Oracy develops out of experiences and these happen inside and outside schools. Do teachers know their children’s habits out of school? Do activities that go home to support learning enhance the oracy in the home, in whatever heritage language is dominant? As an advocate of talking homework, I see great value in planting the seeds of talk and seeing what transpires. I see learning at home as complementing and enhancing the learning in school. However, it can often be an additional activity to be “done”, because homework has to be set. Let’s make it more profitable. As children get older, the activities an change to become more reflective, with learning (b)logs being created to share their thinking between learning sessions.
In class, do all the phonics you want and the teaching of the skills of reading, unpicking texts to your heart’s content and sharing quality literature. Take a good look at how any guided reading sessions are structured. Do they really generate reading energy and a need to read between sessions? If not, alter them so that they do.
- Make sure that you know the challenge level of the books that children are taking home to read. These should enable them to be read unaided in the absence of a supportive adult. A colour coded approach and a good supply of books helps enormously.
- Set expectations about how many books to try to read in a week, enable ease of changing, so that there is a regular habit of reading developed. This is the riding a bike or a skateboard moment, when the child attempts the activity unaided.
- Develop a system for interacting with the ongoing reading, through conferencing, as individuals or in a group. Make sure that you talk books regularly, not just the guided books.
- Don’t insist on a book review, or other written response, after every book.
- Have clear and easy systems for changing books.
- Let home books simply be books for pleasure.
Get the children reading. Don’t create any, but strip away all artificial barriers. Make it easy to become a reader.