How we teach phonics
At Leighswood we teach children phonics using a programme called Read, Write Inc. (RWI) The programme uses a proven synthetic phonics approach that was developed by Ruth Miskin. It is for children in Reception to Year 2 and any pupils in Years 3 and 4 who need to catch up rapidly.
RWI helps children make good progress to become confident and fluent readers in a fun way. All staff have been trained in delivering Read, Write Inc which ensures a consistent approach and shared understanding in using letter sounds to read and write. The progress of all children is monitored closely and action is taken promptly if any child begins to struggle. Children are grouped according to their reading ability. Teaching targets attainment and progress specifically.
We teach pupils to:
- decode letter-sound correspondences quickly and effortlessly, using their phonic knowledge and skills
- read ‘tricky’ words on sight
- understand what they read
- read aloud with fluency and expression
- write confidently, with a strong focus on vocabulary and grammar
- spell quickly and easily by segmenting the sounds in words
- acquire good handwriting
In addition, we teach pupils to work effectively with a partner to explain and consolidate what they are learning. This provides the teacher with opportunities to assess learning and to pick up on difficulties, such as pupils’ poor articulation, or problems with blending or alphabetic code knowledge.
We group children according to their progress in reading rather than their writing. This is because it is known that pupils’ progress in writing will often lag behind progress in reading, especially for those whose motor skills are less well developed.
In Reception, we emphasise the alphabetic code. The children rapidly learn sounds and the letter or groups of letters they need to represent them. Simple mnemonics help them to grasp this quickly. This is especially useful for pupils at risk of making slower progress. This learning is consolidated daily. Children have frequent practice in reading high frequency words with irregular spellings – ‘tricky words’ (“Red words”).
We make sure that children read books that are closely matched to their increasing knowledge of phonics and the ‘tricky words’. This is so that, early on, they experience success and gain confidence that they are readers. Re-reading and discussing these books with the teacher supports their increasingly fluent decoding.
Alongside this, the teachers read a wide range of stories, poetry and non-fiction; the children are soon able to read these texts for themselves.
Embedding the alphabetic code early on means that children quickly learn to write simple words and sentences. We encourage them to compose each sentence aloud until they are confident to write independently. We make sure they write every day.
Children write at the level of their spelling knowledge, that is, they use their knowledge of the alphabetic code and the tricky words they have learnt. They can soon spell more complex words confidently and accurately. The quality of the vocabulary they use in their writing reflects the language they have heard in the books the teacher has read to them; they have also discussed what the words mean.
Our aim is for children to complete the phonics programme as quickly as possible. The sooner they complete it, the sooner they will be able to choose books to read at their own interest and comprehension level.
How can I help my child at home?
Read as many stories to your child as you can. Talk about the stories. Explain the meaning of new words. Most importantly though, show the fun that can be gained by listening to stories.
Share your child’s own books, school books, library books and e-books on the internet.
LEARN NEW SOUNDS/LETTERS
As new letter sounds are taught in school, please help them practise with you at home.
Please remember that children will learn more rapidly if they are constantly praised!
SHARING READ, WRITE INC BOOKS AT HOME
Once children have progressed on to Green Level books, they will bring home a version of the book that they have worked on in school to share with you. These books are designed to be easy at this stage so that they can be read to adults at home confidently and fluently. Praise your child for being such a brilliant reader!
OTHER INFORMATION AND ACTIVITIES
Please remember that ‘a little and often’ is the best way to approach reading activities at home… and make it exciting!
If you have access to the internet, there are lots of stories and fun activities for your child on the free web site ‘Oxford Owl’ http://www.oxfordowl.co.uk/ There is also lots of information for parents about helping your child to read.