Reading and Phonics
In Reception children are encouraged to choose picture books to take home and share with their parents to develop good book handling skills – i.e. holding the book correctly, turning pages in sequence, knowing that both the pictures and the text help to tell the story, tracking print from left to right and discussing the story and answering questions about it.
The teaching of phonics will have started in the Nursery setting and continued into Reception initially focussing on hearing sounds and rhymes and developing through to recognising the sounds individual and groups of letters make. Children are encouraged to segment and blend sounds to build words for reading and writing. This is supplemented by the teaching of High Frequency Words (HFW or Tricky Words) that are not phonetically decodeable. This approach to the teaching of phonics is continued throughout Years 1 and 2 with an increasing emphasis on linking the phonics to spelling. When children are able to independently and confidently segment and blend some simple cvc (consonant – vowel- consonant) words and recognise a few HFW, they will be ready to take home a book from the first band of the school reading scheme.
Children will begin at red level and progress through the bands until they are ready to read books from the class library.
Before moving bands, a child is assessed to ensure they are ready for the next level of reading books. Teachers make assessments about children’s reading levels, and whether they are ready to move on, through Guided Reading sessions (see below) and individual reading. A child on the correct band should be able to read between 90% and 95% of the words accurately. In order for children to become competent readers in addition to being able to read the words, it is essential that they have a good comprehension of what they are reading. This means that they can answer questions about the text and make inferences. Therefore, as part of the ‘benchmarking’ process, children’s comprehension skills are assessed as well as their ability to read the words.
There are various strands that are drawn upon to discuss the text and aid the assessment of children’s reading. Some of these include:
- Drawing on knowledge of vocabulary
- Identify key details from fiction and non-fiction
- Recall the sequence of events in texts
- Summarise the main ideas in a text
- Make inferences from the text and justify these with evidence from the text
- Make predictions about what might happen in the text
- Explain how meaning is enhanced by choice of words and phrases
Guided Reading sessions (where teachers read and discuss a text with a small group) give class teachers the time to further develop children’s reading strategies, comprehension and discussion of text as well as an opportunity to gather evidence to support their assessment of children’s reading, comprehension of texts especially inferred or hidden meaning. These sessions enable the staff to model fluent and expressive reading, use of punctuation, sentence structure and use of language as well as facilitating peer discussion of text. Guided Reading Sessions are usually followed up with a written task based on the pages read during the session. This may involve answering questions about the text, vocabulary exercises and character descriptions, writing a new ‘blurb’ for the book, or writing a book review; the tasks are drawn from the strands listed above. Guided Reading sessions take place in both KS1 and KS2 and a variety of texts and styles of writing are drawn upon in order to offer children a wide range of literature.