Working at home to support your child's learning
Working at home to support your child’s learning in school
To embed a new set of skills we know all that we must use and practice them. If we don’t use a skill for a long time, then we forget what we have learnt. As they say, practice makes perfect.
We expect all our children to practice the skills that they use in school, this should take place five times a week to ensure that their understanding is deepened. The following advice should support you to build this learning into your home routines.
Over the course of the pandemic there has been a fall in the quality of children’s expressive language and vocabulary. This has been documented across the country.
We know that children have read out loud less over the last eighteen months. As a result, children are also using simpler language to clarify their understanding. This decline in vocabulary affects the quality of writing in particular. Throughout 2021/2022 our school focus is to try and catch up with some of this lost learning across. This will start by focussing on the skills of reading for all, beginning with phonics in EYFS and KS1 and moving into the interpretation of texts in KS2.
Your help with this is vital.
Although we hear children read out loud, as part of their everyday learning, the chance for ten minutes or so of one-to-one reading with an interested adult is something that evidence shows helps all children. Each night we expect your child to read to you. This should be the book that they bring home in KS1 which is linked to their phonics understanding. In KS2 the book will be colour banded to help them master concepts before, towards the end of their time at Rockcliffe, they are able to free read. This shouldn’t stop your child from enjoying other books, but it does ensure that there is a framework which they can build their knowledge upon.
When a child reads to you, please make sure that it is somewhere where there are as few distractions as possible. Please read the text with them, correcting where necessary, praising self-correction and asking them about what they have read. Ask them about words that appear in a text for, they may accurately decode a word but not understand it.
In this example from EYFS and Year 1 you might have asked:
But who is this creature with terrible claws
And terrible teeth in his terrible jaws?
He has knobbly knees and turned out toes
And a poisonous wart at the end of his nose.
His eyes are orange, his tongue is black,
He has purple prickles all over his back.
- What colour is his tongue?
- Can you hear any words that rhyme?
- Where do we find the rhyming words?
- The writer uses terrible three times? What different words could the writer have used?
If your child (towards the end of KS2) was to read this text you might ask the following:
In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.
- Why is the writer using the term an oozy smell? Could you use a synonym for oozy that enables the sentence to still make sense?
- What sort of hole might be filled with the ends of worms?
- What have we already learnt about a hobbit?
By questioning your child and by encouraging them to think about what they have read their understanding is quickly developed. By exploring the depth of a text and understanding the writer’s vocabulary choice then we are giving children the chance to use similar techniques in their own work. After all, plagiarism is the greatest form of flattery.
Writing and Spelling
It’s important that all children write neatly, fluently and carefully. As adults we now write less and type more. We all can write neatly at need though! Your children must have both skill sets too. If they are expected to write at home, make sure that they hold a pencil correctly, sit up straight and concentrate. Don’t allow them to start sentences the same way each time- vary vocabulary choice. Make sure that sentences use capital letters to start and full stops whenever possible (and always from Year One upwards).
Choose vocabulary for effect (bellowed/thundered/roared/shouted/exclaimed/whispered/muttered etc.) and don’t just use the word said.
If the writing is a piece of work for school, then ensure that it is in HB pencil as mistakes can then be corrected easily. We won’t accept it in crayon, felt tip, pen or highlighter. Children need to learn to use the correct tool for the correct job. (We’d never expect anyone to use a toothbrush to sweep a street after all.)
Spellings should be practiced by writing them out neatly. We learn to recognise incorrectly spelt words because the shape isn’t correct. We can’t just rely on it being underlined in red! Neat writing helps this process.
From Year Two upwards we expect children to learn their times tables. This starts with an expectation that all children show know their two, three, five and ten times tables in Year Two. They then should know all their times tables to twelve by the end of Year Three along with the corresponding division facts and faster recall by the middle of year Four.
Please practice these. They can practice on Times Table Rock Stars, numerous free websites or just by your questioning (3x4 is….) as you travel and the answer must be given within three seconds to count as correct. Again – practice makes perfect.
We hope this helps. We will be checking that everyone reads five times weekly and that homework is completed. Your help and support will make all the difference.