The four essential keys to reading success


Learning to read is one of the most important skills children can learn. By Mrs Hoare, Year 1 teacher.

1. Phonemic awareness

The ability to hear and manipulate the different sounds in words.
Children develop phonemic awareness by learning about sounds (phonemes), syllables and words. We teach phonemic awareness using a sequential series of skill-building activities that increase sound awareness.

Recognising the connection between letters and the sounds they make.
Phonics is the process of mapping the sounds in words to written letters. This is a very important reading skill that all children need, and features constantly throughout the Year.
Your child will learn how to decode words into sounds and encode sounds into words when they write and spell. This all happens within a wide range of activities that feel like games, to keep your child interested and engaged as they practise. Each lesson ends with a book matched to your child’s current ability, which lets them enjoy the thrill of reading on their own.

2. Vocabulary

Understanding the meaning of words, their definitions, and their context.
Having an ever increasing vocabulary is a fundamental part of academic success. The more words we know, the better we are at reading and understanding the texts that we read.

3. Reading Comprehension

Understand the meaning of text – both in story books and information books.
Great readers are involved in the stories they read. They imagine the characters and the adventures they have. They think about what is happening and they share the emotional journey of the book’s characters.
In nonfiction books, great readers gain new information, increase their vocabulary and link what they read with other sources of information to deepen their levels of understanding of new topics and concepts. This all shows that the reader has a full and rich comprehension of the texts they read. This is a complex skill that requires time and practice to develop fully.
To build active reading comprehension skills, we use activities that scaffold your child’s understanding with a wide range of pre-reading activities to ignite their thinking. They will progress from learning words and their meanings to reading for meaning, moving from learning to read to reading to learn.

5. Fluency

The ability to read aloud with speed, understanding and accuracy.
Many skills build reading fluency. These include good phonic decoding skills, an increasing bank of high frequency words recognised at sight, and the amount of time children spend reading books at an appropriate level. The more children read, the better they are at understanding and reading with speed and accuracy.

Fluency is crucial for children as they build their reading skills. We achieve this through instructional activities that build children’s reading stamina. Just like any exercise programme where your fitness increases over time, reading is a skill that needs time, effort and regular practice.