How Do I Help my Child?

The aim of this section of our school website is to help parents and carers to help their children.

Supporting children in their educational journey is hugely important but the content and style of learning in primary schools has changed a lot since many parents were in school themselves.  This does not mean that parents cannot play an important role in helping their children learn but means that sometimes they will be learning alongside them rather than knowing all the answers before their child does.

We encourage parents to, wherever possible, use the same words and methods to approach work as we do in school.  There are times when new and different strategies and ways of thinking can help but sometimes what we think is a helpful shortcut can accidentally get in the way of children learning not just a way of getting an answer but a deeper understanding of the concept of why that works.

In this section of the website you will find information about lots of the key things that we teach in school and how we go about it.  If you unsure of how to support your child with their learning, there is probably something here to help.  If you need more help, please do come in to talk to your child’s class teacher.

Also, keep an eye out for updates and additions to this section.  We really value the commitment that our parents have to their child’s learning and we are aiming to continue to add to the resources here to help you to help them!

Technical Tip: The documents within this section are nearly all multiple page PDFs.  To click through pages, use the arrows at the base of each one.

When we think about Maths we first tend to think of the four operations, addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.  However, Maths is a huge subject that also involves decimal numbers, fractions, ratio, proportion, shape and space, algebra and statistics to name just a few elements.

The following documents show the content that each year group (from Year 1 to Year 6) covers:

Year by Year Maths Objectives

 

If you look between year groups you will see the strands of learning in Maths repeat and build on each other as the years progress.  Indeed, within any one year group children will return to each area several times to help consolidate, build on and make links to their previous learning.

Although there is much more to Maths than just the four operations, we do spend a good amount of time perfecting and then using methods for each one.  We have an agreed routeway throughout school to ensure that the work each teacher does builds on what the children will have met previously.  It is provided below to help parents and carers see the approach that children are taught as they progress with these skills through school.  It is important to note that whilst children may be able to learn the final processes more quickly than the routeway suggests, the steps along the way help them to understand why these calculation methods work and seeking this deeper understanding of the maths behind the method is a central tenet to maths in the primary curriculum and beyond.

Grange Farm Calculation Routeway

We have done a lot of work on developing children’s reasoning skills in Maths over the past year and we are seeing a real improvement across school in this area.

Developing reasoning is about getting children to think beyond straightforward maths into questions that extend their thinking and give them a deeper mastery of the concepts that form the foundations of Maths.  One high quality question in Maths can be far more powerful than 20 that just ask a child to consolidate the same skill.

Below you can see examples of the “reasoning mats” we use (different versions for younger and older children) to help phrase questions and answers that develop these skills in reasoning.

Reasoning is a skill that we have focussed on in Maths but which spreads across the curriculum and beyond.  Encouraging your child to think in this sort of way and asking them these kinds of open-ended questions can encourage them to be flexible, creative thinkers.

Reasoning Mats

Reading is a crucial life skill.  Children need to be able to read fluently (out loud and in their head), comprehend the simple and more complex meanings behind what they are reading and also to use their reading skills as an aid to learning across the curriculum.

In school, we have a number of ways of approaching reading that begin with the teaching of phonics (see separate section on this page) and develop through guided reading as they become increasingly independent.

At home, you have the opportunity to make a real difference to how your child develops as a reader.  It is perhaps the area of their learning in which you can have the most impact (as well as having lots of enjoyment along the way).  The simple thing to do is read with your child every single day.  Ten minutes reading per day is a priceless investment in your child.  Children should always have a book from school (either from our banded book reading scheme from Reception or in independent choice further up school) which you can read and/or you are of course welcome to extend that reading into whatever will inspire your child the most.

10 tips on hearing your child read

 

Please find below some ideas on the sorts of questions you can ask your child to help them develop their fluency and their comprehension of what they are reading (just reading the words out loud does not necessarily mean they understand the full meaning an author is trying to convey).  The first document is aimed at younger readers:

Comprehension Qs Younger

 

This second document is more helpful for older readers:

Comprehension Qs Older

 

These hints and tips can help you to get the most out of the time you spend reading with your child but please remember that not everything we read is a comprehension exercise.  We want to turn our children into life-long readers and the best way of doing that is to make sure that some reading is just for sheer pleasure.  Below are some lists (you will find other similar ones if you search on-line) of books to have a look at if you would like some inspiration but going with children’s interests, be that a particular author, a magazine or even a blog, is always a good start-point.

Year 1 and 2:

100 Books to Read Year 1 & 2

 

Year 3 & 4:

100 Books to Read Year 3 & 4

 

Year 5 & 6

100 Books to Read Year 5 & 6

Grammar and punctuation has become increasingly important to the primary curriculum in recent years and there is no doubt that the knowledge and understanding expected of our children is now far beyond what was expected of their parents when they were at primary school (and indeed at secondary school).

Keeping up with this can be very tricky.  If your child is coming home asking for help with modal verbs, relative clauses or where to use an apostrophe for possession, the following documents will hopefully help.

Grammar Glossary – explaining the meaning behind all of the terminology we use in school:

Parental Guide to Grammar

 

Grammar Routeway – explaining when different aspects of grammar and punctuation are taught in school:

Progress in Grammar GF Final v2

Spelling remains a crucial element of the primary English curriculum.  There are very high expectations for the children to reach, both in terms of the spelling rules they are expected to know and also the irregular words we are aiming for them to be able to spell by the end of each year group.

We do provide children from Year 1 and above with spelling lists every week and ask parents to support their children in learning these.  However, we aim to be flexible with the words we give with every child generating some personalised spellings from ones they have made errors with in their classwork.

This approach is part of our recent introduction of the Babcock Spelling Scheme which focusses on a wider variety of ways of children learning spellings.  The aim is to get the children to think about spellings in different, fun ways that help them to remember them in the long-term.  When children just learn spellings for a test in a traditional rote fashion, they often run the risk of not then applying these to their independent writing after the test.

Strategies we use for this approach to spelling include:

Fancy Letters – writing spelling words using fancy writing (e.g. letters could be curly or dotty)

Blue Vowels – Tracing the vowels of spelling words with a blue coloured pencil

Pyramid Writing – Shaping spelling words into the shape of a pyramid (e.g. shorter words at the top with words of increasing length lined up underneath

Acrostic Poems – Creating a poem that uses the letters of a spelling words as the first letter of each line

Three Times – Rewriting spelling words three times, using a different colour or design each time

Spelling Shapes – Drawing different shapes to surround each of a set of spelling words

Spelling Flower – Writing all of a list of spelling words on the petals of a drawn flower

Air Write – Writing spelling words in the air with a finger (or toe)

Rainbow Spelling – Writing each letters of a spelling word in different colours to match the colours of the rainbow

Across and Down – Lining up spelling words with common letters in the style of a crossword

Upper and Lower Case – Writing spelling words all in UPPER CASE and then all in lower case – or alternating between the two

Silly sentence – Using spelling words in nonsense sentences, underlining them

 

The National Curriculum details the expectations for spelling for Year 1, Year 2, Year 3&4 and Year 5&6.  You can see the spelling expectations for each phase in the document below.  This is a document intended for educational professionals and, as such, it contains a large amount of detail.  However, it does provide lists of words that would be very helpful for your children to spend more time learning if you did want more spelling work to focus on at home:

Page 6 shows common exception rules for Year 1.  These are the words Year 1 children are aiming to spell that do not fit with the rules shown elsewhere in the document.

Page 10 shows the common exception words for Year 2.  These are the words Year 2 children are aiming to spell that do not fit with the rules shown elsewhere in the document.

Page 16 shows a word list for Year 3 and 4.

Page 23 shows a word list for Year 5 and 6.

National Curriculum Spelling

The teaching of phonics is the teaching of the building blocks of reading, spelling and writing.

Phonics relates to the 44 sounds that make up the English language.  For each of these sounds there are multiple graphemes (ways of writing them) but from the beginnings of Phonics we focus on learning one for each and ensuring that children can hear the difference between them and pronounce them correctly.  As children they learn more ways of representing each sound using different combinations of letters, the teaching of Phonics blends into the teaching of spelling.

We use a variety of sources to structure our Phonics teaching but we draw largely on a scheme called Jolly Phonics which has been very successful in ensuring that our children attain very well (compared to national averages) in the end of Year 1 phonics check.

Jolly Phonics Presentation

 

When supporting your child at home with their phonics, it is hugely important that you focus first on the phonics sounds and later on the names of letter.  The pronunciation of those sounds is also very important.  Clicking on this link will take you to a Youtube video that demonstrates how to pronounce each of the sounds so crucial to the teaching of phonics.

Handwriting is taught from Reception all the way through to Year 6 if necessary although we hope that children will have developed a fluent, joined, consistent style during Key Stage 2 and will require less and less focussed work on this by the time they get to the older year groups in school.

Consistency is a key word in handwriting – letters should always look the same and we look for consistency of height between letters that are formed in the same way (e.g. the height of a, e, c, n and m should always be the same and this should match the lower part of letters such as b and d.)

Forming letters in the right way (from the very beginning of writings in Reception) is crucial to developing a style which will lend itself to fluent joined handwriting as the children get older.  When children are younger, we pay close attention to their pencil grip to ensure this will make extended periods of handwriting easier when they are older.

We follow the Penpals handwriting scheme in school and the following document demonstrates the style and formation of lower-case letters (and how they are joined) to support you with helping your child with this in their writing at home:

Penpals Handwriting

 

If you would like to see handwriting modelled in action, this link will take you to a Youtube video made by the Penpals company.

Children use pencil for handwriting at least up to the end of Year 2 during the time they are developing their handwriting style.  Across Year 3 and 4 they aim to develop a style fluent enough to use a handwriting pen and we expected children in Year 5 and 6 to use handwriting pen for all of their writing.

The word “intervention” is used a lot in schools and it is really not something to be worried about.

It is a word that can mean a great many things in practice but really just describes an extra bit of work or support we are giving to a child for a particular purpose.  Sometimes children are in receipt of intervention support for very short periods of time to help them with a very focussed piece of learning in a particular subject or sometimes children benefit from longstanding interventions that help them develop strategies to support them with long-term special educational needs.  Sometimes intervention strategies involve children completing additional or different tasks within a normal lesson and sometimes it can mean moving somewhere else for a short time with a teaching assistant or teacher.

Examples include:

A child having a handwriting intervention to help them learn a particular set of joins or to develop consistency between certain letters.

A child having the opportunity to talk through a bereavement in their life.

A child completing specific tasks to help them develop fine motor control (e.g. pencil grip).

A child having short-term support to help them understand carrying in column addition.

 

If you ever have any questions about intervention work that your child is doing, the first person to talk to is their class teacher who is responsible for coordinating interventions for every child in their class (although they may get professional advice from colleagues and will not always be the person carrying out the intervention).

Growth Mindset is something we talk a lot about in school.

It is all about the way we see our brain and see ourselves as learners.  Everyone knows that different people have different strengths but having a Growth Mindset is about seeing and being positive about the fact that we can always improve, no matter which school subject (or any subject for that matter) that we are focussing on.

“A Growth Mindset assumes that intelligence and other qualities, abilities and talents can be developed with effort, learning and dedication.”

“This is opposed to a Fixed Mindset which assumes that intelligence and other qualities, abilities and talents are fixed traits that cannot be significantly developed.”

“Many people think of the brain as a mystery.  They don’t know much about intelligence and how it works.  When they do think about what intelligence is, many people think that a person is born the way they are and stays that way for life.  But new research shows that the brain is like a muscle – it changes and grows as you use it and scientists have shown that the brain gets stronger the more you learn.”   Carol Dweck 2008.

When we talk about Growth Mindset with the children a school, a lot of our focus is on the language that we use.  For example…

Language of Growth Mindset

 

We also focus on important concepts as part of learning.  The learning pit is a really important example of this – getting “stuck” is not to be feared – it just means you are on the verge of a really great bit of learning.  You will have been stuck before – have confidence in your ability to get “unstuck!”

The Learning Pit