- At St Thomas More we encourage all of our parents/carers to read with their child as much as possible. You will find in their reading diaries a weekly record sheet which allows you to record a comment based on your child's reading for that day. It is expected that you will read with your child every day or at least as much as possible to allow them to consolidate/improve or challenge their reading skills.
- Each year group will also provide a reading letter which will outline the reading objectives that the teachers are focusing on for that half term. This will give you examples of questions you can ask your child when reading and allow you to support these skills at home.
- Children are given books related to their reading ability (see chart below). This is followed through the school until the children become a free reader. Teachers track the level of books every half term to monitor progress over time.
Word aware- Vocabulary
‘Vocabulary is more than a list of words, and although the size of one’s vocabulary matters, it’s knowing how to use it which matters most.’ Sue Hackman, Chief Adviser on School Standards, March 2008
Every half term in the year group newsletter you will receive a collection of words which your child will be encouraged to say and use throughout their next topic. This is an initiative called the ‘Word Aware’ approach. As I am sure you already know, the size and depth of a child’s vocabulary plays a crucial role in their achievement. The ‘Word Aware’ programme has some practical ideas for helping children expand their vocabulary and you can help us do this too.
You will find that there are three sets of words;
- Anchor words
- Goldilocks words
- Step on words
Anchor words are words that your child should have a thorough understanding of. They should be able to use them in their everyday spoken and written language in relation to their age.
Goldilocks words are words that are very topic specific, desirable to be used within their written work and likely to be encountered when reading around this topic. They are not too hard and not too easy.
Step on words are less likely to be encountered many times when reading a text and an average adult wouldn’t have much knowledge of that word. These are words that are much more difficult and stretch a child’s vocabulary.
We ask that you practise using these words in conversations with your child as well as discuss their meaning. This will help your child to use these words fluently within their work and through the spoken word. However, we do not want you to focus on spelling these words. They are to be spoken about and used in conversation with you only.
By creating a Word Aware environment at STM the children are:
- Exposed to a large number to words at the right level
- Experience explicit teaching of useful words
- Learn strategies for independent word learning
- Have opportunities to enjoy words
Shared reading- Language for thinking
- Every teacher makes Shared Reading part of their day which promotes a love for reading and reading for enjoyment. This reduces obstacles for those who are less confident, models fluency and intonation by the teacher and builds comprehension by sharing understanding.
- All year groups have a 'Love for words/ Vocabulary' board which is referred to every time shared reading takes place. This allows pupils to see that everyone has a reader and an enjoyment for vocabulary and language. By discussing the meaning, context and use of words throughout a text pupils can begin to grow their own lexicon. During writing sessions children and teachers refer to the board in order t prompt and strengthen written tasks.
- Every teacher also has a 'Language for Thinking' folder which gives them a vast array of questions and visual prompts that are shared with the children. They are carefully structured to promote children's development of inference, verbal reasoning and thinking skills.
Key Stage 2- Before, During and After reading strategies
Before reading, pupils should:
- use prior knowledge to think about the topic.
- make predictions about the probable meaning of the text.
- preview the text by skimming and scanning to get a sense of the overall meaning.
During reading, pupils should:
- monitor understanding by questioning, thinking about, and reflecting on the ideas and information in the text.
After reading, pupils should:
- reflect upon the ideas and information in the text.
- relate what they have read to their own experiences and knowledge.
- clarify their understanding of the text.
- extend their understanding in critical and creative ways.
Guided reading takes place every week from Years 2- 6 and pupils are grouped (this can change every half term). During a guided reading session there will be a carousel of activities;
- Guided reading group with Teacher/Teaching Assistant
- Comprehension group
- Dictionary/Thesaurus work
- Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling (GPS) work
The carousel's aim is for all pupils to complete one of the above activities every day so that they get an opportunity to develop in all of those areas.
What you can do when reading with a child of any age...
- Set aside some time
Find somewhere quiet without any distractions - turn off the TV/radio/computer.
- Ask your child to choose a book
Sharing books they have chosen shows you care what they think and that their opinion matters. This means they are more likely to engage with the book. If you do not have books at home, use the reading book provided by the school.
- Sit close together
Encourage your child to hold the book themselves and/or turn the pages.
- Point to the pictures
If there are illustrations, relate them to something your child knows. Ask them to describe the characters or situation or what will happen next. Encourage them to tell you the story by looking at the pictures.
- Encourage your child to talk about the book
Talking about the characters and their dilemmas helps children understand relationships and is an excellent way for you to get to know each other or discuss difficult issues. Give your child plenty of time to respond. Ask them what will happen next, how a character might be feeling, or how the book makes them feel.
- And lastly, above all - make it fun!
It doesn't matter how you read with a child, as long as you both enjoy the time together. Don't be afraid to use funny voices: children love this!