Reading and Phonics
Here at Borden we know it is vitally important for every child to achieve in reading and phonics from the start of their academic career. As every child is different, we have a range of resources and teaching methods at our disposal but our core teaching program from Reception to Year 3 is Read Write Inc.
Reception class children are kept together for their daily thirty minute RWInc lesson, while an entry assessment of the children in years 1 to 3 determines which homogenous group they join.
Phonics and reading are very closely linked. To read and spell accurately the children are taught skills to be able to decode words. They learn to:
· Segment – separate sounds in words
· Blend – push sounds together to form words
· Manipulate Sounds: take sounds out and put sounds into words.
Therefore one of the first skills the children need to acquire is to know and use the 44 main letter sounds and how to form and write the letters of the alphabet. It is also very important that children are taught to use the pure sounds. The following video demonstrates these pure sounds very clearly and it would be helpful if these sounds are used at home and school. Video (Please be aware, this is a direct link to YouTube)
In Willow, Maple and Cherry classes, we use the Read Write Inc. Phonics and Get Writing! Literacy programme rooted in the new National Curriculum for children aged five to eleven. The teaching methods are designed to stimulate and challenge children’s thinking and create enthusiastic, life-long readers and writers. For more information, click here to look at the ‘Read Write Inc’ programmes.
The Year 1 Phonics Screening Test
This was introduced by the DfE in 2012 and is a short test which assesses whether individual children have learnt to read words to an appropriate standard and even includes nonsense words! This test identifies the children who need extra help so that they are given support by the school to improve their reading skills.
To find out more about learning to read through phonics and the Phonics Screening Test click here.
Research shows that the critical age when children learn to be good readers and writers is between three and seven. To be a good reader a child must learn to not only read the words but the pictures and illustrations too as they can add an extra dimension to what they are reading. At first children concentrate on reading the words with little thought to the meaning of what they are reading. Fluency and expression follow while comprehension develops over a longer period. Inference is a skill that the children learn later.
At Borden our reading scheme and group reading books incorporate a variety of books including Oxford Reading Tree, Snapdragons, Project X and Rigby Star graded books. Once children reach a level beyond the reading scheme they choose from a selection of free choice books as this enriches and develops their vocabulary, comprehension skills and ultimately their writing and spelling skills.
From their very first day in school every child is given a reading book and a Reading Contact Book. The contact book provides a home/school diary where successes and targets in reading are recorded by teachers and parents/carers. Every child is encouraged to read at home every day and there are opportunities for quiet reading within the school day.
At school there are numerous opportunities for the children to read. This could be in the daily Read Write Inc. lessons, individual reading or in other subjects throughout the school week. The child practises decoding by breaking down and sounding out unfamiliar words using the skills taught in the phonics lessons.
Comprehension and skills of inference are modelled and taught and the children begin to develop their own skills. Comprehension is a complex skill involving predicting, summarising, clarifying, questioning and inferring and this is where we are able to target the areas they need through the homogenous grouping. We also provide ‘Reading for Inference’ and comprehension lessons for targeted groups of children during Key Stage 2.
How can you help?
A child’s success as a reader begins much earlier than the first day of school. Reading, and a love for reading, begins at home. Why not play with letters, words, and sounds? Having fun with language helps your child learn to crack the code of reading. Provide lots of opportunities to read aloud whether it’s at the supermarket, the park or at home. Inspire your young reader to practice every day, let them see you reading for pleasure. Make up stories and rhymes together with your child. When they read a book talk about it and ask questions about it.
There is an excellent document by Springboard that is full of tips and ideas on how to help your child develop a love for reading. Just click the following link to access it. You can also order a paper copy free of charge.
Accurate spelling is embedded into our teaching and learning across the curriculum and not confined to discrete lessons.
All our children are encouraged to ‘have a go’ at new words using the phonics skills they have acquired. Sometimes key words are given in the form of a word bank and high-frequency words can be seen on displays around the classrooms. We do not correct every spelling error in their work as this would erode confidence and stifle experimentation with new vocabulary, but we do highlight an appropriate number of errors depending on the ability and age of the child concerned.
The children are often asked to complete homework tasks to support their progression in spelling. These tasks may be related to a particular topic, personal spellings based upon errors noted in the children’s work, looking at spelling patterns and rules or all three. Spellings are tested often so that we can identify ‘next steps’ for the children to make improvements.
How you can help your child become an effective speller?
Your support is invaluable! Parents and carers are able to extend what happens in school and help children apply their learning to the world beyond the classroom. Here are some tips to help your child become an effective speller:
• Make spelling fun, as children learn best through play – spelling activities are best seen as ‘playing with words’.
• Not only listen and read to your child but read with them as good spellers are often good speakers and good readers.
• Sort words into general groups; look at common patterns, as it is impossible to learn to spell every word separately.
• Discuss and explain why a word is spelt in a particular way as that way your child will probably remember how to spell it.
• Many children find computers highly motivating and there are some excellent resources available including the BBC website at http://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/