'When I read great literature, great drama, speeches, or sermons, I feel that the human mind has not achieved anything greater than the ability to share feelings and thoughts through language.'
James Earl Jones
English sits at the heart of our curriculum – it is through language, story and text that children learn to form concepts, connect ideas and express themselves. Through literacy, in all its forms, children learn to both make sense of the world and shape their place within it.
At Christ Church, we place a strong emphasis on the teaching of phonics in the early years of reading and writing in order to give all children a solid foundation for learning.
Reading at Christ Church
We have invested heavily in phonically decodable books to support early reading. In Reception, pupils will have a ‘Dandelion Readers’ book sent home to share with parents. Following on from this, the books will then link to the phases in "Letters and Sounds", the programme we use to teach phonics. The pupils will move through the books in line with their acquisition and mastery of phonics and might not read all books within a particular band or phase.
It is important to ensure that children working in the early bands and phases have a secure level of comprehension and are well-motivated as they move on to more challenging texts. This is particularly important for children at the early stages of learning English as an additional language.
A Word of Caution!
Reading is not a race, it is a journey! Children learn at different rates just as they learn to walk, dress themselves etc., at different rates. Reading must not be treated as a competition. If children are rushed through the books, they will not achieve the enjoyment and understanding necessary. Books that they find too difficult will soon put them off reading.
Please also enjoy a variety of different books at home with your children and continue to read to them even if they can read by themselves. Reading to your child and with your child helps them to develop a love of language and a love of reading for life and for pleasure.
Teacher-Led Reading Sessions
At Christ Church, reading is taught through a teacher-led, direct reading session, which links to the National Curriculum Programme of Study for reading. Across the week, all pupils have access to high quality, taught reading sessions with the class teacher and often the teaching partner.
Reading with the teacher / Independent reading
Pupils read individually with the teacher and the teaching partner. Books are changed weekly and will be sent home for pupils to practise. A book might not be changed if the pupil requires further practise to truly master the sounds, words or fluency.
Years 1 and 2
Pupils take home a reading scheme book which is matched to their phonic phase. Teachers may issue a book which is below the phonic phase if further security in reading is required. Books will be changed when your child put their book bag in the book changing box, however a book might not be changed if the pupil requires further practice to truly master the sounds, words or fluency.
Years 3 and 4
Pupils are placed on a book band and they take home a banded book. The teacher assesses the pupils regularly and decides at what point the child moves to a new band. Some children may move onto a free reader stage.
Years 5 and 6
Pupils will generally, independently choose books to read at home from a wide range of quality texts. Parents are asked to support and monitor their child's home reading. Some pupils may require additional support if they are experiencing difficulties with their reading.
Home Reading Record
Home Reading Records are a journal of a pupil's reading at home which is shared with the class teacher. Teachers are required to make comprehensive assessments when they hear pupils read and therefore will not routinely write comments in the Home Reading Records. Teachers and Teaching Partners will regularly review parents’ comments. In KS2, Home Reading Records will usually be checked regularly. If parents have any concerns regarding their child's reading, they should contact the class teacher.
Pupils will hear teachers read to them very regularly, in all year groups. This is to further promote a love of books and reading for pleasure in our school. Classes will usually have a class reader. Children will also have the opportunity to visit the library regularly.
Reading for fluency and comprehension
Below is a link to a video of a book being read three times.
Each read moves through the stages of blending until fluency when the children can then add in expression and they can then understand what they have read.
– the child is mainly going to decode a lot aloud, at this read they will not necessarily be able to understand the story as their brain power is going on identifying the sounds and blending them together to read words.
– the child is encouraged that if they need to decode (blend sounds together to make a word) then to do it in their head so they don’t keep decoding aloud. This helps their reading fluency.
– the child can now read with more fluency as their brain power is not going on just decoding the words as they have had practice with that.
Discuss the characters and how they might say things. This is when they read with fluency and also you can have a greater discussion around what they are reading. For example from the video ‘How would you feel if you were trapped?’
Some children might even have to read it another time until they can read it fluently. By reading and re-reading books we are able to shift the brain load from just decoding to fluency and understanding. Children benefit from coming back to the same story over and over again.