Our last parent workshop was for parents who do not use English at home with their children and gave some advice on how to introduce children to using more English at home.
Introducing English at home can be quite difficult when children are used to using another language at home. But it’s good to establish a routine of using English at least a few times a week at home to help children become more used to the language and more familiar with its sounds. It doesn’t matter if you feel your English isn’t very good. At the very least you will be able to help your child feel more confident even if they make errors.
It’s also important to remember that children will often naturally have a ‘silent period’ when they are introduced to a new language, so they may not speak English when you first set up the routine. That’s ok. It is important to allow them to feel there is a back-up if they don’t know how to say something in English to help them avoid becoming too stressed. Having an area or object that your child to go to if they need to use another language other than English can discourage them from freely using their usual home language, while also supporting them if they need it. For example, you might have a special mat that they need to stand on if they want to speak to you in their home language, or pick up a flag or a toy that has been designated as the ‘other language toy’. But remember that just because they speak to you in another language, it doesn’t mean that you should stop using English! Reply to their questions in English to encourage them to use English next time!
Some children might be resistant to using English at home. Having a motivational tool like a special badge or hat for ‘English time’ can make it more fun and make the child feel more special. If you have a routine, such as going to the park or going to the pool a few times a week, you could make ‘park time’ part of ‘English time’ and only use English while you are there. Start off with shorter periods of time and work up to longer periods.
And if you’re really not confident with English, you could ask your child to be your teacher! Children love being teachers and can have a lot of fun playing teacher with family.
Last but not least, remember that when your child speaks any language, their focus will be on the message rather than the grammar. It’s important that as a parent you encourage communication before accuracy, correcting any mistakes after you have responded to what they have said.
Best tips for helping your child with their homework
- Build routines and set goals together.
- Be encouraging. Homework helps your child review and helps the teacher identify what your child has learned. It’s okay if they don’t get it all correct, or if they can’t do it all.
- Let the teacher see their mistakes.
- Help them to self-correct. If you see a mistake, ask your child questions for example – are you sure this is correct? Is that word missing something