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The joys of homework... Part 1...

Photo credit: Rachel on Unsplash

A couple of weeks ago I discussed why it was important to 'grow' a creative child and briefly gave an overview of what to do, but this week I want to delve a bit deeper and look at ways you as a parent can support creative learning when faced with homework that can be anything but.

Homework, especially at primary ages, is always a tricky concept for both teachers and parents. It is something that is often expected by parents; it can help children to review what they have been doing in class; it gets them into a routine, ready for secondary education, where their learning definitely extends into home life. Unfortunately, because of these reasons, the homework (which of course adds to the already big load that a teacher has) is very often in my experience, a worksheet or written piece that can be done in a reasonable amount of time, with little, if no support. As teachers, we don't want to overload parents or children and make homework a struggle to complete, either because of time or dislike!

But does this homework make a difference in class? Does it inspire and excite a child to know more and run into class the next week expecting to find out more... err... generally NO.

Is homework easy to do with your child? Again, in my experience with parents I'd say many struggle to get it done for one reason or another. In my own parental experience, I know that being creative myself usually helped, but homework wasn't a fun time.

So this week, let's look at some ideas to get you started on a creative learning journey and make learning more fun when spelling (as these do come home every week and are important:

  • Firstly, you are building a word using sounds most of the time. Make sure you are happy saying the pure sounds (google "saying pure sounds"). It makes it so much easier to blend if you say them correctly. The bonus is that if your child knows their sounds well, spelling with sounds should be good too! You can also use syllables to break words down for them. Split it up verbally and physically with the syllables on separate cards*

  • Use cereal packets* to make word cards together. Talk about how to colour code them for spellings and discuss why (so all the 'ch' sounds are red, but the 'sh' sounds are blue, for example). Use these cards as flashcards or make a double set to play snap! Remember kids love to use things they have made much more than the ones you buy for them. Plus, it gives you an opportunity to discuss recycling and other issues which will extend their thinking for future learning ;-)

  • Don't discard previously learnt spellings, keep the cards and make other games together, such as bingo boards for them. It is good to review spellings over and over. Often, children learn them for the test and then don't apply them. By playing games with the words again and again, they are committing them to memory more easily.

  • Try missing word games. Use your word cards and scatter them around the house or garden. Now give your child a sentence with a missing word and ask them to find the right word to fit the sentence (you can write it out if needed). Not only will they be active, and excited, but they will have to read the word and then decide if it fits - work those memory muscles!! Younger children will need to return to the sentence (or you) with each word, but hey!, it's great exercise! Oh, and gives you chance for a coffee! ;)

  • Activity is a great way to learn while you are young - try spelling whilst hopping, skipping or jumping (together if necessary!). Hopscotch is another great spelling game with the right number of squares. Be creative and adapt any games to fit what you need to get out of them.

  • For example, the word (and number) game Countdown could be a good way to learn how to identify words and spell them for older children. Scatter letter cards (anywhere!) and then put the timer on, with an extra minute for collecting, say, 8 cards. See how many words they can make before the timer runs out!

  • My final tip is never to learn spellings in order! Rote learning for the test often means it is not held in the brain fully and like I said before is not then applied in writing because it hasn't been learnt fully, making writing a struggle that it needn't be. Mix it up each time and make it fun!

It doesn't take much (a cereal box or two in this case) to create a fun activity that can be so powerful in learning. Thinking of ways to learn without sitting at a table is the best way to begin a creative learning journey with your child, and before long they may well be coming up with their own ideas, which, let's face it, is the ultimate goal!

I'll be back with more tips in a fortnight, but do let me know how you get on! I'd love to know if your child enjoys any activities or is learning something a certain way. Sharing your ideas is all part of our learning as parents too :)

See you very soon and stay creative!

Deb x

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