How to help your child learn to read.
If your child has recently started school, you might be wondering how you can help them learn to read at home, or perhaps you are interested in knowing a bit more about what they are learning at school. Most parents of young children were taught to read using a different strategy to the one used today, which is why it can be hard to know what to do for the best.
At Portway Infant School we teach the children using the scheme ‘Letters and Sounds’. The way children are taught to read through this is called phonics. There are some useful words you might want to know like phoneme (the sound of each letter) and grapheme (what each letter looks like). The phonemes – graphemes are also split into groups called phases. This is to help teachers assess where children are with their phonics.
What differs now from when most of us were children, is the very short sounds that letters make. You may remember being taught “t” as a “ter” sound, now it has a very short snappy “t” – if you whisper it, it’s easier to make the sound. The two you may find particularly tricky to pronounce are I and n. With the “l” sound, pronounce as you would at the end of “Hull” more of an “ul” sound. With “n”, don’t be tempted to say “ner”, it’s very much a “n” on its own, like “Euan. Another tricky one is “r”, not “rer”, as you might think, but more of a growling “rrr” sound. When you say a letter, think how it actually sounds in a word, for example “f” might come out as “fer” but in a word has a very short “f” sound, like in “fluff”, if you think that “f” is said “fer” then this word would become “ferluffer”.
The vowel sounds (a, e, I, u and o) can be taught as you normally say them ( a in apple, e as in elephant, I as in igloo, u as in under, o as in orange), however there are some exceptions (e.g. child) but these will be addressed in school later on. There is also a list of tricky words that do not follow the normal pronunciation of other words.
Words such as the, some, said, to are tricky and these are taught on-sight, telling the children you cannot sound these out. There is also a list of pseudo words ( alien words) that Are used to check the child’s decoding skill. Words such as “vok”, “chup”, “bleem”. At Portway we teach phonics daily for 20 minutes it teaches sound/letter recognition, spelling patterns and formation of the letters.
Phonics is taught in a structured way giving them the skills they need to tackle new words. They can then go on to read any kind of text fluently and confidently, and to read for enjoyment.
Here is the order in which the letters are taught, and the phases:-
Learning which letter makes which sound (one set taught per week):
Set 1. s a t p
Set 2. i n m d
Set 3. g o c k
Set 4. ck e u r
Set 5. h b f, ff l, ll ss
Set 6. j, v, w, x
Set 7. y, z, zz, qu, ch, sh, th, ng, ai, ee, igh, ao, oo, ar, or, ur, ow, oi, ear, air, ure, er
No new graphemes.
Practising all the graphemes and blending them together to make words.
This phase includes learning to read and spell longer words.
Ay (day), ou (out), ie (tie), ea (east), oy (boy), ir (girl), ue (blue), aw (saw), wh (when), ph (photo), ew (new), oe (toe), au (Paul).
Split digraphs (where the sound is split by another letter)
a-e (make), e-e (these), i-e (like), o-e (home), u-e (rule).
New pronunciations for known letters:
I (fin, find), o (hot, cold), c (cat, cent), g (got, giant), u (but), ow (cow, blow), ie ( tie, field), ea (eat, bread), er (farmer, her), a (hat, what), y (yes, by, very), ch (chin, school, chef), ou (out, shoulder, could, you).
Throughout the school, the English curriculum enables children to develop the necessary skills to become successful readers and writers and we place a high emphasis on enjoyment. Alongside the formal teaching of reading, phonics, grammar, spelling and creative writing, we encourage good speaking and listening skills.
The curriculum is delivered in a variety of ways such as whole class teaching, paired and group work and independent. We are aware that different children learn in different ways and so try to accommodate all learning styles.
Our main reading scheme used in school is The Oxford Reading Tree and this is also supplemented by others.
Our children regularly visit the local library in Allestree where the children can choose their own age-appropriate books and bring them back to school to enjoy reading.
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