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How Can I Support My Child Outside Of Pre-School/Nursery?

You’ll probably enjoy reading with your child. Most children love books and will be fascinated by colourful pictures as well as the sound of your voice. The Bookstart scheme (www.bookstart.co.uk) gives 3-year-olds ‘My Bookstart Treasure Chest’, a free pack containing books, a scribble pad and activity pad. Be warned that many
children love hearing the same stories over and over again, so you may want to include some books that you enjoy!

Perhaps you could tell your children the kinds of stories that your parents told you. They’ll be particularly fascinated by the idea of grandparents telling the same stories to their parent. Or you can try making up stories together. Stories might be in English or their heritage language. Learning songs and rhymes can help children with their listening and concentration skills.

You might want to draw or paint together, or play sports. Most children enjoy playing games with their parents like simple board games or guessing games, hide-and-seek or imaginative role play (when they’ll particularly enjoy telling you what to do). They’ll have fun and begin to learn a number of skills from you including decision-making, accepting boundaries, negotiation and trust.

Television needn’t be dismissed as there are programmes specially designed for young children that you might both enjoy watching.

Some museums and galleries organise special activities for family groups that you might all enjoy doing together.

It will probably come naturally to you to praise your child when he/she has done well, and children do respond positively. It’s worth making an effort to seek out opportunities to offer praise or encouragement.

Homework

The idea of children so young being asked to do ‘homework’ may seem ridiculous, but some nursery schools simply ask that children choose and read one book a week at home (with parents). Children may be learning colours or numbers and they may be given simple counting or language games to play at home.

If your child is learning English, you can help by reading with them in your first language. Fluency in a child’s first language will also help with English.

Cultural identity

Many parents feel that it’s important that children should be encouraged to respect each other’s cultural backgrounds in school. The fact that you maintain traditions and beliefs at home will help to strengthen your child’s confidence in school. Contact with friends and family, attendance at the church, temple or mosque and talking about family history or the history of your family’s country of heritage are some of the ways that children can gain a sense of their cultural identity.

Some parents feel that it’s also important to seek out learning and play materials in which their children are not marginalised. Multicultural books as well as dolls and toys are available, often by mail order. You can find some suppliers in the Real Histories Directory at www.realhistories.org.uk.