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Advice needed for parent helper.

(13 Posts)
melodyangel Tue 27-Sep-11 11:09:16

I have been in to read at the school a few times now and have a small group of children that I listen to each week (Y3's). These children need to read to someone every day. I would love some advise on how I can help more with these children who are clearly falling behind their peers.

Is going in once a week enoughg to really help or should I offer to go in more? I don't know if the children don't get read to at home or if they just find reading harder than the others and I know that the very best teacher in the world only has one pair of hands and can't give every child the one to one time they might need.

Today I spent almost an hour with one child reading at her pace a book she had chosen. She read about half and I read the rest to her. Is this too much time away from class or is it more important that she masters reading?

The class teacher is really nice but very busy and I don't want to add any extra burden to her day by asking her a load of questions so please any advice would be fantastic.

IndigoBell Tue 27-Sep-11 11:15:18

It would be better if they read in shorter bursts more often.

Do you know how to teach them to read? Do you know how phonics works? Or are you just listening to them read?

What phonics teaching are these Y3s getting?

If they're not getting proper phonics teaching at this age, and you can come in several times a week (or every day) there are several programs designed for parents or TAs to do with kids which would really help.

(Two of them being Toe by Toe and Dancing Bears)

If you really want to get these kids reading, then this is the best thing to do with them.....

melodyangel Tue 27-Sep-11 11:30:24

Hi thanks for the links.

I'm just a mum at home. I have two DS's that I have helped to learn to read using a combniation of sounding out words and whole word reading, luckly they both found it reasonably easy. I was taught to read using the whole word reading concept so no I don't really know much about phonics.

Is here any thing online that is free to help me learn to help them with phonics?

I found the children were using letter sounds but not combinations of letters sounds so they would sound out 's' and 'h' but not 'sh'. None of them seemed to understand about magic 'e'. Is it still even called that?!

IndigoBell Tue 27-Sep-11 11:40:35

It's not still called 'magic e' - or rather it depends what phonics scheme the school is using. smile (Although in this case it doesn't sound like the school are using a phonics scheme at all sad )

If the kids don't know what sound 'sh' makes, then they are in a very bad way.

The kids need to start with CVC words, then be introduced to 'sh', 'ch' and 'th' etc.

I really don't see how you can do this if you don't follow something like toe by toe, dancing bears, or some other reading scheme.............

Toe by toe is very well known and used in a lot of schools. They might be quite happy for you to come in several times a week and do it. 10 or 20 minutes at a time is quite enough. And it is designed for parents to use it, so you don't need any training.....

melodyangel Tue 27-Sep-11 11:52:42

Ok I shall ask the school which system they use and if they have any books I can borrow. Might have a look in the local library too. Thanks

sarahfreck Tue 27-Sep-11 13:37:51

I think Toe by Toe is better with older children (9+). Dancing Bears is probably better for younger ones.

The school are so lucky to have someone like you who is so interested in learning how to best help the children!

melodyangel Thu 29-Sep-11 10:49:59

Thank you for the tips and kind words.

ASByatt Thu 29-Sep-11 10:55:50

It is kind of you to give you time in this way, but really the onus is on the class teacher, and you should not be having to try to plug the gaps in the school's own systems.

Not a criticism of you!

But am v hmm at the school.

Plus, even a busy teacher should make the time to talk to you about how she would like you to operate! Just a quick chat the first time you went in would have covered it. Plus as a parent helper you need to be careful not to overstep what it is reasaonable for them to expect you to do, or for other parents to expect you to be covering with their DC.

It can get quite complicated!

But you are lovely for caring and wanting to help.

Snowsquonk Thu 29-Sep-11 10:59:28

Being with one child for an hour sounds excessive - she's missing whatever the rest of the class are doing.

I would ask to speak to the class teacher, and discuss each child you've been hearing read and ask for help on moving them forward - if you can manage more visits into school I am sure they would bite your arm off!

And see if you can join in with any training on phonics so you can help the children. You sound brilliant, can you come into my school ?!

ruddynorah Thu 29-Sep-11 11:00:18

It's very nice you're worrying about this but you're neither a teacher or a TA. The teacher should have explained what you need to do. I do think an hour away from class is too long, and I'm shocked they don't know 'sh'.

melodyangel Tue 04-Oct-11 12:03:16

Another session today and it went far better. Insisted the children read the group reader and they all did very well.

Quick question how much should I correct? If a child reads a word slightly wrong but gets the meaning so reads 'brought' but says 'brung' that sort of thing should I correct them or let it go and keep the flow IYKWIM.

Ferguson Tue 04-Oct-11 23:06:16

I started as a parent helper when my DS was in Reception - went on to become a TA (male) in another school for ten years in KS1, then two years in Secondary. Now retired, I do two days a week reading support in a small Primary, only three classes and mixed Year Groups.

It is certainly beneficial for a school to have parent helpers, and you will improve as you gain experience, just as the children do. You do need, I think, advice either from the class teacher, or the Literacy Coordinator, as to exactly HOW to support the children. I could explain my strategies, but then your school might work in a different way. But it is essential, if at all possible, that a child ends the session feeling GOOD about his efforts/performance.

So, as you probably know, PRAISE and ENCOURAGEMENT are important. Personally, I like to spend 10 to 20 minutes with each child, and I question, explain, compare etc as much as possible. For example, last year I had a Reception boy who was fascinated by volcanoes; at the end of lunchtime I sometimes gave him five minutes looking at volcanoes on the internet. He is now Year1 and recently his class teacher told him to show me a couple of books he was looking at in addition to his 'scheme' reader; they were atlases, and he was enthralled looking at maps, and I explained the colour key for heights of hills. I think experiences like that are invaluable, and the topic could just a easily be nature, science, crafts, sport - whatever builds a 'bridge' between adult and child.

The voluntary helper is in a privileged position, having TIME to spend with a child, which no teacher, nor even TA possibly, can match. Many children get very little quality time with parents or other adults at home, and for some kids school is the secure supportive environment they need.

Regarding what to 'correct' for a child: I don't think it is necessary to correct every mistake, but some children do have a 'pattern' of errors they make, so that can be pointed out. Rather than tell them the correct word, try to help them work it out for themselves. If they say an incorrect word, ask them what sound that incorrect word starts with. Chances are they will realise something is wrong, even if they can't correct it straight away. Thus, the correct word might be COTTAGE, but child says HOUSE because he has looked at the picture. Ask if he knows how to spell house; even if he doesn't he will probably realise it bears no resemblance to cottage.

Reliance on pictures is very much discouraged these days, but I think can be used if a child has almost sounded a word, but can't quite get there. Today my Yr2 reader got stuck on DONKEY, he had the component parts, but couldn't quite put it all together; the picture clinched it for him!

So - enjoy your time with the children, and I'm pretty sure they will enjoy, and benefit from, the support, respect and entertainment you give them.


skybluepearl Tue 04-Oct-11 23:15:33

I helped at school too and over the course of a year saw the kids come one in leaps and bounds. I went in twice a week and spent about 10 mins with each child. I already had a good grip of phonics and was able to check understanding etc

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