As children grow older, they begin to understand more about the sounds of our language. This is an important stage as the children’s ears are tuning in to all the different sounds around them. Playing with sounds and tuning your child’s ears into sounds will develop their ability to hear different sounds which links to reading and writing.
Ways to support your child at home:
- Help your child move to the rhythm of a song or rhyme
- Try breaking down simple words when you are giving instructions or asking questions e.g. ‘Where is the c-a-t cat?’
- Alliteration is a lot of fun to play around with. Your child’s name can be a good place to start, for example, say: ‘Jolly Jessie jumped’.
- Make up nonsense stories together using lots of alliteration
Following on from this is oral blending and segmenting and linking the sounds that can be heard to letters.
In Reception we follow a phonics teaching programme called ‘Letters and Sounds’. It builds on the activities the children have already experienced in their pre-school setting and prepares them for early reading and writing.
Whilst learning sounds, children are encouraged to hear initial sounds in words. They will then progress to hearing more sounds in words, blending and segmenting sounds, which is an important skill for reading and writing.
Blending is a skill for reading. The separate sounds (phonemes) of the word are spoken aloud, in order, all through the word, and are then merged together into the whole word. We use ‘sound buttons’ under each letter which are ‘pressed’ as each letter is spoken and then swiped across to merge the sounds. For example the adult would say c-a-t = cat.
Segmenting is a skill for spelling. The whole word is spoken aloud, and then broken up into its separate sounds (phonemes) in order, all through the word. For example, the adult would say cat = c-a-t.
Once children become confident hearing these sounds they start to use magnetic letters or letter cards to link the sounds to letters and build up words (segmenting) or read simple words (blending).
To aid this, we use words that are spelt phonetically such as ‘cat’, ‘dog’ and ‘map’. We also teach ‘wizzy words’. These need to be learnt on sight as they often cannot be sounded out or are used frequently in books e.g. no, the, and. We have attached a sheet of these ‘high frequency words’.
Ways to support your child at home
- Read every day to and with your child
- Collect a variety of pens and pencils and keep them handy to use
- Bring stories to life using different voices
- Let your child read what they would like – books, comics, catalogues
- Leave books around the house for your child to dip into
- Make flash cards
- Make up words together using magnetic letters/fridge magnets
- Make up a story about one of their favourite toys. You write for them, repeating the sentences as you write. When it is complete, they can draw pictures to go with it.
- Look at writing when you are out and about – try and read any of the words or identify any of the letters.
- Talk about the letters they have been learning this week
If your child is reluctant to read or write it is important not to worry; the important thing is to keep on sharing books and talking together.