Reading is the Key to Learning
Learning to read is one of the most important things our children will achieve at our school. Everything else depends on it, so we put as much energy as we possibly can into making sure that every single child learns to read as quickly as possible.
At St. Augustine’s we believe in developing a reading culture throughout the school by creating welcoming book areas in classrooms and raising the profile of reading through a print rich environment, attractive book displays and promoting the written word at all times.
We want our child to love reading – and to want to read for themselves. This is why we work hard to make sure children develop a love of books as well as learning to read.
Approach to phonics
At St. Augustine’s all pupils in Nursery to Year 2 are taught how to read using phonics. The scheme that we use is Phonics Play and this supports Letter and Sounds.
This programme teaches children to decode text phonetically by introducing them to different phonemes (sounds) step by step. As the children learn their sounds they also learn to blend them to read unfamiliar words.
Nursery pupils start to cover Phase 1 from Letters and Sounds throughout their time with us. During Reception the children begin to work on Phase 2 and move into Phase 3. Children in Years 1 and 2 work on Phase 4, Phase 5 and Phase 6 (revising previous Phases if necessary). Each child takes home a leaflet explaining the phase to their parents in more detail.
Teaching of phonics also incorporates the English Appendix 1: Spelling.
Some children in Key Stage 2 will continue to follow the scheme as is necessary.
In the summer term, the government asks us to do a phonics check of all the Year 1 children.
Approach to reading
Teachers read daily to the children, so the children get to know and love all sorts of stories, poetry and information books. This helps to extend children’s vocabulary and comprehension, as well as supporting their writing. Children read from a variety of schemes and real books which have been grouped according to reading ability.
Reception pupils begin with books which have no words and encourage discussions about pictures and the story as a whole. The teachers check the children’s reading skills regularly so that they can ensure the children have consolidated and developed their reading skills within that stage. Once this has been achieved, the children are progressed onto the next stage.
When a pupil completes the banded books the class teacher moves the pupil onto being a ‘free reader.’ At this point pupils are able to read any book from the collections held in school or they can choose a book from home.
All children take part in guided reading sessions as well as individual and whole class reading. Children are regularly assessed to ensure reading books are matched to their ability to decode and comprehend.
How long will it take to learn to read well?
Every child is different and children will learn to read at different speeds. By the end of Year 2, most children will be able to read aloud books that are at the right level for his or her age. In Year 3 and beyond, we concentrate more on helping children to understand what they are reading, although this work begins very early on. All children are individuals so some children take a little longer to learn to put sounds together to read a word, e.g. c-a-t to make the word ‘cat’.
Recommended Reading Lists
We have created a recommended reading list for each year group. These books will excite your child and enable them to become familiar with different authors and genres. The children can find copies of these books within our class libraries and our local libraries also have them available.
What can parents/carers do to help?
Parents are integral part in the children’s ‘reading journey’. We encourage children to read at home on a daily basis and communication between school and home is recorded in their school diary. When it is safe we invite parents/ members of the community to come and read with children both individually and as a group. You can help your child to sound out the letters in words and then to ‘blend’ the sounds together to make a whole word. Try not to refer to the letters by their names, help your child to focus on the sounds. Short frequent sessions are better for children’s concentration.
Sometimes your child might 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. Make reading fun!
Remember to keep reading to your child. They will come across far more adventurous words than they will in their early reading books. You will be helping them to grow a vast vocabulary and understand the meaning of different stories etc. It will also encourage them to love books and want to read more!
If you have any further questions about how we teach reading here at St. Augustine’s, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
English Subject Leader
Department of Education