I come from a generation were learning was more about drilling than making the experience fun. The idea that learning could be fun had not yet began to be explored. Competition is high on a small island. What we learnt and how well we performed academically was closely linked to our earning power and where we would sit on the social ladder, in the future. Many parents dutifully drilled their children every afternoon, it was not a fun and games matter. I remember it well. In fact the odd smack was close at hand if you failed to grasp the concepts quick enough. Now several decades later, fun and learning go hand-in-hand. It has taken retraining of my own thinking, to find ways to assist my own children in their learning. I’m very grateful to my local children centre and their staff for being so creative and helpful in showing us parents how to make learning fun in a cost effective way. Blogs and other social media platforms have also been helpful in giving inspiration. However, now that Angelo is at nursery it’s time to take learning to another level. Some months ago I received a filer from the primary school that his nursery is attached to. It was a course to be run by SCOLA and fortunately a crèche was being provided which meant I could attend. I’ve been attending the course ‘Story-craft with Embedded Literacy’ for a few weeks, and I’ve found it very helpful in preparing me to support both my children in learning for primary school.
On week 1 of ‘Story-craft with Embedded Literacy’ explored phonics. Of course I know my alphabetic but despite being an English I had to think about the sounds that some of the letters make! In my day it was A for Apple, now its Ah for Apple. How about that C- curly cr and K-kicking kr. Oh! And Q-qu now that’s totally new to me, this phonics business. We touched on the five basic skills to learn to reward and write:
- Learning the sounds (sounds)
- Form letter (formation)
- Blending letters putting them together sounding them out (C-A-T= reading)
- Segmenting/chop pulling a word apart (D/O/G=spelling)
- Learning tricking words.
We end each session by reading a children’s books and doing craft inspired by what we have read. In this way I am learning how to use stories a tool for learning in a fun way. Additionally, I developing my own skill at craft which will allow me to engage with my children in a fun and educational way.
In week 2 we touched on the National Curriculum and the Key Stages its divided into That week we read ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ by Eric Carle and we made pen holders.
Week 3 we began looking at grammar. I was amazed at how much I remembered from my own school days. I found myself answering questions not because I totally remembered the application but merely because the words and definitions sprang to mind when the question was posed. This is the thing about drilling. I felt a bit like a dusted off robot that had been powered up to find that all that I knew had been repackaged and relabelled. For example a Conjunction is now known as ‘connectives’. We ended by reading ‘The Jolly Postman’ by Janet & Allan Ahlberg. It’s a very enchanting book that follows the journey of a postman as he delivers mail to fairy-tale characters we know some we love some we hate. Using this book we can explore story sequence, prediction, numbers, events etc.
Week 4 was my favourite by far, we covered punctuation. As a blogger, although my writing is informal try to stick to the rules of grammar best I can. However, there are some grammatical marks that still challenge like the semi colon and the apostrophe. Before the session ended we looked at ‘Perfect Punctuation’ by Kate Petty and Jennie Maizels which is a pop book. How clever is that, eh?! We then read ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’ by Judith Kerr which made brilliant use of grammatical marks.
I’m thoroughly enjoying the course; I’ve got one more session. I feel empowered to support both kids when they begin primary school. I’m mindful of the fact that I can attend these course because I’m a stay at home mum. So, how to working parents get the support they need? Are you a working parent, how does your child’s school help you to help them? How to you supplement and support the learning that you child receives at school. What is this time together with your child like for you, and him/her?