Helping with Literacy

How to help with reading - Reception to Year 2

How to help with reading - Year 3 to Year 6

How to help with writing- Year 3 to Year 6


How We Teach Reading – Reception to Year 2

The teaching of reading in the Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1 is based on synthetic phonics. This enables young children to identify, blend and segment the individual phonemes (the sounds letters or groups of letters make) in words. They then apply this knowledge to decode unknown words. The teaching of phonics starts in Nursery. The children will learn how to identify different sounds such as musical instruments and a range of environmental sounds. They will then begin to identify some single phonemes. The children in Reception, Year 1 and 2 have daily phonic lessons where they practise and learn new phonic skills in a variety of ways. The progress which the children make is regularly assessed to ensure that any child who is struggling to grasp a particular skill can be given adequate support to catch up.

Children in Reception will take home a reading book which allows them to practise their newly acquired skills. Children will select from a range of schemes including: Jelly and Bean, Collins Big Cat Phonics and Rigby Star. The books are grouped into colour ability bands based on a national scheme. Children will work through these colour bands at a pace according to their ability and confidence as judged by the teacher.

Once children are in Year 1 they will continue to build upon their phonic knowledge, but they will also start to focus on reading for meaning, increasing their fluency and last but not at-all least enjoyment! The children will choose from books in a range of reading schemes designed to promote these reading skills such as Project X, Rigby Star, Lighthouse and Collins Big Cat Phonics.


Children in Year 2 continue to choose from these reading schemes. As they grow in confidence and fluency they will be given the opportunity to apply their understanding of a text through completing written comprehension questions. This will allow them to prepare for the skills they will need in Key Stage 2.


How to Help with Reading- Reception to Year 2                                Back to top

Children need to practise a new skill regularly to ensure that they can repeat it consistently. This is the same for reading! To help you child to consolidate this new and important skill, please support them by reading regularly at home. This could be reading their school reading book, sharing other books with family members, reading print in the environment (road signs, notices etc.) and listening to bed time stories; a combination of all of these will give the best results. Don't feel that your child always has to read to you, it is just as valuable for them to watch/listen to a fluent reader read. Ask questions about what your child has read to see if they understand what they are reading, if not talk to them about the text and explain any new/unfamiliar words- this is great for extending their vocabulary and will impact positively on their writing skills. Most importantly, just have fun with reading; it shouldn't feel like a chore as we want pupils to develop a love for reading. Your child's class teacher is always willing to offer advice, tips and feedback to support this process at home. Alternatively, please contact Mrs Dawson, our reading champion.


How to Help with Reading – Years 3 to 6                                             Back to top

 In Key Stage Two, children will continue their ability to decode more complex vocabulary and read with fluency and expression but with a greater emphasis on their ability to be able to comprehend what they have read. 

 In years 3 and 4 children should be:

  • discussing their understanding of a wide range of texts including fictional books, newspapers (, magazines and a wide range of other non-fiction
  •  explaining the meanings of words in context
  •  inferring characters’ feelings, thoughts and motives from their actions
  •  predicting what might happen next
  •  identifying the main ideas from a paragraph, a chapter or possibly a whole short story
  •  commenting on the language, structure and presentation of a text
  •  picking out pieces of evidence to justify their answers

 In years 5 and 6 children should be expected to discuss all of the above as well as:

  •  discussing and evaluating how authors’ use of language impacts on the reader
  •  distinguishing between fact and opinion
  •  developing opinions on what they have read and using evidence to support these opinions
  •  challenging others’ ideas and views courteously 

In order for children to make the best progress possible, it is essential that they read regularly at home with an adult (throughout primary school) and have the opportunity to discuss what they have read to demonstrate and develop their comprehension.  Research suggested that just 10 minutes of reading and discussion a day can make a dramatic difference to their educational attainment.  Please find below a document with a list of questions related to the points above to help initiate discussion about a text and develop these essential skills.


 Helpful websites:

Get free eBooks from Leeds library.  All you need is the following web-link, a valid library card and a device to download them (unfortunately Kindles do not accept these downloads) 

More free eBooks

Motivating boys to read

Help for struggling readers

 More advice and ideas about how to engage children

 Free online service that offers recommendations of children’s books

Children’s books magazine with reviews of books, information on authors and other related Newspaper for children


How to Help with Writing – Years 3 to 6                                        Back to top

 If children are exposed to a wide range of reading material and encouraged discuss and debate ideas as well as telling stories at home, they will stand the best possible chance of being successful in all aspects of their writing.  Talking frequently, and at length, is vital for the development of vocabulary and Standard English and it helps children to structure and order their writing. 

 For more information watch ‘Power of Talk: Parents’ video for useful ideas on how to embed talk within everyday life

 Phonics:                                                                                                  Back to top