27 April 2020
By Zoe Enser

Covid-19: Tips for Parents or Carers Teaching English at Home

At the moment you will have many questions about how to continue to support your child in their education during the extended period of lockdown brought about by Covid-19. Parents and carers have an important role in this and there are many ways you can support your children to continue their progress in English.

Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, try not to panic or aim to cover lots of new materials. Focus on things which they will have covered already in class. Be guided by your child’s school, who will have provided some materials for this already.

1. How can I help support my child's learning of english during lockdown?

  • Talk about what they have been reading in school in the last few weeks/ terms.
  • Continue to encourage them to read regularly from a range of fiction and non-fiction.
  • Check they are regularly working on English revision of all the set texts. Read the texts yourselves where appropriate and talk to them about the characters, ideas and issues the writer is exploring.
  • Encourage them to complete the Home Learning Resources Pack which schools have issued or those which have been made available via the Kent Children’s University and The Education People.

2. Recommended resources for parents teaching English at home

  • As well as what schools are directly providing there is also a lot available online, including BBC Bitesize which is a valuable resource to cover key points. Cliff and Spark Notes are also good sources of information for Literature GCSE and A Level.
  • We also have other sources which have emerged in the last few years, for example Mr Bruff and Mr Salles on YouTube. Their channels were originally created to support their own students, however they have now been made available for all. Mr Bruff in particular has revision guides for all AQA English exams which you can also purchase through Amazon should you wish to. Some of the topics, such as those which are looking at the literature texts, will be good revision for other exam boards too.
  • SENECA Learning has materials for all GCSE and A Level subjects and exam boards. These are revision questions that allow students to see progress through their learning. SENECA also has materials for KS3 topics and is very easy to search for what you need.
  • GCSEPod are offering free resources too, with lots of GCSE exam topics covered and some materials for a range of subjects at KS3 as well as English.

3. How should my child use these English revision materials to reinforce their learning during lockdown?

  • Make notes, cover up the revision materials and write down what you remember and then check.
  • Talk about what they have been studying and get them to ask you questions.
  • Create mind maps of topics and have a go at planning to answer exam questions and even write longer responses.
  • The more you DO with the material the easier it will be to remember.
  • To help you with this, all exam boards have past papers you can access, along with their mark schemes.

4. What if my child's year haven’t started looking at exams yet?

  • If your child is in KS3 (11-14), then you can also access the materials in these places for the topics they have covered. However, you may want to spend time encouraging them to read a range of fiction and non-fiction texts. There are many free books available online and you can find some suggestions on The School Reading List website.
  • There are also websites which also for useful for practising spelling and grammar skills too, such as BBC Bitesize.
  • Again, it is useful to discuss what they have learnt with someone else, so talking about it with a parent/carer or friend will help them to commit this learning to memory, ready to explore it in more depth later. Shared reading and discussion is a great activity for all ages.

5. What else can a parent do to help teach English at home?

One of the great things about English is that there really is a wealth of things you can do which don’t necessarily directly relate to the curriculum but enrich everything they will do in the subject. The National Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company and Shakespeare's Globe have made some of their performances free to view over the coming weeks. You don’t have to be a Shakespeare buff to enjoy these either. Some are modern plays and some of the more traditional plays have support materials on the company’s websites to explore.

Audible have made some of their books free for young people to listen to and there also are many other offers on Kindle to enable students to read for cheap or free.

Whatever you decide to explore, the most important thing is to keep talking about what your children have been exploring and encouraging them to explain what they have or have not understood. Discussion and evaluating what you do and don’t like is still a key skill in English and in life beyond so make sure you enjoy it.

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