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Reading time

Q I'm a Year 3 teacher and there are several children in my class who need support with reading. I feel guilty because there just isn't time for them to read to me or my teaching assistant as much as I'd like. What would you recommend?

A Your feelings are shared by many teachers because the curriculum is so crowded, particularly in key stage 2.

It will help reassure you if you list the various opportunities that children have for reading on a weekly basis - not only formal reading times, such as guided reading or one-to-one reading, with yourself, a teaching assistant or volunteer, but also less formal opportunities.

If you can't extend the formal times, then I suggest you make the most of the others. I recommend that you set regular reading activities for this group of children during times when you are reading with others.

These can include: a box of special books, including picture books, which this group of children can use to practise reading individually or with a partner; making sets of poetry cards with a single poem, rhyme or song, which can then be practised with a friend, and possibly performed to the group or even the class if children are feeling confident (children really enjoy the humour and rhythm of poets like Michael Rosen and John Agard); or listening to stories on tape and following the words in a book.

Listening to The Magic Finger on tape played a major role in the reading development of one pupil of mine who felt intimidated by reading to adults.

Many children love Roald Dahl because his books are often the first inkling they get that reading can make you laugh.

Other group activities might include reading a section of an information book in pairs and collecting five facts, or reading a living book on the classroom computer with a partner.

All these activities can help support reading in a broader context.

* Please email questions to or write to TES Extra for Special Needs, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London ElW lBX.

Neither writer can correspond with readers.

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