As the Parent Teacher Meetings draw to a close…

Dear Parents,
Your child just has reading homework tonight as the ‘Library Ladies’ have requested that the children are rewarded for all the reading they are doing at the moment. We will do Thursday night’s homework in school so as to maintain continuity.

As the Parent Teacher Meetings draw to a close I thought it would be useful to recap on what was said. At the PT Meetings you saw our system of record keeping in the school and reports from other years. We examined the recurring themes in those reports; the positives and where we may need to focus with your child. In many cases this was in the area of English comprehension and problem solving in Maths. Certainly I will be attending to both areas in school.

We looked at standardized test results from other years. The test results we looked at were from First Class, a time when children would not have developed ‘exam skills’. A test is just a ‘snap shot’ in time. Looking at your child’s copybooks and workbooks give a much better overview of how your child is progressing.

As your child progresses in school, the ability to work independently becomes more and more important. I also rely on the children to work independently so I can hear reading. If possible you should encourage your child to do their written work for homework independently. The Spelling Workbook is so repetitive; this should be possible.

Many parents spoke about the difficulty of fitting in time for tables. At the moment we are learning how to take away using the ‘decomposition’ or ‘renaming’ method. In class I see that not knowing take away tables (‘as well as they know their own name’) is slowing up many children. They worry that they are not getting the sums right because they aren’t ‘renaming’ correctly, but more often than not it is that they have made a mistake when they take away. At the moment they are using number lines in school to help them with their computation. Ideally I would like them to know their addition and take away tables ‘up side down and inside out’. Until Christmas we will have a ‘blitz’ on addition and take away tables at school and for homework. To enable this, there will be no Mental Maths for homework.

Where reading homework is concerned
– one approach that seems to work is to do the rest of the homework and save the ‘reading’ homework for bedtime.
– Another approach is to continue ‘reading homework’ over the weekend.

The difference between what boys like to read and girls was also discussed at many meetings. Research shows whereas girls prefer fiction that many boys have a preference for non fiction. Though girls might like these too boys like graphic novels, information books, adventure, humour/joke books. The Guinness Book Of Records and Ripley’s Believe It Or Not are popular. Roddy Doyle ‘The Giggler Treatment’ and ‘Captain Underpants’ though not ‘politically correct’ do encourage some boys to read.

The ‘Beast Quest’ series by Adam Blade is popular with independent readers.

Then there is Irish author Kieran Fanning’s Code Crackers series. These books are not read from beginning to end. Children reading these books have to solve clues, codes, problems and other puzzles to continue with the story.

The staff in bookshops and your local librarian can also be very helpful if you ask them about books that are popular with boys or girls of this age.

My last parent teacher meeting is tomorrow 25th November, which leaves us with approximately a month to the Christmas holidays. I will sent home an update at that point about how your child is progressing.

Finally three small matters under the general heading of ‘housekeeping’. If your child is not tidy in the bathroom at home, it is possible that the same is true at school. If you feel it may be necessary I would be very grateful if you could talk to your child about leaving the bathroom tidy after themselves.

The children are allowed have their drinks bottles on their desks and they drink from these at any point during the day when they feel thirsty. If the drink is sugary, this means that their teeth are in contact with a sugary substance for some time each day. Perhaps you might like to review this.

Most of the drink bottles have ‘sports lids’ but we are averaging about five major ‘spills’ a week where the top of the bottle is an open one (i.e. no sports lid). Inevitably a spill like this destroys copy books and text books. So I would be grateful if bottles coming to school had the kind of lid that minimizes spills.

I found the Parent Teacher meetings very helpful. I feel I know your child much better now. I was more than pleased to hear how hard the children are working on their reading at home. I am very grateful for your continued co-operation and support,