Phonics and Reading
Children in Reception and Key Stage 1 follow the synthetic phonics approach, using the ‘Letters and Sounds’ programme. It’s an approach to teaching phonics in which individual letters or letter sounds are blended to form groups of letters or sounds, and those groups are then blended to form complete words.
Letters and Sounds is divided into six phases, with each phase building on the skills and knowledge of previous learning. There are no big leaps in learning. Children have time to practise and rapidly expand their ability to read and spell words. They are also taught to read and spell ‘challenge words’ – words with spellings that are unusual or that children have not yet been taught. These include the words ‘to’, ‘was’, ‘said’ and ‘the’ – you can’t really break the sounds down for such words so we encourage ‘on sight’ reading.
Phase one starts in nursery. This phase paves the way for the systematic learning of phonics. During this phase especially, we plan activities that will help children to listen attentively to sounds around them, such as the sounds of their toys and to sounds in spoken language. We teach a wide range of nursery rhymes and songs and read high quality books to and with the children. This helps to increase the number of words they know – their vocabulary – and helps them talk confidently about books. The children learn to identify rhyme and alliteration
We use a combination of reading schemes. These include Oxford Reading Tree, Floppy’s Phonics and Dandelion. These give a variety of fiction and non–fiction books to develop children’s reading range. Children learn to read at different rates. Once they finish the reading scheme, we encourage them to become ‘free readers’ and choose their own books.
Top Tips for Reading at Home
- Aim to read for at least ten minutes as often as possible
- Keep the activity fun, reading shouldn’t be seen as a “chore”
- Engage with your child, ask them questions about the book.
- Respond to your child’s ideas by repeating them back and introducing new words to increase their vocabulary.
- Encourage your child to add sounds to accompany the action in story and talk about any sounds that might be found in the story setting i.e. ‘Feed the Birds’ what sounds might you hear outside?
- Once you have finished sharing the book ask your child to retell the story in their own words.
- Use other resources to read with your child. Oxford Reading Owl is a website with hundreds of free e-books to choose from. Other websites you can use include freekidsbooks.org and you can also access free children’s books using Amazon Kindle on an IPad or laptop.
Questions to ask your child whilst reading
Why did you choose this book?
- What was your favourite part of the story so far?
- Which character do you like, why?
- What might happen next?
- Did they enjoy the story? Why?
- How is the character feeling? How do you know this?
If you need further support, please speak to your child’s class teacher.