Learning to Read...
... is a complex process. In school we use a range of approaches based on each individual child’s needs. Children need a great deal of practice at every stage. Parents and other family members can make a vital contribution to this learning process by reading with their children for about ten minutes every day. Research has shown that considerably higher standards in reading can be achieved by children who read at home. It is important that children are not rushed through the initial stages of learning to read and are helped to develop a positive attitude towards books and to enjoy reading.
Reading and Phonics
English is taught daily with work appropriately differentiated to match all abilities. We aim to encourage the children to develop a love of literature and language and the confidence to continue reading and writing throughout their lives.
With parental support, we want all of our children to:
• speak clearly and confidently in any situation.
• listen actively and respond appropriately, developing knowledge and opinion.
• read fluently for both pleasure and information.
• write clearly and with confidence in any given genre.
• use spelling rules, phonics and grammar accurately.
• be able to proof read their own work and make amendments and improvements.
What is phonics?
There has been a big shift in the past few years in how we teach reading in school. This is having a huge impact and helping many children learn to read and spell. Phonics is recommended as the first strategy that children should be taught in helping them learn to read. Phonics runs alongside other teaching methods to help children develop vital reading skills and give them a real love of reading – hopefully for life.
Words are made up from small units of sound (phonemes) and phonics teaches children to listen carefully and identify the phonemes that make up each word. This helps them learn to read and spell words.
In phonics lessons children are taught three main things:
1 GPCs (grapheme phoneme correspondences)
GPCs simply means that children are taught all the phonemes (sounds) in the English language and ways of writing them down (letter combinations).
Children are taught to blend sounds together by merging the individual sounds together until they can hear what the word is. This is a vital reading skill and enables them to blend the sounds c/a/t into the word cat.
Segmenting is the opposite of blending! Children are able to say a word and then break it up into the phonemes that make it up. This is a vital spelling skill and enables them to break the whole word cat down into the individual sounds c/a/t which can then be written down.
Why is phonics so tricky?
The English language is very complicated! English only has around 44 phonemes (sounds) but there are around 120 graphemes or ways of writing down those 44 phonemes. Plus, we only have 26 letters in the alphabet so some graphemes are made up from more than one letter.
If you are unsure about the pronunciation of any phonemes there is a helpful guide to this if you click on the following link
Articulation of phonemes:
Learning to read is like cracking a code so teaching phonics is a way of teaching children to crack the code. As reading is the key to learning it is important that we teach phonics clearly and systematically learning easy bits first then progressing to trickier bits!
Phase 2 Phonic letters
Phase 3 Phonic sounds
air, ear, ure.
Phase 4 Phonic sounds
Phase 5 sounds
ay,oy,oo,ie,ei,ue,ew,sh,ch,th,magic e, oe,eigh,ou,oar,au,aw
Phase 6 sounds
Spelling patterns & irregular words
However there are also tricky words in English that just do not fit the phonics code that children need to recognise on sight, for example the words was and saw.
At Barrington Primary School reading and phonics are taught in accordance with the National Curriculum and the Revised Literacy Framework using letters and sounds and the support of resources from the Phonicsplay website. We also use pictures and rhymes from the FastTrack phonics scheme to help the children remember which goes with which grapheme- phoneme.
What is the government phonic screening check?
The Government has a phonics screening check for all Year 1 children. Each child will sit with a teacher they know and be asked to read 40 words aloud. Some of the words they may have read before and some words will be completely new to them. The test normally takes a few minutes to complete and there is no time limit. The 40 words in the test will be made up of real words and non-words. The test is carefully designed not to be stressful for your child.
It will check that your child can:
• Sound out and blend graphemes in order to read simple words e.g. n-igh-t
• Read phonically decodable one-syllable and two-syllable words, e.g. cat, sand, windmill.
• Read a selection of nonsense words.
For the Department for Education Parents and Carers Information on the Year One phonics screening check go to the following website: http://www.schooljotter.com/files/woodleyps/letters_and_sounds/learning_to_read_through_phonics_information_for_parents.pdf
For a sample test please visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/phonics-screening-check-sample-materials-and-training-video
What are nonsense words?
Non-words or pseudo words are nonsense words made up of letter sounds. For example: ‘vam’ or ‘jound’.
These words are included in the screening test so they are unfamiliar to the child and therefore test their ability to decode words using phonics.
Helping your child with phonics
• BBC - There are a number of resources available through the BBC website, for example:
• Family Learning:
• Phonics Play – this is a subscription website. We have paid for in school use and the children are familiar with the games on it. Unfortunately, the subscription does not extend to home use, but individual subscriptions are available to purchase at £12 per year. Some games are free to play.
• Kent Trust
• ICT games
• Letters and Sounds – we use this website in school for resources and games. There are useful online games accessible via this website for example:
• woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk - building short words
From the Words & Spellings list click on CVC to find word building activities - we recommend CVC Words, Word Wheels and The Whirly Machine.
From the Words & Spellings list click on Letter Formation/Sounds to find activities about letter sounds - we recommend Letter Formation and Vowel Sounds.
Amazing site - thousands of free educational website links to save you the time of having to search for sites.
Suggested Apps for iPad
There are a large number of apps available, both for free and at a small cost.
• Mr Thorne does Phonics (various at £1.49 – £2.99)
• ABC Pocket Phonics (free)
We are passionate about teaching children to read. Reading enriches children's vocabulary, their writing and their spelling. They have access to the wider curriculum and their self-esteem is enhanced because they realise they are succeeding. Reading is a key skill that all our children need to master. We do not rely exclusively on one reading scheme but offer the children books from a wide range different schemes
To download a parent's information leaflet on Phonics Click here
The alphabet is taught first and firmly embedded. The children rapidly learn sounds and the letter or groups of letters they need to represent those sounds. Simple and enjoyable mnemonics help all children to grasp this quickly, especially those who are at risk of making slower progress or those who are new to learning English. This learning is taught and consolidated every day. High-frequency words that are not phonically regular are taught as ‘tricky’ words and practised frequently. Well-written, lively phonic books are closely matched to children’s increasing knowledge of phonics and ‘tricky’ words, so that, early on, they experience plenty of success. Repeated readings of the texts support their increasingly fluent decoding. Discussion of each story helps children both to understand what they are reading and to build up their knowledge of how texts work.
As with reading, the alphabetic code is embedded first, so that children can write simple consonant-vowel- consonant words early on and build on their success. The children write every day, rehearsing what they want to say orally and composing, sentence by sentence, until they are confident to write independently. They write at the level of their spelling knowledge, that is, they use their knowledge of the alphabetic code and the ‘tricky’ words they have learnt. In every lesson, they are rapidly building up their knowledge, so that they are soon able to spell more complex words confidently, accurately and fluently. The children can use adventurous vocabulary in their writing because they have encountered such language in their reading and they have talked about what the words mean.
Children also participate in weekly guided reading sessions in small groups where they can apply their phonic and reading skills to a variety of fiction and non-fiction texts.
The teaching of reading comprehension and writing skills is also supported by
Grammar, Vocabulary and spelling sessions, are taught every week from Y1 upwards.
Download a presentation on How to help your child learn to read
To download a parent information leaflet on helping your child with reading Click here
Steps to Reading Together
Reading time should be relaxed. Sit quietly together in a comfortable chair. It is better to switch off the television and not to have younger children around unless they are able to sit still and listen. Choose a time that is best for you and your child; when you have time, there are no distractions and your child is not tired or hungry. Don’t make the session too long; 10 minutes should be long enough, however it is important to be flexible.
Stop and ask questions; which bits did you enjoy? What do you think will happen next? Look at the title, talk about the story, the pictures and what your child has read.
If your child does not understand, talk about what has already happened in the story.
Repeatedly praise your child and continually show interest in what they are reading.
Make reading fun. Help your child to want to read again tomorrow and develop a love of books and an enjoyment of reading.
What if my Child Gets Stuck?
Wait a few seconds to give them thinking time.
If the word is spelt as it sounds (e.g. cat, went) encourage them to sound out the individual letter sounds and blend them together. If they find this too challenging sound out the individual sounds for your child and ask them to blend the sounds they hear you say.
Some words do not sound as they are spelt e.g. was, saw, and your child will need to learn to recognise these on sight. If your child gets stuck on one of these words, tell your child the word. See if your child can use the pictures as a clue.See if your child can read to the end of the sentence and then work out the difficult word.
Ways I Can to help my Child Learn to Read:
- Help your child to remember the letter sounds (e.g. a as in apple) rather than the letter names.
- Help your child with the phonics activities they will be bringing home in their pink homework books. These activities will help to consolidate the phonics work we are doing in school.
- Help your child with their keyword wordcards – play spot the word, looking for these words in stories. If your child is finding one particular word difficult to remember try putting the word on cards in random places around your house where your child ill see them and you can read them together during the day.
- Look for words within words e.g. cat, bat, fat.
- Play sound games like I Spy.
- Teach your child tongue twisters.
- Learn lots of nursery rhymes and songs.
Encourage your child to enjoy new, amusing and unusual words, and develop their vocabulary. Play the phonics games on www.phonicsplay.co.uk , www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/ks1/literacy/phonics/play/ and www.ictgames.com.uk to help reinforce your child’s grasp of phonics.
Regularly read stories to your child, so that they enjoy books and are motivated to learn to read themselves.