If there is one thing you can do to help your child at Nursery, what is it?

We are often asked how parents and carers can support their child at home. Routinely Primary Schools offer parent workshops so that they can see the methods being used to teach children. At Nursery school, children are learning such a broad curriculum. The EYFS https://foundationyears.org.uk/files/2012/03/Development-Matters-FINAL-PRINT-AMENDED.pdf sets out what children need to learn when working towards the early learning goals (ELGs) and most importantly the characteristics of effective learning that we should be encouraging as behaviours. These include being willing to ‘have a go’ and having their own ideas. We support children’s learning in so many ways e.g. extending their vocabulary, supporting them with dealing with conflict or encouraging them to solve problems.

When parents and carers ask me what they can do to support their child, the first thing that I always say is read, read, read! Children need to develop a love of books, know how books work, recognise how a story goes and understand that sometimes characters speak in books (adults often use funny voices to show this!). Parents need to do this even when their children are tiny babies – looking at pictures, touching interactive books, turning pages, hearing soothing words etc. I would recommend that parents read to their children at least once a day and ideally more. Have books all around the house, not just on the shelf in a bedroom and make sure that there are some non-fiction ones too (information books such as atlases, cookbooks etc.) Picture books with no words are brilliant as children can make up their own stories to go with them.

Children will learn so much from you if you are reading with them regularly and this can include them listening to you, them telling you a story (even if they make it up) or reading a bit together. They will develop their listening skills, their familiarity of print, what pictures do to help the reader, early phonological (sounds) awareness by hearing words repeated and what we can find out from books amongst other things. There is even recent research which suggests that early reading is a predictor of later achievement. If you would like to find out more about supporting early reading , below are some resources. The first is a document which bring together all the tried and tested research into recommendations (remember it is mostly based on reception age children):

https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/public/files/Publications/Literacy/Preparing_Literacy_Guidance_2018.pdf

and there is more information here http://www.familyresource.com/parenting/child-development/why-reading-is-so-important-for-children 

Here are a few top tips:

  • Read everything, not just books.
  • Children love to read the same book over and over – that’s perfect for them but unfortunately adults are not often so keen!!
  • Don’t stop reading to and with your child once they can read for themselves – there is so much to learn from hearing someone else read fluently and once children stop reading out loud, they have a habit of missing out bits they don’t quite understand.
  • Try to model reading whenever you can – newspapers, books, recipes etc. – demonstrate how important it is in everyday life.