How we teach reading – answers for parents
How will my child be taught to read?
We start teaching phonics in Reception. This means that they learn how to ‘read’ the sounds in words and how those sounds can be written down. This is essential for reading, but it also helps children learn to spell well. We teach the children simple ways of remembering these sounds and letters.
When they are ready, children practise reading (and spelling) what we call ‘tricky words’, such as ‘once,’ ‘have,’ ‘said’ and ‘where’. They also practise their reading with books that match the phonics and the ‘tricky words’ they know. They start thinking that they can read and this does wonders for their confidence.
The teachers read to the children, too, so the children get to know all sorts of stories, poetry and information books. They learn many more words this way and it also helps their writing.
How is my child doing?
We use various ways to find out how the children are getting on in reading. We use the information to decide what reading group they should be in. You may have noticed your child has come home wearing a name sticker this week. This is because your child is now working with children who are at the same reading level as them (so the teachers have been learning some new names). Children will move to a different group if they are making faster progress than the others. Your child will have one-to-one support if we think he or she needs some extra help to keep up.
We also use a reading assessment so that we can make sure that all our children are at the level that they should be for their age compared to all the children across the country.
What can I do to help? Is there anything that I shouldn't do?
Your child will bring different sorts of books home from school. It helps if you know whether this is a book that your child can read on their own or whether this is a book that you should read to them. The teacher will have explained which is which. At the moment all children are reading wordless books, however some have moved onto reading sentences in school. Please trust your child’s teacher to choose the book(s) that will help your child the most.
Your child will bring home a picture book that they know well. Please don’t say, ‘This is too easy.’ Instead, encourage your child to tell you the story out loud; ask them questions about things that happen or what they think about some of the characters in the story.
We know parents and carers are very busy people. But if you can find time to read to your child as much as possible, it helps him or her to learn about books and stories. They also learn new words and what they mean. Show that you are interested in reading yourself and talk about reading as a family. You can find out about good stories to read to your child here:
What if he or she finds it difficult to learn to read?
We want children to learn to read, however long it takes us to teach them. We will find out very quickly if your child is finding reading difficult. First, we move children to a different group, so that we can make sure that they have learnt what they need to know. If they still struggle, we give them extra time with an adult, on their own. These adults are specially trained to support these children. Your child will still be in the same group with the other children and won’t miss out on any of the class lessons.
If we have any serious worries about your child’s reading, we will talk to you about this.
Some children take a bit longer to learn to put sounds together to read a word, e.g. c-a-t to make the word ‘cat’.
My child has difficulty pronouncing some sounds. Will this stop him learning to read through phonics?
This isn’t a problem for learning to read as long as we know what sound the child is trying to say. This is not something to worry about. Many children have a few sounds that they can hear clearly but find it difficult to say, particularly the l-sound, r-sound, w-sound, th-sound, s-sound, sh-sound and j-sound. Often they say a t-sound for the c-sound; "tttssh" for the s-sound; "w" for the r-sound and "r" for the l-sound. You can help your child by encouraging him or her to look at your mouth when you say the sound. They can easily learn to read, even if they find one or two sounds difficult to say.
Sound Pronunciation Guide
Printable Speed Sounds Cards
What is Read Write Inc. Phonics?
Read Write Inc Presentation