Monday, 22 October 2012

Leave the teacherspeak in the staffroom

Teachers generally have my full support. I think the teachers at my daughters' school are brilliant and they are doing a fantastic job of educating my children. I trust that they always use appropriate language and explain everything in terms that the children can understand, defining new terms when necessary. So why can't they do the same when it comes to parents? We don't want to be patronised, but really, there's no need to use abbreviations or language that we have no idea about and that will just alienate us, and make us feel as if we have no place in our child's education, is there?

I've written about maths language before, and how difficult it is to help our children when we don't understand the terms used. So today when my daughter came out of school with a weekly plan, outlining the topics that their class will be covering this week I was disappointed to find references to "RWI sounds" and "positional language"! After some thought, I realised that the first refers to a new reading and writing scheme the school are introducing, and the letters stand for Read, Write, Inc. And after some more thought, that positional language is very simply using the words, under, above, on, inside etc, to talk about something. How difficult would it have been to use a few extra words to explain these two things to parents, and include us in the learning? If we know what positional language is at the moment we get the piece of paper in our hand as our children rush out of school, we can take the opportunity to have a conversation on the walk home about the person inside the blue car, the chimney on top of the house, and whether the post office is next to the shop, or opposite it. Instead, as the piece of paper is glanced at, not understood, and shoved in a pocket, the opportunity for learning, and engaging in our children's learning, is lost. What a shame.

So teachers, feel free, please, to use all the "teacherspeak" you want to in the staff room, but leave it there. As parents, we're not impressed.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Cuddling letters

I know I've blogged about handwriting before, but I'm currently having trouble again with my 5 year old, who is getting her letters increasingly muddled as she learns how to spell longer and more complex words. It seems that when she only had to think about a simple 3 letter word, she could remember, most of the time, how to write the letters 'd', 'o' and 'g', but when the words get longer, she is focussing so intently on getting the letters in the right place in the word, she forgets which way round to write them!

I watched her write the word angel the other day, and anticipated that she would have problems with 'g', which has become a regular culprit. It would confuse her, I thought, to try and point out that the tail on the 'g' points to the left, so instead I told her that the 'g' likes to cuddle the 'n' in the word angel. It worked! Maybe the tail was a little too long, as it curled around the 'n', but at least it was the right way round.

So what about other letters? 'Y' and 'j', like 'g',  always cuddle the letter before. The 'c' in chat is friends with the 'h' and likes to have a chat so it's got it's mouth open, facing the 'h'. The 'k' of course, is kicking the 'i' in kite, and the 'p' has its back to the 'o' in hop. Of course, the danger is that kids will then remember this and try to write the 'p' with its back to the 'o' in pond, which won't work. But hopefully, once they've practised, and started to write their letters correctly again, they'll remember this and it will automatically translate to their other words.

You can come up with your own silly ideas, depending on which letters your child struggles with, and which word they are trying to write. If we make it fun, it should take the stress out of writing, which will encourage them to write and practice even more, ultimately helping our children to develop beautiful handwriting!

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Who are the miniature wives?

Due to a slight and hopefully temporary hearing loss that my older daughter has been suffering from, the correct pronunciation of new vocabulary in our house can be a bit hit and miss. Even without this issue, my younger daughter also comes out with some corkers - as I suspect all children do from time to time. We wear "curvy grips" (kirby grips - I think they're bobby pins for my American friends), and recently enjoyed watching the "Power-Olympians" - I particularly liked that mis-hear. When we say our prayers, I think we are sometimes asking God to give us our dresses (instead of forgiving us our trespasses). But my favourite by far was back last winter when we were listening to the beautiful Christmas number one on the radio, sung by the miniature wives choir!