Published On: Sat, Oct 11th, 2014

Naplan Results

Naplan ResultsIf you have a child in grade 3, 5, 7 or 9 sometime in September you would have received the results of their performance in NAPLAN, the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy. As long as your child sat the test, they should come home with an envelope full of crisp results that revealed their L&N strengths and weaknesses. What happens to those revealing pieces of paper in the homes of the kids sitting the test is a bit of a mystery. There hasn’t been a study yet on how many results pages are proudly pinned to the fridge and how many are filed in drawers and folders and intrays never to see the light again. But, now in the lead up to Summer, when the allure of six weeks of non-school time still holds that sparkling promise and before January days bake away motivation, NOW is the time to go find those report pages again and look at them a little closer. Because this year is the year when you get your tax dollars worth out of the NAPLAN experience and use them to set your child up for success in the new year ahead.

NAPLAN gets a lot of stick in the media, from schools and from individuals because it forces comparison even as it provides a diagnostic revelation as to your child’s skills in Literacy and Numeracy on the day they sat the test. Now, comparison is the frenemy of personal best. When we feel confident in our abilities, whether its baking, body combating or baby swaddling, we’re often drawing upon our awareness of what we know to be best practice in those skills. By noting what we do well we kickstart a positive cycle where we acknowledge our strengths and work on improving our weaknesses. That’s what happens when comparison is our friend.

However, when comparison is a frenemy, when we hear that whisper ‘why bother’ at something we’re struggling with, its a real kick to the self esteem. Confidence and motivation can be hard to sustain no matter your age so you can bet that your child may also be feeling the frenemy presence with a report that pins down where they compare to others a) in their grade in their school and b) to the WHOLE country, especially if they are like the majority of the students who didn’t smoothly sail into top bands all round.

But, when it comes to NAPLAN, comparison works because it provides an indication on areas for improvement that parents can work on with their kids in the short term. NAPLAN is great in the way it says, ‘this is what you are doing well’ and ‘this is what you need to do to do better’. In the long term, over the series of years that a child will do the test, parents will be able to check that they are meeting L&N milestones for their age level and should be able to track growth and improvement in L&N abilities. Better yet, parents get analysis on their child for free*. (*Ok, we all pay for NAPLAN in our taxes but its seems like a freebie because everything is organised through the school system with no ongoing costs for parents).

To your kids, the NAPLAN report may seem to be a piece of coal in a christmas stocking, especially if you want them to look at it again when the school year feels like its winding down. What you need to sell to them is the realisation that what looks like black, sharp angles of coal are actually the sparks of how to fire it up for the next school year and that now is the time to start fanning.

So crack out the NAPLAN report from wherever it ended up and look again at how your child performed. On the report pages you’ll want to find the black dot which shows your child’s result within the bands for their performance in four areas. Three of those areas relate to literacy and are broken up so you can specifically see reading i.e. how well your child comprehends, writing i.e. how well they express themselves in writing, and language conventions i.e. how well they spell and punctuate. The fourth area is numeracy i.e. mathematical ability.

Look at your child’s performance against their school and national peers as a guide for growth and skim down the questions/criteria they got right/achieved and wrong/did not achieve. For example, in writing, did they use ten difficult or challenging words? If not, make a note that vocabulary skills is something to work on. Then check spelling responses because you’ll find all the words your child spelt correct and more importantly all the ones they got wrong also on the page. And even if you are more a lover of books than numbers don’t leave out numeracy. How did your child go at deciphering division, tables and time? Make a note on what needs work there too.

Once you’ve decided on areas you want to work on, you’ll want to plan ways to make learning time fun. Here are some suggestions below on how to make the most out of summer break time.

Creative Learning Activities for Summer Break:

Make Flash cards – yes, you can probably buy them online but the process of making your own family set will reinforce the learning and encourage your child to see learning as something fun. Making your own also means you can create ones that will help your child most. If its punctuation that always goes astray you can make a punctuation set or focus on spelling if that’s more important. Keep online access close by though. Nothing ruins a flash card quicker than realising once its finished that you yourself have been spelling aren’t as arn’t incorrectly all these years.

Play Clapping games – remember the repetitive pleasure that came from clapping out /Miss/ Mary/ Mack/ All/ Dressed/ In/ Black/ when you were young? Clapping and calling out are great because it can be loud and noisy, just what kids love. But instead of rhyme, lead the clap with spelling words instead. You’ll say clearly the word eg ‘Definitely’. Then clap out each letter with your child as you both say the letters D/ E/ F/ I/ N/ I/ T/ E/ L/ Y.

Go Storyboarding – pick a book suitable for your child’s reading level. After letting them read it or reading it with them, they can then storyboard what occurred in the story in the order it took place. This type of activity helps children develop a sense of sequence and time. Depending on the age of the child you can vary the size of this task. A child in grade 3 may use one piece of A4 paper divided into 4 to make 4 pictures of what happened. An older child reading a more complex book may be able to draw more.

Prepare Food fun – Maths is always so much more fun with food. Carrot and celery sticks, raisins and banana rounds can all be used to sneak in some addition, subtraction, times tables and division practice. Adding a touch of silliness to the questions can also work with kids who find maths hard. e.g. If bananas wanted to take over the world one cereal bowl at a time, how many more pieces of banana are needed to cover all the milk in your bowl?

Sneak Reading – Whether reading aloud with your child or creating a comfy reading place for them to read on their own, just bringing in more reading time brings benefits in all areas of literacy. While children continue to absorb new words from listening they are capable of growing their vocabulary more from what they read. Reading together also creates opportunity for cuddles and snuggles, so its a treat for mums and dads too.

By Kelly Cheung
Copyright 2012
www.mummyweekly.com.au


Kelly Cheung

Kelly Cheung, first time mum, long time teacher. She finds parenthood an interesting experience and loves that she gets to think, learn and write from both sides of the desk.


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