How do children learn to read and write at St. Christopher’s?

Starting to read…

Children are taught to read using synthetic phonics, where they learn to decode letters that make sounds – and ultimately make words.  This is taught with the Twinkl Phonics scheme.

Alongside words that are phonetically decodable, children are also taught to read words which do not follow phonics rules. We call these ‘tricky’ words. Children are taught to read these words by sight.

While they are learning to read, their reading books closely match the phonics they are learning in class.

As well as learning to decode words, children are encouraged to talk about what they have read.

When children are able to read independently, by a combination of phonic decoding and sight recognition, children become ‘free’ readers.  Children are then free to choose books which match their current reading ability.  These are colour-banded so that children are reading books with just the right amount of challenge.

All children have a book to take home and are expected to read at home daily.

Developing readers…

In class, children are introduced to more challenging texts under the guidance of their teacher – and are taught reading skills through their class texts:

  • Vocabulary – learning new and unfamiliar words
  • Infer – using clues in the text
  • Predict – what happens next
  • Explain – understanding the text
  • Retrieve – skimming and scanning to find answers
  • Summarise/Sequence

Children are assessed informally in lessons so that any gaps in their knowledge and skills can be addressed in subsequent lessons. They are also tested each term.

Starting to write…

While learning to read, children are also taught to form letters correctly – so that they can go on to form words. They are then taught how to form simple sentences, then how to link sentences together

In addition to phonics, children have weekly spellings to learn, which are tested each week.

Children use Spelling Shed to practice their spellings online:

Developing writers…

Each class studies a whole-class text – through which they learn to write in different genres. For example:

  • Narrative – stories, diaries
  • Newspaper reports
  • Non-chronological reports
  • Fact files
  • Biographies
  • Instructions
  • Poems

Through each unit of writing, children are taught the specific skills (including grammar and punctuation) required to write accurately in a particular genre.

Children are taught to write different styles of sentence which are appropriate to the genre and the intended audience. They are encouraged to be more independently selective of their sentences types as they get older and more capable writers.

They are also gradually taught how to critically edit and improve their own writing.