To read English successfully, children must learn to turn the words they see in a text into sounds, and make sense of these sounds.
Studies, on children’s reading development have shown that the phonics approach is more effective than meaning-based approaches, such as the whole-language approach, in improving young children’s reading skills.
Whole-language approach focuses on children’s visual memory and requires children to come across words numeral times in different sentences to learn a word. The phonics approach, however focuses on analytical skills for breaking the code of written language. With a phonetic approach the children are learning spelling patterns across the target words, for example ‘ai’ as in train, pain and gain. Knowledge of these patterns will help children sound out familiar words, and predict the pronunciation of unfamiliar words.
For us at Springmead, we want to give every child the gift of reading, after all, you learn to read so you can read to learn.
At Springmead we ensure that all children are experiencing a progressive programme of phonics and it starts with our rich language and literal environment that we provide. Throughout KS1 academic rigor is applied to ensure children have their key phonic knowledge. We are constantly reviewing and tweaking our approach to support and stretch our children.
We have introduced an assessment for children in KS1, similar to the ‘Phonics screening test’ you may have heard of except it goes one step further and into greater detail. We conduct this assessment in both Year 1 and Year 2 twice a year (unlike the phonics screening which happens once at the end of Year 1) this is to ensure we catch everyone. Every child is on their own journey and we understand that children are sometimes simply ‘not ready’ to learn all the 44 phonemes and 100 tricky red words, by the point at which the government think they should. By actually identifying any areas of strength and weaknesses throughout their learning, we can support each child and give them the advantage in reading a horrendously, for want of a better word, complex and difficult language.