In Y6, most children are pretty fluent in their reading and don't need to be 'heard read' - as in checking to see if they can decode the text and read with expression. Mostly, they're already at or past that stage. What they need is to understand the text - and this is where you come in.
If your child reads on their own, they might stop regularly and think about what they've read, think about the history of a character, consider why the writer used a particular phrase or what the impact of a word was... but we doubt it! They need an adult to guide them through this type of adult-reading-behaviour.
Here's a suggestion:
- Sit down with your child for five minutes every night or every other night. Keep the times short so it's manageable and you can keep it up consistently - you're busy people!
- During one session, listen to them read or read the text out to them and ask them some questions about the page (see below for questions). During the next session, you read to them and tell them what type of thoughts and questions go through your head (exampe below).
- Don't listen to how fluent they are, whether they get stuck on words or whether they read with expression. That'll come with more reading. If they get stuck on a word, tell them what the word says, don't let them struggle. If you have to tell them a lot, the book's too hard, so change it. You want to concentrate on the meaning of the book/text.
- During other sessions, read your own book to them, read the newspaper, read a wide selection of stuff - Top Gear Magazine, BBC News website, some instructions; write your own version of a text you're reading. But, again, just spend five minutes on it so you can commit to doing it regularly.
- The blue bookmarks in your child's book will give you ideas of some questions you might ask at the level they're reading at. The most important questions are 'inference' ones or 'reading between the lines' - for example, "why did Trina scowl at Don?" The clue to the answer should be in the text somewhere but they've got to think it through first.
- Other types of question are to do with the effect on the reader or the author's intention - for example, "how does having a long sentence before the sentence that says 'bang' make the 'bang' seem more frightening/surprising?"
- Still more are on organisation features, for example, "why bother with the writing underneath the picture... and why bother with the picture?"
Some typical L4 inference questions:
- Do I refer to the text to support my ideas and opinions?
- Am I able to work out if the main characters are feeling unhappy , angry or stressed?
- Can I work out what a person is thinking, even when they have not stated something outright?
- Can I accept that a certain amount of leeway must be given to advertisers when they make claims about their products?
- Am I able to summarise the main positive and negative points from a story or information text?
- Can I consider arguments critically and consider techniques for effective persuasion (choice of language, organisation and layout of text)?
- Am I able to express my thoughts briefly and clearly?
This is a piece of text from Jeffrey Archer
Bryce Fenston rose before six o’clock that morning, as he had an early appointment. While he showered, he listened to the morning news.
“Another clear, sunny day, with a gentle breeze heading southeast,” announced a chirpy weather girl as Fenston stepped out of the shower. A more serious voice informed him that the Nikkei in Tokyo was up fourteen points and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng down one. London’s FTSE hadn’t yet made up its mind in which direction to go. He considered that Fenston Finance shares were unlikely to move dramatically either way, as only two people were aware of his little coup. Fenston was having breakfast with one of them at seven, and he would fire the other at eight.
This is what we'd say if we were commenting on this: I reckon Bryce is pretty important because he's getting up early and he's got an appointment. I doubt it's at the dentists because dentists don't have really early appointments. When I read on, I'm even more sure because he seems interested in shares and things. And it's confirmed because the shares are in Fenston Finance. I reckon that's his company. And he's a nasty piece of work because he's going to fire someone at eight o'clock.
These are the kind of unspoken thoughts that go on in an adult's head when they read... but they don't automatically go on in a child's head - they've got to be taught it. This is inference.
We hope this guide helps.