Reading's Our Thing
Behind the Study Door
'Remember hiding a book on your lap to get yourself through breakfast? Remember getting hit on the head by footballs in the playground because a game had sprung up around you while you were off in Cair Paravel? Remember taking yourself off to the furthest corner or the furthest sofa in the furthest room of the house with a stack of Enid Blytons and praying that everyone would forget about you until bedtime? Come bedtime do you remember waiting four nanoseconds after the door closed before whipping out your torch and carrying on where parental stricture had required you leave off until tomorrow? Do you still get the urge to tap the back of the wardrobe if you find yourself alone in a strange bedroom, or keep half an ear out at midnight for the sound of Hatty in the garden?'
In her book, ‘Bookworm; a memoir of childhood reading’, Lucy Mangan recalls the joy of reading when she was young.
It’s been one of those weeks where it feels like the children have been cooped up all day, with some of our break times having to be inside due to the weather, and PE and Games taking place in the Sports Hall. As winter sets in, my frustration for the children – who all need fresh air everyday – at times like this is tempered by the sight of so many enjoying immersing themselves in their fiction and non-fiction reading books. It is such a joy to see them all engrossed in reading, with many diving into their new purchases following our Book Fair, kindly facilitated by our parent volunteers.
There have been three items of interest in the press over the past 7 days related to reading, all of which produce salient points which I wish to share with you.
The first article that grabbed my attention was featured in The Sunday Times last weekend. It reported that Silicon Valley executives, including senior employees of Apple, Google and other tech giants, have sent their own children to tech-free schools, such as The Waldorf School, renowned for its practical, iPad (and textbook) free methods, with a focus on the outdoors and books. There is a great sense of irony here that these are the companies leading seismic advances with devices, gaming and social media – now a major part of the lives of young people – and they have made the conscious decision to educate their children away from screens. Along these lines, research has been produced (in contrary to similar research conducted five years ago) that suggests reading from books can now advance progress more than screens.
The second article I have read, this time in The Times Educational Supplement, promotes the reading of non-fiction text as very important in developing a broad knowledge base. It has been suggested that children with this broad knowledge base become a more successful reader, as do those who can develop an conceptual understanding of what they read, and are able to extrapolate key points and replicate this in a different format.
The third article in Attain, the magazine for parents of prep school children, stresses the role parents can play in supporting a child’s reading by creating a positive environment.
The following advice stands out:
- Allow your child to develop their own interests through reading and discussion, and allow time for you all to explore these interests.
- Introduce your children to a rich and varied vocabulary through discussing everyday events as well as imaginary scenarios together. Extending their vocab will help a child understand texts more fully.
- Banish all electronic devices from the bedroom. Enjoy the end of the day reading to children (this doesn’t have to stop when they are ten years old!)
- Discuss what is happening in stories – help your child become a ‘text detective’.
- Visit local libraries and explore audio books.
- Read some books yourself, then recommend them to your child.
What can we take from these three articles without launching into a debate about screen usage? From all I have seen this week, I am delighted that children love books just as we did growing up. As our ‘Units of Inquiry’ reach their final stages of the term and much research has been conducted, I think there is a place in every household and classroom for an encyclopedia. The art of ‘old fashioned’ research is so stimulating and truly develops vocabulary, contextual understanding and a bank of useful knowledge (that we know in turn supports the development of reading). As a pupil discovered this week, research doesn’t consist of a page on Wikipedia – select all – copy – paste! In covering a Year 7 lesson this week, much enjoyment (and learning) was had by a race to get the dictionaries to look up an obscure word beginning with ‘v’. Subsequent to this, we now have the ‘Shorts Latin Dictionary’ in our Year 7 base!
Finally, if you are reading this worried that your child might be too much of a book worm, I hope you can seek reassurance from Lucy Mangan:
'Be glad of all the benefits it will bring, rather than lamenting what [we] are missing out on. Leave us be. We’re fine. More than fine. Reading’s our thing.'
Wishing all St Leonards families a happy weekend, perhaps even some time cosy at home immersed in some adventures from a good book
Year 1 Clay Models
YEAR 1 CLAY MODELS | Year 1 have been lucky enough to benefit from the expertise of former St Leonards parent Leonie McMillan, who has been coming in to give the boys and girls experience of working with clay on a fortnightly basis.
The class are building their own nativity scene and pictured above are some of the animal creations they made on Monday. Year 1 cannot wait for the painting and glazing stage in two weeks' time!
There are plans for Year 2 to benefit from this next term, and we are currently firming up dates for their own hands-on clay experience!
GYMNASTICS SUCCESS | St Leonards was extremely well represented at the Fife Schools Gymnastics Competition on Thursday, with the Level 2 girls - Eabha, Thea and Rachel - coming third. A great achievement for the team!
The Level 1 girls - Emily, Anna, Jen and Sal - also performed wonderfully, and we look forward to hearing more about how they got on.
Congratulations to all involved!
The following pupils received certificates at Celebration Assembly on Monday:
Elin was Year 1 Pupil of the Week for developing in confidence and involving herself in all activities.
Monty was Year 2 Pupil of the Week for focus in Maths, both in mental arithmetic and within his group.
Jennifer was presented with her trophy for swimming through the Cupar & District Swimming Club.
Sophie received a Headmaster's Commendation for putting great effort into her understanding of different methods of addition and for demonstrating a 'growth mindset' in class.
Hari received a Headmaster's Commendation for a thoroughly well-researched, highly informative and thought-provoking project based on re-usable coffee cups and the challenges with their recycling.
Archie received a Spirit of St Leonards Award for his consistent willingness to help others.
Xander was presented with a Headmaster's Commendation for writing a detailed account of Sir Francis Drake from his own notes. This was presented very neatly, with great care over writing style, grammar and punctuation.
Scott received a Headmaster's Commendation for excellent progress in reading.
Freddie was Year 3 Pupil of the Week for making great progress in Maths.
In the House Points this week, Skye had 10 points, Mull and Lewis had an average of 11 points per member of the House, and Harris was in the lead with 12 points per member. Well done Harris!
Year 2 Celebrations
YEAR 2 CELEBRATIONS | Year 2 embarked on a new Unit of Inquiry this week, looking at different kinds of Celebrations. The class have been busy planning the directions they want their Unit to take.
In Year 2's previous Unit of Inquiry on Family Histories, they talked a little about christenings, and the children decided that learning more about naming ceremonies would be a good starting point to this new Unit.
The Reverend Beebee very kindly offered to come in and speak to the children about christenings in the Christian faith and baptised Year 2's class 'baby'.
The boys and girls then shared what they had learned:
'There were guests at the christening. I was the godmother.' - Amber
'The baby can wear a special gown. It has ribbons you can change.' - Tilly
'The christening gown belongs to Ms Barclay.' - Monty
'The gown is nearly 60 years old and has been worn by lots of babies.' - Eleanor
'We called the baby Belle Elizabeth Rose Leonard.' - Holly
'He made a cross on the baby's head with water to welcome her to the world and to the church.' - Clara
Year 2 are looking forward to learning all about different kinds of naming ceremonies and other celebrations as part of their Unit!
Book Fair Fun
BOOK FAIR FUN | The Scholastic Book Fair arrived at the Junior School this week, with an array of top titles for pupils to choose from. Lots of our avid young readers selected their favourites stories after browsing the packed stands in the foyer. Happy reading!
Thank You From Thea
THANK YOU FROM THEA | A huge thank you to everyone who was involved in the Bake Sale for Water Aid last week. Selling the cakes and bakes raised a very impressive £173.18 for charity! Congratulations, Thea.
News from the Lower School
It was with much anticipation that the children and staff of Year 1 and 2 donned all the warmest clothes they could find ready for this week’s ‘Beach School’. As the driving rain, hail and wind came and went throughout the morning, we were determined to proceed. However, a soaking on return from lunch forced the final decision to postpone. I was delighted that all the children were so keen, no, absolutely determined to go. They have completely embraced our outdoor life and love every chance we get, be it on the beach or within our glorious grounds. We could hear the waves crashing every time we stepped outside and the view of the sea from the drive was quite something to behold. Simply spectacular.
Our setting is magical and the opportunities we offer the children immense. In lieu of our failed beach visit, we put on our wellies and with some Year 7 buddies headed out to splash in the puddles. Another key strength of the Junior School has to be the links between all classes and ages. There is so much to be learned on both sides when bridging age groups.