Homework is generally part of any English course and is set with the aim of helping children absorb and build on work done in class and to extend their learning time. Doing homework also helps children on their way to becoming independent learners. Here are some ideas for using LearnEnglish Kids for homework.
Homework and parents
Homework provides a link between school and home. Parents like to see what their children are learning and children, especially very young learners, often like to show parents what they can do.
If you are setting homework from LearnEnglish Kids you need to get parents involved as their children will need permission to use the internet at home. It might be a good idea to begin setting homework from LearnEnglish Kids following a meeting with parents where you have told them about the site. The ideal scenario for learners using the website to do their English homework would be to have a parent or guardian sitting with them as they do it, offering encouragement and support and sharing in the learning process. In reality this may not always be the case, but if parents are at least aware of how they can help their children learn and practise their English at home, we’re increasing the chances of it happening.
Parents who want to know more about how to help their child with English at home might be interested in the ‘Helping your child’ section on LearnEnglish Kids Parents site:http://learnenglishkids.britishcouncil.org/en/parents. This section includes downloadable bookletsfor parents, available in English and several other languages, explaining how young children learn languages.
What kind of homework?
You could give your learners three stories to read and listen to at home and decide which they like best and why. Alternatively, you could choose just one story and give children a story worksheet to complete at home. All stories have downloadable worksheets (and answers). Find all the LearnEnglish Kids short stories here:http://learnenglishkids.britishcouncil.org/en/short-stories
You could ask your students to listen to and sing along with a song at home and then have a group sing-along in the next class. This could be a new song or a song you’ve just done in class. There are lots of songs here:http://learnenglishkids.britishcouncil.org/songs
Your learners could watch a short video from the ‘Kids news’ sectionhttp://learnenglishkids.britishcouncil.org/en/kids-news and then complete one of the accompanying printable activity sheets for homework. Click on the orange box under the video to print out the activity sheets.
In the ‘Your turn’section, children are invited to write about something they are interested in. You could give students a choice of three topics from the ‘Your turn’ section: http://learnenglishkids.britishcouncil.org/your-turn
Your learners can read any comments already posted under their chosen topic and then send in their own ideas to be published. All contributions are read by a moderator and then published within 24 hours. Tell your students that you’ll be checking the site to read what they’ve written and point out that writing doesn’t have to be error free!
As children need to become members of LearnEnglish Kids before they can send in their writing, you could spend a lesson on completing the registration process in class with your students before asking them to post their writing as homework. This is lots of fun and involves choosing a username, creating a character and choosing a password. They will need an email account to register so you will have to check this with parents first or encourage parents to help their child register at home.
To register go to the ‘Create new account’ link on the home page of the website.
Nobody could complain that playing a game for homework is boring! You could choose a game from LearnEnglish Kids and have a quick practice of the game in class to make sure everyone is clear about how to play it. Set the game for homework then in the next class ask students to compare their scores or tell a partner how many times they played the game at home. Why not ask children to look around the website to find a game that they like and then tell a partner about it next class?
If you’re covering a specific topic in class you could choose a relevant activity sheet to print out for homework from the alphabetical list of topics here: http://learnenglishkids.britishcouncil.org/topics
Very young learners can take home something they made in class to play with or use with family members. There are lots of things to make including masks, puppets, clocks, and games here:http://learnenglishkids.britishcouncil.org/craft-downloads
It can be tricky to check that non-written homework has been done. Get parents on board again here. Make sure they know what homework their child has been set by having your students copy instructions from the board into their notebooks or diaries. It could be worth giving them a handout with instructions that include web addresses, as these can be difficult to copy correctly.
Keeping homework records is very handy if a problem arises and parents need to be shown hard evidence of occasions when their child hasn’t done his or her homework. It’s also nice to be able to show them a record that their child has always done the homework.
By Sally Trowbridge