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Getting parents involved with Sound Waves

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Getting parents involved with Sound Waves

Sound Waves Literacy 29/1/24


Many parents are eager to support their child’s spelling and reading progress but don’t understand the latest approaches being implemented in schools today – including the Science of Reading. To ensure Sound Waves is effectively embraced at school and at home, use our top tips for getting parents on board.

Provide parents with an overview

Resources to support this:

If you’re teaching Years 1–6, send parents the Years 1 to 6 Letter to Parents. This includes information about the structure of the Sound Waves program, what their child will be learning in their spelling lessons and how they can support their child at home.

If you’re teaching Foundation students, send parents the Foundation Letter to Parents, which explains the two phases of learning specific to their child’s first year of school.

Along with the letter, we recommend sending all parents our handy Parent FAQs document. This can help answer common questions and provide further guidance on how parents can support their child.

If you want to provide parents with a greater understanding of some of the common terminology used in Sound Waves, you may choose to pass on our Key Terms document. While some of the terminology may be unfamiliar to parents, consistency between terms used in the classroom and at home can minimise confusion for students.

Provide these documents to parents at the start of the year at an information session or share them in your Term 1 newsletter.

Help parents learn the sounds

Resources to support this:

Created to help early years students learn the 43 phonemes that make up Australian English, the Sound Waves Chants and Actions are a great way to introduce, practise and articulate sounds.

Send parents the link to the Sound Waves Chants and Actions video, as well as the Chants and Actions PDF Guide so they can sing along with their child. You can also let parents know where to find the videos using their student site access (more on using the student site for home learning later in this article).

Upper primary students and their parents may prefer the ‘Echo the Sounds’ / ‘Hear the Sounds’ videos (available on the student site), as they are designed to be a more age-appropriate way for those students to practise and articulate sounds.

For more focused pronunciation practice, encourage parents to use the ‘How to Say the Sound’ video (available on the student site), which demonstrates how each phoneme sounds and models correct mouth position.

Notify parents about each week’s focus sound

Resources to support this:

Let parents know that students usually explore one or two focus phonemes (sounds) per week. There are a number of ways you can notify parents of each week’s focus sound, such as:

  • displaying a sign (or use the Sound Icon Cards or Sound Box Cards) near the door of your classroom
  • including a note in students’ homework books
  • informing parents electronically (via email, newsletter, digital noticeboard or school learning management system).
Support parents with segmenting

Resources to support this:

Segmenting is an essential part of the Sound Waves program, but many parents will never have learned how to break words into phonemes. Support parents’ ability to segment with their child by sending home the Segmenting Guide.

If you intend to send segmenting practice for homework, we recommend hosting an information session to give parents some hands-on practice at using this skill. Use our Segmenting Practice Pack. It is designed for adults to quickly practise segmenting using a carefully curated set of words that demonstrate the basics, and incorporates some common tricky concepts.

Pass on activity ideas to parents

Resources to support this:

It’s best to give parents specific guidance on which activities they can do at home. Pick and choose from the array of online and offline ideas below based on what best complements your in-class work and what you think parents may be comfortable with.

While you might provide ideas during your start-of-year information sessions, these can sometimes be forgotten by parents. So, it’s a good idea to refresh their memory and provide a printed copy of ideas and instructions at the same time you expect parents to be helping with such activities.

Weekly emails or school newsletters are great platforms to provide this kind of information to parents.

Online activities

Remember to pass on login details to students and parents so they can access the range of resources on the Sound Waves student site. (Find your class’s student login information on the My Classroom page within your Sound Waves teacher access).

Here are some online resources you can recommend to parents:

  • Word Unjumbler (Years F–6): Rearrange graphemes to make words. This interactive game is a fun way for students to use their knowledge of spelling patterns and graphemes to create words containing the focus sound.
  • Read and Sort tool (Years 2–6): Read the Focus Words or Extension Words and sort them according to the grapheme representing the focus sound. The ‘Read and Sort’ tool is a beneficial activity that highlights the different ways we represent each sound.
  • Match Up (Years F–6): Make words containing the focus sound. Available in interactive and printable formats, ‘Match Up’ is great for consolidation and additional reading practice.
  • Chants and Actions (Years F–3) or Echo the Sounds/Hear the Sounds (Years 4–6): Familiarise yourself with all 43 sounds of Australian English with these catchy sing-along videos.
  • How to Say the Sound (Years F–6): Practise correct pronunciation for each sound. Each video demonstrates how each phoneme sounds and models correct mouth position.
  • Sound Boxes (Years 1–6): Use as a reference point. Each Sound Box includes the sound icon, the common graphemes used to represent that sound and word examples.
  • Focus and Extension Words (Years F–6): Read words containing the focus sound in different positions and represented in a variety of ways.
  • Segmenting Tool (Years F–6): Segment the Focus Words or Extension Words into their phonemes and graphemes.
Offline activities

There are also plenty of offline activities you can recommend to parents. Here are just some ideas to get you started:

Home reading: Send home the Sound Waves Decodable Readers (Foundation and Year 1) so students can revise the phoneme–grapheme relationships and practise their reading. Ensure parents are aware of the ‘Book Chat’ feature and the ‘How to Support Students During Reading’ tips found at the back of the books.

Reminder: Rather than sending home books related to the current week’s focus sound, it’s best to send home books from the week or two prior, so students are practising with phoneme–grapheme relationships they have already learned.

Games: There are many quick and easy games that require no additional resources, making them perfect for home learning. Refer to the great game ideas in each sound unit and choose relevant ones for parents, or simply give them the instructions for these two familiar favourites:

  • Play ‘Phoneme Chain’: Pick a word, then ask the child to come up with a word that starts with the same sound that your word ends with. For example, grassstilllambmaybe.
  • Play ‘Platypus’: Create sentences that include a Focus Word, but substitute the Focus Word with the word ‘platypus’. For example, ‘The platypus had a crown on her head’. Ask the child to identify the missing Focus Word (answer: queen).

Printable activities: Send home Black Line Masters such as ‘Match Up’ for an easy, hands-on way to work with words at home. If your students’ parents have a good understanding of segmenting, you could even try sending home the Segmenting Sheets.

Student Chart and Playing Cards: For parents who want to provide extra support and resources, recommend they purchase a copy of the Student Chart or Playing Cards to keep at home. The Sound Waves Student Chart provides an invaluable reference to all 43 phonemes and common graphemes. And the Sound Waves Playing Cards are fun and educational – which is often a hit with the parents!

Keep the communication open

We know that open communication is commonplace in a modern classroom. If parents are unfamiliar with synthetic phonics, encourage them to reach out if there’s something they don’t understand to avoid confusion.

It’s also a good idea to let parents know it’s okay if they don’t understand something. When this happens, advise them to move on to something else with their child and seek clarification from you.

We’d love to hear how you’re getting parents involved with Sound Waves at your school! Contact us and share your ideas.

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