Teaching 'reading skills' at Halton Holegate
What does this look like across the school?
Reading is at the heart of the curriculum. We have worked hard to ensure that we are well-resourced and have a wide range of engaging, fully decodable phonics sets and enrichment books to add further interest and variety to the children’s reading experience. Children who are on the reading scheme, will bring home two books: one that is matched to their phonic level/reading ability and one that is solely for pleasure. The books that we have available are carefully chosen and based around a variety of identified interests, constantly being updated to suit and inspire all children.
In EYFS and KS1, considerable time is given over to the teaching of systematic phonics using Little Wandle Letters and Sounds. This is delivered through small group direct teaching; group guided sessions and a wide variety of spoken language and play activities. When the children read 1:1 with an adult, the adults working in KS1 refer to the ‘VIPERS’ mnemonic when asking questions and discussing the story. This ensures we are targeting all key comprehension skills. When structuring guided reading sessions in KS1, the Little Wandle structure is followed with three sessions a week: decoding, prosody and comprehension.
As children progress through the school, teacher assessment informs a carefully planned program of group and whole-class reading sessions.
In Key Stage 2 (KS2), teachers assess the specific reading needs of their class when planning lessons, using their professional judgement and assessment data to make decisions as to whether whole-class, or smaller guided group reading sessions are most appropriate. As carried out further down the school, teachers prepare questions from the five NC reading domains using the mnemonic ‘VIPERS’ to ensure we are targeting all key comprehension reading skills.
In upper KS2, children working at greater depth become skilled in devising their own set of VIPERS questions for a given text. ‘VIPERS’ booklets, bookmarks and posters are used to prompt question from teachers, parents and other adults who read with our children.
Below are the KS1 and KS2 'Reading Vipers' booklets. In these are question examples to use when your child is reading to support all key comprehension skills. The mnemonics change slightly depending on the age of the child.
Reading for pleasure
Our aim in implementing reading for pleasure is to simply develop a love of reading. We want to change reading from something that has to be done to something the children want to do and most importantly, enjoy!
We send home high quality, language rich books for the children to enjoy in the comfort of their own home. We ensure the books that the children choose from are based around a variety of interests, are both fiction and non-fiction, exhibit a variety of genres and in general, include something for everyone.
The benefits of reading for pleasure is the opportunities it gives to children to be exposed to new vocabulary, have the opportunity to hear language being modelled, and are given the time to truly explore every page and aspect of a book.
Initially, some of the books will be beyond a child’s decoding ability. This is purposeful and encourages the book to be shared between an adult and the child, opening up a whole new world of reading and learning opportunities. As noted above, not only does this allow for children to explore and be exposed to language and new vocabulary, having a book read to them by an adult allows children to hear punctuation being used, expression being utilised and fluency demonstrated.
We want our children to be excited to turn the page in a book and find out what happens next. Reading really is the key to new, exciting worlds. Let’s unlock them together as a school!
Reading through the 'book bands'
Enjoy Reading with your child and help them become lifelong readers.
There are general guidelines about which book bands should be covered in each year group. Children working at the average level for their age should be reading books of those colour book bands. However, please remember that children learn in different ways and make progress at different speeds.
As a rough guide, children are expected to be confident, fluent readers by the time they leave Year 6. The books will vary in a number of ways, including layout, size, vocabulary and length, to give the children a rich diet of literature. The books that we have available are suited to a variety of interests.
The difference between each colour band is very small, so that children do not experience great difficulty when moving up through the bands. Progress through the bands is not automatic and it is important to ensure that children working in the early bands have secure understanding so that they keep 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).
This guidance can only give a rough idea of the right reading level for your child. There will be a wide range of reading abilities in any year group or class. As a rough guide, children should be able to read at least 90 - 95% of the words on the page without any problem. If the book is too easy, they can become bored. If it’s too difficult, they can become frustrated, and may have to concentrate so hard on reading the words that they lose the enjoyment of understanding the story.
Below are the books linked to the phonics phases in our reading scheme.
Things to remember
- Do read with your child every day – little and often is more beneficial than a long session once a week.
- Think about how long you are reading for – the amount of reading time shouldn’t exceed your child’s span of attention.
- Pick your timing carefully – it’s best not to embark on a reading session when your child is tired.
- Every child is an individual – try not to compare your child’s progress with other children or with brothers and sisters.