Essential Letters and Sounds is our chosen phonic programme. The aim of ELS is ‘Getting all children to read well, quickly’. It teaches children to read by identifying the phonemes (smallest unit of sound) and graphemes (the written version of the sound) within words and using these to read words.
Children are taught phonics from the very beginning of Reception where it is explicitly taught every day during a dedicated slot in the timetable. Children are given the knowledge and the skills to then apply this independently. These daily sessions continue into KS1 and beyond for pupils who do not pass the phonic check before they transition to KS2.
Speaking and Listening
These are the essential skills on which reading and writing are based. Many opportunities are provided for pupils to become discerning listeners and to articulate their thoughts and opinions successfully.
It is our intention for all pupils to become fluent, confident readers and develop a lifelong love of reading. Our curriculum is designed to expose the children to range of high quality texts, both modern and classical, and including those from diverse cultures and backgrounds. When our focus is on reading, we pitch the texts slightly beyond the level that the children could access alone and use strategies such as ‘echo’ reading, MTYT and fluency games to develop reading skills. Our chosen texts help to develop rich vocabulary as well as reading skills and, class discussions help to develop comprehension skills as well as a deeper understanding of author intentions. To help support this work in class, teachers use and display the ‘Vipers’ questions. In Year 1 to 6, there is a class reading text each term.
From the very beginning of Reception children are provided with opportunities to build their physical strength and control in their core, upper body, hands and fingers. Writing can then develop alongside all areas of learning especially communication and language, reading and mathematics.
When writing, children are taken on a Learning Journey based on a high quality text and driven towards a written outcome with a purpose. Children are shown how to explore a model text, firstly as a reader, and then the text is unpicked and all aspects of the piece examined together. This process supports children to understand the grammar and composition needed in their own writing. During the Learning Journey children will plan, draft, edit, improve and publish their work covering a variety of genre across the school.
Children are taught letter formation across EYFS and KS1 during phonic and handwriting sessions. During Year 2, pupils are taught how to join their writing using the Nelson Handwriting Scheme. This scheme is also used throughout KS2.
From Year 2, pupils follow the RWI spelling scheme. This is delivered in discrete sessions, to cover the appropriate spellings and patterns for their year group.
Supporting your child at home
Hearing your child read
One of the most helpful support jobs you as a parent can do once your child starts school is hear your child read every day. Just ten minutes every day can have a big impact on their progress and reading confidence.
It is crucial to make reading time as stress free and enjoyable as possible. Use the following tips to help.
- Create a comfortable, quiet place to sit and listen to your child read and make sure there are no distractions nearby, such as the TV, radio or computer.
- Help your child practise their phonics sounds (see section below concerning phonics) and use their knowledge to ‘decode’ unfamiliar words on the page.
- When a word is not decodable i.e. a high frequency word such as the, or, was, point this out to them and support them to recognise these by sight. Key words will be sent home regularly to practise, these include tricky words and words that are phonetically readable and appear frequently in books.
- By praising your child’s efforts you’ll boost their confidence and enjoyment of reading. Pick up on and mention specific achievements or advancements they make, such as sounding out a new word successfully or remembering a word they decoded the day before.
- Don’t jump in and correct your youngster straight away if they make a mistake sounding out a word, instead pause and wait to see if they correct themselves first. Try offering a couple of clues to help prompt them to get the word right, and congratulate them when they do.
- As adult readers we use the ‘clues’ of context, illustrations, repetition etc. all the time when we are reading – and it is fine for children to do this too!
- Make your reading sessions upbeat and fun by keeping them short, being enthusiastic, giving lots of praise and cuddling up somewhere cosy together.
- Chat about the book, its cover, the blurb on the back, your child’s favourite characters in the story and what happens in the plot to help build their understanding and comprehension of the story.
- In EYFS and KS1 please use the reading diary to add comments about your child’s progress or impressions of the book they’re reading. It’s good to involve your child when you write a comment, checking that they agree with what you’ve written and allowing them to add their opinion too!
- Talk to your child’s teacher if you’re concerned that they are bringing home books that are not at the right level but avoid comparing your youngster’s progress with other children’s reading skills.
- Remember you are welcome into school at 3.15pm any day to change your child’s reading book with them.