Reading and Phonics

It’s never too early to read to your child and sharing books, stories, and rhymes should be a daily part of life, both at home and within a childcare setting.

Here at Hillcross Primary School, we have been leading a ‘Reading Revolution’ across the school in recognition of the importance that communication and language has on children’s development in all areas of learning.  It is vitally important that developing a love of reading starts with our youngest children and the sharing of rhymes and stories from an early age is crucial in the holistic development of children. It helps to support their ability to understand spoken language, use their imagination, develop speech, form positive relationships and listen and attend.

Developing Reading Skills in Nursery

To be ready to start reading, children need to have a variety of skills in place. These early reading skills include matching, rhyming, awareness of phonics and the skills associated with language development such as listening, attention, alliteration and sound discrimination. We are also keen to ignite a love of reading in our children through regular reading of high quality and engaging text. Never under estimate the power of reading a story to your children and enjoying a book together.

Nursery Lending Library

In order to support and ensure that our Parents and Carers have access to a wide range of good quality texts we have developed a 'Lending Library' system for our Nursery children. Each child will be bringing home a book, each week, that they have chosen to share with you at home. These books are for you to read to your child and enjoy. Along with their book they will also be bringing home a progression of skills card, which should stay in their book bag and be shared with the adults at home and in school. These cards highlight the terms skills and offer the adults at home some guidance on what to focus on when reading a book. Each skills card is worked on over the course of each term, through a variety of songs, rhymes and books. Children's comments can then be recorded on the skills card and we encourage families to upload lots of home videos of the children reading, via EExAT, our online assessment system. The card is then changed at the end of the term, giving the adults at hme  a new focus while they continue to share books. The focus of ur Lending Library is to develop a passion for books and up level the children's vocabulary. At this stage we are not focusing on the reading of words.

Pre-Phonics Activities

Alongside the love of books and listening to stories read to them, the children will also be developing pre phonics skills. Children generally develop most pre-phonics skills naturally through their interactions with parents and caregivers both at home and in nursery. It is important that the children are aware of the skills they are developing and that these are consolidated through adult interactions and specific teaching sessions. These pre phonics skills form the foundations to phonics learning, which as the children move into Reception, will continue to develop. In Reception the children will continue to learn skills through age-appropriate play-based learning as well as specific teaching sessions based on the Hillcross Phonics programme: Phonics International.

 The following topics cover all the pre phonics skills children need to be 'Reading Ready' when they enter Reception.  These topics are taught across the time the children are in nursery and include:

* Environmental sounds

* Instrumental sounds

* Body percussion (e.g. clapping and stamping)

The first step in the process of developing phonological awareness is to improve children's general sound awareness and listening skills. You can begin by making them aware of the everyday sounds they hear around them such as animal sounds and machine noises. This is what we are doing when we ask a little one "What sound does a doggy make?" and they answer "Woof! Woof!", or when we hear something and ask the child "What do you hear?"

Then we help children to learn to tell the difference contrasting sounds. They can play games in which they identify loud and soft sounds, guess what a particular sound is, hear the different sounds made by different musical instruments, or choose the "odd sound out."

We then begin to listen to the sounds our bodies can make when we clap, stamp and click our fingers as well as changing our voices to shout, whisper, growl.

* A Sense of Rhythm

Children become attuned to rhythm through simple musical activities. Instruments that develop a sense of rhythm include drums, shakers and tambourines. Physical activities include marching or clapping to a beat, moving to action rhymes and singing or chanting along to simple songs or nursery rhymes.

* Fun with Rhyme

When children listen to nursery rhymes or other poetry they learn to recognise both individual sounds and sound patterns.

Once they are able to clap to a beat they can begin to develop their awareness of the parts of words by clapping out syllables. As they listen to rhymes in songs and picture books stories they will become familiar with pairs of words such as hill/bill or take/lake which are similar in sound, but which have different meanings because of a slight sound difference.

* Alliteration

Another fun aspect of poetry is alliteration, a pair or group of words which begin with the same sound. Familiar tongue twisters such as "She sells seashells by the seashore" make heavy use of alliteration and bring the child's awareness to particular sounds, in this case the "s" and "sh" sounds.

Activities that build on awareness of rhyme include deciding whether or not two words rhyme, making up nonsense words that rhyme, finding a non-rhyming odd word out, and playing games such as rhyming bingo where they match a word to a rhyming partner. Games that develop awareness of initial sounds include matching objects with names that begin with the same sound, and playing I-Spy.

* Oral blending and segmenting 

the teacher will show children how to break words down into their individual sounds (segmenting) and how individual sounds are put together to form a word (blending).

Segmenting is taught by showing the pupils an object, saying its name, and then asking the pupils what sounds they hear in the name of the object. Blending is taught by showing an object, saying the sounds in its name and then asking the pupils what the object is.

All of these skills are taught and developed across their nursery experience through many play based learning experiences. Once the children are secure in these skills they will be confident to move into more formal teaching of letter phonemes, graphemes and letter names.

Communication & Language and Reading

Learning to read needs to be based on a solid foundation of general language skills. These develop when a child has plenty of opportunities for speaking and for hearing stories, songs and rhymes. It is also important for children to have fun so that they will develop a positive attitude towards learning.

EYFS Progression of Skills in Communication and Language -

· Enjoys rhymes and demonstrates listening by trying to join in with actions or vocalisations.

· Listens with interest to the noises adults make when they read stories.

· Recognises and responds to many familiar sounds, e.g. turning to a knock on the door, looks or reaches for a phone when it rings.

· Listens to stories with increasing attention and recall.

·  Joins in with repeated refrains and anticipates key events and phrases in rhymes and stories.

· Fills in the missing word or phrase in a known rhyme, story or game, e.g. ‘Humpty Dumpty sat on a …’.

· Shows awareness of rhyme and alliteration.

· Anticipates key events and phrases in rhymes and stories.

· Beginning to be aware of the way stories are structured. Suggests how the story might end.

· Describes main story settings, events and principal characters.

Hillcross Primary School, Ashridge Way, Morden, Surrey, SM4 4EE

020 8542 6936