In Key Stage 2 (years 3-6), children are expected to transition from ‘learning to read’ to ‘reading to learn’, preparing them for their studies at secondary school. Because main ‘mechanics’ of reading (phonics and decoding) is learnt in their previous school years, the focus moves on to reading comprehension while continuing to practise and master decoding of more complicated words.
Reading is a complicated business – something we can be a little complacent about as adults! The picture below provides a window onto the complexities. Apologies for the jargon, but hopefully it illustrates the amount of skill, knowledge and experience involved to become a fluent and skilful reader.
As you can see, learning to read is quite a challenge! To rise to the challenge, children need specific teaching to learn skills and build knowledge, as well as time and enthusiasm to practise these skills.
With this in mind, the Key Stage 2 curriculum focuses on specific skills and knowledge, which rather handily have been simplified into the acronym ‘VIPERS’ by leading literacy resource ‘Literacy Shed’.
Learning is often best done when contextualised – ie linked to familiar settings and situations. At UJS, we teach literacy following the ‘Reading into Writing’ journey, where each unit of learning is based on a quality text or film clip, which is chosen to inspire and engage. Alongside this ‘hook’, the class has a daily ‘class reader’ which may be that quality text, or another book linked to the theme of the animation.
Reading and writing outcomes are planned to include the introduction and practice of National Curriculum objectives. With this in mind, the reading texts will be extracts from the main book or texts related to the main theme (which might include poetry, newspaper articles, playscripts, reports, song lyrics to name but a few). Because they are linked, children have the opportunities to build their knowledge and vocabulary of the subject, and therefore have greater capacity to write ably about it.
Reading and writing lessons happen daily. Additional interventions are in place to support children are not able to decode at the level expected for their age group.
Practise, practise, practise!
We cannot emphasise enough the importance of practising reading regularly, which is why we require weekly filling in of the reading records. We do also appreciate that sometimes this can be a challenge. Information on how to support your child best with reading at home – for pleasure – can be found here.
In school, children have a weekly library time when they can change their book and/or quietly read.
Children are allocated a reading band level according to their ability, as books are categorised into coloured bands in the library. Please note that we have banded the books as accurately as we can using ‘lexile levels’ (a system to measure the difficulty of a text) where possible. The nature of reading being as complicated as it is, makes this quite a task! We would always encourage children to select books using the following strategy:
Most important – is it going to be interesting and engaging?!
Is it the right level? The five-finger test is a good gauge of this: see ‘The RIGHT One’ in the National Literacy Trust poster.
If I were to give you a book on Ancient Japanese anthropological research using dental records, would you be excited to read it? (Assuming you had no knowledge on the topic…) It would be full of words you were unfamiliar with and would have to look up, and topics you may have never encountered or have any interest in. It would probably put you off reading…
Selecting a suitable book plays a crucial part of encouraging reading.
Unfortunately not the ones with chocolate chips.
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