The Teaching of Reading
At St.Cedd’s it is through reading that much of our learning takes place. Competence in reading provides the key to independent learning and has a direct effect upon progress in most areas. Reading is crucial in developing children’s self-confidence and motivation, therefore the teaching of reading is given high priority within the curriculum at St. Cedd’s.
Children begin learning to read at the start of the Reception year with the teaching of Fast Track Phonics. This is a systematic phonics programme that builds children’s skills in letter-sound correspondence and word level blending and segmenting.
The aim of Fast Track Phonics is to ensure that children master the following skill areas:
- Auditory Blending and Segmenting
- Letter-Sound Correspondence
- Word-Level Blending
- Sound Spelling
Auditory Blending and Segmenting
Children are taught that all words are made up of separate units of speech (phonemes). This skill facilitates reading and spelling. They begin to understand that when sounds are quickly blended together, they sound like one unit of speech. When children learn that there are, for example, three sounds in a word (c,a,t), it logically follows that there are three graphemes needed to represent the sounds. Understanding the concept of the separability of sounds in words gives children the building blocks for understanding how the alphabet works to represent speech. Children rely less on memorising to read words, and more on applying their blending and segmenting skills to analyse, read and write words.
To develop fluency in reading, children need to establish an automatic connection between letters and their sounds. They begin to use their letter-sound correspondence to sound out and read words. As their knowledge of letter sounds develops, the easier it is for them blend the sounds into words for reading. Children are learnt to hear a sound, then read and write the letter that represents that sound.
Word-level blending is the ability to look at a word, recognise the graphemes, make the sound for each grapheme, then put the sounds together to say the word. The understanding of letter-sound correspondence alongside auditory blending and segmenting aid the performance of this more complex task.
Sound spelling is the ability to successfully sound out a word and transcribe the sounds into letters.
The teaching of Fast Track Phonics continues throughout Year One and Two, and is used as an intervention tool within Key Stage Two.
As well as the teaching of phonics, there are three structured ways in which children are taught and helped to develop their reading skills:
This takes place during the English lesson. The teacher and children work together to explore a variety of text including fiction, non-fiction and poetry. The teacher models reading during this time with each lesson having a specific focus, for example, comprehension, word-building, spelling patterns and punctuation. Shared reading provides a context for applying and teaching specific skills and enables children to access reading material that they may not otherwise be able to read.
Guided Reading is used to develop fluency in reading and comprehension skills. Children are exposed to a variety of text types. They read short extracts whilst answering questions to help them comprehend the text, through; previewing, self-questioning, making connections, visualising, knowing how words work, monitoring, summarising and evaluating.
Guided Reading is taught as a lesson each day, with the children practising skills taught through focused activities.
Books used for individual reading are matched to the child’s reading ability level. Reading is assessed at least once a term which helps to determine which colour band the child should be reading. Assessment of reading involves checking for fluency in reading alongside comprehension of the text. When a child is secure in both elements they will be moved to the next colour band. Children will read a variety of books within each colour band including fiction, non-fiction and poetry from a range of reading schemes, including Collins, New Reading 360, Oxford Reading Tree and Nelson. This helps to develop an understanding of a variety of text. Once the children are confident readers they will choose what to bring home from a wide range of titles. Children are given the opportunity to read with a teacher or learning support assistant each week. Books can be changed up to five times per week.
Please take the time to listen to your child read and to discuss the book with them, asking questions, explaining the meaning of words and asking for their ideas and opinions about what they have read. Please make a comment in their reading diary indicating that you have listened to them read. All children who have read at least three times across the week shown through parent comment in the diary, will be entered into a reading prize draw.
Children have weekly opportunities to choose a library book to take home. The main purpose of library books is that they are fun and help children to develop a love of books. Children are able to choose any book, regardless of reading ability, which we hope that you will enjoy sharing and reading together.
How Parents Can Help:
There are many ways that you can help to promote the enjoyment of reading at home. Here are some ideas:
- Visit the local library and borrow books that you can enjoy together
- Model reading; expressing a personal interest in reading will encourage your child to enjoy reading too
- Whilst out and about encourage your child to read road signs, shop names, product names, logos, notices etc
- Play games such as ‘I Spy’ to encourage initial sound recognition
- Whilst cooking encourage your child to read the recipe/ instructions to you
- Audio and e. books are really useful for modelling how reading sounds
Encourage your child to experience a range of reading materials such as picture books, hard backs, comics, magazines and information books.
Have fun with reading!