ENGLISH - READING AND WRITING
Read stories to your children every day. Make it an enjoyable time - a regular part of routine, e.g. after bath, or when children are in bed.
Through stories you share your pleasure in books and very importantly, you help your child get to know the language used in them.
As you read, hold the book so the child can see it too and they will soon realise that both the print and illustrations tell the story. Encourage children to join in (the part that they know by heart, or can predict) thus building confidence in their abilities as readers.
Suitable stories for young children with lots of repetition are:
Fairy Tales (Traditional)
Hattie and the Fox
Are You My Mother?
Little Red Hen
Most important: Research has shown that children whose parents spent 10-15 minutes each day reading with them, are much more likely to become proficient readers.
Allow children to handle and care for books.
Some Guidelines for Parents:
Encourage and praise children's reading:
- Let books and reading be an important part of the family life as well as reading to children, be seen reading yourself.
- Involve children with incidental reading activities, e.g. names of grocery items or shop signs etc.
- Use reading as a tool for communication in the home, e.g. Bulletin board, notes on the refrigerator etc.
- Use local resources such as libraries or purchases from the school Book Club.
- Keep in contact with the school - don't hesitate to ask questions.
- Encourage children to follow up their own reading interests.
WRITING for Children Starting School
Encourage all written attempts your child makes and respond to what your child is saying in his/her message. If you can't read it, ask the child to "tell me all about what you have written".
Don't be critical of mistakes, be supportive and encouraging of the efforts made.
Just as important for you to be seen reading by your child, it is equally important for him/her to see you involved in various writing situations, e.g. letters, notes, cards, shopping lists etc.
Just "as children learn to talk by talking, so children learn to write by writing" (Lorraine Wilson). This means that developing writers go through various recognized stages of 'print written' work on their journey to becoming competent writers.
These stages are:
1. The Scribble Stage.
Here the child has reasoned that messages are presented to
other people by putting squiggly lines on paper. The
starting point may be anywhere on the page. Later the
scribble will develop a left to right direction.
2. Personal or Non-conventional Symbols.
At this stage, some conventional letters may be included in
the message, which is written without full stops or spacing or recognisable words.
This stage contains left to right direction, separate symbols,
and the child can read back the writing.
3. Strings of Conventional Letters.
The child strings together many letters from the alphabet in
left to right direction. The symbols are repeated.
4. Group of Letters with Spaces Between.
There may be no match between the letters used and the
sounds of the words, but the child has some idea (or
concept) of a "word".
5. Writing with a Developing Awareness of Sound-Symbol
(my mummy came with me to the museum)
Mixture of upper and lower case. The reader is able to interpret the message.
As the child progresses through these stages, the teacher should take the opportunity to write the conventional form of the child's message so patterning is of a correct model.
What does all this mean for the teaching of writing in our schools?
- Children write as writers in the "real world" do.
- They rehearse:
- Children write daily for a variety of purposes and a wide range of audiences.
- Children take responsibility and control of their own writing.
- Children have the opportunity to choose their own topics.
- Children write in a variety of styles and genres for different audiences - poems, letters, reports, etc.
- Children 'have a go' at spelling the unknown word.
- Children discuss their drafts with their peers and their teacher in a conference.
A conference is a teaching time in which the teacher/parent works with children at their individual level and pace.
Spelling is one of the skills involved in writing.
What We Need to Know:
1. Spelling needs to be related to writing.
2. Every writing time is a SPELLING TIME.
3. In the past, spelling was mainly taught from lists of words
not necessarily related to children's writing.
4. Heavy stress on spelling mistakes in the infant grades can
easily cause children to lose confidence.
A well tested way to learn new spellings:
LOOK at the word and say it softly.
COVER the word and try to "see" it in the mind.
WRITE it from memory.
CHECK .... and repeat the steps if the attempt was wrong.
What Parents Can Do.
DO show that you care about spelling. Within the family, frequently ask, "Who wants to 'Have-a-go' at this word ...?"
DO encourage personal word lists - "Words I Have Learned to Spell".
DO find and play spelling and language games that you can enjoy.
DO encourage the LOOK, COVER, WRITE, CHECK method of learning to spell when children have developed some written words.
Practise individual spelling words (for homework) on a weekly basis.