Children in Reception and Key Stage 1 have daily phonics lessons. Phonics is a way of teaching children to read quickly and skillfully. They are taught how to:
- Recognise the sounds that each individual letter makes
- Identify the sounds that different combinations of letters make – such as ‘sh’ or ‘oo’
- Blend these sounds together from left to right to make a word
Children can then use this knowledge to ‘de-code’ new words that they hear or see. This is the first important step in learning to read.
When reading with your child encourage them to ‘sound out’ unfamiliar words and then blend the sounds together from left to right rather than looking at the pictures to guess. Once your child has read an unfamiliar word, you could talk about what it means.
Word games like ‘I Spy’ can also be an enjoyable way of teaching children about letters and sounds. You could also encourage them to read words on your shopping list or road signs when you’re out and about.
Children are taught handwriting using the Jarman scheme. Parents can support their children with this at home.
Attached is a handwriting guide that can be used at home. It offers a comprehensive guide on letter formation.
Reading in Key Stage 1
Below is a list of questions that you might like to use when reading with your child – these questions will help your child to develop their comprehension skills.
Before reading the book:
- Can you point to the title?
- What does it say?
- What do you think this story will be about?
- What might happen in the story?
- What does the blurb tell us?
- What do we call the writing on the back of the book?
During the reading of the book:
- What is happening in the pictures?
- What has happened so far?
- Is what is happening what you expected?
- What might happen next?
- How do you think the story might end?
- What sort of character is…? Is he/she friendly/mean/nice?
At the end of the book:
- Did you like this book? Why?
- What was your favourite part? Why?
- What was the most interesting/exciting part?
- Can you find it?
- What sort of character was…?
- What did the character do when…?
- What happened in the story?
Oxford Reading Owl has a fantastic range of free e-books for you to read with your child. All you need to do is register!
Reading in Key Stage 2
Parents often wonder how they can help to develop the reading skills of children who are already fluent readers. The best way is to continue to share books with your child, regularly listening to them read, sometimes reading to or with them, but also discussing books read in increasing depth.
The reading your child does at home should be from a range of texts from fiction to non-fiction as well as text all around us such as leaflets, recipes, posters, subtitles and play scripts to name a few. The more texts that children are exposed to, the better their understanding of language will be.
To become good readers children need to develop skills in seven key areas and it can be useful to think about these when reading with your child.
Decoding: this is the skill that parents are generally most familiar with, and deals with the varying strategies used by children to make sense of the words on the page. Even fluent readers can be stumped by an unfamiliar word, and it is useful at these times to discuss the range of strategies used to make a sensible guess.
Retrieval and recall: early readers need to develop this skill, in order to locate important information and to retell stories and describe events.
Inference: reading between the lines. Encouraging children to make inferences based on clues in the text and their understanding of the context of the book will help them to develop this important skill.
Structure and organisation: as children read a wider range of text types they need to be able to comment on the features of each and how they are organised. Discussing the presentation of the text, e.g. the use of subtitles to assist reading of a non-fiction text, and the author’s reason for organising the text in this way, will support children’s development in this area. Making links between the purpose of the text and its organisation is a useful place to start.
Language: specifically, thinking about the language choices made by writers, their possible reasons for making those choices and the effect the choices have on the reader. Discussing alternative choices and their effects can be a good way to begin discussion about the author’s language and an opportunity to develop vocabulary generally.
Purpose and viewpoint: who is the narrator of this story? What does the writer of this biography feel about his/her subject? Children need to understand that writers write for a purpose, and to be able to recognise that this will have an impact on the way the text is written. Newspapers and advertisements are perfect examples of this and can lead to lots of lively discussions.
Making links: as adults we are constantly making links between ideas and experiences. Good readers connect the book they are reading with real life experiences; with other books read and stories heard; with films; and with the context in which they were written. A child reading ‘Goodnight Mister Tom’ for example will need to place the story within the context that it was written to fully understand it. They might also link it with other stories read, such as ‘Friend or Foe’ or ‘Carrie’s War’.
Maths is fundamental to everyday life so it is important that children recognise this. Children’s mathematics can be developed around the house when the children are required to apply their skills in a context. For example you could ask your child to: tell the time, work out the change you will be getting from the shop, weigh out ingredients for cooking, organise the timings for a Sunday dinner, calculate the area of a floor or wall when decorating, count the pairs of shoes in the cupboard, measure the distance from one room of the house to the other, the list is endless.
When it comes to support with homework, it is important that children receive the consistent support from both teachers, parents and carers. Therefore, we need to all sing from the same hymn sheet- the school’s calculation policy. All teachers follow this as it explains which methods will be taught for each operation in the different year groups.
For any further guidance when supporting your child with maths, please remember your child’s class teacher is always available to answer any queries you may have. You could also have a look at the Family Maths Toolkit charity as they have some great ideas about how to include maths around the house.
The school also has a subscription to Education City which is an educational software for schools and homes. All children have usernames and log in details so can access the site at any time. Should your child mislay their details, please just ask their class teacher who will be more than happy to provide a new one.