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Learning to write and spell
Writing
Children are often eager to write. Writing often follows on from drawing and from the child's reading. Children like to be able to write their names, to label drawings or to write a story to go with a picture. They learn about reading through their writing, having to think about the sound and how words look. When they see that writing is a way of telling someone something, just like talking, they usually want to try it for themselves.You can help them by doing the following:
Get young children used to making the shapes of letters by joining dots or using a pen to go over shapes you've drawn in pencil.
At the beginning, don't worry too much about untidy writing. You don't want to put them off having fun when they're learning.
Don't worry if your child crosses words out when they're writing. Lots of children try out different spellings until they feel a word looks right. Get them to try out words on scrap paper, then put the word in its proper place when they are happy with it.
Write a story that your child has told you. They can learn from watching you write and can help by suggesting letters and spellings.
Help them to make their own labels, notices, cards and books.
If they want to write a story, help them to think of what its about, what happens and how it ends. Ask questions about the characters in the story. You (or they) could write down some notes to help them remember all their ideas.
Explain that they need different words to write about the past (we walked to the shops yesterday), present (today I am here) and future (tomorrow I will go swimming).
Use lower case rather than capitals. Children find it easier to practise the patterns of the letters that way.
Spelling
Lots of children find spelling hard. If it gets in the way of your child's enjoyment of reading and writing, there are ways you can help using everyday items.You can help them by doing the following:
Spell out words with fridge magnets or letter tiles from word games. Take some letters out and get your child to put the right ones back in the right places.
Play games with lists of words. Can they put them in alphabetical order using the first letter of a word (e.g. cat, fat, hat, mat and sat)? Or can they do this by the second letter (e.g. bag, beg, big, bog and bug)?
Give them old newspapers or magazines to play word-finding games for example, get them to highlight or draw a circle round every word that ends with ing, or every word beginning with t. Think up harder versions as your child learns more.
Draw or cut out pictures of things that have only one letter different (like pen and pin) to help them get used to how different vowels (a,e,i,o,u) work.
Use a mirror so your child can see how their mouth moves when saying letters that can easily get mixed up when they write them down, like m and w, or p and g.
Make up games to help your child see the difference between words like tap and tape or hop and hope where the last letter changes the way you say the whole word.
Get them to play at rearranging letters to make other words (anagrams) out of their name, or other words they know.
Numeracy
Helping your child become numerate
Some parents are fearful of subjects that they might not have done well in when they were in school. Mathematics may be one of those subjects. If you are a parent who feels this way, it will help you greatly to know how mathematics is taught in your child's school.Help your child learn maths at home The National Numeracy Strategy, which has now been subsumed into the Primary National Strategy, was created to raise educational standards for all primary aged pupils. A key feature of the strategy is to involve you in your child's mathematics as much as possible. One of the most valuable things you can do with your child is talk to them about mathematics. If you think about it, you are probably already doing a lot of mathematics at home without realising it. By involving your child, you will help them learn. Remember, maths at home is meant to be fun. You should enjoy it and so should your child.
With young children you can help by doing maths for a few minutes every day:
Sing number rhymes and songs such as:- 'One, two, buckle my shoe'-'One two three four five, once I caught a fish alive'-'Ten green bottles'-'There were10 in the bed'
Talk about:-How many knives and forks you will need to set the table-How many people are in the queue at the supermarket check-out-Which glass will hold the most orange juice
Play games like Snakes and Ladders that involve taking turns and using a dice and counters to move around a board
Look for numbers in books, on posters, in comics, on buses, cars and road signs
Talk about the shapes of things
Do jigsaws
With older children you can:
Talk about any maths work that they bring home from school
Ask them to help you when you are doing things with money, or measuring or weighing
Help them to learn their multiplication tables:- 7 year olds should know the 2 and 10 times table- 8 year olds should know the 5 times table-9 year olds should know all their tables to 10 x 10
Tell the time
Use magazines to find out when a TV programme is on and set the video recorder
Look at the price of things in catalogues and work out if you can afford them
Weigh ingredients when you are cooking
Put pattern pieces together when making clothes
Measure floors for carpets, walls for wallpaper and paint
A typical daily maths lesson The daily maths lesson lasts between 45 and 60 minutes depending on the age of your child. There is a great emphasis on children talking about mathematics and on using correct mathematical vocabulary. It is usually divided into three main parts:
Oral and mental starterAll children will be taught together for about 10 minutes. They will keep their maths skills sharp by: - counting (in 1s, 2s, 10s, backwards and forwards, and so on) - recalling addition and subtraction number facts (and for older children, multiplication tables)
Main teaching activityAfter the starter comes the main teaching activity. This lasts for about 30 to 40 minutes. In this part of the lesson: - the teacher might introduce a new topic to the whole class - this might take up most of the 30 to 40 minutes - the class might practise previous work or try their skills on harder problems - the children might work for short periods in groups, pairs or on their own
PlenaryThe lesson ends with a plenary. This simply means the teacher will spend about 10 minutes to find out what the children have learned, and advise them about on important points to remember. At the end, the teacher may set maths homework.
Helping with maths homework Homework is just one of the many ways in which you can help your child to develop confidence with mathematics. It might help to remember:
Homework should be enjoyable rather than a chore
Homework will usually follow on from what has been happening in class. It might be further practice, a game or a puzzle
Your child might be asked to do some preparation for the next topic to be covered in school, for example collecting some information for a graph about favourite TV programmes
With younger children your help will be essential. With older children, there should be times when they work on their own. They will, however, always benefit from talking to you about how they have tackled their work.Promoting mathsWhen children are asked to do a calculation, the first question they should ask is:"Can I do this in my head?"With 5 to 8 year olds the emphasis is more on mental work and somewhat less on 'sums' written down in columns. The aim is for children to do mathematics in their heads. If the numbers are too large, they can use paper and a pencil to avoid losing track. Some children will sketch pictures and diagrams to help them. You may be surprised to see these in your child's mathematics book.Most 5 to 8 year olds will set sums out like this:57 + 5 =42 - 6 =You will see them keeping track of what they are doing in their head like this:86 + 57 = 86 + 50 + 7 = 136 + 7 = 14367 + 24 = (60 + 20) + (7 + 4) = 80 + 11 = 91In the later primary years, children will be taught conventional written sums, many of which you will recognise. If you don't recognise these methods, do not insist your child carry out calculations in the way that you do them. A different method will lead to confusion and will certainly take the fun out of homework sessions. Talk to your child's school and ask them to explain the methods they are using. You will usually find that primary schools have agreed their methods with the neighbouring secondary school so that all the children going there have been taught the same methods.
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