How Can I Help My Child At Home?
Learning does not end in the classroom. Children who have supportive families who practice skills at home do better in school. These children also feel that school is important.
If your child has difficulty with basic print concepts, read to him often. While reading, point out the following:
- Print matches speech, word for word
- Words are made up of letters
- Sentences are made up of separate words
- Print is read from left to right and top to bottom
If your child has difficulty naming upper and lower case letters:
- Choose four or five upper case letters.
- Write them on paper or a white board.
- Say, "Let's practice naming the letters together." Point to the letters and read them together.
- When your child can do it well, let her do it alone.
- Now practice these same letters in lower case.
- Move on to four or five new letters when the first set is mastered.
If your child has difficulty listening to sounds in words, try rhyming words:
- Ask, "Do ham and jam rhyme? What makes them rhyming words?" (They sound the same in the middle and at the end.) Practice with more rhyming words.
- Ask, "Do rice and roll rhyme? Rice has -ice and roll has -oll. So, rice and roll do not rhyme." Practice with more non-rhyming words.
- When your child can do the above well, practice making rhyming pairs together. Say to your child, "Remember, to make a rhyme with the word fig, the -ig would stay the same like big and dig."
Or try blending sounds into words:
- "We're going to play a say-the-word-game. I'll say the sounds. You say the word."
- "Listen, aaaaammmmm."
- "What word?" Am
- Repeat with other words (man, sat, fin)
You can also try breaking words into sounds:
- "We're going to say the sounds in a word."
- Raise your fist in the air. Put up one finger for each sound.
- "The word is sat. What word?" Sat
- "First sound? /sss/ Next sound? /aaa/ Last sound? /t/" (Letters shown between lines, such as /m/, represent the sound that the letter makes).
- Repeat with other words (fan, top, let)
If your child has trouble applying phonics skills to words, try sound by sound blending:
- Choose a three to four letter word with only one vowel.
- Write the first letter on a white board. Say, "What sound?"
- Write the second letter on the board. Say, "What sound?"
- Move your finger under the first two letters. Say, "Blend it."
- Write the third letter. Say, "What sound?"
- Move your finger under the letters. Say, "Blend the sounds."
- Say, "What word?"
If your child has trouble expressing thoughts clearly:
- Read a story with your child.
- Prompt him to ask and answer questions about key details from the story.
- Model for your child (or prompt him to...) tell about the story including characters, setting and plot
- Have a conversation with your child about the story using question words (who, what, where, when, why, how)
- Help him practice expressing thoughts, ideas and feelings.
Overall strategies for school success
- Meet your child's teacher as soon as the new school year starts.
- Ask the teacher about the process for regular communication between home and school.
- Read what comes home from school and keep in touch with your child's teacher, especially when you have concerns.
- Attend parent-teacher conferences.
- Establish a consistent routine to make sure your child gets homework done. Show an interest in your child's work.
- Always talk about school and the teacher in a positive way, even if you have concerns. It is important for children to see home and school as united.
- Establish regular routines for morning, after school, homework and bedtime.
- Make sure your child is getting enough sleep, so he can focus at school.
- Talk to your child daily about school and how she feels it is going. This shows the value of education.
- Monitor and limit your child's use of technology (TV, computer, internet, video-games, phone and social media).
- Encourage healthy eating and exercise habits.
- Celebrate your child's school success at home.