When starting at Wellington College International Hangzhou, many of our parents may not be familiar with how we use structured phonics lessons to develop children’s confidence when reading and writing. Our trained Read Write Inc. Prep teachers deliver exciting and engaging phonics lessons to ensure that our children become self-assured and independent learners.
What is Read Write Inc. Phonics?
Read Write Inc. is a carefully designed phonics program based on a systematic, synthetic approach, which is used to teach children how to read. When successfully implemented, Read Write Inc. enables the majority of children to learn to read fluently, in a very short period of time.
The term ‘synthetic phonics’ refers to the method of teaching reading by identifying the individual sounds within a word, saying them aloud and then blending them together.
We will first introduce children to the simplest sounds (phonemes) and their corresponding letter (grapheme). We will then progress on to the more complex sounds and combinations. In the first few sessions, children will learn the letters m, a, s, d, t, i and n. These letters are chosen because they can be combined to make a large number of CVC (consonant, vowel, consonant) words such as ‘sit’, ‘pin’, ‘mat’ etc. Every time the children are introduced to a new sound, all the previous sounds are revisited and revised as well. Once the children know the single-letter sounds, they move onto digraphs e.g. ‘sh’ or ‘th’ and trigraphs ‘igh’, which enables them to work with words such as ‘high’, ‘thin’ or ‘wish’.
One of the strengths of Read Write Inc. is the use of a mnemonic to accompany each sound from Set 2 onwards. They help children to differentiate between similar sounds. For example, a typical comment would be a child asking, “Is it ‘ar start the car’ or ‘er better letter?’ as they try to spell a word.
At Wellington College International Hangzhou
We will be using Read Write Inc. phonics sessions that stretch from Year 1 through to Year 6 taking a variety of forms. Read Write Inc. groups are ability-based, and each group has three forty-minute sessions a week.
For children who have recently become familiar with the English language, Read Write Inc. Phonics is a superb approach to develop their confidence at recognising different sounds in both spoken and written forms. These children will be taking part in directed phonics lessons, focusing on several sounds each week. Once the children have a good knowledge bank of sounds, they will be introduced to story books which include only the sounds that they have already met. These books are wonderful at boosting reading confidence because children realise that they can read the entire book on their own.
Children who are more confident readers will be moving onto spelling and comprehension sessions. Comprehension sessions will build on the children’s ability to uncover meaning from a written text and develop their close reading and discussions skills.
What a typical session will look like for a Set 2 sounds group
- Lesson starter
Each lesson begins with a revisit/review of previous speed sounds. This refreshes the children’s memories of prior learning ready to build upon it.
The teacher uses a ‘My turn, your turn’ model to engage the children and model correct pronunciation.
- Reading activity 1
Using ‘Perfect Partners’ the children quickly read the speed sounds at the front of the book, similar to those completed with the teacher in the lesson starter.
- Reading activity 2
Children practice reading the green words they will meet in the book. Green words are phonetically regular.
The teacher will again use the ‘My turn, your turn ‘approach to introduce the red words which will come up in the book. Red words are phonetically irregular words which children need to learn to sight-read.
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- Reading activity 3
Using the story introduction at the front of each book, the teacher will then introduce the story to the children in a way that engages and hooks in their interest. This often includes multisensory activities, props or drama.
- Reading activity 4
Some books might include a word that is unusual vocabulary. If that is the case, the teacher will introduce and explain it here.
- Reading activity 5
This is where the children work with their partner to take turns to read through the story a page at a time. At the bottom of each page the children swap over. A very important part here is that while Partner 1 is reading, Partner 2 is using a pointer to point to each word so both children are engaged with the story and know what is happening. They can also support each other with any tricky words.
- Reading activity 6
The children re-read the story, swapping their order of reading to make sure they each read each page. They then answer the questions at the back of the book.
How parents can help
Each night your child will bring home the book they have been reading at school. They will have the same book for three days before changing. Each day’s lesson will differ slightly in format or structure, but the focus is always on the use of sounds, partner work, revisiting and revising. By reading the story repeatedly, we can ensure that all of the new words are thoroughly embedded before moving on.
You can work with your child and listen to them read the story to you. Think about using questions such as:
- What is that character thinking?
- What is happening?
- What is that character saying?
- How do you think that character is feeling? Why?
- What do you think will happen next?
These types of questions help to further develop your child’s ability to infer and deduce meaning from a text, looking beyond what is just written on the page.
If they get stuck on a word, encourage them to identify the individual sounds first then put them together.
Glossary of terms