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St Benedict's Catholic Primary School

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Phonics and Reading

Reading and Phonics at St Benedict's: Information for Parents

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Learning to read through phonics - Information for parents


1 What is phonics?
Phonics is a way of teaching children to read quickly and skilfully. They are taught how recognise the sounds that each individual letter makes;
• identify the sounds that different combinations of letters make - such as ‘sh’ or ‘oo’; and
• blend these sounds together from left to right to make a word.
Children can then use this knowledge to ‘de-code’ new words that they hear or see. This is the first important step in learning to read.


Why phonics?
Research shows that when phonics is taught in a structured way - starting with the easiest sounds and progressing through to the most complex – it is the most effective way of teaching young children to read. It is particularly helpful for children aged 5–7.
Almost all children who receive good teaching of phonics will learn the skills they need to tackle new words. They can then go on to read any kind of text fluently and confidently, and to read for enjoyment.


Children who have been taught phonics also tend to read more accurately than those taught using other methods, such as ‘look and say’. This includes children who find learning to read difficult, for example those who have dyslexia.


If you would like to find out more about phonics, visit www.education.gov.uk/schools/teachingandlearning/pedagogy/phonics  or search for ‘phonics’ on the Department for Education website at www.education.gov.uk 


What is the phonics screening check?
The phonics screening check is a quick and easy check of your child’s phonics knowledge. It helps your school confirm whether your child has made the expected progress.
Each year the check will take place during one week in June.
How does the check work?
• Your child will sit with a teacher he or she knows and be asked to read 40 words aloud.
• Your child may have read some of the words before, while others will be completely new.
• The check normally takes just a few minutes to complete and there is no time limit. If your child is struggling, the teacher will stop the check. The check is carefully designed not to be stressful for your child.


What are ‘non-words’?
The check will contain a mix of real words and ‘non-words’ (or ‘nonsense words’). Your child will be told before the check that there will be non-words that he or she will not have seen before. Many children will be familiar with this because many schools already use ‘non-words’ when they teach phonics.
Non-words are important to include because words such as ‘vap’ or ‘jound’ are new to all children. Children cannot read the non-words by using their memory or vocabulary; they have to use their decoding skills. This is a fair way to assess their ability to decode.
After the check
We will tell you about your child’s progress in phonics and how he or she has done in the screening check in the last half-term of Year 1. If your child has found the check difficult, we will also tell you what support we can put in place to help him or her improve. You might like to ask how you can support your child to take the next step in reading.


All children are individuals and develop at different rates. The screening check ensures that teachers understand which children need extra help with phonic decoding.


Helping your child with phonics
Phonics works best when children are given plenty of encouragement and learn to enjoy reading and books. Parents play a very important part in helping with this.
Some simple steps to help your child learn to read through phonics:


● St Benedict’s approach to phonics is in line with Government reviews of reading and your child is taught phonics every day in school. The children are taught and grouped accordingly to each of the different phonics’ phases. We are currently using Read, Write Inc. developed by Ruth Miskin a leading specialist in the teaching of reading.
● You can highlight sounds when you read with your child. Teaching how sounds match with letters is likely to start with individual letters such as ‘s’, ‘a’ and ‘t’ and then will move on to two-letter sounds such as ‘ee’, ‘ch’ and ‘ck’.
● With all books, encourage your child to ‘sound out’ unfamiliar words and then blend the sounds together from left to right rather than looking at the pictures to guess. Once your child has read an unfamiliar word you can talk about what it means and help him or her to follow the story.
● The home/school reading scheme we are currently using is the Oxford Reading Tree these books will support the children with the right level of phonics for your child dependent upon the stage of phonics your child is working at. Some of these books are often called ‘decodable readers’ because the story is written with words made up of the letters your child has learnt. Your child will be able to work out new words from their letters and sounds, rather than just guessing.
● Try to make time to read with your child every day. Grandparents and older brothers or sisters can help, too. Encourage your child to blend the sounds all the way through a word.
● Word games like ‘I-spy’ can also be an enjoyable way of teaching children about sounds and letters. You can also encourage your child to read words from your shopping list or road signs to practise phonics.
Our school uses ‘book bags’ and a reading record, which is a great way to communicate about what children have read. The reading record can tell you whether your child has enjoyed a particular book and shows problems or successes he or she has had, either at home or at school.


"Once you learn to read, you will be forever free." — Frederick Douglass

Reading in EYFS

The EYFS framework is structured very differently to the national curriculum as it is organised across seven areas of learning rather than subject areas. 

The most relevant statements for reading are taken from the following areas of learning:

  • Communication and Language
  • Literacy
  • Expressive Arts and Design
  • Understanding the World

Reading: Word Reading

Phonics and Decoding

Three and Four-Year-Olds

Literacy

•    Develop their phonological awareness, so that they can:

•     spot and suggest rhymes

 

•     count or clap syllables in words

 

•     recognise words with the same initial sound, such as money and mother

Reception

Literacy

•    Read individual letters by saying the sounds for them.

•    Blend sounds into words, so that they can read short words made up of letter-sound correspondences.

•    Read some letter groups that each represent one sound and say sounds for them.

•    Read simple phrases and sentences made up of words with known letter-sound correspondences and, where necessary, a few exception words.

ELG

Literacy

Word Reading

•    Say a sound for each letter in the alphabet and at least 10 digraphs.

•    Read words consistent with their phonic knowledge by sound-blending.

•    Read aloud simple sentences and books that are consistent with their phonic knowledge, including some common exception words.

Common Exception Words

Reception

Literacy

•    Read a few common exception words matched to the school’s phonic programme.

 

Fluency

Three and Four-Year-Olds

Literacy

•    Understand the five key concepts about print:

•     print has meaning

 

•     the names of different parts of a book

 

•     print can have different purposes

 

•     page sequencing

 

•     we read English text from left to right and from top to bottom

•    Develop their phonological awareness, so that they can:

•     spot and suggest rhymes

 

•     count or clap syllables in words

 

•     recognise words with the same initial sound, such as money and mother

Reception

Literacy

•    Blend sounds into words, so that they can read short words made up of letter-sound correspondences.

•    Read simple phrases and sentences made up of words with known letter-sound correspondences and, where necessary, a few exception words.

•    Re-read books to build up their confidence in word reading, their fluency and their understanding and enjoyment.

ELG

Literacy

Reading

•    Read aloud simple sentences and books that are consistent with their phonic knowledge, including some common exception words.

 

Reading: Comprehension

Understanding and Correcting Inaccuracies

Three and Four-Year-Olds

Communication and Language

•    Enjoy listening to longer stories and can remember much of what happens.

•    Understand ‘why’ questions, like: “Why do you think the caterpillar got so fat?”

•    Be able to express a point of view and debate when they disagree with an adult or a friend, using words as well as actions.

Literacy

•    Engage in extended conversations about stories, learning new vocabulary.

Reception

Communication and Language

•    Listen to and talk about stories to build familiarity and understanding.

•    Retell the story, once they have developed a deep familiarity with the text; some as exact repetition and some in their own words.

•    Listen carefully to rhymes and songs, paying attention to how they sound.

•    Listen to and talk about selected non-fiction to develop a deep familiarity with new knowledge and vocabulary.

 

 

ELG

Literacy

Comprehension

•    Demonstrate understanding of what has been read to them by retelling stories and narratives using their own words and recently introduced vocabulary.

•    Anticipate (where appropriate) key events in stories.

•    Use and understand recently introduced vocabulary during discussions about stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems and during role play.

Comparing, Contrasting and Commenting

Three and Four-Year-Olds

Communication and Language

•    Be able to express a point of view and debate when they disagree with an adult or a friend, using words as well as actions.

Reception

Understanding the World

•    Compare and contrast characters from stories, including figures from the past.

ELG

Communication and Language

Listening, Attention and Understanding

•    Listen attentively and respond to what they hear with relevant questions, comments and actions when being read to and during whole class discussions and small group interactions.

Speaking

•    Offer explanations for why things might happen, making use of recently introduced vocabulary from stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems when appropriate.

Words in Context and Authorial Choice

Three and Four-Year-Olds

Communication and Language

•    Use a wider range of vocabulary.

Literacy

•    Engage in extended conversations about stories, learning new vocabulary.

Reception

Communication and Language

•    Learn new vocabulary.

•    Use new vocabulary throughout the day.

•    Retell the story, once they have developed a deep familiarity with the text; some as exact repetition and some in their own words.

•    Use new vocabulary in different contexts.

•    Listen to and talk about selected non-fiction to develop a deep familiarity with new knowledge and vocabulary.

ELG

Communication and Language

Speaking

•    Offer explanations for why things might happen, making use of recently introduced vocabulary from stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems when appropriate.

Literacy

Comprehension

•    Demonstrate understanding of what has been read to them by retelling stories and narratives using their own words and recently introduced vocabulary.

•    Use and understand recently introduced vocabulary during discussions about stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems and during role play.

Inference and Prediction

Three and Four-Year-Olds

Communication and Language

•    Understand ‘why’ questions, like: “Why do you think the caterpillar got so fat?”

ELG

Communication and Language

Speaking

•    Offer explanations for why things might happen, making use of recently introduced vocabulary from stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems when appropriate.

Literacy

Comprehension

•    Anticipate (where appropriate) key events in stories.

 

Poetry and Performance

Three and Four-Year-Olds

Communication and Language

•    Sing a large repertoire of songs.

•    Know many rhymes, be able to talk about familiar books, and be able to tell a long story.

Expressive Arts and Design

•    Take part in simple pretend play, using an object to represent something else even though they are not similar.

•    Begin to develop complex stories using small world equipment like animal sets, dolls and dolls houses, etc.

•    Remember and sing entire songs.

•    Sing the pitch of a tone sung by another person (‘pitch match’).

•    Sing the melodic shape (moving melody, such as up and down and down and up) of familiar songs.

•    Create their own songs, or improvise a song around one they know.

Reception

Communication and Language

•    Engage in story times.

•    Retell the story, once they have developed a deep familiarity with the text; some as exact repetition and some in their own words.

•    Learn rhymes, poems and songs.

Expressive Arts and Design

•    Sing in a group or on their own, increasingly matching the pitch and following the melody.

•    Develop storylines in their pretend play.

ELG

Literacy

Comprehension

•    Demonstrate understanding of what has been read to them by retelling stories and narratives using their own words and recently introduced vocabulary.

Expressive Arts and Design

Creating

with Materials

•    Make use of props and materials when role playing characters in narratives and stories.

Being Imaginative and Expressive

•    Invent, adapt and recount narratives and stories with their peers and their teacher.

•    Perform songs, rhymes, poems and stories with others, and (when appropriate) try to move in time to music.

Non-Fiction

Reception

Communication and Language

•    Engage in non-fiction books.

•    Listen to and talk about selected non-fiction to develop a deep familiarity with new knowledge and vocabulary.

ELG

Communication and Language

Speaking

•    Offer explanations for why things might happen, making use of recently introduced vocabulary from stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems when appropriate.

Literacy

Comprehension

•    Use and understand recently introduced vocabulary during discussions about stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems and during role play.