Reading in the EYFS
“Children who read regularly or are read to regularly have the opportunity to open the doors to so many different worlds! More importantly, reading will give your child the tools to become independent life-long learners.”
The teaching of reading
In Nursery, the Launchpad for Literacy Approach is used to develop pre-phonic and pre-reading skills for all children. Launchpad for Literacy is all about children; focussing on the skills they currently have and the skills they need for all aspects of literacy. It is a systematic, skills-based approach, enabling us to:
- Improve outcomes in the Early Years and beyond by creating firm foundations and a broad base of readiness, addressing whole school attainment from the ‘bottom-up’.
- Identify and close specific skill gaps with individuals, assessing, tracking and quantifying the process of closing the gap.
- Identify speech, language and other development needs as soon as possible and to embed specific skill-based intervention into practice when literacy acquisition is problematic.
The approach shifts the focus to more specific skills and gaps to close, making practice more targeted and systematic with incremental steps, underpinned by a greater developmental awareness. Within Nursery, the facilitation of skill next steps is delivered through targeted good practice and high-quality interactions. Interactions and language enrichment become more specific, underpinned by a greater awareness of progressive next steps and gaps to be filled.
Launchpad for Literacy in our Two-Year-Old Provision and Nursery may look like:
- Building interaction, listening and engagement
- Facilitating turn taking and two-way interactions between peers
- Verb vocabulary
- Adults modelling and using language to ask
- Vocabulary expansion (encouraging children to make links with words which go together)
- Developing key concept vocabulary e.g. beginning, middle and end
- Building understanding through the adaptation of language
- Sentence skills such as using pronouns, past tense verbs and linking sentences with conjunctions e.g. and/ so/ because.
These skills are targeted during adult interactions alongside child-initiated learning, daily routines and also the language used within more focussed tasks. The learning environment is planned around creating a language-rich classroom to support specific key skills which are essential building blocks for children to become successful in their literacy journey.
The Launchpad Approach is embedded within the daily practise and teaching of children from 2-4. In Nursery, children take part in small group activities based around the Launchpad developmental statements. Once children are assessed as ‘ready’ using the Launchpad Skills Framework they will then progress to the Read Write Inc Phonics programme.
In Reception, the teaching of reading is the focus of daily Read Write Inc teacher-led phonics sessions. Children are assessed on entry and regularly throughout the year enabling all children to access phonics teaching at the appropriate level. Once children are confidently able to blend sounds together to make words they will begin the Read Write Inc Book Bag Scheme and share an individual book with a member of staff. These will also be brought home.
In Nursery and Reception, children begin to learn to read using phonics. This involves learning letter sounds and shapes, hearing and saying the sounds in words in the correct order as well as being well on the way to being able to read and write the 44 phonemes or sounds in the English language. They also need to recognise and remember those tricky words that cannot be sounded out letter by letter e.g. the or said. There are special phonic decodable books that help them to practise their early reading.
What is Read Write Inc phonics?
Synthetic phonics is a way of teaching reading. Your child will be taught two crucial things when they are learning to read through the Read Write Inc scheme:
- How sounds are represented by written letters. For example, they will be taught that the letter ‘m’ represents an mmm sound.
- How sounds can be blended together to make words. For example, they will be taught that the sounds of the letters ‘c-a-t’ blend together to make the word ‘cat’.
Your child will be taught to read letters or groups of letters by saying the sound (or sounds) they represent. For example, they will be taught that the letter ‘l’ sounds like lllll when we say it. Your child will then start reading by blending the sounds together to make words. At school, you will probably hear teachers (and your children) talking about blending, but you might also hear them talk about Fred Talk, which is part of the Read Write Inc phonics scheme but refers to the same idea. Fred is a frog who speaks only in sounds e.g. c-a-t.
Video: How to correctly say the sounds
Video: How to blend sounds to read words
Reading skills - Comprehension
Children also draw on their own experiences (the language and stories they know), the setting of the story and the pictures to help them understand what they are reading about. Comprehension skills are vital in making sense of what the words say and interpreting meaning. Whilst sharing stories at school and through Read Write Inc phonics sessions the children are provided with the skills to find information from a story and answer questions verbally relating to a text.
Reading linked to writing
Once children begin to sound out letters to read words, they can begin to say the sounds needed to write simple words and are encouraged to have a go at this from early on. Your child will start to write simple sentences, to form letters correctly and to begin to notice punctuation marks and to use them. When writing, children are encouraged to ‘sound out’ words using ‘Fred Fingers’ to count the sounds and then write the sounds which they can hear; this may not always lead to the correct spellings. Children are encouraged to spell phonetically at first to develop their confidence and independence before correct spelling is taught.
Take home books
Your child is unlikely to come home from school on day one with a ‘reading’ book. As the children focus on learning the sounds which letters make reliably we will typically begin by sending home wordless books, books with very few words or picture books for you to share with your child. Sharing a book in this way helps your child to learn about the structure and language of stories and gets them used to handling books. As children become confident with recalling a range of sounds and blending these to make words they will be introduced to the books in our reading scheme; Songbirds. A reading scheme is a structured and levelled set of books written specifically to ensure that your child can take steady and progressive steps towards reading success. These books are very phonic-based at the beginning and link to the sounds which your child knows to develop their enthusiasm and self-confidence in reading. In Reception, you will be asked to complete a Reading Diary each time you read with your child. This can be a really useful communication tool, so the more information you provide the better! As teacher, we are keen to find out about how things are going with your child’s reading and really don’t mind what you write so please add whichever comments you feel appropriate.
Read, read, read
Most importantly, read to your child and encourage them to read to you. Read anything and everything, not just the reading scheme books. Real books, with pictures, rhyme and enjoyable stories are just as important. Try to encourage your child to talk about the pictures, or to make predictions about what will happen next. It’s most important for your child to enjoy reading above all, so try to relax, and stop when either of you begins to feel pressured or anxious.
Encourage your child to recognise and read print when you are out shopping, on the bus or at the park. Most children can recognise the Golden M for McDonald’s a mile away!