How We Teach Reading
Our Ethos About Reading
At Banstead Infant School we value the teaching of reading very highly; learning to read is one of the keys to independence in learning. Children who read for enjoyment every day develop a broader vocabulary, increased general knowledge and a better understanding of other cultures.
We believe the most important factors in learning to read are: enjoyment, understanding, confidence, independence and fluency. We aim to promote a lifelong love of reading. In order to do this, children are encouraged to read a wide variety of genres during their time here. They have access to reading materials through a well-resourced library as well as books in class and books at home which all provide a reading rich environment. Our children will be both independent and reflective readers who can read fluently and for meaning.
Children use a variety of reading skills from early synthetic phonics to decoding and skimming to enable them to access all other areas of learning. As children’s reading develops at different rates, teaching is tailored to each child. Children read daily in the classroom either though group reading, individual reading or shared reading. Children are encouraged to read a range of books in school and at home and communication between staff and parents is encouraged.
Little Wandle Phonics Programme
We place a strong emphasis on the use of phonics as an early reading skill. At Banstead Infant School we use the 'Little Wandle Revised Letters and Sounds' scheme to teach phonics. The programme is detailed and systematic and consists of 6 phases for teaching phonics from Reception with the aim of children becoming fluent readers by the age of seven. All children have sound books which are used alongside reading books when the children read at school. Every child in Reception and Year 1 receives a good quality 20 minutes phonics lesson every day. We ensure the session is interactive and lively, using high quality resources to engage and interest the children. More details about the programme and free downloadable resources for schools and parents can be found at https://www.littlewandlelettersandsounds.org.uk/resources/for-parents/
Key Words and Phonic Books
Reception children take home key words that they are learning, as well as a phonic books containing the sounds of the week to practise. In KS1 children also have key words that they practise alongside their reading.
Reading at School
At school, reading is taught through shared class or group activities such as, reading following shared writing, reading instructions for a game or recipe, reading on-screen texts both fiction and non-fiction. It is also taught through one to one, small group and whole class sessions (The Daily Read) with a teacher or teaching assistant.
Teachers read with children as often as possible. When a teacher reads a book with a child on a one to one basis they are:
- carrying out an intensive assessment of the strategies they are using to read,
- assessing their understanding of the content they have read,
- assessing their understanding of the sentence structure and organisation of the text,
- assessing their understanding of language,
- reinforcing the application of the child’s phonic knowledge,
- teaching new ideas such as the use of punctuation to add expression or re-reading for meaning,
- discussing the child’s next steps,
- writing a comment for the child’s parent/carer so that they know their child’s next step and can follow this up at home
This approach involves questioning deeply; it takes time and differs greatly from teachers ‘hearing children read.’ Teachers aim to carry out this deep assessment once every two to three weeks with each child.
Children will also read as a whole class or in groups during The Daily Read in KS1 or with the teacher/teaching assistant in EYFS. The lesson will be split into sessions using the same book.
At Banstead Infant School we use levelled reading scheme books from a number of schemes, picture books, poetry books, non-fiction books and longer stories (commonly called ‘chapter books’).
Scheme based reading books are graded by difficulty, by reading levels known as Book Bands. Each Book Band has its own colour. For example, the simplest books are Band 1, which is pink, and the top level, at Banstead Infant School, is Band 6, which is orange. Scheme books in EYFS and those who are reading below age related expectations in Year 1 should be reading fully decodable books to support their phonic development, independence and confidence. Once a child can read fluently and understand scheme books at Band 6 they are usually ready to read ‘real’ picture books.
It can seem that they move from books with a great deal of text to ‘simple’ picture books. Scheme books have a limited vocabulary and sentence structure whereas picture books introduce more unusual vocabulary and sentence structures. Picture books allow children to explore and interpret and are routes into inference, deduction and critical thinking.
‘Real’ books are colour coded from Pink to Turquoise to indicate the level of difficulty. This can be in terms of vocabulary, sentence structure, illustrations or story theme.
Reading to children
We recognise the importance of reading to children, for enjoyment, for building a shared passion for favourite books and as a way of introducing new vocabulary and developing an understanding of story structure. Teachers plan at least one daily session of reading to the children.
Learning to read is not a race through ‘levels’ of books. Re-reading familiar books is an essential part of developing a passion for reading. These books can provide contexts for story writing, drama and play and are essential in developing an understanding of how stories ‘work’. We fully endorse ‘The Rights of the Reader’ as compiled by Daniel Pennac.