Homework

At Abbeyfields we recognise that parents are a child’s first and best teacher, and that children learn best through practical experiences with those they love and trust. We are very keen to work in partnership with families to ensure that school learning extends beyond the classroom. We will share our learning objectives with you through newsletters, topic information sheets and regular parent meetings, and will also discuss your child’s homework individually if needed.

Government guidelines mean that it is the responsibility of the school to set homework which provides opportunities to practise skills and extend learning, however, homework is not compulsory and should not cause any stress to children or parents. Homework is not normally set when a child is absent from school due to illness or family holiday, as the child needs to be in school to understand the work that is set, and well enough to complete it. If a child has a lengthy absence which could include hospitalisation, the class teacher and SENDCO will liaise with the family and other parties regarding home tuition. Teachers will respond to homework with praise, discussion in class, and sometimes with conventional marking. Additional help will be given in school where families are not able to support children with regular practice of skills such as reading, spelling and tables. More important than the opportunities to practise skills and knowledge, is the interest that parents show and value they give to their child’s learning, so please. . . .

  • Ask your child what they learnt at school today
  • Show interest when your child reads to you
  • Find a story or non-fiction book and read to them regularly
  • Help them to practise flash cards, times tables or spellings
  • Find out their class homework routines and help them to complete work
  • Visit places of interest with your child, which may be linked to school learning
  • Allow your child to use Sumdog and School 360 on the internet - login details are normally found in the planner or homework book
  • Encourage your child to write his or her own letters, birthday cards etc
  • Involve your child in practical maths, weighing and measuring, adding up money, estimating how much will be needed and solving maths problems

Homework will take different forms depending on the age and ability of each child. You can find further details by following the year group links on this page.

Reading

Children from Reception to Year Four bring home one or more reading books to share with an adult each week. Children in Reception and KS1 will often bring home sound or word cards to learn. We ask parents to literally “flash” these to help your child’s instant recognition. If you keep these handy you can flash the words four or five times a day and you will be amazed how soon your child remembers them. We hope we can rely on home support to give the children additional practice and encouragement. Teachers hold SHARE meetings to explain our reading approach and there can always be individual opportunities to discuss how best to help your child with reading.

From September 2016 we have decided to select an agreed reading book for every child, regardless of reading ability, therefore no child will be a “free reader” for the following reasons:

  • To give children the maximum opportunities to read at an instructional level with adult support
  • To give parents and children the message that no child at Abbeyfields has finished learning to read, and that regular practice and adult involvement are still very beneficial
  • To share the approach with other local schools - for example, at the 3 Rivers middle schools, children will undertake an assessment when they start in Y5, and be allocated a level of books to read. They will also have a comprehension test on completion of each book.

All children have an allocated reading book, from either a conventional reading scheme, a graded “early reader” or a fiction or non-fiction book at their interest level. Please don’t worry about any marked levels or reading ages as these vary from publisher to publisher and aren’t very helpful. There is some choice involved especially for the more able readers. Children are expected to read from the book either at home or at school every day. Children also read other materials such as instructions or information texts throughout their lessons each day.

One of the most important areas in which parents can help accelerate a child’s progress with individual attention is in reading. We all want our children to master the decoding of words quickly so that they are no longer “learning to read” but instead “reading to learn” as well as for enjoyment. Some children need more practice with decoding or in understanding what they are reading, so we may need some patience rather than rushing to work through a reading scheme and worrying about the “level” of a reading book.

There are three key elements which will help your child to make the best possible progress in reading, which are reading miles (time spent reading,) adult attention and selecting books at the correct level.

  1. Reading miles

    Quite simply, children need to put in the time, and read lots of words on a regular basis. Repetition helps - so teachers may give you a small pack of flashcards to read over and over again, or ask your child to read through the same book two or three times. We will give children many opportunities to read words and sentences throughout the school day and ask that you read with them, or ask them to read alone then talk to them about their reading, for ten minutes a day, as many times as you can manage each week. Regular reading builds accuracy and fluency, and also helps with spelling, punctuation and ideas for the child’s own written work.

  2. Adult attention

    Phonics is an important part of reading, and lessons, particularly for children working on “Read Write Inc, but it is also necessary to recognise “sight” words, and to recognise the value of reading for purpose and pleasure. English lessons, and lessons across the curriculum, will practise and develop reading skills with sufficient support to make it successful. “Higher order” skills such as skimming and scanning (to gain an overall impression or find a specific piece of information) and reading critically and analytically (to find evidence or consider an argument) are also taught in English lessons and need to be refined with further practice. School staff will work with children individually and within small groups, as well as whole class teaching. Parents and other family members are invaluable in providing additional individual attention, both for accuracy of reading and to discuss what has been read.

  3. Correct level of reading materials

    Children should be reading at 95 - 100% accuracy, and working out the missing words with a little adult help or by guessing in context. Older children should be encouraged to use a dictionary to check the pronunciation and meaning of new words.

    If children are reading at 90 - 94% accuracy - they will need close adult support, helping to build up or otherwise work out the pronunciation and meaning of a difficult word. This is the level of challenge that our Read Write Inc books will offer - children are taught new phonic and word attack skills, and are prepared to read the new words in isolation before they meet them in the text.

    If the children can read only 89% or fewer of the words independently - the text is too difficult to help them learn to read. Even with adult support the child will be reading too slowly to develop fluency and comprehension, is likely to become frustrated or believe that reading is a decoding-only activity with no comprehension or enjoyment involved.

FAQs
How often should my child read?

Ideally young children should read with an adult every day, for at least 10 minutes. More able readers should be able to read on their own, but please continue to hear them read aloud on occasions and check they are reading by asking them about their book. We know that you all have busy lives and there are also spellings and tables to spend time on, but any reading support you can give your child will help, and the more time you spend together, the more your child will benefit.

My child is a good reader; do I still need to hear them read aloud?

You don’t need to hear them read everything aloud, but you could start by asking them to read a page or two in their heads, check they have read correctly, then continue to read a few pages together. Progress to children reading more often on their own, but keep on showing an interest, ensuring they make time to read and record their comments. Check that their comprehension is good and decoding is correct by hearing them read aloud at least once a week.

My child is a good reader; do I still need to read to them?

Yes! We all love stories, whether it’s a tv soap, radio play or a good book. You can discuss something you’ve watched together, or listen to an audiobook together, but there’s no substitute for cuddling up and sharing a good book. If parents continue to read to their child, even older and abler readers will hear more challenging reading materials and be able to understand and discuss ideas that would be too difficult for them to manage alone.

What should I ask my child about their reading?

Ask them what they think the book is about - guess from the title or front cover, or if they’ve read a little already, ask them what has happened so far and what they think will happen next. After reading, can they retell the story or explain why one character acted as they did?

I think the reading book is too easy - what should I do?

Is your child really reading and understanding every word? To be a successful independent reader they need to read 95% or more of words fluently. If the book really is too easy it will still help them to notice spellings and punctuation, and to improve their expression. Try pointing to words in isolation or asking your child to spell them. If books are consistently too easy and this is demoralising your child, speak to class teachers.

I think the reading book is too hard - what should I do?

If your child is only managing 89% of words or less, then the book is too hard. (Beginner readers will not recognise this many words but will be gaining a sense of achievement from reading a repetitive book which builds word recognition and confidence.) You could supply words as soon as they hesitate, or take over reading completely. You could then check your child’s understanding of what you read to them. If books are consistently too hard, speak to class teachers as we will need to change the reading level.

We’ve had this book before - what should I do?

Perhaps we’ve sent the book home again by accident or on purpose. Either way, the child can benefit from rereading the whole book or a section. Alternatively, you could talk more about the plot, different characters, read tricky words in isolation, spell words from the book or suggest a different ending.

Can I teach my child phonics?

Of course you can, but please check with class teachers so you are reinforcing the same learning, to avoid confusing your child. Practise letter sounds or flashcards that are sent home to help your child to learn them quicker. Attend SHARE meetings which will explain the order and method of introducing sounds and word building skills. You are welcome to sit in on a Read Write Inc lesson - just ask your child’s class teacher to arrange this for you.

My child finds these books boring - can we change them?

We don’t all have the same tastes but it’s important that your child reads both fact and fiction, and lots of different genres. If they aren’t particularly interested in one series, please encourage them to keep an open mind and try hard to keep sessions fun. Most sets have a maximum of six books in them so it won’t be long before they have moved on to something else.

If you have specific questions about your child’s reading, you should always speak to your child’s class teacher. They are the best people to explain the situation or sort out a problem, as they have an overview of the class expectations as well as individual performance. If there is another member of staff working regularly with your child, they may be invited to speak to you, or Mrs Halliford (as Special Needs Co-ordinator and English subject leader) is happy to become involved.

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