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How to help your child with reading

We use a synthetic phonics program to teach children to read. Please select the phonics tab to find out more about our phonics curriculum.

Talk together

Talking about words and pictures is really important for building up a store of vocabulary and confidence – and it’s fun too. The words may be in the street, in a book, on screen or on your ketchup bottle; it really doesn’t matter so long as you talk about them together!

Remember when...

Compare events in stories or information books with things you’ve done together, so your child starts to make connections between these things and their own experiences: ‘That’s just like when we went to Thorpe Park! Do you remember? Dad was scared... 

Read together

There is something very magical about sharing a book with a child. Just 5-10 minutes at bedtime, bath time or quiet time really does help to hook them in. 

New books, but old favourites too

You’ll notice that your child will want to revisit an old favourite over and over again and that’s great (although maybe not after the 64th time!). But it’s also important to build confidence by reading lots of different books at the same reading level too, and continue to re-read earlier books so that you aren’t pushing up the difficulty of the read too quickly and causing frustration (to be avoided at all cost as your child won’t make progress if anxious).

Use phonics first

Help your child to learn phonic sounds as pure sounds – sss not suh. Be aware that some sounds, like sh in shop is one sound but two letters. When your child can break a word into its sounds to read it, then encourage them to write it out too.  You can find a link to a PowerPoint giving the pronunciation of the pure sounds here:

Play games

Use phonic flashcards to help children to read letter sounds and blend them together to read words. Use flashcards that encourage play to help your child to learn tricky words by sight. Tricky words are those words that cannot be worked out by sounding out – like said.  At Vale School we call these tricky words Red Words.

Use book talk

Talking about stories and using story language really helps to tune your child into reading. Talk about the author, illustrator, cover, the beginning, the end, words, sentences, features on the page, for example speech bubbles and pictures – it’s ‘book talk’.

Check understanding

Use the pictures to help understanding, but also show your child how you might be able to  predict what might happen next in a story from the words and pictures. Try to guess the ending! What clues were there?


And most importantly, enjoy what you do together and give loads of encouragement because it really works. 

Here are some links to websites that you may find helpful:

Successful Learners, Confident Individuals, Responsible Citizens