Supporting Learning at Home

Do you want to support your child's learning at home, but you're not sure how???

It's really easy... YOU can help your child's learning every day simply by supporting and encouraging them and being excited by their learning!

Here are some easy ways to help your child with their reading, writing and mathematical development at home;


Ways to Support Writing at Home.

Talking, drawing and making marks on paper all help to support written language, so make these experiences fun for your child.

In their early years, children get better at expressing their ideas, thoughts, feelings and experiences in a variety of ways. Talking and drawing are two of these ways but children are also learning that they can make ‘symbols’ (marks, letters, words) that other people can ‘read’ - This is the beginning of their writing journey!

Writing and reading are inexplicably linked. When your child succeeds at one, they can do well at the other. Writing is something that your child will use for the rest of their life.

Children can often start to make marks and to write before they can read written words.

Here’s how you can support early writing development:

  • Keep pens, felts, crayons, pencils and paper available for your child to use at home.
  • Make letters of the alphabet out of stones, blocks, buttons, play dough, pipe cleaners etc.
  • Bake biscuits in the shape of the letters in your childs name.
  • Get outside and draw and write with mud or chalk on concrete, a stick in the sand or snow, even a paint brush and water on the deck is a fun experience for children to engage in.
  • Make time for your child to draw and write. Try making patterns, drawing shapes and pictures, and writing letters on steamy mirrors or windows with fingers.
  • Cover your fridge in magnetic letters and help them to identify each letter, see if you can order them from a-z.
  • Go on a word hunt. Show your child how to form a letter at the beginning of a word they are interested in, then go word hunting through your house.
  • Help your child create a scrapbook with pictures. Talk about the pictures and write words or sentences together underneath.

Taking it a bit further:

  • Help your child to identify and say the letters in their name aloud.
  • Get them to ‘read; their early writing to you.
  • Write the story they tell you underneath their writing.
  • Let them see you writing – talk about what you are writing about with them (monkey see, monkey do).
  • Help your child to hear the sounds in the words they say - it will give them a good start around letter sound associations. This can be done in a fun way, e.g. make rhymes whenever you can. Knowing the sounds that different letters make is an important part of learning to read and write.

Put writing into the context of their world:

  • Show them examples of writing such as street names, shop names, writing on cars and trucks etc.
  • Write notes to your child and leave them in interesting places, like their lunchbox or on their pillow. Ask them to draw or write a reply. E-mail or write to relatives or friends.
  • Put labels on important things, like the door to their room and their toy box. You can write labels in your first language.
  • Make cards for special occasions, encourage them to write their name


Play Based Life has a superb range of Written language resources here!


Ways to Support Reading at Home

Reading at home should be fun and easy, something you both look forward to, and a time for laughter and talk.

Where to start:

  • Share the reading, take turns or see whether your child wants to read or be read to today.
  • All children like to be read to, so keep reading to them.
  • Visit the library together and help them choose books to share at home.
  • Read emails from family or whānau aloud.
  • Play card and board games together.

Oral language is a fundamental skill in the development of reading. You can support your child by talking a lot to them while you are doing things together. Use the language that works best for you and your child.


Things to discuss as you read together:

  • Talk about pictures in books – what can you see?
  • Sing waiata and songs, read poems and make up rhymes together – the funnier the better!
  • Be a role model. Let your child see you enjoying reading and talk about what you are reading – newspaper, magazine, book etc.
  • Point out words on signs, in shops and on labels.
  • Play word games like "I Spy" and "Simon Says…"

Reading is a great chance for you and your child to spend special time together.

For best results:

  • Make it quiet and relaxing.
  • Sit close to your child.
  • Spend 10–15 minutes without interruption reading (e.g. away from the TV)
  • Focus on it being an enjoyable, interesting and special time.
  • Remember to praise your child for making an effort.

Top Tips:

If your child is stuck on a word wait a few seconds, give them a chance to think. If they are still stuck, help them to try to work the word out by saying "read the sentence again and think what would make sense". Ask "could it be…?" (and give a word that might fit). The pictures will also help them check they have got the right word. If they still can’t work out the word, tell them and praise their efforts. Remember, reading should be fun.

Help your child to link stories to their own life. Remind them about what they have done when a similar thing happens in the story.


 Check out these Reading Resources by Play Based Life.


Ways to Support Maths at Home

Talk about maths regularly together, it is important for children to see you have a positive attitude towards maths. Be sure to identify and discuss shapes, patterns and numbers in their everyday environment. Introduce mathematical language through books and songs. Encourage your child to use their mathematical language in different places.


Help your child to:

  • Find numbers around your home and neighbourhood – clocks, letterboxes, or speed signs.
  • Count forwards and backwards (clocks, fingers and toes, letterboxes, action rhymes, and signs).
  • Make patterns when counting "clap 1, stamp 2, clap 3, stamp 4, clap 5…".
  • Solve equations using objects such as stones or marbles eg 2 + 3, 4 +1, 5 + 4
  • Make up number stories – "You have 2 brothers and 2 sisters. There are 4 of them altogether".

Involve your child in:

  • Preparing and sharing out food – "two for me and two for you". Ask, "How many for each of us?"
  • Talking about time – "lunchtime", "storytime", "bedtime".
  • Using words in everyday play like "under", "over", "between", "around", "behind", "up", "down", "heavy", "light", "round", "circle", "yesterday", "tomorrow". You can get library books with these words and ideas in them also.
  • Asking questions like "How many apples do we need for lunches? What do you think the weather is going to be like today/tomorrow? What are we going to do next?"
  • Sorting objects e.g. colours, metal, wood or plastic.
  • Measuring things e.g. length of footsteps, weight of pumpkins or height of children.
  • Comparing sizes e.g. stones, shells, houses or animals.
  • Identifying shapes e.g. round road signs or square windows.

Here's a tip - use lots of mathematics words as your child is playing to develop their understanding of early mathematics (eg "over", "under", "first, second, third", "round", "through", "before", "after"). Use the language that works best for you and your child.

Activities you can do with your child:

  • Play with water using different shaped containers and measuring cups in the sink or bath.
  • Bake – talk to your child about the recipe/ingredients using words like "how many?" "how much?" "more". Count how many teaspoons of baking soda are needed, how many cups of flour, or how many muffin cases etc.
  • Play dress-ups and getting dressed, use words like "short", "long", and ask questions like "what goes on first?", "what goes on next?", "does it fit?"
  • Create a ‘sorting box’ with all sorts of ‘treasure’ – bottle tops, shells, stones, poi, toys, acorns, pounamu (greenstone), cardboard shapes, leaves. Ask questions like "how many?", "which is the biggest group?", "which is the smallest?", "how many for each of us?"
  • Enjoy jigsaw puzzles, play card and board games and build with blocks.


There are also a range of Maths Resources designed to support learning in a fun and engaging way over at Play Based Life.


I hope you have found these suggestions helpful! For more ideas please visitPlay Based Life or the Facebook Group: Play Based Learning at Home.


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