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A little home help goes a long way

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By Huw Thomas— Headteacher, Sheffield

Once children have gathered the basic skills of learning to read, schools can start to explore ways in which parents can support children’s development in reading and writing – Huw Thomas offers some ideas

Boy by desk

Talking about books

Once they are taking longer titles home, parents can play a role in helping children to get further into a story. If a parent reads half a Horrid Henry, a child is far more likely to finish it – and nothing beats the warmth of reading together at home. However, some parents may have issues regarding time or confidence.

Well it isn’t all about reading! Children benefit from discussing texts too, and the questions in Table 1 are ones any adult can ask any child about a fiction or non-fiction text. In this relationship the child is the expert – they know their Harry from their Hermoine – and the parent just pops a few questions, in as relaxed and chatty a manner as possible.

Events for parents

The main message here is that it’s not about doing much that’s new – it’s about parents joining what we already do.

Book-based events can provide an exciting way of involving the wider community in reading and, while the whole-school Book Week is great, it does tend to be a one off. Why not supplement it with smaller scale, class based literacy events?

As part of a project exploring book and story choices, one class in our school spent a morning devising a fantasy island on a large sheet of paper. Children invited parents to stay for a coffee and add a location to the map.

Any reading or writing topic can be extended to create an open door for parents:

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