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English 7-10

Five Ways to Prepare Your Child for High School English

Do you know how to help your child how to prepare for High School English? in this post, we discuss five key things you can do to help your child succeed through the Primary to High School transition.

The transition from primary school to high school is a big one and Australian teenagers are some of the most academically stressed in the world. It is essential that prepare your child for High School English so they can have a smooth their first year in High School and lay the foundation of their future successes.

It is important that your child is as well-equipped as possible to make this jump. The better your child’s academic skill set, the easier this transition will be. Your child will have to contend with new friends, new teachers, and often a whole new school.

There is also a NAPLAN (National Assessment Program Literacy and Numeracy) test in Year 7. While this assessment doesn’t influence your child’s path through high school like the Year 9 NAPLAN exams, it will be a benchmark that places them against their peers in their school and across the country. NAPLAN may be a contentious program amongst teachers and parents, but the reality is that your child will have to sit it in years 5, 7, and 9.

Preparing them for the year 7 tests ahead of time will alleviate some of the stress associated with the freshman year of high-school.

NAPLAN testing for Year 7 English covers:

  • Language conventions (spelling, punctuation, and grammar)
  • Reading and literacy
  • Composition.

In this post, we will look at ways to prepare your child for these challenges.

1. Find your child’s strengths and weaknesses

It is important that you have a good and honest dialogue with your child about their strengths and weaknesses at school. This conversation must cover English.

Many children are embarrassed when they struggle with English because it is such a day-to-day part of communication.

Children who are native speakers of English don’t like admitting to their parents that they are having difficulty with the subject. It is not uncommon for children whose parents speak a language other than English at home to struggle with high school English, too. Therefore, being able to discuss your child’s strengths and weaknesses with English is critical to being able to help them improve their skills.

Creating a nurturing environment where your child is willing to admit they are struggling with an aspect of a subject will help you aid them to get on top of it. An important part of this is having realistic expectations of their ability.

2. Know the NAPLAN expectations

NAPLAN testing for English has three strands: language conventions, reading, and composition. In order to help your child prepare, you should know what the NAPLAN tests are designed to assess. Let’s have a look:

Language conventions

This refers to spelling, punctuation, and grammar.

The Year 7 NAPLAN tests expect students will be able to spot spelling errors in a sentence and correct them with the correct spelling of a word.

Consider the sentence, “A tiger uses its long tail for balence.” Here ‘balance’ is misspelled as “balence.” In the exam, your child would need to be able to notice this and correct it.

Students need to be able to use commas, colons, and semi-colons effectively. Some questions will ask your child to replace a comma with a colon, or a conjunction such as “and” with a comma. Similarly, they need to able to use apostrophes (‘) appropriately depending on whether they denote possession (Jill’s ball) or a contraction (doesn’t).

The correct form of words is assessed, too. Students need to be able to use the correct form of adjectives, such as better (comparative) or best (superlative). For example in the sentence, “John is ____ at football than his Dad.”, “better” is the appropriate form of the word as it compares the two players against each other.

Reading and comprehension

NAPLAN tests students’ ability to read and assess a variety of texts. Your child needs to be comfortable reading and comprehending online media (such as websites), fiction texts, and a variety of non-fiction texts (newspaper or magazine articles, and scientific writing).

Students are presented with these texts and then asked a series of questions about their content. To do well in this, your child will need to be familiar with a wide variety of text types and be confident about reading them. While many of the questions are multiple choice, some require extended written responses that need to be grammatically correct with words spelled correctly.

Composition

Your child needs to be able to write in three different modes:

  • Persuasively
  • Informatively
  • Imaginatively

Your child needs to understand the differences between these modes.

Persuasive writing requires your child to argue for a position on an issue. Doing this well requires an understanding of audience and form. Writing for a peer group will require different language features compared to writing for adults. 

Informative writing requires your child to explain an issue, be it how something works or what it does. This will require a more objective, or impartial, view than persuasive writing.

Imaginative writing requires students to compose a piece of fiction in response to stimuli (an image or sentence). They will be assessed on how they apply narrative conventions such as plot and characterisation. All of these writing tasks will require students to use correct grammar and spelling.

3. Practice spelling and punctuation

Spelling is not as easy as it sounds.

English is not a consistently phonetic language; words are often spelled differently to how they sound.

Additionally, the varieties of English – UK English, US English, Australian English – found online, in books, and in other media mean that your child will be exposed to variations of a word’s spelling such as colour and color or judgment and judgement. Practising spelling with your child will help them rote learn the correct form of each word.

Similarly, some of the conventions of English Grammar are counterintuitive and can only be learned through practice. Many students struggle with the correct usage of ‘us’ (the object form) and ‘we’ (the subject form) because the grammatical conventions don’t reflect the common usage they are presented with (in day-to-day speech they are increasingly interchanged).

Being aware of these rules and practising them is the only way to master them.

4. Read with Your Child

Reading is the best way to improve your child’s literacy and spelling. Reading the same books as your child will allow you to discuss them together, and this will passively test their comprehension of the texts and their understanding of the ideas in them.

Reading regularly exposes children to correct spelling and grammatical forms, and this will help them learn.

Additionally, reading will also expose them to a variety of persuasive arguments and imaginative situations. Experiencing these will give you child examples to work from when composing their own texts.

English is a complex subject, and you can’t always take shortcuts. You need to read, and the most effective way of helping your child develop a reading habit is to read together.

5. Read your child’s writing

Writing for others is always a hard and daunting task. And for students, there is the added concern of marking. The moment when you submit your words and ideas to others is always intimidating. You can help your child practise correct expression by reading through their writing with them. 

Here I write for a public audience: if you do not like my writing you can click on to a different page and read something else. There are few immediate consequences for me. However, your child is assessed on their writing. If they write poorly their marks and future opportunities suffer. Thus, it is essential that your children get regular feedback on their written work.

Children look to adults for guidance on how to represent ideas for others in an effective and correct manner. Reading through their work with them will teach them how to assess their spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

You are also in a unique position to teach them how to receive constructive criticism.

By pointing out flaws and weaknesses in a productive rather than scolding manner, you can instil an appreciation of critical feedback in your child. This is an immensely useful skill that will help them improve their work. Reading your child’s work with them will help them produce the best possible composition for them to submit.

Want to give your child a head start for Year 7?

The 2019 Matrix Year 7 English Term Courses start in October of 2018 for Year 7 students. Matrix term courses run one term ahead to give your child a solid foundation and develop essential reading and writing skills.

 

Learn more about how you can boost their confidence with our 9 week Year 7 English Term Courses.

 

Written by Patrick Condliffe

Patrick has been an English teacher at Matrix since 2012. He is the editor of the popular Matrix blog.

 

© Matrix Education and www.matrix.edu.au, 2018. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Matrix Education and www.matrix.edu.au with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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