Reading is probably the most important skill that a child will learn in primary school. It opens up a whole new world of learning and imagination.
At St Mary's, children are taught to read using a range of different approaches. This includes Phonics Skills for decoding, using Picture and Context clues and learning High Frequency Word recognition.
We use a range of reading schemes which are matched to the needs of the reader. These include phonetic story books and books with a more story-based approach.
Phonetic books are used to give children early success using their phonic skills. The majority of words in these books can be decoded by sounding out the letters in each word and blending the sounds together. We use a range of schemes, mostly from "Oxford Reading Tree". When children can read phonetic books well they will move them onto a story approach (sometimes alternating between reading a phonetic book with a story approach book).
Story approach books have been designed for children to read using a range of different skills. Children will be reading using a whole story approach and will be using pictures and context clues to make sense of the text. Children will need to be able to read for meaning to fully access these books. Story approach books have far less words that can be decoded phonetically and children will be asked to recognise much harder words from early books (words such as ‘Kipper’, ‘children’, ‘barbecue’) in the context of the story. These books require a whole different range of skills. Children need to know that some words can be sounded out, some words are ‘remembering words’ and some words can be guessed in the context of the sentence or by using picture clues.
Please note that children should not be purely kept on phonetic books once they start to read independently. They will think they can read everything but they will only have experienced one set of skills. They need a range of skills to read effectively at a higher level.
Helping your child at home:
Please read with your child regularly at home.
What to do if a child gets stuck on a word
Guidelines for sharing a book with a younger child
Guidelines for sharing a book with older children
At St Mary's we use the Letters & Sounds programme to teach phonics.
What is Letters and Sounds?
Letters and Sounds is a phonics resource first published by the Department for Education and Skills in 2007. It aims to build children's speaking and listening skills in their own right as well as to prepare children for learning to read by developing their phonic knowledge and skills. It sets out a detailed and systematic programme for teaching phonic skills for children starting by the age of five, with the aim of them becoming fluent readers by age seven.
There are six overlapping phases. The table below is a summary based on the Letters and Sounds guidance for Practitioners and Teachers. For more detailed information, visit the Letters and Sounds website.
Phonic Knowledge and Skills
Phase One (Nursery/Reception)
|Activities are divided into seven aspects, including environmental sounds, instrumental sounds, body sounds, rhythm and rhyme, alliteration, voice sounds and finally oral blending and segmenting.|
Phase Two (Reception) up to 6 weeks
|Learning 19 letters of the alphabet and one sound for each. Blending sounds together to make words. Segmenting words into their separate sounds. Beginning to read simple captions.|
|Phase Three (Reception) up to 12 weeks||The remaining 7 letters of the alphabet, one sound for each. Graphemes such as ch, oo, th representing the remaining phonemes not covered by single letters. Reading captions, sentences and questions. On completion of this phase, children will have learnt the "simple code", i.e. one grapheme for each phoneme in the English language.|
Phase Four (Reception) 4 to 6 weeks
|No new grapheme-phoneme correspondences are taught in this phase. Children learn to blend and segment longer words with adjacent consonants, e.g. swim, clap, jump.|
|Phase Five (Throughout Year 1)||Now we move on to the "complex code". Children learn more graphemes for the phonemes which they already know, plus different ways of pronouncing the graphemes they already know.|
|Phase Six (Throughout Year 2 and beyond)||Working on spelling, including prefixes and suffixes, doubling and dropping letters etc.|