Phonics and Reading

“Teach a child to read and keep that child reading and we will change everything. And I mean everything.”

Jeanette Winterson

Learning to read is the most important thing your child can learn at school. Everything else depends on it, so we put as much energy as we possibly can into making sure that every single child learns to read as quickly as possible.  We want your child to love reading and to want to pick up a book and read for themselves. This is why we put our efforts into making sure they develop a love of books as well as simply learning to read.

There are two main strands to learning to read:

  1. Becoming an enthusiastic reader – seeing the point of reading and loving stories.
  2. Decoding – working out the relationship between those symbols on the page and the sounds they represent and blending these into words.

Both of these strands are equally important. The information in the link details how we can together (school and parents) ensure that every child becomes a confident and enthusiastic reader.

Phonics information for parents

The most important thing you can do to help your child learn is to read: Be a model of reading (read books yourself), read to and with your child (even when they are in year 6) and listen to them reading as often as you can.

If you are struggling to find time or to get your child enthused about reading at home, please ask us for help. All the teachers are experts in teaching reading and in children’s literature – we will find you books that your children will love.

Every week your child will bring home a reading book (a book that they can read; that is at their level). Please listen to them read this book as many times as you can and encourage them as they move from ‘Fred-talk’ (sounding words out) to reading it fluently and confidently.

They will also bring home a Library book. This is a book to be read to them – a bedtime story or a book to be enjoyed with an adult. By reading these books and others to your child you will help foster a love of reading and stories that is absolutely vital if they are to become confident learners. The biggest predictor of future academic success is whether or not you were read to as a child

 

At Lark Hill, we use Read Write Inc Phonics to learn how to read

Read, Write Inc is a tried and tested, successful phonics programme for children aged 4 to 7 who are learning to read and write. It teaches children how to both decode and understand written language to become confident and enthusiastic readers and writers. This is achieved by a dynamic approach to teaching phonics that is consistent across the school using the Read, Write Inc phonics resources and fully decodable reading books.

Children are grouped according to their ability in Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1 to ensure that teaching is matched to their level. Phonics in Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1 takes place on a daily basis. Children in Key Stage 2 who still require phonics teaching, also continue with the programme to meet their individual needs.

Shared Reading forms part of the daily phonics lessons and is led by the reading teachers. All texts are linked to the child’s phonic ability. Children enjoy one focus text per week and learning activities support accurate and fluent reading to facilitate comprehension. In addition, children take fully decodable reading books home to further practise skills learnt at school. These books are matched to each child’s phonics ability and are monitored by the reading teachers to ensure that children are reading books of an appropriate level. Each child also visits the school library every week to select a book of their choice to share at home.

Read, Write Inc has 5 underlying principles – the five Ps

1. PACE – no time is wasted during teaching sessions! Children are active and involved in a fun and creative way. The aim is for the children to complete the programme as quickly as possible.
2. PRAISE – teachers praise the children constantly throughout the teaching sessions. Children learn more quickly when they are praised for what they do well, rather than nagged for what they do wrong. The children are encouraged to praise each other and as a school we have developed several ‘Praise Phrases’ and ‘Praise actions’. Ask your child to demonstrate!
3. PURPOSE – each activity has a very clear purpose. The teacher will set this purpose at the beginning of the lesson so that the children know exactly what they will be learning.
4. PARTICIPATION – all children take part in all parts of the lesson. Full participation is gained through partner work and choral response.
5. PASSION – as a staff we are passionate about our teaching and the benefits of the Read, Write Inc. programme! We love teaching the sessions and this enthusiasm rubs off onto the children.

What is Phonics?
Phonics is recommended as the first strategy that children should be taught in helping them learn to read.  Children will learn how to ‘read’ the (Phonemes) sounds in words and how those sounds can be written down (Graphemes). This is essential for reading, but it also helps children learn to spell well.

Phoneme? Grapheme? Sounds confusing!
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.

Why is phonics so tricky?
The English language is very complicated! England has been invaded so many times  throughout its history and each set of invaders brought new words and new sounds  with them. As a result, English only has around 44 phonemes 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. Phew! No  wonder it is confusing!

How do we teach phonics at Lark Hill?
In phonics lessons children are taught:

  1. Simple ways of remembering sounds and letters
  2. To blend accurately
  3. To read with fluency

This is achieved through speedy reading of individual words and repeated reads of their shared reading books. ‘Red Words’ or sometimes known as ‘Tricky words’,  such as ‘said’ , ‘the’ are not phonetically decodable and these are taught explicitly as part of the reading session.  To develop the child’s love of stories, we have dedicated story time, across all Key Stages, every day. The teachers read to the children so that they get to know a variety of stories, poetry and information books.

Useful Links

http://www.oxfordowl.co.uk
Oxford Owl is a free website built to support you with your child’s learning.  You’ll find age-specific reading and maths tips and activities, eBooks, and lots of fun ideas to really bring your child’s learning to life.  You will also find support and advice on a range of questions you may have – including helping your child with their phonics, motivating boys to read and ensuring your child is doing their best in maths.