My top learning tips – using talk to help your child learn

As parents we all want to help our children get on in life and the first step in this is to help them with their learning when they are at school. In this blog post I will give you my top learning tips to really help your child embed new learning in their long term memory.

Learning tips – #1 vocabulary

My top tip is to talk. I don’t just mean about the weather or what they want for tea but talk that develops and challenges their thinking. There are a number of ways you can engage with your child and talk is undeniably one of the most valuable. Children who engage in talk with others from an early age tend to do better in school and later on in exams. Talk means you develop your vocabulary which is vital not just in school but also when you leave school and get a job. Better vocabulary opens doors for you.

So how do you start to develop your child’s vocabulary? Make it fun! Play word games when you are out and about or even on journeys in the car. My children always loved the alphabet game which is great as it is incredibly versatile! Choose a topic e.g. animals and each person has a turn to say a different animal beginning with A, then move on to say a different animal in turn beginning with B. And so on. This game can be used for any topic and really helps to develop vocabulary. As an adult you can introduce your child to a wide range of new vocabulary.

Learning tip #2 – talking in sentences

High expectations gives your child something to aspire to. When teaching I always expect children to reply in a complete sentence. This puts everything into context. Encourage your child to speak in complete sentences. There are so many different types of sentence starters for different circumstances. For example, if you are trying to evaluate something you might start a sentence with, “What I found hard was… because…” whereas if you are comparing you might start with, “One similarity is…” or “Another difference is…” It is important that your child has the opportunity to play with language and learn the correct language structure for the different types of talk.

Learning tips – #3 make it fun!

You can make talk fun and engaging without having to try too hard. There are so many games you can play to practice different skills. I like the game – Odd one out. This can be played with just 2 or more of you. Pick a couple of things and ask the question which is the odd one out. If you choose carefully then there could be more than one answer and this opens up the talk. Expect your child to say ‘because’ as this will encourage them to explain their thinking – a very useful tool for learning. This game can be played with any subject. I like it with Maths – for example, which is the odd one out with these numbers? 2, 5, 8, 10. Give the opportunity for your child to say what they think. You can share your ideas and discuss the difference between them.

Learning tip #3 – using games for learning talk.

Whatever you choose to talk about with your child as long as you talk it counts! If you don’t engage in conversation with your child then they won’t learn from you. Other things could be to ask them what their favourite part of the day was or ask them to tell you 5 things they are looking forward to this week. Whatever you do – make sure it involves talk!

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