As featured in Parentdish

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Boring books

I’ve written before about how my son’s reading came on loads from reading about football. I don’t think it matters what children read as long as they enjoy reading. 

Recently a University of Warwick professor of literacy education has been looking at the subject from the point of view of university lecturers proving reading material for undergrads. Speaking at a literacy event in Stirling recently, Professor David Wray spoke about US research which found that high school text schools had become dumbed down over the past few years.

In his opinion students accustomed to reading complex texts were better prepared for university. He suggested that an overemphasis on early reading skills was causing problems later on, saying that often the enjoyment of reading was being put second. Wray also said that schools who were better at teaching literacy were the ones who gave children more freedom over what they read.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

The 25 words all two year olds should know

I read in the papers this week that there are twenty five words every two year old should be able to say. If they can’t say these words, there is a problem. Well I am proud to say that my two year old (three in May) does not regularly use all of these words. 

One of the words (or rather phrases) is ‘all gone’. I know most parents repeat this to their child about fifty times a day. I don’t. I guess that means that there is also something wrong with me.

I have a couple of friends whose children don’t drink juice. I must remember to tell them that something is wrong with their children as I doubt their children were shouting out ‘juice’ at the age of two.

My son can speak in very clear sentences when he wants to – No, let’s go this way, That’s Hayden’s car, so really I am not worried. And he can say much more complicated words than these. I am just worried about the constant interference in how we bring up our children. Luckily for my children my husband and I tend to ignore them.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Educate the Parents: Avoiding homework

Educate the Parents: Avoiding homework: When I was in primary school I remember having homework but not when I was really little. Changed days. I used to finish my homework in a...

Avoiding homework

When I was in primary school I remember having homework but not when I was really little. Changed days. I used to finish my homework in about ten minutes and then run out to play. These days it takes ten minutes to read the instructions.

So much to my seven year old’s delight I often miss half of it out. First there is the reading book, which is boring and which he gets nothing out of. Anyway he’s read it at school already. What is the point of reading it again? He’s not a goldfish.

So we tend to skip that part. Reading is not a homework task in our house. Instead we sit down together at bedtime and he reads a book to me, a book which is write a bit more advanced than his homework book, which he finds interesting and which occasionally has a ne word for him to learn.

I don’t know any child who nags their mum to do homework but I get nagged to sit down and read with H. And if he had his way he would be reading to me all evening.

Then we have maths games which require sitting and reading instructions, locating a dice and counters and sometimes cutting out also. By that time we’re both fed up. On son’s insistence we did one this week. It involved five minutes of reading rules and about two minutes of maths.

So usually we skip his reading book and maths game. Instead we read together and go on maths websites. And son thinks he’s pulling a fast one on me!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Breakfast clubs

Daughter has just told me about kids in her class who have chocolate for breakfast. Not the evil cocoa pops but the real deal – a bar of chocolate. Mine get cereal and toast. 

Meanwhile I have just been reading about a trial scheme in Toronto to feed children up. 

68% of the children, in what is regarded as a poor part of Toronto, were coming to school without breakfast.
20% missed both breakfast and lunch. 

Since the school introduced a breakfast and lunch club the number of twelve and thirteen year old pupils failing to achieve the minimum reading level fell by 50% and the number achieving high reading scores increased by 10. 

The figures were just as good in science. The percentage of students failing fell from 44% to 28%. 

Impressive figures.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

The Tortoise and The Hare

We all remember the fable from which we get the saying “Don’t cry wolf”. But why does nobody remember The Tortoise and the Hare? Education policy, particularly in England, has in recent years been focused on getting kids to read and write as early as possible.

This really does seem a bit daft when you take into consideration that the countries where pupils are doing well academically tend to be the ones where kids begin learning to read later. 

Teachers appear to panic very quickly and seem to treat children as if they are all the same and that by a certain age they should be achieving this and that, not taking in to account that some kids might still achieve but maybe a little bit later than others. I don’t think the introduction of the EYFS in England has helped that.
Perhaps they should simply have more faith in the ability to engage children at different stages and stop taking this attitude that after the child hits seven there is no hope for them. 

I had two friends at school who did not do well academically but a few years after leaving school they got themselves sorted out and applied to well reputed universities. They both graduated in academic subjects (no degrees in juggling there) and have very good jobs. 

The tortoise does really come first sometimes.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

How to get your child to love maths – part 1

If anyone is suffering from insomnia I have the solution. I can give you H’s maths homework. The maths games he is expected to do are so boring that they could turn anyone in to Rip Van Winkle.

Needless to say we gave up doing them a few weeks ago and the fact that I have not ticked and signed the relevant sheet to say we had completed them, is not because I forgot. We just haven’t bothered.

Instead we have been having fun with maths. We started off by suggesting a game of Sum Swamp and we play this from time to time. Sum Swamp is an excellent game you can play with all the family and is a bit like Snakes and Ladders but instead you have three dice – two with numbers on and one with a + or – on each side. Instead of rolling a dice and seeing a number, children roll three and have to add or take away the numbers.

Suggest a game of Sum Swamp in our house and you are met with cheers of “Yeessssssss!!” as they all run in to the dining room. A bit different from the response we get when we mention his homework maths games.
The only problem is he is getting a past this stage and the mental maths is more suitable for his five year old brother but it is still good for him and good for us as a family to play games together.

So now I have introduced him to two websites Topmarks and Tutpup. At parents’ evening we were told that him as his friends are competitive and like to compete to see who finishes their maths first so TutPup should suit him down to the ground.