How We Teach Reading at St Francis of Assisi Catholic Primary School
Learning to love books starts at home before children start school, but in school children will be immersed in good quality books which will support the development of spoken language and will be the driver for activities right across the curriculum: games and puzzles, imaginative play and drama, art and music. This will not only illicit a love of books but will help them develop their comprehension, making links between books and their developing knowledge of the world.
An effective way of developing children’s love of reading is through organising units of lessons around motivating books and texts. These texts might be a particular book, a play or a poem, or with older children, a specific genre such as journalistic writing from a range of different newspapers.
Good text based, whole class teaching provides opportunities for learning and reinforcing:
- Word reading – as children encounter unfamiliar words.
- Grammar and punctuation – through seeing them in context and considering how they are employed for effect.
- Comprehension – through listening to reading and discussing challenging texts.
- Vocabulary and spelling – by encountering new language
- Spoken language – through participating in discussions about books, through drama around books or philosophy based around questions arising from books.
- Also spoken language from both specific language modelled by the teacher and also that of their peers.
- Writing about books.
Teachers will ask the children questions to help them interact with the text and develop their understanding, critical thinking skills and express their opinions.
Reading aloud continues in all classes at St Francis. Sharing a novel or fascinating non- fiction text with a class forms an important part of the reading curriculum throughout the school – not just for the youngest. Listening to longer or more complex texts than they would be able to read alone increases children’s knowledge and understanding and, along with the rich vocabulary they encounter, develops their comprehension skills. When a teacher or parent reads aloud it makes literary language accessible and also provides a model of expressive reading. It is also a chance to enjoy a story for sheer pleasure.
Every child in St Francis of Assisi Catholic Primary School is given the opportunity to enjoy books and to develop an enthusiasm for reading. We want our children:
- To develop happy, confident readers
- To begin to develop lifelong enjoyment and pleasure in reading
- To begin to understand the meaning of what is read to them and what they read
- To begin to respond to what they read; to say whether they like or don’t like it and why
- To talk about the story they have read
In KS1, our teaching of reading is carefully structured, has a firm base in phonics and allows children to learn at their own pace.
We use the Letters and Sounds programme to teach phonics. In Year 1 we use Bug Club and Espresso phonics as a teaching tool for phonics. We also use the Bug Club books for individual reading and guided reading in small groups. In addition to this, we have an online scheme of books by Bug Club which children can read at home, which directly links to our phonics teaching.
We enjoy working in partnership with parents/carers to develop children’s love of books and reading. The children bring home reading scheme books and a book chosen by them to be shared, each week. We use Oxford Reading Tree as our core reading scheme as well as other schemes to provide breadth and variety for the children.
The children read individually to an adult as much as possible each week. Guided reading in small groups begins in the Spring Term in Y1. Children are given lots of opportunities to read books independently.
Children will get an opportunity most days to read independently for a sustained period, usually while one group is engaged in guided reading. This is essential for them to become self-reliant readers who can sustain their concentration. If a child does not enjoy a book we encourage them to find a book they do enjoy. To this part teachers will spend some time each half term giving children the opportunity to recommend books to the class so that others may be encouraged to read them. There are displays of books with children’s recommendations in the classrooms.
All children are asked to record their reading in the Home School Diary and we encourage parents to comment as require
Guided reading groups can be a powerful way of supporting children to make progress in reading and will increasingly work on improving children’s skills in developing a deeper understanding of a range of texts. It is a regular and supportive time for children to encounter engaging texts that will resonate with their interests and capture their imagination. They will encounter a wide range of genres and authors. All this helps to broaden their experience, helps them form opinions about books and authors and gives them the opportunity to use literary language. Ideally each child will read once a week in a guided group but always once every other week.
In addition to reading the children will begin a programme of direct and systematic phonic teaching, so they can learn to decode words fluently and accurately.
In Key Stage 2 any children still on stage books will be heard read aloud on a regular basis, ideally 3 times a week, by parent helpers or teachers. All children will be part of guided reading groups which will increasingly work on improving children’s skills in developing a deeper understanding of a range of texts. It is a regular and supportive time for children to encounter engaging texts that will resonate with their interests and capture their imagination. They will consider a range of questions based around assessment focuses.
As well as hearing their peers, their parents and their teachers read, we have started a buddy system where younger and older children share reading to each other. For example Year 6 and Reception will share some time to read to each other. Year 5 and Year 1 will buddy up in a similar way.
In addition we try to enrich our curriculum with reading challenges and competitions by visiting plays or ballets based on books, by having book fairs or authors visit our school.