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Building Blocks - Reading


If your child is finding the reading content of their work packs tricky, there is nothing wrong in reading it to them.  With any reading, never feel like it is 'cheating' to read a word or sentence for your child, then ask them to read it back.


For children finding reading difficult to pick up as they progress through school, there are various ways to help them.  One of the most important is reading together and this should happen throughout their reading development.

We have identified here 4 key elements of reading, which are all interlinked, and the point at which they become important:

  • basic phonology (pre-reading and children reading stage 1, 1+ and 2)
  • decoding skills - phonics and tricky words (from stage 1+)
  • fluency (from stage 3)
  • comprehension skills (from stage 3). 

There are tips and resources for each of these steps in this section.


Developing Phonology Skills

Phonology is how we understand and manipulate sounds.  It is vital that children have good phonology skills to support their reading.  This includes:

  • Understanding and being able to use rhyme
  • Being able to identify the syllables (beats) in a word
  • Identifying the sounds at the beginning of a word and at the end of the word

There are lots of ways to develop these skills:

  • Word games, such as I Spy (always using the sound not the letter name)
  • Use pictures in books ‘I can see something that rhymes with cat’  ‘How many things can you find that start with….’
  • Learning and singing nursery rhymes – how many can you learn?
  • See how long you can continue a rhyming string taking it in turns to say a real or made up word that rhymes e.g. cat, rat, yat, flat, nat, mat, etc

Phonics Skills

Phonics is the skill of recognising individual sounds and blending them together to make words. This video explains it really well


  • Children need to learn all of the phonic sounds and how they are represented by letters.  Use the phonics sound mats and actions as reminders and look at the phonics lessons in reception and year 1 to see how children can practice and learn. 
  • Look at the phonics sound practice sheet to see which sounds your child can recognise without the pictures / actions.  If there are particular sounds that your child is struggling with, look at the Precision Teach guidance in this section of the website.
  • Children also need to be able to blend the sounds together
  • Children practise sounding out and blending both 'alien' and real words to reinforce their phonics knowledge. 
  • This is a great website for phonics practice. 
  • You can find a set of flashcards with alien and real words in this section of the website. 

Tricky words

  • In addition to phonics, children need to recognise ‘tricky words’: those that can’t be sounded out
  • Use the Tricky Word Snakes to see which words your child knows or needs to practise.  There are also bingo games that you can make.
  • Stick specific words that you are working on around the house and ask your child to read them each time they see them.
  • If your child is struggling to retain tricky words, look at the Precision Teach guidance in this section of the website.

Reading Fluency

As children’s skills in decoding (using phonics and tricky words) develop, they need to develop fluency.  Reading fluently – i.e. not pausing to decode any words and using the punctuation effectively, helps with their understanding.  Although reading and re-reading may feel like ‘cheating’ as the child is learning the text by heart, it is really valuable as they get to hear and feel what fluent reading is like and reinforce their decoding skills.  Here are some ideas:

  • You read a sentence, they read it back and repeat this until they are fluent.
  • Read back and forth to each other using different voices – can you make each other laugh?
  • Ask your child to re-read a sentence over and over until they do not need to pause for any decoding.
  • Re-read familiar books to develop confidence and really get to understanding.

Reading comprehension

  • Comprehension – understanding – only comes with fluency, but it is important to support reading understanding, right from the beginning so that children realise that they should be making sense of their reading.
  • Always talk about what you have read and what they have read.  Use the pictures to support early readers
  • Ask questions about their reading – you can use picture prompts to help with this as you go through the story or complete the narrative worksheet together at the end.
  • Encourage children to ask about words that they don't understand and talk about them.  
  • Help children to make links between their reading and their life by commenting and encouraging them to comment e.g. do you remember when ..... ?  That's like......?
  • All of the discussion helps children with more formal comprehension as they move through school.