In 2020, the word ‘homework’ has been dramatically redefined for many parents and families as children all over the world have undertaken a remote style of learning for at least part of their schooling year.
Despite what this might have looked like for your family, it is important to remember that learning continues at home even without the teacher aided Zoom sessions and the endless Seesaw posts. Learning at home through planned and incidental activities remains a vital part of any child?s education and the benefits for children in the early years has been proven.
Recent research undertaken by Dr Yeshe Colliver and his team at Macquarie University has revealed that parents are likely to be the most important teachers to their children because children look up to their parents, and they are most likely to adopt their parents? values and dispositions.
The research involved parents demonstrating everyday problem-solving activities which required literacy and numeracy skills, in the presence of their children. The children who were witness to the adult problem-solving started to play more with activities which involved literacy and numeracy, such as letter writing and object sorting. This type of play resulted in improved numeracy and significantly better reading ability, even after only one month.
Dr Colliver suggests 6 activities which parents can do at home to improve their child?s literacy and numeracy:
1) There are never too many chefs: involves discussing the calculations for amount of food to be cooked relative to the number of people eating.
2) Stack the dishwasher together: helps children categorise and count items, and become more spatially aware.
3) Setting the table: letting the child count numbers for items required for setting the table can be foundational for comprehending numeracy. Patterns in table setting offer opportunities for discussion on sequence, order and repetition.
4) Who said shopping wasn?t educational: Comparing the shopping list to labels on supermarket shelves helps with letter identification; discussion on food quantities for purchase helps develop numeracy skills.
5) Writing a letter with a pen and paper to a friend/relative: this demonstrates the importance of literacy and written communication in daily life; discussion of structure and spelling within the letter should be involved.
6) Get out your laptop: parents talking out loud when checking & writing emails shows how valuable the process is in everyday life.
Further details on Dr Colliver’s research into incidental learning can be found here.
Written by: Mrs Mel Bryden (Assistant Head of Junior School, St Luke’s Grammar School, Dee Why Campus)