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Literacy and Numeracy Warm Ups

Each day, both at school and at home, children learn new concepts or ideas. It might be as simple as how to change a battery, cooking to a new recipe or using adverbs in a sentence to make it more interesting.  As teachers and parents we are often surprised or even perhaps frustrated that children appear to understand something but then a short time afterwards, and this may be days or weeks later, they seem to forget what they have learnt! Brain research tells us that this is to be expected unless we revisit the information or tag it as important.
 
As teachers, we have been aware of how our important it is to help students recall and apply the knowledge they have learnt by regularly revisiting such concepts through 'Warm Ups' in literacy and numeracy lessons. These warm ups engage the students in jogging their memory and strengthening the connections in the brain that help them apply such concepts to other areas. For example, if students have been learning about using adverbs (-ly words), to enhance their sentence writing, they will revisit this concept several times over the following weeks, even briefly. For example, they may be asked to highlight the adverbs in a short paragraph.  Giving students multiple times to jog their memory about such a concept that was taught in class not only helps them remember it but gives teachers more time to check they understand it and research shows this strengthens their learning. Recently we have gone a step further and been encouraging students to use higher order thinking skills such as creating, evaluating and analysing to help students further strengthen their understanding of a concept. For instance, children might be asked, in a warm up on adverbs, to judge what the most effective adverb might be out of a selection of words to describe an image, justify why to another and then use it in a sentence effectively. In maths it may be that students are given an open ended question such as "I need the biggest fenced area possible for my new puppy. I have only 30m of fencing wire. Design the paddock and prove it is the largest possible area for my dog using the roll of wire." the one below which links the concept of perimeter and area.
 
Research shows these sorts of activities help students get a clearer idea in their head of a concept, help them remember it for longer and make links to other ideas, which is of course going to help them.
 
 
How can I help at home?
Apply this idea of regularly revisiting concepts and skills to homework.  When your child/ren arrive home from school with homework relating to what they've been learning in class this further strengthens their learning again and it is here that you as a parent may be able to help them.
Discuss what they've been learning at school and linking it with other areas - it can only improve their understanding and ability to retain the knowledge. 
Ask them what was the most challenging thing they did that day or what the most interesting thing they have been learning about.  This may help to reinforce what they have been learning in addition to having a nice chat about school!