I started Little Writing Company more than a year ago and I sometimes have to pinch myself over the support I’ve had. People often direct message me with questions about how they can help their child’s learning or with a question about school or reluctant writers. So in this blog post I thought I would visit the five most popular questions and my responses. I hope some of you find it helpful.
1) My child is a very reluctant reader and writer at school and at home. What can I do?
With reluctant readers I always reply with a similar response – it doesn’t necessarily matter what they read to start with; comics, age-appropriate newspapers (First News is excellent), short storybooks etc… the route into encouraging a reluctant reader is finding something they are interested in and using that as a starting point. I have also found success with audio books with some children in my class who just hate reading at home with their parents. Again this is one route to start fostering that love of stories. Sometimes schools send home books with reading records that children HAVE to read. With reluctant readers it is often a good strategy to set a time limit or suggest reading only five pages so they can see a start and end point to their reading.
When it comes to writing, children love designing a leaflet or writing a newspaper report or a board game which all involve writing, but to the child it is not too daunting. Word game books are also a great way of getting pencil to paper without a child feeling overwhelmed. I’ve written a longer blog post about reluctant writers which you can read HERE.
2) It’s such a battle to get my child to do homework – any tips?
Aghhhh! The dreaded H word – some schools have scrapped it at junior school level while other schools still set it. I find setting aside time for homework at a similar time each day can help to get into a routine and also doing it “together” can also help. If it is becoming a huge cause of tension at home and the amount is getting unmanageable, I would suggest a quiet word in the teacher’s ear to see if some compromise can be reached.
3) My child can’t seem to grasp spellings.
Lots of children can find spelling difficult, often spelling every word phonically (how they sound) rather than understanding that some words are spelt differently. Spelling of key words can be improved by seeing them frequently in reading or their own writing. The improvement in spelling comes from seeing the word, remembering how it looks then most importantly writing it correctly. Rote learning and spelling tests only work to a certain extent so it is important a child can keep identifying words frequently in their everyday life which comes through reading it then writing it.
4) I want my child to do well at school but I’m also mindful not to do too much at home so they can relax. How much do you suggest we do?
It’s a very hard balance between supporting your child’s learning without putting too much pressure on them. I’m very mindful of relaxation time and mindfulness in children so I would never suggest doing hours upon hours of extra literacy or maths at home. However, lots of children are very anxious if they feel they are not very good at something, so extra support at home can really help their confidence. Lots of children can be anxious about handwriting so doing some extra practice at home before dinner, for example, can really improve a child’s confidence and improve their abilities at school. I think as a parent you know how much support your child needs without it being overwhelming.
5) My child can’t grip their pencil correctly – is this a problem?
It’s not a huge problem unless it is causing your child discomfort or making their writing illegible. There are writing slopes and there are some great writing grips you can put on the end of pencils to help place the fingers in the “correct” place.
I hope you found some of our most frequently asked questions useful – if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to drop me a message.