Rebecca Gray: how you can support your child’s learning at home
Homework plays a pivotal role in ensuring a child’s engagement and active learning, says Primary Kings Principal Rebecca Gray, from Kings’ School Al Barsha. Here, the headteacher explains ways you can support your child’s learning at home.
Homework should not be a chore and at Primary level, the focus is on supporting classroom learning and expanding a child’s knowledge, one step at a time. It is important that any home learning at this age is all about developing core skills, with reading and maths as the foundation. Here, Rebecca Gray answers your questions about homework and explains how the Kings’ School approach involves parents too!
What should our children be reading?
“It’s not just about children picking up a book and reading for reading sake. It’s making sure parents expose their children to lots of different reading material so that discussions can take place around the kitchen table about books, newspaper articles, or things they’ve heard about and have an interest in.
What should we be aware of?
“Comprehension is key to successful reading homework, so that children are able to adapt and integrate this into the school environment, and show they have a depth of knowledge around what they’ve been reading.”
How do we know they are progressing?
“As well as teacher observation, we use various programmes or online tools such as Accelerated Reader. Children can choose from a range of books at school to read either at home or during the school day, after which they take an online quiz that then allows them to progress through the levels.”
TOP TIP “Get involved! Chat with your children about what they’re reading right now or pull out a magazine or online article that covers a topic they are interested in and try to bring reading to life by associating books with real-life experiences.”
I hated maths at school, how can I support my child at home?
“We know that maths home learning can fill some families with dread. We don’t want to put our parents on the spot, especially if we want them to be able to help their children at home, so we also make sure that we upskill our parents. This means ensuring that parents have access to the school’s calculation policy and we also offer weekly drop-in sessions and workshops on a variety of topics.
What kind of maths homework will my child get?
“The tailored nature of maths teaching today is also reflected in assigned homework. Our in-classroom tasks are underpinned by an ‘anchor task’ each week, whereby for a certain period, each child learns at their own pace while working towards the same outcome.
“Home learning is matched to the anchor task and to the level of each individual child’s understanding. They may get ‘mastery’ home learning questions or a specifically tailored set if there are misconceptions with a particular topic.”
What if I, as a parent, don’t understand the topic?
“We have great initiatives, like the ‘My Maths’ online programme, that support the home learning process. Both children and their parents can log on online and the lesson is accessible as well as the homework assignment – which is extremely helpful for parents.”
Should I always sit with my child while they do their homework?
“We’ve got to teach our children to become independent, and we also recognise that parents have work or other commitments, so are not always present at homework time.
“Please don’t panic! The independent completion of homework tasks provides both parents and teachers with a very clear picture of the child’s actual understanding. Homework should be there to support learning and not cause stress to individual children, so as a school we offer time for children to complete their homework in school, if they need additional support.
What if I want to be more involved as a parent?
“At Kings’ School Al Barsha we have an opt-in/opt-out theme-based initiative whereby parents can work together with their child – as a family – on a project during the term. When the half term booklets are shared with parents, we provide an outline of the term ahead as well as ideas for family-based learning. For example, the topic could be the human body and they could make a model, create some artwork to visually explain the subject or write a story. Then, at the end of the term, projects are shared with the school.
“We have also redesigned our approach to ‘Parent Time’ and we now host Let’s Learn sessions every term, where all the teachers open their doors to the parents of the children in their class, and teach a lesson with parents present. The Let’s Learn sessions have even included science, D&T and even PE sessions. The response from our parents has been incredibly positive as they are able to see how the teacher supports, challenges and plans for their child’s learning journey.”