Homework tips for English, including emojis!

Are you half way through the school holidays and worrying you haven’t done enough writing?  I always find that maths is so much easier to ‘teach’ at home.  It comes up naturally in shopping, cooking, games, sorting and so on.  Yet to provide writing opportunities naturally in the home can be harder.  Back in the early days of teaching I would ask parents how often children saw them sit and write?  They see us doing everyday maths, and possibly see us reading, or at least are aware that we do it (books on the bedside table, magazines and newspapers around the house).  Helping parents to find ways to reinforce writing required some creative thinking!

Nowadays (I sound old!) I think it has become easier.  With the development of social media and related technology children are more likely to see us communicate in writing. My youngest has been sending texts for a long time now, thanks to his discovery of emojis!









When it comes to homework and writing at home, here are some successful things we have tried, as home educators, teacher and mum…

text messages as shown above – help to develop an understanding that writing is communicating

card making – writing greetings, developing fine motor skills and practising name writing

word games – bananagrams, scrabble, boggle, hang man are all favourites in our house.  When I am feeling really inventive we use these to look for current spelling patterns

home made word searches and crosswords – these are a great way to practise spellings sent home from school or that you have identified

letters to complain, thank or share news

small world play incorporating signs, fairy gardens, dinosaur world, roadways etc

warning signs around the house…

My pegs to hang my coat. If you come in my room please may you take responsibility (he came and asked me to write that one!)


Don’t come in without asking but I am allowed










writing in role, – one of my favourites was playing a spy game, a then 4 year old C ‘hid’ in the kitchen writing his observations of what daddy was up to as he filled the kettle, walked to the sink and so on.  I explained to him that he needed to describe the suspect and he listed his blue jeans, t shirt and trainers.  It was very cute piece of early writing.

If a child is in school, no doubt they will have targets sent home.  It is however, always worth keeping in mind a child’s next steps and it is surprisingly easy to incorporate these into a writing situation.  To give an example, when C started to attempt to write past tense using -ed endings we played a few games to read and match words.  We explored how you double the consonant when the root word has a single vowel (hop,shop, skip, rob etc) and then put this into practice by writing a thank you letter to the organiser of a trip we had been on.  His challenge was to include as many -ed spellings as he could.  He loved it, the letter was a bit strange but it was a perfect way to put his new learning into practice in a meaningful way.  So much more engaging than simply testing him on them or completing a  spelling activity that bears no relevance to his day to day life.

I have done the same with formal letter writing, having identified the need to use extended sentences, we set about writing a complaint letter to a restaurant, using words like furthermore and consequently.  This was after the boys were given activity packs at the table.  They were most put out when the crayons supplied were green, red and blue which made colouring the farm animals difficult!  This turned out to be a great lesson in citizenship / having a voice as the subsequent letter to the restaurant chain led to a surprise pack of activities in the post along with the promise that they would look into it.  

So no need to buy any writing work books.. There are lots of ways to keep our children writing over the long summer break, enjoy!

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