Improving your child’s literacy…the challenges and the opportunities for parents

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‘Inspiring tuition that enables children to flourish!’

Why not give our literacy or 11plus familiarity or the mindfulness, confidence building workshops a go for your child? Launching in Halton in the lovely ‘Court View’ room (just up the metal staircase on the side of the clubhouse, at the end of the first car park) on 9th November for 6 weeks…All whilst you have a relaxing coffee in the lovely surrounds of Halton!

To book tuition for your child, simply visit the website address below and click the ‘Booking’ tab.

We look forward to working with your child.

Improving your child’s literacy…the challenges and the opportunities for parents

The importance of literacy can be seen everywhere you look in our modern world. There are words on signs, in books, on websites, in forms, on vehicles etc. All of these different types of language use are outside of the classroom, and then, of course, there are the classroom literacy tasks too. The world runs on words, so reading and writing are absolutely essential life skills.

Success in literacy is enabling. Equally, low levels of literacy hamper success in many different areas of life, work and in study. For some primary age children, improving their literacy skills seems almost effortless; for others there are so many elements of the English language to master. So what can parents do to support the following?:

  • increasing vocabulary;

  • improving spelling;

  • writing legibly, with neat cursive handwriting;

  • learning grammar rules;

  • accurately punctuating their written work;

  • developing the ability to read fluently;

  • writing engaging, easy to read responses;

  • developing good comprehension skills and

  • improving speaking and listening skills.

The enormity of the importance of successful literacy progress cannot be underestimated. Equally the frustration for the child who sits in the classroom unable to access the lesson, or learning, is huge. What kinds of issues, therefore, do primary school aged children face when working on their literacy skills?

  • Sometimes there is a SEND (Special Educational Need or Disability) or medical issue. For example Dyslexia, ADHD, Dyspraxia, Autism spectrum, cognitive processing issues, etc…all leading to additional challenges for the young person;

  • Sometimes there are confidence issues…they may not want to draw attention to themselves, so they prefer to muddle through, go under the radar, and often not ask for help in their classroom setting;

  • Then there are those that fear failure…so they deliberately cause a distraction or fail to focus, as it minimizes the amount of time available to complete a task. They tend to hold the belief that they cannot fail if they have not tried;

  • There are also some who have what may be termed a ‘fixed mindset’ and may believe you either have a talent for writing or you don’t. The work of Carol Dweck, the psychologist, is hugely revealing; ( See TED Talk )

  • Emotional issues or previous childhood trauma impact hugely on learning;

  • Mental health issues such as anxiety or depression, and

  • Difficult life events (abuse, bereavement, divorce, moving to a new house, moving to a new school, friendship breakdown, bullying, death of a pet etc.) outside of the classroom impact on behaviour, focus and motivation generally.

As an educationalist and teacher of twenty-seven years, I know that there are thirty pupils in the room with all sorts of issues, so there are a simply a huge number of things to consider! There are also the pupils who have such a head start in life and grasp literacy skills with ease and excel. They also need challenge and excitement to keep them motivated too! With any given class there is the national curriculum to cover in full, and all its subjects, mostly needing an excellent grasp of literacy in order to achieve successful outcomes. Then there are the specific requirements of the tests called SATS to prepare the children for undertaking. These assessments takes place in year six.

As a teacher, an education adviser and teacher trainer, I spend a lot of time working with teachers to identify that behaviour is a form of communication. Working out what the behaviour (their actions or inaction) is telling us and working with pupils to ensure that they are understood, and that their needs are met, become crucial factors for successful earning to take place. Schools are definitely starting to work much more therapeutically with their pupils…the trouble is there are always the other twenty-nine pupils in the room at any given time, often with a specific or emotional need!

All this and I haven’t even mentioned the Bucks 11+ system (‘Secondary Transfer Test’). Hardly any curriculum time is allowed in Buckinghamshire’s primary schools for practicing these tests for equity reasons.

This assessment tests if your child can think through, and work out, “verbal, numerical and non-verbal” problems. The test provides the chance to “show their skills in different ways - using words, numbers and pictures or diagrams.”

Buckinghamshire County Council Grammar schools and Secondary Transfer Testing - 2020 Entry

The trouble is, that the outcome of this test determines whether a child has the ability to attend a grammar school. Pupils know this; they hear parental discussions and they often report feeling pressure from a very young age. It is a system virtually unique to Buckinghamshire (and a couple of remaining counties and individual schools around the country). It also causes huge stress for parents too. It is well recognised that it is not a level playing field…obviously those that can afford to purchase many different practice papers, have access to tuition, and have solid literacy and numeracy skills already, are more likely to succeed in crossing the magical 121 threshold and gaining entry to grammar school. None of this is guaranteed though, as life can throw up all sorts of issues on the day…we all have off days, especially if we are stressed.

There are some tutors that will only take on those pupils that pass an assessment threshold and will more than likely pass with only a few practice papers undertaken. Whilst we do assess pupils, looking intently for all the reasons that may be holding back a child, ‘Flourishing Futures Education Centre’ are proud to state that they take on ALL pupils, as the skills covered in these sessions are ‘skills’ needed for all aspects of life, not just a test that happens in Sept in the beginning of year 6.

Of course, we do our best to help children to fulfil their potential and hopefully to succeed in their 11+ paper score, but we will not turn a child away…It is well known that brain development is not linear and life’s twists and turns can equally motivate and de-motivate children. We aim to provide inspiring tuition that enables children to flourish. The psychology of learning is so much more intricate and important, in many ways, than what is covered. We use a unique approach to build pupils’ learning powers, develop a growth mindset and understand, and be enabled to climb out of the ‘learning pit’ in order to succeed. These skills are transferable to both the tennis court, and life in general too!

The Learning Pit by James Nottingham

How can parents help?

You may recognise that there is an issue that is holding your child back from fulfilling their full potential at school. Your child’s teacher may have voiced a concern, or you may simply feel that more literacy practice is hugely enriching, or that 11+ familiarity is necessary for success. Improvements in literacy ultimately leads to further success in all of their school subjects! You may simply want to nurture their passion for literacy – budding future authors (or is it blog writers now) are welcome! They learn so much more at home than some parents realise. It’s not all about sitting down with them to go through the ‘homework’ task.

Why not try to do some or all of the following:

  • Surrounding your child with books – use visits to the book shop to encourage a love of literature;

  • Visit the library regularly and stagger home with a huge pile of books to read from a young age;

  • Model reading in front of your child and talk about how much you enjoy the book you are reading;

  • Discuss different literary genres (thrillers, murder mysteries, adventure stories, biographies, romantic fiction, science fiction, and do not forget, poetry etc);

  • Notice with them, the wonders of the English language when you are reading (for instance, their, there and they’re) and spot punctuation. Try to keep noticing writing when you are out and about too;

  • Ask them to read recipes or instructions to you;

  • Curl up for 10 mins with your child for a snuggle and read of a family favourite;

  • Buy a newspaper and share an appropriate article and ask them what they think;

  • Share your mistakes and your written errors…show them that learning is a journey and that you are always learning too;

  • Celebrate drafting as a process…first time round their words (and yours) will always need amending and improving;

  • Put up their great work on the fridge or around the house, and

  • Look up words with them that you cannot spell or do not know the exact meaning. This will demonstrate that you are still learning! We can even use ‘Alexa’ voice recognition devices nowadays;

  • Encourage a questioning, open mind…what do you want to know about x, y or z!

Children who have this approach often have a broader vocabulary, a growth mindset and a love of the written word that they bring with them to school. I personally find it sad when I see parents in supermarkets telling their child to be quiet when they are simply asking questions. Be warned, these children will possibly be the teenagers of the future that disappear out with their friends and off up to their room the moment they can isolate themselves, as they just haven’t felt valued, understood, heard or appreciated. Our actions really matter.

Flourishing Futures Education Centre:

Whether it’s familiarity and practice of the 11+, or SATS, or you just want to give your child the best possible start, parents often seek help from tutors. We are here to help. One to one tuition has been seen as the gold standard, but it is very expensive and my experience tells me that often it doesn’t deserve that accolade. Having delivered small group tuition and one to one tuition, small groups are definitely best from a social perspective and a cheaper alternative to achieve identical outcomes. A small group can boost and nurture each other as members of the ‘TEAM,’ encouraging them just as much as the tutor, to fulfil their potential and FLOURISH. Sometimes children can feel a bit in awe of the adult they work with on a one to one basis, finding relaxing sufficiently into tasks challenging and therefore making it harder to succeed fully, if they feel somewhat daunted. Children relax quicker and settle to tasks faster if they can see others of a similar age having a go too. Equally a small group allows for very individual support as well.

‘Inspiring tuition that enables children to flourish!’

Why not give our literacy or 11plus familiarity or the mindfulness, confidence building workshops a go for your child? Launching in Halton in the lovely ‘Court View’ room (just up the metal staircase on the side of the clubhouse, at the end of the first car park) on 9th November for 6 weeks…All whilst you have a relaxing coffee in the lovely surrounds of Halton!

To book tuition for your child, simply visit the website address below and click the ‘Booking’ tab.

We look forward to working with your child.

Jayne Wright - BA (English and Psychology), PGCE, MA (Education)

Jayne Wright, is the founder of ‘Flourishing Schools’ and Director of Learning at ‘Flourishing Futures Education Centre’ hosted at Halton UK Tennis Centre on Saturday mornings. She holds full DBS clearance and has a PGCE and MA in Education. An experienced tutor, teacher and educational adviser for 27 years, she brings with her a wealth of experience in literacy tutoring, 11+ preparation, psychology teaching and from her mindfulness training, aiming to support all children to flourish.

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Everyball Tennis,,,
Halton Tennis Centre
Chestnut End, Halton
Aylesbury HP22 5PD, UK

Tel: +44 (0)1296 623453

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