“Hands up if you love Maths.”
I stood silently watching a flood of hands leap into the air.
There was only one hand that refused to go up and that was from the only student in the class who found escapism in writing stories that were pages long.
Every other hand signalled that Maths was the subject of choice.
My heart sank for a moment as I realised that so few children love English the way I do.
Growing up, books provided me with an entrance into another universe. The chance to escape from life’s hustle and bustle and enter into a new realm.
Reading provided me with happiness, warmth, comfort and so much more.
How could these children not find English to be the most fascinating subject?
Why didn’t they have any enthusiasm for it?
During a conversation with Dr Weston, she shared an insight that made me realise why so many children lack interest in literacy. She said something along the lines of:
”Parents often don’t know how to create an environment of literacy in the home.”
Her statement made perfect sense.
Perhaps the reason why so many children love Maths is because their parents create a mathematical environment in the home or an environment that fosters a passion for learning the subject.
In comparison, so few parents know how to create an environment that encourages a passion for English. Some aren’t passionate about the subject themselves whilst others simply don’t have the know-how to teach it at home.
I can completely understand why it might be difficult for parents to encourage their child to enjoy learning English especially if everyone at home is a Maths whizz.
So how can you create and foster an environment of literacy in the home?
Here are three things you can do.
1. Read with your child at night.
Bedtime stories are one of the most magical parts of childhood. They create memories that last a lifetime. However, in this busy age it’s easy for parents to dismiss them and to simply encourage their children to read themselves to sleep. Instead of telling your child to read alone, take 15 minutes each night to read to them or listen to them read.
Whenever they spot a word they don’t know, explain the meaning of it to them. Bedtime reading is a great way to enhance your bond with your child whilst also encouraging them to enjoy reading and benefit from it.
2. Have Table Topics.
I remember coming across a company a few years ago that specialised in table topic cards for families. The idea was to encourage families to eat together and discuss important topics such as global warming, politics and the arts. Nowadays, so few families sit together to eat and when they do each family member is glued to their phone refusing to interact with the other.
When a child sees lack of interaction in the home as the norm they begin to feel as if it’s okay to not talk to people and avoid communication. If your household is filled with phone addicts it’s time to make some changes and create a dinner time that is filled with conversation and engagement. The benefit of this is that it will stimulate your child’s mind and encourage them to think openly, listen to the opinions of others and assert themselves. These are the very skills that are needed for literacy especially with regards to discursive and persuasive writing skills,
3. Invest in Books.
Growing up my Dad had the wonderful habit of bringing home books on an almost daily basis. Even when he didn’t have a penny to his name he would go to a library to borrow books or head to Oxfam and pick up wonderful books for us to read. Watching him leap through the door with a handful of books is one of the fondest memories I have of childhood. You see, investing in books doesn’t have to be expensive. There are so many libraries where you can borrow books from as well as some brilliant charity shops that sell books for as little as a few pence.
I still walk into charity shops to browse the book section from time to time and am usually amazed by the variety of books available. One thing I’ve noticed is that children who are brilliant readers and writers are often surrounded by books at home and their parents are happy to invest in them.
If you want your child to develop an interest in English then put some effort into buying them high quality reading books. They don’t have to be expensive and quite often the classic books are the cheapest.
Now it’s your turn, follow the three steps above and then leave a comment below sharing one thing you learnt from this post.
Here’s to a happy 2018!