Ruth’s Blog: Show parents what Reception children can do

Few books at home, no magnetic letters on the fridge? Win parents’ support from the very beginning.  Show off what their children know in a short parents’ assembly every week. Read a story aloud that your children can join in with. Do a mini-speed-sounds lesson so children can show off the sounds they’ve learnt. Play […]

Ruth’s Blog: Don’t confuse grouping with setting

I had to pass Grade 4 to join the school orchestra. Three years of lessons and practice – just to scrape into the second violins. It was worth it though. Working with better players raised my game. Music lessons are graded so children learn incrementally. Joining an orchestra would be terrifying if you couldn’t play […]

Ruth’s Blog: Wired to thrive on repetition

It’s not the number of books you’ve got that matters, it’s how much you love them that counts. Young children are wired to thrive on repetition. They beg for their favourite stories and poems. “Please read Room on the Broom. Do your funny voices. Please, please, please!” The more you hold back, the more they beg. […]

Ruth’s Blog: Teaching Comprehension Strategies Alert

You wouldn’t teach children to dance by telling them what dancers do. A whole research industry continues to grow to monitor the effect of “comprehension strategies” or “reading skills” to help children understand what they are reading. So, what are these comprehension strategies?  We hear about monitoring comprehension, making inferences, active listening, graphic organisers, mental […]

Ruth’s Blog: Some joined up thinking about dyslexic children and joined up writing

Reception teachers show huge relief when I point out that Ofsted doesn’t require them to teach cursive writing. But then they say ‘Isn’t it good for dyslexic children?’ When I ask them how their weakest readers (i.e. potentially dyslexic children) are coping with cursive writing, they always say: Boys, in particular, find it massively harder than printing. […]

Ruth’s Blog: Teaching Handwriting in Reception

DO 1. Have enough tables available for children to practise at the same time (where have all the tables gone?). 2. Practise handwriting every day with the whole class for 10 to 15 minutes – that means everychild. 3. Provide books with plain paper for early formation and then wide lines when you teach them size and relative position. 4. Provide sharp pencils. […]

Ruth’s Blog: Handwriting Alert

Entry – and most exit – strokes hinder children’s handwriting   I invented mnemonic phrases to help children form letters correctly. For example, “Round the dinosaur’s bottom, up his neck and down to his feet,” reminds them how to write the letter ‘d’. As the children write the letter they say the phrase and then […]

Ruth’s Blog: The Right Brain for Reading

Take two eight year-olds, Jack and Daisy: same age, but years apart in reading ability.  Jack loves reading. He’s always got a book with him and reads it under the table when he thinks his teacher isn’t looking.  By the end of a story he’s reading at over 200 words a minute, he writes prolifically […]

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