Welcome to Literacy Matters at Fairfax!

The Apostrophe

Is used for two reasons:

  1. Hmmm, there’s something missing…

An apostrophe should be used in place of missing letters in a word or where two words are merged together. For example:

You are becomes you’re

Cannot becomes can’t

You will becomes you’ll

It is becomes it’s

  1. Oooh, you’re so possessive!

The second reason you may need to use an apostrophe is to denote possession. So, if something belongs to someone, it’s time to bring out our curly friend. For example:

The dentist’s teeth

Peter’s apple

The bee’s knees

The boys’ football – if there is more than one boy!

CARE:  When talking about something belonging to ‘it’, this is the exception to the possessive rule: ‘its rightful place’ because you are actually using a possessive pronoun – his, hers and its- NO APOSTROPHES!

All our classrooms now have subject specific word lists to help students with those key spellings.  Are you practising your spellings?

How to help your child with reading

Did you know that 49% of children and young people think that reading is boring or that children who enjoy reading very much are five times more likely to be above average readers?

The ‘National Literacy Trust’ also states that 90% of students who only read books at school are average or below average readers.  They go on to say that:

“Children who read for pleasure enjoy better opportunities throughout life because they have gained a richer vocabulary, more knowledge, critical thinking skills and a self-directed learning framework.”

What follows are a series of tips and advice to get even the most reluctant reader to pick up a book and enjoy the experience.

How to encourage your child to read

  • Read yourself! Set a good example by reading for fun and talking about the reading you do at work and at home. Let your child know that books and reading are an important part of your life.
  • Don’t stop reading to your child. Some children enjoy being read to long after they are fluent readers themselves.
  • Visit the library. Take the family to join the local library – it’s free! Make a weekly visit.
  • Make a time to read. Set aside a time for family reading – after school or before bedtime.
  • Don’t just read books. Encourage your child to read newspapers, TV guides and magazines or listen to audio books.
  • Talk about books. Talk to your child and their friends about their book preferences. Talk about the books you like to read.
  • Let your child read with younger children. Encourage them to read to younger members of the family.
  • Keep in touch with us. Talk with teachers about your child’s reading. They will be able to tell you if your child needs any extra help. Find out which books your child is reading in class and read them as well. You can then discuss them together.
  • If English is not your child’s first language. You can buy dual language books. You can talk about books and stories in any language.

How to help with reading

  • Spot words inside words. Help them to spot words they know within larger more complicated words.
  • Don’t make them try too hard! It doesn’t matter if you have to tell them the word sometimes.
  • Let them read their favourites. Don’t worry if they want to read the same books again, or stick to one kind of book. If they get really stuck, ask the librarian or teacher to recommend something they might like.
  • Make the story come to life. Encourage your child to read aloud with expression so the story comes to life. This will help them read more fluently.
  • Discuss books. Ask your child to tell you about the books they are reading: the type of book, the characters, the plot. Encourage them to have an opinion – Was it a good book? Why?
  • Use a dictionary. Buy your child a dictionary and encourage them to use it to check the meanings of new words.

How to help your child with writing

When work is being completed at home, we welcome your involvement.

Ways parents can help

In the GCSE English exam students are advised to spend time planning, writing and checking work. This model works very well at all ages and parents can help, particularly in the planning and checking stages.

Good questions to ask in planning:

  • What kind of writing is this? (For example, notes, a report, a description)
  • How should it be set out? (For example for a letter)
  • If it is a longer piece of writing – where is your paragraph plan?
  • How do you set out paragraphs? (Indent, or more usually in word processing, miss a line)
  • When do you start a new paragraph? (Change of subject; in a story, change of time, place or speaker)
  • Who is meant to be reading this and how will your language reflect this? (For example, other students, adults, friends, prospective employer)

Good questions to ask when checking:

  • Have you presented your work clearly? Are there any changes you could make to improve presentation?
  • Have you varied the length of sentences and used different methods to start sentences?
  • Have you read it through carefully, aloud if possible, to check for errors in spelling, punctuation and grammar?
  • Have you used a thesaurus to improve any words?

To have fun with literacy, click on the links below:

There, Their or They’re?


Baffled by Apostrophes?


KS3 BBC Bitesize:


Spelling fun: