With the summer holiday approaching, a guide to keeping student’s skills sharp over the break
Recently, Jim Wilcox and Justine Tyler, Primary Curriculum Coordinators at YCIS Shanghai’s Hongqiao Campus, led hands-on workshops for parents of Primary students focused on “Reading with Children” and “Mathematics at Home”. Below, they provide several takeaways from these successful workshops.
Why is it important for parents to be able to engage with their children at home in their reading and maths learning?
Both research and teachers’ observations indicate that learning becomes most powerful when it is fun, when it happens in real contexts (such as home life), and when communication is involved. We learn well when we enjoy the learning, as we can see its purpose and we are able to talk about it. All of this can happen in meaningful ways when parents engage with their children. Studies show that children learn an average of 3,000-4,000 new words a year. When children read or are read to for at least 10 minutes a day, this number expands to 12,000.
What are some of the tools or resources that parents can use with their children at home for their Reading and Maths homework and learning?
Reading is about more than what just what is going on in a book – it’s about what is going on in your head! One of the most important things parents can do is to continually engage with their children by discussing and making sense of the world around them in order to help bridge connections when they read. Parents can discuss books with their children before, during, and after reading to help children to make these connections, as well as to help them build other reading skills.
Discussion is equally important in Mathematics. Talking through problems, steps, and concepts helps children clarify and expand their thinking and memory. One of the main ways parents can help their children with Maths is to make it fun. Playing games is a great start, using cards, dice, board games, and even household objects. If you search “Maths games at home” online you will find many sites with creative and helpful ideas, often organised by age level.
Parents can also embed Maths learning into their children’s daily lives. When you go shopping, encourage your child to help determine costs, how much money is spent, how much is left over, and what other items you can buy. Ask your child about time in your daily activities such as how much time until you leave for school and involve your child in reading schedules on your next trip. Putting it into these contexts shows children real-life applications of Maths, and the contextual use of their skills makes learning very powerful.
How can parents work with their child’s class teachers to enrich their child’s learning experience in these subjects?
It’s very important to have an idea of what your child is learning in the classroom, and although it is not always necessary to link directly with what is happening at school, it can certainly help. Again, talking with your children about this is very effective, partly just to engage their thinking and to reflect on their learning. It’s also helpful to find out about the ongoing areas of focus in the curriculum in your child’s class. At the YCIS Hongqiao Campus, for example, we provide parents with this information in their children’s diaries and on our year level blogs. Two-way communication with class teachers is also very important. Teachers can help pinpoint important learning targets and suggest how you might support your child at home.
Should parents continue to encourage learning on holidays, such as summer break? If so, why is this important and how can parents help make this enjoyable?
Where it can be incorporated naturally, yes, we believe parents should encourage their child’s continued learning during holidays. Developing a love for learning can absolutely be instilled in children, and will benefit them throughout their lifetime. We want children to understand that learning actually never really stops happening, and that it happens in all contexts (not just at school or during the school year)! During holidays, parents can extend and encourage their child’s learning by finding some time to just read together or to play maths-related games, which helps continue their learning, but in a very fun way.