Why is reading so important?
Reading is the cornerstone of learning - being a fluent and confident reader unlocks the doors to so many other areas of learning for a child.
Evidence suggests that children who read for enjoyment every day not only perform better in reading tests than those who don't, but also develop a broader vocabulary, increased general knowledge and a better understanding of other cultures. In fact, there is evidence to suggest that reading for pleasure is more likely to determine whether a child does well at school than their social or economic background.
Learning to read is about listening and understanding as well as working out print. Through hearing stories, children are exposed to a rich and wide vocabulary. This helps them build their own vocabulary and improve their understanding when they listen, which is vital as they start to read. It’s important for them to understand how stories work as well. Even if your child doesn’t understand every word, they’ll hear new sounds, words and phrases which they can then try out, copying what they have heard.
Find out more about the importance of reading here.
The Big 5 of Reading
Teaching reading runs throughout a child’s entire school life. The Big 5 are evidence based components of reading which all need to be taught, practiced and embedded for children to be successful, confident readers.
Phonics is the understanding that there is a predictable relationship between phonemes (individual sounds of spoken language) and graphemes (letters of written language).
This refers to the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate individual sounds, or phonemes, in spoken words. Phonemic awareness is important because it improves children’s word reading and reading comprehension. It also helps them learn to spell.
Vocabulary refers to the words we must know to communicate effectively. Oral vocabulary describes words we use in speaking or recognise in listening, while reading vocabulary refers to words we recognise or use in print.
Fluency refers to the ability to read a text accurately and quickly. Fluent readers are able to focus their attention on comprehension (i.e., making connections between the ideas in a text and their background knowledge), while less fluent readers are focused on decoding individual words and have little attention left for comprehending the text.
Text comprehension is the goal of reading, and thus children must be able to move beyond reading individual words in order to comprehend texts.
Phonics and Phonemic Awareness
Phonics is taught using Essential Letters and Sounds. This begins in EYFS and is continues across KS1. Some children may need more support with phonics and it is important to go back to phonics for those that need it, otherwise they will continue to struggle with reading due to these early gaps.
Teaching & Learning of Reading
We teach to the National Curriculum English programmes of study for KS1 and KS2.
One to One Reading
One to One Reading is important for all children. It is a time when phonics and fluency can be developed, comprehension assessed and individual problems tackled. The teacher should hear all children read and extra support can be provided by TAs, volunteers and parents. Time to hear children read is provided in the reading for pleasure cycle. The fluency matrix should be used to support feedback, modelling and development.
Reading can be assessed in many different ways. Formative assessment can be done through:
- Listening to children read
- Asking them questions
- Having a group discussion
- Using the fluency matrix
- Accelerated reader quizzes
Summative assessment is done through:
- Salford Reading Test (Reading Age)
- STAR Reader (Reading Age and Diagnostic)
- SATs Reading Tests (Year 2)
- Phonics Screening Check (Year 1)
However, these assessments should not be used in isolation to form a judgement of a child’s reading. All aspects and forms of evidence should be taken into account in order to build a picture and assess against the year group expectations for reading. Moderation of reading will take all of these aspects into account.
Accelerated Reader (AR) is an online system used for children once they are able to test on STAR – usually within Year 2. This is a system to promote reading for pleasure. On STAR children receive a ZPD which indicates what level of book they should be reading (a band e.g. 2.4 – 3.5). Library books are labelled with these levels so that children can be guided to the texts to choose. Once they have read the text children complete an online quiz. They can use the book to help them with this. Incentives should be put in place to encourage the use of AR and completion of quizzes. These quizzes are not tests – children should use the book to support them with these. Reports on quizzes and any other STAR or Early Literacy Test can be viewed by logging into Renaissance Learning.