Emmbrook Preschool © 2018 | Last reviewed: Dec 2018

We believe it is never too early to fall in love with reading. The main aim in developing initial reading skills, is to try to ensure that children enjoy exploring books, helping them to adopt a life long love of reading. There are a few ideas below that you can do to help your children adopt a love of books and reading at home;

* Read to your child starting at an early age. Many people have fond memories of their parents reading them bedtime stories, and reading to your child will help foster a love of words and reading.


*Reading to a child also models a lot of important things about reading: which way to hold a book, how to turn the pages, and the idea that printed words represent sounds and meanings. An extra dose of drama adds interest—and reinforces how words and sentences sound.

*Fill your child's room with books. Children who grow up with books all around them learn to think of books as friends and allies in their pursuit of adventure and learning. Be a good reading "role model" for your children. Let them see you reading, and how much you enjoy reading books and magazines.

*As your children grow, introduce them to books that match their interests and hobbies. Show them how a good book can expand their knowledge in a particular area.

*Get your child a library card. Show them how a library can be a place of wonder and excitement, and can open up whole new worlds of learning to last a lifetime.

*As your children learn to read, encourage them to "help" you find letters and sound out words. You can even drop in little lessons, such as, "What other word here sounds like 'tree'? That's right, 'see'. Do you see the tree? What letters make that "ee" sound?"


There has been a huge shift in the past few years in how reading is taught in UK schools. This is having a big impact and helping many children learn to read and spell. Phonics is recommended as the first strategy that children should be taught in helping them learn to read. It runs alongside other teaching methods such as Guided Reading and Shared Reading to help children develop all the other vital reading skills and hopefully giving them a real love of reading!

What is phonics?

The written language is basically a kind of a code. Teaching phonics is just teaching children to crack that code. Words are made up from small units of sound called phonemes. Phonics teaches children to be able to listen carefully and identify the phonemes that make up each word. This helps children to learn to read words and to spell words. Children are taught all the letter names in the alphabet and that each letter has a sound. These sounds are taught in a particular order. The first sounds to be taught are s, a, t, p.

Children are then taught to be able to blend some letters together for example ‘sh’ ‘ch’. This is when children say the sounds that make up a word and are able to merge the sounds together until they can hear what the word is. This skill is vital in learning to read.

Children are also taught to segment. This is the opposite of blending. Children are able to say a word and then break it up into the sounds that make it up. This skill is vital in being able to spell words.

What makes phonics tricky?

The English language is tricky because as England has been invaded so many times throughout its history, each set of invaders brought new words and new sounds with them. As a result, English only has around 44 sounds and blends, but there are around 120 ways of writing them down. Another slightly sticky problem is that some graphemes can represent more than one phoneme. For example ch makes very different sounds in these three words: chip, school, chef.

How is phonics taught?

Our Preschool Phonics Sessions are made up from games, songs and actions. Our primary goals are about developing really good listening skills.  In addition to this and when the children are ready, we will introduced a phonics resources called Letters and Sound.

What is Letters and Sounds?

Letters and Sounds is a phonics resource published by the Department for Education and Skills in 2007. It aims to build children's speaking and listening skills in their own right as well as to prepare children for learning to read by developing their phonic knowledge and skills. It sets out a detailed and systematic programme for teaching phonic skills for children starting by the age of five, with the aim of them becoming fluent readers by age seven. There are many phases, but the first two are the ones your child will encounter in their early years. Preschools will dominantly concentrate on phase one.

*Phase One  Activities are divided into seven aspects, including environmental sounds, instrumental sounds, body sounds, rhythm and rhyme, alliteration, voice sounds and finally oral blending and segmenting.

*Phase Two  Learning 19 letters of the alphabet and one sound for each. Blending sounds together to make words. Segmenting words into their separate sounds. Beginning to read simple captions.

We understand that all our children are all individual and develop at different ages and speeds, so our phonic sessions at Emmbrook Preschool are differentiated for all ages and abilities. But most importantly these sessions are aimed to be a fun, stimulating experience where children are developing their listening skills and adopting a love of learning and reading.