Activities you can try together at home.
With schools closing due to Coronavirus, parents around the world are asking the same question – how do I help my child learn English at home?
We’re here to help, with free advice and activities you can try at home.
What kind of activities can we do at home?
Regular practice is best for learning a language, so if you can, try to learn ‘a little and often’.
Keep activities short and fun (3–10 minutes for children aged 5–12). However, if your child is enjoying working on their own, let them control their activity times.
Here are some activities that you can try with your child:
Try adding English into your normal, everyday routines. There are so many opportunities to practise language naturally in real situations around your home.
- Practise clothes vocabulary when you are getting dressed.
- Try doing a workout in English.
- Practise food and drink vocabulary when you are cooking, eating and making shopping lists.
- Practise days of the week and times when you make your plan for the day.
- When you have break time, try doing something fun in English. You could sing and dance along to a song in English, watch an English-language TV show, or play a game in English.
- Practise toys and furniture vocabulary when you are tidying-up.
- When you read your bedtime stories, try adding in one English-language story.
Should we copy school as closely as possible?
As busy parents, dealing with many different responsibilities, it’s about getting the right balance that works for your family.
Teachers in school have to prepare timetables and lessons designed for a whole class. Learning at home, you have more freedom to focus on your child’s favourite interests and activities. You can think about what works best for your child.
Learners of all ages achieve more when they are enjoying their learning and finding it interesting and meaningful. So don’t be afraid to have some fun!
Here are some of the main questions you could consider:
- What does your child enjoy doing in their free time? Drawing? Playing outside? Cooking? Reading stories? Dancing? Puzzles and problem solving? Try doing some of their favourite activities in English.
- Is your child more productive at certain times? Mornings or afternoons? After exercise? After a snack? On Mondays and Tuesdays, or later in the week? Pick the best time to take on the most challenging work!
- How does your child like to take in information? Watching/listening to explanations? Reading instructions? Looking at visual prompts, such as pictures and diagrams? Make a note of what works best.
- Does your child enjoy making their own choices about their learning? Or do they prefer making choices together? Remember to keep asking them for their ideas, and encouraging them as they develop their own independent study skills.
- Does your child prefer their familiar, structured school timetable and activities? Or do they prefer a more relaxed approach, such as learning through creative play or doing projects? Perhaps it could even be a mixture of the two (one in the morning, one in the afternoon).
Ask your child to pretend to be the head teacher, and create their own ‘dream timetable of activities’. Let them choose how to present it. For example, they could write and decorate a poster, present it in a video, make a scrapbook, or write a blog post.
Can I support my child if I’m not confident in English, and have limited available time?
Yes! You can give your child the best support by offering encouragement and praise. This helps build your child’s confidence and their belief in their own ability. Encourage them when they show responsibility for their own learning, and praise them for their efforts.
Other friends and family members can offer encouragement too. Using video apps such as Skype, Zoom or WhatsApp, your child could show a friend or family member what they’re working on. Your child might enjoy reading them an English story, singing them an English song, or testing their spellings together.
You could even ask your child to be responsible for teaching another family member some English. Did you know, teaching someone else is one of the best ways to learn?
If your child has problems, don’t be too quick to help with the answers. Sometimes a child just needs some time by themselves to work through the problem. If they are still stuck, ask them to put on their ‘teacher hat’. Can they think of any ideas about what to try next? For example, use a dictionary, look in a textbook, try some internet research.
Ready to try some more activities?
Keep your child busy every day, with 30 fun activities.
Check out these free activities your child can try by themselves at home. Available for primary-aged children and secondary-aged children.
Find more activities in the Parents and children section of our website.