Parents’ role is vital in their children’s upbringing and learning. The teacher may lack enough time to allot to each child to achieve desirable results. Parents, surely, have more time to devote to their child and know his/her interests better. They can trigger intrinsic motivation, organize varied and meaningful activities. Their guidance and motivation may lead to fruitful results, therefore in this article, we will discuss some important aspects of how parents can help their children learn a foreign language.
In an ideal learning setting, a child needs help both from the teacher and the parent. They provide
- information on language structure, words, grammar patterns;
- direction on how to use this information;
- care and motivate. Children learn better when they see continuous support and care from their teachers and parents. They get more encouraged when they are praised for their hard work and achieved results.
- energy while practising the language. No matter if the activity is designed by the teacher or the parent, it should be fun, engaging and motivating so that the child learns in a stress-free environment.
However, parents may lack the appropriate level of English or have limited access to the learning materials. So we have prepared a list of the most useful activities that parents can get involved in while helping their children to learn English. You can send these lists of activities to parents of your students.
Activities for parents who lack time or level of English.
- Encourage your child to write emails/letters/notes/short messages/SMS to their English speaking friend, grandparent or imaginary friend.
- Ask them to create a collection of their favourite words and teach them to you, keep those words in a special box and add more.
- Ask the child to draw a picture and label ten things. They can use dictionaries if needed. In the same way, they can design a robot, a pet or a wild animal, label their body parts, list what it can/can’t do. They can design their dream home or room by labelling the colours or the furniture items.
- Ask your child to think of a one-week “ dream menu”, “weather diary”, “list of everyday activities/leisure activities”.
Activities for parents who have time or appropriate level of English:
- Read stories, pause and ask what is happening, what has just happened or might happen next. In the same way, they can create stories of their own by being provided with a set of words or pictures. Storytelling/reading is an effective way of language learning since our emotional buttons are pushed and the information is processed better through emotional channels.
- You can create a set of laminated pictures of different people. Put the photos on the floor or on the table. You choose in your mind one of the photos and describe it to your child without saying who it is. Your child must guess the photo and then he/she chooses a photo and describes it to you.
- Organize a fun “One minute English” activity during the day either at mealtimes, or car journeys. This must include a short speaking activity that creates a natural environment for language processing. At mealtime, you can ask the child to mention the food names in English, tell his/her favourite food, where they can buy it from, etc. While driving the child somewhere you can ask him to mention the colours of the cars passing by, count them or even describe what is happening on the street in the nearby car, etc.
- Watch cartoons or films with the volume turned off and ask the child to describe what is happening there. Then reverse roles.
- Move some furniture in the room and ask the child to spot the objects which are in different places and where they were.
- Ask the child to speak about his Sports/Music/English/Maths or any other subject lesson. They must do it in English. In this way, you share information, have quality time with your child and practice his/her English.
- Play a memory game. Put some 10 objects on a tray (pen, toy car, pencil, bok, etc). Let the child see them for some 30 seconds then remove the tray .They must write a list of the objects they saw. As an alternative, you can take out some 4-5 items and ask them to find which items are missing.
You can get more ideas on how to get engaged in children’s language learning here.
To sum up, parents’ role is greatly valued and effective when it comes to language learning. They can empower their kids, show their guidance and interest in the child’s academic life. All this will lead to great results later on.
How do you help your students’ parents get involved in the learning process? Which of the mentioned tips will be more useful and practical?
Building a trusting relationship with students’ parents is one of the most important tasks on the way to great results. There is a short online course from Skyteach School «How to make a student’s parent an ally» that will help you to:
- convince the parent of your expertise and effectiveness of your methods
- identify the real purpose of both the parent and the student
- build a trusting relationship with them