Worried that your five or six year old is way too young to be tested at school? Don’t be! Teachers are assessing pupils on a daily basis – it’s part of the job! This test is simply a formalised extension of this, and it’s really nothing to be concerned about.
- It’s good to talk It can be a good idea to tell your child that there’s going to be a little test at school, just so they don’t feel anxious when the time comes. Make sure they know that the Check is nothing to worry about, it’s just so the teacher can see how they’re doing and it doesn’t matter if they get stuck (we all do from time to time!).
- Be prepared for odd creatures! Nonsense words (or ‘pseudo words’) will feature in the Check (for example, ‘bim’ and ‘tox’), to see whether children can apply phonics rules correctly. In the test these words may be accompanied by a picture of an imaginary creature, to suggest that the word is the name of the creature featured. Why not make the most of the opportunity and ask your child to draw pictures of new species, or perhaps aliens? Then they can think up funny names for them and write them down using their phonics knowledge.
- Play ‘Sound of the Day’ Each day pick a different sound and write it on a Post-it note. Ask your child to stick the note onto an item which contains that sound. Choose from /ee/ /oo/ /oa/ /ir/ /ou/ /ar/ /ph/ /th/
- Tackle tricky words. English is a complicated language and it’s vital that you discuss this with your child so that they know it’s hard for everyone – not just them! Look at some tricky words together and point out the part that makes them particularly difficult. For example, ‘school’ is tricky because it’s spelt /s/ ch/ /oo/ /l/, but we say the /ch/ as /c/.
- Say what you see. Another way to help with tricky words is to get your child to say the word as it’s written. So ‘what’ can be remembered as ‘w-hat’ and ‘there’ as ‘the-r-e’. Find what patterns work for them and have fun thinking up ways to remember tricky words and their spellings.
- Compose silly sentences. Write sentences with some nonsense (but phonetically plausible) words in them. Make them as amusing as possible and ask your child to read what you’ve written. They might then like to draw a picture to go with the words.
- Adapt I spy. All kids love playing I spy, so just extend the game a little by asking them to spy things that begin with a particular sound (/ch/ or /sh/, for example) or pick words with a certain sound in the middle or end.
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