Early Reading Journey

At Leigh St Peters Primary School, we believe that reading is the key to unlocking many of lifes doors. We strive to take our children on a magical reading journey from the moment they step foot into our School.  

From the very first day children are saturated with nursery rhymes. Phonemic skill development gained from nursery rhymes has been scientifically proven to develop early reading. Whilst developing an ear for language, repetition of rhymes teaches children how language works and builds memory capacity through memorizing patterns. Nursery rhymes help develop inferencing skills, develop a rich vocabulary and help with speech development through developing the muscles in the mouth and tongue. Rhyming helps children to articulate words, modulate voices and enunciate clearly by saying them over and over.  

Singing nursery rhymes daily also helps our children to develop auditory skills such as discriminating between sounds and develop an ear for the music of words. They introduce literary devices like alliteration and imagery. As well as expand childrens imagination and creativity. They are a great introduction to stories, with many containing a verses, which help children develop sequencing skills.  

Every day our children listen to stories. A daily story helps them to continue expanding their knowledge of language, as well as develop their listening skills. It provides our children with mental stimulation, provides them with time to relax and maintain a state of calm, and improve focus and concentration. Reading out loud to children is a critical component of supporting childrens oral language development.  

Children also have the opportunity to take part in early language experiences such as a weekly ‘show and tell’ session. This helps to build effective communication and listening skills as well as encourages emotional development.  

Our early years team understand that oral language is the foundation for learning to read and write and is critical for supporting the development of childrens early literacy skills. We ensure our children experience this through modelling language at every opportunity and providing a language rich environment both indoors and outdoors. Our learning areas are designed with purposeful intent for staff and children to interact, share a focus, talk and take turns. Books are included in the environment and our children have access to librarys in their classrooms where they can choose from a range of books, helping to develop a love for reading. Children are taught how to handle books, turn pages, and develop print awareness.  


We recognise that the strongest predictors of reading readiness include interest and motivation to read, oral language and narrative skills, book and print awareness. Alongside these pre-reading skills, we teach synthetic Phonics. 

As a school we use the well recognised ‘Letters and Sounds’ phonics scheme to teach children Phase 1 Phonics. This is taught in Preschool and revisitied for consolidation at the beginning of reception. As a school we have also invested in ‘Bug Club Phonics’ to support the teaching of phonics and reading from phase 2 – phase 5. This is a fast-paced phonics programme taught from reception through to KS1. Its multisensory approach allows children to be interactive during lessons as they progress through each phase, helping to maintain that love for learning to read.  

Reading Books

In the first half term of Preschool, children get to chose a book of their choice to share with a grown up. They are asked to share this book a minimum of three times a week. These books are given so children can experience listening to adults read in their home environment and experience quality time, developing that love for reading.  

On entering reception, all children are given a picture based book whilst pre-reading skills are assessed. Once a child has begins phase 2 phonics,  formative assessment is used to determine when a child is ready for a book containing print. These books are always phonetic based books, so children can apply the new sounds they have been learning. Children are asked to read with an adult a miniumum of three times per week. All reading books in Preschool and Reception are changed on a weekly basis.  

Children are listened to read by and teacher or a teaching assistant once a week in reception. 

Promoting a love for reading 

  • We share a class story at the end of every day.  
  • We provide an environment rich in opportunities for children to read. 
  • We provide children with classroom librarys filled with a range of interesting books.  
  • We celebrate ‘World Book Day’, where all the children and staff dress up as their faviour character from a book.  
  • We encourage parent involvement through phonic based ‘Stay and Play’ sessions every term, where children get to take part in phonic activities with their grown ups. Phonic activities are modelled to parents and carers which can be used to support the children with reading at home.  
  • We hold a ‘Reading Café’ afterschool once a week, to encourage parents and carers to come in and listen to their child read.  

Below is a breakdown of the phonic phases, demonstrating the order in which children are taught and progress through each phase. 

Phase 1  

Phase 1 concentrates on developing speaking and listening skills and lays the foundation for the phonic work that starts in phase 2.  Phase 1 is from birth and continues into Reception.  In Phase 1, children are taught to listen to sounds in the environment around them and be able to say what it is eg: a telephone ring or car engine; this is called distinguishing differences in sounds.  This is early sound work and will help children with sounds that are similar eg. s and x; b and p.  

Your child will learn to read and spell tricky words.  These are words that they have to read on sight because they may not have learnt the correct grapheme or the words can’t be blended eg said, was. 

Phase 2 

Children are taught letters that will help them blend 2 and 3 letter/sound words eg s-a-t, p-a-t, t-i-ck 

Set 1   
Set 2   
Set 3   
Set 4  ck   
Set 5  f/ff  l/ll  ss 
Tricky words:  the      to    no    go   I 


Phase 3 

Children are introduced to more graphemes that help them blend more words eg: ch-a-t    r-i-ng       r-ai-n       c-ow      s-oi-l 

Set 6   
Set 7  zz  qu   
  ch  sh  th  ng   
  ai  ee  igh  oa  oo 
  ar  or  ur  ow  oi 
  ear  air  ure  er   
Tricky words:  he   she   we    me    be   was   you    they    all    are    my    her  


Phase 4 

In phase 4 children work on identifying all the sounds in words, especially where there are 2 consonants together eg string.  s-t-r-i-ng.  Sometimes children  write sring and miss the second consonant out.  This is a common mistake and children need to be able to segment the word to hear all the sounds.  

Tricky words:  said   have   like   so   do   some   come   were    there   little    one    when   out    what     


Phase 5 

In Phase 5 children will learn alternative graphemes – that when said make the same sound eg:ai as in rain (r-ai-n);  a_e as in came; ay as in day 

Or are the same grapheme but different sounds eg ea as in tea; head and break  


wh  ph  a_e  e_e  i_e 
o_e  u_e  ay  ea 
ey  ie  oe  ew  ue 
au  aw  ou  oy  ir 
Tricky words:  oh   their   people   Mr   Mrs   looked   called   asked   could 




Below are a list of websites you can use to help support your child with phonics and reading. 

www.activelearn.co.uk    (To access Bug Club Phonics)