Learning to read is vitally important for learning, communication, stimulating the imagination, expanding knowledge and experience and to give access to all other areas of the curriculum. All areas of the curriculum are accessed through reading and writing skills. Hence, a huge emphasis is placed upon reading in Key Stage 1. We believe that reading is taught, not acquired. Plenty of time, care and patience are given to teaching the children to read and we see this as a partnership with you. At school we teach reading and at home you reinforce and practice what has been learned. Your contribution is essential, as the children will not progress without you playing a part as well. In addition to the practice, it is your enthusiasm, which shows the children how important reading is.
Reading should be fun and pleasurable and we believe everyone will achieve success!
We offer an enthusiastic approach to reading with a set structure, which of course has the flexibility to allow children to move on quickly, should this be appropriate, or gain more practice at one level, where appropriate. Reading skills are built up in small steps with individual assessment throughout. Each child will be working at their own level and no child is held back by another. The groups in which your child will be reading are flexible, and your child can easily change groups depending on the rate at which they progress.
How we teach reading
The children have already been learning pre-reading skills, both actively at school and informally at home. Seeing adults and other children read, listening to stories being read, concentrating on what they are hearing, understanding that books are read from front to back and left to right are all important pre-reading skills. Talking about the characters and plot, looking at the illustrations and seeing who the author and illustrator are, are also important and further the child’s understanding of the written word. All children are working on their listening and concentration skills, which are important skills to have when reading.
When your child is ready to learn to read, we will follow this approach. There are 3 main strategies which are used for teach reading:
1 – Look and Say (whole word approach)
This is the teaching of whole words through word and shape recognition using flashcards in small groups. The words start on pink, then yellow and green. These colours correspond to the first 3 levels of reading books and contain the relevant words for these books. The words are introduced gradually, a few new words are needed to access a series of books. Once we have looked at and practiced these words in school, they will be sent home for you to practice to enable your child to commit them to memory and read them on sight. There will be a dot next to the words that your child needs to practice and learn next. Could we ask that the words are only ticked by school staff, so that we can keep track of your child’s progress. It is up to you how you help your child learn these words. You may decide to make your own flashcards of these words and place them in various places around the house. You may use magnetic letters, or practice writing, drawing, colouring them. Each child will learn in a different way and at a different speed, but by making it fun they are more likely to learn quicker. These words are in the order that they appear in the books and will be built upon. When working with your child, please vary the order in which you ask them so that they don’t just learn them by memory of order, but by sight. Being able to read these words on sight will ensure your child achieves success when reading the books with these words in, which will boost their confidence. Lack of confidence can really hinder a child’s progress. If your child has forgotten a word please be patient with them and tell them what it is. Children will really appreciate this. It is also far more beneficial to have a number of short sessions of about 5/6 minutes a day rather than one long session.
2 – Phonics
The look and say approach is focused on children learning the shape of the word, not using phonics. We have done a lot of work on the phonic aspect of reading and will be continuing to teach the sounds on a regular basis as it is still an important part of learning to read and write. But we do not rely on this to teach reading at the start because many of the words being taught do not follow the simple phonic rules and will only confuse your child e.g. c,a,t for ‘cat’ but w,a,l,k for ‘walk’. If however, your child can identify the initial or final phoneme of a word, do encourage this and use it to the effect of the word e.g. the ‘s’ and ‘t’ of ‘is’ and ‘it’ will help in determining the word.
3 - Sentence Method
This is concerned with predicting the words from the rest of the sentence, using the pictures to help. These are important and relevant skills so please do not cover up the pictures as they are there for a good reason. The meaning of the words is so important and is the key to a good reader. This also builds the skills of adding expression to the reading rather than the monotone staccato reading that often happens when the emphasis has been too much on decoding the words. It is important to encourage reading for meaning, fluency and use of expression. Meaning, fluency and expression are all areas for assessment and so should not be bypassed. We will not move your child up a stage or level just because they can read the word cards or word walls (which begin at stage 4). Children need regular reading of words to commit them to their long term memories. A point to bear in mind, once your child has read all the word cards and word walls on sight for their level, it doesn’t automatically mean that they will move up a level. There may still be books for them to read within that particular level and we feel it is important for the children to read a variety of books and enjoy the breadth of choice we have in our reading scheme.
With the library books, the children are not expected to read these themselves. It is important that you have time together to share these so that the children can look at the words and pictures. As with all books the children bring home, talk about the type of book and the characters, if applicable. Encourage the children to predict what might happen next. Children will often take home the same book more than once and a reason for this is that they feel comfortable with a story they are familiar with.
What can you do to help
Reading Record books will be sent home daily in book bags so please check to see if your child has read that day. They will not necessarily read on the same day each week. We will write notes in the record book to help you with reading. Please sign and date the book each time you work with your child. Please try to:
· Give constant praise.
· Practice! The more you do with the words, the less of an obstacle a book will be.
After all this… children need to know that reading is fun!