Reading and Phonics
At West Pelton Primary School we aim to produce
- Children who want to read;
- Enthusiastic, independent readers;
- Efficient readers able to adopt a variety of strategies flexibly;
- Children who have developed an established reading habit;
- Children who are aware of the need to be critical and reflective about the material they read;
- Children who are able to access information efficiently from a range of sources including ICT.
This begins on day one of their education with us. Furthermore, we believe that this love of reading is best established via strong partnerships between parents, grandparents and school.
We hope that this guide will help you to support your child at home with his/her reading and give you an insight into how these vital skills are taught in school.
‘When you meet kids that are passionate, you know you are getting through.’ (Chris Riddell, author and illustrator)
Reading at School
Reception children are given the necessary tools in order to begin reading from their first week in school. They are taught sounds, which can be used to decode simple CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words such as cat, sit, pin etc. They are encouraged to read these sounds and words as part of whole class lessons and in books.
Once they are able to read CVC words, the children begin the reading scheme. This is a library of a variety of books from different schemes (including Oxford Reading Tree, Collins Big Cat, Ginn and Jolly Readers) chosen by us and sorted into ability bands. We believe that one scheme is too narrow so our unique system enables the children to choose from a wide range of books at a level appropriate to their needs. This continues throughout KS1 and KS2.
KS2 children then progress to using the KS2 library: a large selection of fiction and non-fiction books available to them to choose from.
At West Pelton Primary School, we pride ourselves on our approach to reading and the importance we place on 1:1 reading from Reception all the way through to Y6. Teachers listen to children read 1:1 as often as possible, as well as during guided sessions where they read as part of a group. We take time to talk to them about what they are reading to help them explore characters, develop empathy and comprehend texts at a deeper level.
‘Fiction can show you a different world. It can take you somewhere you’ve never been. Once you’ve visited other worlds, like those who ate fairy fruit, you can never be entirely content with the world that you grew up in.’ (Neil Gaiman, http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/oct/15/neil-gaiman-future-libraries-reading-daydreaming)
Reading at Home
Children are more likely to become fluent readers who choose to read for pleasure if they are exposed to books and words and are given the space to do so at home as well as at school. As such, we ask parents to aim to hear their children read every day where possible.
Other ways to encourage reading at home include:
- Share stories with your child. Pick a book and read it together every night, discussing the story as you go. Studies have suggested that children, especially boys, need to be read to every day until the age of 11 if they are to become avid readers!
- Visit the library and choose books, including non-fiction;
- Share comics with your child – everyone loves The Beano!
- Make the whole experience as enjoyable as possible. Use funny voices, expression, silly faces and noises to bring stories to life;
- Tell stories. Make up stories whilst out walking or in the car. Encourage your child to be as imaginative as possible, giving detail to hook the listener in;
- Give your child access to a variety of reading materials e.g. newspapers, comics, magazines, recipe books, web pages.
- Read in front of your child. If they see you reading and enjoying it, they are more likely to pick up a book and copy you.
We appreciate that it is not always possible to get your child to read at home. Make sure that you choose a time where you can sit down for 10 minutes, uninterrupted, when they are not tired, hungry or distracted. If you are unsure of how to help support your child, please pop into school to talk to their class teacher as we are always available to offer guidance.
‘We’re talking about reading for pleasure, but what an odd thing to have to campaign for. It’s kind of like saying ‘Let’s campaign for air, or for nice soup’. You read, you have a good time. That should be the end of it.’ (Michael Rosen, author)
At West Pelton School we aim to provide children with a range of strategies in order to read and spell both familiar and new vocabulary. We currently follow the ‘Essential Letters and Sounds’ programme from the EYFS and on throughout KS1.
Essential Letters and Sounds is a validated phonics scheme. It aims to build children’s speaking and listening skills in their own right as well as to prepare children for learning to read by developing their phonic knowledge and skills. It sets out a detailed and systematic programme for teaching phonic skills for children with the aim of them becoming fluent readers.
Phonemes and Graphemes
There are 26 letters in the English alphabet but approximately 44 sounds. These sounds are called ‘phonemes’. A single letter can make a sound. However, some sounds are represented by 2 letters (digraphs), 3 letters (trigraphs) and in some cases 4 letters. For example, the long ‘a’ sound can be represented as ‘ai’ as in train, a_e as in made, ay as in play, ey as in they, a as in apron and even eigh as in sleigh.
Understanding and recognising the grapheme that corresponds to a phoneme is the basis of phonics.
Blending is the process of saying the individual phonemes/sounds in a word and then ‘pushing’ the sounds together to make a word. For example, sounding out (saying the sound the letter makes and not its name) c-a-t makes cat; sh-ee-p makes sheep. To learn to read well, children must be able to blend sounds together smoothly.
Showing your child how to blend is important. Model how to ‘push’ sounds together without stopping at each individual sound.
Segmenting is a skill used in spelling. In order to spell the word car, it is necessary to segment the word into its constituent phonemes or sounds: c-a-r
In school, children are encouraged to use sounds to build words. Children need time to think about a word before writing it, say the word several times, sound out the word and then write it.
In the English language there are ‘tricky’ words that cannot be sounded out but need to be learnt. They do not fit into the usual spelling patterns. These tricky words are taught alongside the sounds at each phase using flashcards and games.
Children should finish the Essential Letters and Sounds programme by the end of KS1, although we continue to use it well into KS2 to support each child’s individual needs.
During the Summer Term of Year 1, children undertake the compulsory phonics screening test. This comprises a variety of real and made up words designed to test their knowledge of the phonemes and graphemes taught throughout Letters and Sounds.