Reading at home
Reading is a vital skill and we encourage parents to join in the excitement of their children learning to read. We recommend reading little and often and setting aside a set time each day to complete this. Our expectation is for children to read at home a minimum of three times a week. This may be their class book, a book from home, a comic book, annual, magazine etc.
We encourage children to re-read a text in order to develop fluency and understanding. Research has shown that re-reading a favourite book can actually boost vocabulary by up to 40% and that this works best when the book is read aloud.
Reading to your child
Please continue to read to your child throughout their time at Primary school. Even older children benefit from having either a familiar, favourite story read again, or sharing something which is more challenging than they would read themselves.
Ways to help your child enjoy a book
- Have a regular time for reading – perhaps when you get home from school or just before bed.
- Begin with a book that your child has chosen. Children are more likely to read something that interests them.
- Ensure that children’s books are easy to access in different rooms around your house.
- Encourage your child to pretend to ‘read’ a book before he or she can read words.
- Visit the library as often as possible – take out CDs and DVDs as well as books.
- Look for books on topics that you know your child is interested in – football, princesses, cars etc.
- You may wish to use Audiobooks. Apps such as Audible are great and offer a huge amount of children’s books.
- Create opportunities to read and write beyond the pages of the book.
- On car, bus, train journeys or while running errands, play word games that build language skills.
- Watch some of the story telling videos on Youtube – there are many available for all age ranges. However, please do watch them right through first to check they are suitable, and as part of online safety.
Accelerated Reader is a computer programme that helps our school to manage and monitor children’s independent reading.
Children using AR choose their own book from a range of thousands of published titles. AR helps children to choose books at an appropriate readability level that are challenging without being frustrating so that your child can experience success.
Children will complete a Star Test every other term which will provide them with a ZPD range of books to choose from. Each time a child completes their Accelerated Reader book, they will be given the opportunity to take a quiz on either an iPad, laptop or kindle, to check their understanding of what they have read. Children are awarded points for correct answers. Each term, children are set a target of points to try and reach.
To access Accelerated Reader Home Connect please click here and track your child’s reading progress from home. Children use this assessment system as they develop into KS1. Please speak to your child’s teacher for further information.
Each term, all children who meet their Accelerated Reader target are placed into a prize draw. One winner per community is drawn out and taken on a trip to Waterstones at Bluewater, where they will be able to select a book of their choice.
As well as this, each day a child reads at home, they are provided with a raffle ticket in class the following school day. At the end of each term, a winner is drawn out per class. These winners are then able to select a brand-new book to take home from our Reading Rewards bookshelf.
The English team have put together a list of ‘must read’ books for children to read during their time in our schools. The booklist gives you ideas of the books, plus ways to access the books cheaply online during this time. Additionally, the teachers in each community have looked at the list, made their recommendations and suggested their favourites for your children to read.
Which ones have you read already?
Handwriting is very important to us at TIMU Academy Trust. We teach cursive handwriting from the beginning of each child’s journey at our schools.
The teaching of cursive handwriting begins from Reception as it lessens the chance of reversing letters by removing the need to take the pencil from the paper between letters. Also, cursive script teaches children to write words as a continuous flowing movement which will lead to speed and fluency in time. All class-facing staff model cursive handwriting to children at all times.
Before cursive handwriting can be taught, children participate in activities involving gross and fine motor skills which will lead onto the vital movements for letter formation. Without these skills and muscle strength being in place, children struggle to form their writing.
Fine motor skills include:
Academic skills including
- Pencil skills (scribbling, colouring, drawing, writing)
- Scissors skills (cutting)
- Construction skills using lego, duplo, puzzles, train tracks
- Doll dressing and manipulation
- IT use (e.g. mouse and stylus manipulation)
Self care including
- dressing – tying shoelaces, doling up sandals, zips, buttons, belts
- eating – using cutlery, opening lunch boxes and food bags
- hygiene – cleaning teeth, brushing hair, toileting.
Note: Visual perception (accurately using vision, ‘seeing’ and interpreting) is not strictly a fine motor skill but directly supports fine motor skill performance.
Creating patterns and strategic colouring using the correct pencil grip are then encouraged, using the handwriting patterns (see below) which form the basis of all letters. This will lead onto the writing of letters, words and then complete sentences. Children should have regular, explicit handwriting lessons to enable a real focus on high quality presentation which is modelled by staff at all times.
All children begin to learn to write using a pencil. Once the use of cursive handwriting is used consistently and accurately across all areas of the curriculum, they will be rewarded with a pen licence. This is assessed by the Executive Principal to take a non-biased opinion.
To aid the teaching of cursive handwriting at TIMU, we use a software called LetterJoin. This works as an interactive teaching resource, as well as enabling teachers to create worksheets and tasks specifically catered to children’s individual handwriting needs.
In order to support your child at home, it would be beneficial to practise patterns (if letter formation not yet established) using a variety of media (paint, chalk, sand, shaving foam). Verbalising the movements needed to form the letters will help your child to remember what they need to do to create the letter/pattern also. Please use the example handwriting patterns and letter formations below to ensure the correct teaching of these.
Supporting the development of motor skills at home
Why are fine motor skills important?
Fine motor skills are essential for performing everyday skills as outlined above as well academic skills. Without the ability to complete these everyday tasks, a child’s self-esteem can suffer, their academic performance is compromised and their play options are very limited. They are also unable to develop appropriate independence in ‘life’ skills (such as getting dressed and feeding themselves) which in turn has social implications not only within the family but also within peer relationships.
How can you tell if a child has fine motor skill difficulties at a glance?
- Avoidance and/or disinterest of fiddly finger skills (and has tasks listed above)
- Preferring physical activity (again to avoid sit down tasks)
- Interest in ‘passive’ activities such as IT (e.g. watching TV an IPAD that don’t require Fine Motor skills)
- No interest in pencil or scissors skills
- Being ‘bossy’ in play and asking others to “draw a cat for me”
- Not persisting in the face of a challenge (e.g. asking parents to fix a problem without physically trying to fix it themselves)
- Waiting for parents to dress them or clean their teeth rather than trying themselves
- Refusal to use stylus with the IPAD
Our aim at Timu Academy Trust is to develop a culture where our children love writing. We do this through a carefully planned range of exciting cross-curricular opportunities and genres, designed to enthuse and inspire even the most reluctant writers.
Our children write for a range of purposes and audiences, in a variety of roles and from different points of view. Across each year group, writing is prompted using stimuli which may include quality texts and books, film, TV and music. We want our children to be passionate about writing so providing an exciting start point is key to this. Choices are made to reflect our students’ interests and to encourage thought-provoking debate. We want our children to understand the wider world and to have opinions.
Our children are presented with a variety of writing opportunities, some of which will be independent to allow for freedom of expression and the chance to ‘just write’. When working on more substantial writing projects, our pupils are encouraged to view writing as a process (which requires drafting and editing) to produce a final text that they can be proud of. The end pieces of such projects are celebrated within the class and across the wider school. We have even had some of our pupils’ writing published in a local newspaper!
At Iwade and Bobbing Schools, we want every child to be given every opportunity to grow up with a genuine love for writing, that will stay with them during further education and beyond.
Useful websites to support writing at home
Along with other areas of the curriculum, we have decided to implement a mastery approach to spelling. Previously, we had taught by spelling rules. However, this method carries a high cognitive load due to the vast number of facts you have to remember and be able to apply correctly. Spelling lessons need to be based on the same principles; the less you give the children to remember, the more likely they are to remember it. Based on research, we have decided to adopt a phonics-based spelling approach which embeds and continues the phonics-based learning from KS1.
We have also purchased a licence for Spelling Shed as an additional resource. Teachers can set assignments and pupils are provided with targeted practice through the app/ online game. The pupils are given a personal login so they can access this site at home to practice their spellings in a fun and engaging way.