Reading and Phonics

Our approach to reading and phonics

English is taught daily in every class and is differentiated to match all abilities. We aim to teach the children in our school to have a love of literature and language and the confidence to continue reading and writing throughout their lives.

We want our children to be able to:

  • speak clearly and confidently in any situation.
  • listen actively and respond appropriately, developing knowledge and opinion.
  • read fluently for both pleasure and information.
  • write clearly and with confidence in any given genre.
  • use spelling rules, phonics and grammar accurately.
  • be able to proof read their own work and make amendments and improvements.
Our approach to reading schemes

At St James’ CE Academy, children are encouraged to read at home every day.

In the Foundation Stage, children begin by taking home discussion books, which are used to form the basis of a conversation between the child and an adult about the book.

This gives children the opportunity to learn the skills of holding books, reading left to right and other vital skills, such as using picture clues.

Once children have a good understanding of how books work and have gained some phonics knowledge, they begin to read books containing simple words which can be blended or sounded out using phonics.

Our reading books are colour banded and, as children become more confident and able readers, they will take home books from different colour bands.

The books in the first few colour bands are phonics based, allowing children to apply their phonics knowledge. Once children become fluent readers, a range of books is provided to allow children to engage in more lengthy discussions about the content of the book.

From Year 2 onwards, children read books which use both phonics and words which are less common, to increase their reading vocabulary. Children will read at the level they are reading at home and read a more challenging text in Guided Reading sessions.

The main reading schemes used at St James’ CE Academy are Oxford Reading Tree, Collins Big Cats and Rigby. The phonics books are Floppy’s Phonics and Rigby.

Phonics

In the EYFS, children start to learn phonics which provides the building blocks to later success in reading. At Burton Green, we learn phonics daily in EYFS and KS1. We use Read Write Inc as part of our approach to phonics teaching. Throughout the year you will be invited to parent workshops where we demonstrate how you can support your child with their phonics learning. Children in Year 1 will take a Phonics Screening Check during the Summer Term, you will be notified by the school as to when this will happen and a parents meeting will take place to answer any questions you may have. Read Write Inc will be used in Year 2 and children will continue to be taught phonics and spellings until they are ready to move on.

Parents Guide to Phonics

A guide to how phonics will help your child to read and spell.

The alphabet contains only 26 letters. Spoken English uses about 44 sounds (phonemes). These phonemes are represented by letters (graphemes). In other words, a sound can be represented by a letter (e.g. ‘s’ or ‘h’) or a group of letters (e.g. ‘th’ or ‘ear’). Once children begin learning sounds, they are used quickly to read and spell words.

Read Write Inc assesses children regularly and groups them with other children working at the same level. Children will be moved to a different group if they are making good progress. From Nursery to Year 2 children will be taught daily by a trained teacher or teaching assistant. If a child needs extra practice they will have 1:1 support during the day to help them.

What do all the technical words mean?

What is a phoneme?

It is the smallest unit of sound and a piece of terminology that children like to use and should be taught. At first it will equate with a letter sound but later on will include the digraphs. For example `rain’ has three phonemes, / r / ai / n.

What is a grapheme?

A grapheme is a letter or a number of letters that represent a sound (phoneme) in a word. Another way to explain it is to say that a grapheme is a letter or letters that spell a sound in a word. E.g. /ee/,/ ea/, /ey/ all make the same phoneme but are spelt differently.

What is a digraph?

This is when two or more letters come together to make a phoneme. /oa/ makes the sound in boat.

What is blending?

Blending is the process that is involved in bringing the sounds together to make a word or a syllable and is how /c/ /a/ /t/ becomes cat.

To learn to read well children must be able to smoothly blend sounds together. Blending sounds fluidly helps to improve fluency when reading. Blending is more difficult to do with longer words so learning how to blend accurately from an early age is essential.

Showing your child how to blend is important. Model how to ‘push’ sounds smoothly together without stopping at each individual sound.

What is segmenting?

Segmenting is a skill used in spelling. In order to spell the word cat, it is necessary to segment the word into its sounds; c-a-t.

Children often understand segmenting as ‘chopping’ a word. Before writing a word young children need time to think about it, say the word several times, ‘chop’ the word and then write it. Once children have written the same word several times they won’t need to use these four steps as often.

Children will enjoy spelling if it feels like fun and if they feel good about themselves as spellers. We need to notice and praise what children can do correctly as well as helping them to fix up their mistakes.

What are tricky words?

Tricky words are words that cannot be ‘sounded-out’ but need to be learned by heart. They don’t fit into the usual spelling patterns, words like ‘was’ ‘the’ and ‘said’. In order to read simple sentences, it is necessary for children to know some words that have unusual or untaught spellings. We always start with sounds they already know in the word, then focus on the ‘tricky’ part.

What are high frequency words?

High frequency (common) are words that recur frequently in much of the written material young children read and that they need when they write.

What are CVC words?

CVC stands for consonant- vowel- consonant, so and word such as map, cat is CVC. These are the first words a child learns to read and blend. We then start to read longer words, CCVC words such as clip, stop.

 

Set 1 Sounds (Read Write Inc)

Initially children are taught one way to say a sound. Some of the sounds are stretchy sounds and some are bouncy sounds. (a-a-a-a is a bouncy sound, mmmm is a stretchy sound)

We use pictures and rhymes as a hook to help children remember the letters.

Maisie, mountain mountain
Around the apple and down the leaf
Slither down the snake
Round his bottom, up his tall neck and down to his feet.
Down the tower, across the tower.
Children then read words that are carefully matched to the sounds that have been taught.

 

Set 2 Sounds (Read Write Inc)

Once children are familiar with the Set 1 sounds we introduce digraph (2 or more letters that together make one sound). We call these ‘Special Friends’. We use a picture and rhyme to help us remember the sounds.

We use pictures and rhymes as a hook to help children remember the letters.

ay – may I play?
ee – what can you see?

Children then read words that are carefully matched to the sounds that have been taught.

Set 3 Sounds (Read Write Inc)

Once they can read these sounds confidently we teach new way to read the same sounds. As they learn more spellings of the sounds, the books they read contain more spellings.

Children only read books with the sounds they know. This way they build confidence quickly.

Spelling

In school we use ‘Fred-fingers’ to help to spell green words (word containing sounds we already know). This is the process children are taught to use to help them write words.

  1. Hold up the correct number of fingers for the sounds (ie. 3 for top)
  2. Say the word e.g. top.
  3. Say the sounds as you pinch each sound onto 3 fingers: t-o-p, look at your own fingers as you do it.
  4. Ask your child to repeat it.

Children then use their ‘fred-fingers’ to write the sounds. Then we check the spelling of each sound. Fred the Frog helps us ‘sound-talk’ words.