Phonics is not the only way to teach reading, but it is recognised as the best way to teach reading for most children. At Christ Church we follow the Read Write Inc scheme (RWI) to teach phonics and guided reading. This is taught every day in small groups with a range of exciting books and colourful, appealing resources around the learning environment. Children are taught phonics daily from EYFS to Year 2. Children in Year 3 who still require these daily lessons, will have access to them.
How does it work?
Children are assessed regularly and grouped according to their reading level. They work in very small groups (of no more than 8 children) with a teacher or a teaching assistant who has been fully trained in the RWI programme. They learn the sounds that they need to know and practise blending and segmenting skills for reading and writing using ‘Fred Talk’.
At the end of each half term the children will be assessed again to check they have made progress and they will be grouped again to ensure that they are being sufficiently challenged and supported. If they are not making progress they will access tailored ‘catch-up’ sessions. Children who have made accelerated progress, do not have to move up every group.
These daily lessons start as shorter sessions for our EYFS children and develop into hour long lessons that incorporate a guided reading lesson with a variety of RWI books and writing activities to develop Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar (SPAG) skills and reading comprehension.
Children start phonics and reading in F1 (Nursery). In F1 their learning is divided into seven aspects, including; environmental sounds, instrumental sounds, body sounds, rhythm and rhyme, alliteration, voice sounds and finally oral blending and segmenting. This is continued into F2 (Reception).
Next they begin to learn the letter sounds (phonemes) and how to blend them together to read. Children will learn 44 sounds and the corresponding letter/letter groups using simple picture prompts and a rhyme called a ‘ditty’. Children learn to read words by blending the letter/sounds that are in the Speed Sound sets. You can help your child to read words by sound-blending (Fred Talk) e.g. c-a-t= cat. In phonics we use pure sounds. This means removing the ‘uh’ from the sounds. The children learn to read real and ‘nonsense’ words by blending sounds together. These sounds can be stretchy sounds or bouncy sounds.
From F2 into KS1 (Year 1 and 2) children continue to learn the phonemes (letter sounds) including when sounds are represented by 2 letters (digraphs) or 3 letters (trigraphs). In the RWI programme these are known as ‘Special Friends’. As children move through the scheme they will be taught that some sounds can be written in different ways.
Throughout the scheme they are also taught ‘Common Exception’ or Tricky words that can not be sounded out. These are known as ‘Red Words’ in RWI.
Reading unlocks the whole curriculum and future learning depends upon it. We are very passionate about childrens’ literature and creating a life-long love of reading for children. Children learn to read in different ways and at different ages. The first part of a child’s journey towards being a successful reader starts when the child is a baby and is listening to stories and rhymes. This encourages a love of language and stories and develops the child’s vocabulary and understanding of language as they start to become familiar with what words mean and what they look like. Our teachers continue to build on this through daily story time, interactions with the children, reading across the curriculum and setting up books corners in each class to support your child in developing a love for reading.
Once the children are secure in their phonics knowledge and throughout their time in school we build upon other reading skills:
- Identify the words in print –word recognition
- Construct an understanding from them –comprehension and inference
- Coordinate identifying words and making meaning so that reading is automatic and accurate – fluency
In KS1 and FS your child will begin to start their reading journey with learning phonics. Reading for pleasure and to practise skills works alongside this.
From EYFS each child is lent 2 books each week. One is a phonics based book that will help your child to gain confidence and practise their phonics skills. It is directly linked to their RWI phonics group. Some of these books are called ‘RWI Book Bag Books’ and others are appropriately levelled phonics books chosen especially for your child. We have purchased lots of new phonics based books this term. These start from simple books with letter sounds, then CVC words and then more complex books that mirror phonics learning.
The second book is a reading for pleasure and practise book. This may be a picture book to read to your child, a book to share or a banded reading scheme book to develop fluency.
Our banded reading books have recently been audited and lots of exciting new titles have been added to each level to suit all interests. These books are important as they allow children to develop other reading skills, such as comprehension, knowledge of grammar, build stamina and encounter unfamiliar words. It is also a good opportunity to practise and commit to memory the ‘tricky red’ words and High Frequency Words (HFWs) that they read lots and should just know without sounding out. It is also an opportunity to read traditional tales and meet characters that they like in lots of books.
The book banded books have been re-assessed and labeled recently. The colours become progressively more challenging and there is a cross-over into books with a content more suitable for KS2 children. White and Lime levels are a similar reading level to Brown, but more suitable for KS1. The order of the Book Band colours are as follows:
Lilac (no words), Pink (words), Red (first sentences), Yellow, Blue, Green, Orange, Turquoise, Purple, Gold, White, Lime, (KS2) Brown, Grey, Dark Blue, Magenta, Black