Supporting your child with reading

At Pucklechurch we know how important it is for teachers and parents to work together to give your child the best start. Reading together at home is one of the easiest but most important ways in which you can help your child. As you share books you are helping improve your child’s reading skills and also showing them how important and enjoyable reading is. We have a use the Big Cat reading scheme where the book is matched to the children’s reading ability as well as a diverse range of books in our Reading for Pleasure books. This will enable your child to experience a range of authors and styles of books including non-fiction and poetry. In terms of reading, we want children to be able to:

  • Enjoy reading and see it as a pleasurable leisure activity, as well as a means of following instructions and finding things out.
  • Have the reading skills necessary to read a range of text types for pleasure and for information.
  • To be confident and competent readers, children need to have access to a range of reading experiences

Top Tips for Reading at Home:

  • Keep sessions short
  • Keep sessions relaxed – find a comfortable place where you and your child can settle down
  • Give lots of praise, progress may not always be fast – children do not always find the skill of reading and understanding easy to grasp · Talk about the book before you begin to read – look at the front cover, and the pictures (if any) and ask your child to think about or even guess what the book may be about.
  • Ask questions to check your child’s understanding e.g. What might happen next? Why did something happen?
  • Talk about the book afterwards – did your child enjoy it? Why? What was the best bit?
  • If your child struggles over a particular word, try to find ways to help them remember it e.g. by looking at the ‘shape’ of the word, or by guessing the word from the meaning of the sentence.
  • Don’t give up on the bedtime story, even if your child is a good reader. The more stories and books your child hears, the more they will want to read.
  • Be a good model for your children – let them see you reading – anything and everything – newspapers, magazines, catalogues, books etc. – let them know that reading is a valuable skill.
  • Telling them about a book or story you liked when you were a child. You may still be able to find a copy of it on the internet!
  • Making up a story or telling them about when you were a child or something that happened to you at school, remember you don’t always need a book to tell a good story.
  • Taking it in turns to read parts of the story.
  • Telling them one thing you really enjoy about listening to them read

Key Questions you can ask to support your child with their reading:

Children’s understanding of what they have read is the key to success and enjoyment of reading. It allows children to challenge ideas, collect a wider range of vocabulary and become creative writers as they use the language they have acquired to improve their writing. Below are grouped questions under different themes that you may ask your child after they have read. They are some basic question starters that will give you a starting point for the type of questions to ask your child about the book they are reading.

Retrieval questions

Where does the story take place?

When did the story take place?

Can you describe the character’s appearance?

Can you predict what the story may be about the title?

Where do the characters live? Who are the main characters?

What happened in the story?

Can you describe the problem in the story?

How would you solve it?

Can you identify words that describe the setting or character?

What happened after….?

Can you tell me why….?

Look at the picture of the character, how do you think they are feeling?

Why might this be?

Describe what happened at/when.

What do you think will happen next?

What did the character say to….?

Inference questions

What does the word … imply/make you think of?

If you were going to interview/ask a character a question-who would you ask and what would your question be? What do you think will happen because of ……?

Through whose eyes is the story told?

Why do you think … feels…?

If this was you, what would you do next?

How have the characters changed during the story?

Predict what you think is going to happen next.

What makes you think this?

How do you know that…?

What does the main character feel at this point in the story?

How do you know this-can you pick out a sentence?

Structure questions

How do headings help you when you scan the text?

How does the layout help the reader?

How does the title of the story encourage you to read more?

How does the story blurb on the back cover encourage you to read the book?

What things do you now want to find out after reading the blurb? Some of the text is printed in a different way, why do you think the writer does this?

Why has the author repeated structures, words and phrases?

What is the purpose of the pictures?

What is the purpose of a caption?

Why did the author choose to change paragraphs here?

Why has the author used ‘fact boxes’ for key points?

What is the purpose of the chapter titles?

Which words tell you what order to follow?

Vocabulary questions

What does (word/phrase) mean?

Which words has the author used to make the writing sound more formal/informal?

Why has the author used … (italics, bold, exclamation marks, headings, bullet points, captions etc.)?

What has the author used in the text to make the characters sound funny/sad/angry?

Think of another word you can use here. What different effect would your word have?

As a reader, how do you feel about this character?

What makes you feel that way?

Can you find any similes/metaphors in the story?

Find some adjectives that help you picture the scene/character in your mind.

Find a sentence that encourages you to want to read more of the story.

Why has the author set out the text like this?

Authors viewpoint

What is the writer’s purpose and viewpoint of writing the story?

Can you think of another story that has a similar theme? (good/evil/weak/strong)

Why does the author choose this setting?

What makes this a GOOD story?

What effect do you think the story has on the reader?

Could the story be better?

What would you suggest?

What impression does the author want to give of this character? Why?

What is the purpose of this paragraph? (e.g. time moves on)

What question would you like to ask the writer of the story?

Who is this advert trying to persuade?

Would you solve the problem in the story in a different way?

Do you think…….was right to ………?

Does the article/story try to get you to care about anything?

What can you tell about what the author thinks?


Useful websites:

Oxford Owl Press

A Story For Bedtime

BBC Parenting website


The Child Literacy Centre

DfES Parents Centre

Help them read

Parent Link

Read Together

Silly Books

Choosing a book


Reading and Writing

 Cool Reads

 First Choice Books

 Guys Read

 Mrs Mad

 Reading Matters

Don’t forget there are lots of other types of reading yor child might enjoy!

  • Comics or Magazines
  • Instructions or recipes
  • Information books
  • Newspapers
  • Poems
  • Recorded stories


What is phonics?

Phonics is a method for teaching reading and writing to children in primary schools introduced by the Coalition government in 2011. Children link sounds (phonemes) and their written form (graphemes) in order to recognise and read words, using basic units of knowledge to “decode” new or unfamiliar words.

Phonics vocabulary

Words are made up of just 44 sounds in English. You may have heard your child or their teacher use particular words that form the core of understanding phonics. Here's a quick explanation of some of the key concepts. 

  • Phoneme- the smallest unit of sound as it is spoken.
  • Grapheme- a written symbol that represents a sound (phoneme) that's either one letter or a sequence of letters
  • Digraph- two letters that work together to make the same sound (ch, sh, ph)
  • Trigraph- three letters that work together to make the same sound (igh, ore, ear)
  • Split digraph(sometimes called 'magic e') - two letters that work together to make the same sound, separated by another letter in the same word. This enables children to understand the difference in vowel sounds between, for example, grip/gripe, rag/rage, tap/tape.

Rather than memorising words individually, children are taught a code which helps them to work out how to read an estimated 95% of the English language.

Phase 1

In Phase 1 phonics, children are taught about:

  • Environmental sounds
  • Instrumental sounds
  • Body percussion (e.g. clapping and stamping)
  • Rhythm and rhyme
  • Alliteration
  • Voice sounds
  • Oralblendingand segmenting (e.g. hearing that d-o-g makes ‘dog’)

Phase 2

In Phase 2, children begin to learn the sounds that letters make (phonemes). By the end of Phase 2 children should be able to read some vowel-consonant (VC) and consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC) words, and to spell them out. They also learn some high frequency ‘tricky words’ like ‘the’ and ‘go.’

phonics 1

Phase 3

Phase 3 introduces children to the remaining, more difficult and/or less commonly used phonemes. By the end, they should be able to say the sound made by most, or all, Phase 2 and 3 graphemes, blend and read CVC words made from these graphemes, read 12 new tricky words and write letters correctly when given an example to copy.

phonics 2

Phase 4

In Phase 4 phonics, children will

  • Practise reading and spelling CVCC words (‘bump', 'nest',‘belt,’ ‘milk’, etc)
  • Practise reading and spelling highfrequency words
  • Practise reading and writing sentences
  • Practise trickier blends
  • Learn more tricky words, including ‘have,’ ‘like,’ ‘some,’ ‘little’

Children should now be blending confidently to work out new words. They should be starting to be able to read words straight off, rather than having to sound them out. They should also be able to write every letter, mostly correctly. 

phonics 3

Phase 5

Children learn new graphemes (different ways of spelling each sound) and alternative pronunciations for these: for example, learning that the grapheme ‘ow’ makes a different sound in ‘snow’ and ‘cow’. 

They should become quicker at blending, and start to do it silently.

They learn about split digraphs (the ‘magic e’) such as the a-e in ‘name.’

They’ll start to choose the right graphemes when spelling, and will learn more tricky words, including ‘people,’ ‘water’ and ‘friend’. They also learn one new phoneme: /zh/, as in ‘treasure.’

phonics 4

Fun ways to practise phonics with your child

  • Make letter-sounds and have your children write the letter or letters that match the sounds.
  • Play word games that connect sounds with syllables and words (for example, if the letters "p-e-n" spellpen, how do you spellhen?).
  • Write letters on cards. Hold up the cards one at a time and have your children say the sounds (for example, the /d/ sound for the letterd).
  • Teach your children to match the letters in their names with the sounds in their names.
  • Point out words that begin with the same letter as your children's names (for example,Johnand jump). Talk about how the beginning sounds of the words are alike.
  • Use alphabet books and guessing games to give your children practice in matching letters and sounds. A good example is the game, "I am thinking of something that starts with /t/."
  • Write letters on pieces of paper and put them in a paper bag. Let your children reach into the bag and take out letters. Have them say the sounds that match the letters.
  • Take a letter and hide it in your hand. Let your children guess in which hand is the letter. Then show the letter and have your children say the letter name and make the sound (for example, the lettermmatches the /m/ sound as in man).
  • Make letter-sounds and ask your children to draw the matching letters in cornmeal or sand.
  • Take egg cartons and put a paper letter in each slot until you have all the letters of the alphabet in order. Say letter-sounds and ask your children to pick out the letters that match those sounds
  • Play ‘how many do we know?’ use phonics flashcards that your child has practised already and use a timer to see how many they can get right in a minute.
  • Real or nonsense words: sort real or nonsense words into 2 piles. Children can add the sound buttons to the word to help them sound it out.

Phonics websites:

Offers a selection of interactive games for all phonic phases. Mostly simple games.

Has a great selection of games that link well with games in Letters and Sounds.

Letter names come up in alphabetical order

Activities for all phases

‘Deep Sea Phonics’ game with choice of difficulty (some HFWs, some vowel blends, very varied).

Make any words with this useful game.