Helping Your Child To Read

Reading is a skill we learn at the beginning of our school days! We need it to help us in all other subject areas such as Maths, Science, History, Music etc. Furthermore, reading is a “lifelong skill” as we use it every day in our lives. For example to read menus in restaurants, to read the sports results in newspapers or on television, to read traffic signs and public notices.

We all agree we need to be able to read throughout our lives.

Our approach to reading is one which engages the children right from day 1! We use the Jolly Phonics programme and below is a quick step-by-step guide to learning to read.

Step 1: Recognise and say the sounds in English.

  • We begin in September by introducing the sounds (or phonemes) of the English language. There are 44 sounds made up of the 26 alphabet letters and then additional two letter sounds such as “ee” in jeep, “ai” in rain etc.

We show the children the letters so that they can visualise the sounds. We teach them the sound so that they can hear it being said. We also teach them a sensory movement for each sound. For example for the sound s:

– we show them the letter s
– we say a hissing sound ssssss
– we weave our arm in a snake like movement.

By combining the visual, auditory and sensory movements the children will retain the sound s in their memories longer.

The practice songs and actions at home with your child visit the YouTube channel: This will help you support your child as he/she learns the action and songs for each sound. Children will have their own sounds folder with the letter sound for that week please spend time encouraging your child to trace over the letter with their finger, do the action and say the sound every night. Try to get them to listen out for these sounds in everyday words they hear e.g. sun, see, sandwich etc.

 Step 2: Learn to combine sounds to form words.

After children have learned the sounds, they progress to develop the skill of combining sounds together to form words. This is called “blending”. These will be added to their folders once enough letters have been covered to make words.

For example, in learning to read the word ‘pat’:

  • Start by saying the individual sounds of “p”, “a” and then “t”.
  • Repeat saying these sounds, pushing the sounds together.
  • All the time encourage your child to listenfor the word.
  • Children then practise ‘blending’ these sounds together themselves. Only with plenty of practise will this skill of blending develop.

Step 3: Learn the Tricky Words!

Not all words can be sounded out (or blended) !

These are Tricky Words and we just have to learn to them. For example the word ‘he’ cannot be sounded out as ‘h’ and ‘e’.

To help your child with this step, tricky words will be added to the sound folder. These words will have a tricky word hat icon beside them so that children know they are tricky and can’t be sounded out.

Step 4: Read, read, read!!!!

Once your child has learned the individual sounds, has developed the skill of blending and learned to recognise some tricky words he/she is ready to read!!This usually begins around February, you will see a word box, reader and workbook  coming home in your child’s schoolbag. Review the new words in the word-box first, discuss the picture on that nights reading page with your child then let your child read the sentence ensuring they are placing their finger under each word as they read from left to right.

Some tips for reading other books at home:

  • Make reading time a quiet time for you and your child.
  • Let him choose a book from a range of age appropriate books. In our local librarythe children’s section is divided up according to age. Similarly book shops will categorise children’s books by age.
  • Start by exploring the book cover. Discuss the front cover pictures, asking him/her to guess what the book might be about.
  • Next, ask him/her to open the book and again discuss the pictures (or illustrations).
  • Encourage him/her to look at the words.
  • Ask him if he/she recognises any tricky words.
  • Begin reading. Initially you should begin and then encourage him/her to read.
  • If he/she hesitates on words, let him hear you sound them out. Encourage him to sound out / blend.
  • Continue in this manner of discussing the illustrations, identifying tricky words, sounding out unfamiliar words, reading together.

To hear the songs for each letter sound:

***Above all, encourage and support your child as they read! Their self-confidence and reading ability will develop significantly with your support and encouragement. ***