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Home School Partnership
I just wanted to take this opportunity to write to you about homework and ensure that you have a clear picture of what we ask the children to do at home. As we have said before, we don’t want to make homework an onerous task and we want to make it completely relevant to their learning. We are also committed to developing active, independent learners so we intentionally ask the children to choose from a range of tasks and practise skills at home rather than sending lots of worksheets home. We are also keen for the children to have time to relax at home, play out and go to other activities like Brownies and swimming clubs, etc. so we don’t want homework to be burdensome. There are many opportunities to practise maths facts, reading and spelling on journeys or while making tea, etc. This is a long letter but we wanted to make things as clear as possible for you.
Every child from Y1-6 is working up through our Maths Learning Journey, which involves Steps 1-12.
The Steps focus on mental maths skills that they absolutely need in order to progress in their maths generally as these skills underpin much of the maths they will do now and at secondary school (as well as in day to day life). We are aiming for the children to become as numerate as possible and really understand how numbers work as well as being able to recall facts quickly and accurately.
The children all bring home a Learning Journey book. In it you will find their current maths Step stuck into the front of their book with annotations to show what they have already achieved and what they still need to practise. They are to practise out loud, writing in their books or playing games online. There are many maths website games including “Hit the Button” and lots of games in the Maths Zone of Woodlands Junior School website.
In order for children to really “know” their tables they must be able to do the multiplication and division facts in random order e.g. 7 x 3, 4 x 3, 21÷ 3, etc.
Please take a few minutes each day to practise one thing from your child’s Step on their Learning Journey. Our staff and some of our volunteers will find time to “test” the children as often as we can in school.
We now have an incentive for the children where they earn tickets to put in the prize draw box for each target they achieve on their step. If they move onto their next step they visit me for a “golden ticket” which they exchange for 3 tickets to go in the prize draw! We will be drawing tickets out for prizes at the end of each half term.
Children in KS2 have brought home laminated practice sheets for their tables facts.
Practising tables facts at home: draw a grid and write numbers along the top and down the side from tables you already know and the one you are practising. Then complete the grid, try to beat your time or draw another grid.
Draw a circle with the table you are practising in the centre, write the answers around the outside. You could also write the multiples around the outside first (e.g. 6,12,18,24,30,36,etc.) and fill in the inner ring last (e.g. x3,x6,x8,x9,etc.) to practise your division facts.
Phonics and Spelling
As you will probably be aware, all of the children work in ability groups for phonics and spelling on a daily basis. Children in Y1-6 have a Spelling Challenge Book which they bring home each day. In the front is the Spelling Challenge sheet with a menu of different activities they can do with their words or spelling pattern that they are learning each week.
They should complete one of the challenges each week e.g. if they are working on words with “ai” they might collect as many as they can; if they are working on the suffix “ment” as in disappointment, encouragement, amusement, etc. they might make up their own crossword, etc. it’s up to them to choose. Your child may receive a sheet to do instead. Homework can be completed at any point during the week, but activities and sheets must be completed by Thursdays (Beech Class) or the following Monday (everyone else).
We are aiming for all of our children to gain a love of reading and most of our children do adore reading and getting stuck into a book!
We expect children to read at home on a daily basis in order to practise their reading skills; to get into a reading habit; to be able to get properly engrossed in a book and to develop their understanding of what they have read. There are obviously a lot of other benefits too: developing their vocabulary; improving spelling; developing their imagination and giving inspiration for their own writing as well as finding out information from fact books.
When your child is developing their reading skills, please have them read to you and make a note in their reading record of what they have read and how they have done. When your child is a fluent reader it’s fine for them to read to themselves but they should write in their reading record even if it’s just the page they are up to.
Reading isn’t just about decoding the words it is, more importantly, about understanding fully what they have read. We are sending out the Reading Together bookmarks again with all the activities on that you can do while your child is reading a particular book. Please make a note of this in your child’s reading record too.
When we assess your child’s reading we look at a range of different focuses, not just their ability to decode. Their level will not be determined by the colour band they are up to with their reading books, but by their deeper understanding of different texts.
Incidentally, while your child will have their levelled reading book, it is good for them to read anything that you consider appropriate for a change: comics, newspapers, TV times, menus, leaflets, recipes, library books, books from home, etc. Please write in their reading record what they have read.
It does make a massive difference if your child reads every day and practises their maths and spelling skills at home regularly. It also makes an enormous difference to their enthusiasm and ability to write well if they are read to daily from a book that stretches their imagination and vocabulary as well as reading to themselves.
Home Challenges (termly homework)
We aim for home challenges to be a fun and engaging way for children to share the learning they are doing in our termly theme with you at home. They are designed to ensure that there is “something for everyone”: model making, writing, research, pictures, puzzles, cooking, etc. among the choices. All children should complete three of these challenges before the deadline date. As we celebrate everything produced, we encourage the children to complete the challenges as independently as possible. We also would like the children to develop a sense of pride in their work and think carefully about their presentation.
Our teachers frequently send tailor-made homework home for individual children where they and their parents are keen to work on something specific at home. If you do want any advice about working with your child on things at home then please do discuss this with your child’s teacher. Your child’s teacher may also ask the whole class to do small one off tasks related to learning in class.
Year 5 and 6 Children
Finally, in Beech Class, Mrs Starr does set additional homework on occasion focused on specific areas of learning. This will only be a small amount and is designed both to support learning in class and prepare the children for organising themselves at high school. The children will know when they need to do each task by (again, all part of developing their independence).
As always, if you have any questions or comments about anything in this letter, please don’t hesitate to come in a have a chat with us. We are always keen to work in partnership with you to develop your child’s love of learning and also maximise the progress they are making. We do also understand there are many things that are done differently now from when we were at school (one of the reasons for us running the maths and computing workshops back in November) so if there is anything at all you are unsure about please do ask!
As always we are looking for volunteers to come into school. Please let us know if you are able to support us with listening to readers or testing learning journeys for anything upwards of an hour a week (training will be given if required!).
KS2 and some Y2 children are also bringing home times table practice sheets after the Easter holidays which have been laminated to use repeatedly for practising tables (including decimal and multiple of 10 x tables as they move up through their Learning Journey steps). Ideally these should be used with a wipe clean whiteboard pen but can also be used with an ordinary felt tip. Please wipe them thoroughly after each use with a dry cloth to keep them in good condition.
Thank you for your ongoing support.