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Reading

Vision Statement

“Literature should jolt the senses, making us feel alive. In school, we only have time to read books that bite and sting… if the books that we read do not wake us with a blow to the head, what’s the point in reading? A book must be the axe, which smashes the frozen sea within us. Literature in the classroom should have that extra bite – to surprise, challenge, delight and create wonder as well as the inexplicable charm of rhythmic and memorable language. We should read, explore and perform…”

Pie Corbett

Reading and Writing at Abacus Belsize Primary School

Children at Abacus are authors, poets, writers, reporters, composers, editors! Reading and writing are a crucial part of our curriculum at Abacus and underpins all that we do. By the end of Year Six we intend our children to have developed a love of writing and to be able to express their thoughts and ideas clearly and creatively. We are dedicated to enabling our pupils to become lifelong readers and we believe reading is key for academic success.

We intend to create writers who can re-read, edit and improve their own writing, and enable pupils to be able to confidently use the essential skills of grammar, punctuation and spelling. Writers are readers who ‘magpie’ words, phrases and ideas from their class texts and independent reading materials. We set high expectations for all our children to take pride in their work alongside allowing their imaginations to flourish.  

Pupils will make excellent progress from their own personal starting points. By the end of Year Six they will be able to write clearly and accurately and adapt their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences. Our pupils will acquire a wide vocabulary and have a strong command of the written word. Most importantly, they will develop a love of writing and be well-equipped for the rest of their education. Children will freely express themselves through writing in English and other curriculum areas and will look forward to extended writing sessions where their put their skills to work.

By the end of year 6, children at Abacus are competent readers who can recommend books to their peers, have a thirst for reading a range of genres and participate in discussions about books. Children will have the skills to evaluate an author’s use of language and the impact this can have on the reader and will use this in their writing.  Children will read books to enhance their knowledge and understanding of all subjects on the curriculum and communicate their research to a wider audience. Children will have a deep love of reading and will look forward to tackling new books as they move to secondary school.

Reading Implementation and Progression

Children take part in Guided Reading or whole class reading sessions every day. These are instructional teaching sessions and focus on fluency, prosody (reading with expression) and comprehension.

Children in Reception and Year 1 use the Little Wandle phonics scheme for reading sessions. Please see the 'phonics' section of the website for more information on phonics and early reading.

Children in year 2 read 'book packs' that have been created by Abacus staff. Here, an adult works with children reading at a similar level. These packs and sessions are designed to ensure children are exposed to a range of texts and question types as well as having opportunities to explore books verbally, answering written comprehension questions and completing activities related to the key text. Guided Reading sessions run for 30 minutes daily. During these sessions children are taught how to read and answer questions as well as different reading and comprehension strategies. Please find an example of a book pack below.

Children in year 3 and above have whole-class reading sessions. The class will read a key text each day and, similar to the year 2 cycle, will have opportunities for discussion, comprehension and other response activities. Children who are struggling with fluency will have additional reading sessions to close the gap and support their reading development. Children may also pre-read the text so that their guided reading session is a re-read rather than a new read. Your child's class teacher will work closely with you if they feel extra support is required.

Children in years 2 and 6 complete statutory SATS reading tests in May. In addition to this, we support teacher judgement with termly reading 'quizzes' used to get children used to the style of reading tests in a fun and supportive way.

Each class has a list of guided reading texts and reading spine texts closely aligned with those on the talk for writing reading spine lists. This ensures all children are exposed to challenging and high-quality texts regardless of their reading capabilities.

Question Types

At Abacus we have adopted 12 question types to assist children in analysing and answering questions. Children are taught these over the course of the year and discuss how best to answer each question type. This reduces children's cognitive load, enabling them to focus on what the question is asking them as they will already be familiar with the style and how to answer different types of questions.

Please find a copy of the question types in the attachments bar below.

Home Reading

At Abacus the expectation is that children are reading at home for at least 20 minutes each day. This may be reading school books, books they have at home, reading to an adult, reading to a sibling, reading independently, retelling stories, reading in the real world (i.e. shop signs, letters…) or listening to stories read to them. Please take time to read and discuss different texts every day and encourage your child to talk about what they have read and ask and answer questions.

The yellow reading record is a place to share both school and home reading and how your child is enjoying what they are reading. In the Early Years, it would be great for you to record how your child is getting along but as they get older the children can let us know what they are reading and how they are finding it.

Helping Your Child at Home

Here at Abacus Belsize we want to do everything we can to help your child read and write. We want them to read and write really well! We want children that are so confident that when they see pages of writing that they haven’t seen before they tackle them with ease and enthusiasm. We want our children to develop a love of reading so that they cheer when they hear it is reading time (and they do!) and struggle to put a book down!

 

Supporting an Emerging Reader

  • Let the reading time be short (about 5-10 minutes), enjoyable, and stress free for both you and your child.
  • When your child first brings home a reading book, do not expect them to know all the words. Model the reading by reading it to them at first or taking it in turns. Many first books have a repeated phrase which you can help them to anticipate by reading up to the word that varies, for example ‘I like to paint’, ‘I like to ……swim’.
  • Much of the early reading your child does is memorising. It is more important that they read the whole book remembering the sequence of the story than that they should recognise each word and what it says. With repeated readings the memorised words will start to become familiar as text.
  • In the very early stages, it is fine to simply tell your child an unknown word and explain what it means. As they progress you may encourage them to use the picture or the first letter of a word to help them
  • Do not let your child struggle with trying to sound out words that are not phonetically decodable, for example ‘tricky words’ such as ‘come’ and ‘who’ which cannot be sounded out as c-o-m-e and w-h-o should be pointed out as tricky words and read by sight.

 

Supporting a Developing Reader

  • Point to each word as it is read and encourage your child to use the sounds that they know, or tricky words, to piece together words and sentences.
  • Discuss the text. Suggest how the story might end, alternative endings, how it could be improved, cover a word and think of another that would make sense. Discuss characters; what are they like or how they are feeling. Make links to other books, for example by the same author or on the same subject, and to their own experiences. And finally, express opinions about the book and who they would recommend it to.
  • Pay attention to the punctuation, speech bubbles and so on, using different voices for different characters and reading for meaning

 

Supporting a Confident Reader

  • Encourage your child to use the sounds that they know, or tricky words, to piece together words and sentences. Children at this stage will become increasingly confident and will be able to read more words by sight, relying on their phonic knowledge to blend more complex or unfamiliar words.
  • When you are sharing a book or your child is reading to you, use questions to help open up a discussion about the book. Being able to think and talk about what they are reading develops a fuller understanding of the text, and helps children to explore their imagination, feelings and responses.
  • Discussion of the text could include; suggestions how the story might end, alternative endings, how it could be improved, cover a word and think of another that would make sense. Discussing characters; what are they like or how are they feeling. Make links to other books, for example by the same author or on the same subject, and to their own experiences. Express opinions about the book and who they would recommend it to. Discuss who the book is written for and why.
  • Using inference questions where the answer needs to be inferred from the text, in other words, reading between the lines is a good way to check deeper understanding of the text.
  • Good readers often skip over difficult words because they can still get a sense of what they are reading. Reading aloud encourages them to tackle more difficult vocabulary and extend their word power. Reading on may help your child figure out an unknown word, as long as they return to it rather than skip it completely.
  • It is important that your child has access to an inspiring and varied range of books, and does not only read the books they take home from school. Please comment on the books your child is reading outside of school as this will help us to develop an understanding of your child as a reader.
  • By this point children won’t always be pointing to the words and this is an important step as they begin to move towards fluency and tracking by sight. Fluent readers will not need to point to the words as this will slow them down and may hinder their understanding.

 

Supporting a Fluent Reader

  • At this stage, your child will probably be reading longer books that will span weeks, rather than being changed weekly. It is still important to develop fluency and confidence at this stage, so re-reading paragraphs or whole chapters can continue to develop this.
  • Even when your child has achieved a good level of fluency, they still benefit from being listened to by you. It helps you to see whether they fully understand what they are reading, taking note of the punctuation and pronouncing words correctly.
  • Discussion of the text could include; suggestions how the story might end, alternative endings, how it could be improved, cover a word and think of another that would make sense. Discussing characters; what are they like or how are they feeling. Make links to other books, for example by the same author or on the same subject, and to their own experiences. Express opinions about the book and who they would recommend it to. Discuss who the book is written for and why.
  • Using inference questions where the answer needs to be inferred from the text, in other words, reading between the lines is a good way to check deeper understanding of the text.
  • Writing answers to written questions will further develop their comprehension skills and writing a summary at the end of a chapter/book will show their understanding.
  • Getting your child to think of their own questions about the book shows a great understanding of what they have read.
  • Good readers often skip over difficult words because they can still get a sense of what they are reading. Reading aloud encourages them to tackle more difficult vocabulary and extend their word power. Reading on may help your child figure out an unknown word, as long as they return to it rather than skip it completely.
  • Take the time to discuss what they think about their reading and develop their opinions.
  • At this stage, children should be encouraged to develop their ‘reading voice’- changing voices, pitch, speed and tone to make the story enjoyable for a listener. Ways of making this exciting could include; reading to siblings or toys, reading to a mirror or videoing a reading and playing it back later.
  • It is important that your child has access to an inspiring and varied range of books, and does not only read the books they take home from school. Please also comment on books they are enjoying at home, outside of the reading scheme. They can enjoy more complex texts by listening to story CD’s, which you can get from the local library.
  • Children at this stage should not always be reading by themselves but be given feedback and the opportunity to discuss their reading. At this stage, children will often ski words, mispronounce or misunderstand. Reading frequently with an adult is still important for a fluent reader.

 

Reading is an important part of our school curriculum and an essential life skill. If you have anything you can add to our reading or any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact the school.

As always, thank you for your continued support and HAPPY READING!