How do we teach reading?
We have developed a ‘reading culture’ at Beechwood, where children can interact with books, print and spoken language. We promote the enjoyment of a wide range of genres and encourage children’s own interests. Great importance is placed on ‘reading for meaning’ and a variety of methods are used to develop children’s skills in reading through a host of learning experiences.
The teaching of reading begins in the autumn term of Foundation Stage where the children are introduced to letter sounds (not letter names), and over the course of the term, become familiar with all the initial sounds of the letters of the alphabet. These are not taught in alphabetical order, but follow the order prescribed in the RWI Phonics programme.
Once the children are confident of the initial sounds they are taught to segment the letters in words in order to decode (read) and blend letters in order to encode (write). The children usually begin to do this when ready in the Foundation Stage, following the structure of the RWI Phonics programme and are grouped according to their rate of progress.
In Years 1 and 2 the children continue to follow the programme, again working in groups determined by rate of progress. During their English sessions, as well as revising and learning new phonic sounds, the children will apply and develop their phonic and reading skills whilst reading a range of phonic books, both fiction and non-fiction. As well as phonic lessons the children all receive Guided Reading Sessions where they are encouraged to develop the ability to read at speed, with fluency and expression, and to read ‘like a story-teller’ and discuss many aspects of the book in order to answer comprehension questions verbally. The content of these books becomes gradually more complex.
Once pupils are able to decode, their reading continues and we begin working on the pupils’ comprehension skills. Comprehension skills are taught through a whole school Guided Reading Programme. This develops children’s comprehension of, and response to, a variety of texts so that they become critical thinkers engaging with texts. Comprehension activities are designed to help children to infer, summarise, question, clarify, predict and argue a point of view. The children also make connections between texts and their own experiences. We use higher order questioning to ensure pupils reach age related expectations and are well challenged.
Throughout the school, from Foundation Stage to Year 6, children are provided with reading books from the Read Write Inc (Bookbag Books matched to phonics assessment) and reading for pleasure books (closely matched to their ability) Oxford Reading Tree and Treetops schemes, to share with an adult at home. We expect that children read at home with an adult at least five times per week, to extend the ‘reading culture’ beyond school itself. Children are heard read in school by an adult regularly and are guided in their book choices.
The children also have access to the library and visit it every other week to take a book of their choosing out.