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Reading, Writing… and Homework

Reading and writing for kidsHello, my name is Lauren and I run a school readiness program called Scribble to School. My program focuses on building Early Literacy skills for children aged 3-6 years old. I am thrilled to have joined the community and can hopefully offer some advice on how to make reading and writing fun, homework a little easier.

In the past few years, Early Childhood has seen a huge shift in the way we program for children. We have gone from pre-planning weeks (and sometimes longer) to a more child focused and emergent way of teaching. The introduction of The Early Years Learning Framework has seen a development in programs being run through ‘play’. This does not mean that when your child goes to day care or Kindergarten it’s a free for all and they do what they want, but we know that play is natural for children. They are curious, have questions, want to explore and discover, and through this they take the lead, develop their own play and make choices.

Below are some ideas on how to make reading and writing enjoyable…on a low budget!

Reading:

  • Take what interests them the most and hunt for books on it- there are usually books for any subject! The library is a fantastic place to start. They are usually free to join and you can borrow up to 20 items at one time.  
  • The library will usually have programs or activities scheduled if your child is reluctant to go to one. Maybe you could try an activity…then take a sneak peek at the books on offer.
  • Reluctant readers- find a text type they love reading. There are so many! Again, fiction and non- fiction…shopping catalogues (make a list of toys or items they have on their wish list!), write this week’s shopping list, comics/graphic novels, audio stories with headphones, newspapers, kids magazines, football guides, books with instructions on how to make things.
  • Try incorporating books into their play e.g. if you have a child who is extremely into skateboarding; try looking for an information text at the local library or cheap book store.
  • Try an incentive or make it motivating: rather than putting a time limit on how long they need to read for, tell them you will buy another book when they have finished that one.
  • Lastly, I cannot stress this one enough: read to them, read to them, read to them. It doesn’t matter for how long, just read to them.

Books across the ages I recommend:

  • Thelma the Unicorn by Aaron Blabey
  • Pig the Pug by Aaron Blabey
  • Where’s Wally by Martin Hanford
  • Edward the Emu by Sheena Knowles
  • The Yoga Ogre by Peter Bently
  • All of the Roald Dahl series 
  • The Treehouse Stories by Andy Griffiths

Writing:

  • Celebrate any marks on paper that your child makes and tells you what it says. This demonstrates them beginning to understand that print conveys a meaning and spoken words can be written.
  • Encourage writing experience wherever possible. Create cards for friends, write a letter to grandma, write a note to the teacher, draw a picture and write about it.
  • Again, go with your child’s interests- do they love a certain sports team, a favourite song they can copy lyrics from, recipes they like to eat? Don’t make it hard for yourself!
  • For the reluctant writers, make it fun and irresistible. Children loves games and love winning. Can they beat you to write your name? How many words can they write in a minute before a timer goes off?
  • Write differently. Write the shopping list for the week, write the directions to a map they have drawn, write down what they have drawn.

I think the biggest piece of advice I can share is to make it fun and easy for the both of you. When it isn’t, you are stressed, the child becomes reluctant and it ends in tension and let’s face it, no one’s having fun.

As for Homework……..when researching this topic amongst my friends and teachers friends, it was a little like I had opened Pandora ’s Box! The varying levels of homework that children receive amongst grade levels and amongst schools was eye-opening to say the least. Then there are teachers whose schools make homework compulsory. So how can we find a happy medium? I’m not sure! The biggest comment made about homework was time and lack thereof. Children these days (in my opinion only) have got so much going on! There is school, extra-curricular activities, sports, and downtime….it doesn’t leave too much other time to just be and play and be kids! I think it is really something that each family has to strike a balance within. I can’t offer advice; one because I’m nowhere near the homework stage with my own family and what works for one family, will not work for another. I can say though with learning, if it is a struggle and a battle, there is likely to be little learning happening and more frustration all round, so maybe skip homework at that point and try again later.

“Never stop learning, because life never stops teaching.”

Lauren holds a Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood), Bachelor of Teaching (Primary Education), full QLD Teachers Registration, a Blue Card (working with children check) and 13 years’ experience teaching preschool aged children.

I am extremely passionate about providing children with skills that will help them through life and create a belief that learning is fun.

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