Reading and Writing
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.
We group children by their phonic skills and reading progress and re-assess children every half-term so we can place them in the group where they’ll make the most progress. We provide extra daily one-to-one sessions for children who need a bit of a boost to keep up.
The children will normally complete the programme in the early part of year two. The focus the is on spelling, grammar, punctuation and reading comprehension skills.
How do we get children to remember what we teach them?
Children learn through talk and to ensure that they have as many opportunities as possible for this, we use partner work. Children answer questions with their partner and this helps them stay focused throughout the lesson. Partner talk is fundamental to the success of the programme.
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.
First we teach them how 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 to read the sounds easily, especially slower-starters and children with English as an additional language.
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. By the time your child reads the story to you at home, they will be able to read it confidently with expression.
How do we teach children to spell confidently?
We use just two simple activities: Fred Fingers to spell regular words and Red Rhythms for tricky words.
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.
We teach tricky words with Red Rhythms. We say the tricky letters in a puzzled or annoyed voice and build the letter names up into a rhythm, for example, s-ai-d.
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, spelling and composition separately, gradually bringing each skill together step-by-step.
We teach children to form letters with the correct pencil grip and in the correct sitting position from the very beginning. They practise handwriting every day so they learn to write quickly and easily and are taught to join letters with appropriate joins when their letter formation is secure. This is generally in year two.
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 is the highlight of every day. We have a range of stories, including traditional tales, that children get to know really well, and others we read just for fun. Children learn to retell the stories and poems by heart.
Early Years Foundation Stage
Young children are very creative and we encourage them to tell us their stories, even before they have the skills to write them. We value these stories highly and give them greater importance by the adult writing exactly what the child has said. This encourages children to have ownership and pride in their work, laying the foundation for independent compositions later on in school.
Talk For Writing
We follow Talk for Writing, which was developed by Pie Corbett supported by Julia Strong. It is powerful because it is based on the principles of how children learning story language through talk. Talk for Writing enables children to imitate the key language they need for a particular topic orally before they try reading and analysing it.
How can you help at home?
First of all, come to our meetings. We hold these regularly and these will give you practical advice about how you can help.
We appreciate you’re busy but here are two things that will make the biggest difference to your child’s progress. Every night:
1. Read a bedtime story to your child.
You are welcome to borrow books from school, but we have a fantastic resource in our local libraries. Read these stories to your child – don’t ask them to read the story themselves if this is beyond their current reading stage. There is some really good advice about how to make bedtime storytime fun on:
2. Listen to your child patiently.
Encourage them to read the colour-banded reading book that we send home. This book will not generally be familiar; it is chosen to give your child opportunities to apply phonic skills and reading strategies that they are learning.
Praise your child for how well they read it – celebrate what a great reader they are. They’ll sometimes bring home previous stories they have read too. Re-reading stories develops their fluency on every reading.
Home-School Reading Diary
This diary is an important communication tool. It helps staff know what the child has read at home and a good opportunity for you to make a brief note about what went well and any difficulties that your child has shown.
Above all, enjoy sharing books with your child. Children grow up only too quickly and these precious moments are so important.
They will form valuable memories for you both!