It’s no secret that parents can play a big role in kids success in school. While you can’t guarantee that every child has support at home, you can encourage parental involvement and make sure parents know how to help. Whether you are teaching phonics or other reading skills or math, parents can provide additional practice at home.
Homework shouldn’t take a lot of extra “stuff.” You want kids to spend time practicing skills not finding materials. Bonus points if it’s fun (like these math homework games). Finally, homework shouldn’t take a long time, especially for younger kids. They need time to run around and play after a day at school!
Teaching phonics tips for parents
One of the best things parents can do for their kids is read with them. For students who don’t yet read, parents simply read to students. For beginning readers, students might read decodable texts or swap pages with a parent. At this stage, and even once students are independent readers, having a parent read to them still has benefit. If families are reading texts you provide, they may be working on a specific skill or sound. Most often families will simply read stories or texts that interest them, and that’s important too.
Encourage parents to work teaching phonics or phonics practice into their everyday life. For example, if their child is working with specific sounds, they can play, I Spy with My Little Eye and call out things that begin with that sound—sign, sun, sidewalk all start with S for example. This can happen on the way home from school or in the kitchen while making dinner, any place really.
Suggest that parents provide practice, but not drill their kids. Trying to pound info into a student’s head or badgering them to practice all the time isn’t productive.
Make teaching phonics at home simple
One way for parents to provide practice is through homework that you send home with students nightly or weekly. Again, you can’t guarantee parents will participate, but you can make it easier on everyone if you present the materials well.
Parents need to know:
- What phonics skill you are teaching
- The purpose of the homework
- How to do the homework and the best way for them to support their kids
When you assign phonics homework, include the phonics skill you are working on and the purpose in the directions:
Today in class we worked on different ways to spell the long A sound. Tonight, practice those different spellings by filling in the blanks on this paper.
This gives parents and students context for the homework. You may need to provide additional instructions for parents. For example, even if you played a game in class, it’s a good idea to send instructions when you send the game home. If you send home words and want students to practice spelling, you may want parents to note any their child got wrong. Or you may want parents to have students fill in an activity sheet independently without correction so that you can see where kids are having trouble.
Remind parents that the work you send home shouldn’t take long (give them a time span considered reasonable) and that it is valuable practice to help students solidify skills that you are working on in class.
Shortcuts to making teaching phonics at home simple
Nobody wants homework battles. If you send homework (or home practice or phonics activities …) that kids enjoy, it cuts down on fighting at home. Most parents (me included) count that as a win. And if parents can easily see what their kids need to do, that’s another win.
I’ve made both easy for you with the Fun Phonics Homework to Last the Whole Year.
I’ve included a variety of activities to encourage engagement throughout the year, including:
- Draw and match
- Find the words
- Missing sounds
- Say and trace
- Jumbled sentences
- Roll and read game
- Tap it, map it, zap it
- Fluency board
- Write your own sentences
- Word of the week
- Missing punctuation
- Reading & spelling 2/3 syllable words
- Synonyms and antonyms for words
Each weekly homework pack includes 6 worksheets and games. Because I know parental involvement is a plus for students, I’ve also included a cover sheet that provides explicit instructions for parents on completing each activity. Homework packs also include a tracking system for students to tick off the days they practice and teacher checklists to keep track of which homework packs students have completed.
These activities are appropriate for kindergarten through grade 3 (or the homeschool equivalent). They are arranged by skill, not grade, to help you differentiate for different levels within your class.
Get students engaged and parents involved in homework when you are teaching phonics, and get it all ready to print and hand out with Fun Phonics Homework to Last the Whole Year. You can see all the skills covered and get your Fun Phonics Homework bundle here.