Intent at Merrow
We are passionate about ensuring all children become confident and enthusiastic readers and writers, and we believe that phonics provides the foundation in supporting children to develop these skills in order for this to become achievable.
We ensure that we provide all children with the fundamental skills that will enable them to be confident and fluent readers.
At Merrow Junior School we believe the development of literacy skills underpins all other areas of our curriculum. We provide a wide range of experiences in reading, writing and speaking and listening to enable all children to become adept communicators. Developing the two key reading skills of decoding and comprehension, enables pupils to acquire knowledge and make links with the world around them. We promote an enjoyment and love of English and literature through high quality texts and other media; using these to inspire writing.
To encourage and support children to become enthusiastic and thoughtful readers through their engagement with challenging and enriching texts.
- To inspire children to read from a wide variety of genres and text types.
- For our children to read with confidence, fluency and understanding.
- For our children to develop as confident and independent readers inspired by a love of literature and an enjoyment of reading for pleasure.
Why is reading so important?
The single biggest predictor of high academic achievement is reading to children. Not flashcards, not workbooks, not fancy pre-schools, not technology or computers, but carers taking the time every day or night (or both!) to sit and read them wonderful books.
Parent involvement in their child's education is crucial. Children with involved parents, irrespective of income or background, are more likely to have higher academic achievement, better social skills and behaviour, greater confidence and self-esteem.
How you can help your child
- Hear them read
- Read together – you can take it in turns
- Read stories to them – keep reading together even when they are fluent readers
- Visit the local library
- Give books as presents
- Read yourself
- Bedtime reading – this is all about reading for pleasure
- Have a family bookshelf
- Use audio books – perfect for long car journeys
- Read whenever you have a chance – take a book with you
- Ease into a new book – get them thinking about what the book might be about before you start
Top Tips for reading to/with your child at home
- Have a comfortable and quiet place to sit
- Turn off devices
- Reading the same book again and again is fine – repetition can help
- Make a regular time to read
- Little and often
- Make it fun – use silly voices/ add actions
- Exaggerate your normal expression – they will love it
- Give lots and lots of praise
- Make a mental note of words that they struggle with and then spend a few minutes at the start of the next reading session going over those words
- Let them use strategies for working out words they don’t know
- Talk about what you have read
- It doesn’t always have to be a book – read on-line/ when you are out and about
How to choose books
There are loads of good websites that have reading lists on them
Talk to other parents and see what books their child is reading
The library will have suggestions
Visit a book shop and see what they have on display
Talk to the class teacher – they will have suggestions
Use the ‘Rule of five’ – get your child to read the first page of a book, put up a finger for every word they cannot read. If there are more than 5 mistakes then the book is too hard and they should choose another.
Some children are far more interested in non-fiction – let them follow their interests
Some questions you could ask your child about the book
- Why did you choose this book? What attracted you to it?
- Did you know you anything about this book before you started reading it? What do you think about it now you have read some? Is it how you imagined it would be? Why/why not?
- Could you tell me what’s happened so far (fiction) or what this book is about ( non-- fiction)?
- What has been the most exciting part? Why?
- What could you do if you can’t read a word? What could you do if you can read a word but don’t know what it means?
- Have you come across this word before?
- How did you know how to say it? Are there any clues in the word? Does it look like other words you know?
- Can you work out what that word means? How can you use the rest of the sentence, page or pictures to help you?
- What other word could the author have used that means the same sort of thing?
- Can you tell me what has happened in this chapter/on this page?
- Why do you think X(a character)did that?
- How could we describe that character? What are they like? How do we know that from what they say and do?
- How you think x (a character) is feeling at the moment? Show me which words/phrases tell us that.
- Why you think Y (an event) happened?
- What do you think will happen next? What makes you think that?
- How you think the author wants us to feel at this moment? How are they trying to do that? What is he/she trying to do here?
- What do you think the purpose of using ____ (word or phrase) is in this paragraph?
- Why did the author choose that title?
- What is the effect of writing in the past/present tense?
- What do you notice about the way this page is set out? How does that help us to understand better?
- Have you read any other books/poems by this author? Did you like them as much? Why/Why not?
- Have you read any similar books by other authors? Which ones?
- How were the books similar?
- What sorts of books do you enjoy most/least?Why?
- Who is your favourite author? Why do you like his/her books? What would you say to recommend them to other people?
What to do if you are worried about your child’s reading?
Don’t panic and don’t get stressed
Children learn to read at different stages and in different ways
Most children do not progress in a straight line – they might have fast progress and then need time to consolidate
Talk to your child’s teacher they will suggest things that you can do to help support.
Check your child’s eye-sight – just in case that is an issue
What reading goes on at Merrow Junior School
- Each class has their own library with book recommendations
- Excellent inspiring and well stocked school library – children visit with their class teacher during lessons, they can also visit at lunchtime. It is a welcoming and vibrant space where children can choose books for themselves
- Every Friday – pop up outside library
- Every class has a class reading book – these are carefully selected to engage and to inspire discussion
- Guided reading lessons – these teach the reading aspects of the National Curriculum. Guided reading offers an opportunity to develop and practise reading skills whilst engaging with a variety of texts. Teachers use different kinds of questions to encourage fluency and comprehension of texts.
- Every child has a chance to read their own book every day
- Comprehension tasks using high quality texts to introduce different subjects and genres.
- Once a term there is an event held in the library to encourage reading
- There are school librarians who help organise and run the library – they share their knowledge and passion for reading
- Extra small group sessions for children who might need extra help with phonics, fluency or comprehension
- Book clubs – groups of children meet once a week to discuss a book they are reading
- Children read to themselves, to their peers and to adults
- Book recommendations in assembly
- From September 2022 we will be using Little Wandle as our phonics scheme- used now in years 3 and 4
- Merrow Book challenge – there is a lower school and upper school challenge. Children are given a list of challenges to go through!!
In year 3 and year 4
- Every child has a reading record – this can be filled out by the child and the parents, a way for home and school to communicate over reading
In year 5 and 6
- Reading is recorded in homework books
- Some children still have reading records
The reading journey at Merrow Junior School
When children arrive at Merrow Junior School their reading is assessed by their class teacher. Depending on where they are on their journey to becoming a fluent reader, they will be guided to the books that are suitable for them….
Phonics based books – these books match the phonics knowledge that your child has – Little Wandle
Book band books – a colour coded system that helps children choose books that match their reading ability
Passport to reading – children have passed through the book bands and are nearly ready to be free readers. They can choose from a range of good quality books before they are free readers
Free readers – children can choose their own books. Staff will encourage children to read books from a range of genre
We also have a selection of dual lingual books and books that are designed to be easier for children who have dyslexia.
WHAT IF MY CHILD/CHILDREN JUST DOESN’T ENJOY READING?
Reading can be a flashpoint for some children and parents are left feeling guilty that they are not fulfilling the requirements of hearing their child read on a regular basis. Here are a few ideas that may help:-
Make sure your child isn’t hungry, tired or desperate to watch their favourite TV programme when you read to/with them. Sit with them for a short time every day and read a book with them on a subject that interests them, whether that’s cars, animals, sports, even reading instructions for games etc. Don’t expect them to read it for themselves. Just show them how interesting it is to be able to read so that they want to do it for themselves.
For many children, as they get older, non-fiction books are more interesting than fiction, so it may be as simple as changing the type of book you are reading together, or buying magazines or children’s newspapers (e.g. The Week Junior & First News.)
Give plenty of praise. Let your child know how pleased you are when he or she looks at a book. Show interest in what they have chosen. Children really do develop at their own rates when it comes to reading.
Different parts of reading – five different strands to reading
(1) Phonemic Awareness: Your child's ability to hear, recognise and manipulate sounds. It is one of the earliest predictors of reading ability.
(2) Phonics: Phonics is the matching of sounds with correct letters and letter patterns. Your child will learn to visualise and verbalise these sounds, letters, and words, which is the foundation for reading.
(3) Vocabulary: A strong vocabulary helps your child identify and understand more complex words, building upon previously learned words and acquiring new ones.
(4) Fluency: Fluency is your child's ability to read accurately, expressively, and at a rhythmic pace. As your child develops fluency, they will naturally increase reading comprehension.
(5) Comprehension: Comprehension is your child's ability to understand and retain information to create meaning from the written text. This pillar is the final stage and the accumulation of the previous four pillars. As your child develops their comprehension skills, they will also become more able to read objectively and critically across various topics and genres.