At school: age 7-9

Going into the juniors is a huge step; it could even mean a change of school building. In terms of reading most children will be really taking off – reading much more fluently and beginning to tackle longer books with chapters as well as developing their own reading interests and opinions. Now they can read they start to use their reading for learning as well as pleasure. Hooray! But there are still new skills to learn and reading in the junior years is about developing understanding of texts and beginning to think about how and why a writer writes.

1. Reading and writing skills

When reading and spelling unfamiliar wordsyour child should be able to use what they know about the way words are structured to help them to read aloud and to understand meanings. Teachers will encourage children to write down their ideas using sentences, punctuation and words more adventurously and some schools will send home weekly spellings to be learned. The emphasis is now on children becoming independent, fluent and enthusiastic readers and writers building on the use of more varied grammar and vocabulary. There will be specific grammar teaching. They will be using simple handwriting joins and generally working on improving all aspects of their handwriting. Additionally, they will read extracts and whole texts as well as read, rehearse and perform these to improve their ability to speak well in different situations and with/for different people.

2. Reading to learn

Children in the lower juniors read for lots of different purposes across a wide range of different subjects and topics in the classroom. They will be taught how to decide what they need to know and then how to find and use information from a range of sources including dictionaries. They learn to work more confidently in groups and discuss, share and express views and opinions. They’ll probably be comparing what they see on screen and on the page.

3. Independent reading

Your child will more frequently be choosing their own reading book(s) now, although some still benefit from an on-going levelling structure to ensure they develop reading stamina and confidence before moving on. There will still be whole class and group/ guided reading opportunities in class too, when the teacher will teach particular aspects of reading and writing. But there is less time for teachers to hear children read individually, so encourage your child to read alone and read with you at home and sometimes, silently.

See Top tips for reading for ideas about how to encourage independence.

4. Assessment and Progress

Teachers are still assessing continuously, collecting examples of your child’s reading and recording observations too. Some schools get the children to take end of year practice tests to inform their judgements. It's very common for children to assess or mark each other’s work as well as their own as this can be a highly effective form of learning. Either way you will be kept informed about your child’s progress (through record books and parents' evenings) and if your child is finding reading tricky then extra support is usually provided by the teacher or specialist teacher, in consultation with you. This support is often through small group work and may be in or out of the classroom. Your support and encouragement is hugely important but as ever, if you’re worried then do talk to your child’s teacher.

5. Homework

Children may now bring home more homework, more frequently, and they may sometimes need your help to talk about it so that they can finish it on their own. It is still really important that your child reads to you regularly and you read to your child too. A short slot every day makes a huge difference to your child’s progress. And of course, do all you can to encourage your child to read both for school and for fun, whether it’s a book, a computer game or for an outside school club.

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