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Early Reading and Phonics

At Defford-cum-Besford CE First School we recognise that learning to read is a vital skill. Reading allows children to explore the world around them, make connections with their own lives and escape to magical worlds through fiction texts. Learning to read at an early age leads to improved academic success further along children's educational journey and we aim to instil a love of reading from the very first day at our school.



Why learning to read is so important

  • Reading is essential for all subject areas and improves life chances.
  • Positive attitudes to reading and choosing to read have academic, social and emotional benefits for children.


How children learn to read

  • Phonics is the only route to decoding.
  • Learning to say the phonic sounds.
  • By blending phonic sounds to read words.
  • Increasing the child’s fluency in reading sounds, words and books.


At Defford-cum-Besford CE First School phonics and early reading is taught using a systematic, synthetic phonics programme called Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised. This programme provides a teaching programme that prepares our children with the knowledge and skills to become accomplished, lifelong readers.


Willow Class:

The reading journey begins in pre-school where children focus on sounds and listening skills. We explore rhyme and rhythm, alliteration and start to play games where we are focusing on hearing initial sounds in words such as 'I spy'. Children begin to orally blend words and have the opportunities to play with words, learn new vocabulary and explore stories every day. Our learning environment allows children to select stories themselves, sharing them with friends or an adult. We listen to stories read to us and explore characters through story sacks and songs.

In Reception our phonics programme teaches children the correct pronunciation of phonemes, the corresponding grapheme and blending sounds to read words. We share a reading practice book throughout the week and children have the opportunity to share these at home too. Books are carefully matched to children's phonic knowledge and aim to build fluency so children can quickly and accurately read a text.

Children also bring home a sharing book where we encourage parents and carers to read to their child so they experience the rich language and vocabulary in good quality texts. This is turn supports children's reading journey as well as being a special time for you and your child.

See the links below for resources to support you in helping your child to read.


Birch Class:

In Y1 and Y2 children continue to learn additional phonemes and graphemes with careful emphasis on the correct pronunciation. Tricky words, alternative spellings for sounds and also taught.

Children will continue the work started in Reception and use segmenting skills for writing more complex sentences.

Timely catch up sessions are provided for children requiring additional support. These sessions quickly address any gaps in knowledge when learning new sounds and tricky words.

Birch Class children will also enjoy shared reading practice throughout the week, focusing on a book that exactly matches their phonic knowledge. Children may also bring home a story to read for pleasure with you.

The additional links below offer additional information and resources you may find useful regarding our teaching of phonics and early reading.


Supporting your child with reading

Although your child will be taught to read at school, you can have a huge impact on their reading journey by continuing their practice at home.

There are two types of reading book that your child may bring home:

A reading practice book. This will be at the correct phonic stage for your child. They should be able to read this fluently and independently.

A sharing book.  Your child will not be able to read this on their own. This book is for you both to read and enjoy together.

Reading practice book

This book has been carefully matched to your child’s current reading level. If your child is reading it with little help, please don’t worry that it’s too easy – your child needs to develop fluency and confidence in reading.

Listen to them read the book. Remember to give them lots of praise – celebrate their success! If they can’t read a word, read it to them. After they have finished, talk about the book together.

Sharing book

In order to encourage your child to become a lifelong reader, it is important that they learn to read for pleasure. The sharing book is a book they have chosen for you to enjoy together.

Please remember that you shouldn’t expect your child to read this alone. Read it to or with them. Discuss the pictures, enjoy the story, predict what might happen next, use different voices for the characters, explore the facts in a non-fiction book. The main thing is that you have fun!