St. Oswald’s homework strategy
We believe that our wonderful children work incredibly hard when they're at school. We don't believe that doing an enormous amount of homework is in their best interests... In fact, we'd love it if the majority of their free time was spent doing lovely things or visiting interesting places with their family & friends, perhaps even attempting the National Trust '50 things to do before you're 11¾'!
However, in order for our children to thrive academically we would be delighted if you can support them with the following home-learning tasks:
Reading for all:
There is so much enjoyment to be had from reading to and with your child and we believe passionately that reading as frequently as possible has enormous benefits to children's future happiness and success. It's also such a lovely thing to do together, as parent and child. Why not try a book from one of our lists of recommended reads?
Reading in Reception and Key Stage 1
Learning to read is a complex skill which involves not only decoding the words but understanding the vocabulary, being able to read with expression and fluency and being able to talk confidently about the book. At St Oswald’s we would like all children to flourish and develop a love for reading. By the time children enter Year 1 they are very good at decoding the text and therefore we now need to concentrate on the other skills mentioned above.
Last year we changed the way we choose your child’s home reading book, ensuring that all books are phonetically decodable within the phonics phase that your child is working at, as is best practice and following recent Ofsted guidelines. We will continue to send books in this way this year.
Pupils are individually assessed on their phonics knowledge and each child is given a book that is accessible for them at their level, so that the child can read it and enjoy it. Research suggests that children should be able to fluently read 90% of the book independently. As we will be following phonic phases, the colour and book bands on the back of the books are now irrelevant.
At school, children will benefit from a daily shared read, a daily phonics session and guided reading sessions each week. Reading books are changed on Tuesdays and Fridays only. At home, we would like your child to read the book over and over again, allowing them to increase in confidence and therefore increasing the level of enjoyment. We then expect the pupils to have some understanding of what they have read and be confident to answer questions about the text.
Children will now have three days to read their individual book following the structure below.
Decoding the book
Children use their phonics knowledge to decode the words on the page. The focus is solely on this rather than the comprehension and understanding.
Reading for speed and fluency
This is another opportunity for the pupils to apply their phonic knowledge but slightly quicker. Pupils should recognise some of the words the second time round. Adults should model prosody (intonation, expression, pausing and phrasing) when they read and children apply this skill.
This time, the pupils read the book again and should be quite familiar with the words. Ask your child what they think about the story and what is happening as they read: do they understand what they are reading? Can they retell it in their own words?
We encourage you to supplement our home reading scheme with a variety of books including fiction, non-fiction and poetry that you share with your child to further develop their love for reading and provide a wide breadth of experiences.
Reading in Key Stage 2: Accelerated Reader
At St. Oswald’s we are passionate about ensuring that every child is a reader. One of the ways we do this is to use a computer program called Accelerated Reader (AR). AR helps teachers manage and monitor children’s independent reading practise. Your child picks a book at his/her own level and reads it at their own pace. When finished, your child takes a short quiz on the computer – passing the quiz is an indication that your child has understood what has been read. Teachers may assist children by:
· Guiding them to books appropriate to their ability and interests
· Asking probing questions as your child reads and before quizzing
· Pairing your child with others, reading with or reading to your child.
Since they are reading books at their own reading and interest levels, children are more likely to be successful and enjoy the books and quizzes. Best of all they learn and grow at their own pace. As with anything, performance improves with practise and children who read regularly each day with a 90% comprehension rate on the AR quizzes see the greatest gain. At school, we dedicate 15 minutes a day to independent reading. Please encourage your child to also read at home, discuss books, ask questions about what they have read and visit your local library. Together, we can help every child to be a successful reader!
In school, we also use an assessment system called STAR Reading that determines your child’s reading level. It is a computer-based reading assessment program that uses computer-adaptive technology. Questions continually adjust to your child’s responses, making the difficulty easier or harder where appropriate. The test uses multiple choice questions and takes approximately 20 minutes. Teachers will support your child in taking a STAR Reading assessment every half term.
Book levels represent the difficulty of the text. The levels range from 0.2 up to 13.5. Books are chosen based on recommendations from the STAR Reading assessment. Each child is given a range of books (for example 2.5 to 2.9) to challenge them without causing frustration or loss of motivation. It is important for children to read with a high degree of comprehension and within the given range. Each book on the AR scheme has an interest level which indicates the age group that a book is appropriate for, based on the content and themes. These are recommendations only and teachers and parents are recommended to use their best judgement when guiding children in choosing their books. We have lots of books that the children can choose from in school, however we are also aware that many children like to read their own books from home. You can visit the website www.arbookfind.co.uk to search all of the available books with AR quizzes to see if the book your child wants to read is on the scheme. If not, then it doesn’t mean your child can not read the book but rather that there will be no quiz available and therefore it will not be recorded on your child’s AR profile. Please see your child’s class teacher for any more information regarding Accelerated Reader. If you have any questions please feel free to discuss with your class teacher.
Children from Year 1 upwards all have access to the Times Tables Rock Stars and Education City websites. We hope they will enjoy these platforms and it will help them further to become confident mathematicians. Teachers will set games, quizzes and assessments for them on Education City, which they can then complete in the timeframe the teacher has set. Access passwords and logins will be provided by the class teacher. Please get in touch with your child’s teacher if you are unsure where to find these.
In Early Years and Year 1, the children will be learning how to read and spell mainly through learning phonics. From Year 2 upwards, we begin to teach children how to spell using different strategies, believing that learning spellings at home needs to be an extension of the practice in school to enable deeper learning. Some spellings follow patterns and rules; whilst others are taken from the ‘common exception words lists’ specific to the year group. These words are spelled in non-conventional ways and need to be learned.
We believe in learning spellings in a practical, specific way, with research indicating that these strategies are much more powerful than traditional methods of learning spellings by rote.
The learning strategies below are introduced incrementally throughout our spelling programme and can then be used to support learning spellings at home.
In year 2 and year 6, the additional testing may mean that your children receives additional homework such as CPG workbooks. The class teachers will get in touch with you regarding these if they are introduced.