New System for Homework Reading
The background to the change is the following:
• We have increasingly found children being pushed through the reading bands at speed, with a target to reach Gold (or Lime or Brown) being the most important part of reading at home.
• Of course, the most important part of reading is to understand what you have read!
• Our research has shown that far too many of our children decode efficiently – give them any book and they can fluently decode the words. But, when we ask them any question that requires some deeper understanding of the text, they struggle.
• It has been shown in numerous studies that children who love reading show much greater comprehension of the text.
• We want our children to love reading and to be able to unpick the deeper meaning of text, using the skills of inference and deduction.
• For instance: If your child reads this sentence: “He huddled behind the curtain, his thin arms shivering around his body, his eyes wide as he waited”, and then you ask your child what the boy is feeling, they might well suggest that he is excited because he is playing hide and seek! They might not pick up the words “thin”, “shivering” and “wide” as giving us clues that there is likely to be some kind of suffering involved in this boy’s life.
• We need to make sure that children can be word detectives, picking out those words which give us clues to the deeper meaning.
• Analysing pictures can also help children to understand more about the deeper meaning.
Here is a short summary of the changes
• Rather than your child being required to read a book that is strictly within their own reading level, we now ask them to choose any book that they fancy from the library to read for homework. They can change books every day or as often as they like.
• Within the school day, we shall continue to monitor their progress and give them reading exercises that are matched to their attainment and reading level and we will ensure that they make good progress in reading through our guided reading programme.
• At home, they will read or look at any book/blog/magazine/note/cereal packet that they like to practice their reading.
What if the book that they choose to bring home is much too hard for them to read?
• Read it to them! Let them read the occasional word/phrase that is within their scope, or read a caption or a heading. Then discuss what you have just read. Ask your child questions about what you have just read to help them dig deeper into the text, to enjoy it and understand it.
What if the book they choose to bring home is much too easy for them to read?
• Let them read it with ease and enjoyment! Then ask them questions about the text and about the pictures so that they start to think more and more deeply about the words.
A bit of help
On the back of this sheet is a list of questions, some of which might give you a starting point for the discussion that you might have with your child about the text that they are reading. This is not exhaustive, of course, and as you get used to this, you will think of all sorts of good questions to ask.
A bit more help
We invite all parents and carers to come into school on Monday 18th September at 2.15pm to have a workshop in which we shall show you examples of how to use skills of inference and deduction to unpick a text. Then you will go to your child’s classroom and have a go at rehearsing these skills with your child – the teacher will be there to help you.