Some advice on what parents/carers can do to support their child’s literacy skills…
Make sure your child has a reading book in her/his bag for tutor time. Life is busy, but routine reading means it’s a habit for life.
Try to make sure your child sees you as a reader and be seen reading.
Make the bookshop, the library, the book section of your local supermarket, part of your family routine.
Recommend books you have enjoyed reading.
Persist with books as gifts.
Register with www.lovereading4kids.co.uk for great reading suggestions and sample chapters.
Talk, talk, talk
Talk in detail about curriculum subjects and prompt them to explain words or jargon they have used.
Try to use Standard English yourself, and avoid slang when you are discussing school topics – this will help your child talk and write in a formal style when it matters.
If you can say it, you can write it, so ask them to explain what they have to do to you first. If they are stuck, it is helpful to rehearse a sentence aloud.
Use post-its to catch some of their phrases and leave them as prompts to help with writing.
Give them word power
www.visuwords.com is an exciting online dictionary and thesaurus that can make checking spelling and discovering new words fun.
The school organiser has a mini dictionary of key spellings and vocabulary.
SALAWAC (say and look and write and check) is still the best way to learn spellings.
Phonics matters: remind them there are choices when trying to spell a sound.
Poor vocabulary limits achievement at GCSE.
Don’t rush the writing
Write together: be the scribe and let your child dictate to you.
Presentation still matters the same as it did in primary school: date, title, use the margin and a ruler.
Paragraphs are essential for extended answers, essays, articles, letters and stories. A reminder is really helpful before they start to write.
Some teens like appealing tools for writing: tablets, arty notebooks, mini whiteboards, nice pens.
www.chompchomp.com will help everyone improve punctuation and grammar knowledge, especially at Key Stage 4.
Get them reading for life
Make sure they have a highlighter in their pencil case; it’s a reader’s best friend, essential for identifying key points and details.
The local newspapers, news website and letters from school all provide information for life. Ask them to read aloud or to summarise in their own words.
We all need a range of reading skills:
1. Skim read to find out the gist of a text;
2. Scan to find specific information;
3. Close reading to focus on detail and think about meaning.
If you see any chance to do these at home, know you are supporting their reading skills.
Predict the teacher
Create some Dedicated Improvement Time (DIT) at home. Ask your child to predict 3 errors the teacher might find, and then to look for them.
Remember SPaG: check for Spelling/Punctuation/Grammar.
The comma is the most misused punctuation mark. It is often used when a fullstop is needed. A check together is a great habit to get into.
Read through a printed copy of anything they have composed on screen – it can be hard to spot errors.
Don’t hesitate to make a comment in your child’s exercise book. Jot your initials by a comment if you do.
Use the apps
- Help your child upload their weekly spellings or subject key words into the Spellingfree app. This can then help them practise by reading the words out to them and asking them to spell them.
Remind them of their target
- Soon, students will be able to log into the Virtual School and see all of their Literacy information. This will include their personal Literacy target. Remind them of this cross-curricular target when they are completing extended writing for any subjects.
Check their AMs
- Students are often given literacy-related AMs from teachers, tutors and the library staff. Check your weekly e-mail to see how many of these AMs are related to spelling, reading or writing.
Resources to help develop literacy skills
Check out the download box below for a range of useful resources to help develop your child’s literacy skills.