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Literacy at home

Starts with learning at home.

'As many as 20% of children leave primary school functionally illiterate, unable to read, write and add up properly.' The Independent

While the government and the education sector look for ways to tackle the crisis of literacy and numeracy levels in UK schools, part of the solution lies in UK homes and starts at an early age.

Parents are their children’s most important teachers but often have limited time and limited access to their school to ask questions and get support. But getting involved does not have to be a daunting or time consuming task.


In the classroom

Whether labelling objects in the house, describing the journey home or setting the table any activity can be a learning experience. Indeed fun ‘real life’ situations are often the most effective ways of helping children practice literacy and numeracy skills and build up their confidence. Take a look at the Smart Cat Learning activities for this week to get some ideas.

And there is always reading. Reading, reading, reading. From road signs to recipes, to bedtime stories to brochures, reading to your child and with your child from an early age is the key to building good literacy skills and inspiring a love of books.

First tips with reading

There are many books for young children that explore rhyme – Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy by Lynley Dodd is a classic. There are many books that explore alliteration, Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton, or Alligator Alphabet by Maurice Sendak are just two examples.

When starting to learn sounds and words there are a few important things to remember.

Remember a word rhymes when it has the same letter sounds (not necessarily the same letters) at the end of the word – so for example, spot and hot, or walk and stork, hen and pen, and burst and worst.

Explore poems and stories that are in rhyme format, and make sure that as you read them you emphasise the rhyming words. As the child becomes familiar with the rhymes you can help them by pausing before you get to the word on the second line.

As the poem becomes very familiar, change it so that instead of ‘log’ you put in another word that would rhyme – bog, frog, catalogue and so on. It is really important that you make sure that the words really do rhyme, so look out for the vowel sound that comes before the final letter.

Sometimes children find it hard to hear rhymes – especially because they come at the end of words, and some people do not pronounce them very clearly. If your child finds this difficult, then concentrate on just a few rhyming word patterns and help them hear these in all sorts of different situations.

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Parents who do not help their children learn risk seeing them lose out on nearly one-quarter of their potential attainment.
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