Showing posts with label parents. Show all posts
Showing posts with label parents. Show all posts

Thursday, 11 February 2021

Beyond SPaG: Advice For Parents When Writing With Children At Home

Hoping for a more positive response, I tweeted the above after seeing a journalist hunting for authors who were 'surprised/angered by what their children are learning about grammar, English etc during home schooling or how they are being taught to write?'. And positive response I got. By all means, click on the above tweet and explore all the answers at your leisure, or stay here and read a summary of the advice that was shared.

Before launching into the advice though, I think it would be wise to give a bit of context. During partial school closure during lockdown, teachers have been providing a remote learning experience for children who are at home. This remote learning provision, however good, cannot mimic exactly the normal ways of working in a classroom that teachers have developed; it has had to be an adapted provision. As such, it would appear that many teachers have felt that SPaG-based activities have been easier for children to complete at home; the teaching of the creative aspects of writing relying more on teacher interaction.

So, what this blog post sets out to do is provide you, a parent at home, with ways of working with your child that will help you to help your children with creative writing rather than SPaG-focused English learning. The ideas below should allow you to work with your child in a way that mirrors more closely the work that their teacher would normally do with them at school.

Reading

Many people pointed straight to reading as the first step in helping children to write. Books can inspire children and they provide a model of what a good piece looks like so they make a great starting point. The theme of reading will reoccur throughout the advice under other headings.

Imagining

Children already have great imaginations - the task for parents is to channel this imagination into their writing. People shared ideas about how to prompt children to imagine things to include in their writing:

Inspiring

An extension of imagining is using pre-existing things to generate new imaginative ideas. If it is proving difficult to capture ideas from your child's imagination then they might just need a little prompting and there are innumerable ways to do that, here are just a few:

Experiencing

Further inspiration for writing ideas can come from the experiences that your child has - it could be everyday experiences, remembered experiences or you could do something a little different to prompt their writing. Whilst experiences are limited during lockdown, getting outdoors should provide some inspiration, especially if whilst out you activate their imaginations with some 'what if' type questions e.g. 'What if this tree were the home to an army of ninja spiders?'

Talking

Writing is about the written word but before the written word there was the spoken word. The spoken word is the best starting place as it provides an opportunity to play around with language, revise ideas and collaborate. Make talk an essential step prior to writing.

Imitating

Imitation can come in many forms and children can attempt to imitate all kinds of writing. You could also work on imitating language that children hear via other media forms: audio books and TV shows, for example.
Practising

Not everything has to be a fully-blown story or piece of writing. Short bursts of writing can be a great way to develop children's writing skills and their enjoyment of writing. Keep these fun and inspiring and your child will most likely happily have a go.

Planning

Planning isn't always the most exciting part of the writing process for children, but it can be made more enjoyable. Much of this can be done orally (see the Talking heading) and can be recorded in a number of fun ways (see the Recording heading).

Recording

Once all the ideas have been thought of, there's the sticky issue of the mechanical part of transcribing all the fantastic things that children have come up with. Some of this advice revolves around writing without concern for SPaG, other ideas are to do with where children write and there are even suggestions around transcription-free writing:

Reviewing

Even in school this bit can be difficult for teachers and children - often children need a break after writing before they are ready to return to what they have written, so bear that in mind. However, it should be possible to work through what has been drafted to make improvements.
Celebrating

This is so crucial in the writing process for children - if you want them to write for enjoyment then they need to enjoy what they have written. Seeing other people enjoying their work is a great motivator too so sharing is essential! Send a copy to Granny, read it over Zoom to Uncle, drop a copy round to a neighbour - the options are almost endless and are bound to cheer someone up!
Publishing

Having a purpose for writing is also a motivating factor - one that might be considered right at the very start of the writing process, rather than as an afterthought. If children know their work will be shared, published or entered into a competition even the most reluctant writer can be spurred on in their writing.
Other Resources

Thankfully, this blog post isn't the only source of advice in this arena. Several excellent experts have produced resources to help parents help their children with writing at home:

Supporting Children Writing At Home: https://writing4pleasure.com/supporting-children-writing-at-home/

Three Steps To Writing from SF Said: http://www.sfsaid.com/2017/01/three-steps-to-writing.html

It’s A Kid’s Life – Lockdown by Kerry Gibb: http://kerrygibb.com/its-a-kids-life/kids-life-lockdown/

Writing Prompts from Beverly Writes: https://www.beverleywrites.com/blog

5 Ways to Engage Reluctant Writers with Creativity from Now>Press>Play: https://nowpressplay.co.uk/engage-reluctant-writers-with-creativity/

Homewriting Workshops from the Candlewick Press YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEqVZlLgos-WN7boUH8tsFWNihT745u9u 

Michael Rosen's videos: https://www.michaelrosen.co.uk/videos/

Friday, 15 April 2016

Dear Parents Of Our Primary School Children


Dear Parents Of Our Primary School Children,

You may have read of the crisis that the teachers of your children are in the midst of. You've probably heard that teachers are leaving classrooms in droves, that the workload is impossible and that funding is being cut left, right and centre. You might even have come across heartbreaking 'Why I'm Leaving Teaching' articles. And no doubt you've worried about the impact on your children. Forced academisation, teacher shortages and increasing pupil numbers all sound terrible, too. The number of schools being rated poorly under the constantly-evolving expectations sounds scary, especially when you know your child's school is one of them.

You'll be aware of the new standards that this year your children will be tested on at the end of Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2. You might have seen reports that even scholars struggle to answer some of the questions in the Year 6 Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar test and you feel downhearted, to say the least. The fact that no-one even knows what the expected 'level' for your child is since levels were abolished confuses you.

I know that anxiety abounds at school gates up and down this land. The teachers of your children appear not to be coping, and it looks like your children won't either.

Well most of what you've heard is true; the situation is dire. However, you must take heart: whilst the government announce ever-changing educational policies and budget cuts there is a vast army of teachers determined to make every moment count for your child. 

These teachers turn up for work early and leave late (no, it really isn't a 9 to 5). Then they work at home. And at the weekends (and yes, I know we aren't the only ones).  And they strive to make your child's learning enjoyable and engaging. And they pore over data, analysing it to work out what your child's next step is so that learning can be personalised.

And chances are your child's teacher does the same. Because for every teacher who leaves, there are many who stay for the sake of the children. And because they love the job and want to make a difference. It is sad that there are many teachers leaving, but there are many staying, too. Your child's teacher is probably doing all they can to help your child to make progress; many teachers will be going above-and-beyond what is required of them to try to make this happen.

And those same teachers will be greeting your children with a smile every morning, enquiring how they are, and genuinely caring about them. They'll be the one who picks them up in the playground after a nasty fall. They make your child laugh. They become your child's best teacher ever (until next year). They are a comforting constant in the changing scenes of life - someone your child confides in. They're the teacher your child gets excited (and then incredibly shy) about seeing in the supermarket on a weekend. They're the one they call 'Mum' or 'Dad' by accident, much to the delight of their friends (who've all done it too).

And it's these teachers who soldier on regardless of the latest government initiative. It is they who take a dry curriculum and inject it with life and infectious personality. They're the ones guiding your child through the run-up to their SATs, walking the fine line between building and destroying confidence. Ensuring that they're not just teaching a list of grammar objectives but providing a fun and relevant context, disguising the fact that they're even learning lots of (probably) useless terminology. They are determined not to let your child be brought down by the way in which our leaders are dismantling our once-proud education system - these teachers bear the weight of this, adamant that your child won't feel the squeeze at all. 

Parent - it is times like these when your child's teacher needs your support. Think about it: for every teacher there are around 60 adults who could stand up and make some noise about the plight of your children. There are over 24,000 primary schools in the UK and if there are an average of 10 teachers in each school that's 240,000 primary school teachers. Multiply that by 60 and you've got over 14 million parents or primary-aged children who could voice important opinions about your children and their future - 20 % of the UK's population. And that's without doting grandparents getting in on the action.

You may feel powerless but this needs to start from the ground up, from a grassroots level. Speak positively about education - it is the future of your child. Share success stories via social media. Say thank you to your child's teacher. Ask them how you can help. Give them a gift. Offer your support in anyway you can. Write to your MP. Get up-to-date with education policy - that's not just the realm of politicians and teachers; you have an important role to play in your child's education. It has got to the point where, for the sake of your children, teachers need you in their corner: that teacher who we spoke of before is being maligned by the authorities, the media and the general public and if the future for your child is to be bright, an end must be put to that.

Parent power - teachers need it. Will you join with us?

Faithfully,

A Primary Teacher

Photo Credit: lukas.b0 via Compfight cc