Reading and Phonics

How we teach reading at Burrough Green CE Primary School

Reading is a vital skill which widens opportunity, deepens thinking, feeds the imagination and informs and entertains in equal measure. Reading is acquired, as much as learnt, when the conditions are right. From the very earliest stages children should be encountering books every day and hearing stories read to them. The role of the parent, therefore, is paramount in helping to create these conditions. We hope the guidance we provide here will give you a better idea of the place of reading in developing young minds, what we do at school and approaches you can try at home.
Children absorb much from the environment around them, so making this environment reading-friendly is our aim. Books should be freely available and children should be able to choose which books to read. Reading should be a talkative, social experience, as well as a quiet, reflective, personal one. Different types of books should be within their grasp, so they can learn to follow and develop interests, as well as encounter something that is novel. Children need to share books with adults who model good reading behaviours: such as how to handle books with care; how to make choices; how to hold the book and turn the pages; how to bring the content alive through the way they use their voice and gesture, and how they draw the child into the experience through thoughtful prompts and questions.
From the very start we are preparing our children to be readers through their acquisition of spoken language. If the language used in the home is rich and varied, this will be beneficial. Therefore at school we use work, play, songs, rhymes, pictures and music to introduce new vocabulary and language structures that will expand the children’s minds. Indeed learning the patterns of familiar rhymes off by heart will help them to recognise other patterns in songs, and later in spelling.
By looking at the highlighted sections of text in our English curriculum map you can see just some of the activities covered whilst exploring books together. Other things we do that you can try include:
• Pausing before the end of a sentence to see if they can predict what is going to happen.
• Taking a ‘walk’ through a book before you read it, so that children have some idea of the key events and of important new vocabulary to strengthen their understanding and engagement.
• Working out how a character might be feeling from the pictures can help to develop appropriate expression in the re-telling.
• Allowing children to re-read favourite books to develop confidence and fluency.
• See the ‘Reading Prompts Guide’ to the left of this page for further ideas.
Daily Reading
We read every day at school and children should read every day at home too. Many lessons are text focussed, such as the shared reading of a ‘Big Book’ with the whole class, ‘Guided Reading’ in small groups with an adult, or using a piece of text to understand how writers use language to develop atmosphere, tension or characterisation. Older children also use multiple copies of high quality texts to read together and study as a class. There are weekly library sessions too where children are encouraged to choose from the non-fiction selection available to further their study or interests (there are no levels here that restrict what they can choose). All of this is done together. Children’s understanding is challenged through the choice of text, but supported through meaningful questions and discussion.
However, it is also important that they can take their reading journey at a suitable pace with reading material at a suitable level. We do not follow a single reading scheme at school, but have taken books from a number of schemes and none and grouped them in coloured bands (please see attachment below).
This is the principal way in which early literacy skills for reading are taught. Please see the ‘Phonics’ header to the left of this page for full details of what this means.
Reading Response/Communication Books
All children will have a book in which they can record what they think about their reading and where parents and teachers can add comments when listening to them read.
If you would like any further information about our approaches to reading please talk to your child’s class teacher.
We hope you have found this guide useful.
Reading prompts to help children with difficult or new words.
This attachment below outlines the principal way in which early literacy skills for reading are taught at Burrough Green.