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How much learning do you do at home with your primary age children?

(24 Posts)
Penny2012 Fri 13-Feb-15 13:30:54

Hello, I am a primary school teacher and often hear staff say that they wish that families did more reading, maths and talking with their children at home.

So, I thought I would try to find out more. If you have primary aged children, how much do you do with them at home? Are you led by what they are learning at school, or do you make up activities yourself? What resources do you use? Do you enjoy learning with your child at home? Do they enjoy learning with you? Do you find it difficult and why?

I have a 2.5 year old son and I do absolutely loads with him but having spoken to others I suspect I'm either a total geek or it's because it's my job!

I'm really interested in what families do at home with their children. It totally fascinates me.

Hope you don't mind sharing and it generates a good discussion. Xx

MrsCakesPrecognition Fri 13-Feb-15 13:38:57

I don't do any "learning" in terms of doing special activities which are ring-fenced from the rest of our family life. But we talk about everything; read; Google things; make stuff; cook; swim; write computer programmes; create websites; cycle; visit parks, museums and other interesting places; play music and slob around in our PJs. We don't do anything because it is educational or because we should, we doing things we are interested in and enjoy.

notsogoldenoldie Fri 13-Feb-15 13:48:38

Talking, yes. Discussing, yes. Creating an environment that supports homework, reading, music etc, yes. Ensuring that dc is alert, fed, rested and ready for school, yes.

That's it, really.

strawberryshoes Fri 13-Feb-15 13:49:59

Same as above except my 4 year old is hypermobile so we do try to play games which I know help with fine motor skill development.

We read every day, talk about the seasons, news, world events (mostly nice ones), go out and about, count things as we play or use dice, paint and colour, talking about colours and mixing new colours. Find patterns and create patterns, look for shapes 3 and 2D. She practices writing cards and thank you letters for birthdays and such... I don't use resources, just whatever toys or stuff we have about.

DD needs more help with social skills than academic though, so I am also trying to get more play dates for her.

TheHappyCamper Fri 13-Feb-15 13:50:53

We do a fair bit with dd (year 1) - partly because we feel we should, partly because we want to and enjoy it.

We do loads of reading. Every day. DH tells me off for spending too much on books! We do maths a couple of times a week. Her school have an online thing we can log on to. Sometimes we do a bit in those workbooks you can buy.

We make sure that we go to interesting places e.g. museums, but also that we have plenty of down time and running about on the beach, at weekends.

The main reason that we don't do more is that dd is still 5 and gets really exhausted being at school. I think she must use up a lot of energy concentrating all day!

I am also starting to introduce her to playing the piano (properly, rather than just bashing it!) and learning to read music.

fattymcfatfat Fri 13-Feb-15 13:56:24

I agree with mrscakes
we discuss all sorts throughout the day and it is always child led. if my 6yr old ds wants to go to the paek we go to the park. if while we are there dd picks up leaves we talk about leavws and the noises they make, the colour they are etc. (she is only 14 months). we read all the time and with ds discuss what we have just read. everything we do is spoken about and he knows so much! he really enjoys our trips to the museum and the nature reserve. I dont drive but these are all luckily within walking distance for us. he is really into space atm so he has a telescope which we look through at night to look at the moon and stars and he has told me how the stars are burning gases etc. dd is into dinosaurs. ..we make the dinosaur toys fight and roar! she chases us telling us roar and waits for us to scream, then we roar at her and she runs waddles off screaming. poor neighbours!

slippermaiden Fri 13-Feb-15 13:58:19

I have twins age 7. I do their homework with them, and we usually read their reading book once or twice a week. Apart from that we play together, bake, go swimming, for bike rides. We talk about the plants in the garden. They got "making" set for Christmas, my sons was science and my daughters was knitting. Even tho I find the science set a bit annoying I will do it with u son so he can learn and enjoy it. When they were toddlers I did lots of crafts and books and discovering stuff. Now they go to school there aren't enough hours in the day!

loveyoutothemoon Fri 13-Feb-15 14:58:07

I think my daughters do sufficient learning at school and with homework/reading (after school). But also learn huge amounts from every day activities after school and weekends which is also important. Their free time is their free time.
When I say they learn stuff from every day activities, I mean, after school clubs, swimming, park, shopping, parties, going to see family, baking, chilling at home. Additional to school and homework, reading and maths I think is expecting too much and unrealistic.

Penny2012 Fri 13-Feb-15 15:02:09

These responses show how much some parents really understand. I love the comment that said they were led by what their child wanted to do. I like that Mrscakes didn't do ringfenced activities and the learning was immersed in what they were already doing. It sounds a really natural way of doing it.

I bet the amount of homework schools set varies. You all sound pretty switched on. In the school I work in, many parents cannot read or write.

dinoswore Fri 13-Feb-15 15:23:38

Penny, MN is a hotbed of parents who actually care about parenting. The kind you speak of are not to be found here (nor will be attracted by this thread) so you will receive a fairly biased response.

As for me, I don't like sitting my DC down to do formal work at home, but we do lots of learning through talking, play, crafting, outings etc. Very child led - their curiosity is unstoppable and I let that guide our explorations. Sometimes my 6yo asks me to write her some sums and mark her answers, which I do quite happily, but nothing structured or formal. Home is for relaxing and being themselves.

MrsCakesPrecognition Fri 13-Feb-15 15:30:30

I do wonder if schools could offer more in terms of adult education, perhaps using the fact that they are local, familiar and have some space to get a local HE college in to offer basic literacy and maths skills, as well as parenting information. But I know that even then some parents are very hard to reach.

Mehitabel6 Fri 13-Feb-15 15:32:21

A library ticket and lots of reading of stories.
Board games, card games, word games, puzzles - for fun
Cooking, gardening, craft things.
No formal work at all.
Led by them.

Looseleaf Fri 13-Feb-15 15:37:20

I definitely try to focus on keeping our home environment interesting as don't have a lot of space and there's always a risk of relying on tv so I have to keep ahead of it!
I read constantly to DD as a toddler and now she's 7 and always try to teach her more about the world and she enjoys current affairs. Her maths is a struggle so we support that too as far as can keeping her keen and buy her maths exercises she seems happy doing with us.
DS is 3 and similarly we get books out of the library all the time including non-fiction and I follow his interests so he enjoys maps and numbers.
I would say I often try to teach them eg if new vocabulary comes up in a book I ask if they know it, but always within what they find interesting so never any pushing and sometimes this is hard eg if DD isn't interested in her school work one week I don't like to force it and try to get it done as far as can without pushing

notsogoldenoldie Fri 13-Feb-15 16:01:34

Penny as a PP noted, you're preaching to the converted here. I'm sure you're right though, in that there are many parents who are unwilling or unable to get involved with their children's education, inside school or outside of it.

These parents are probably-and quite understandably- under the impression that this is what school is forgrin

Toastandsympathy Fri 13-Feb-15 16:16:16

Penny - with the various maths/english/reading/spellings homework and compulsory recorder practice, I would say that more of the same is not necessarily good (I see that as the school's role). My role is to enhance - museums/cooking/gardening/exploring/looking at art or understanding the world. I am surprised by your colleagues comments (except the talking point which I completely agree with)

Penny2012 Fri 13-Feb-15 17:08:05

The point about people on MN already being passionate about parenting is so true. It's really inspiring for me to read comments from people who are very clear about their own view on this. As you can probably guess from my comment about our parents, many of our children are at a real disadvantage having parents who struggle themselves and are therefore so behind national expectations that extra help at home with basic things would be of real benefit. The pressure on teachers for children to meet standards is huge hence the comments wishing parents could help our children more.

loveyoutothemoon Fri 13-Feb-15 19:39:57

Penny, the particular type you are talking about, do you really think they would be able/willing to give their children extra help at home? People like this rely on the school to help.

MrsCakesPrecognition Fri 13-Feb-15 19:59:17

I think people are willing, but don't always have the tools to help their child. I remember listening to a dad talking on the radio about his shame that his dyslexia meant he felt unable to read to his children. He was working with an organisation who were supporting him to tell stories from memory, make up stories and rhymes with his DC, to look at books like "You choose" to explore the stories behind the pictures and above all to be enthusiastic about sharing and talking to his child. Both father and child were enjoying themselves and the child was doing better in school.
With the right information, the father was able to transform his and his DCs approach to literacy learning.
How many parents get a simple message that they must read for 10 mins everyday, think to themselves "but I can't read" and avoid the whole thing, whereas a more complex message of "read; tell rhymes; make up stories together; talk about everything" might make them feel capable of getting involved.

bigbluestars Fri 13-Feb-15 20:53:28

I did loads with my kids, so much so that teachers often commented on the amount my children know.
I let them take the lead, but both my kids knew the basics of atomic structure, phases of matter, a grasp of the electromagnetic spectrum etc by the age of 8. But as a chemist I have a bug bear about the quality of science education at primary school. Is is a source of anger and sadness to me.
My OH is a history graduate with a keen interest in social affairs and politics, which again our kids have soaked up like a sponge.
My children are as enthusiastic about our world as we are.

fattymcfatfat Fri 13-Feb-15 20:53:57

mrscakes I agree that some parents may be unable to read or help.with homework but there are some who.just wont. as upsetting as that is its true. I have worked in nurseries (so no homework or reading books etc) and have had parents refuse to.count with their child when climbing the stairs etc as that was our job and when their dc was at home they would watch telly or play video games to wind down (at 3! one child spoke constantly of playing quite graphic and violent games). sad it is very sad to see children in a situation as described who desperately wants to learn but are hindered by their parents.

MrsCakesPrecognition Fri 13-Feb-15 21:05:02

I do know that some parents won't, but I wanted to make the point that SME want to but can't.

BingBong36 Fri 13-Feb-15 21:13:57

Like others have mentioned we talk to our 6 year old about lots of things, he is currently building his own website with his dad as he asked to do it. He loves to be challenged so at least 1-2 times a week I'll write a load of maths sums. He loves that!

My younger son is 3 and I taught him all of his letters and now attempting to teach him some words, but in a fun way, I often make it into a game show or for each right word or letter he gets a point .. If he gets 10 points he gets a treat...

I try and make it as fun as possible so that they do not even realise they are learning!!!

bigbluestars Fri 13-Feb-15 21:16:39

mrscakes- learning is far more than literacy though.

As I child I was taught how to resole a pair of shoes, put up a fence, hang wallpaper, skin a rabbit,change brake pads on a car, make soup, put up a shelf with rawl plugs, make jam, grow vegetables, fix a leaking tap, put a new zip on a pair of trousers.
My parents were not academic, and we were very poor, but they had a thirst for life, and passed to me a life long love of learning.

Every parent has some skill and even those without many resources can educate their children in some way if they are motivated.
Even if that education is to teach their child to wonder or question the nature of the world they live in.

Edenviolet Fri 13-Feb-15 21:20:47

With dd2(5) we do her school reading book every day plus any worksheets sent home.

The rest is not structured learning, more of a teaching whilst going about everyday things eg, shopping-what things are eg fruit and veg, looking at price labels etc or going to the park or a walk in buggy and pointing things out. Same with ds 2(2).
Ds1 is 8 so gets a lot more homework and we do that with him but other than that nothing as he likes to read all the time or play minecraft.

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