Would you like to be able to help? Most parents are concerned if their child seems to be falling behind with basic literacy skills, but many don't know what they can do to improve the situation. Yet there are a lot of simple things which can make a difference.
Do visit a library nearby frequently and look at the books with your child. Even if there is more picture than text, discuss the pictures and text together. Ask them what they think is going to happen next in the story, how they think the characters are feeling, what they are thinking, etc.
Do consider reading comics, magazines, picture books with them - anything, in fact, that your child is interested in. Picture books are particularly valuable. Excellent sources include authors such as Anthony Browne. Encourage your child to be a detective in looking at the pictures. There are lots of tiny clues with lots of multi-level meanings in these books, which children love finding and gets them starting to look for deeper meanings within literature in general - useful when dealing with more advanced literature later on. Neither are they only for younger children. There are plenty with more sophisticated themes which appeal to older children. Even children who hate reading can become enthusiastic over picture books.
Do use a variety of methods to help your child with the text. Phonics, (looking at the sounds the letters make), breaking the word into smaller chunks and putting it back together again, prediction from pictures and previous events in the story, read on and then go back to the difficult word, (What does it look like? What could it be in the context of the story?) all have a part to play in the reading process.
Do encourage your child to write about something they know about and are interested in!
Do watch to see how they learn best. Do they remember things they see hear or experience the most?
Do they like to think things over first, before they write? Some children will be inspired by pictures or music, others by something they have experienced first-hand. Providing the right stimulus and recognising a child's learning style can really help.
Do encourage them to make a plan before writing. Brainstorming and mind maps are often successful.
Don't make them stick rigidly to a plan when they are writing a story. Their imaginations may have moved on a lot since the original plan. Encourage them to get into the creative process.
Don't make them do too much handwriting practice. If this is an issue, there are specialist schemes available which can help in a fun way.
Do encourage them to learn spellings with a common pattern and sound and reinforce this visually with colour.
Do encourage them to learn a limited number of useful, common spellings on a regular basis, using games if possible. Little and often is usually best.
Do encourage them to recognise the relationship between spelling and sound. (80% of English spelling is regular and there are well over a hundred spelling rules in English.)
Don't despair too soon over poor spelling. Even highly literate children often make spelling mistakes until they are at secondary school. The part of the brain which processes spelling does not fully develop until later. Often a child is good at reading and writing, but has problems with spelling until they are older. I am speaking from personal experience!
Finally, don't forget, you can always hire a tutor from us at Nanyang Academics! Specialist help for even just an hour a week can provide the encouragement, support and expertise your child needs and the results are usually evident in school work within a relatively short time.