How do we teach reading?

Learning to read is one of the most important things 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 work hard to make sure children develop a love of books as well as simply learning to read.

We start by teaching phonics in Nursery and Reception using an amalgamation of the highly successful ‘Letters and Sounds’ phonics programme and ‘Jolly Phonics’. Children 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. The children also practise reading (and spelling) ‘tricky words’, such as ‘once,’ ‘have,’ ‘said’ and ‘where’.

Once children can blend sounds together to read words, they practise reading books that match the phonics and the ‘tricky words’ they know from a range of reading books. Some examples of which are; Oxford Reading Tree, Collins Big Cats, Alpha kids, P.M, Sunshine Readers, Rigby Stars, Cambridge Readers, and lots and lots of real story books. All of these books are colour banded to the Reading Recovery Book Levels.

Teachers regularly read to the children too, so the children get to know and love all sorts of stories, poetry and information books. This helps to extend children’s vocabulary and comprehension, as well as supporting their writing.

As children move into key stage one and two, they all have daily Book Club sessions in which they take part in a range of activities such as reading for pleasure, focused group reading with the class teacher, comprehension activities etc. Teaching assistants are also used during this time to work with key individuals or groups that would benefit from extra adult support.

Throughout your child’s time at Gainsborough, they will work with children who are at the same reading level. This is so that the teaching can be focused on their needs. We check children’s reading skills regularly so we that we can ensure they are in the right group. Children will move to a different group if they are making faster progress or may have one-to-one support if we think they need some extra help. Children in key stage one will continue to access a daily phonics lessons set in ability groups and those children in key stage two, who need the additional support, will also have access to the phonics lessons.

At Gainsborough we use a range of interventions to aid those children who are not making the expected progress in reading and writing. In key stage one we use the Every Child a Reader (ECaR) intervention. It aims to ensure that every child achieves success in literacy through carefully targeted support. It is based on the ‘Reading Recovery’ programme which is proven to increase children’s reading ability at an accelerated pace. We employ a specialist reading teacher not only to deliver the intervention but also assist all our teaching staff so that they have access to excellent in-service support for the teaching of reading.

In key stage two, we use the Inference Training intervention scheme. This group intervention is aimed towards the children who decode adequately but fail to get full meaning and enjoyment from their reading. Most key stage two staff and a number of teaching assistants have been trained to deliver this intervention.

How long will it take to learn to read well?

Every child is different and children will learn to read at different speeds. By the end of Year 2, most children will be able to read aloud books that are at the right level for his or her age. In Year 3 and beyond, we concentrate more on helping children to understand what they are reading, although this work begins very early on.

What can parents/carers do to help?

There are many ways you can help your child to read but the most important one is simply hearing them read on a regular basis. As a school, we ask all parents to listen to their child read at least 3 times a week.

You can also help your child to sound out the letters in words and then to ‘blend’ 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.

Sometimes your child might bring home a picture book that they know well. Please don’t say, ‘This is too easy.’ Instead, encourage your child to tell you the story out loud; ask them questions about things that happen or what they think about some of the characters in the story.

As your child gets older and moves into key stage two, it is important you continue to listen to your child read but instead of focusing on the decoding of words, we would ask that you question them about what they have just read to you. Question booklets are given out during the autumn Parents’ Evening and are available from the English subject leader throughout the year. Use these guides to help you question your child’s understanding of the text they have read.

Finally and most importantly, make reading fun! Remember to keep reading to your child. They will come across far more adventurous words than they will in their own reading books. You will be helping them to develop a vast vocabulary and understand the meaning of different stories etc. It will also encourage them to love books and want to read more!

Your support really does get your child off to a flying start and encourages them to make great progress!

What if my child finds it difficult to learn to read?

We want every child to learn to read, however long it takes us to teach them. We will find out very quickly if your child is finding reading difficult. First, we move children to a different group, so that we can make sure that they have learnt what they need to know. If they still struggle, we may give them extra 1:1 support.

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