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We teach early reading through the lively and vigorous teaching of synthetic phonics (children learn to blend sounds to read whole words). The programme begins in Reception as the children start school and ends when the children are fluent and confident readers and able to recognise the 44 sounds in the English language and the many ways of spelling these sounds (e.g. ay/ai, oy/oi). Because the English language is not just made up of ‘phonic’ words, we also teach the children how to recognise and read high frequency words known as ‘red’ words (e.g. the, said, could).
Our main aim is to give the children the reading skills to be able to read independently and for enjoyment. To support this development, we have a main reading scheme called ‘Big Cat’ (published by Collins) which offers the children a chance to read a mix of fiction stories, playscripts and poetry and non-fiction books with facts and different sorts of layouts. The ‘Big Cat’ scheme starts with picture books (Reception) in order to encourage talk about the story and show understanding of what might be happening. The children progress from this, all the way up to Level 18 at which level the child can be considered to be a very fluent and confident reader. The class teacher will make a judgement when a child is ready to become a ‘free reader’ which means the child chooses (with guidance) their own appropriate reading material.
In the earlier stages of reading, we also supplement the ‘Big Cat’ scheme with books published by Oxford Reading Tree and the children do seem to enjoy reading about the adventures of Biff, Chip, Kipper and Floppy the dog!
The most important factor, however, in children’s progress in reading is the support of parents and carers so please hear your child read as much as possible at home. Together we can make a difference.