Phonics and Early Reading
"If a child memorises 10 words the child can only read 10 words BUT if a child learns 10 sounds, the child will be able to read 350 three sound words, 4,320 four sound words and 21,650 five sound words" - Dr. Martin Kozloff (2002).
At Elm Wood Primary School, we believe that for all our children to become fluent readers and writers, phonics must be taught through a systematic and structured phonics programme. To teach phonics, we use a systematic synthetic programme (SSP) called Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised to plan and provide daily engaging phonics lessons. The programme is designed to teach children to read from Reception to Year 2, using the skill of decoding and blending sounds together to form words. The Little Wandle: Letters and sounds Revised’ programme provides a full progression through all commonly occurring GPCs (sounds), working from simple to more complex, and taking into account the frequency of their occurrence in the most commonly encountered words. It also ensures children build on their growing knowledge of the alphabetic code, mastering phonics for reading and spelling as they move through school.
Our curriculum intent for Phonics and Early Reading:
At Elm Wood Primary School, we strive to put our children first and we are passionate about ensuring that by the time they leave us and end their primary education, they have become fluent, confident and enthusiastic life-long readers and writers, enabling them to enter secondary education equipped with the skills to succeed and reach their full potential.
We believe that Phonics and Early Reading provide the foundations of learning and is the cornerstone of our entire curriculum. We know that reading is a fundamental life skill and that early reading in particular is essential for our children's future success. We know the importance of supporting children to develop these skills as early as possible is important for this to become achievable. It is essential that our approach to teaching phonics and reading is accessible to all learners, regardless of background.
At Elm Wood Primary School, we model the application of the alphabetic code through Phonics in shared reading and writing, both inside and outside of the Phonics lessons. We believe that reading is the passport to all other subjects in school and underpins many aspects of learning. Reading therefore is reinforced and practiced across all subjects. We have a strong focus on the development of language skills for our children because we know that speaking and listening are crucial skills for reading and writing in all subjects.
- Teach every child to read.
- Ensure phonics and reading teaching is accessible to every child.
- Build each child's alphabetic code, to enable them to master phonics to read and spell as they move through school.
- Model the application of the alphabetic code through phonics in shared reading and writing, both inside and outside of the phonics lesson and across the curriculum.
- Instil confidence in every child with their encoding and decoding skills.
- Encourage every child to see themselves as a reader for both pleasure and purpose.
How we implement Phonics and Early Reading (EYFS/KS1):
Our phonics teaching starts in Nursery and follows a very specific sequence that allows our children to build on their previous phonic knowledge and master specific phonic strategies as they move through school. As a result, all our children are able to tackle any unfamiliar words that they might discover.
We provide a balance of child-led and adult-led experiences for all our children to meet the curriculum expectations for 'Communication and Language' and 'Literacy'. These include:
- Sharing high-quality texts, stories and poems
- Learning a range of nursery rhymes and action rhymes
- Activities/engaging games that develop focused listening and attention, including oral blending and phonemic awareness
- Attention to high-quality language
Foundations for phonics sets out the provision that should be in place to ensure children are well prepared to begin grapheme–phoneme correspondence (GPC) and blending at the start of Reception. The introduction to GPC’s begin in the Summer term.
In Reception, phonics starts in week 2 to ensure the children make a strong start. The children participate in daily phonics lessons which build from 10-minute lessons (Autumn 1 - daily oral blending games) to increasingly quickly 30-minute lessons (Autumn 2 - full-length lesson). Each Friday, we review the week's teaching to help children become fluent readers. Children in reception are taught to read and spell words using Phase 2 GPC's in Autumn before moving onto Phase 3 GPC's in Spring. Phase 4 is introduced in the Summer term where children learn to read longer words and compound words and by the end of reception, the children will have been taught up to the end of Phase 4 ready for Phase 5 in Year 1.
In Year 1 children participate in two daily phonics sessions lasting 30 minutes (AM and PM). In Autumn 1, children begin by reviewing Phase 3 and 4 before moving onto Phase 5. New Phase 5 graphemes are taught throughout the Autumn and Spring term. A review of the Phase 5 graphemes and tricky words are recapped throughout Summer 1. The last new Phase 5 graphemes are taught in Summer 2.
In Year 2 Phase 5 is reviewed up until Spring 1. Any children who still need exposure to phonics lessons are taught through daily keep-up sessions.
Supporting your child with Phonics and Early Reading:
Although the children in Reception and KS1, and those who need more practice with decodable books will be taught to read at school, parental involvement can have a huge impact on their reading journey by continuing regular practice at home. Reading to and with your child every evening for at least ten minutes can make a dramatic difference to a child's achievement within school. A report from the Oxford University Press highlighted the importance of parents reading with their children. 'Children who read outside of class are 13 times more likely to read above the expected level for their age'.
The report also offers six tips for reading with your child at home, including:
1. Make time to read- even ten minutes a day
2. Choose different types of books
3. Take turns to read
4. Talk about the book- asking your child questions
5. Pay attention to the language
6. Enjoy reading
There are two types of books your child will bring home. These are:
A READING PRACTICE BOOK - ‘Books I Can Read To You’: These are phonetically decodable books that have been carefully matched to your child's current reading level. The Little Wandle assessments inform teachers which books are suitable to your child’s level of reading based off the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds matching grid. The decodable reading practice book is taken home to ensure success is shared with the family. If your child is reading it with little help, please don't worry that it's too easy - they should be able to read this fluently and independently. Your child needs to develop fluency and confidence in reading. Listen to them read the book. Remember to give them lots of praise - celebrate their success! If they can't read a word, read it to them. After they have finished reading, talk about the book together.
Phase 2 decodable books Phase 3 decodable books Phase 5 decodable books
SHARING BOOK – ‘Books We Can Share Together’: In addition to practising their independent reading with decodable books, it is vital that children experience a wide range of other quality children’s books that are either read to or
with them. In order to encourage your child to become a lifelong learner, it is important that they learn to read for pleasure and these books play an essential role in developing a love of reading. The sharing book is a book your child has chosen independently and want you to enjoy together. Please remember that you shouldn't expect your child to read this alone. Read it to or with them. They can be shared or discussed, provide a stimulus for other activities - discuss the pictures, enjoy the story, predict what might happen next, use different voices for the characters, explore the facts in a non-fiction book, act out the story using role play, music, art, dance and so much more. The main thing is that you have fun together.
Alongside your child coming home with two books each week, children in EYFS and KS1 will bring home a weekly 'Little Wandle - Letters and Sounds Home Learning sheet' for you to use at home with your child. The Home Learning Sheets give you as parents a summary of the sounds your child will be learning in phonics in the upcoming week, as well as some simple ideas to continue supporting regular practice at home - pronunciation phrases (Reception), oral blending words (Reception) words with this weeks focus graphemes/phonemes, reading and writing sentences, ask your child to read the sentences fluently, review of tricky words and a range of words to practise their spelling. Please support your child to practise and reinforce the phonemes and graphemes they are learning in school by going through these sheets with your child, even if it is just a quick ten minutes a day. In addition, we kindly ask you to keep all of these Home Learning Sheets given and put them into a folder (in order given) so that by the time your child reaches the end of Year 1, they have a bank of all the phonemes and graphemes taught through the Little Wandle programme. Here are a few examples of the Home Learning Sheets:
Reception Home Learning Sheet Reception Home Learning Sheet Year 1 Home Learning Sheet
(Autumn 1) (Summer 2) (Spring 1)
If you are a parent and would like more information about how to support your child with phonics at home with saying their sounds and writing their letters, please follow this link to find the teaching programme overview. There are also a range of useful videos of the sound pronunciations, letter formation sheets and other helpful resources so you can see how they are taught at school and feel confident about supporting your child's reading at home.
Useful resources for home (Reception and Year 1)
We usually teach four new sounds a week and have a review lesson on a Friday.
Below are links to help you understand how we pronounce and form these specific phonemes/graphemes.
Tricky words are words that cannot easily be decoded ('sounded out' and read). This is because some of the sounds in the words are spelled in an unusual way. It is important for children to be able to read these words as they are among the most common words in English.
Below are links for the tricky words your child will learn in Reception and Year 1
Reading Practice Book - Decodable Books
BIG CAT PHONICS FOR LITTLE WANDLE PHASE 2 - https://www.badgerlearning.co.uk/big-cat-little-wandle-phase-2.html
BIG CAT PHONICS FOR LITTLE WANDLE PHASE 3 - https://www.badgerlearning.co.uk/big-cat-little-wandle-phase-3.html
BIG CAT PHONICS FOR LITTLE WANDLE PHASE 4 - https://www.badgerlearning.co.uk/big-cat-little-wandle-phase-4.html
BIG CAT PHONICS FOR LITTLE WANDLE PHASE 5 - https://www.badgerlearning.co.uk/big-cat-little-wandle-phase-5.html
Here is a link to a glossary which explains what the words we use at school mean.
What our children say about Phonics and Early Reading:
"We learn our sounds and practise our letters. I can sound out cat c-a-t and dog d-o-g" Reception
"the, I and is are some of the tricky words we have been learning" Reception
"We write sentences in our Phonics books" Year 1
"We learn how to sound words out and blend them" Year 1
"We do phonics everyday and it is fun" Year 1
"We do lots of sounding out of words and then say the whole word together, fluently" Year 2
"We love phonics because it helps us with our reading and writing. If we practise it all the time, we will get better at it" Year 2.
"My favourite phase has been learning Phase 3 and 5 because we learn a sentence to help us remember that sound - a bigger digger, curl the fur, hook and book, tail in the rain, zoom to the moon and sheep in a jeep. They have little pictures too". Year 2