Learning to Read at Sacred Heart
Here at Sacred Heart we know that children learn
to read and write using context and cues. We know
that children learn to understand context and cues
by listening and speaking. Therefore our junior
English curriculum is firmly based in a rich, and
research-based Oral Language approach.
In our Junior Classrooms you will see a major focus
* Phonological Awareness
* Vocabulary Exploration
* Long and Complex Sentence Building
* Story Grammar
You will see familiar and engaging texts used to
provide the context for Literacy skill development
and expert teachers drawing upon these texts to
enrich student understanding of the graphophonic
rules of written English
Children spend less than 25% of
their waking hours at school. Most
of their Literacy development
happens at home.
You taught your child how to talk.
You use the same techniques to teach your child how to read.
You already:
Model reading for pleasure and for practical purposes
Read to your child regularly
Talk about reading
Provide lots of opportunities for reading
Encourage your child's reading attempts
Give lots of feedback - positive and constructive
Know when to push and when to help out
Seek advice and support when things are tough
Involve the whole family
Prioritise reading
Assure your child that reading is important
Provide access to lots of different texts
Recognise that texts come in many different forms (books,
comics, packaging, instruction pamphlets, cartoons, films, TV
shows, websites, YouTube videos, games...)
Take every opportunity to support Literacy development by
pointing out familiar letters or words in the environment
Playing games that build sound/letter recognition (e.g. "I spy
with my little eye, something beginning with the sound SH")
Buy books as presents ("Something they want, something
they need, something to wear and something to read...")
When reading with
young readers, use
The 3 P's:
Pause, Prompt, Praise
Pause: Always allow time for children to
work it out themselves. Never do
something for a child until she has had a go
at doing it herself. Even a very small child
can turn the pages of a storybook.
Prompt: Remind the child that there are
cues that can help them figure out the
What might make sense here?
What would sound right?
Can you see any parts of the word you know?
Look at the picture.
Have another go.
Get your mouth ready to say the word.
And then, just tell them what it says and
keep the story going!
Praise: Effective praise is specific and
focused. It is about the behavour, not the
child. "Instead of 'Good boy!"' try 'You
looked at the picture for a clue! Great job!'.
let's always focus on what the young reader
has done WELL.
"Sound it out" only works around 40% of the time, which
makes it relatively unsuccessful.
This is because most English words cannot be sounded out 'phonetically'.
Take a look at this list of the ten most commonly used words in written
the, be, to, of, and, a, in, that, have, I.
Only 'and' and 'in' are truly 'phonetic'. We learn to read the others
by recognising them by sight. We can only recognise by sight things that we see regularly and
often. This is one of the reasons nightly reading is so crucial to early readers.
It is also why we need to be very careful about encouraging children to 'sound it out'. We must only do so if the word
can be easily sounded out, e.g. 'cat', 'six', 'went', 'hand' etc.
You will see Prep children at Sacred Heart learning some letter-sound relationships through phonics approaches such
as 'Ants on the Apple'. However, this is just the beginning. These children will progress to examining such language
features as the 'soft eff' sound in 'fish', 'physical' and 'enough' or the 'ue' digraph in true, Tuesday and blue.
Classroom Helpers at Sacred Heart...
* Are invaluable in the junior grades. We cannot deliver truly
focused, small-group teaching without this assistance.
* Must provide copies of current Working With Children checks
to the office.
* Listen to children read.
* Read to children.
* Play games with and coordinate activities for children.
* Model good listening behaviours by focusing on the teacher
* Help keep children focused and on-task
* Pause, prompt and praise
* Engage and extend 'early finishers' by asking them to talk
about their reading or their work
* Maintain confidentiality, understanding how inappropriate it
would be to discuss children or teachers outside of the
* Do not make judgements or comparisons because they know
all children learn at their own rates and in their own ways
* Seek clarification from the teacher when needed
* Never disrupt the learning by talking on the 'phone,
interrupting the teacher, distracting their own child or walking in
and out of the room.
* Are tremendously appreciated for their vital role in classrooms.
Should you have any questions, concerns
or ideas about the ways we teach
Reading in our Junior classrooms, please
speak to your child's teacher, or contact
Junior Unit Leader, Jacinda Deacon on
Junior School Curriculum Leader and
Deputy Principal, Emma Rutherford on
or Principal Des Lowry,
Or call the school office: 50231204