It is a common grouse among parents that they would love to be able to conduct English lessons for their children at home, but they have no idea how to start doing it, often because they lack confidence in their own level of mastery in the language. In fact, as a parent your competency of the English language should not be a major concern or hurdle. What is more imperative is that you are eager to impart knowledge and provide a supportive environment where your child will feel encouraged and motivated to keep learning. Your passion and fervour in teaching will certainly rub off on your child. Do not be too alarmed if your child does not start conversing in the English language straightaway. There will be initial phases when they would need some time to process the language. Patience is the name of the game and if you persevere long enough, you would surely see the fruits of your labour in no time and you will see them conversing in English.
Establishing A Routine
You can start by crafting a simple schedule to teach English in the comfort of your home. It is advisable to keep the lessons short and concise, but high in frequency. Young kids can only give you their attention for a maximum of fifteen to twenty minutes at a time (in fact, twenty is pushing it!), thus long and monotonous sessions will not cut it with them. As your child grows older and more mature, you can expect growth in their attention span. You can then gradually increase the duration of your sessions. As you may now realize, it is vital to use a variety of methods and a degree of fun in your lessons in order to catch the attention of your child.
Repetition and consistency is key in the development of your young children. They will tend to be more receptive if they are aware of what is expected of them. A simple illustration can be as easy as initiating an English crossword puzzle after school, or reading a classic bedtime story to your children before they sleep. For the adventurous, you could even install an English corner in a specific part of your home where you can place or store English movies, books and games. As mentioned, repetition is vital and the comfort with which your child is able to speak the language is highly dependent on how many times he/she hears a certain word or phrase.
The element of fun in any session is imperative in determining the speed at which a child learns. A fantastic method to teach and revise vocabulary would be to use flashcards.
In addition to that, you can also engage your children in learning the English language through the following games:
- Action games – Charades and the game ‘Simon Says’ are hugely popular (especially with teachers or tutors)
- Board games – Conventional games such as Snakes and Ladders, Scrabble and even Monopoly
- Word games – Taboo Junior, Boggle Junior, Hangman (However, don’t use a hanging body as the illustration! Pick something else less sinister!)
Another interesting alternative will be to incorporate song and music into the learning sessions with your child. It is a fantastic way to acquire new words and raise their mastery in pronunciation. Action songs are highly recommended for very young children so that in the event that they are unable to sing the song, they could at least still join in the action.
The saying “A picture paints a thousand words” is never more apt as to dealing with young children. They love looking at books with bright and beautiful sketches or illustrations. Use the pictures as the point of reference and say the words as the same time as your child. You can vary the method by requesting your child to point to different objects of the picture, for example “Where’s the dog?”, or you can cajole them to spell out or articulate the words by asking “What is that?”. To further aid your children to pick up the language, listening to stories can also greatly assist your child in familiarizing with the rhythms and sounds of English.
Using Everyday Situations
Here are a few examples of how you can use every day situations to teach your child English :
- While your child is getting ready to go to school or when you’re asking your child to do household chores (‘Let’s wear blue shorts for today’, ‘Please pass me the fork and spoon’, etc.)
- Use household furniture or toys when training and building your child’s vocabulary, or assist them in clearing up the mess in their bedroom (‘Where is your black train?’, ‘Let’s play clean up and put your soft pillow on the fluffy bed!’)
- Use food as part of your teaching techniques to build vocabulary. When you pay a visit to the supermarket, provide your child with a list of items to look out for. Depending on how old they are, you can use words or pictures. Reiterate the use of the vocabulary in the kitchen when you are back at home arranging the items that you have bought
Parents sometimes take the route of teaching complex grammar rules to their young children.
What you should focus on is to encourage them to pay attention and use a variety of grammatical blocks in context, for instance “have/got” when you are conversing about the look of a person, or “must/must not” when speaking about general guidelines in a school or at home.
Family also plays a vital role and you should get your children to communicate with their younger and older siblings in English so that they can pick up the language faster.
Which now begs the question – What are the words and phrases should I teach in the initial stage?
Ponder on your child’s interests and character when selecting which subjects to educate, and even better, consider to allow your child to assist you to choose. As a general rule of the thumb, you may want to begin with several of these subjects:
- numbers (1–10; 10–20; 20–100)
- adjectives (e.g. big, small, tall, short, happy, sad, sick, healthy)
- parts of the body
- animals (e.g. pets, farm animals, wild animals)
No matter how what methodology you choose, it is most essential is that you emphasize the element of fun in your lessons and ensure that learning English is an enjoyable experience for you and your child.
Brought to you by the KidsEnglishCollege™ Editorial Team.
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