How do we support children with early reading and English skills?
As many of you know Phonics is taught at schools, helping children to read and write.
In Pre-School we need to focus on the foundations for this - preparing the children for when they start school and learn all about letters, articulating the sounds that they make. This supports their early reading, writing and spelling skills.
“After all, if a child can hold a pencil, write their own name, count to 100, recognise all the colours and shapes – but doesn’t know how to make friends, manage their emotions and conflict resolution to be independent and have self-help skills, none of the other stuff matters” (The Curiosity Approach).
In order to prepare them for this learning, we use a government document called ‘Programme for phonics into early spelling’ to ensure we cover all those vital skills that will later help the children when they go to school.
The programme document is split into steps and it is Step 1 we focus on during Pre-School. This outlines that the following 5 aspects are what we need to support the children within order to be ready for the learning they will experience at school.
Aspect 1 - Auditory discrimination
The aim of this aspect is to raise children's awareness of the sounds around them and to develop their listening skills. Activities suggested in the guidance include going on a listening walk, drumming on different items outside and comparing the sounds, playing a sounds lotto game and making shakers.
Aspect 2 - Visual memory, auditory memory and sequencing skills
The aim is to build their visual memory to support them with spellings in later years with common exception words that can not be broken down phonetically. We play games involving lists, Kim's game, pattern and sequencing and copy me.
Aspect 3 - Keeping a steady beat
The aim of this aspect is to develop children's awareness of sounds and rhythms. Activities include singing songs and action rhymes, listening to music and developing a sounds vocabulary, reading stories with rhythm and clapping out syllables in words and names.
Aspect 4 - Oral blending and segmenting
In this aspect, the main aim is to develop oral blending and segmenting skills. To practise oral blending, the teacher could say some sounds, such as /c/-/u/-/p/ and see whether the children can pick out a cup from a group of objects. For segmenting practise, the teacher could hold up an object such as a sock and ask the children which sounds they can hear in the word sock. The activities introduced in step 1 are intended to continue throughout the following phases, as lots of practice is needed before children will become confident in their phonic knowledge and skills.
Aspect 5 - Letter names
Children need to be taught the names of the letters of the alphabet to support their understanding of the difference between graphemes (letters) and phonemes (sounds). It is important that we refer to letters by the letter name and not by the sound they make.
How do we do this in Meadow Class, I hear you ask. Well we have high quality continuous provision that supports these aspects but by following the interest of the child. An example of this is the children like hide and seek so we produce a hide and seek hunt with letters. We also have adult input small groups throughout the day where the adults will introduce fun games to explore these aspects.
We have a high quality library of recommended reads for children aged 3-5 that support us in these aspects and have focus stories to support certain aspects. We also promote reading at home and introduce a reading challenge in the summer. Listening to books is so important from a young age.
"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go." Dr Seuss