He may have developed a fear or insecurity towards English, due to either a lack of exposure or regular practice.
It is important for you to support him in his learning journey. Here are 6 simple tips you can use to help your child develop a solid foundation in the English language.
1. Read quality and engaging books
“The more that you read, the more that you’ll know. The more that you know, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss.
Reading enlarges a child’s mind in a way that few other activities can. When a child reads, he is not only absorbing knowledge, he is also firming his grasp of the language and picking up new vocabulary along the way.
Pick a relaxed time for you and your child, and make reading part of your daily routine.
Some classics to explore with your primary-school-going child are:
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardobe by C.S. Lewis
Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
The BFG by Roald Dahl
The Giver by Lois Lowry
The Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
2.Make the language come alive through interaction and discussion
Whenever possible, interact with your child using proper English. It’s actually killing two birds with one stone – you’re bonding with your child while also helping to strengthen his foundation.
The easiest way to do so is over an activity, game or book. Simple everyday activities work best, such as a visit to the supermarket, or a craft activity that you plan to do at home.
Keep your usage of Singlish to a minimum, and don’t shy away from using new words that your child does not comprehend yet.
You can also help your child structure his thoughts in a clearer way, with a beginning, middle and end, using transition words such as “At first,” “because,” and “finally.”
3. Engage all four literacy skills
Reading, writing, listening and speaking are all part and parcel of the same learning process called literacy. Practice in one aspect enhances the others.
At ELLoquence, we make sure we engage our learners in all four literacy aspects. When we facilitate class discussions, our students listen and then speak out to share their own ideas. We also give them time to read key texts and then encourage them to practise writing their own thoughts or creative stories. We also help them plan and structure their writing so that it is less daunting and more achievable for them.
Engaging all four skills encourages learning in the most efficient and memorable way possible, and builds awareness of the rules, structure and syntax of the English language.
4.Allow sufficient time to practise past topics and skills
Let’s face it – children these days are often stretched for time. The thing is, time is what they need in order to truly learn and internalise new concepts. It may also require some repetition in order for these concepts to take root in your child’s mind.
One way to help is to consciously revise new words or grammar rules. Have a notebook handy to write down these new lessons. You can also reinforce his learning by using these words in different contexts, so that your child is able to identify more examples relating to the same topic or rule. Remember, don’t force the language upon your child; instead think of small and creative ways to expose him to English. Set small achievable goals at the beginning so that he is motivated to learn more.
5.Provide constructive feedback on your child’s writing
If your child has started composition writing in school, you may want to work with him on critiquing his own writing. First, identify both the good and bad parts about his writing. Give him a chance to share his feedback first, and then offer your suggestions and tips.
Try not to be judgmental and to keep the tone light. You don’t want to make your child feel bad about his work as he is still an emerging writer. One tip is to point out what you like, and then say “Can you do more of that in future?”
Also, give your child opportunities to ask questions or clarify aspects that he may not understand.
6. Use technology in an age-appropriate way to enhance your child’s learning
Our children are digital natives – they are drawn to the power and speed of technology. While there is also a time for good ol’ conventional methods, such as scribbling ideas on a whiteboard, or writing on paper, technology can be an aid if used properly and with care.
At ELLoquence, children learn new and higher order vocabulary faster and experience better retention by using specially designed vocabulary apps. They then become more adept at connecting words to meaningful texts and are intellectually stimulated via the various levels of challenge.
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