By Teachers, For Teachers
As teachers, it is our job to show our students (and their parents) how they can continue learning and building their skills at home. This is essential because children benefit from an increased exposure to, and interaction with, language and words. The more children are exposed to and use words, the better their understanding becomes.
The same goes with building math skills. If a student is struggling with math, reinforcing these skills will only make them better.
Here are some simple teaching strategies that you can tell students (and parents) to do at home to help build their reading and math skills.
Word knowledge is a critical component of language development. Research shows that children who acquire a substantial vocabulary learn things more quickly, as well as express themselves better. Parents can create an environment at home where children can develop their language development. Here’s how.
Children need to make it habit to read every single day at home. This means that parents should incorporate a specific time of the day in their child’s nightly routine where they must read. This can be independently, together, or both. For example, the child goes up to bed at 7:30 and reads for 30 minutes until their 8:00 bedtime. They can read independently for 15 minutes, then read with their parents for the following 15 minutes.
Make reading fun by allowing the child to pick the books that interest them. Some requirements for choosing books that are a good match: A purpose for reading, student interest, understanding of what they are reading, being able to retell the story, and knowing all or most of the words in the text. It doesn’t have to be just books: Children can explore reading magazines, newspapers, signs, cereal boxes, or other household items.
To help students develop skills of inquiry that will extend learning beyond the classroom, parents should ask questions while listening to their child read. It’s important to use a mix of both open-ended and closed-ended questions. Open-ended questions are meant to encourage discussions, while close-ended questions will test a child’s comprehension. Use questioning to predict what will happen, for main idea, to retell the story, for characters, the genre, and to help understand the moral of the story.
More than any other subject, math tends to make parents nervous the most. This may be because they remember having a hard time with the subject at school, or it may be because things have changed so much that they think they will not know how to help their child. Whatever the case may be, math can be easily reinforced at home. Here’s how.
For some, family game night is already a staple in their family, and they probably don’t even realize how much they are already encouraging their child’s math development. Yahtzee is a fantastic “math” game where students make estimates, have to understand quantitative relationships, and have to have a basic understanding of math. Monopoly is another fun “math” game where children need know the basics of money in order to win the game. Other games, such as Connect Four, where you must count and problem solve, or card games make children utilize their basic skills in order to be able to even play the game.
Food is the way to any child’s heart, especially if it involves cookies or candy. Baking or cooking offers children the opportunity to learn and practice measurement, liquid volume, adding, subtraction, multiplication, division, percentages, fractions, and estimation. Children can help parents cook dinner and learn while they are at it. Or, they can bake dessert for the family all while utilizing and reinforcing important math skills.
Learning the clock is an important life skill that all children need to know. Parents can help build these skills at home by creating a schedule that is based on time. For example, brush teeth at 7:15 p.m., read a story at 7:30 p.m., in bed at 8 p.m. As children slowly understand the routine and look at the clock to keep their schedule, you can add more difficult times, like at 7:25, lay out your school clothes for the next day, and at 7:55 have your lights turned off for the night.
Parents are a fundamental contributor to their child’s success, no matter what their educational level is. A home environment that promotes academic success both inside and outside of the classroom is essential, and using the strategies above at home will help a child succeed.
What activities or ideas do you share with students and parents for building skills at home? Do you have any ideas that you would like to share? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below, we would love to hear your ideas.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.