by the Singapore Ministry of Education and made available in schools in that country. I Can Read was instrumental in Singapore becoming one of the most literate countries in the world, and has since spread across Asia.
Australian education leaders declined to embrace our system, and meanwhile, Australia has slipped in literacy from 4th in the world to 17th. For this reason, we created our own I Can Read total literacy learning centres for parents who are simply not satisfied with their childrens’ literacy progress in school.
Stick with those who actually know what they are doing in the application of reading instruction and have the data to back up their claims.
If you’d like more information, check out the following pages of our website, and if you would like to talk to someone to find out more, please call us on 02 9972 1419.