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Milner Road, Brighton, East Sussex BN2 4BP

01273 291188

Coombe Road Primary School

Broadening Horizons, Raising Aspirations

Reading and phonics

The ability to read is a key life skill.  As a school we use a selection of strategies to enable children to become skilled readers. Phonics is a tool we teach to help children learn to read but it is by no means the only skill children require to be fluent readers. The core of our phonics teaching in KS1 is based on the DfES "Letters & Sounds" programme; information about which can be found here.

If you would like further information on phonics please click here.

To view our Reading Policy, visit our Policies Section.

All reading books are banded across the school and children progress through the various stages as they become more confident readers. We have a very broad range of books for children to select from, including those from schemes such as Oxford Reading Tree and Collins Big Cats along with 'real' books such as "The Gruffalo".

Every child has a Reading Assessment Card detailing current targets for their stage in the Curriculum. This enables all adults in school, parents and the child themselves to know what they have achieved so far and what their next steps in learning are.

We provide regular meetings for parents on how to best support their children in their reading development as well as various information to help support them when back at home.

There is a wealth of material online to support reading at home.  You can access books and excellent information via the Oxford Owl website.


Being able to read is empowering and enjoyable. Learning to read is a considerable task but we can, as adults and readers, help our children begin to learn from a very early age. A daily experience with books is the ideal. This page is intended to give helpful hints and guidance.

Role Models 

Children learn by imitation. Let them see you read a variety of material for a variety of reasons, e.g. newspapers, novels, T.V. guides, recipes, letters, maps, instructions. Let them see it is useful and enjoyable for both sexes. They will soon learn that print carries meaning.

  • Notice print in the environment: street signs, bus stops, shops, notice boards, etc. They will recognise Toys ‘R' Us and MacDonalds very quickly!
  • Make trips to libraries and book shops fun and exciting. Let them choose their own books. Books make wonderful presents.

Sharing Books With Your Child

  • From the time your child is a few months old they will be fascinated by the feel, sight, language and rhythm of books. 
  • There is a wonderful choice of books for babies. Made from board or fabric they are safe, easy to hold and durable. You can even buy waterproof books for the bath or paddling pool. Share them with your baby and let them handle them by themselves.
  • Be cosy! Find a relaxing time when you can sit quietly and comfortably and share a book with your child sitting close to you. 
  • By sharing the book your child will begin to notice that in English we read from left to right and top to bottom. You may like to run your finger under the print as you read so they know that the story comes from those black squiggles on the page.
  • Talk about the front cover and the back cover. When they are older show how the contents and index pages work. Let them help turn the pages so they understand that we read from front to back.
  • Read with lots of expression!
  • Be prepared for endless repetition of favourite books. They will begin to join in. They will notice if you skip a page and/or fall asleep.
  • Chat about the book in a relaxed way (it is not an exam!

Talk about:

  • Which bits did you like?
  • What is happening in the pictures?
  • What might happen next?
  • How could it have ended differently?
  • The characters (appearance, actions, motivation)
  • Encourage inference and deduction, e.g. “Why do you think the cat was sad?” “Why did the girl do that?”
  • Relate it to the child's own life “Our house is like that one”, “Do you remember when we did that?”
  • Encourage the child to “read” to you using their own words to go with the pictures.
  • Ask, “Can you spot any words or letters you know?” 
  • Don't forget to give your own views, it should be an easy dialogue.
  • Make them laugh. 
  • From sharing books children learn: 
    • The mechanics of a book - how it works.
    • Story language
    • Book language: title, author, illustrator, chapter, contents, cover and index. 

Hearing Your Child Read Aloud 

Children need a variety of strategies to become fluent readers. They should be able to:

  • Use experience of life and books to predict.
  • Recognise whole words using visual memory.
  • ‘Sound out' using letter sounds to work out unknown words
  • Read on past an unknown word then use context to guess
  • Use clues from the pictures.
  • Word build. Looking for recognisable patterns and parts of words to help you guess.
  • Self-correct for meaning.
  • Self-correct for emphasis.
  • Feel confident enough to guess.
  • Re-read the sentence to put the unknown word in context. To help your child to become fluent, encourage them to draw on a variety of the above strategies to read an unknown word. They should not become over- reliant on one strategy.

Children need to use a combination of these ‘searchlights': the more they use the more light is shed on the text and the easier it is to read. Children who rely heavily on just one searchlight will struggle as developing readers and you will need to use all searchlights at different times but certainly more than one at any one time. For example, in the sentence ‘He lay down to sleep on his bed”, the word bed could be guessed by sounding it out (phonics) but can be worked out more quickly if they consider the context of the sentence as well. NB: Many common words are not phonetically regular, e.g. what, the 

The Adult's Role

  • Find a comfortable, quiet place (preferably without the television on). Sit closely looking at the book.
  • Look and sound interested (this may require some acting talent!). Say things like, “This looks a good one”, “I like books about _____”.
  • Discuss the cover. “I wonder what that boy's called”. “That's a funny dog”, etc.
  • As the child reads be engaged too.
  • Ask them to predict what might happen next.
  • If they get stuck on a word encourage them to use the strategies on the previous page but it is important to keep the momentum and enjoyment going so tell them the word after a couple of attempts. (Do this gently!)
  • Encourage expression
  • Give LOTS of praise and encouragement.
  • Remember we read for meaning. It is not always necessary to correct mistakes provided it still makes sense.
  • Once a child prefers to read silently don't forget to keep introducing new books and “warm them up”, e.g. read the first chapter, show them a new format, help them with difficult words or discuss characters. Reluctant Readers
  • Share the reading. Perhaps one page each.
  • Do little and often.
  • Make them laugh (there are lots of funny stories and poetry).
  • Give lots of praise and reward.
  • ‘Warm-up' the book to introduce difficult vocabulary, e.g. names, technical terms. 

Fluent Independent Readers 

Please do not fall into the trap of thinking that your child no longer needs your help with reading. They still need regular one-to-one time to ensure their reading progresses.

  • Encourage them to go to the library. Build their own collection of books.
  • Introduce them to a wide range of reading, including: fiction, non- fiction, controlled access to the internet, magazines, newspapers, etc.
  • Be aware that children will develop their own preferences which is fine, but you may need to actively stimulate interest in other authors, subjects, materials.
  • Encourage them to use reading to find out about what interests them. What to focus on:
  • Fluent readers need to discuss books regularly with an adult to:
  • Develop the ability to respond to and give opinions on what they have read and explain why.
  • Check they can appreciate the hidden meanings and subtleties in the text by inference and deduction, e.g. “Why do you think that character was so angry?”
  • Notice and discuss how a particular text has been written and how the author has created certain effects. This experience will help them in their writing. You will need to have read some of the text in order to discuss it! [Children who have limited reading experience will struggle as writers]