We’re hearing from lots of you how challenging it can be to find the right balance to help parents support their children with learning at home during school closures, without overwhelming them. Here are just a few suggestions for simple (and fun!) ways parents can help maintain their children’s core English and maths skills, using nothing they won’t already have easy access to at home. For each skill, we’ve included handy links that you can share with parents who are looking for more ideas.
It’s understandable that children – as well as their parents! – get a bit fed up with lists of spellings. Instead, how about children try to make up silly sentences including as many of the words in that week’s list as possible? Or they could play a hidden words game with their parents? Here are our tips for parents to help their children with spelling at home.
Grammar and punctuation
There are all sorts of games that parents can use to add a bit of fun when it comes to supporting their children’s grammar skills. They could try a guessing game, where their child uses adjectives to describe a mystery object. Or they could take it in turns to act out adverbs, which presents plenty of opportunities for silliness! Parents can take a look at more games in action in the SPaG video playlist on Oxford Owl’s grammar and punctuation page.
As well as encouraging parents to read to, and with, their children, they could also stop and talk about the punctuation and what it’s telling the reader to do. Check out more ideas on Oxford Owl’s grammar and punctuation page.
Parents will be pleased to hear that simply by giving their child lots of opportunities to scribble, draw, colour and do crafting activities, they’re helping develop their handwriting skills. Children could keep a diary, writing a sentence or two every day, make a shopping list, or write a note or letter to someone they miss.
We all want children to view reading as a leisure activity, rather than a chore, and games are a great format for comprehension activities at home. For example, an adapted version of Guess Who can be lots of fun! Parents and children take it in turns to choose a character from a book. One person guesses who the other is thinking of, by asking questions that can only be answered with yes or no. They could also try the sticky-note challenge, adding their questions to relevant pages of a book after reading, and discussing the answers. There are more ideas in this blog post.
More than any other subject, parents sometimes have a tricky relationship with maths. Pointing out just some of the ways that it’s part of our everyday lives, can reassure them that they can help at home. As we know, shopping has unlimited maths potential, just by thinking about what’s the best value, based on different sized versions of the same product, multi-buy savings, or even exploring percentages with discount deals. Share this blog post to show easy ways to make a real, positive impact on children’s maths skills at home.
In school, we introduce children to multiplication as something we use in real life. And family life is certainly full of opportunities! Children could try working out how many pieces of toast they need if all four members of the family have two slices each for breakfast. Even hunting around home to see how many arrays children can find (e.g. an egg box, a paint box, a muffin tray, an ice cube tray), can lead to multiplication conversations, e.g. 3 rows of 5 = 3 x 5. From multiplying dominoes to playing multiplication bingo, here are lots of other fun ideas to share.
Popular games like pairs and snap can be easily adapted so that children can practise matching division questions with their answers. These are ideal short, quick-fire games, so that busy parents can fit in a little practice at any time of the day. They can either make their own cards, or you can find lots of ready-to-print cards for division games, plus more ideas to share in this blog post .
Times tables practice is another great activity for just a few minutes at a time. It can be fun to turn it into a competition or challenge with parents timing their child and keeping a record of their scores. They might want to write out any tricky facts that their child is stumbling over and stick them up somewhere prominent, like on the fridge. There are lots more ideas to try at home, as well as fast-paced quizzes on Oxford Owl’s Help with times tables page.