Catch them young

Updated: Oct 3, 2019

There are so many ways of initiating learning at home. It is always good to expose your children to language as much as possible. Initiate a conversation with your children and have a dialogue. Talk about your day at work and let them talk about their day at school. As the discussion goes on, your children can make a simple grammatical mistake and you can correct him or her immediately. Always use effective language while conversing with children. Slangs should be avoided. Correct your children immediately when they start speaking in slangs.

Most of the words that your child will learn often come from hearing you use them. Sometimes, use big words to communicate to your children. The inquisitive ones will ask what those words mean and you can encourage them to grab their dictionary and check it out. At other times, you may tell them what the words mean and encourage them to use it. Through this way, they will learn new words and how to use them.

One of the greatest fears that most young people experience is not having the right words to express their feelings and thoughts. You will often hear some say that they “know what they want to write but do not know how to write it”. How are they going to find the right words to express themselves if they do not expose themselves to different kinds of writing? Those who fail to read will also struggle to write. Parents should devote some time to reading to and with their children in order to help them form the habit of reading. Read with your children; read to them and listen to them read regularly. They are far more likely to enjoy reading if they see that you are reading too. Every little story helps.

As a Parent, you should take your children to the bookshop or library to select high quality books that are appropriate for their age. It is by reading other people’s work that they will discover new words and styles of writing. If a child can learn 10 new words every day and how they are used, it will transform that child’s life. It is also a good idea to keep a diary of words, their meanings and how they are used. Words are like treasures. If they keep banking them, they will become better off. If they lack the right words to express themselves, they could easily be defeated in the battle of context.

Take your children with you while shopping. You can ask your child to help out with writing the shopping list while you call the items out. Calling out those lists is nothing but ‘dictation’ and you could check that the spellings are correct before heading to the supermarket, where another fun learning begins. You can introduce spell and get game whereby anyone who gets the spelling correctly, gets the item. Take time to discuss the setting, the products, etc, with the appropriate words. If they can learn all the words used in the food section, that’s a great starter. The main course will come later on. If you’ve been using those words at home, they will learn to use it as well and it will become part of their common vocabulary.

Sometimes, to learn how to write properly, you have to listen to a conversation. You can also learn new words by listening to other people’s conversations. So, your children have just finished watching a film, why not ask them to review it? Everyone likes to write a review. Through this exercise alone, they will learn how to adapt language to suit a specific audience. You can as well encourage them to listen to the news or documentaries and ask them to summarise it. That should form part of their listening and speaking task.

Next week could be turned into a “News week” featuring either one of your children as the news reporter or reader. You can even video it with your phone and share the video clip with them. Let them listen to their own news and share it with their friends, if they wish. You don’t always have to be the reader. They too can read while you relax and listen. You can as well give them any of the dailies to read out loudly while you listen.

Sometimes, we need to give in order to get. There is nothing really bad in allowing that chat show with their friends on WhatsApp to go on for 2 hours if only they could repay the time by adapting it into a dialogue. That is the first step to learning how to write a play.

Expose your children to different experiences so that they will have stories to tell and write about. Children are always told to write about their experiences. From the foundation stage, they have to learn the art of composition. It is important that children start from a young age to develop this habit of writing. Introduce them to letter writing. There are so many things to write about. At an early age, they can learn how to persuade, criticise, complain, report, argue, describe, compare and contrast things. They can as well learn how to summarise all kinds of writing. Letter writing is key to getting that dream job in the future and they must be taught how to compose that perfect piece. They can as well learn how to keep a diary. All these activities are fun and can be incorporated into the daily schedule. Learning begins at home and you must catch them young.

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