Don’t under-estimate the power of a game of catch!

Even with all the fabulous online learning tools available for children today, handwriting is still a core skill for children to acquire. There are many factors that can affect your child’s ability to form letters from the actual grip on the pencil to poor visual perception meaning children are unable to discriminate between different letters (e.g. b & d).

Children with poor handwriting may be disadvantaged if teachers cannot mark their work accurately. A less obvious disadvantage is that a child may struggle to write creatively if it takes all their concentration to just form the words. You can imagine the frustration this would cause a child.

There are a few simple ways you can help which we discuss below. However, if you identify significant issues and challenges with your child’s handwriting and reading and are concerned this should be followed up with an Occupational Therapist who is a specialist in this field.

Good hand-eye coordination is necessary to guide the pencil but simple garden games can help develop this key skill:

• Basic throwing and catching a ball with a parent or friend. Start to add variation in height and pace to gauge improvement
• Use a bat and ball and see how long your child can keep the ball in the air
• Swingball is a great game and very good at helping coordination
• Throwing a ball against a wall and catching it, increasing the height and pace for variation

When the weather is not so friendly then use worksheets or books with mazes or follow the path exercises inside.

Another important element in handwriting is a child’s fine motor skills or dexterity. This is the coordination of the movement of small muscles in the hands and fingers and synchronising them with the eyes. You can work on these by encouraging lots of scissor cutting, using playdough and lego to improve dexterity and your child’s ability to manipulate a pencil successfully.

Visual perception is an element that has been found to have a significant effect on handwriting. Visual perception enables children to understand what they see, for example to recognise the difference between an ‘n’ or a ‘h’. Poor visual perception may mean a child doesn’t realise an ‘o’ which is not joined at the top is actually a ‘u’.

Visual perception games can be incorporated into your child’s day like ‘seek and find’ books or bingo games, any games that required the child to notice, and act on small visual difference.

Playing the games is one part, putting the writing skills into practice is also necessary.

So make the most of your time in these early years to provide lots of opportunities to give your child a great start, and you can have a lot of fun doing it too!

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Proposals to rank primary children according to national performance.

Nick Clegg has today declared that “every primary school should make its pupils ready for secondary school by the time they leave”.

The government outlined proposals to rank children according to national performance in English and maths at the age of 11, so that schools and parents will know how their children score in relation to all other pupils in England before the start of secondary education.

Current national curriculum test results (Sats) ‘levels’ will be scrapped. Exams taken at 11 would be dramatically toughened up from 2016 in line with “higher expectations” set out in a new national curriculum published last week. Under the proposals, pupil’s Sats results would be divided into 10 bands and schools and parents would be able to see which band their child was placed in.

Schools will be expected to have a minimum of 85% of their pupils reach a required assessment level in maths, reading, spelling, punctuation , grammar and writing before they move on to secondary school.

There is the possibility of a baseline test at age 5 instead of the current Sats at age 7 against which progress in primary school could be measured. This could be a positive move – most primary schools have children from age 5 to 11 so testing at 7 does not provide a genuine baseline. It also does not offer schools an incentive to push children in the first couple of years to ensure that they perform well on an age 7 baseline as this will not reflect well in their ‘progress achieved’ rating.

There will also be a significant increase in the ‘pupil premium’, which is clearly intended to enable schools to ensure their pupils meet threshold levels of attainment.

Mumsnet users are already threatening to start a campaign to organise a mass boycott of these tests if the idea of ability bands becomes a reality.

Consultation on the proposals for the new primary assessment will take place between now and October – more information can be found on the DfE website

This will be an interesting space to watch.

 

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

English Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling Test (Key Stage 2)

The Department for Education has announced a new English grammar, punctuation and spelling test for pupils in Year Six. From 2013, the statutory test will replace the current English writing test that forms part of the National curriculum tests taken at the end of Key Stage 2.

Changes will also be made to GCSEs, so that from 2013 there will be marks awarded for spelling, punctuation and grammar in key subjects.

The new Key Stage 2 test will assess:

* vocabulary
* sentence-grammar
* spelling
* punctuation
(handwriting may also be included – this will be determined later in the year following trials)

One thing that seems to be apparent from the sample questions is that children will be required to know a lot of grammatical terms to enable them to do well in the test (adverb, subordinate clause, suffix, active v passive voice etc.).

The National Association for the Teaching of English has said that a revised focus on spelling, grammar and punctuation will “impoverish” teaching and turn pupils off the subject, claiming that grammar is best taught in context rather than through formal exercises. This is an argument that will surely be supported by others, as the question of whether formal grammar is an effective way of teaching children to write is a longstanding debate.

The new test reflects the Government’s beliefs that ‘children should have mastered these important aspects of English by the time they leave primary school, and that appropriate recognition should be given to good use of English throughout their schooling’.

Earlier this year a CBI survey of more than 500 firms showed that 42% were dissatisfied with school leavers’ use of English and 12% of employers provided remedial literacy training for graduates. Hopefully this new test in its final format can provide the basis for addressing these weaknesses.

Examples of the format of test questions can be found here

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

English National Curriculum – Draft Proposals

Michael Gove has announced draft proposals for the English National Curriculum (Key Stage 1 and 2) that will be introduced to primary schools in September 2014.

The main aims of the new curriculum are to raise standards in English, whilst at the same time getting children reading for enjoyment.

There has been a lot of anti-phonics press lately, particularly leading up to the Year 1 Phonics Screening Check. Much of this is because of the emphasis being placed on decoding words rather than on encouraging reading for meaning and reading for pleasure.

The draft curriculum has obviously been designed with these criticisms firmly in mind. There is a strong emphasis on phonics, but also on other reading skills. It explicitly states that different kinds of teaching are needed for word reading and for comprehension.

I hope that this will be well received. Something drastic needs to be done to raise the reading standards in this country. It is shocking that so many children are still leaving primary school unable to access the curriculum due to poor reading skills. It is also sad that there is so much vitriol whenever the subject of reading and phonics is discussed by those in favour and those against placing undue importance on it.

If the new curriculum can reduce the arguing and achieve what it is setting out to do, then the future could be brighter for many more young readers.

Detailed information has now been published in the national curriculum consultation document published February 2013  – see here

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS