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Helping children learn – the primary years

Your child learns every day and every where, at home, at school and in the community. 

The following advice is also available as a download for printing (DOCX 869KB).

The difference you can make

How you support your child’s learning matters. You have a key role in shaping their values, attitudes and approaches to learning at home and at school.

There are simple things you can do to help your child thrive in their learning.

Aim high — believe in your child’s potential

When a parent holds high aspirations for their child, they do better at school.  Showing your child you believe in them and their ability is powerful. It builds their confidence and helps them see themselves as someone who can do well.

Research shows there’s a link between what parents believe about their child’s ability to do well and their actual achievements.

Praise your child for trying hard, not just for doing well.  Celebrate the little successes.

Talk to your child about their dreams for the future.  This is important at any age. Talk to your child often about their hopes or ideas for the future.

Talk with and listen to your child

When you spend time talking with your child it helps them to learn and grow.

Talk about what they:

  • are learning at school
  • enjoy or find difficult.

You can also talk about the times your family has spent together. You can tell stories about your own childhood, or talk about big ideas. It could be:

  • the things you and your family believe in
  • your culture
  • science and nature
  • important issues that are happening in the community or the country.

This helps your child to understand the world around them and their place in it.

Ask specific questions to out draw information

Instead of ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions, try open questions that encourage discussion.

How do you think you went with your maths or reading today?

What made you laugh today?

Who was a helper today?

What was the most interesting thing you did today?

Keep trying, even if the answers are ‘good’ or ‘nothing’.

Find out what your child’s favourite school subjects are. Talk about what they’re learning. Try to make connections between what they’re learning at school and everyday life. This could be practising reading or counting when you are shopping.

Explore big ideas together. This is a way to get your child to think critically and be curious about how things work. Children can enjoy learning and putting their thoughts into words.

Ask about friendships and relationships at school. Get to know who their friends are and how they spend their break times.

Learn about the world together

Parents, more than anyone, can help their child enjoy learning new things.

Children learn by exploring and finding new interests. You can help your child learn about the world when you do everyday things like:

  • cook
  • shop
  • garden
  • play sport.

There are plenty of free things to do too.

Discover together

Give your child the opportunity to discover new things and explore new interests. Let them be part of their community and culture.

Talk about your own learning

Tell your child what you’re currently learning or what you remember. Talk about what it was like when you were their age. Share the message that learning is important at all ages. Explain how you plan, solve problems and think about the future.

Go on outings together

Head out to libraries, museums, free concerts, sporting and cultural events together.

Look for child-friendly activities, like after-school programs, holiday activities and free community programs.

Read together as a family

When you read to your child from an early age it has a lasting positive effect. Reading together can:

  • increase your child’s vocabulary
  • create an environment for learning together
  • give you things to talk about later.

Have your child read to you. It’s a safe and nurturing way for them to practise and learn.

Tell your own stories

Share stories from or about your family. Tell stories that have been passed down for generations. Share the stories that are part of your cultural heritage.

Read and talk about books and stories with your child

Ask about your child about favourite character in a book. Talk about what they think might happen next in the story. Ask what they liked or didn’t like about a story.

Read and tell stories in the language you use at home

When you read together it does not have to be in English to help with learning.

If you speak any other languages at home, use them when you read. This is excellent for your child’s learning.

Praise your child when they make an effort and keep trying

You could try to:

  • set small milestones for a reluctant reader
  • let your child help choose a book or story.

Find out how you can support your child

Ask your child’s teacher or school for advice. Ask about how you can support your child’s reading enjoyment and skills development.

Create a good homework environment

There are important things you can do to get the most out of homework. One is building your child’s confidence. Another is to help them learn on their own. How you help will change as they get older.

Create space

An organised space can help a child learn. You could create a special space for doing things like homework. It can help try to make homework a calm experience. If there’s not room at home, there might be a quiet spot at the local library.

Be there to help if your child has a question

If you are helping your child, try to make it a positive time. Try to minimise the stress related to homework. You can help build your child’s confidence instead of ‘having the answer’.

Talk to the school about homework

Talk to your child’s teacher about homework and find out about your school’s guidelines. It’s good to know what is expected and why.

Be encouraging

Praise your child for their effort and for trying hard when they do homework.

Support good relationships

Children tend to do better when they get on with their teacher and classmates. Strong friendships mean they tend to enjoy learning and being at school.

Be positive about school and respectful of teachers

Help your child build and maintain a positive relationship with their teacher.

Support good relationships with friends and classmates

Skills that help friendships include cooperation, communication, empathy and emotional control.

Talk about:

  • your child’s friends and relationships
  • how they respond to any problems they are having
  • their ideas for resolving conflict in a positive way.

Ask for advice from teachers and school staff

Teachers can give you ideas and help you support your child’s relationships.

Contact

Parent engagement

Email: education.ParentEngagement [at] sa.gov.au