Advice and Resources

How to help your child become a reader from kinder to prep

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Early literacy fundamentals

Learning to read is perhaps the most important educational achievement. It is a complex process that unlike language, does not come naturally to children.


Children must have mastered many developmental skills before they become fluent readers. Learning Works Geelong created this guide for you so you can understand the processes involved as your child learns to read, write and spell in the early years.

Reading is so critical to success in our society that failing to read well in early childhood creates both problems at school and in later life. There is a strong relationship between early reading success and school failure.

For this reason, Learning Works believes early reading education and intervention is essential so your child will have the best chance at success throughout their education and into later life.

Early literacy (2-5 years old)

Learning to read starts in infancy

Many early experiences help your child prepare for reading. By the time they start school, thousands of hours of ‘reading experience’ has been clocked up.

In fact, the language experiences that your child develops since almost the moment of birth shape language development and their future reading success.

There is considerable evidence that a home and early education environment that values and encourages literacy provides the foundation for advanced reading and writing.

The more familiar your child is with language structures such as how to ask questions and use tenses, the more likely it is that your child will be able to read fluently in the future.

Encouraging Early Literacy

Sound awareness – Rhyming and songs

Many young children enjoy rhyming games and songs. This means they are beginning to have an awareness of the features of the English language and are developing important early phonological skills.

There is an extensive body of research showing that children who enjoy rhyming do much better at reading.

Playing games like ‘I spy’ will help your child realise that words start with particular sounds, a critically important skill when they start reading and writing.  When you say to a small child “I spy with my little eye, something beginning with M,” your child’s brain is registering that sounds match with certain squiggles on a page and things in their environment.

Teaching and practising nursery rhymes, jingles and speech rhymes will set your child up for acquiring language.

Teach your child to love books

Young children are like sponges and absorb a lot from their early experiences. When parents, grandparents and preschool teachers read to them, children begin to understand that the print means something to the people reading. They have a magic skill of ‘reading!’ – modelling the value of books encourages their desire to explore language in more depth.

At this stage, your child will see whole words as pictures. They recognise letters almost like adults recognise logos – but they are memorising shapes at this stage, rather than understanding that letter shapes go with particular sounds.

How to help with your child’s language development

  • Involve your child in lots of talking and listening
  • Ask your child lots of questions to encourage your child to talk and express ideas
  • Use new words in conversations and explain what they mean
  • Play word and listening games to build vocabulary
  • Show your child how to hold a book, where to start
  • Model the value of reading and writing in everyday life – write notes, read books and magazines, make shopping lists

Language Development

The early language experiences that children develop since almost the moment of birth shape language development. A home environment that encourages literacy provides the foundation for reading and writing. The more familiar your child is with language structures such as how to ask questions and use tenses, the more likely it is that that your child will be able to read fluently in the future

There is a strong relationship between language difficulties and school failure. The greater the spoken language, the better chance of rapid reading development and comprehension.

School language

In order to read, children need to have a broad vocabulary and knowledge of language or they will not have the background to become a reader. When they make the transition from home to school they need to use spoken language for a new range of purposes – such as telling stories, asking questions, following instructions and learning to communicate more clearly with others.

Most of the words young children hear and use are words they already know. There is a big jump between the sort of language children are exposed to at school compared to their home environment.

Your child must learn to move from informal face-to-face communication on familiar topics to more abstract language. At school, there is a demand for sophisticated and literate language.

Literate language consists of complex sentences with a number of linked ideas. Literate language involves discussing specific topics. E.g. What does the word fragile mean? What is the first word you hear in the word hippopotamus?

Language milestones at 5 Years

By the time they reach school, your child should be able to:

  • Recall part of a story
  • Speak sentences of more than five words
  • Use future tense
  • Tell longer stories
  • Say their name and address
  • Name familiar items within their environment
  • Talk to peers and adults about familiar objects
  • Ask and answer simple questions
  • Respond to simple instruction
  • Listen to, and participate in, stories, rhymes and songs
  • Know that words, not pictures, tell the story
  • Know what letters and words are
  • Know how to handle a book – knows that we read from left to right.
  • Begin to link letters with sounds. E.g. M says “mmm”

Becoming a Reader – Kinder to Prep

What can I do to get my child off to a good start for reading success before they go to school?

Read to your child daily. Children become readers on the laps of their parents.

Spend 5-10 minutes each day reading to your child. Short and colourful picture books are ideal for children so they can look at the visuals while you tell them the story.

Make story time an enjoyable time that you spend together and that your child looks forward to, so they learn to value reading and associate it with relaxing time with you.

Young children are like sponges and absorb a lot from their early experiences. When parents, grandparents and preschool teachers read to them, children begin to understand that the print means something to the people reading. They have a magic skill of ‘reading!’ – modelling the value of books encourages their desire to explore language in more depth.

Sing nursery rhymes together

Many young children enjoy rhyming games and songs. This means they are beginning to have an awareness of the features of the English language and are developing important early phonological skills. There is an extensive body of research showing that children who enjoy rhyming do much better at reading. (Adam, 1990; Burns, Griffin & Snow, 1999).

Playing games like ‘I spy’ helps children realise that words start with particular sounds, a critically important skill when they start reading and writing. When a parent says to a small child “I spy with my little eye, something beginning with M,” the child’s brain is registering that sounds match with certain squiggles on a page and things in their environment. Teaching and practising nursery rhymes, jingles and speech rhymes will set your child up for language acquisition success.

Teach your child about print and books

  • Show your child how to hold a book, where to start and that we read from left to right
  • Point out logos and text in the environment, such as street names, the police station or McDonalds.
  • Create a book with your child. Engage in a craft activity using their own drawings. You can add in text according to the story your child makes up.
  • Ensure your child has access to writing materials and paper so they can practise their motor skills and can experiment with drawing, which will pave the way for writing.


Involve your child in lots of talking and listening.

  • Involve your child in lots of talking and listening
  • Ask your child lots of questions to encourage your child to talk and express ideas
  • Use new words in conversations and explain what they mean
  • Play word and listening games to build vocabulary
  • Show your child how to hold a book, where to start and that we read from left to right
  • Model the value of reading and writing in everyday life – write notes, read books and magazines, make shopping lists
  • Ask open ended questions to encourage your child to talk and express ideas

Happy Reading!

Need some extra help?

Learning Works Geelong offers literacy (phonics) programs to help preschool children enter school with confidence, while they transition from pre-school to their first day in prep.

Read more about our school readiness program

Our program is play-based and teaches children to love learning, reduce anxiety around starting school, become confident and happy in the classroom and reach their full potential.

Plus, we promise serious fun for little people!

We believe every child to have access to education and the support they need in the early years.  

Understanding Cognitive Assessments

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A parent’s guide to cognitive assessments

How do school cognitive assessments actually work?

If your child struggles at school, the school may recommend a cognitive assessment. IQ is the most common measure of intelligence in education and is used to identify and provide funding level for children with special needs in the classroom. It is important to understand what IQ tests can and cannot do to help support your child in the classroom and beyond. Learning Works Geelong has compiled a pdf. cheat sheet to simplify this process for you.

What is intelligence?

  • An ability to adapt to the environment
  • The ability to learn new things
  • The ability to use a range of mental processes such as memory and imagination
  • It uses higher order thinking skills, like problem solving and reasoning
  • It involves the ability to acquire and use knowledge
  • It is dependent on the context and culture

What tests are used?

The most commonly used cognitive assessments in Victorian schools are the:

  • Weschler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI-IV) for children aged 2.6 to 7.7
  • Weschler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-V) for children aged 6 to 16.11.

Which children are referred for an assessment?

  • Those who have language or learning difficulties
  • Children who may have an intellectual disability or other developmental behaviour disorders
  • Children who are gifted or have high intellectual potential
  • Children who are recommended an assessment by their primary classroom teacher.

What is the process?

Accessing Support – the school’s role

  • If your child is struggling in one or more areas, or falling behind, your child’s teacher may recommend an assessment.
  • This assessment is carried out by Student Support Services or SSS – A Department of Education Service.
  • Before referring, the school will review previous recommendations and school actions.
  • Your child’s progress and any evidence of learning difficulties will be discussed.
  • The school and SSS will identify strategies to provide support.

What these assessments measure – 5 main ‘areas’ of intelligence

Verbal Comprehension

A child’s ability to understand what is being said, understanding verbal information. This is also their ability to use their vocabulary to express themselves.

Strengths in this area look like:

  • Great writing skills
  • Articulate, and able to express detail in ideas
  • A great vocabulary, using a wide range of words

Weaknesses in this area look like:

  • Struggling to understand instructions
  • Becoming lost in multi-step directions and tasks
  • Having difficulty expressing ideas
  • Poor reading and writing skills
  • Poor auditory memory skills
  • Using black and white language
  • Difficulty understanding abstract concepts or jokes, like sarcasm
  • Struggling to comprehend verbal and language related information.

Fluid Reasoning

A child’s ability to think flexibility to solve a new problem using planning and their problem solving skills.

Strengths in this area look like:

  • Thinking flexibly to solve new problems
  • Drawing on problem solving skills to solve similar problems

Weaknesses in this area look like:

  • Difficulty identifying patterns in relationships
  • Difficulty identifying the ‘moral’ or overarching idea of the story
  • Having a hard time summarising
  • Finds it tough to transfer knowledge from one task to another
  • Apprehensive to start new tasks and becomes frustrated without support

Processing Speed

A child’s speed and accuracy of scanning information, mental processing, motor coordination and visual decision making.

Strengths in this area look like:

  • Quickly able to take in new information presented on the whiteboard at school
  • Finds it relatively easy to keep up with the pace of the classroom

Difficulties in this area look like:

  • Taking much longer than needed to problem solve under pressure, complete work and copy down sentences, recognise visual patterns and scan material

Working Memory

A child’s ability to keep in mind what they need to complete tasks. The ability to take in multiple bits of information, mentally work with it and hold onto it long enough to do some work.

Strengths in this area look like:

  • Can easily take in a large amount of information in the classroom and process it accurately
  • Able to follow complex verbal instructions
  • Good at remembering all steps of directions
  • Able to organise quickly and plan work tasks
  • Great at mental arithmetic and can do large sums

Weaknesses in this area look like:

  • Trouble following through on instructions
  • Will only remember 1/4 of the instructions given
  • Struggling to cope with all of the information presented in class
  • Can only concentrate on one thing at a time
  • Struggles to complete maths problems
  • Struggles with complex problem solving and planning

Visual/Spatial Intelligence

A child’s spatial/non-verbal reasoning abilities. This is your child’s ability to understand better if something is modelled in front of them. They may also be great with puzzles.

Strengths in this area look like:

  • Tackles hands on activities
  • Greater understanding if something is modelled in front of them
  • Good visual-spatial skills
  • Good at analysing mathematical graphs, great with puzzles

Weaknesses in this area look like:

  • Experiencing difficulty learning to read and to identify and remember all of the individual letters
  • Handwriting can be disorganised on the page
  • Experiencing difficulty drawing meaning from a maths problem
  • Can get lost easily, may not find lost objects easily

What do these results mean?

Percentile Ranks

Percentile ranks reflects how a child performed compared to children the same age. Let’s say we lined up 100 girls the same age as Emily in order of ‘ability. The little girl sitting at position 1 would be the worst performing and 100 the best. If I told you that Emily was sitting at the 50th percentile, it means that she is RIGHT in the middle and performing as she should be for his age OR that she is performing better than 50% of children her age. With cognitive assessments, the Average Range falls within the 25th to the 75th percentile.

Standard Scores

Put simply, standard scores are these converted scores used to determine where your child’s cognitive abilities lie in comparison to other children his or her age and what range of ability he or she falls under. You’ll see ranges associated with standard scores for the indexes and Full-Scale IQ. As an example, any standard score between 90 and 109 falls within the Average Range.

Another way of thinking about cognitive test results is by viewing them on a Bell Curve. In a normal distribution of results, most results fall around the centre, which is average. Very few people 2% have IQ scores of 130+, while scores under 70 are also rare – with less than 2% of the population having this score. Therefore, most children and people fall in the average range and cluster around the middle.

Ok, we have had an assessment, what do we do with the results?

The report you are given will make recommendations that teachers can use to develop a personalised learning plan.

The cognitive assessment is just the first step. Teachers, like those we have at Learning Works, who are trained in special education, must now implement a plan and strategy to help your child to overcome their learning challenges and capitalise on their strengths.

How can I help my child?

  • Discuss the assessment with teachers and tutors to ensure the best strategies are being used to support your child with their learning
  • Reduce distractions when asking your child to perform a task that is complex or new
  • Your child’s self-esteem may be at risk. It is very important that your child’s classroom based work and homework is pitched at the right level that takes into account your child’s difficulties so they can experience success.
  • Break down tasks into smaller steps
  • Emphasise and repeat key points
  • Encourage the development of your child’s intellectual strengths and teach them strategies to overcome their weaknesses
  • Be aware of the limitations of the IQ score and the narrow set of abilities the score represents
  • Get regular updates about your child’s progress from their teacher and tutor.

While a psychologist carries out the test, it is the teachers who model and implement the supportive strategies to help your child in and outside of the classroom.

Click the link below to download your copy of our pdf. – Learning Works Geelong parent’s guide to understanding assessments.

Cognitive Assessments

Apps for Kids with Learning and Attention Difficulties

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Children with learning difficulties, such as dyslexia, can really benefit from apps and assistive technology.

These apps make their lives better by simplifying reading and spelling and ironing out mistakes.

Watch the video to learn about the latest apps for learning and attention issues

Top apps

1. Speechify
This is a text to audiobook app. Text is turned into audio files and stored as a digital library to help with reading. Kids can send web articles, books and handouts to the app. It uses speech to text technology to create audio files.

2. Claro ScanPen OCR Reader
Kids can use Claro ScanPen like a standard camera to convert photos of text into electronic media that can be read to them aloud.

3. Grammarly
Grammarly checks to mistakes in spelling, grammar and punctuation. To fix mistakes, kids tap on the corrections at the top of the keyboard. The app also gives a short explanation for each mistake.

4. Write Ideas
This app helps to plan and organise ideas for different kinds of writing. First, kids choose a writing assignment, like a book review, informative essay or short story. The app then asks a series of questions to help them brainstorm.

5. Otter Voice Meeting Notes
For kids who struggle to take notes and keep up in class. The app records lectures or meetings while creating digital transcripts of the recordings. The app highlights each words as it’s read aloud.

How you can help your child develop better maths skills in primary school using number sense

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Is your child having trouble skip counting, estimating or telling the time?

They may have trouble with number sense. Number sense is the skill that allows kids to understand and work with numbers to complete maths problems. 

Maths skills in primary school focus on the ability to understand numbers and work with them in fluid and flexible ways. Number sense is a key skill which Learning Works helps primary school students develop in maths which allows your child to determine things like how things rank in order and how things compare in size. This is the ability to understand how much a number is “worth,” and using numbers as a way to solve problems.

  • Number sense is the mind’s ability to form mental images of patterns and associate them with a number
  • Kids with maths issues, such as dyscalculia – often have weaknesses in these skills and require plenty of repetition to grasp the concepts
  • Number sense is a skill that can be developed and honed over time – Learning Works emphasises repetition to improve skills in primary maths

These include the ability to:

  • Understand quantities
  • Grasp concepts like more than, and less than, larger and smaller.
  • Understand that symbols represent quantities (e.g. 8 is equivalent to 8)
  • Make number comparisons – 22 is greater than 20, and 6 is half of 12)
  • Understand the order of numbers in a list 7th, 8th, 9th
  • An awareness of number patterns including recognising missing numbers
  • Strong number sense skills come before learning maths operations – such as adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing.
  • Maths operations aren’t the only area impacted by number sense difficulties. Your child may have difficulty with other concepts that use numbers to symbolise amounts, like measurement, distance and time.               

What teaching strategies promote number sense?

By the time children leave primary school, we would like them to have a well-developed understanding of number sense and place value. Children with problems in this area should focus on:

  • Ordering – comparing numbers with each other
  • Practice counting and grouping objects – adding to, subtracting and multiplying the groups to practice maths operations kills.
  • Place value and position – understanding how the place of a digit affects its value
  • Amount – knowing what the symbols in maths represent
  • Get a lot of practice estimating: Building questions into everyday conversations, using phrases like “about how many,” or “about how much.”
  • Match number symbols to quantities
  • Work with manipulatives like blocks and rods to understand the relationship between different amounts 

Multi-sensory techniques for teaching primary students maths

The use of sight, tough, hearing and movement can make it easier for your child to understand what numbers and symbols represent. Multi-sensory instruction activates several neural pathways in the brain, making later retrieval easier. 

Here are some multi-sensory maths activities that may help your child develop number sense

1. Visualising with beads, lollies or cereal

Using objects or manipulatives they can touch and move around can make it easier for children to learn concepts in maths and other subjects. For example, kids might solve a division problem putting lollies into groups and seeing how many lollies are left over. These props can also be used for addition, subtraction and multiplication problems – helping your child to practise their maths operations skills.

By moving these things around and seeing how they can be manipulated and changed, kids have a concrete way of understanding how these operations work.

2. Drawing maths problems

Drawing a maths problem to visualise and interpret it is especially helpful for younger students as they begin to grasp multiplication, division and fraction problems. For example, a teacher may ask a child to solve the multiplication problem 3 x 8 by drawing 3 groups of 8 oranges. They’ll then be able to visualise how adding 3 groups with 8 things in each group, is equivalent to multiplying, helping to solidify this operation.

3. Building with place value blocks

A teacher give the number 125 and ask the child to build it using the blocks. The child would need to create one 100- block, two 10-blocks and 5 ones’ cubes. This helps children with understanding place value.

4. Building with coloured tubes or blocks

Using blocks is an excellent aid when teaching children number patterns and operations between numbers. For example, you may stack the coloured blocks in 2, 4, 6 and 8 and then ask the child to complete the next three stacks in the pattern (adding two each time). This helps the child make a connection between the items and the numbers they represent.

5. Using Pizza Slices

Cutting a paper pizza into slices is an excellent way for children to “see” fractions like a 1/8 or ¼ and visually understand how fractions can be equivalent. It also helps them see how a fraction is an equal share of something and reinforce number sense skills like more than and less than.

6. Creating a number line

Creating a number line and plotting numbers in place along the line is a visual strategy that helps teach concepts of counting and placing numbers in sequences. A number line app can also support solving problems using a number line.

Key Takeaways

  • Number sense refers to the understanding of quantities as a concept

  • Multisensory learning and using physical objects is crucial for primary school children developing number sense skills

  • Number sense develops gradually over time by exploring numbers and visualising them

  • Strong number sense skills come before solving maths operations – such as adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing

  • Number sense can be supported by giving primary school students opportunities to make sense of, and reason about, number.

How to stop your child from forgetting everything during the summer holidays

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How to stop your child from forgetting everything during the summer holidays

What is summer brain drain or summer slide?

Summer holidays are a wonderful time for kids to explore and enjoy freedom from the busy school year. At Learning Works Geelong, we believe that after a long year of school your child deserves a well- deserved break to re-energise and enjoy time to relax.

While we don’t expect your child to be doing maths sheets or have their heads buried in a textbook learning Pythagoras during this time, it is important they continue to stimulate their brains throughout the long break to ward off learning loss.

Children and teenagers gain momentum and confidence when they are practicing skills on a daily basis and can slide backwards considerably if they have no summer learning routine. The saying ‘use it or lose it’ applies to children over summer when they are out of practice and don’t engage with any educational activities.

In fact, learning loss over summer is so rife that research by Ron Fairchild, executive director of the John Hopkins University Centre for Summer Learning, has found that teachers typically spend 4-6 weeks reteaching material that students have forgotten over the summer months.

We have rounded up our top tips for keeping your child’s mind active during the summer break so they don’t slide backwards in key areas start the new school year on the back foot.

What can you do, personally, to help combat summer learning loss with your own kids?

Tips for keeping your child’s mind active during the summer break

1. Read, read and read some more

Reading is a great activity for children and teenagers to engage in to keep their brains stimulated over summer. Regular readers are more likely to succeed at school, have improved concentration, have wider vocabularies and be confident, self-directed learners.

Reading opens children and teenagers up to new worlds and viewpoints. Through books they learn to make sense of the world around them, learn life lessons about friendship, family and love and expand their general knowledge.

At Learning Works Geelong, we cannot stress the importance of reading for primary school and secondary school children enough.

To encourage your child to read, we recommend you make a wide variety of books accessible. Visit your local library or the book shop and introduce them to different authors and genres. Your child is more likely to foster a lifelong love of reading if the books they are reading are on topics that interest them.

Primary school aged children will benefit from the one-on-one bonding time they get with their parents by reading together. While high school students have a massive head start if they read books that will be covered by their English teachers during the year.

2. MasterChef or My Kitchen Rules episode at home

Just like the TV shows, encourage your primary or high school child to host a dinner party and film them cooking the meal. Make your own “Masterchef or “My Kitchen Rules,” episode.

Not only is this idea wildly entertaining and important for later self-sufficiency, but cooking also activates the neural pathways used in maths and English. Measuring out ¾ cup of flour for a chocolate mud cake is an enjoyable way for your child to understand how fractions and calculations work. It is also great for visual learners to see each ingredient measured out in front of them.

By reading and interpreting a recipe your child is also applying their English comprehension skills. High school students might cook a whole meal for their family or edit the final Masterchef clip on the computer. We guarantee your child will have a lot of fun with this one!

3. Learning happens everywhere

Teach your children that the building blocks for success at school and in life can be found everywhere. From visits to the zoo, ScienceWorks, camping during a beach holiday – there are ample opportunities for kids to build up their information stash about the world during the holidays. These experiences can prove invaluable and what they learn can be used throughout their lives.

As Susan K. Perry, author of Playing Smart: The Family Guide to Enriching, Offbeat Learning Activities for Ages 4-14 says “You don’t want your kids to think that learning is only something that happens in places called schools.” “Rather, you want them to grasp that learning is fun and can go on anytime, anywhere, with handy materials, not only based on the instruction of an actual schoolteacher.”

Craft days, sewing sessions, woodwork and outdoor gardening are other ideas that pro Craft Days– sewing – creating pajamas for older children or a blanket or woodwork,

School holidays are a fantastic time for children to explore their interests and passions. What is your child fascinated by? Encourage them to start a project inspired by their interests.

4. Write a blog

Children and teenagers will love creating their very own blog or webpage over the summer holidays. Some blogging platforms are specifically customised for children, preteens and teens making the set up process simple for your child.

Encourage your child to write a blog on a topic they are passionate about so they maintain their interest. This might involve them writing on topics like photography, the latest fashion hairstyles or their favourite AFL team.

For children, sites like Kidblog Blogger, Weebly, NationalGeographicKids and ClubPenguin are great as they have been designed with children in mind. Site administrators closely monitor activity and parents can also be made administrators to watch what is going on online. Grandparents and friends can be given access codes to see what their children have written on the blogs, so they remain unpublished and limited to a small circle.

By writing a blog, your child will be involved in all aspects of the writing process in a fun, engaging way. From planning their post, drafting the piece, editing and publishing their post – your child or teenager will practice useful writing comprehension and grammar skills! They will also be able to customise their site as their own with different themes, graphics and fonts, and learn basic website management as well.

5. Play boardgames

Make time these school holidays to play board games together as a family. Not only will this provide a great opportunity for you and your children to bond, but with the right game, their minds are also ripe for stimulation and learning.

Younger, primary school aged children will benefit from games like Snakes and Ladders and Trouble where they can practice their counting and calculating skills.

Games like Monopoly, Scrabble and Chess require strategic thinking and money management skills –  perfect for building brain architecture in high school aged students.






Enjoy the school holiday break!

5 reasons regular reading is so important 

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The single most important thing a parent can do to help a child get off to a good head start at school and beyond is to read with them regularly

Parents are told time and time again they should read with their children. At Learning Works Geelong we believe that reading with primary school aged children regularly is one of the most important things you can do as a parent to help them succeed at school.

Reading literally changes your child’s brain, opens up different worlds and prepares them for learning. Routine readers not only have a broader vocabulary and stronger verbal and language skills, but they are also able to learn new concepts more quickly.

From improving concentration, building general knowledge about the world and improving maths and social skills – there are so many benefits!

Learning Works Geelong has rounded up the top reasons you should make reading with your child a priority.

1) Young readers are smarter

There is a common saying “today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” Research has shown that regular, out of school reading makes children more intelligent and fosters a lifetime love of learning. A reading practice improves academic performance across the board with better performance in the NAPLAN and general school tests.

From learning concepts’ more easily and grasping the meaning of their school world and social situations, regular reading has a powerful impact on childhood development. Young readers do better in school and in life – with improved language and literacy skills, and wider and diverse vocabularies. They are able to associate meaning to unknown words and concentrate better and for longer. Regular, out of school reading contributes to intelligence and a lifetime love of learning.

2) Reading builds general knowledge

Children learn important life lessons through books. Through books, a child’s brain is stimulated and expanded. Reading exposes children to new ideas, ways of thinking and different ways of looking at issues.

Through books, children are given a creative spark for their writing and are able to express themselves when they speak. Reading opens children up to words they haven’t absorbed through watching television or listening to conversations.

Children who read regularly know more about the world and have basic life skills that are useful in daily life compared to children who don’t read regularly.

Researchers have examined how children acquire knowledge. They have found that reading books gave children the most general knowledge compared to exposure to television or other media. You would be hard pressed to say that having this knowledge is not useful for everyday living!

3) Reading builds social skills in children

Children are taught emotional intelligence and important life lessons through books. Books have the power to instil empathy and can help children understand social situations and what they mean. They are an invaluable tool in a child’s development – introducing them to social concepts like family, love and friendship. The style of children’s books that helps parents tackle trickier topics such as bias, racism, homophobia, religion and illness can be particularly helpful.

Your child can learn about the world through literature – for example, a book may expose a bias, share stories of culture and identity or explain what anxiety is. For example, if your child is anxious about starting school, sharing a relevant story addressing this issue can seamlessly explain the transition.  The educational function of reading cannot be emphasised enough!

4) Reading changes the brain

Children who grow up with books and read more have thinner brain cortexes. The cortex is the outer layer of the brain which is linked to intelligence. Research has found that people with thinner brain cortexes are smarter. Early success in reading unlocks a lifetime of reading and intelligence habits and lays the foundation for future opportunities.

5) A stronger relationship with you

Reading with your child is a nurturing activity you and your child can share. Children emotionally thrive when they are given frequent, positive, one-one-one attention from their parents. Your child will come to love reading if they are given undivided loving attention from you during their story time. When you respond to your child’s reading with delight, enthusiasm and warmth, you are showing your child they are valued and capable – which is extremely important for their emotional development and self image!

At Learning Works Geelong, we cannot emphasise enough the importance of regular reading for children. Reading exposes children to ideas, contributes to their general knowledge about the world and stimulates the brain’s neurons connected to intelligence. Reading improves a child’s verbal skills and comprehension abilities and provides a safe environment to explore social issues and emotions.

Early reading unlocks a lifetime of reading and intelligence habits and sets an upward spiral of academic success into motion.

Happy Reading!

Back to school tips for 2019

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What can you do for your child to give them the best head start at school this year?

For many children across Geelong, this week marks the end of an endless summer holiday and the start of a new school year. TV ads and retail store shelves are reminding us that shortly it will be time to go Back to School! At Learning Works Geelong, we understand that getting your child motivated to get back into the swing of a school routine after six weeks off can be a struggle.

The new school year marks a period of transition for your primary or secondary school child – with new teachers, classes, schedules, academic expectations and maybe even a new school.

We have rounded up invaluable tips from the Learning Works Geelong team to help your child make the transition from the summer holidays and have a successful 2019 school year.

Top tips to ensure 2019 is successful for your child

1) Create routine

Structure is vital for developing mind. If your child is prepared they are more likely to adapt to the demands of school – like sitting still and concentrating on learning new tasks for extended periods of time. Make sure your child is well-rested and ready to engage at school by getting a good night’s sleep and packing school bags the night before. These simple organisational tasks will reduce the challenges on the first few mornings back to school.

Getting organised with a school planner or timetable will ensure that your primary or high school child knows what is expected of them. VCE students will benefit from writing down their SAC dates and planning out their study routine in advance.

An ideal school routine might involve a desk area to work, away from the TV, phones and other distractions, discussing the set homework and assignments from the day and helping to go through any difficulties. This way your child feels supported and that you are engaged in their learning.

Encourage your child’s organisation skills and effort. A good routine will reduce challenges and will allow your child to focus on learning new school concepts.

2) Homework is important

All school aged children are assigned homework to reinforce learning material. At Learning Works Geelong, we believe that some homework is really beneficial for primary and secondary students to make sure key information isn’t lost. Young primary school aged children will especially benefit from your involvement and encouragement in completing their homework.

The best way to approach homework is to spell out to your child what you expect of them before the school year starts. Set aside time each night that is dedicated to homework. Answer questions with them like – Where will they do their homework? What happens to their phones and Facebook during homework time? How long will they do their homework for each day? By agreeing with your child what you expect of them, you are showing how important their education is to you and modelling the importance of hard work during and after school.

3) Inspire Confidence

Confidence can be as important as new skills when it comes to success at school. Praise your child’s perseverance and the effort they put into their school work. Learning not to give up if they find a new concept difficult is an important life skill.

Help them understand that mistakes are okay. Kids need the ability to bounce back from disappointment if they don’t understand something straight away. Your child will become resilient and confident in their ability to keep trying new things if they are taught that mistakes are part of the learning process.

4) Encourage your child to learn new skills.

Teach your child to try new things and to not get upset if they make mistakes. The ability to bounce back from disappointment if they don’t grasp a concept straight away will teach your child that their continued effort will lead to improvements.

Building up your child’s self-belief in their skills is vital for success at school. Tackling new ideas, overcoming disappointment, trying again and trusting in their own abilities are all necessary for your child to thrive at school. Encouraging your child for the effort they put into their school work will boost their confidence, self-esteem and will set your child up to utilise their skills.

5) Rest is important too

It is important for kids to have time to themselves to rest after a hectic school day. Kids absorb the energy of the environment around them, therefore one of the best things you can do is to model a calm attitude. It is important for your child to prioritise after school activities too so there isn’t a complete rush from one activity to another – leaving your child worn out for the next day. A well-rested child is one that is mentally prepared for new experiences at school.

Fun. Make sure your child sets aside enough time to play, read, relax and hang out with their friends. This will make the transition back to school smoother and will give them an incentive to work hard on their homework if they know there is down time as well to make the transition back to school smoother and more enjoyable.

6) Speak with their teachers

Parents can get a lot of crucial information about their child from their teachers. Teachers spend a lot of time with your child and view them through an educator’s eyes. They have exposure to any learning difficulties, academic strengths and weaknesses but also how your child is coping emotionally and getting along with close friends at school. Keep the dialogue open with your child’s teacher. Good questions to ask are: Do you have any concerns about my child’s learning? Does he/she need help with anything? How is my child doing overall?

Speaking regularly with your tutor at Learning Works Geelong will provide another great source of information for you. We fill in any missing gaps in knowledge, help your child get up to speed and excel at school.

Learning Works Geelong hopes these tips help your primary or secondary school child start of the 2019 school year ready to take on the challenges of the year ahead!

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