At Our Lady of the Assumption, we teach children to read and write using Phonics. The scheme we are using this year is called Read Write Inc.
Read Write Inc. uses a systematic approach to Phonics to help children to learn to read and write. Children learn new sounds daily - these are letters and the most common sound that they make. When they have developed their knowledge of several sounds, they then begin to put these sounds together to make words. This is called blending. Blending is a very important milestone in children's reading because once they can hear the sounds in words and blend the sounds together to make words, they are ready to access books and begin to read independently.
A big part of Phonics involves children initially partaking in oral blending. This is where they are given a series of sounds in quick succession and must orally blend these together to make a word. For example, given the sounds m a t, the child will be able to orally blend these sounds and hear the word mat. Once they are able to do this, they can begin to use this process to read the sounds that printed letters make and blend them together to read the whole word.
In Read Write Inc oral blending and sounding out is called FRED TALK. Children are introduced to Fred - a puppet who can only speak in sounds (Fred Talk) and must help him to blend his sounds together to make words. Whenever, we sound out, we call this Fred Talk to help the children to remember the process.
As children become more confident in oral blending and blending letters, the next step is called FRED IN YOUR HEAD. THis is where the children use their sounding out (Fred Talk) to read words but instead of doing this out loud (orally), they do it mentally. This follows the same process (e.g. d o g -> dog) but takes place internally and so the process is silent. Eventually, children will become much quicker at using Fred in your Head and will no longer need to spend as much time Fred Talking each word; developing fluency in their reading because of this.
As well as reading, children will use Read Write Inc. to help them to write letters, words and sentences. The process is similar to blending but works in reverse. This is called SEGMENTING. Segmenting involves thinking of a whole word (e.g. cat) and segmenting it into the individual sounds (and thus letters which make it -e..gc a t). Again, this initially begins orally as children learn to 'chop up' words in order to hear the individual sounds. The process of segmenting in Read Write Inc is called Fred Fingers.
Children use their Fred Fingers to identify the individual sounds in words. In the early stages, children are given a simple word and are told how many sounds are in that word. They then hold up that amount of fingers (with the palm of their hand facing them so they can see their fingers). As they say their word, they split their word up into individual sounds, using one finger for each sound in sequence (left to right). For example, in the word bag, children would be told that this word has 3 sounds. They would then hold up three fingers and look at them. The next step is to touch their left-most fingers and say the first sound (b). They then move to the next finger and say (a). Finally they touch their next finger and say (g). As they become more confident at linking letters to sounds and at writing those letters they will become increasingly more and more able to write the words after they use their Fred Fingers. This is the basis of writing using phonics.
As children become more able, they will access Read Write Inc dittys (small simple sentence books) and eventually longer books which they can use their skills to read.
In Read Write Inc, children are shown Green words and Red words. Green Words are words which can be read by children using their phonics skills (Fred Talk and Fred in Your Head). Red words are words whose patterns differ and cannot be read accurately using their current phonics skills (for example, the, where 'th' can be read normally but the 'e' makes more of an 'uh' sound). Children learn to read and write these Red (tricky) words by sight so that they do not need to Fred Talk them. In Phonics sessions, children will be given regular access to green and red word flash cards in daily phonics sessions to increase their fluency and ability to sight-read an increasing range of words.
I have attached some simple reasons which you can use at home to support your child in their reading and writing journey. There is a sound mat for Set 1 and Set 2 sounds so that your child can practice these at home. I have also attached powerpoint files of Set 1 and Set 2 Green word cards and all of the Red Words. These can be used as a powerpoint to help your child to use their Fred Talk and Fred in their Head to sound out words (with the green words) and to help your child sight-read red words.
If you wish to use any Read Write Inc resources with your child at home, certain resources (flash cards, etc) can be purchased quite reasonably from Amazon. Do not be afraid to ask for your class teacher's advice if you are looking to purchase a resource but are not sure how to use it or if it is relevant.