Reading Homework - Advice for Parents
Primary 4-7 pupils
During your child's time at school they will develop skills and strategies to develop their reading. These skills will cover:
- Comprehension - can they make sense of the book?
- Accuracy - can they read the words on the page?
- Fluency - can they read with expression using punctuation clues?
- Expand Vocabulary - can they develop an understanding of more complex vocabulary?
These skills can be applied to different genre of text (e.g. fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels, newspapers, magazines, online resources).
What can I do to help my child?
Primary 4-7 pupils will generally have a book for at least 2 weeks although this may be longer in the case of novels. This allows time to develop the strategies and skills as mentioned above. Your child will increasingly be reading on their own although ideas for developing reading accuracy and fluency are noted at the foot of this page.
Ideas to do this could include:
- Prior Knowledge - Look at the front cover. Ask questions about what the book could be about. Try to encourage your child to think about books they've read like this before (to make connections which help with comprehension). Use the key question words (who, what, where, when and why) to develop thinking about what the book could be about.
- Metalinguistics - This is the key skill set that we use to make sense of words that we encounter. As children get older we try to encourage them to think about “uplevelling” vocabulary to sound more sophisticated and mature. We call these “wow words”. For example, “big” could be “uplevelled” to colossal, substantial, immense. When reading try to encourage your child to identify good examples of vocabulary that provides a vivid description of the scene. You could discuss these words or use a thesaurus to find alternative words. You might want to create your own WOW word display – this could be on the fridge, on the back of your child’s bedroom door etc. It can then be added to as they encounter interesting WOW words in the books they read.
- Visualisation - This is the skill of creating pictures in our head as we read. We encourage children to use the descriptions on the page to create a picture in their heads. You may want to get your children to draw what they see as the scene from a part of the story. You may come across particularly good examples of descriptive language (WOW words!) which give a really good mental picture of something. Sometimes you could try to read a book with pictures to your child without showing the pictures then ask them to describe what it looks like. Older children can create visual prompts to demonstrate their understanding of text.
- Inference - When we read we make sense of the literal meaning of a story (i.e. what's literally written on the page) but this strategy is encouraging deeper thought and developing the skill of reading between the lines. This strategy is tricky but encouraging your child to create questions as they read is one of the most useful tools. For example, “why did the character look scared when the phone rang?” You can then encourage them to “prove it” as they progress through the novel. Justifying an inference is also a useful skills. You can use the prompts “I think….. because……” which encourages personal reflection on the text but crucially teaches the skill of justifying that viewpoint.
- Main ideas - This strategy is best developed with discussion around the theme of the story. This is a tricky concept for children but you can support your children by asking questions such as what is the message of the story? What do you think you've learned from this story? Sometimes you can practise the main idea strategy away from a written text. For example, when watching a film like Toy Story 3 there are good examples of the main idea being teamwork and friendship overcoming danger and challenge.
- Summarising - For younger children you can support their ability to summarise by simply asking what the story was about. For older children they could develop note taking with the main points (e.g. beginning, middle, end with supporting detail). This could be done using three boxes to draw a picture to summarise the key events of a story. You can encourage note taking using bullet points or mind maps. If you were keen to use technology you could get your child to record voice memos on a phone or tablet where they summarise what they’ve read so far. When reading to your child, stop periodically and say, “Let’s see if we remember what I just read. Think about who the story was about and what happened.” Do this 3 or 4 times throughout the story.
- Paraphrasing - This is a skill where children take what they've understood from a text and create their own texts from this. In essence, it's putting a story into your own words. Good ways to encourage children to do this could be to write their own short texts, making short comic books about the story or even writing their own stories (e.g. a story with the Gruffalo in a different setting).
Developing reading accuracy and fluency with older children
· Some older children may show good comprehension skills but still need to improve their reading accuracy and fluency. This is detectable when they read aloud if it sounds slow and lacks expression. One of the best ways to improve accuracy and fluency is through a lot of reading. There are a few other suggestions which help older children with their accuracy and fluency.
- Listen to good readers. This can be through audiobooks (which can be borrowed from the local library) or bought through devices such as iPads. This still encourages your child to develop comprehension but with the added benefit of listening to the phrasing and pacing of a skilled reader.
- Re-read a section of text. Encourage your child to pick a section of a story that they enjoy (e.g. a paragraph). Read this over with them. You could offer to model reading it. The child then reads this section a few times over with the focus on improving fluency and accuracy. You could even record these reading passages using a phone or a tablet to allow your child to listen to them.