Dear Parents and Carers,
I hope you had a lovely Christmas and wish you all a Happy New Year. I am extremely proud of the children for their enthusiasm and confidence during the Nativity play, they all tried exceptionally hard in front of some very large audiences. We hope you enjoyed it also.
This half term our topic is ‘Real Life Superheroes.’ Here the children will explore lots of different occupations and discover their roles in helping us with day to day tasks. We will split the topic into areas such as People who help us; at home, at school, stay healthy, get food and keep safe. In the final week of this topic we will then look at what the children would like to be when they grow up! This will be celebrated with a “When I grow up” dress up day where the children will be invited to dress up as the occupation they would like to do when they grow up. I am also looking to invite people of different occupations in to class in order to talk about their roles and develop the children’s questioning skills, if you would like to come in and talk about your profession then please let me know.
English (Communication, Language & Literacy)
We will be focusing on looking at non-fiction texts this half-term. Here we will be exploring how these differ from picture books and identifying some of their key features. We will also include the talk4writing practice that some of you witnessed on the video posted on Class Dojo of our rendition of Jack and The Beanstalk. This encourages children to organise facts as well as recognise language used when writing them down.
The children will be encouraged to use full sentences when writing and break their flow of speech into words. We will be looking for them to use capital letters, finger spaces and full stops, so any support at home with this would be very useful.
The children will be given a range of opportunities to utilise these skills this half term with different activities such as creating posters to promote helpfulness at school or writing about what a doctor might need in their bag. The children will also be completing a weekly independent writing activity to further develop their confidence to form sentences and words using their own knowledge as some of the children have become extremely reliable on adult presence when writing, and are reluctant to have a go. We have tried this out last term and it has been extremely successful and the progress made already has been amazing.
We are continuing with Phase 3 of letters and sounds this half term where children will continue to pick up new digraphs (2 letters which make one sound eg ai as in r/ai/n .) They will also be introduced to trigraphs, (3 letters which make 1 sound eg igh as in t/ight/t) new tricky and HFW and also encourage the blending and segmenting of CVCC words (as in frog).
It is vital that children practice their reading and writing at home as well as school as it consolidates their understanding and also heightens their confidence. Also please may I express the importance of letting the children use their robot talk to isolate each sound in a word independently, and not being given a word to copy as this makes them reluctant to have a go on their own and hinders their progress. I can often tell which children are reliant on their parents for this when it comes to writing in school. Please can I also encourage the use of cursive letters in all writing otherwise it will confuse children in the future if they are swapping.
It has been lovely to see how many children have embraced the adventure bear writing book when they are the superstar and have to look after the bears for a week and record what they have been up to at your home.
Shape will be our focus this half term where the children will be looking at repeating patterns first, before moving into identifying 2d and 3d shapes and their properties. Although main teaching and activities will have this focus, we will still incorporate daily number starters and focus on this in Friday maths lessons to ensure the children’s number sense continues to develop. To support your child in this area you could begin to look at shapes in the environment and allow them to play and construct with various shaped items to make images and models to develop their understanding of tessellation and edges. Please note I will be using the term ‘rectangle’ and not oblong, due to recent studies suggesting this is the correct name for this shape!
Children are making great progress in completing their passport targets. Most children have completed Passport 1 and will now move onto Passport 2. We will be focusing on ‘solving a problem without arguing’ this half term and try and encourage children to use communication and kind gestures to keep play going when challenges may occur.
Many parents have now joined orbit which is lovely. Please feel free to add your own photos to showcase what they are getting up to at home and their out of school achievements.
There was some feedback on the questionnaires at parents evening in regard to the appropriateness of the homework sent home. Many of this was extremely positive, however there was a small number that suggested it was difficult to complete with their child. The homework is an extension to what they have learnt at school and should take 10-15 minutes per activity to complete if you choose to complete it as it is not compulsory. If you do find that it becomes a bit of a battle then try to encourage them to do a little bit of it if they are willing. I know it can be tough at times, however when learning becomes a collaboration between home and school, children do often become far more confident in their learning and gain independence when doing so.
Boys (and girls!) Learning
Emotional development- “Many boys have difficulty naming and expressing their own feelings. Sometimes they just know they don’t feel quite right. Some boys don’t have the words to identify the feeling of being sad, cross, scared or worried. Therefore it is vitally important that we help boys to understand and express their emotions. Sometimes boys can find it difficult to read non-verbal cues and may respond inappropriately.” – Gary Wilson. With this in mind we have been trying to develop the children’s understanding and expression of their feelings as without the ability to do so, they often will have difficulty empathising and building relationships with others. I have included some more information about emotional development towards the end of this newsletter.
A few further bits of information:
If you have any questions about anything in this letter then please do not hesitate to ask. I look forward to another fun filled half term.
Thank you for your continued support,
Click to download and view our topic web, with all the exciting things we'll be learning this term:
We had great fun exploring anti-bullying in a week full of fun activities and workshops which focuses on this years theme; all different, all equal.
We particularly enjoyed the show we got to watch as well as making bunting to hang in the hall.
Welcome back to school, I hope you had a restful break after such a busy but fantastic first half term. I am extremely pleased with how the children are settling in and can already see some brilliant progress as they embrace all the new topics and learning concepts I keep sending their way. Autumn 2 is going to be another action packed half term, particularly with all the celebrations in the run up to Christmas which is always an extremely exciting time of year.
I just wanted to say thank you to all of those that attended the Family Tea party the last week of term. This was a huge success and the children seemed so pleased to show the adults the classroom as well as spend some quality time together celebrating their unique families.
I have included a little questionnaire at the bottom of the newsletter to help you process some of the important information in this letter. Sometimes with hectic lives I know it is hard to take the time to read letters such as this, however it is recommended you do so. If you complete the 3 questions with answers found in the text and hand it in, I will instantly put your name in the parents reading raffle draw for a chance to win this half terms prize.
This half term we will be looking at Traditional Tales. We will be focusing on exploring the language included in these books, different character roles and beginning to learn how we can be authors to and change elements of a story ourselves. We will also be learning about celebrations and family traditions such as Diwali, Firework night and Christmas. To help your children develop in this area it would be great to share some of your favourite traditional tales as well as the more modern ‘messed up fairy tales’ which often tell the stories from a different perspective. This will help extend the children’s vocabulary even further and also explore the concept of differing narratives.
The children are rapidly picking up each new sound introduced as well as the skills needed to read and write words and captions. Due to their hard work, we will be finishing Phase 2 in the first week back and then move onto Phase 3 where more sounds will be introduced as well as high frequency words(HFW) and common exception words (Tricky words.) New bookmarks will be coming home with your child. If you could attach these to the others on your reading log then this would be great. I hope you have found the video I have recently shared on the Class Dojo page as well as the Facebook group which showcases how we teach and develop reading skills in Reception. I have had a few parents say that their child is a little reluctant to read at home. This could be due to a number of things such as time of day, lack of understanding of the narrative so it therefore becomes boring, or un-engagement. To try and help with these issues I would firstly suggest picking the reading time according to your child’s mood. If you know your chid is more responsive in the mornings, try and have a morning cuddle and spend 5-10 minutes reading before the morning kicks in. In order to hook the child into the narrative and also help them learn how to understand these through the use of pictures and text you could first act out what you think will happen using the pictures to help before ‘being a detective’ and actually reading the story to see if they were correct.
Literacy will focus on encouraging children to use their phonic knowledge to segment words to build sentences with less adult support as previously needed due to the majority showing great understanding of how to use skills taught in phonics lessons to do this. We will also be using ‘talk 4 writing’ methods to look at Jack and the Beanstalk.
I will be inviting parents in to school at the end of November at 9.00- 9.45 to see how talk 4 writing is used to develop children’s language and understanding of features of a book. This will give you insight into little activities that can be done at home to help develop these further. I will also be showing you how we encourage children to write independently, without copying words and going over dots to help them grow into independent writers. I will send out more information about this in the next few days so that you can re-schedule prior commitments to attend.
This half term we will continue to focus on number work. This includes recognising numerals to 20 (or beyond), counting accurately and matching totals to a number, adding 1 more than to a number, estimating totals with realistic answers. We will also be introducing combining groups to find the total (simple addition) and then recording this using the plus symbol. Finally in week 7 we will be beginning to look at simple patterns, ready to lead us to shape in the Spring term. Any additional number learning at home will benefit your child’s number sense. Your children have really enjoyed some of the number songs I have introduced so I have included links to these below. Song to 100- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0dJWfQHF8Y I have noticed that there are some children who have come to school lacking any number knowledge or number sense making it difficult to recognise numbers 1-10 and count out totals to match each numeral. Any additional practice at home would help develop these skills quickly.
The response to the writing home learning activities will continue over Autumn 2 and I will now include a maths activity linked to what we have been learning in school. It has been fantastic to see how many children get excited about this weekly and I see a huge difference in the children who complete it regularly. May I remind you it is not compulsory, however strongly recommended that this is completed as again it consolidates skills and builds independence.
Morning Name Writing
This has really helped the children learn to write their names with the majority conducting it daily so well dome to those who have kept at it. I am going to change this for Autumn 2. Now I will be putting a simple picture up with a phoneme frame underneath to show how many sounds are in it and your child will have the write the word on a post it note. This will help them develop their segmenting skills. You may need to help the child repeat the word in robot talk to distinguish all 3 sounds in each word but please refrain from just telling them the sounds. I will get a video up to show you how I encourage this at school.
Boys Learning Update
I hope that the information given out in regard to independence was helpful last half term. I have included two more information sheets about how to support early literacy development with a little questionnaire to help you asses the level that your child is at currently and some ideas to further support them. Please note it does state on it that ‘too much pressure at an early age can create literacy difficulties.’ This is extremely important as pressure can lead to low self-esteem and also reluctance. This doesn’t mean you give up trying if your child is a little reluctant, it means you try new strategies to engage them. I have also included some maths ideas for home. Again these are not focused solely on boys and would be very useful for both genders learning development.
Bear Adventure Book
As of this half term I will be introducing the ‘Bear Adventures Book.’ The child who receives the star award on a Monday will get to take home a little box with 2 bear dolls in and a selection of clothes. Your child will then have to dress them appropriately (independently to help fine motor development) and take them on an adventure. They will then draw a picture of the bears or take a photo and write a sentence showing what they have been up to for the week. This only has to be one page, however if you would like to complete more that is fine. The bears will be sent home on a Monday and returned the following Monday, allowing you enough time to complete it. Please be aware I am not looking for correctly spelt sentences as the children are not at this stage and this is a clear indicator that lots of adult input has been given. I am looking for children to sound out words using their phonics, however they may need you to repeat the words to do so and also reminding of what these sounds look like by pointing them out on the alphabet mats sent home. I look forward to seeing what the bears get up to when in your care.
Speech and Language
Speech and language is a key area we focus on in Early Years as it enables the children to communicate their needs and opinions clearly and it is also includes the fundamental skills to develop their understanding skills. This includes how to process language correctly and act on instructions. Many children have informed me that they still use dummies at home and unfortunately when used at this age, it can actually have negative effects on the speech and language development in children. Please see below for the effects of dummy use:
Using a dummy can result in the following:
I know it is hard to try and put a stop to comforts such as this, especially when they are experiencing so many new things with the transition to school, however I know you all want the best for your little ones and would hate to know that something you are encouraging could potentially have negative long term effects for your children.
How To Ditch The Dummy
For the reasons above, it is a good idea to reduce and restrict the use of dummies as early as possible. It can be a daunting prospect to wean your child off a their dummy but here are some ideas on how to help with the process:
With older children it may be more appropriate to get rid of the dummy completely, in which case…
Any reply slips or notes in book bags may get missed as we sometimes do not get the opportunity to check them. With this in mind, please hand all slips to the class teacher. If your child is being brought to school by an out of school club or child minder, please pass the slip to them so that they can hand it to us.
Click to download and view our topic web, with all the exciting things we'll be learning this term:
On Friday 29th October we had a wonderfully active day in aid of Stand Up Bolsover.
We started the day with a wake and shake where we practiced some dance moves before going on a number hunt outside around the school and seeing what we could find.
After that we had discovery time and had fun playing inside and outside the classroom where we rarely sit still anyway.
We also took part in the Golden Mile, running around the playground as many times as we could to get a stamp on our card.
After all of this excitement we were very tired, but had just enough energy to play musical statues!
It is a huge honour to welcome all the children and parents to Reception, with a special welcome to the new children and families to the Barlborough family. I am very much looking forward to getting to know each and every one of you, along with your little ones. The main priority in these first few weeks is to support the children as they transition into school life and make them feel comfortable and safe as they settle in to their new environment.
This newsletter gives you some insight into your child’s day and what to expect from this half term to help ease you into the routines and structures of the school.
Children are expected to be in the classroom at 8.50
In order to help your children settle down quickly in the morning, as well as begin to gain independence, there are a number of tasks we ask your child to do every morning. They may need a little support at first however by the end of this half term they should be performing these independently.
The themes for these activities are as follows:
Monday- Name Writing/ Handwriting (When phonics starts)
Tuesday- Jigsaws and group games
Wednesday- Maths and number
Thursday- Rainbow reading
Friday- Cutting skill
At 9.00 I will call all of the children to the carpet, if parents could make a swift exit from the classroom so we can start our busy day this would be greatly appreciated.
Our topic for this half term is ‘Marvellous Me’ where the children will explore lots of different and unique ways which make them special. Here we will explore their original features, their interests and unique characteristics. This will then lead onto learning about families and how they differ from one another. Finally we will explore the amazing human body and why it is important to stay healthy.
We will be celebrating our wonderful families with a tea party towards the end of the term where parents will be invited to come in and participate in activities with your child which promote the unique nature of every family. This is often a very popular event, so please look out for the letter in the next few weeks and reply promptly as it will operate on a first come, first served basis.
We will begin Phase 2 of letters and sounds next week depending on how the children are settling in. Here the children will be introduced to a different sound each day and learn the necessary skills needed to begin to blend to read and segment to spell. I will be conducting a Phonics and Maths Home Learning Support Workshop for you to attend to help you understand how to apply similar techniques we use at school at home. This will be on Monday 18th September at 4.30- 5.15pm. This timing is to reduce the number of children that attend to help you get your head around it a little bit! If you plan on attending please fill in the signing sheet which will be put up on my door towards the end of this week. Phonics is a little hard to understand at first, especially initial sounds as you are used to saying letter names, however Oxford Owl have a fantastic section on their website which demonstrates the pronunciation of each. http://www.oxfordowl.co.uk/for-home/phonics-made-easy I have also put together some videos which are available on the school website. These demonstrate the pronunciation and formation of each sound. They are child friendly but also a vital tool to your own understanding of phonics. These can be found under the ‘parents information’ tab, with the heading ‘phonics and handwriting information.’
As phonics begins I will be sending home handwriting practice sheets. These will be send out on Thursdays and should be returned the following Wednesday. Please note that we teach the children to write with a pre-cursive formation and this should be continued at home as going between writing styles could confuse your children as well as delay their development in writing. It can be a little confusing at first and may make your child’s handwriting appear messy, however it is essential that you continue to practice it this way. Please refer to the videos above or the handwriting booklet sent home in your transition packs.
Every half term we celebrate an ‘Amazing Author’ where we explore lots of their books and use these as a link to our topics and Literacy objectives. This half term we are looking at Liz Pichon.
As we begin Phonics it is important that your child discovers the sounds they hear and see at school in various contexts, we will therefore be sending home a school reading scheme book that you can share with your child. At this age, reading is a crucial part of children’s learning so it would be helpful if you could hear your child read at home as often as possible and ask them questions about the story to develop their comprehension skills. I will send home an information leaflet about this along with your child’s first book for some guidance. Your child will also have a Reading Diary for you to date and sign each time you hear them read. You can also use the diary for any informal messages you have to pass on. Please be aware every child is different and they all progress at different rates. However, if you have any concerns over your child’s reading development, please see one of us. In the meantime, please continue to read to your child as much as possible. The picture books outside the classroom can be borrowed for you to share with your children. Please sign these out and upon returning them.
A lovely website that we will be using this half term is Teach Your Monster To Read; http://www.teachyourmonstertoread.com/
As an incentive to try and encourage children to want to read when at home we have set up a reading reward system. Every time your child reads for 10 minutes or more and you have recorded this in your child’s reading record then you can place a sticker on your child’s named book spine located in the school corridor. We will then total up the additions every week and choose a star reader (or readers) who has read the most times. A raffle ticket will then be sent home to the parents of the star reader as a thank you for encouraging your child to develop their reading at home. There will then be a prize draw at the end of the half term where a name will be picked out of a hat and a prize for the adults will be sent home. Along with this children who have read a minimum of 3 times a week will also get a certificate and a prize. Please note that we will check reading records weekly to ensure that comments match the total number of stars on the spines and we will remove any that are not recorded.
During this half term, we will be focusing on number recognition with numerals to 10 and beyond and counting objects and actions. With number recognition we encourage children to explore the shapes of numbers and the different lines which make each up. This allows them to distinguish them from one another and will encourage them to begin to record numerals with their own representations. When you are out and about see how many different numbers you can see on doors, shop windows, price tickets or number plates. This will help children with their development with this. Counting underpins all operations and the more we practise, the better we get. If possible, count with your child as much as possible at home. Children can count anything and everything, shoes, claps, carrots or jumps! – encourage them to count things wherever they are and if possible begin to integrate matching the total counted to a numeral for development of number sense and understanding. Some great games can be found on this website;
We use an online learning journal to document all of your children’s achievements. It also allows you to see what your child is up to at school as well as input ‘wow’ moments your child has at home for us to see. To link you to your child please complete the form below with your email address which will then send you information about the next steps and how to access your child’s journal. Please ensure you do not share any information from your child’s journal on social media sites as there may be references and photos of other children due to group work.
We have a large amount of boys in this year’s cohort and it is common knowledge that boys often have a completely different approach to learning than girls. Although this comes with it many positives, it has also created a global problem where girls can be seen out performing boys throughout their whole school life. With this in mind it is absolutely crucial that we work together to try and engage both the girls and boys in the class and create that love of learning from the outset. It appears that independence is key when it comes to boys learning and I will be sending home some activities to all students which are designed to encourage independence in thought processes as well as when involved in tasks. I will also be sending home information by Gary Wilson who has published many books to help practitioners and parents nurture boys and build them to be successful learners. I have a fantastic book by him for parents called ‘help your boys succeed-The essential guide for parents.’ I would strongly recommend for parents to purchase this, or am happy to lend my copy out if you are interested in reading it. I have included an information sheet at the end of this newsletter about your child’s independence and ideas on how to build on this as well as some early literacy ideas to help both girls and boys discretely with essential skills needed to write successfully.
It is completely normal for children to get upset when you first start dropping them off at school, especially when they are not used to the new routine and structure that they are experiencing. In order to help upset children it is vital that we work together. It is best in these situations that you leave the class quickly as this makes the anticipation of you leaving less intense. In some circumstances children will latch on to you, making it difficult for you to leave, in these cases I will always ask your permission before I intervene. Next I will ask that you give them a kiss and a cuddle before you leave. I will then take your child from you calmly and gently and comfort them until they calm down. Often they take very little time to settle and we will always contact you to assure you that they are ok, likewise you are welcome to ring the office if you are concerned as I understand that it can be very upsetting for you too. If your child isn’t clingy, yet still upset, allowing you to leave easily, please make a member of staff aware as some children will then try and follow you.
Passport to learning
At Barlborough we use a ‘Passport system’ to encourage children to work towards targets which encourage and promote good citizenship skills as well as link to British Values. The first passport they will start on is a red one. This has the following targets in it which we are hoping the children will achieve by the end of the Autumn term;
Answer my name when my teacher or friend calls me
Take turns when playing a game
Always do what my teacher asks me to do
Solve a problem without arguing
Listen when someone is talking to me
We will be concentrating on the three in bold this half term and discuss these topics during circle times.
A few further bits of information:
If you have any questions about any of the above or any other queries please do not hesitate in speaking to Miss Heath-Smith, Mrs Attia or I, we are always happy to help.
Click to download and view our topic web, with all the exciting things we'll be learning this term: