Bourne Primary School


Supporting Your Child


Reading is probably the most necessary of all the basic skills. We expect all children to read with an adult or older sibling for at least ten minutes every night, with this amount increasing with their age.

Early readers should read books together with an adult, both following the text and the pictures. After they have finished reading, they should discuss what the story was about, going over the main points and working out whether they enjoyed it. Children should also regularly listen to stories being read to them. They should start to pick out familiar words, such as their key words. Key words are learnt separately.

Developing readers should read to an adult or older sibling every night. They should find some of the words in the book easy to read, and others a bit more challenging. If they get stuck on a word, they should use one of the following ‘tools’:

  • Their knowledge of letters and sounds, which will help them sound words out (e.g. c + a + t = “cat”)
  • The pictures which accompany the story can often help them work out a difficult word
  • Other words they know can help them work out what a word might sound like (e.g. “ball” and “call”; “rough” and “tough”)
  • The rest of the sentence, or the story, can help them decide what word would make sense

Again, after they have finished, they should discuss what they have read, and work out whether they enjoyed it.

Independent readers should still read every night. They should be encouraged to read a range of books – both fiction and non-fiction, and should choose more challenging books as they get older and become more confident.

Independent readers should still read to an adult regularly, perhaps sharing a really exciting or funny part that they have enjoyed. They also still need to hear stories read to them. The most important thing at this stage is to ask the children questions about character, motivation and the author’s intentions in choosing to use certain words and phrases. It is useful for them to evaluate the book critically, thinking about how the author has managed to affect them through word choices, plot developments, etc.

You can download the information about reading on this page as an Acrobat Document here.

Top Tips for Times Tables

1. Get them familiar with multiplication concepts
The first step with multiplication is to make sure your child is familiar with what the numbers in multiplications really represent. Before they can cope with multiplication they need to be confident with sequences of numbers.

You can start by practising counting in twos and threes, making number patterns and solving simple mathematical problems. Counting objects, making sets of similar objects and using blocks or lego can help to increase your child’s confidence with number bonds and multiplication facts.

2. Double your numbers
If your child learns how to double numbers this will help them to make connections between different times tables, for example the 2, 4, and 8 times tables.

3. Practise tables as a time-filler
When you’re sitting at traffic lights or waiting in the doctor’s surgery it is the perfect opportunity for a bit of times table practice! It’s always better (for both your child and you!) to just spend a few minutes reciting or testing times tables rather than going into overdrive and spending too long practising them.

4. Use the correct vocabulary
Make sure you are using the right language to talk about multiplication:

Take a simple multiplication sentence, such as 3 x 5 = 15. The 3 and the 5 are what we call factors of 15 and that 15 is a multiple of 3 and 5.

· You can also demonstrate this by looking at the whole 3 times table written out in a list. Point out that each answer is a number that is a multiple of 3.

5. Help them with the ones they find tricky
There are usually one or two multiplication facts in each times table that are more difficult. When you notice that your child is stumbling over the same fact each time, try to give them extra practice. You could even get your child to write the fact out in a fun way on a piece of card and then stick it somewhere prominent (like on the fridge) so that they have an extra reminder!

6. Use a multiplication grid
Printing off a simple 12 x 12 multiplication grid can be a great way to demonstrate how times tables relate to number sequences. You can get your child to colour in multiples of different numbers on different number squares so that they can clearly see the number patterns.

You can download a multiplication grid here.

7. Divide and conquer
As well as learning the times tables, your child should also know the division facts for each times table. (For example, if 3 times 5 is 15, 15 divided by 5 is 3, and 15 divided by 3 is 5.)

8. Make them real
The danger with too much rote learning of times tables is that children can fail to see the use of times tables in real life. Try to take opportunities to get your child to use multiplication in problem solving, for example working out quantities for scaling up a recipe, or calculating the price of more than one item of shopping.

9. Mix it up!

You can know all the times tables without really going on to master them. So once your child has learned the times tables individually and in order, the next stage involves practising recalling them quickly in any random order, and in different ways. This is the basis for the Maths Challenge, where questions are presented in a range of formats.

You can download the information about times tables on this page as an Acrobat Document here.

Fun Games and Activities to Help Learn Key Words

Key Word Snap

To play snap you will need two of each key word on individual pieces of paper, shuffle them and divide out between at least two players, then take it in turns to lay down a word. If the words match say "snap" the child tries to read the word. Initially help may be required, so either sound out the word, or the beginning of the word, until it should become more instant to read it.

You can download sets of Bourne’s key words:

Key Word Pelmanism

To play pairs you will need two of each word on individual pieces of paper or card. Put all the cards face down, and then simply turn over two cards till you get a pair. Once you get a pair try and sound out, or read the word. This helps with memory too, as you try to remember where you saw the word before. The child could play this game on their own, or it can be played as a game with two people taking it in turns to turn over two words. Everytime you get a match, pick those words up and you keep them, the winner is the person with the most sets of pairs.

Ask a Question

To help learn the key words you can also play ask a question. Pick five to ten keywords to learn, making sure they are ones that you can use as an answer. Some more obviously lend themselves to this, but most of them can be, if you think creatively. Then ask your child a question and they pick the right answer from their key words. So if one of your keywords is cat, a question like, 'what purrs?', and they have to pick cat from the 5 keywords they have.

Sentences and Pictures

Once you get more words you can also make sentences and draw a picture to go with it. You can do this in various ways. You can put the keyword cards together to make a sentence, something like, 'the cat is big', and the child draws a picture of what is on the cards, or the other way round the adult could draw the picture and the child puts together a sentence from their words to describe it. This activity also helps the child to not just see the words in isolation.

Book Detectives

To also help not see words in isolation, and as part of reading, it's useful to get the child used to seeing the key words in books. So they aren't just words you have to learn, but there is a purpose to learning them. So initially pick just one key word the child is going to read in the book, then find a book that has a few of that word in, preferably a book they are interested in, or even comic, magazine whatever interests them. You read to them, guide under the words with your finger and they read all the keywords. They may need prompting, especially initially, but in time they will come to spot the word themselves. Once they have got used to spotting one word, you can move onto spotting more, and eventually you can progress onto reading together.

Words around the House

You can also stick the key words around the house, start with just one or two, our keywords can be printed out for this purpose. Initially the novelty of the words around, can mean the child will try to read them. Put them in places where they are normally doing something quiet, like in a bathroom, for when on the toilet and in the bath, or the hallway for when they are putting their shoes on.

Let’s Get Active with Key Words!

If they are an active child who learns more by doing, and you have a couple of words up around the house, you can get them to run to the word and back to you see how quick they can do it, and they have to try and get the right word. Another way to help this type of child is stick the words on the trampoline if you have one, or ride their bike or scooter to the correct word and back to you, or similar to hopscotch except with words instead of numbers, where they jump or hop on the words you are saying. Also using cars, trains, trucks in play to drive to the right word too.

It's worth trying out a few of the different ways, as children get on with different methods depending on their learning style, and at different stages of their development. If you can find a way of introducing it into their interests that is a big help too, we learn better when something is fun, we want to do it and it interests us.

Learning these keywords and learning to read can take days, weeks, months or years, it varies so much from child to child. If they are struggling with the activities and keywords to begin with, you helping them and telling them will help, as that is reinforcement in itself. Or if the whole word is too hard to begin with just start with the beginning sounds and add to it. The idea is to try and make it fun, you want to switch your children onto developing an interest in words, and ultimately, a love of learning to read.

You can download the information about key words on this page as an Acrobat Document here.