Ideas for Teaching English

The first time a parent takes on a role as ‘official’ teacher of their child can be daunting. This article describes lots of different ways to approach the teaching of English, in various locations and methods, plus includes information on how to find other teaching ideas.

Reading English Literature

Note that there is another page of this website which focuses on teaching English to children in the younger years. Once children are confident readers, it is a good idea to get them used to reading classic and ‘literary’ books, if only to establish the idea early in their mind that classic literature can be really enjoyable to read.

You might want to start them off reading a book like Alice in Wonderland or The Adventures of Tom Sawyer together; obviously the particular book chosen should depend on a child’s personal interests and ability. Any ‘reading list’ might also include popular contemporary books like the Horrible Histories series, or perhaps a Harry Potter book. Anything that will encourage children to read, both with a parent and independently, might help to establish a love for reading that will aid their education throughout their life.

When reading a new book with a child, at any stage of their education, it’s a good idea to ask them to summarise the events of every chapter, to check their understanding, and remind them to think about what words mean and to ask if there is any confusion. If they do ask for a definition, it can be a good idea to have a child’s dictionary nearby to look up words together.

Follow-up activities after a book is finished might include writing an extra chapter about ‘what might happen next’, writing a character’s diary entry about how they feel, or making an alternative book cover that might emphasise a different element of the book’s content. Other creative writing tasks might include writing a poem about the story, re-writing the story with a new ending, or making a book into a play, or vice versa.

Reading Drama

It can be difficult for students to read play scripts off the page, so it’s a good idea to read through the scenes aloud, with the parent or tutor reading one part, the child another. Plays can provide useful educational activities to carry out in a home teaching group, with each child having their own reading part, and eventually ‘staging’ the play for friends and family. Such activities can boost children’s confidence as well as increase their understanding of a particular play and literary tradition.

Reading Poetry

When a child learns to enjoy poetry, it can establish a love of poetry for life. But – it can be a difficult love to establish! Read poems aloud with your child, help them to think about the meaning, and contextualise the work – for example, read a poem about an autumnal walk while on an autumnal walk, or a poem about trains while on a train journey.

Teaching Lesson Resources

Search the internet for a particular piece of literature plus ‘teaching plan’ or ‘lesson plan’ or ‘home schooling’. Some good sites with lots of different teaching ideas include, and the BBC Skillwise site, though note that some of the ideas on these sites will need adapting for the home school environment.