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  • Phonics and Early Reading

    How We Teach Phonics

    Phonics is a way of teaching children to read and write by blending and segmenting individual sounds. Every letter and different combinations of letters make particular sounds for example the letter ‘s’ makes a hissing like a snake. 

    The children at Sound and District Primary School are taught phonics from Reception to Year 2 (and beyond where needed). We follow Letters and Sounds which is a resource published by the Department of Education. This learning is supported by the scheme, Letterland which uses a story based approach. The children participate in discrete phonics sessions every day and work through five overlapping phases.

    Letterland was created to teach phonics using a story-based approach. The story logic engages children leading to long term retention of concepts. What’s more, Letterland is wonderfully multi-sensory. It activates every learning channel through music, actions, alliteration, movement, song, art, games and role-play. Please see https://www.letterland.com/parent-guide for more information.

    Key terms we use in our teaching:

    Digraph – two letters make one sound (e.g. sh, ch, ai, ea, ou, ow).
    Trigraph – three letters make one sound (e.g. igh, ear, air, ure).
    Split digraph – two letters make one sound but the letters have been split apart by another letter.
    Phoneme – a single unit of sound
    Grapheme – a written letter, or group of letter that represent a sound.
    Consonants – b, c, d, f, g, h, j, k, l, m, n, p, q, r, s, t, v, w, x, y, z
    Blend – to put or merge the sounds together to make a word (e.g. the sounds d-o-g are blended to the word ‘dog’.)
    Segment – to break down the word into its individual sounds to spell (e.g cat can be split into the sounds c-a-t.).
    Sound buttons – ways of visually isolating different sounds in a word. We use a dot under letters where one letter makes one sound and a line understand digraphs or trigraphs.

    How you can help at home

    1. Reading every night at home with your child
    2. Practise reading and writing tricky words
    3. Practising your children’s handwriting


    How We Teach Reading

    We are on a mission to encourage ALL of our children to read for pleasure. Reading is such an important part of our Curriculum and here at Sound and District Primary School we are always encouraging our children to look at books and we ensure that our children are exposed to lots of stories read to them by our staff.

    Sharing a story with children helps to promote talk, build vocabulary, build relationships and improve children’s book handling skills. There is nothing children love more than getting cosy with a book!


    The start of the reading journey:

    In the Reception classes, we encourage ‘book talk’. The children learn to handle books, they talk constantly about what’s happening and they begin to recognise a few key words. All this is happening alongside a phonics programme so that, when the children are learning letters and sounds, they can always apply these skills to the books they are reading.

    Moving on through Key Stage 1 (Year 1 and 2):

    In Year 1 and 2, as well as the teaching of phonics, there is also a focus on comprehension and reading for enjoyment. We use a ‘banded’ scheme which is carefully graded to move the readers quickly; using one small step at a time. In addition to that ‘Guided Reading’ takes place in classes, through a carousel of Reading activities to further develop word recognition and comprehension skills.

    Moving on through Key Stage 2 (Years 3 to 6):

    Since September 2019, KS2 children have used Accelerated Reader (AR). Teachers use the computer based programme to monitor, structure and reward children’s reading across the school. Since we introduced AR, children have responded positively to the programme with a corresponding impact on rates of progress and attainment.

    Reading for pleasure!

    Stay and Read

    Each half term we have a ‘Stay and Read’ session in school for parents and carers with children in Reception to Year 6. This is an opportunity for parents/carers to come into school and share a book with their child in a calm and peaceful environment. Listen to their child read, chat to them about the book and share opinions about the book.

    Mystery Readers in Reception

    This year we implemented a very successful mystery reader scheme in Reception.  The aim of “Mystery Reader” is to show children that adults love reading too each week we invite a parent, grandparent or other family members to come into their child’s class to read a children’s story.   This could be a book the adult particularly enjoyed reading when you were growing up or a current children’s book brought from home, or selected from the school library.