Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Changing Children's Perception of Reading through Parental Involvement

Last year, we collaborated with our ELTDP mentor, Justyna Skowronska and managed to conduct two LearnEnglish Family (LEF) workshops with the parents in my school. It was one of the most interesting projects that the English Panel of my school had conducted. I would be sharing some videos of interviews and activities during the workshops in this post, along with some workshop materials that my English Panel had used in the previous workshops.

What is Reading?

Prior to conducting the workshops, we interviewed some Year 1 students. We wanted to know the children's thoughts about reading. Is it something that they do often? Do they like it? Watch this video to listen to some of their answers.

(Sorry for the poor quality, I recorded it using my old Blackberry).

Workshop 1 and 2

We had a meeting with the parents to introduce LEF workshops, where we let the parents watched the video of the interviews. Through the interviews, we learned that the children associated reading mostly with the mechanics of reading, such as spelling and identifying words. Others saw reading as studying and doing homework, and their reading materials were limited to school books and text books.  Some of the parents told me afterwards that they were shocked to hear their children's responses. The fact that reading wasn't regarded as something fun and pleasurable by most of the children was something that the parents didn't expect. They agreed to work with us and try to change that perception.

Here's a video of our first two workshops with the parents:

Parents Feedback

We had fun conducting the workshops, and we were glad that the parents felt the same way. Here are some parents' feedback about the workshops:

The Impact on the Children

So we had two successful workshops, but we were curious about the impact on the children. Had the workshops managed to change the children's perceptions of reading?

Two weeks after the second workshop, we conducted another interview session with the Year 1 children. Watch:

We shared the video with our colleagues in school. We showed the video to other English teachers in the district. A lot of people were inspired and started to think about how they can involve parents more in school activities, especially activities that are directly related to children's learning.

A Mother's Story

Then I had the chance to talk to a wonderful mother who was one of our most active workshop participants. She told me a lot of interesting things about how the workshops had changed her relationship with her son. This is a video of an interview with her:

It was truly a wonderful experience, and I believe the project had inspired many people - the teachers, the parents, and most importantly the children. I hope we would be able to conduct at least one more workshop this year. I see the LEF workshops as the first few steps towards more collaborative projects with the parents in the future.


I've received a few emails and messages from teachers asking about the materials that we use for the workshops. Here are some of them:

The LEF box and workbook

The LEF box and workbook are provided by the British Council. You can try contacting the English Language Officer at your District Education Office for more details.


Here are some handouts that we used for workshop 1 and 2. They are all available for download.

List of Rhymes in Malay

LEF Workshop_Rhymes in Malay -

Parents Skill Audit (Malay version) - adapted from Parents Skill Audit on page 11 of the LEF workbook

Parents Skill Audit (Malay version) -

Storytelling Handout for Group Activity

LEF Workshop_Storytelling Handout 1 -

Storytelling Handout - adapted from Stages Handout on page 17 of the LEF workbook

LEF Workshop_Storytelling Feedback

Further Reading

If you're interested to do some further reading, I've compiled some researches on the topics of family involvement in school and reading for pleasure in this handout that I used in my presentation at the British Council's ELTDP Teacher as Researcher Symposium in February this year.

Changing Children's Perception of Reading through Parental Involvement (Handout) -

More Tips

You can also check out this newsletter from EMSE for links to video and articles on parents involvement in school.

(Update: Here's the latest EMSE newsletter on parents' involvement in school (Oct. 17, 2013) )

More Workshops

We hope to be able to continue with the third and fourth workshops early this year, but due to some problems (pirate attack being one of them), we had to postpone it a few times. My school should be done with the end-of-year exam some time next week, so I hope we would have plenty of time to resume with what we have planned.

I think that's it for now. I'll be writing an update as soon as we're able to conduct our next workshop. If you have any questions about the LEF workshops in my school, feel free to leave a comment below this post and I'll try to get back to you as soon as I can.

Till the next post. -ccj

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