Our Approach to Phonics

At St.Nicholas we use the ‘Letters and Sounds’ programme and Jolly Phonics to teach children phonics.  This is a systematic approach which teaches the children to become fluent readers and writers.  Phonics is taught every day in a discrete session for 20 minutes. The programme is split into 6 phases and typically the children complete phase 6 before they leave Year 2 and enter KS2.  Phonics teaching is fast paced, fun and very interactive!

Phase 1 teaches the children to listen carefully to noises in the environment and crucially develops their ability to blend (put sounds together to read a word), and segment (separate sounds in a word to spell it). A lot of children have had experience of this in their nursery setting, but we continue to practice this skill on a regular basis.  We start teaching phase 2 to our children within the first weeks of school. This is when they are taught sounds made by one letter.

They then move onto Phase 3, which introduces sounds made of more than one letter e.g ‘ch’.  In Phase 4 the children become more confident at reading and spelling words that have adjacent consonants such as the word ‘crisp’.  Once the children are secure on all the sounds needed they then start to learn how the same sound can be represented in a different way.  This is Phase 5 and typically this is taught throughout Year 1.  Phase 6 is when the children are taught to become more accurate spellers and are introduced to spelling rules and patterns.

At St. Nicholas we group the children for their phonics teaching based on their next steps in learning.  This allows us to direct teaching and support more accurately. These groupings are fluid and regularly discussed amongst staff and if necessary, changed. 

All Year 1 children are required to take a ‘Year 1 Phonics Check.’  This is designed to assess if the children can blend and segment sounds within a word. It is not a reading test and therefore contains ‘non words’ or ‘alien words’.   To ensure that our children are familiar with reading non-words we regularly include these in our teaching.

Our approach to reading in KS1

In KS1 the children choose their own home reading books within their colour band. They choose a number of books each week and have a set day to change their books once a week. The books the children choose are pitched at an “easy” level. They should be able to read all the words. We do this in order to develop fluency, comprehension and a love of reading.

In class the children will read an  “instructional” text every day. This will be a text that is harder to read and they will be taught a range of reading strategies.

Useful Tips on How to encourage your child to read

Be a reader. Set a good example by reading yourself and reading to your child. Let your child see you value reading and see how important it is.

Value reading. Help your child keep their books in a special place; show them how to turn pages carefully.

Reading all around. Help your child to read words all around them – food packets, shop displays, on buses, in newspapers, leave a message in your child’s lunch box or school bag!

Fun with words Magnetic words/letters on the fridge – make words/messages together for others to read

Make time to read. Read a bedtime story with your child every night. Encourage them to share their reading with grandparents, brothers, sisters and other relatives.

Join the library. It is free and children love to choose books, you may be surprised by their interests.

Keep in touch with school. Try to make a regular time slot, about 10 minutes, to hear your child read to you. Change home reading books regularly.

How to help with reading.

Be positive. Praise your child for trying hard with their reading. Let him/her know it is all right to make a few mistakes.

Build confidence. Learning to read is more successful if the child feels unafraid to try, how a child feels as a reader can help or hinder his/her success.

A quiet time together. Try to listen to your child read without any distractions – a quiet place in the house with no TV.

Prediction. Ask your child if he/she can tell you what the book might be about from the title. Make it an exciting time – ‘let’s find out what happens’

Finger pointing. With early reading books encourage them to point with their finger under each word as they read, once they are confident with this, let them follow the text with their eyes.

Again and again. Don’t worry if they want to read the same book many times, each time they read they are gaining confidence and understanding more.

Story voice. Try to encourage them to sound as though they are talking as they read – use a story voice – reading in phrases or sentences.

Give them time. Do not rush in, let them try to solve the word on their own first, then prompt to sound out or say the first letter of the word or split the word into smaller sections.

Don’t make them try too hard! It is ok to tell them the word sometimes.

Talk about the book. Ask questions and encourage your child to ask questions about what happens in the book. Answering questions will tell you how much your child has understood about the book.

Don’t read for too long!  A good 10 minutes is better than a difficult half hour.

Comments Please comment in the reading journal on how well your child has read, how well they worked words out and if you talked about the story.

Make it fun! The more positive reading is for the child who is starting on the reading journey the better reader they will become.