We get quite a few questions from parents who want to know how they can get the best out of EdPlace for younger children. The abilities of a five-year-old are obviously quite different to those of a fifteen-year-old so how do you make sure your kids who are in Key Stage 1 are able to navigate and complete the work?
I’m fortunate (well, if you consider getting up at 6am every day fortunate) to have a five-year-old of my own who started Year 1 this September. She’s one of the youngest in the year and doesn’t actually spend a huge amount of time using computers, tablets or phones at home so I was genuinely a bit nervous about introducing her to EdPlace. Frankly, it would be a little embarrassing if my own daughter didn’t enjoy it.
Luckily, she’s embraced the whole experience enthusiastically. And I’ve been learning a lot that I think will help us make EdPlace better in the future. Here are my top tips on how to use EdPlace with a Year 1 student based on how we use EdPlace at home.
IMPROVING OUR ADDITION WITH THE ‘ADD 10 MACHINE’
1. Help your child with the reading
One of the big challenges with online learning systems is that they require quite a bit of reading. We try to keep the explanations and questions brief and to the point but there’s no getting around the fact that some reading is required. Most Year 1 students either won’t be able to read the whole question themselves or will take a really long time to do so. We make an assumption that at this age you’ll probably be sitting with your child working through the worksheets together (though hopefully they’re the ones giving the answers!) If you want them to concentrate on the worksheet I find that it’s best to read the question out loud and let them concentrate on the answers. My daughter is quite happy to read the multiple choice or check box answers and I find it’s helpful for her reading skill anyway so I let her work her way through them and then pick the ones she thinks are right. Which brings me on to my second point…
2. Let them make mistakes
Once the kids are doing GCSE or A Level maths you might find it a little harder to support their learning (and they may not want you interfering anyway) but in Key Stage 1 there’s a temptation to hold you kids’ hands through the whole learning process. We noticed that the highest average scores on EdPlace are from Year 1 students – I think there might be a reason for that! My daughter is a bit worried about getting the wrong answers but I try not to prompt her too much. The occasional ‘Are you sure?’ or ‘Did you read all of the options’ is probably a good idea but since you’ll see all the answers at the end anyway I find that it’s better to let them see where they went wrong rather than avoid mistakes altogether. It’s a critical part of the learning process.
3. Let them explore the interface
Putting in the wrong answers might not be the only mistake your child makes. Little fingers can be prone to slips and mis-taps so you might suddenly find yourself on a page you didn’t expect. Luckily we save student answers as they go so there’s no real danger of them losing their work. I’ve actually been surprised at how adaptable my daughter is to the various interfaces I have lying around the house. I’ve had her complete work using a wireless keyboard and trackpad, the built-in trackpad on a laptop, in the iPhone app and in the iPad app and find that she only takes a few minutes to gain enough confidence to use it. She generally types her own answers if they’re short (I help her with the longer ones) and uses a trackpad to select check boxes and radio buttons in multiple choice questions. As a side note, I think typing is a pretty important skill that isn’t going to disappear anytime soon so I’m more than happy for her to build her confidence with a keyboard.
4. Fit it around your schedule
You’ll know that between homework, reading practice, football, ballet, after school clubs, eating, bath time and all the other things that take up your child’s day it’s pretty tough to fit anything else in. My household is no different so EdPlace has to fit around the rest of our week. What I do is make sure my daughter has time at least once during the week to finish two or three worksheets with me. We usually do that at my desk on days that I work from home. At the weekends I fit in a few more worksheets across the two days. I have the EdPlace app on a phone and an iPad so I sometimes do this in a cafe or while waiting to start ballet (groan). I aim for around five a week – sometimes it’s more, sometimes less. When 5 or more worksheets are completed in a week, EdPlace will send a progress report.
5. Reward their hard work
I think most children enjoy being rewarded for the work they do. Convincing a five-year-old that learning is an important life skill isn’t as easy as I’d like it to be (and I’m lucky because my daughter – right now – seems to enjoy it) but explaining to her that doing a few more worksheets will get her a new toy definitely is. Actually, I think she’d be just as happy with a sticker or a biscuit – I’m still experimenting with it. Getting the best out of our rewards system is probably worth a blog post of its own but I definitely think it’s something that parents will find useful, especially if you find it difficult to motivate your child to learn without offering something in return!
It’s been a real joy sitting and watching my daughter learn, and trying to answer her difficult follow-up questions (especially in science). With a new baby in the household, it’s also great to have EdPlace as ‘our’ time. I hope my tips will help you get the best out of EdPlace but I’d love to hear your ideas and experiences too. Let us know in the comments below or drop us a line to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Looking for more visibility on what your child is learning in Year 1? We’re here to help. Our teachers have created a brief overview of focus areas and main topics in English, maths and science. Get familiar with all the topics and have fun learning: https://blog.edplace.com/2016/10/26/parents-guide-year-1-overview/