The process of learning a concept or skill isn’t just about thoroughness or accuracy of information, or the proficiency of the teachers. To truly get children to learn effectively, the process must be made engaging and interactive for students, so that they’re not merely passive recipients of knowledge, but active, enjoying participants.
Now, the best schools will have student-centered learning environments and teaching techniques that engage their students to learn effectively. However, learning isn’t merely the responsibility of the school – some things must be engaging at home as well, especially life skills that your children are expected to be immersed in constantly.
Some of the skills where engagement at home is most important, are a child’s language skills. In this article, we provide 7 tips on how to help encourage children to read, write, and speak by getting them to enjoy things.
Humans have listened to storytellers for millennia; for the longest time, it was a key part of the oral tradition and the passage of knowledge, and until now, the art of storytelling is held in high regard. Even today, you’ll find it in how children love to be told bedtime stories, often preferring it over actual reading.
You can give them even more opportunities for listening to stories by having your children visit websites like Storyline Online, which features celebrities reading a variety of children’s storybooks aloud on video. The site includes videos for each storybook, as well as teaching guides that you can use to engage your children about the content.
Reading comes naturally to us as adults, but for children, the first time reading alone can be incredibly intimidating. Encourage your children by going through a book with them first, and then having them read it by themselves. One good thing to do is ask them open-ended questions about the book, not just about its content but also how they felt about it, and what they learned about it.
Sometimes a big part of increasing reading enjoyment is simply adding a wider variety of books to read. But that’s not always possible, especially if you don’t have access to a library. But there are many storybooks that can be accessed from different sources, such as Children’s Storybooks Online, which allow easy and convenient access to fairy tales and classic stories. The site also includes some free lessons and quizzes for certain stories.
It’s not enough to just give your child a variety of storybooks. After all, reading happens everywhere, not just when we want to sit down with a book!
Have your child read whatever they can, whenever they can. Give them the menu at a restaurant and allow them to select what they want by themselves. Let them read street signs and maps, direct them to Wikipedia or other reading-rich sources whenever they ask a question – basically, capture every opportunity for reading and give it to them.
This technique is especially important for bilingual children – immersion is proven to be one of the most effective methods of second language acquisition!
The study of phonics illustrates how letters and words correspond to sounds (phonemes) that we can speak. Learning phonics is an essential element of reading comprehension, so it’s important to get children engaged and interested in learning phonics as early as possible.
Many sites that support reading education, such as Starfall, include interactive phonics that you can explore with your child.
There are also sites that have videos that allow you to help support your children’s phonic education, such as Ruth Miskin Training.
None of these are, of course, as important as simply engaging with your child. Take any opportunity you can to point out objects whose words begin with certain phonemes, whether it’s things on the street or things you see in car rides. You can also reverse the exercise and ask your child to show off items that begin with a certain phoneme.
People write more today than at any other time in history, thanks to the largely text-driven digital revolution. This means so many more opportunities for children to write, and it falls on parents to encourage that.
Have your child write mundane things like shopping lists or directions to school. Ask them to write letters to you, other family members, or friends. You can even have them describe their day to you using writing, or have them keep a journal.
Constant practice is key, and having your child take an active role in what they write is an important exercise in engagement to keep them interested.
At SISD, we make use of the International Baccalaureate curriculum, which includes extensive reading material and plenty of opportunities for engagement. What is read in the classroom is extended to learnings outside, and there are many projects, compositions, and speaking opportunities to engage students in the process of reading, speaking, and writing. Moreover, they’re immersed in a bilingual programme, not just on paper, but also through our native speaking teacher and the diverse community we uphold.