Advice for Families from the National Literacy Trust
Promoting reading at home is the most important way that parents can help their child, by giving regular reading practice and checking they understand what they read. Here are some more tips on helping your child with reading:
- when you read to your child, make the experience interactive – ask questions about the story, the pictures, and what they think of the characters.
- as their reading skills grow, gradually let them turn the tables until they are reading to you.
- use dictionaries together for difficult words – a picture dictionary can make exploring language more interesting.
- enrol your child at the local library so they can try new books regularly.
- keep an eye out for the themes that catch your child’s imagination at school – and help follow it up with more reading.
- when you come across an unusual or funny-sounding word, help your child find out what it means and write it on the fridge door with magnetic letters.
As your child gets older encourage them to pick up other books around the house to boost familiarity with ‘grown-up’ language. Suggest a reading list, and encourage your child to write down thoughts on the books they have read.
Writing and Spelling
Reading and discussing stories together will help develop your child’s own story writing. It is easier to get into good handwriting habits early on. The same goes for spelling. Help your child to see writing and spelling skills not only as fun, but as something important and to be proud of:
- help younger children by writing words and sentences for them to copy.
- emphasise the links between drawing and writing, and encourage your child to sign finished artwork.
- older children can develop their writing and social skills together by finding penfriends through school or clubs, or keeping in touch with friends met on holiday.
- Spend quality time each day talking with your child.
- Read to your child – not just stories but a wide range of fiction and non-fiction texts – and discuss the ways that authors use words to shape their ideas.
Tips and Ideas
- Be a writing model and encourage your child to write alongside you.
- Create real opportunities for your child to write, such as letters, posters or
- Have an exciting selection of writing materials readily available.
- Talk to your child about his writing and read it through together.
- Praise your child for trying.
- Don’t dwell on mistakes, focus on the content.
- If your child brings a spelling list home to learn, try to make the practice fun by playing games that encourage careful listening to the sounds in words and looking for letter patterns. Your child may enjoy singing or reciting spellings, or writing them out and colouring letter patterns.
Most importantly remember that writing can be difficult, so be available, supply help if asked and marvel at how well your child is doing.
Developing Maths Skills in Everyday Life
Successful learning depends on having problem solving skills and thinking logically as well as the ability to read and write.
An easy way to boost skills and motivation is by showing them how useful number skills are in almost everything they do.
Children can have fun:
- measuring their height and working out how much they’ve grown
- on car journeys – playing number-plate games, adding and subtracting with road signs, thinking about speed by dividing distance by time
- at the shops – weighing fruit and vegetables, budgeting with pocket money, working out the relative value of products by comparing prices and weight
- thinking about time. Look at clocks, both digital and analogue. Estimate how long a certain activity will take to do and see if you are right. Work out how long it is until the next mealtime. Play games: how long is a minute, starting from now?
- thinking about calendars and dates too. Make a timeline that includes the birthdays of each member of the family and work out how far apart each one is. Use different units: months, weeks and days, even hours, minutes and seconds. Add other important events, such as a family holiday, and encourage your child to count down to the big day.
- in the kitchen – with weighing and measuring, and temperature and timings
- making models and origami shapes
Working It Out, Thinking It Through
Make a game out of putting little problems to your child and letting them reason things through, prompting as little as you can. For example, while cooking ask them to work out ingredient amounts if a recipe is doubled. Praise your child for trying, even if they get stuck or get things wrong.
New experiences and discoveries are always stimulating, and they don’t have to be expensive or elaborate:
- if you go for a country walk, try collecting leaves of different shapes, looking for insects or signs of wild animals, and thinking about why metal goes rusty or lichen grows on one side of trees.
- introduce your child to simple map-reading using a road atlas or map of your area.
- on holiday, be aware of all the things that are different to home – buildings, accents and languages, clothes, food, customs, and so on.
- find out if there are clubs in your area which will interest your child – try the local library or leisure centre for information.
Why Have Homework?
It is generally accepted that Homework can make positive contributions to the learning of individual pupils:
ï¿½ it allows further practice and consolidation of work done in class.
ï¿½ it provides parents with information about the work being done in class and involves them directly in the child’s learning.
ï¿½ it trains pupils in planning and organising their work, developing self-discipline and good habits that will support them in future education and beyond.
How Much Homework Should Be Given?
When asking how much work, we tend to mean how much time should the set tasks take to complete. This is difficult in that some children work at a faster pace than others, so our answer must be based on what the teacher could reasonably expect of most children. We would also expect that the amount of time spent on Homework should increase as the child moves through the school and it would be assumed that this pattern would continue into Secondary Education. The figures that we have settled on are based on our own experience of parental expectations, but are also consistent with local and national guidance.
P1 – 1 hour per week
P2 – 1 hour per week
P3 – 1 1/2 hours per week
P4 – 1 1/2 hours per week
P5 – 2 hours per week
P6 – 2 1/2 hours per week
P7 – 2 1/2 hours per week
Primary 1 & 2 Reading Consolidation on Oxford Reading Tree. Parents will be given guidelines as to how they can support their child with reading at the Primary 1 Induction Meeting. Primary 3-7
Formal Homework sheets will now be issued. Homework tasks will include:
Reading – consolidation and preparation of work from Group or Personal Novels
Spelling – preparation of words and sentences.
A selection from the following areas:
Number Maths Work consolidating work done in class
Problem Solving activities
Research Tasks based on the Class Project for the term.
During the year children will be asked to research for prepared talks.
When Should Homework Be Given/Returned?
Homework should be a consistent feature of school life. While the teacher may need time to organise the class at the beginning of the new school session in August and issuing of the first homework will not take place until the second week of that term, it should be issued from the first week of every other term. No homework will be issued during the last week of every term.
When homework is issued during the week will be determined by the age group of the class, with younger children needing more frequent issues. The pattern for giving and returning work will be:
P1 Given and returned daily.
P2 Continue to give and return daily. Towards the end of P2, work will be given 2-3 times per week in preparation for the change of pattern in P3.
P3-7 Weekly homework is issued on a Tuesday for return the following Monday.
The pattern of issuing work on a Tuesday for return the following Monday gives children and parents the opportunity of working together over a weekend. This may be particularly helpful to families where work commitments of adults and club activities for children make it difficult to find time from Monday – Friday. The day between receiving completed work and issuing new work also gives teaching staff time to correct completed tasks.
When a teacher is absent from school for a short period, the pattern of homework may be interrupted. However, children should be issued normal homework by a replacement teacher in the event of a class teacher absence of more than one week.
How Will Work Be Presented?
P1/2 Tasks will be written into the child’s homework jotter. On completion of the task, parents should sign the jotter and may make any appropriate comments.
P3/7 A pre-printed homework sheet will be issued to each child detailing the tasks for the week. These will generally be completed in the child’s homework jotter unless the nature of the task dictates otherwise, e.g. designing a poster as part of a project. On completion, parents should sign the homework and make any appropriate comments.
Will All Homework Be the Same for Every Child in the Class?
Children work in ability groups in class and the homework should reflect the work of their particular group.
In P1 and P2, all homework tasks will be allocated on ability groups.
In P3-P7, differentiated work will be given in spelling and mathematics, while reading will normally, but not always, be differentiated.
Will Children Who Receive Learning Support and English as an Additional Language Support Have Class Homework and L/S or EAL Homework?
Some children receive extra Learning Support and English as an Additional Language Support in school and some may spend some time at a Reading Unit away from school. It is important that these children are not overloaded with homework and the key must be liaison between class teachers and Learning Support teachers. The Learning Support, English as an Additional Language or Reading Unit teachers may set homework, but always in consultation with the class teacher. On some occasions, this could lead to a child missing out on a homework task that would be especially important. This problem may be solved by having the Learning Support or English as an Additional Language Support teacher work on the homework task with the child in school time.
What is Expected of Teachers, Parents and Children?
set and correct homework in terms of the school policy.
complete homework tasks as specified on time.
give the same level of effort and presentation as would be expected of class work.
support children in completing tasks on time.
be active in supporting their child’s learning.
inform the school if there are reasons why work can’t be completed.
ensure that children adhere to instructions about homework. In particular, children should not read ahead in a reading book or novel if they have been specifically asked not to do so. They may be compromising planned language work for the next day, such as prediction exercises where they must use information already gained from the story to forecast what will happen next.
sign completed work.
How Much Help Should Parents Give Children?
In general, parents should support their children in allowing them to complete their homework tasks so that work produced is the child’s own.
Many parents are often unsure about whether or not to correct homework, especially sums and spelling. Parents should look over completed work and encourage children to check the quality of presentation and to look for any mistakes. Hopefully the child will find and correct any errors, though if parents feel that a child has seriously misunderstood a task, then it would be best to contact the school.
Is Unfinished Class Work in Addition to Normal Homework?
Occasionally children may be unable to complete tasks in class for a variety of reasons and it could be that unfinished work is sent home for completion. This should not happen regularly and as a matter of school policy, if this becomes a persistent problem, one of the Senior Staff will be consulted and may contact parents.
In such circumstances, work would be in addition to normal homework, but we would seek to address any problems before they become regular occurrences.
We seek to work in partnership with parents. Homework cannot be compulsory and some parents do not wish their children to have any. If parents wish to withdraw their child from Homework Activities they should inform their child’s class teacher of this fact, in writing. Contact your child’s class teacher in the first instance with any queries or comments and to advise of any circumstances which might affect completion of particular items of Homework.