Tools, Guides and Where to Start

Phonics and Reading

Follow this simple guide

  1. All schools in the UK are required to have a systematic approach to teaching phonics (sounds) and reading to all children. Ask the school to explain their approach to you. Keep asking until you can fully understand it. As a parent/guardian you have a right to know and understand it fully. You must understand it to help your child best.

Schools are still able to explain during closures – in fact it is an ideal time to ask! Give the school a ring and they will be able to arrange a conversation to explain it fully. Don’t be embarrassed if you don’t fully understand – if you are not a teacher you probably won’t – why would you? Keep asking until you ‘get it’.

  1. Phonics(sounds) teaching should begin when your child starts school and continue until they know and can read and write using their sounds. There is no age limit here. Your child must continue – as long as it takes.
  2. Find out how much phonics direct teaching your child receives every day at school. Again, there is no age limit, must continue daily until children ‘have their sounds’. This means they can read and write using them all.
  3. If children are receiving daily phonics (sounds) at school, rehearsing their sounds for 5-10 minutes with you three times a week is ideal. Remember to keep it fun – just like a game (see ideas below).
  4. If children are not at school, we need to fill the gap by upping that rehearsal to 5 days a week. Again, keep it fun – short, fun bursts. If they aren’t engaged, put yourself in your child’s ‘shoes’. What would make it fun? Try different ideas out and give yourself a will not be perfect but it will help your child.


I spy

Use their favourite teddy/toy as a puppet who is also learning their sounds

Look for objects around the house as ‘props’ when you are going through the sounds.

Role Play ‘Mini-Teacher’ – let your child be the teacher and you are a child in their class. Most children love this and while they are ‘teaching you’ their sounds they are improving their memory of them. Can even make them a sticker/paper badge with Teacher Name ‘Miss/Mr…’ on the front. They will love it! 😊


  1. All schools are required to have a systematic approach to reading books across the school. This includes reading in the classroom and reading at home. Find out what this is and ask questions until you understand it fully. This means you can help your child best at home.
  2. This approach should continue from Nursery and Reception up to Year 6. All children at any age should read daily because it has so many benefits for their development and learning across all subjects and beyond.
  3. If your child is learning their sounds they are an ‘Early Reader’ and will read books to use the sounds they know, learn new sounds and become interested in the story. The story aspect is referred to as ‘Reading Comprehension’ in school. This means children know what is happening in the story and begin to answer questions about it. You can improve their Reading Comprehension at home by developing their ‘Listening Comprehension’. This means you read to them and ask questions about what you’ve read. This is a great first step and will help your child greatly at any age.
  4. For Early Readers we can also help children to read books themselves and therefore practise their sounds. It is a good idea to practise sounds with real books rather than always with cards/sheets. Books are more fun!
  1. For more Advanced Readers (those children who know need and can read all sounds) reading is still vital. At home we should help our children to improve their Reading Comprehension – their understanding of the story, the characters, the events, the information, the setting (where the story happens) and the effect on them (did it make them laugh as they read it? Cry? Dislike a character? etc.)

Books fall into these main categories:

Fiction (stories – ‘made-up’)

Non-fiction (real not ‘made-up’; facts often now found online rather than in books)


Play-Scripts (plays – each character’s script is written on the page)

Most Advanced Readers develop a preference for certain categories. That’s great – part of being an Advanced Reader. Remember reading any text either on screen or in a book ‘counts’.

  1. When your child has read anything, ask them about it:


Which part did you enjoy reading best? Why?

Which part did you not enjoy? Why?

Who are the main characters in the story?

Who do you like best in the story? Why?

Who do you not like very much in the story? Why?

What do you feel about xxxxx? Why?

Tell me a fact you’ve read (Non-Fiction).

Tell me something strange/funny/terrible/annoying/silly about xxxxx (a character – Fiction).

Have you read anything by that author before?

If you have, can you see anything that is the same as the other book you read by that author?

Do you want to read more by this author or do you not really enjoy them?

Who is your favourite author so far? Why?

Who is your least favourite author so far? Why?