At Whitwell, phonics is taught through a systematic, synthetic phonics programme called Read, Write Inc.
Children are taught how to break down words into their individual sounds in order to read and how to put sounds together for writing.
The children know to sound out or ‘Fred Talk’ each sound whilst pointing underneath the letters, then to blend the sounds to make the word. If your child knows them on sight they can read them without sounding out and this is an important progression in their reading.
A frog called 'Fred' helps children to learn to read as part of the Read Write Inc program. The children love Fred!
Children are assessed and split into small groups so that children are taught within the appropriate phase. Assessment is regular and children will be moved between the groups as they are ready.
Year 1 children will take a phonics screening check in June. Parents will be informed of the results with the annual school report.
In total, the children learn 44 common sounds in the English language and how to sound-blend words for reading at the same time as developing handwriting skills and spelling. As their confidence in decoding develops they are taught to comprehend, reading books and answering questions together.
Green Words - During our Read Write Inc sessions we practise our reading skills by reading ‘Green Words’. These are words that are decodable because they only contain sounds that your child will be able to recognise. For example – mad, top, wish, bang, green, clean. The children have met Fred during our sessions. Fred is a frog who cannot read words as we can but says everything in sounds, or ‘Fred Talk’.
Red Words – These are used to help the children recognise the fact that there are words that are tricky to read because you cannot sound them out in the normal way. For example – my, said, they, are, you. Your child needs to be able to read these words on sight.
If you would like to know more about Phonics, the link below will take you to a collection of very useful videos on ‘What is Phonics?’, on how to pronounce the sounds (phonemes) we use to make words and how you can help with phonics at home. It is really useful for parents to know how to help their child read using the correct sounds.
Once children have a secure knowledge of letter/sound correspondences and can blend words confidently, they access our core reading scheme Oxford Reading Tree, which is supported by books from various published schemes to give children experience of a variety of reading genres. There are fiction and non-fiction books within each level. Many of these books can be decoded entirely using phonics but some require children to employ a range of reading strategies.
Reading records are sent home with reading books and we aim to work in partnership with parents in helping children both to learn to read and to love reading. Once children become competent readers they access ‘free- readers’ and for children who begin to fall behind with their reading we provide intervention to help to accelerate progress.
Once a child is reading fluently they will no longer need to follow the reading scheme but can chose from a wide selection of ‘real books’. To support this, each child will undertake a ‘Star Reading Test’, this is an online test used to measure a child’s reading level. The test uses multiple-choice questions and takes around 20 minutes. The child is then given a range of books they can choose from.
Accelerated Reader is a reading program we use to help teachers support and monitor children’s reading practice. Your child picks a book at their own level and reads it at their own pace. When finished, your child takes a short online quiz to measure how much of the book they understood. Regular testing ensures your child is reading books at an appropriate level.
The children in Y2, who no longer need phonics’ sessions, and the children in KS2 (Y3-Y6) have a daily guided reading session lasting up to 30 minutes during which activities are planned to address the improvement and consolidation of reading skills.