Learning to Read
Children learn to read using the ‘Read, Write Inc’ phonics programme. On entry into reception, pupils begin to learn the letter sounds (not names at this stage). These are described as either ‘bouncy’ or ‘stretchy’ sounds.
Stretchy consonant sounds: f l m n r s v z sh th th ng nk
Bouncy consonant sounds: b c d g h j p qu t w x y ch
Pupils learn the ‘pure’ sound, for example a short ‘b’ rather than ‘buh’ and ‘mmm’ (not‘muh’). This supports the next stage in the reading process, which is to blend the sounds together. It is important that children can oral blend (work out the word when someone else says the sounds, e.g. c a t, cat), then recognise the written sounds and blend them to read. We call this process ‘Fred Talk’. Children are also encouraged to ‘sight read’. In this stage of reading development, pupils begin to recognise words on sight, without using Fred Talk. However, Fred Talk remains a good strategy to fall back on if an unknown word is encountered.
Some words cannot be worked out phonetically. We call these tricky words ‘red words’, e.g. ‘what’ or ‘was’. Pupils learn to sight read such words. It is essential that pupils not only read words, but also understand the meaning.
Asking questions about stories, poems and information texts helps them to make sense of what they are reading. During reading lessons, pupils are encouraged to discuss different texts. Teachers read regularly to pupils, discussing characters and their actions and events. Reading books to pupils also develops a wider knowledge of vocabulary.
Once pupils have completed ‘Read, Write Inc’ they develop their reading skills through guided reading, where the teacher works with a small group of pupils and focuses on areas of reading such as inference and use of language. While the teacher works with one group, all other pupils focus on independent reading activities.
On Key Stage One, children progress through colour coded books. Please listen to your child read regularly – at least five times a week and every day if possible. The more your child reads, the more confident he or she will become.
One Key Stage Two, children use ‘Accelerated Reader’, where books are banded into levels according to reading age. In school, children take an online reading quiz after reading each book, to assess their understanding.
How to Support Your Child
- Using the pure sounds and not teaching the alphabet names
- Practising Fred Talk (l-oo-k, m-a-t, th-i-ng)
- Listening to your child read each day
- Reading stories and rhymes to your child
- Teaching your child to look after books
- Explaining the meaning of new words
- Not correcting too often
- Staying calm and not getting worried or frustrated if your child is finding a book difficult
- Reward reading – stickers, hugs, praise
- Talking about books, stories, characters, illustrations
- Joining a local library (it’s free!) and choosing stories together, that you can both read.
- Encouraging your child to read written words in the environment, e.g. Asda, street, road
- Making story time fun!
- Reading a range of different types of texts, for example comics, leaflets, newspapers, recipes and poems.
- Letting your child see you reading.
Practice, Practice, Practice
To become fluent readers, children need plenty of practice not only at school but also at home. We recommend that children from Reception through to Year 2 read at least five times a week at home, with Years 3 and 4 reading four times a week and Years 5 and 6 reading three times a week. Children also benefit from being read to – a bedtime story each night is the perfect opportunity to enjoy a book together.
If you would like any more information about reading in school, please contact your child’s teacher.