Phonics is a way of teaching children how to read and write. It helps children hear, identify and use different sounds that distinguish one word from another in the English language
Written language can be compared to a code, so knowing the sounds of individual letters and how those letters sound when they’re combined, will help children decode words as they read.
Understanding phonics will also help children know which letters to use when they are writing words.
When teaching phonics we listen to each new sound (phoneme) first, learn how to pronounce it correctly and then teach the matching symbol (grapheme) for that sound. It is important to hear and say the sound correctly. Without this, it can be difficult to put the sounds together to 'blend' them into words. Understanding phonics will also help children know which letters to use when they are writing words.
At Spring Hill we teach phonics to all children in Reception and Key Stage One. Our chosen phonics scheme is Read Write Inc.
What is Read Write Inc.(RWI)?
RWI is a programme that is widely used throughout the country; about one in four primary schools use it. It has the aim of building skills and confidence in reading, starting with single letter sounds and progressing through to words, whole sentences and complete texts. It has proved to be an effective reading programme for all children, even if the English language is not the first language spoken at home.
There are clear expectations of attainment for each year group by the end of each half-term through the year. We aim for children to reach the end of the programme, as fluent readers, by the end of Key Stage 1 (seven years old). Children continue on the programme, however, until their sound knowledge is complete and they demonstrate the pace and accuracy of reading demanded as fluent readers. Starting in Reception, children are assessed by Miss Brown to establish the correct reading band and group. Assessments then take place at least every half term, or more frequently for accelerated learners or those children requiring additional support.
The daily RWI group lesson mostly lasts over an hour and includes reading, spelling, handwriting, grammar and comprehension.
For the bottom 20% of readers within each year group, catch-up is provided through one-to-one tutoring and a bespoke reading programme is drawn up and managed by Miss Brown. These children are closely monitored in their progress. Families of these children are strongly encouraged to come into school to discuss their child's progress with their class teacher and seek advice about how to help at home.
How can families be involved in school reading events?
We host regular reading events for family engagement. ‘Read With Me’ sessions are run by most class teachers, where families are welcome to visit their child's classroom and enjoy hearing them read, reading to them, or reading together. Love of reading is the key to these sessions, so bringing a favourite book from home is a popular choice. Teachers will be happy to guide you on various aspects of reading at home.
Please refer to your child’s Seesaw page for individual class times.
How can families support RWI home learning?
Family engagement in children reading at home is valued highly in our school. Reading at home is fun and gives children such a boost to their confidence and interest in learning to read. Reading support at home makes for quicker progress and quality time between child and parent.
RWI teachers send links on Seesaw for the practising of sounds and reading of E-books every week. Parents should register on the Oxford Owl website. Reading activities and e-books are free on this website.
Book bag books are also provided every 3 or 5 days. These books are carefully selected to link to the sounds and words taught in each child's RWI lessons in school. We have invested in many new exciting non-fiction book bag book titles to add to the story ones already available for home-reading.
We value open communication with our families and invite home reading comments from families in the reading record given to each child. Children love to be praised by their families, but worries or queries are welcome too.
Advice on any aspect of home-reading can be sought from Miss Brown or your child’s class teacher, who are available in the morning and after school every day. Appointments can be made with Miss Brown to support you further in reading with your child at home.
An active role in supporting your child's reading can be taken through:
- Providing a book bag to keep books safe and weather-proof. It should be brought to school each day, allowing your child to practise the same book at home and in class reading time.
- Hearing your child read every day at home, praising success and supporting their efforts.
- Checking Seesaw for the RWI e-book and sound practice links uploaded by your child's teacher.
- Not worrying if your child's reading book seems too easy! They should be able to read book bag books speedily and with expression, because they will contain words and phrases already taught in lessons that week.
- Using useful websites that link to our school's reading programme, such as:
Ruth Miskin Facebook:
Free e-books for home reading:
How can I support my child to learn Set 1 sounds and to blend?
Your child will need to have started sound blending in their RWI lessons, before their teacher sends home their first book bag books for home-reading. Helping them to practise reading sounds is the first important step on their road to reading whole words. If you help them to read sounds at home, they will be quicker and more confident in next to no time. Using pure sounds is the best approach to easy sound blending. Don't worry if you're not familiar with pure sounds, as help is at hand through Miss Brown or through the website. Free parent videos on the Ruth Miskin website show you all of the sounds, including those made of two or three letters, and exactly how to say them as 'pure sounds'.
Watch this ‘how to say the sounds’ parent film on https://www.ruthmiskin.com/en/find-out-more/parents/
‘Reading the stretchy sounds with your child’, ‘Reading the bouncy sounds with your child’ and ‘Reading the digraphs with your child’ are more helpful parent films on https://www.ruthmiskin.com/en/find-out-more/parents/ to see how to teach Set 1 sounds
What are Fred games and how can they help with reading?
We teach children to read and spell using Fred. He is a toy frog who can say the sounds in words, but cannot blend the sounds into words. Children have to help him.
To help children learn to blend, we say the sounds as Fred and then children repeat the sounds and say the whole word.
Here are two ways in which you can use Fred Talk at home:
Play Fred Games together – see Fred Games document on https://www.ruthmiskin.com/en/find-out-more/parents/
Speak like Fred throughout the day e.g. time for l-u-n-ch! Let’s p-l-ay!
Watch the ‘Sound-blending’ parent film on https://www.ruthmiskin.com/en/find-out-more/parents/
How can I support my child to learn Set 2 or 3 sounds?
Watch the ‘Set 2/3 tutoring’ film on https://www.ruthmiskin.com/en/find-out-more/parents/
Help your child practise reading known Speed Sounds cards speedily. If needed, show your child the picture side of the card to help them remember the sound.
Phonics Screening Check
It is a statutory requirement for schools to carry out a Phonics Screening Check with all Year 1 children to assess their ability to identify sounds and blend them to read words. Any children who do meet the standard required repeat the screening check again in Year 2. The Assessment is carried out using real and pseudo (nonsense/alien) words.