Try these simple ideas and give your child’s grey cells a workout over the holidays!
For children, the summer holidays provide an important break from the routine of school-based learning and offer the opportunity to spend time with their families, get outside, watch TV, climb trees and enjoy an ice cream or two!
However, if you want to sneak in some English learning over the holidays to keep things ticking over until September, here are five things to try:
1) Use audiobooks to support comprehension skills
If your child is an avid reader, they might be looking forward to a summer immersing themselves in facts, fantasy worlds and fictional friends. If not, you can still support your child’s reading comprehension – you just need to employ stealth tactics. If you’re going away, break up long car journeys or flights by listening to an audiobook together. Encourage them to talk about their ideas and reactions to the story. This is also a great way to expose less confident readers to challenging texts they might find hard to read on their own.
2) Set a fact-finding challenge
Collect flyers or visit the website of somewhere you plan to visit over the holidays. Ask your child to use the information available to plan your visit and act as a tour guide while you’re there. Explain that they will need to research facts they think you or your family will find interesting, to share during the visit. They will have to use their comprehension skills to select the best information from the text.
3) Revise tricky spellings before September
Select three spellings at a time from those your child has got wrong in tests or found the hardest to learn over the last year. Stick them around the house – on the fridge, on the bathroom mirror, on the back of the door of the downstairs toilet – or write them in large letters on a sheet of paper, laminate it and use it as your child’s placemat. You can find more strategies to help your child learn spellings here and here.
4) Play a punctuation game
Revising punctuation ‘off the cuff’ isn’t easy. Try turning it into a game instead. Start by cutting up a couple of sheets of paper or card into playing card-sized pieces. Next, draw a different, large punctuation mark on each one. You’ll need to check the punctuation your child has already learnt at school, but by the end of Year 5 they should have covered: full stops, commas, inverted commas, apostrophes, brackets, dashes (that act like brackets), question marks, exclamation marks and capital letters. Start by describing the use of as many punctuation marks as possible in three minutes without actually naming the punctuation marks. Ask your child to name each punctuation mark and hold up the right card for each one. When your child is ready, increase the level of challenge by getting them to do the describing, while you name the punctuation marks and hold up the cards.
If your child is about to enter Year 6, the York Notes Grammer, Punctuation and Spelling: Study Guide covers all the concepts they will need to prepare for the SATs.
5) Create a non-fiction text
Finally, if your child is creative or enjoys collecting things, buy them a scrapbook to document their summer holidays. Encourage them to present information in different ways and add captions to tickets, postcards or other treasures they’ve stuck in. Draw on the layout of the pages in information books you have at home for inspiration!
In this way you’ll keep their knowledge and creativity ticking over during the long, hot summer days!
Emilie Martin is a Primary Education Consultant at York Notes and an experienced primary teacher and English subject leader.