Head's Blog - Reading

Posted on: 26/01/2018

It was wonderful to see so many parents attending our reading information sessions across the school this week. Parental support is key for children’s learning outcomes and your attendance this week speaks volumes. I am sure that  Mr. McLaughlin, Head of English, and Mrs. Hunt, Head of Lower School, have inspired everyone and given you all food for thought.

The conversations I had with parents after the meetings were very honest and I am sure reflect the home lives of many modern families. Sadly, the good intentions that many parents have at the start of the academic year can slip as life becomes busy. It is all too easy to end up hearing your child read in the back of the car or in the kitchen while you are multi-tasking, making dinner, checking emails and so on. However, time does need to be allocated to that wonderful experience of sharing your child’s reading book. This is the most important homework that we give the children. The foundation for successful reading and comprehension lies in the early years when children are unlocking that door to the kingdom of learning. 'Learning to Read’ will progress into ‘Reading to Learn’, and the development of secure comprehension skills, in particular, underpins how a child can access the curriculum in all subjects as he or she moves through their educational journey.

‘Book talk’ is enormously important, so please do spend time with your child asking them questions about the book they are reading; this will deepen their understanding and appreciation of the text. I know that Mr. McLaughlin shared some sample question prompts for parents and many of our reading scheme books have superb information for parents on the inside and back covers - please do take a look.

Just as importantly, we can be the best role models to our children. Let your children see you reading! Seeing adults using reading as a purposeful activity to further learning or for joy and relaxation will underline to children how worthwhile an activity reading really is. This needs to be continued through your children's teenage years, when too often they feel bombarded with course reading for GCSE and A levels! Do remind them of the joy of reading or even pull out their favourite baby book from years gone by. My 18 year old daughter still enjoys snuggling in bed with me as we share her furry bound book we shared when she was a toddler - reciting the book from cover to cover - it still brings a tear to my eye as we chuckle at the simple story line and repetitive pattern of the book. The joy and emotional bond that reading together creates between children and adults lives forever.

When you are out and about, why not have your children read the signs in the supermarket or the road signs? Or you might plan a day out by reading together from the visitor guide at the attraction you are visiting. Many museums, castles and National Trust attractions have their own children’s guides…so do encourage your children to read and plan the day. Not only will they be applying their reading skills but they will be using and developing many other skills such as  mapping skills, telling the time or learning about history - there is a whole world of learning to embrace in your family time outside of school. Many of us have been visiting our local parks for years but have never noticed some of the information boards that have been put in place to inform us about our local surroundings. The National Heritage, RSPB and Wildlife Trust have all invested in wonderful notice boards which children can read and learn from.  

Our pupils at St. Helen’s College are fortunate in that there is such a buzz around visiting the libraries both in Lower School and Upper School. The pupils know that libraries are special places and are always excited to visit and seek out new reads and recommendations from their peers. Why not visit other libraries or bookshops with your children outside of school too, so that pupils can share with you the excitement of finding a new and interesting book.

Thank you for your support in your children’s learning journey. I hope that our reading evenings have perhaps rekindled your own passion for reading and given you some useful tips on how to support your children in what is the most wonderful (and important) skill to learn and then use!

HAPPY READING!

Mrs. Drummond