Literacy in our Junior School
Years 0 - 3
Reading – In the junior school we want children to enjoy reading and become confident readers. Reading takes place everyday in the classroom and involves a range of methods: Our balanced reading programme includes: reading to children, reading with children (reading groups), independent reading and partner reading.
Shared reading – A shared reading approach is used to model reading strategies to children such as self-correcting and expression. A text is chosen by the teacher and it is explored and revisited over a period of time, generally a week. The teacher reads aloud to the children, modelling reading, often in a whole class situation. Each day, there is a different focus on a particular aspect of the text, whether it be exploring a comprehension strategy or practising fluency and decoding strategies.
Guided reading – A guided group approach is used to allow opportunities for children to apply the strategies they are developing to a new, unfamiliar text. A small group of children reads with the teacher, practising reading strategies. This method of instruction enables the teacher to monitor the students closely and work individually with each one. Texts that are used in a guided reading session are at a child’s instructional reading level.
Independent reading – Independent reading is where children select their own texts to enjoy reading independently. These texts are often slightly easier than the child’s instructional level. This provides children with reading mileage and develops reading for pleasure. It is an important aspect of a reading programme.
Reading to children for enjoyment – Teachers enjoy sharing and reading stories to children. Reading to children provides an extensive range of benefits including developing a love of reading and imagination. It supports children to develop a wide repertoire of language, builds listening skills and supports their oral language which are all crucial in early literacy development.
Home Readers – Your child will bring a reader home each evening to read with you. These readers are an essential part of your child’s reading programme. On the days that your child reads with the teacher these readers will be at their instructional level. On the days that they do not read with the teacher your child will bring home a reader that is slightly easier, below their instructional level. These easier readers are an important part of the reading programme as they help children develop fluency (reading should sound like talking) and confidence.
Below are the decoding strategies that your child will learn as they begin reading texts.
Reading Assessment in the Junior School – Teachers will regularly take a running record of your child’s reading. When taking Running Records teachers are looking to see how accurately children read (they need to be reading at 96% accuracy or higher), how closely they monitor their own reading and self-correct their own errors, how well they understand what they are reading and how fluently they read.
Teachers also use their own professional knowledge and careful observations to make judgements about how your child reads to identify their strengths and next steps. This is through listening to reading during guided group sessions, asking questions and engaging in dialogue with children about what they are reading.
Learning pathways in reading – In the Junior School we are developing ‘Learning Pathways’ to make it easier for parents and children to see the specific skills and knowledge that the children need to develop at each stage of the colour wheel. Each colour has a ‘Reading Wall’. The ‘Wall’ your child is working on will be stapled into their yellow reading diary. In class, the teacher and the children are able to see what they are working on and the teacher can sign off specific skills and knowledge as the children develop them. As parents you will be able to see what the children are learning in reading. This will also enable you to understand how you can support your child at home.
Helpful website links
Phonics digraphs – song to help children learn common digraphs and diphthongs
Alphabet Song – song to help children learn the alphabet
Sunshine Online – reading website with levelled readers and comprehension activities
Starfall Reading – phonics based website with stories, games and activities
Writing in the Junior School – At Maungawhau School we want all children to enjoy writing and to be able to express themselves confidently when writing. Writing at home should be a fun experience. Children need to enjoy writing and see a purpose for writing in order to become confident life-long writers. The focus at home should be on enjoying and sharing writing.
Children arrive at school with various levels of experience with writing however; most children go through the same stages on their journey to becoming independent writers.
Learning Pathways in writing – In the Junior School we are developing ‘Learning Pathways’ to support the children as they develop through the writing levels. Each ‘Pathway’ will show the specific skills and knowledge that the children are developing at each stage as they learn to write. These will be glued into their writing books. Teachers will use the ‘Learning Pathways’ in conjunction with children’s writing samples to make informed professional judgements about the level a child is working at and the appropriate next steps in their writing journey.
Emerging Writers – To begin with the focus is on getting children to share their ideas. Emerging writers draw pictures to communicate their thoughts and ideas and to support them as they begin to record some of the dominant consonant sounds in words. The first sound is usually the easiest to hear in a word so children begin writing by recording initial letter sounds followed by recording the final sounds in words.
How to Support Emerging Writers at Home
- Encourage your child to talk about their day when they get home from school
- Let your child see you write at home
- Have an area at home set aside with writing and drawing materials for children to use. If possible have alphabet wall charts available for children to refer to.
- Talk to children about the pictures they draw or paint
- Ask your child first and if he/she wants you to then you can support them by labelling drawings for them or even acting as a scribe for them
- Get children to draw pictures to go inside cards for relatives
- Encourage children as they try to write dominant letter sounds for example s, t, p
- Help children develop their knowledge of the alphabet by playing rhyming games and games such as “I-spy with my little eye”. Remember to use the sound of the letter not the name.
Early Writers – As children become more familiar with reading and writing they will start to write more and more common words correctly for example, I, am is, at, the, on. They will also be able to hear and record more of the sounds in words. Children will also ‘invent’ spellings of unfamiliar words as they sound out words.
Letter reversals and confusions of b/d, p/q are quite common at this stage.
At this stage a child’s writing is often short and repeats the same idea.
Children who are able to share their ideas clearly and confidently orally usually find writing easier.
How to Support Early Writers at Home
- Encourage children to talk about their ideas and experiences with you. Ask questions such as what, where, when, who, why and how to help extend their ideas and thinking.
- As with emergent writers have an area set aside at home with writing and drawing materials.
- Make a word list or chart containing the names of people, places and things important to your child.
- Computers can be great motivators for getting children to write.
- Let your child see you write. This shows them that you consider writing important.
- When reading stories with your child talk together about what you think will happen next, or how you think the story should have ended. This helps children develop their ideas when writing.
Early Fluency – At this stage children are able to write independently and confidently. Most common words are spelt correctly and phonetically close approximations are made for unfamiliar words. Children are starting to organise their writing and it usually has a clear beginning, middle and end.
How to support Early Fluent Writers at Home
- Have a place set aside for your child to draw and write at home.
- As with Early Writers computers are a great motivating tool to encourage children to write.
- Spend time talking and listening to your child to help them develop their ideas. Encourage them to use more specific and interesting words as they talk about their experiences by asking questions.
- Visit your child’s class before school and give them a chance to share their writing with you.
Ideas for writing with your child at home – Writing needs to be authentic and purposeful. Here are a few ideas to encourage children to write at home.
- Get children to help you make the shopping list
- Write thank you letters to the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny as well as family members. This works better if the child receives a reply.
- Write invitations for a friend to come over for a play date.
- Draw pictures and write “I love you” notes to grandparents.
- Take crazy photos and write captions together. Email photos and captions to school for news.
- Keep a diary of your holiday adventures.
- Leave messages for your child in their lunch box or under their pillows