Referring to English, the National Curriculum stresses the importance of reading for enjoyment and developing vocabulary and breadth and depth of reading, and warns against pupils being pushed to read harder texts if they spend too long decoding new words. Referring to children in Year 3 and 4, but relevant for the majority of primary pupils, it states:
They should be able to read them accurately and at a speed that is sufficient for them to focus on understanding what they read rather than on decoding individual words. They should be able to decode most new words outside their spoken vocabulary, making a good approximation to the word’s pronunciation. As their decoding skills become increasingly secure, teaching should be directed more towards developing their vocabulary and the breadth and depth of their reading, making sure that they become independent, fluent and enthusiastic readers who read widely and frequently.
Referring to Maths, the National Curriculum states:
Pupils who grasp concepts rapidly should be challenged through being offered rich and sophisticated problems before any acceleration through new content. Those who are not sufficiently fluent with earlier material should consolidate their understanding, including through additional practice, before moving on.
Please use the expectations set out here to support your child’s learning by broadening his / her experiences and providing lots of opportunities to apply their skills and knowledge in different situations. For example:
- in reading, find and understand clues and consider the writer’s choice of language in a wider range of texts (such as magazines and comics, non-fiction books, or try out a new genre of fiction which your child doesn’t normally opt for);
- in writing, try to use new vocabulary as much as possible (eg have a word of the week) and develop more formal ways to talk during your child’s Talk Time homework;
- in maths, practise measuring in contexts such as cooking, shopping, DIY…
(We have, nevertheless, included examples of how you might support your child if (s)he has securely reached age-related expectations – these ideas are listed in small grey text.)
Most importantly, always remember to keep learning fun as much as possible. Some things – learning spellings and times tables, mainly – might require some effort and hard work, but the rest of your child’s learning at home can be fun, engaging and practical.