At the end of last school year my husband and I attended Parents Evening. My daughter had just completed Year Two and unlike the previous years, the teacher asked to speak to us in private. I suddenly thought, “oh no! what’s wrong?”. It turned out, there was nothing wrong. The teacher replied, “we just like to discuss all children’s progress -without them- incase there are any issues”.
So with a sigh of relief I listened to the teacher who informed us that my child is no longer behind in any of her subjects. Previously my daughter had struggled with reading and other tasks. Being really unwell during year One, I had not been well enough to do anything to help her but after a year of hard effort during year two (doing work from the bedside) we helped Sylvia to catch up. Not only that, my daughter is now finishing year three and is one of the top in her class in certain subjects.
I came away feeling really pleased! What is it that we had done differently? How is is that our child went from being at the bottom of the class to the top? There are four main things we have done with my daughter and it has made all the difference.
Everyday we read with our child. Sylvia has a reading book and each day after school I would ask her to read to me. We didn’t read the whole book and sometimes if she was distracted we would only read one or two pages but we always tried to read her assigned reading book each day after school.
We also read at bed time. Now I’m not perfect and sometimes the regular routine goes out the window for whatever reason but we try to read at least one book each night.
So- we consistently read with our daughter every day!
My daughter kept coming home and telling us about her spelling tests where she would get 1 or 2 out of 10 each time. I have a whiteboard at home and so every Monday we would write up the spelling words for the week and whenever we had a moment would do a mini test or ask her to spell the word. Doing this just once a day for a few minutes or taking a look at the board during dinner has helped my child increasingly with her spelling.
We encouraged my daughter’s handwriting every week. She always does her homework on the weekend and we sit together and I make an effort to guide her to write neatly and practice capitals and full stops. Over the last two years, Sylvia’s writing has improved significantly. I am amazed at the pieces she is writing on her own and bringing to me to see.
Each term, my daughter has had a different times-table to learn and we have practiced these in the car when going to appointments or at home when I’ve been unwell. We have also played counting games, learnt about shapes and done measurement activities. Sometimes I would write a list of objects in the home and send Sylvia to measure them and record the results. We also do baking and do a lot of weighing and recording to help learn about quantities and weight.
My daughter was in a “special group” at school where she had extra phonics support at school. She has had a fabulous teacher, but the support and effort we have made as parents all paid off when the teacher said how well my daughter had done. I felt so proud of Sylvia and a sense of accomplishment knowing I’d been able to support her, even when I’m unwell and sat doing this in bed.
So what next?
Well the school holidays are upon us and next year Sylvia will be year four. Wow the time has flown so fast. In the holidays we will be doing a book challenge. I’ve made a chart for Sylvia to fill out each time she reads a book and at the end of the summer we will see how many books she has read and give her a reward.
We will also practice things during trips in the car and I’ll give Sylvia opportunities during the holidays to learn through play and exploration. There is so much you can learn as you play. Sometimes we role play waitress and waiters. Sylvia writes down the menu and will make a sandwich. Other times we play something else but these are fun opportunities to practice writing in an informal but fun way. So these holidays we will be planning fun activities to encourage reading and writing.
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