How we teach Phonics at Rotherhithe
At Rotherhithe we want every child to be successful. We know that the sooner children learn to read, the greater their success at school. We use a phonics programme called Read Write Inc. The teaching of phonics is a key strategy that is used to teach our children to read and write.
We start teaching phonics in Reception, year 1 and year 2. Some children in Year 3 and 4 may continue to be taught phonics if this is needed. We use the Read Write Inc Fresh Start programme for children in year 5 & 6 who may continue to show some challenges in terms of learning to read.
Our phonic sessions are typically for 30 minutes. During this time, we group children by their reading progress and re-assess children every half-term so we can place them in the group where they’ll make the most progress. We provide extra booster sessions or after school clubs for children who need a bit of a boost to keep up.
How do we make phonics easy for children to learn?
Read Write Inc. Phonics depends upon children learning to read and write sounds effortlessly, so we make it simple and fun. The phonic knowledge is split into two parts.
First we teach them one way to read and write the 40+ sounds in English. We use pictures to help, for example we make ‘a’ into the shape of an apple, ‘f’ into the shape of a flower. These pictures help all children, especially slower-starters, to read the sounds easily.
Children learn to read words by sound-blending using a frog called Fred. Fred says the sounds and children help him blend the sounds to read each word.
Then we teach children the different spellings of the same sounds, for example, they learn that the sound ‘ay’ is written ay, a-e and ai; the sound ‘ee’ is written ee, e and ea. We use phrases to help them remember each sound for example, ay, may I play, a-e – make a cake?
We teach them that there are ‘tricky’ words that we refer to as ‘Red words’ that do not follow a regular pattern and need to be recalled visually by sight.
How do we ensure children can read every book?
During phonics lessons we give children books we know they can read using their sound blending skills. Before they read the story, they sound out the names of characters and new words, practice reading any of the ‘tricky red’ words, and tell them a thought-provoking introduction to get them excited about the story.
Then, the children read the story two to three times: first to focus on reading the words carefully; then to read fluently with comprehension and understanding. We talk about the story together for example, how characters might be feeling and why. By the time your child reads the story to you at home, they will be able to read it confidently with expression.
How do we teach children to spell confidently?
We teach children to spell using ‘Fred Fingers’: we say a word and then children pinch the sounds onto their fingers and write the word, sound by sound. Children are encouraged to see spelling patterns in words; play, may, day, say, ray. They also practice writing a target word in a dictated sentence.
How parents can help their children learn to read at home?
Read a bedtime story to your child.
Share books with your child. We recommend that you visit the local library at Canada Water to choose books together. Talk about the pictures and the content of these stories.
There is some really good advice about how to make bedtime story-time fun on www.ruthmiskin.com/ parents
Listen to your child read the storybooks we send home.
Your child will bring home a Read Write Inc. Storybook they have just finished reading in their group. They will be able to read this book confidently because they have already read it two or three times. Please do not say “This book is too easy!” Praise your child for how well they read it – celebrate what a great reader they are. They’ll sometimes bring home previous stories they have read too. Re-reading stories develops their fluency on every reading. There’s more good advice on how to listen to your child read on; www.ruthmiskin.com/parents
Please attend any phonics workshops that you are invited to.
We run these for Reception and Year 1 parents. There are also short film clips for parents to enable you to support your child to use phonic skills when reading; www.ruthmiskin.com/parents
This video has been created to outline sounds used when teaching Phonics. To watch this video, please click on the play button below.