Children’s ability to write well is heavily dependent on prior knowledge of vocabulary. If you don’t know the right or correct word you can’t use it in your writing. A good place to start supporting your child to learn a wider vocabulary is by looking at topics or themes being taught at school.
Schools frequently send home information about themes and topics to be taught over the term. Teachers will spend time teaching specific vocabulary but if your child is struggling with writing, introducing these words at home can give your child that extra opportunity to consolidate their learning. As an example, a commonly studied topic at primary school is recycling. Vocabulary associated with recycling are words like, rubbish, compacting, sorting, ecological, ecology, waste, habitat and so on. Introduce these words into your conversations (dinner time, driving in the car are good times) talk about their meanings and how you might use them in a sentence. You can also talk about their opposites and other words which might mean the same thing. Looking for books, fiction and non fiction about these topics and including them in the before bed reading routine is another way of introducing subject specific vocabulary. For upper primary and high school students a useful resource is www.victoria.ac.nz/lals/resources/academicwordlist which is a series of lists of the most commonly used words in academic writing.
As always, ensure that discussions are upbeat and short, unless your child becomes deeply interested in the topic in which case follow their lead. If you come across a word you the parent don’t know use this as a great opportunity to model a growth mindset and enlist your child to help you to engage with the challenge. Work together to figure out what this word means and enjoy the satisfaction of learning something new.
Resilience is a concept which has been studied extensively recently both internationally
and in New Zealand. It offers a way to view an adverse situation with hope and positivity. Resilience is the concept that some people can be very successful in life despite apparent setbacks or disadvantages. I’d like to share what we know about how to develop resilience in response to an adverse event.
Resilience is focused on protective factors or actions you can take:
themselves can contribute to developing a resilient school community which is able to thrive because of and despite challenging circumstances. Adults and young people can model these skills to those who are still developing them. A key lesson from the Christchurch earthquakes is that adults modelling calm responses to challenging situations were key to avoiding ongoing negative effects on mental health for young people.
Typically, the negative effects of adverse events occur when there are several events rather than just one. If your child is experiencing multiple adverse events and is displaying behaviour of concern it may be time to consult with professionals. Helpful people to speak to are your child’s class teacher, your family doctor, the school counsellor or a psychologist.
Self-explanation or the process of explaining a concept to yourself is one of the most powerful ways of learning. When you prompt a student to explain a concept to themselves, they are both creating inferential links to concepts and prior knowledge and discovering what they don’t know about the concept. One of the biggest failures students experience is this lack of knowledge about what they don’t know. Studies of able learners have demonstrated that these students are often asking themselves questions about material they are learning or reviewing and checking their understanding. A great way of supporting a student to become more able is to prompt them to self-explain a new concept. A key point is that when students narrate how well they think they understand a new concept they don’t add to their actual understanding. Students need to explain the concept to themselves.
For further information on the research behind this concept and more details please check this link.
Robyn Stead, Child Psychologist and Educator, lives and works in central Auckland.