Frequently Asked Questions
How long will the courses take to do?
The length of the courses will vary - but courses 2 &3 will last an academic year, i.e. 30 weeks if you do a session per day, just like in a school. The first course is more about ideas that you will learn to use when your child is young.
Who is this course for?
This course is for any parent(s) or carer(s) who would like to help their child to become a confident and competent reader. The first course is aimed at pre-nursery and nursery children, so from 2 years onwards, the 2nd course is aimed at children in a reception class and the 3rd course is aimed at children in Year 1 (or older children if their reading progress is not in line with what it should be e.g. if they have not passed the Phonics Screening test in Year 1 or if extra support for reading could be helpful to them, I know schools give support but you will have more time to give your child that 1:1 attention).
My child does not always want me to teach them and would rather play outdoors, what can I do?
Many children are active learners and if you have seen this you will know how your child learns best. As a parent there are a number of aspects where we have to be clever about what we want our children to do and at this age it can be quite simple whether it is to brush their teeth, wash their hands or eat carrots. I have given you a number of ideas how you can make practising learning more fun so you might take my suggestions and do a much shorter session and then play games that I have mentioned in my courses , whether playing my Phonicsland games or using a football. It is about adapting to how your child learns best that is important so that he or she wants to learn. Unlike a class of 30 children you will have 1 or 2 children so you can hone in to how and when your child learns best.
What will the courses teach me?
The course will give you strategies to use and teach your child, what graphemes (letters) to teach, what to look out for, how to assess, what words and sentences to use, what to teach next , how to teach plus lots of tips along the way. The first course shows how to teach good listening skills mainly through play and incidental instances to find and enhance opportunities to create learning occasions without always the need of a formal lesson. The other 2 courses are to give you the skills, know-how and confidence to teach your child in a formal or informal way.
Why should I be interested in this course?
Many parents are happy with the way their child is taught how to read and write at school and the progress in these skills but there are some children who are not doing as well as they could be doing. You may find that spending 10-20 minutes or so with your child targeting specific skills and customising what your child needs will greatly help with their learning process of how to decode, read and spell.
How long will a session last?
This will depend on you and your child, the beauty of this course is that as you are concentrating on one or 2 children you can work at the pace of your child's learning and customise this accordingly. So you may like to do an entire session lasting 10-25 minutes or you might like to do a quicker activity where you introduce today's learning and then use the outdoors or games for your child to practise what you have taught at a later time in the day so you have shorter but more sessions which may seem less contrived to your child therefore better.
How do I know if my child is doing well or needs to have extra reading practice?
Your child's teacher is the person who would know if your child would benefit from extra practice at home so you could ask the school. The reading book level your child brings home is also a good indicator if they are doing well. Furthermore at the end of Year 1 in state schools in England children have to do a phonics screening test - I have given you this information so you will have a good idea and you should also get this information after your child has done the test at the end of Year 1 (although this was different in 2020).
Why should I trust what I am being told on this course?
This course follows the guide created by experts and published by he government called Letters and Sounds that many schools have followed for a number of years with great success. This course has adapted this guide with many extra tips and strategies for you to follow by me, an experienced teacher with over 20 years of being in the teaching profession. Also if you do enrol you have a trial period and if you think that this is not of any use then you can get your money back.
There are lots of other Internet sites, why should I use this one?
Indeed there is a lot of information on the internet and I will point you in the direction of some which I have found useful as well in my teaching career - there is no reason for me to reinvent the wheel. However there are advantages to this course - it gives you a step-by-step, easy-to-follow guide so you are building on what your child already knows, I am giving you fun ideas to use so your child will be interested for longer, and I am giving you a lot of extra advice that comes from teaching children for many years. This specific step-by-step guidance for parents is something that is fairly unique to this course. There are also many internet sites where your child sits in front of a screen and does activities without interacting directly with another person, often not using their valuable speaking skills but just clicking. This is a different type of learning and very much in keeping with how your child will learn at school i.e. they are taught, the teacher assesses the learning and see what is next. You can take my course and customise this to what you will see your child needs more support with or what your child can do easily. Furthermore to go through many sites, find the good ones and write down a plan may take you a considerable amount of time, it is all done here for you.
I can get a tutor so why would I do this course?
Of course having a tutor is ideal if your child needs this, I tutor myself either online via Zoom or 1:1 and it is fantastic to see children grow in competence and confidence when they get this 1:1 specific input - if you are looking for an online tutor I have given you my contact details and would be delighted to hear from you. However this course is a fraction of the financial outlay, it will teach you how you can teach your child yourself and you become more knowledgeable about how your child learns and I hope you will both enjoy the experience. It is also versatile if you teach as it fits around your daily plans and you can teach when you feel your child is ready and not wait for an agreed time slot with a tutor. I am giving you the skills to do this.
I share teaching with other people, how will this work?
I show you in videos and narrated PowerPoint slides how/what to teach in a day-by -day guide so you see what should be taught when and I also make it clear where to find the information. My narrated video/PowerPoint slides are easy to navigate so if someone else is doing say Wednesday's lesson they can go straight to Wednesday's plan using the slider at the bottom of the video. I show you how I would annotate slides and assessments which you can print off and put into a folder so the information what your child has achieved is there for the next person to see.
There seems to be a lot to take in in the course content, I feel overwhelmed.
I have done online courses myself and I understand this but if you use this course systematically I suspect that very soon you will feel so confident in your own skills that you think this is easy as it is an easy to follow course. Most of the 1st module is about background and for your interest so there is no need to listen to this e.g. if you do not like history then there is no need to look at this part but I know some will be interested in this which is why it is there. So read what you think you need to know. I have also 'drip-fed' the course for the first couple of weeks so that you are more limited to what you can see so hopefully this may decrease any sense of being overwhelmed. Courses 2 and 3 are for an entire academic year and I suggest you look at maybe 1 week ahead. After week 5 I have also cut down on the narration so although the content is there the PowerPoints are shorter as by now you will have a good idea how to teach, what to look out for etc.
How long will it take me to prepare before each lesson?
This depends on you, the PowerPoints are there and narrated but you may wish to use the slider just to move on if you know what you are doing, the information is there in case you share the teaching with another person or you feel that you need reminding. Also in the later weeks I have narrated mainly the new ideas so they are shorter. Furthermore the PowerPoints can be just read in your own time rather than you listen to my explanations in more detail. You can also download the plans to give you an overall picture of what you are teaching for an entire week in courses 2 and 3 and print off the words and sentences so they will just need to be cut up.
Where can I find further help?
The first port of call is your child's class teacher and I hope that communicating with him or her is helpful, but I also realise that you will get maybe a couple of minutes if that at the end of the day and maybe 10 minutes per term to ask any questions about the entire curriculum. I know this as a teacher and a parent this does not seem like enough time which is why I have done this course to show you what and how to help your child and I hope that you will find this helpful.
I am also hoping to do a Facebook group starting in 2021 for people who are doing this course so they can ask me and/or other parents for advice or just share ideas about teaching reading. Talking to others often helps.
I hope I have answered any questions you may have, if not there are sections in the course where you can ask me specifically too.
Thank you for reading this far. If you do enrol on my course(s) I hope you will see fantastic progress with your child's listening, reading and spelling skills and find this worthwhile to do. We know that reading touches so many areas of our children's lives, whether it is academically so that by the time they get to Year 2 they are independent readers, or whether it is reading for pleasure whether it is an adventure story, information about diggers and dinosaurs or reading a note from their friend.
Whether you enrol or not I hope your child will become a competent, confident and avid reader and I wish you both many happy reading moments together.
Best wishes and stay safe.
Andrea Howlett (2020)