Learning to Read and Reading to Learn
At SASJ we recognise that learning to read, understanding what is read, and reading for pleasure unlocks everything else a child needs to learn to do. As reading is so important, we have a carefully structured, whole school approach to giving them that key.
As soon as our Early Years children start their learning journey with us, we share our love of reading with them alongside introducing them to the “phonic code” of the English language. Children will hear the teacher read every day in class. In the first half term, they will be given high quality “sharing” books to bring home and ask an adult to read with them as well as wordless books that they can use to practise telling you stories! With our Little Wandle Letters and Sounds phonics programme, they also learn to start spotting letters and sounds straight away.
Every child takes part in a daily guided reading session. We use workshop style learning activities during guided reading as this gives a balance of encouraging the children to learn independently and being taught crucial skills.
Each child will have two adult-led session and two other sessions which are based around what they have learnt with the adults. The fifth session encourages the children to be able to answer questions more formally such as those they would come across in test papers.
A week in your child’s class may look something like this:
During guided reading, the children read books that have been chosen by the teacher to match their current stage of development. For our early and emergent readers these books will be from Collins Big Cat scheme, which is mapped entirely according to our Little Wandle teaching. This means that the children will be practising using phonic knowledge they already have, as well as deepening their understanding of the text and developing prosody (the rhythm, stress, and intonation of speech).
For our confident and master readers, the books are taken from a range of schemes such as Project X , Oxford Reading Tree: Treetops as well as carefully curated “real” novels for each year group.
Each group reads books that are suitable for their level of development and the emphasis is on deepening their learning and taking time to develop skills and understanding.
Home Reading Books
We get the children taking home reading books as soon as possible at SASJ.
As we have a fully decodable reading book scheme for early readers, the children don’t need to know many sounds before they are able to get their first book to take home. When the children are first learning to read, they will read a book in school as part of their phonics and guided reading sessions and then bring it home to share. They will have ‘cracked the code’ for that book and have a good understanding of it and so can share it with a grown-up at home to develop prosody (reading with fluency and expression). They have the opportunity to read and re-read this book at home for a week before exchanging it for the next one that they have read in class.
For our more experienced readers, things work in much the same way. The children will be introduced to a book in their guided reading session and then bring it home to practise exactly the same skills. As they become more confident, they may be asked to read ahead or complete short tasks at home ready for their next session with the teacher.
All children are given a reading record book at the start of the year. In this, we will record the guided reading book they currently have, the children (or an adult if they’re not yet writing) will record their reading for pleasure book that they have chosen (from the class or school library) and we ask that home reading is recorded by an adult so that we have a fully rounded picture of how the child’s reading journey is progressing.
We LOVE phonics here at SASJ!
As soon as children join our school, we start teaching them using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revisited scheme. This gives them a solid grounding for their reading and they can quickly start reading to learn.
EYFS children learn together as a whole class. “Keep Up” sessions are also delivered as needed. Throughout KS1, children are grouped for phonics lessons to enable the children to progress through the scheme at a pace that is relevant to them with high quality, targeted teaching.
To help you support your child in learning phonics here are some videos that show what children learn over their time in Reception:
On the parent’s page of the Little Wandle website there are also useful downloads and explanations as to how the whole phonic code fits together. A whole scheme overview can be found below:
We use Lancashire English Themes for our English planning. These have been well developed and adapted over the years by the Lancashire English consultants who we regularly receive training from.
Each planning phase follows the same pattern of: creating interest in the theme, reading and analysing, reading and gathering content, planning and finally writing. This process can take place over a number of weeks but even when the children are in the reading phase, we plan lots of writing activities like diary entries, postcards, etc. to enhance their writing skills.
When the children get to the writing phase, sessions may begin by being modelled, showing the children how to apply the grammar skills that they have learnt. After this initial modelled write, they will then have a go at writing something similar independently. Later in the year, teachers will ask them to use these skills elsewhere in the curriculum.
At SASJ, we teach grammar during separate sessions for 10 minutes a day and then these skills are in our writing. For example, if a class were learning about how to use adjectives in their grammar and they then wrote a story, part of the success criteria for their story would be to use adjectives within that story.
In order to embed the skills fully, we ensure that we also ensure that the children use them throughout the curriculum. For example, they might have to use adjectives to describe the process of the water cycle in geography.