As a parent, getting your young children motivated and wanting to learn can feel like a minefield. Gemma Berg, is a former Primary School teacher and now runs her own company called Peekaboo Phonics (, encouraging young children to stay on task and enthusiastic about learning. Here are her recommended seven ways to encourage children to embrace being in the classroom:

Gemma Berg, founder of Peekaboo Phonics

Gemma Berg, founder of Peekaboo Phonics

I’ve always found the best way to engage children in their learning is to incorporate their interests. If your child loves the Hulk, then a really easy way to make learning fun would be to base their learning around that character. Instead of just writing a letter, you could gather a range of Hulk toys/pictures and ask your child to write out invitations for Hulk’s birthday party. Writing with a purpose is always more effective and memorable as children understand the reason of why they are being asked to complete a task. When teaching in the classroom I would always explain to the children the reason we are learning something, so they can understand the relevance and what they will be able to do once they have acquired a new skill.

· Use a visual timer- It is important to set realistic expectations at home as it can be difficult to get your child to want to do more learning after a long day at school particularly for little ones in primary school. Therefore, using a visual timer can be helpful for both parents and children to know how long they should be working for. It also gives children the control to take charge of how long they have and to let their parents know proudly once they have completed the work.

· Nerf gun- One of the most common questions I receive from parents is how to get children to learn spellings or tricky words (that you cannot sound out). Pop post-it notes on to the wall with the words and using a nerf gun/water gun or scrunched up paper balls children can try to hit the spelling targets whilst saying the words out loud.

· On the move- Many young children tend to resist the idea of sitting down to work, so switching things up by purchasing a clip board (you can get from the pound shop) and covering it with wrapping paper that they like will encourage reluctant writers. In my experience this has made a huge difference as the use of the clipboard enables children to move around and can be used for outdoor learning. You can also cover the pencils with the same paper to make it more appealing.

· Go outside- Write out the words that your child needs to learn and put them on the floor of a football goal instead of shouting “GOAL!” encourage your child to shout out the words or numbers that they need to learn. If you do not have a football goal you can stick the words on to plastic cups/buckets/fence.

· Lead by example- I think it is vital for children to hear from us when we get something wrong, so they can feel reassured that this is how we learn. Before starting a piece of work, it can be helpful to mention that all you want is for them to try their best, you will not be cross if they get something wrong. This would always the first conversation I would have when working with a new class and I do the same now when working on a 1-1 basis.

· Make it real- Bringing learning into real life situations can be helpful to demonstrate why we need this knowledge and allow children to problem solve. If you are in a shop involve your child in the process of how much something costs and showing them the money. Then you can continue this with role play activities they can do independently at home playing shops/restaurants.

Making sure children are feeling happy before they begin to learn is imperative, so if your child is particularly tired, I would always suggest leaving it and come back to it another time. When we have a newborn we will question are they hungry? Tired? Nappy? During my one-to-one parent sessions, I joke that this is a good way to continually think as your child reaches reception age as all these factors can still apply and affect their learning (perhaps needing the toilet instead of a nappy).

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