Babies babble from as young as 6 months. By the age of 10 months, babies can point to objects and say, "There" or "This". From 18 months and older babies begin to string together more than one word thus formulating clumsy sentences like, "Dog there." Children tend to pick up sound cues and word pronunciation in their home language from their parents. Parents are encouraged and prompted to train their babies to speak from the time they are born. Your doctor would advise you to sing to the baby that is still growing in your tummy. You are then further told to talk to very young babies. Parents start reading to babies who are as young as six months old. The talking child starts to have conversations with their parents, and tend to show their parents just how curious they really are.

Many babies who start speaking at a later age or showcase signs of difficulty when it comes to speaking are often taken to speech therapists who help to rectify the problem. In order for your child to be able to speak a language, you must make sure that your child:

  • understands the language (receptive skills)
  •  Can say things in the language (expressive skills)

You must know:

  • How the child's sounds are developed
  • How well the child's motor skills are developed (through the way that he or she speaks and eats)

After observing the speech patterns of your child, if all is in order, a parent needs to do very little to develop the child's basic language abilities. However, teaching English to foundation phase learners is much more difficult than helping with basic language development. By the age of 7, most children start Grade 1 and are expected to be tested on the content that they learn during English classes throughout the terms and at the end of the year.

Paging through your CAPS approved textbook, you can already understand what your Grade 1 or Grade 2 child needs to grasp. So while you are aware that in Grade 1, your child needs to be able to identify the sign for a full stop and know the function of a full stop, it is way more complex thinking of how to provide English lessons for kids that foster learning how to identify the full stop and much more.

English Lessons for Kids

For many Superprof tutors and other expert tutors, they can teach at the drop of the hat. They are able to teach without even needing to pre-plan a lesson. They can also turn all the limited resources that they have available into opportunities for learning. For you as a parent, this may not be a skill that comes naturally. This is where we have jumped in to give you some ideas for planning the best English lessons for your kids:

  • Plan lessons that do not include too many resources that you might not have available at your fingertips
  • Conduct lessons that are fun and will make learning a memorable experience for your kids
  • Use games that you know well and adapt them to suit the content that you are teaching
  • Seek assistance for lesson planning from your child's textbook
  • Structure an entire lesson around  your child's favourite book

Bearing these tips in mind, remember that you can utilise every single moment as a teaching moment. In fact, every object within your household can be used to teach a new word or a language concept. For example, "Here is a bar of soap." "Soap is a common noun."

English Activities to Try on Your Kids

You can add a unique spin to games like general knowledge. For Grade 3 children you can label each column a certain part of speech, ( e.g. noun, pronoun, adjective, verb, etc.). You can get your child to pick any letter from all the letters of the alphabet. After a letter has been chosen, you and your child can start filling out the columns with the different parts of speech that begin with the chosen letter. For this English activity that can teach words and certain Grade 3 concepts to children, you need no resources. A pen and a few sheets of paper are all that is needed to try out this activity with your child.

English lessons
Primary school teachers plan fruitful English lessons daily. Credit: Jerry Wang-Unsplash

You can use your child's favourite series of books or a book that your child particularly likes to structure an entire lesson based around the book/s. After letting your child read the book fluently out aloud and quietly in his or her head, you can start asking your child questions about the book. If your child is in Grade 3, ask more open-ended questions to get your child to think more maturely. Thereafter ask your child to identify all of the parts of speech in a particular sentence in the book. By doing this, you can observe your child's ability to read, comprehend, and understand language questions.

The best advice that we can give to parents is to turn every single moment into a teaching one. If your child asks you to read a word from a recipe book or a storybook, do not just say what the word means. Ask your child what does the letters actually spell. Tell him or her to phonetically sound out any word that he or she is trying to read.

Try to start teaching reading by beginning with pointing at each word while you phonetically sound out the word. Encouraging your child to use his or her finger for pointing at words that he or she will read works well for the Grade R and Grade 1 child. In this way, the child begins to be able to pronounce words that they have seen often. Children usually start pronouncing articles like, "the" and "a" first before more complex adjectives such as "pretty". If there's a particular word that your child seems to pause at and be unable to pronounce, make sure to create flashcards of that word. Paste the flashcards on the mirror, the fridge, or even on the milk carton to ensure the word is seen and pronounced often.

The more activities you do with your child, the easier it is for him or her to learn the English language. Any method you chose to employ will foster learning unless your child is not a home language English speaker. In this case, teaching your child a new language is much more complex.

Perhaps, by roping in a qualified English tutor, you can improve your own understanding of the English language as well.

English Learning for Second Language Speakers

While we like to encourage reading and writing for foundation phase learners, we ought to remember that before we can get a child to read fluently in any language, we need to make sure that the child knows enough words in the language. You need to make sure that the second language English speaker is proficient in speaking the language. You can start by playing a game like two truths and one lie. Ask your child to verbally say two truthful statements about himself or herself in front of the family. Your child must also think of one lie and formulate a statement in which he or she lies about something that he or she may like or dislike. Family members must then try to guess which statements are true and which statement is a fib.

As a parent of a second language English speaker, you must create the opportunity for everyone in your household to converse in English. The more your child hears the language being spoken in his or her natural setting, the more fluent he or she will become in the language.

Also, let your child watch videos and movies in English so that he or she can hear the language being spoken and certain words being articulated much more frequently.

second language learners
Teaching English to second language English speakers can be easy. Source: Unsplash

English Worksheets for Kids

Any English teacher will tell you how vital it is for kids to complete English worksheets. Worksheets help learners to engage better with foreign content irrespective of whether the worksheet is completed in school or at home. Worksheets that follow a similar structure to the worksheets given for assessment purposes in school are excellent tools to use for preparing your child for an examination. Having instructions written in English enables you to get your child to read the instruction aloud, and it allows you to see if the child can actually understand what the instruction requires of him or her. Underline or highlight keywords found in the English instructions so that you can see if particular keywords feature in more than one worksheet's instruction. Helping your child understand instructional prompts such as, "fill in the blanks," and "state whether true or false," that appear in several worksheets will allow you to get your child to become familiar with instructions that might appear in an assessment.

Always try to source worksheets that are quite interesting and have some relevance to your current lifestyle. All of our children in today's times are technologically inclined so surely sourcing a worksheet that discusses technology is a great worksheet to use.

There are sites that offer free worksheets specifically created for English Second Language speakers. The worksheets are created in such a way that they encourage speaking and dialogue. On the same site are rhyming worksheets specifically meant to improve learner pronunciation. There are also several worksheets devoted to improving the listening skills of the learners.

While we can suggest various English activities and English worksheets for kids for you to try out with your child, you are the main instructor of learning at home. You will be able to tell if your teaching methods is helping your child improve academically. If you notice barely any or no improvement over several months of constantly trying to work on English skills from home, perhaps speak to a Superprof tutor who will be willing to advise and help you to improve your teaching styles.

Since parents are not teachers, sometimes it's best to rope in a qualified English tutor.

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Laila is an enthusiastic English educator and a fun-filled freelance writer. She has accomplished her dream of getting her first book published and has managed to write over 1 000 000 words since beginning her freelance career. In her free time, she is a travel blogger who explores all South Africa has to offer.