In our work in Wandsworth primary schools we come across so many creative, passionate teachers dedicated to ensuring every child in their class reaches their full potential. We meet teachers who can turn an uncertain reader into an avid one by introducing a new author; teachers who bring the beauty of the world into the inner city classroom through creativity and use of technology; and teachers who notice a child is feeling sad and have the right words to comfort and encourage. We have always admired and respected the teachers we work alongside, but never more so than now, when so many of us are suddenly having to do our best to teach our children at home.
Does the fact that you are an accountant mean you are going to find it easy to explain fractions to your 10 year old using a method that is familiar and understandable? Probably not. Just because you spend all day writing press releases in your day job, are you going to find helping your child with their creative writing task easy? Unlikely.
But where does this leave us? Do we just give up? Of course not, but we need to accept that we can’t possibly be the fabulous teacher our child has at school. Have a look at the enormous amount of online resources, but don’t allow them to overwhelm you. Don’t feel you’ve failed if you aren’t following all the links your friends are enthusiastically recommending. If you are doing your best to share something you are passionate about with your child, making them feel safe in this uncertain time and, of course, encouraging them to keep reading, you are doing a great job.
Learn to Love to Read will be sharing our passion for reading with you and your children over the coming weeks. We’ve done an initial trawl of free resources online which support reading for pleasure and you can find these on our website here https://www.learn2love2read.org.uk/pages/61-resources. We are also sharing on our website and our social media some fabulous new stories specially written for us by our Story Spinner - fun for older children to read and younger children to listen to.
You don’t have to be hearing your child read a school reading book to help them progress and learn to love to read. Here are some simple ideas that you could try at home:
1) Enjoy cooking? How about looking at a recipe together – your child can use the pictures to help work out some of the words. You’ll even be using some maths if you have to measure ingredients out.
2) Do you have a favourite book? Search for the author on social media platforms or YouTube. You may find that they are currently reading some of their books aloud for you to enjoy. You might also discover some new stories by the same author.
3) Are you missing reading your latest magazine or comic? What about drawing your own comic stories. Search ‘design a comic strip’ online and you’ll find lots of links and templates you can use.
4) If you do have a story book you’ve enjoyed at home, what about imagining a different ending – give yourselves a time limit and then everyone can share their ideas.
5) Get story writing – how about each person in the family taking turns to write a sentence – before you know it you’ll have a fabulous new story to read at bedtime. Or perhaps you can just create a story aloud, taking turns to add a sentence. Both these ideas can be done in your home language if that is not English.
By helping your child do a little bit of reading in a fun way every day you will be setting them up for a smooth return to school when the time comes. So don’t overthink it. Don’t aim too high. And don’t put too much pressure on yourselves. You are doing a great job!