Phonics and Early Reading
Learning to read is the most important thing your child will learn at our school. Everything else depends on it so we put as much energy as we possibly can into making sure that every single child learns to read as quickly as possible.
We want your child to love reading – and to want to read for themselves. This is why we put our efforts into making sure they develop a love of books as well as simply learning to read. At Willow we follow the Read Write Inc. scheme for learning to read.
How will your child be taught to read?
We start by teaching phonics to the children in the Reception class. This means that they learn how to ‘read’ the sounds in words and how those sounds can be written down. This is essential for reading, but it also helps children learn to spell well. We teach the children simple ways of remembering these sounds and letters using pictures and phrases to help them. The children also practise reading (and spelling) what we call ‘tricky words’, such as ‘once,’ ‘have,’ ‘said’ and ‘where’.
Once children can blend sounds together to read words, they practise their reading with books that match the phonics and the ‘tricky words’ they know. They start thinking that they can read and this does wonders for their confidence.
The teachers read to the children, too, so the children get to know all sorts of stories, poetry and information books. They learn many more words this way and it also helps their writing.
How will you know how well your child is doing?
We will always let you know how well your child is doing. We use various ways to find out how the children are getting on in reading and use this information to decide what reading group they should be in. Your child will work with children who are at the same reading level as him or her. All of our Early Years and Key Stage 1 staff have had full training to be able to deliver the Read Write Inc. programme and the progress of the children is overseen by the Reading and English Leaders in school. Children will move to a different group if they are making faster progress than the others. If we think your child needs some extra help, they will be given one-to-one support to help them to keep up.
In the summer term, the government asks us to do a phonics check of all the Year 1 children. That gives us extra information about their progress. We will talk to you about how well your child has done and especially if we have any worries at all.
What can you do to help your child?
We hold meetings for parents to come in and find out more about how we teach reading; the first of these takes place a few weeks after your child starts school. These sessions are really useful for you to be able to help you child at home.
Your child will bring different sorts of books home from school. One will be the book that they have been working on in school and should be able to read to you confidently. Please don't think that this book is too easy for them - they will have practised it in school and it is important that they get the chance to show you how well they can read it. In addition to this they will also bring home a reading book that is exactly matched to their phonics stage that they have not practised in school.
When reading with your child, help them child to sound out the letters in words and then to ‘push’ the sounds together to make a whole word. Try not to refer to the letters by their names. Help your child to focus on the sounds. You can hear how to say the sounds correctly at this link: https://ruthmiskin.com/en/find-out-more/parents/#lg=1&slide=2
We know parents and carers are very busy people. But if you can find time to read to your child as much as possible, it helps him or her to learn about books and stories. They also learn new words and what they mean. Show that you are interested in reading yourself and talk about reading as a family. You can find out about good stories to read to your child here: https://www.facebook.com/miskin.education
Children are taught how to understand what they read as a whole class using quality texts. Where possible, these texts are linked to the topic that the class are studying. As well as discussing themes and characters, children are taught to ask and answer questions from the different content domains.
Reading progression from Reception to Year 6
For more information on reading progression across school please see the progression document below:
Reading For Pleasure
At Willow we aim to promote a reading culture across the school. As well as teaching children how to read, we want them to enjoy reading and read for pleasure. Here you'll see some of the things we do in school to promote reading.
We've had a number of visits from authors in school. In Key Stage 2, we have a link with Peter Murray, author of the Mokee Joe series of books and Bonebraker trilogy. He even ran a spooky story competition on his last visit. He can be seen with the winners of the competition in the picture below:
All children at Willow have library tickets for Bessacarr Community Library and children have the opportunity to visit the library to take out books to read at home.
Every class has a daily story-time where the children are read to. This is a great opportunity for class teachers to share their passion for reading. Sometimes the class teacher will choose a book that they would like to share and at other times the children will make suggestions.
Favourite Book Assemblies
As part of our planned assemblies, teachers are invited to share their favourite book(s) with the children and discuss what they enjoy about it. These really engage the children and encourage them to read books that they might not have chosen before.
Each year group across Willow is partnered up so that older children have the opportunity to either read to, or listen to younger children read. It's a fantastic opportunity for the children to work together and share their love of books.
Some of Year 3 and 4 children are reading leaders. At lunchtime, they take out a selection of books onto both playgrounds to share with the other children. This provides the opportunity for children to enjoy the outdoor reading of books which they may not usually choose or have access to.
The Great Willow Readathon
Each Summer, we run The Great Willow Readathon. It is a challenge to get as many children in each class to read at least five times per week and has an element of friendly competition as there are prizes, not only for individuals, but for classes in each of the phases and across school. Last year's Grand Champions were Badgers class.
Reading Swap Shop
In the shared area of each phase across school, we have a Reading Swap Shop. Children can bring in a book from home that they have finished reading and no longer want to keep and swap it with another on the shelf. It's a great way to get to read lots of different books and is completely free!
World Book Day
We all love to celebrate World Book Day at the beginning of March each year and plan a full day of book and reading related activities as well as dressing up as our favourite book characters.