Ideas to help with reading, writing and maths

You can help your child's learning every day, by supporting and encouraging them and being excited by their learning. Here are some ideas to keep them developing their literacy and numeracy skills at home. Have a look at the year group for your child and have fun.

Year 1

Reading at home

Make reading fun

Reading at home should be fun and easy – something you both look forward to - a time for laughter and talk.

  • Share the reading, take turns or see whether your child wants to read or be read to today
  • All children like to be read to, so keep reading to them. You can read in your first language
  • Visit the library together and help them choose books to share
  • Read emails from family or whānau aloud
  • Play card and board games together.

Here's a tip - talk a lot to your child while you are doing things together. Use the language that works best for you and your child.

Talk about reading

  • Talk about pictures in books
  • Sing waiata and songs, read poems and make up rhymes together – the funnier the better
  • Be a role model. Let your child see you enjoying reading and talk about what you are enjoying
  • Point out words on signs, shops and labels
  • Play word games like "I Spy" and "Simon Says…"

Make it a special time together

Reading is a great chance for you and your child to spend special time together. Make reading:

  • quiet and relaxing
  • a time to sit close to your child
  • 10–15 minutes without interruption, away from the TV
  • an enjoyable, interesting and special time
  • a time to praise your child for making an effort

Here's some tips -

If your child is stuck on a word wait a few seconds, give them a chance to think. If they are still stuck, help them to try to work the word out by saying "read the sentence again and think what would make sense". Ask "could it be…?" (and give a word that might fit). The pictures also help them check they have got the right word. If they still can’t work out the word, tell them and praise their efforts. Remember, reading should be fun.

Help your child to link stories to their own life. Remind them about what they have done when a similar thing happens in the story.

Writing at home

Make writing fun

  • Help your child write an alphabet letter, then go letter hunting in your house or in a book to find that letter
  • Let your child see you writing – you can use your first language
  • Encourage them to write shopping lists or make birthday cards
  • Water and a paintbrush on a dry path and a stick on sand are fun ways to write letters and words.

Here's a tip - Don’t worry if your child’s letters or words are sometimes backwards or misspelt at this age. The important thing is that they have fun writing at home and are making an effort.

Give them reasons to write

  • Write to each other. Write notes to your child and leave them in interesting places, like their lunch box. Ask them to write a reply
  • Help them email, text or write to family, whānau or friends
  • Work with them to put labels on special things – like the door to their room or their toy box.

Here a tip - display their work. Put it on the fridge. Be proud of it. Share it with others.

Talk about their writing

  • Talk about the letters in your child’s name and where the name comes from.
  • Help them create a scrapbook with pictures. Encourage them to write stories under the pictures and talk to you about them.
  • Ask them to write about pictures they draw - on paper or on the computer. Or get them to tell you the story and you write it under the picture.

Here's a tip - talk about what your child writes. Be interested. If you don’t understand what your child’s picture or story is about, ask them to tell you about it.

Encourage writing

  • Have felt pens, pencils, crayons and paper available
  • Put magnetic letters on the fridge – ask what words they can make with the letters.

Mathematics at home

Talk together and have fun with numbers and patterns

Help your child to:

  • find numbers around your home and neighbourhood – clocks, letterboxes, speed signs
  • count forwards and backwards (clocks, fingers and toes, letterboxes, action rhymes, signs)
  • make patterns when counting "clap 1, stamp 2, clap 3, stamp 4, clap 5…"
  • do sums using objects such as stones or marbles eg 2 + 3, 4 +1, 5 + 4
  • make up number stories – "you have 2 brothers and 2 sisters. There are 4 of them"

Here's a tip - maths is an important part of everyday life and there are lots of ways you can make it fun for your child.

Use easy, everyday activities

Involve your child in:

  • preparing and sharing out food – "two for me and two for you". Ask, "How many for each of us?"
  • talking about time – "lunchtime", "storytime", "bedtime"
  • using words in everyday play like "under", "over", "between", "around", "behind", "up", "down", "heavy", "light", "round", "circle", "yesterday", "tomorrow". You can get library books with these words and ideas in them too
  • asking questions like "How many apples do we need for lunches? What do you think the weather is going to be like today/tomorrow? What are we going to do next?"

Here's a tip - use lots of mathematics words as your child is playing to develop their understanding of early mathematics (eg "over", "under", "first, second, third", "round", "through", "before", "after"). Use the language that works best for you and your child.

For wet afternoons/school holidays/weekends

Get together with your child and:

  • play with water using different shaped containers and measuring cups in the sink or bath
  • bake – talk to your child about the recipe/ingredients using words like "how many?" "how much?" "more". Count how many teaspoons of baking soda are needed, how many cups of flour, how many muffin cases
  • play dress-ups and getting dressed, use words like "short", "long", and ask questions like "what goes on first?", "what goes on next?", "does it fit?"
  • create a ‘sorting box’ with all sorts of ‘treasure’ – bottle tops, shells, stones, poi, toys, acorns, pounamu (greenstone), cardboard shapes, leaves. Ask questions like "how many?", "which is the biggest group?", "which is the smallest?", "how many for each of us?"
  • do jigsaw puzzles, play card and board games and build with blocks.

Here's a tip - being positive about mathematics is really important for your child’s learning – even if you didn’t enjoy it or do well at it yourself at school.

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Year 2

Reading at home

Make reading fun

Reading at home needs to be fun and easy – something you both look forward to, a time for laughter and talk.

  • find a comfortable, quiet place away from the TV for the 2 of you to cosy up and read for 10-15 minutes
  • if you or your child start to feel stressed, take a break and read the rest of the story aloud yourself – keep it fun
  • make some puppets – old socks, cardboard tubes, cut-outs on sticks – that you and your child can use to act out the story you have read. Or dress up and make it into a play
  • play card games (you can make the cards yourself)
  • read songs, waiata, poems and rhymes - sing them together, too.

Here's a tip - when they are reading, your child will still be coming across words they don’t know. When this happens, you could remind them to think about what they already know to do when they get stuck. If that doesn’t help you might ask "What word would make sense that starts like that?" or "What do you know about that word that might help?" If they still can’t work it out – tell them and praise their efforts.

Take your child to the library

  • help them choose books to share
  • find other books by the same author or on the same topic (or look for more information on the web – you might have to be the reader for this one).

Here's a tip - help your child to link stories to their own life. Remind them about what they have done when a similar thing happens in the story.

Talk about reading

  • Talk about the story and the pictures, other stories you have read, and experiences you have both had that are like those in the story
  • Sometimes you can be the listener, sometimes the reader and sometimes you can take turns. They might like to read to the cat, the dog, their teddy or a big brother
  • All children like to be read to, so don’t stop reading to them – no matter how old they are
  • Encourage your child to read all sorts of things – the TV guide in the newspaper, street signs, food labels. Simple recipes are great – you get to eat what you’ve read about, too.

Here's a tip - talk with your child all the time – and give them time to talk with you. You can use your first language.

Writing at home

Make writing fun

  • encourage your child to write – on paper or on the computer. It is OK for you to help and share the writing. Give lots of praise
  • enjoy the message and don’t make your child anxious about spelling or neatness
  • make a photo book and get your child to write captions
  • scrapbooks are fun, too. Old magazine or newspaper pictures about a favourite subject, dogs, your family, motorbikes or the latest toy craze, pasted on to blank pages – with room for captions or stories, too
  • play with words. Finding and discussing interesting new words can help increase the words your child uses when they write. Look up words in the dictionary or on the Internet or talk to family and whänau to find out more about the meaning and the whakapapa (origins) of the words.

Here's a tip - talk a lot to your child while you are doing things together. Use the language that works best for you and your child.

Give them reasons to write

Help your child to:

  • write lists – ‘Things I need from the shop’, ‘Games to play when I am bored’, ‘Things I want to do in the holidays’. The last one can be cut up and go into a box or bag for a lucky dip when the holidays finally arrive
  • write out recipes or instructions for other people to follow (especially fun if the instructions are for an adult)
  • keep a diary, especially if you are doing something different and exciting. Your child can draw the pictures or stick in photos. Their diary could be a webpage on the computer
  • write letters, cards, notes and emails to friends and family and the Tooth Fairy – you might write replies sometimes, too
  • cut out letters from old magazines and newspapers to make messages write secret messages for others to find in their lunch box or under their pillow.

Here's a tip - display their work. Put it on the fridge. Be proud of it. Share it with others.

Talk about their writing

  • Make up a different ending for a favourite story together and get them to write it down
  • Ask them to write about pictures they draw. Get them to tell you the story
  • Keep writing fun and use any excuse you can think of to encourage your child to write about anything, any time.

Here's a tip - don’t worry if your child’s letters are sometimes backwards or words are misspelt at this age. The important thing is that they have fun writing at home and are making an effort.

Mathematics at home

Talk together and have fun with numbers and patterns

Help your child to:

  • find and connect numbers around your home and neighbourhood; eg find 7, 17 and 27 on letterboxes
  • count forwards and backwards starting with different numbers (eg 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, then back again)
  • make patterns when counting forwards and backwards (eg "5, 10, 15, 20 then 20, 15, 10, 5 and 30, 40, 50, 60 or 12, 14, 16, 18, …")
  • do addition and subtraction problems by counting forwards or backwards in their heads (eg 8 + 4, 16 – 3)
  • count the number of poi in a kapa haka performance learn their ‘ten and...’ facts (eg 10 + 4, 10 + 7) double and halve numbers to 20 (eg 7 + 7 is 14, half of 14 is 7).

Here's a tip - being positive about mathematics is really important for your child’s learning – even if you didn’t enjoy it or do well at it yourself at school.

Use easy, everyday activities

Involve your child in:

  • sorting (washing, odd socks, toys, cans) while tidying up
  • telling you what their favourite things are – food, sport, colour reading - notice and talk about numbers.
  • ask questions about the pictures like “how many birds are there?”
  • a shape and number search together wherever you are, like numbers of shoes, shapes of doors and windows.

Here's a tip - mathematics is an important part of everyday life and there are lots of ways you can make it fun for your child.

For wet afternoons/school holidays/weekends

Get together with your child and:

  • use mathematics words during play (treasure hunts, obstacle courses, building huts) - "under', "over", 'between", 'around", "behind", "up", "down', "heavy", "light', 'round", "your turn next","before", "after", "left" and "right", "square", "triangle" – you can use your first language
  • play with big cardboard boxes using words like "inside", "outside"
  • play games and do puzzles; eg jigsaws, "I spy something that is longer, bigger, smaller than..."
  • do water play using different shaped containers and measuring cups
  • bake – talk to your child about the recipe/ingredients and how many pieces you need to feed everyone
  • dance to music and sing/clap to favourite songs make and play stick games with tī rākau or newspaper rolls play with a pack of cards - make up addition and subtraction problems using numbers to 20 look at a calendar – "how many days/weeks until an event?", "how many days in the month?", "how many weekends?".
  • Encourage your child to look for patterns.

Here's a tip - the way your child is learning to solve mathematics problems may be different from when you were at school. Get them to show you how they do it and support them in their learning.

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Year 3

Reading at home

Make reading fun

  • Have fun singing along to karaoke songs or playing board games together
  • Read to your child every day. You can use your first language
  • Have a pile of reading materials available – library books (non-fiction and fiction), kids’ cookery books, simple timetables, newspapers and magazines, catalogues and any other reading that supports your child’s current interest
  • Encourage your child to retell favourite stories or parts of stories in their own words. Play card games (you can make the cards yourself) and board games together.

Here are some tips -

When they are reading, your child will be working at solving unfamiliar words by themself. If they need help you could ask them to work their way across the word looking for things they know that might help. At this level, reading involves bringing everything they know together to solve problems and build understanding. If they can’t work it out – tell them and carry on with reading.

If you or your child starts to feel stressed by what they’re reading, take a break and read the rest of the story aloud yourself – keep it fun.

Make it real

  • Reading makes more sense if your child can relate it to their own life. Help them to make connections between what they are reading and their own lives and experiences. For example, "that’s a funny story about a grandad – what does your grandad do that makes you laugh?", "We saw a big mountain in that book, what is our mountain called, and where did the name come from?"
  • Look for opportunities for your child to read wherever you are – signs, advertising billboards, junk mail, recipes
  • Show your child that reading is fun and important to you by letting them see you reading magazines, books, newspapers.

Find out together

  • Visit the library often and help your child to choose books about topics that interest them
  • Talk with older people or kaumātua in your family about interesting stories and people from your child’s past that you could find out more about together
  • Ask your child questions (and support them to find the answers) to widen their reading experiences. For example, "What’s the quickest biscuit recipe?", "What time is the next bus to town?"
  • Help your child with any words that they don’t understand – look them up together in the dictionary if you need to.

Writing at home

Writing for fun

  • Talk about interesting words with your child, especially ones that are fun to say, like "hippopotamus" or "ringaringa". Short and simple games could involve finding how many little words can be found using the letters in the word ‘elephant’
  • Work together on the small word games found in the children’s section (or word section) of the newspaper
  • Make up a story or think of a pakiwaitara (legend) or traditional tale and act it out with costumes and music, write down the names of the characters or tïpuna (ancestors)
  • Make up a play with your child. You could help your child to write the play down. Use puppets they design and make themselves to give a performance to the family

Here's a tip - keep writing fun and use any excuse to encourage your child to write about anything, any time.

Writing for a reason

  • Writing for a real purpose can help your child want to write.For example, writing invitations, typing emails or writing and posting small notes
  • Personalising notes by cutting, decorating, sticking or stamping are great skills for coordinating fingers and being creative. Postcards are a good size for a sentence or two and they are cheap to post, too
  • Encourage your child to write what they need to pack for a holiday, dictate your shopping list to them, or get them to write a list of jobs that need doing.

Here's a tip - talk about what your child writes. Be interested. If you don’t understand what your child’s picture or story is about, ask them to explain.

Supporting your child's writing

  • Talk to your child about what you are writing – let them see you making lists, writing emails, filling in forms
  • Keep envelopes, banking slips, forms you don’t need so that your child can do their own ‘grown up’ writing
  • Display your child’s writing where others can admire and read it
  • Play with words. Find and discuss interesting new words – this can help increase the words your child uses when they write – look words up in the dictionary or on the Internet or talk to family and whānau members to learn the whakapapa (origins) of the words.

Here's a tip - be a great role model. Show your child that you write for all sorts of reasons. Let them see you enjoying writing. You can use your first language – this helps your child’s learning, too.

Mathematics at home

Talk together and have fun with numbers and patterns

Help your child to:

  • find and connect numbers around your home and neighbourhood
  • name the number that is 10 more or 10 less than before or after a number up to 100
  • make patterns when counting in groups (skip counting) forwards and backwards, starting with different numbers (eg 13, 23, 33, 43…, …43, 33, 23, 13)
  • try making different types of patterns by drumming, clapping, stamping, dancing or drawing patterns that repeat
  • find out the ages of family or whānau members
  • do addition and subtraction problems in their heads using facts to 20 eg 10 + 4, 15 – 7
  • use groups of 10 that add to 100 eg 50 + 50, 30 + 70.

Here's a tip - being positive about mathematics is really important for your child’s learning – even if you didn’t enjoy it or do well at it yourself at school.

Use easy, everyday activities

Involve your child in:

  • telling the time – o’clock, ½ past, ¼ to
  • learning their 2, 5 and 10 times tables
  • repeating and remembering telephone numbers they use a lot
  • reading and sharing a book. Ask them questions about numbers in the story – use the number of pages as a way to practise number facts, too
  • doing a shape and number search when you are reading a book or looking at art (like carvings and sculpture)
  • helping at the supermarket – ask your child to get specific items (medium-sized tin of red beans, 2 litres of milk, 250g of mince).

Here's a tip - talk a lot to your child while you are doing things together.  Use the language that works best for you and your child.

For wet afternoons/school holidays/weekends

Get together with your child and:

  • play games – board games, card games and do jigsaw puzzles
  • make your own advertising pamphlet – cut out and sort images to go on it, make pretend money to spend
  • grow seeds or sprouts – measure the growth each week
  • fold and cut out paper dolls and other repeating shapes
  • trace over repeating patterns (eg kōwhaiwhai patterns)
  • go on a treasure hunt – make a map with clues and see who can get to the treasure first
  • dance to music and sing/clap to favourite songs – make up a dance sequence each – can you copy each other?
  • both take turns closing your eyes and describing how to get from the front gate to the kitchen, from the kitchen to their bedroom, from home to school
  • do timed activities. You hold the watch and they count how many times they can bounce a ball in a minute
  • play guess and check games (use different shaped jars) – how many beans, buttons, pegs in the container?

Here's a tip - the way your child is learning to solve mathematics problems may be different to when you were at school. Get them to show you how they do it and support them in their learning.

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Year 4

Reading at home

Read and talk together

  • Get your child to tell you about what they are reading. Who is their favourite character and why? Is there anyone like that in your family? What do they think is going to happen? What have they learnt from their reading? Does it remind them of any of their own experiences?
  • Help your child with any words they don’t understand – look them up together in the dictionary if you need to
  • Read recipes, instructions, manuals, maps, diagrams, signs and emails. It will help your child to understand that words can be organised in different ways on a page, depending on what it’s for
  • Read junk mail – your child could compare costs, make their own ‘advertisements’ by cutting up junk mail or come up with clever sentences for a product they like.

Here's a tip - talk a lot to your child while you are doing things together. Use the language that works best for you and your child.

Read with others

  • If your child has chosen something to read that is too hard at the moment, take turns and read it together
  • Reading to younger brothers or sisters, whānau or grandparents will give your child an opportunity to practise reading out loud
  • Encourage other family members to read to and with your child – Aunty, Grandma, Koro
  • Playing board games and card games is important, too
  • Choose games that everyone wants to play – make them challenging, not too easy.

Here's some tips -

Keep the magic of listening to a good story alive by reading either made up, retold or read-aloud stories to your child – with lots of excitement through the use of your voice!

When they are reading, the most common difficulty your child is likely to have is working out the meaning of new words, phrases and expressions. To do this your child will use their knowledge of words and word patterns (eg prefixes, suffixes and root words) to help build meaning. You may need to remind your child to read back and forward for clues to help their understanding of what they are reading. Talk with your child about the meaning.

Take your child to the library

  • Help your child to choose a variety of books they want to read
  • Help them look for books about topics they’re learning about at school
  • Get your child to choose a book that you can read to them (listening to you read helps them with their reading)
  • Encourage your child to retell favourite stories or parts of stories in their own words.

Here's a tip - help your child link stories to their own life. Remind them about what they have done when a similar thing happens in the story.

Writing at home

Write for fun

  • Writing about their heroes, sports events, tīpuna (ancestors), hobbies and interests helps your child to stay interested in what they are writing about
  • Help your child to leave messages in sand on the beach, send a message in a bottle, do code crackers, word puzzles, crosswords, word finds – these are all fun to do together
  • Make up a story or think of a pakiwaitara (legend) and act it out with costumes and music. Write down the names of the characters or tīpuna (ancestors)
  • If you or someone in your family has a computer, encourage your child to use it to write, email and publish or print for pleasure (emails, birthday cards, poems, jokes, letters, pictures with captions). Or you could use a computer at the library.

Here's a tip - keep writing fun and use any excuse you can think of to encourage your child to write about anything, any time.

Talk about your child's writing

  • Get your child to talk about their writing and share it
  • Cut out words and letters to make stories, codes, poems, puzzles and more…
  • Play word games together
  • Play with words. Thinking of interesting words and discussing new ones can help increase the words your child uses when they write – look words up in the dictionary or on the Internet or talk with family/whānau to find out more about where the words come from.

Here's a tip - talk about what your child writes. Be interested. If you don’t understand what their story is about, ask them to tell you more about it. Use questions they will want to answer.

Write for a reason

  • Get your child to help write the shopping list, invitation lists for family events, menus for special dinners, thank-you cards when someone does something nice
  • Postcards are a good size for a sentence or two and they are cheap to post, too. Have a special place to keep your child’s writing at home (notice board, fridge, folder). You might frame a piece of writing and hang it up, too.

Here's a tip - be a great role model. Show your child that you write for all sorts of reasons. Let them see you enjoying writing. Write to them sometimes, too. You can use your first language – this helps your child’s learning, too.

Mathematics at home

Talk together and have fun with numbers and patterns

Help your child to:

  • find and connect numbers around your home and neighbourhood – phone numbers, clocks, letterboxes, road signs, signs showing distance
  • count forwards and backwards (starting with numbers like 998, 999, 1,000, 1,001, 1,002 then back again)
  • make patterns when counting – forwards and backwards, starting with different numbers (73, 83, 93, 103… or 118, 108, 98, 88…)
  • explore patterns through drumming, clapping, stamping, dancing find out the ages and birth dates of family and whānau see patterns in the numbers in their times tables.

Here's a tip - being positive about mathematics is really important for your child’s learning – even if you didn’t enjoy it or do well at it yourself at school.

Use easy, everyday activities

Involve your child in:

  • making lunch or a meal for a party or a hui – make sandwiches in different shapes. Can they cut their sandwich in half? Can they cut the other sandwich in half a different way?
  • helping at the supermarket – choose items to weigh – how many apples/bananas weigh a kilo? Look for the best buy between different makes of the same items (eg blocks of cheese) – check on the amount of sugar or salt per serving
  • telling the time – o’clock, ½ , ¼ past
  • deciding how much money you will need to put into the parking meter and what time you will need to be back before the meter expires
  • thinking about how many telephone numbers they can remember – talk about what they do to help them remember the series of numbers
  • reading together – help them look for numbers and mathematics ideas
  • looking for shapes and numbers in newspapers, magazines, junk mail, art (like carvings and sculpture).

Here's a tip - mathematics is an important part of everyday life and there are lots of ways you can make it fun for your child.

For wet afternoons/school holidays/weekends

Get together with your child and:

  • play card and board games that use guessing and checking
  • look at junk mail – which is the best value? Ask your child what they would buy if they had $10/$100/$1,000 to spend
  • do complicated jigsaw puzzles
  • cook or bake – use measuring cups, spoons (½ and ¼ teaspoon) and scales
  • collect boxes – undo and see if you can make them up again or make it into something else
  • make paper darts and change the weight so that they fly differently, work out which is the best design
  • create a repeating pattern (eg kōwhaiwhai patterns) to fill up a page or decorate a card
  • play mathematics "I Spy" – something that is ½ a km away, something that has 5 parts hide something from each other and draw a map or hide several clues – can you follow the map or the clues and find it?
  • do skipping ropes/elastics – how long will it take to jump 20 times?

Here's a tip - the way your child is learning to solve mathematics problems may be different to when you were at school. Get them to show you how they do it and support them in their learning.

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Year 5

Reading at home

Talk about their reading

  • Ask your child what they are reading and talk about their ideas: What is the ‘picture’ they have of particular characters? Are there people like that in your family or whānau? What do they want to find out from the book? What are the important messages? What do they think is going to happen next? What else do they need to know to understand the story or topic?
  • Talk about books on similar topics. This helps your child to pull together ideas from different places
  • Talk about different types of stories that are read or spoken. Newspaper articles, internet sites, whakataukī (proverbs), comics, bible stories, songs, waiata or novels will each have different points you can talk about together. Find a newspaper article you’re both interested in and talk about what it means to each of you
  • Help your child to share their thinking. Get them to share opinions and talk about why they think that. Listen, even when you don’t agree with their ideas.

Here's a tip - give your child space and time to read. Reading longer books they have chosen needs plenty of time.

Read together

  • Find out information together from different places. For example, manuals, dictionaries, the Internet, magazines, television guides, atlases, family tree information, whakapapa
  • Play games that involve reading in a fun way
  • Encourage your child to read to others
  • Younger brothers and sisters, whānau or grandparents are great audiences for practising smooth and interesting reading out loud
  • Visit the library regularly. Help your child choose books they’re interested in (about hobbies, interests or who they are and where they come from) or encourage them to get books out that are about what they are studying at school. They may need you to help by reading to them, as well
  • Find books of movies or TV programmes. It can help your child to learn different ways to tell the same story if they read the ‘stories’ they have watched.

Here's a tip - help your child to link stories to their own life. Remind them about what they have done when a similar thing happens in the story.

Be a reader yourself

  • Talk about what you are reading and why you are enjoying it or what is challenging about it. Read a book to your child that they might find difficult but want to read, and talk about it as you read. Use your first language whenever you can – it can help your child’s learning
  • Read the same book or magazine as your child. You can then share your ideas about what you have read. You could talk about why the authors made the choices they did when writing the story.

Here's a tip - keep the magic of listening to a good story alive by reading either made up, retold or read-aloud stories to your child – with lots of excitement through the use of your voice.

Writing at home

Make writing fun

  • Help your child write about their heroes, sports events, tïpuna (ancestors), hobbies and interests. This helps them stay interested in what they are writing about
  • Play word games and do puzzles together to help your child learn more about words and spelling
  • Have interesting paper and pens available or help them make a special book to write in
  • Write to your child, or give them jokes, cartoons or short articles you think they’ll like to read from the newspaper
  • Play with words. Thinking of interesting words and discussing new ones can help increase the words your child uses when they write – look words up in the dictionary or on the Internet, or talk to family and whānau members to learn more about the background and the whakapapa (origins) of the words.

Here's a tip - be a great role model. Show your child that you write for all sorts of reasons. Let them see you enjoy writing. You can use your first language – this helps your child’s learning, too.

Talk about your child's writing

  • Talk about ideas and information they are going to write about. Talk about experiences, diagrams, graphs, pictures, photos and material that your child is planning to use for school work. Discussing the information and main ideas can help their planning for writing and their understanding, too
  • Share enjoyment of their writing. Read and talk about the writing that your child does. Give praise for things they have done well to support their learning.
  • Play with words. Thinking of interesting words and discussing new ones can help increase the words your child uses when they write
  • Share your own writing with your child – lists, planning for family events or an email. You can help them to see that you too use writing for different purposes.

Here's a tip - keep writing fun and use any excuse you can think of to encourage your child to write about anything, anytime.

Write for a reason

  • Encourage your child to write emails, invitations, thank you letters, poems, stories or postcards to friends, family and whänau – make it fun.
  • Ask your child who they would like to write to. It is helpful if what they write is given or sent to others
  • Ask them to write a story to read to a younger sibling
  • A diary or journal – on paper or on a computer – can help your child to write about their experiences and their own feelings about things that have happened at school, at home, in the world, on the marae, at sports events and on TV.

Here's a tip - talk about what your child writes. Be interested. If you don’t understand something they are writing about, ask them to explain.

Mathematics at home

Talk together and have fun with numbers and patterns

Help your child to:

  • count forwards and backwards (starting with numbers like 10,098, 10,099, 10,100, 10,101 then back again)
  • find and read large numbers in your environment eg nineteen thousand, three hundred and twenty-three
  • learn number pairs to 100 eg 81 and what equals 100?
  • read car number plates, look at the car’s odometer to see how far you’ve gone
  • work out patterns – make codes from numbers.

Here's a tip - being positive about mathematics is really important for your child’s learning – even if you didn’t enjoy it or do well at it yourself at school.

Use easy, everyday activities

Involve your child in:

  • making and organising lunch or a meal for a party or a hui, including equal sharing of fruit/biscuits/sandwiches/drinks
  • helping at the supermarket – choose items to weigh. Look for the best buy between different brands of the same items (breakfast cereal, spreads like jam or honey)
  • practising times tables – check with your child or their teacher which times tables you could help your child with
  • telling the time e.g., 5 past, 10 past, 20 past, ¼ to, 25 to...

Here's a tip - mathematics is an important part of everyday life and there are lots of ways you can make it fun for your child.

For wet afternoon/school holidays/weekends

Get together with your child and:

  • play card and board games that use guessing and checking
  • do complicated jigsaw puzzles
  • look through junk mail – find the most expensive and cheapest item advertised or make into strips to make a woven mat
  • make a roster for jobs around the house
  • plan for a special event on a budget; eg afternoon tea for a grandparent, teacher or family friend
  • play outside games – cricket, basketball, mini-golf and soccer
  • bake – follow a simple recipe (scones, pikelets)
  • use blocks that fit together to make a model. Draw what it looks like from each side and above. Then draw what they think it looks like from underneath. Once finished, check the underneath of the real object against the drawing
  • make water balloons and see how far you could throw them (outside!!) and how far the water splatters
  • collect the family and whānau birthdays and put in order – make a reminder calendar for the year.

Here's a tip - the way your child is learning to solve mathematics problems may be different to when you were at school. Get them to show you how they do it and support them in their learning.

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Year 6

Reading at home

Make reading fun

  • Have discussions together about books – read the books your child is reading
  • Encourage Internet research about topics of interest – notice what they are keen on
  • Make your home a reader-friendly home with plenty of books, magazines, newspapers that everyone can read – look for books and magazines at fairs and second-hand shops. Ask your family or whānau if they have any they no longer want
  • Share what you think and how you feel about the characters, the story or the opinions in magazines and newspapers you are reading. It is important that your child sees you as a reader and you talk about what you are reading.

Here's a tip - encourage your child to read every day. Make reading fun and praise your child’s efforts, all the time.

Read together

  • Reading to your child is one of the most important things you can do, no matter how old they are. You can use your first language
  • When you are reading to your child, you can talk about words or ideas in the text that your child might not have come across before
  • Children are often interested in new words and what they mean – encourage them to look them up in a dictionary or ask family/whānau about the meaning and origin.

Here's a tip - keep the magic of listening to a good story alive by reading either made up, retold or read-aloud stories to your child – with lots of excitement through the use of your voice!

Keep them interested

  • Help your child identify an author, character or series of books they particularly like and find more in the series or by the author
  • Talk about the lyrics of songs or waiata, or the words of poems your child is learning, and see if there are any links to who they are, and where they come from
  • Think about subscribing to a magazine on your child’s special interest, eg animals, their iwi, kapa haka or sport, or check out the magazines at the library, or on the Internet
  • Go to your local library to choose books together. These might be books your child can read easily by themself. They might be books your child wants to read but are a bit hard - you can help by reading a page to them, then helping them read the next one
  • Play card and board games together – the more challenging the better.

Here's a tip - be a great role model. Let your child see you enjoying reading – whether it’s the newspaper, a magazine, a comic, a cook book or a novel. Read in the language that works best for you.

Writing at home

Make writing fun

  • Encourage your child to write about their heroes, tīpuna (ancestors), sports events, hobbies and interests to help keep them interested in what they are writing about
  • Play word games and do puzzles together. Games and puzzles such as crosswords, tongue twisters and word puzzles help build your child’s knowledge of words, spelling, thinking and planning skills
  • Start a blog about a family interest. Find a topic you’re both interested in and set up your own blog.

Here's a tip - be a great role model. Show your child that you write for all sorts of reasons. Let them see you enjoying writing. Use your first language – this helps your child’s learning, too.

Write for a reason

Encourage your child to write:

  • Suggest your child is responsible for the weekly shopping list, equipment list for weekends away and holidays, task lists for the week
  • Encourage your child to write to others - emails, letters, texts, postcards. It will help if some of what your child writes about is for others
  • Short stories or a journal – on paper or on a computer – can help them to write about their experiences and their own feelings about things that have happened at school, in their family, on the marae, in the world, at sports events and on TV
  • Report on a new baby or pet addition to the family. This might be a slide show, scrapbook, page on the computer
  • Make an argument in writing for a special request – trip, event, present etc
  • Draw up written contracts for agreed jobs; eg Every day I will…(make my bed, do one lot of dishes, and when I complete the contract I can choose…).

Here's a tip - keep writing fun and use any excuse you can think of to encourage your child to write about anything, anytime.

Talk about your child's writing

  • Talk about ideas and information they are going to write about. Talk about experiences, diagrams, graphs, photos, treasures and taonga, waiata, pictures, whakapapa and material that your child is planning to use for school work. Discussing the information and main ideas can help their planning for writing and their understanding, too
  • Share enjoyment of their writing. Read and talk about the writing that your child does. Give praise for things they have done well and say what you liked and why – this all supports their learning
  • Play with words. Thinking of interesting words and discussing new ones can help increase the words your child uses when they write – look words up in the dictionary or on the Internet to find out more about what they mean. Talk to family and whānau members to learn more about the background and the whakapapa (origins) of the words
  • Share your own writing with your child – lists, planning for family events, song lyrics or letters and emails. You can help them to see that you too use writing for different purposes.

Here's a tip - talk about what your child writes. Be interested. Use it as a way of starting conversations. Listen to their opinion, even if you don’t agree with it.

Mathematics at home

Talk together and have fun with numbers and patterns

Help your child:

  • count forwards and backwards (starting with numbers like these fractions: ¼ , ½ , ¾ , 1, 1¼ , 1½ then back again)
  • talk about large numbers in your environment e.g., computer game scores, distances
  • talk about the phases of the moon and link these to the best times for fishing/planting
  • talk about the patterns in the night sky – summer and winter. What changes and why?
  • talk about graphs and tables that are in your local newspapers.

Here's a tip - being positive about maths is really important for your child’s learning – even if you didn’t enjoy it or do well at it yourself at school.

Use easy, everyday activities

Involve your child in:

  • making dinner at home, at camp or on a marae – look at how many and how much is needed for the people eating (potatoes, bok choy, carrots, sausages). Talk about fractions (half, quarter, fourth) to calculate how much to cook and cooking times
  • helping at the supermarket – look for the best buy between different brands of the same item and different sizes of the same item (e.g., toilet paper, cans of spaghetti, bottles of milk)
  • looking at the nutrition table on food labels – how much fat, sugar, salt - and deciding on the healthiest choice
  • practising times tables – check with your child or their teacher which tables you could help them with.

For wet afternoons/school holidays/weekends

Get together with your child and:

  • play card and board games using guessing and checking
  • cook – make a pizza, working out who likes what toppings, making and cooking it, and making sure the pizza is shared fairly – make a paper or cardboard container to hold a piece of pizza to take for lunch
  • mix a drink for the family – measuring cordial, fruit and water
  • make kites or manu aute using a variety of shapes and materials. How high can it go, how long can it fly for?
  • make a family/whānau tree or whakapapa – number of cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents and their relationships to you
  • plan out the holidays. Look at each day’s fun time, kai time, TV time, helping time, family time and bedtime
  • plan to make bead necklaces and friendship bracelets – calculate the cost of the materials, the length of stringing material
  • play outdoor games – frisbee, touch rugby, kilikiti, cricket, soccer, bowls
  • do complicated jigsaw puzzles
  • go on scavenger hunts – make a map with clues and see who can get there first.

Here's some tips -

mathematics is an important part of everyday life and there are lots of ways you can make it fun for your child.

The way your child is learning to solve mathematics problems may be different to when you were at school. Get them to show you how they do it and support them in their learning.

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Year 7

Reading at home

Make reading fun

  • Play card and board games and do complicated puzzles
  • Help your child to follow a recipe and cook for the family
  • Encourage your child to read and follow instructions for playing a game, making or using a piece of equipment, or completing a competition entry form.
  • Remember their reading doesn’t have to be a book – it could be a magazine, comic, newspaper or something from the Internet.

Here's a tip - talk a lot to your child while you are doing things together. Use the language that works best for you and your child.

Talk about it

  • Ask your child to talk about parts of a story they liked and why
  • Talk about the key facts, characters, plot, setting, theme and author’s purpose
  • Have them retell the main ideas or describe characters, events or facts they were interested in
  • Ask them to show you where the story supports their thinking
  • Be a role model. Show you read for a variety of reasons; eg to compare products advertised in brochures, to be informed on current issues, to find a phone number or a bus timetable, to relax etc
  • Try reading the same book as your child so you can talk about it together
  • Talk about the TV show you are watching. What were the main ideas? Talk about the order events happen in – practising this skill is important as children can find this difficult to learn. What did they like/dislike and why?

Here's some tips -

Encourage your child to read every day. Make reading fun and praise your child’s efforts, all the time.

Help your child to link stories to their own life. Remind them about what they have done when a similar thing happens in the story.

Read to your child

  • Just because your child can read doesn’t mean that they don’t enjoy listening to someone else reading. It could be a non-fiction book on a topic they like, a magazine, a newspaper, a short story or a longer book read in instalments. It could also be a more difficult book/article that your child needs your help to read and understand
  • You could also listen to audio stories together – you can borrow these from the library or download from the internet
  • Encourage your child to read the lyrics to their favourite songs, waiata or haka. Talk about why the composer wrote the song. What were they trying to say? Search the internet for more information

Here's a tip - keep the magic of just listening to a good story alive by reading either made up, retold or read-aloud stories – with lots of excitement through the use of your voice.

Keep them interested

  • Find books or magazines about your child’s interests. Reading about their favourite sport, player, team or kapa haka group or an issue they are interested in will help them to be an expert on a particular subject
  • Find books that relate to TV shows or movies they know, or the area they come from. Knowing some of the ideas, characters or ancestors/tīpuna before you start reading can make it easier to understand a book. Talk about how the book differs from the TV show or movie and how it builds on what they already know
  • Join the library and visit regularly to help your child choose books that interest them – you may want to encourage your child to read different types of books including non-fiction stories.

Here's a tip - be positive whenever your child is reading, no matter what they are reading. Respect your child’s opinion as it shows they are thinking about what they read.

Writing at home

Make writing fun

  • Encourage your child to listen for and use interesting words. Having a wide range of words will help your child create stories which will increase in complexity
  • Use technology. Text messages and emails are a form of writing even if the language is not always standard English
  • Use computers if your child isn’t keen on writing. They don’t have to think about the presentation of their work and editing does not require a complete re-write. Spell-check helps, too
  • Play card and board games and complete difficult crosswords and word puzzles
  • Create a message board such as a white board, blackboard or pin board.  The messages might be instructions, reminders, or praise for a job well done, as well as examples of work. Encourage your child and other family members to respond with messages, too.

Here's a tip - make writing fun and use any excuse you can think of to encourage your child to write about anything, any time.

Talk about writing with your child

  • Talk with your child about their day. Talking helps them to organise their thinking and is an important first step for any writing
  • Talk about new words your child is not familiar with, using a dictionary to find out more – there are dictionaries online
  • Be a positive audience for your child. Always respond to the effort behind the message and the message content first (regardless of how the message is written) and the presentation second. Keep in mind what your child is currently learning to do and comment just on that
  • Keep a holiday journal. Before the holidays ask your child to write a list of possible activities they want to do that keep to your budget and get them to draw up an activity plan. Remember to include any events or activities you have to attend; e.g. school camp, noho marae, church, doctor, sports training, family/whānau reunion. Your child could write a list of what to pack.

Here's a tip - talk about what your child writes. Be interested. Use it as a way of starting conversations. Listen to your child’s opinion, even if you don’t agree with it.

Keep them interested

  • Encourage your child to read. Reading and writing are linked and success in one is likely to lead to success in the other
  • Buy interesting stationery for your child to use. Coloured pens and pencils can be an incentive to write together with special paper or books. Give a diary, book or notebook as a present
  • Plan for them to be able to use a computer for writing – at home or the library
  • Look for real reasons for writing. Encourage your child to read and write letters, messages, postcards, invitations, lists, rosters, thank-you notes, recipes, emails. Start with postcards to family and friends – encourage your family to write back
  • Make lists for a particular reason; eg shopping lists or jobs to be completed
  • Encourage your child to write on their own - on paper or on the computer. Poems, songs, waiata, short stories or a diary or journal. A journal can be a way for your child to keep track of their thoughts, ideas or a particular interest. For example, keep a journal of their sports training, kapa haka practice or compile favourite recipes
  • It might be fun to write to a favourite author or kaumātua to ask what helps them to write their stories and compositions.

Here's a tip - be a great role model. Show your child that you write for lots of reasons, eg replying to an email, writing a shopping list, invitation or letter, writing for your work or your own study. Use your first language – this helps your child’s learning, too.

Mathematics at home

Talk together and have fun with numbers and patterns

Help your child to:

  • talk about sales in town – 25% off, 30%, 10%, half price. Look for the best value and make a game of calculating the savings on items your child is interested in
  • identify and describe how 2D shapes have been moved within kōwhaiwhai and tukutuku panels, and how 3D shapes have been moved in carvings
  • budget pocket money and/or plan ahead to open a savings account. Talk about earning interest and investigate which bank account will give them the best return for their money
  • talk about current prices for items that interest your child and investigate which store offers the best price.

Here's a tip - being positive about mathematics is really important for your child’s learning – even if you didn’t enjoy it or do well at it yourself at school. Encourage your child to find out more about mathematics at the library and on the Internet.

For wet afternoons/school holidays/weekends

Get together with your child and:

  • play games – find a new board or card game that uses strategy
  • plan and budget the family holiday (or a day trip) – look at the best transport method in terms of time and money, accommodation, and activities to do. Use the Internet for finding the information
  • guess how many times you use your cell phone a day/week/month and predict the cost. Work out the best price, pre-paid versus a plan
  • play travel games – invent mathematics games to play while walking with friends, travelling in the car, at the park
  • plan for a family event, like a dinner. What is the cheapest option – cooking at home or getting takeaways?
  • make bead necklaces and friendship bracelets – calculate the cost of the materials needed and the time needed to make them. Is it cheaper to just buy them already made?
  • play outdoor and indoor games – frisbee, touch rugby, netball, kilikiti, cricket, soccer, bowls, snooker and darts
  • build a fort – plan, design, collect the materials and build it.

Here's a tip - the way your child is learning to solve mathematics problems may be different to when you were at school. Get them to show you how they do it and support them in their learning.

Use easy, everyday activities

Involve your child in:

  • cooking – explore recipes and amounts of food and costs within a budget when catering for larger numbers eg school camp
  • revising times tables – check with your child/their teacher which tables you could help your child practise
  • investigating which supermarket offers the best deal on petrol eg 10 cents off a litre.

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Year 8

Reading at home

Support their learning

  • Help your child gather newspaper, magazine and journal articles for a topic of interest at school.  Help them find information on internet sites. 
  • Talk to your child about what they have been reading on the Internet. What have they learnt? What questions do they still have? Where else could they find information that would be useful?
  • Talk to your child’s teacher about available books and resources that relate to your child’s interests
  • Read through your child’s homework tasks and questions together and talk about what they are planning to do to finish the homework
  • Play card and board games as a family. Increase the challenge – it really helps children’s learning.

Here's a tip - be a great role model. Let your child see you enjoying reading – whether it’s the newspaper, a magazine, a comic, a cook book or a novel. Read magazines, newspapers and books in your first language.

Read together

  • Read your child a children’s novel that they are interested in – try one or two chapters each day
  • Get your child to listen to younger siblings doing their reading homework (this is a good chance for them to practise some of their own reading skills)
  • You can remind them about pausing while the younger child thinks about a word they don’t know, giving them help to work out the word, and giving them praise for their reading, too
  • Have books, magazines, comics, newspapers and other information available for everyone in your family to read on topics that interest your child – eg skateboarding, surfing, fashion
  • Listen together to CDs and mp3s of your child’s favourite stories, books and songs.

Here's a tip - be positive whenever your child is reading, no matter what they are reading. Respect your child’s opinion as it shows they are thinking about what they read.

Hunt out things to read

  • Take a trip to the library and help your child to find books, audio books and magazines that they will enjoy reading – eg books about their favourite musician, movie star, sports celebrity or other role model
  • Find books or magazines that tell stories about who your child is and where they have come from
  • Find a difficult puzzle book to work on together
  • Read and talk about advertising signs you see – talk about how the company decided on the words and the design, and who they are trying to appeal to with the advertising
  • Use a map to find directions for a trip you are going on, or follow the journeys of people on travel and adventure programmes
  • Get some instruction books from the library on how to plan for and make food, gifts, or toys, for family birthdays, Matariki or Christmas. Work through the instructions with your child
  • Find some recipes together that your child might like to cook for a family treat. Be there to help your child as they read through the recipe, get all the ingredients and create the final result.

Writing at home

Write for a reason

Help your child to:

  • write a letter or an email to a newspaper editor, radio announcer or television broadcaster sharing your child’s opinion on a topic of interest in the news
  • start a blog/wiki on the Internet and get your child to record thoughts about their day to share with their friends and family
  • write a proverb, family motto or pepeha and illustrate it with images from the Internet or photo albums
  • develop a spreadsheet on the computer to record the progress of your child’s sports team or kapa haka group (or one they follow), including games played, performances given, penalties, scores, player/performer of the day
  • start a writing journal to record trips and weekend activities
  • take some photos using a digital camera and write a picture book for a younger child using the photos
  • write a comic using drawings and graphic design to present an idea or story
  • make some birthday cards, thank you notes or letters to friends and family.

Here's a tip - be a great role model. Show your child that you write for lots of reasons, eg replying to an email, writing a shopping list, invitation or letter, writing a story about your early life for your child to read.

Make writing fun

Get together with your child to:

  • play strategy games and do word puzzles like wordfinds and crosswords
  • make the weekly shopping list using supermarket flyers and find all the bargains and savings to fit the budget
  • write some descriptions for items you may wish to sell using the Internet
  • find out about some of your family history (whakapapa) and/or family stories (pakiwaitara) and record these stories to share with other family/whānau members.

Here's a tip - make writing fun and use any excuse you can think of to encourage your child to write about anything, anytime.

Talk about writing with your child

  • Ask them about a piece of writing they are doing at school and/or for their homework
  • Tell them about some writing you are currently doing – a letter, a poem, a list for the holidays, a scrapbook, something you are doing for work or study.
  • Help them to use dictionaries and thesaurus (both paper and Internet versions).

Here's a tip - talk about what your child writes. Be interested. Use it as a way of starting conversations. Listen to your child's opinion, even if you don’t agree with it.

Mathematics at home

Talk together and have fun with numbers and patterns

Help your child:

  • find and connect numbers around your home and on family outings, eg read the odometer on the car to see how many kilometres the car can go on a tank of petrol.  Get them to note how much it costs to refill, then work out how much it costs per kilometre
  • talk about sales in town – 15% off, 33%, 20%, half price. Look for the best value. What would the price of the item be after the discount? Is it better to buy two items and get one free or get 25% off the price of the items?
  • budget pocket money and/or plan ahead to open a savings account or reach a savings target. Talk about earning interest. Calculate what interest would be earned using different savings schemes
  • work out the floor area of your home, sports stadium or whare nui – how many square metres is it?
  • talk about goals and plan ahead to budget for items for themselves or for others
  • do complicated number puzzles.

Here's a tip - the way your child is learning to solve mathematics problems may be different to when you were at school. Get them to show you how they do it and support them in their learning.

Use easy, everyday activities

Involve your child in:

  • planning to help make a dish or a full meal for the family or even a community event at the hall or marae – working out the cost of making it at home versus buying it already made, planning the preparation and cooking time – and focus on the ingredients and the amounts of fat and sugar, too.
  • planning what proportion of their own, or their brother’s and sister’s, time should be spent on tasks (like homework, sleep, TV, sport, kapa haka) to make sure there’s time left for fun and family
  • watching documentaries, which are full of facts and information using mathematics
  • reading the newspaper to find articles or advertisements featuring graphs or tables

Here's a tip - talk with your child’s teacher to understand what they are learning in mathematics and what the learning is in the homework they’re doing.

For wet afternoons/school holidays/weekends

Get together with your child and:

  • play games – find new card and board games that use strategy
  • calculate the chance of their favourite team winning the tournament. Investigate how many points they need and work out what their competitors need as well
  • play outdoor games – skateboarding, frisbee, touch rugby, kilikiti, cricket, soccer, petanque, netball
  • plan and perform a rap, dance or waiata a ringa and draw up the outline of the dance steps on graph paper
  • make a present or gift for someone using scrapbooking, kōwhaiwhai, quilting, doing tivaevae, collage, painting, carving, knitting, sewing or carpentry
  • plan for when you have saved $10/$20/$30 – what would be the best use of that money for a day out?

Here's a tip - being positive about mathematics is really important for your child’s learning – even if you didn’ t enjoy it or do well at it yourself at school.

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