Learning to Read

Learning to read is probably the most important thing your son or daughter will do in school, (well, maybe equal with having fun!) but it won’t all happen in class: parents/carers need to help at home too.

How is reading taught at E-Act Blackley Academy?

We use phonics to teach reading and spelling.

So what is phonics teaching all about?

Many adults learned how to read whole words using the ‘look and say’ method ( think Ladybird’s Janet and John series). Phonics teaches children the sounds (phonemes) that make up words. Words are broken down into the sounds they are made from and then these sounds are ‘blended’ together to make the word. So, for example, with ‘dog’, children learn the sounds that d, o, and g make separately and then how they blend (put them together) to say ‘dog’. Children do need to learn the names of the letters too. This is very important! Phonics also helps children spell as they can hear the sounds in a word and then translate them back into the letters needed.

How will phonics be taught in my child’s class?

We use the Letters and Sounds material to teach phonics. Teachers will start off with simpler single letter sounds (typically s,a,t,p,i,n) and then move to those which involve two letters such as ‘oi’, ‘ou’ and ‘ai’, or more e.g. ‘igh, ‘ough’ or ‘eigh’. Learning the letter sounds is the first step. The really important bit is to teach the children what to do with them. Start simply with CVC (consonant vowel consonant) words, such as cat, hat, hop and then longer and more difficult words.

What about words which can’t be decoded with phonics?

Some words such as ‘friend’ can’t be decoded easily. They might need other strategies to work these words out, including, looking at the pictures to help, sounding out some of the word and using that to work out the rest of it, and thinking of other words that look the same and could provide clues.

When might my child get books to read from school?

From Reception Class, your child will receive a reading book to be read at home. This should be read every night. The reading record should be brought in each day too.

When my child can’t read a word, should I read it for him?

It’s important to give children some thinking time if they get stuck on a word. Don’t jump in too quickly. Do help them after a little while though, especially if they start to look frustrated! Remember to help them sound out the word rather than just reading it for them.

My child has been sent home with their first book but it only has pictures not words! How on earth will that help them learn to read?!

Books with no words can help children if discussed with an adult. They’re a useful tool to get young children discussing stories and characters.

My child is very un-enthusiastic about reading – how can I get him/her interested in books?

Parents can provide bedtime stories, have story C.D.’s in the car, DVD’s of classic tales, make regular visits to the local library. Don’t just read books. Encourage him/her to read newspapers, TV guides, comics, cookery books and magazines too! Even reading the back of the cereal packet or signs in shops is decent practice. Reading doesn’t just have to be books. Reading street names on the walk home, packets in the supermarket… anything. The most important thing about reading is that they are enjoying it!

How can I help my child understand what they are reading?

Even if your Son or Daughter can ‘decode’ the words on a page and read them out loud, it doesn’t mean they’ll truly take in what’s going on. If they don’t understand the story, then they will struggle to enjoy reading. To help with this, make sure you don’t just listen to your child read – ask them some questions about the book too.

How do I know if a book is too easy or difficult?

Books that are too difficult will not help reading progress – in fact these may make your child less likely to want to read. If a book is a little too difficult or your child is tired but you and they want to read it anyway, try sharing out the reading by taking it in turns to read. For example, you could read a page, paragraph or sentence each. Please remember to be supportive even when they are struggling. Really praise your child for all the words that they are getting correct. When you’re learning to read, in the beginning, each new word is a huge step. If you have any questions please see your child’s teacher.

Our approach to the teaching of reading.