How we teach your children to read and write
Every child deserves success right from the start. We know that the sooner children learn to read, the greater their success at school. This is why we put reading at the heart of what we do.
We use a teaching programme called Read Write Inc. Phonics to teach our children to read and write. We make sure every child can read the last set of phonic stories before they progress back to class. Some children complete the programme in Year 1 and others will in Year 2. Year 3 and 4 children who need extra support follow this programme too; struggling readers in Year 5 and 6 children follow a similar programme called Fresh Start.
During this time, we group children by their reading progress for one hour a day (20 to 45 minutes in Reception) and re-assess children regularly so we can place them in the group where they’ll make the most progress. We provide extra one-to-one sessions for children who need a bit of a boost to keep up.
How do we get children to remember what we teach them?
It’s much easier teaching one child – we can get them to repeat what they have understood in their own words, step by step. Then, if they haven’t understood, we can try different words and explanations. So, in order to replicate this back and forth dialogue with a group or class, we use partner work. Children answer every question with a partner, the teacher checks what they know and only moves on when they understand. It means that all children stay focused throughout the lesson. Partner talk is fundamental to the success of our school. We use, ‘turn to your partner’ in every reading lesson.
How do we make phonics easy for children to learn?
Read Write Inc. Phonics depends upon children learning to read and write sounds effortlessly, so we make it simple and fun.
The phonic knowledge is split into two parts.
First we teach them one way to read and write the 40+ sounds in English. We use pictures to help, for example we make ‘a’ into the shape of an apple, ‘f’ into the shape of a flower. These pictures help all children, especially slower-starters, to read the sounds easily.
Children learn to read words by sound-blending using a frog called Fred. Fred says the sounds and children help him blend the sounds to read each word.
Then we teach children the different spellings of the same sounds, for example, they learn that the sound ‘ay’ is written ay, a-e and ai; the sound ‘ee’ is written ee, e and ea. We use phrases to help them remember each sound for example, ay, may I play?, a-e – make a cake.
How do we ensure children can read every book?
The first thing we do is to give children books we know they can read – without any guessing. (We read lots of other stories to them, but do not expect them to read these yet.)
Before they read the story, they sound out the names of characters and new words, practise reading any of the ‘tricky red’ words, and tell them a thought-provoking introduction to get them excited about the story.
Then, over three days, children read the story three times: first to focus on reading the words carefully; the second to help them read the story fluently; and on the third, we talk about the story together for example, how characters might be feeling and why.
How do we teach children to spell confidently?
We teach children to spell using ‘Fred Fingers’: we say a word and then children pinch the sounds onto their fingers and write the word, sound by sound.
Children learn to spell new words and review past words every week, they practise spelling them with a partner and – when they’re ready – we give them a test to celebrate their spelling success.
How do we make writing simple for children to learn?
We teach handwriting separately, focusing on correct letter formation and size as well as presentation. Posture and poise is equally important to this activity.
Once children can write simple words, we teach them to ‘hold’ a sentence in their heads and then write it with correct spelling and punctuation.
Very soon children are able to write down their own ideas. We try out different sentences together, drawing on new vocabulary and phrases from the storybook they’ve just read. They practise saying their sentences out loud first so they don’t forget their ideas while they’re writing. They also learn to proofread their own writing using ready-made sentences containing common grammar, punctuation and spelling errors.
Story and poetry time
Storytime happens each week. We have a bank of stories called “linked texts” that children get to know really well like traditional fairy tales, and others we read just for fun. The teacher reads the book and provides a model of a storyteller’s voice. The aim is to motivate the children to want to read themselves.
How can you help at home?
We appreciate you’re busy but here are three things that will make the biggest difference to your child’s progress.
1. Read a story to your child at bedtime.
2. Listen to your child read. Always praise their efforts. For a child to progress as a reader, he/she must feel confident and enjoy their reading.
3. Talk about the book before and after reading. Ask questions and discuss the story together. Vary the questioning from simple retrieval of information to more complex questions that require a deeper understanding of comprehension. Here are some examples of questions you could ask your child in order to extend their reading skills:
- How did…………happen?
- When/where did the story take place?
- What was the character like?
- Can you describe where the story was set?
- Explain how the author made this character seem angry/happy/sad/excited.
- Find the word………..explain the meaning.
- Can you invent a new title?
- Can you predict the ending?
- Could the story be improved in any way?
- Look at the front cover. What do you think the story is about?