25th January 2023
‘The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.’ Dr Seuss
Reading influences every aspect of our daily lives. With our reading confidence determined at an early age, effectively teaching this key skill to EYFS children can significantly impact their future. The question for primary teachers is, how do you enable each child in your class to become a confident reader? In this blog, EYFS expert Gill Quantrell explores how to provide excellent opportunities for early reading.
It is universally recognised that children who read for enjoyment develop a rich vocabulary and have increased general knowledge and understanding of other cultures. Being a competent reader also supports children in accessing learning across the whole curriculum. The Reading Agency researched the benefits of reading. They found ‘that reading for pleasure can promote better health and wellbeing, aids in building social connections and relationships with others and is associated with a range of factors that help increase the chances of social mobility.’
The DfE and Ofsted both highlight the importance of early reading. The DfE document The Reading Framework: Teaching the foundations of Literacy gives guidance on the teaching of early reading and is aligned with the expectations in the national curriculum, the EYFS statutory framework and Ofsted’s inspection framework. The new Ofsted strategy 2022-27 reinforces this and states, ‘A good early education, particularly in reading, sets the foundation for later success.’
Research shows that regularly reading to children plays a crucial part in their learning to read. In her book Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain, Maryanne Wolf explores how emerging pre-readers learn essential pre-literacy skills when sharing stories with adults. Reading quality stories to children not only introduces them to a wide range of vocabulary but supports their communication and language skills. The natural conversations that arise when sharing books also develop children’s understanding and comprehension skills and can foster a love of reading later in life.
Every EYFS class is unique, and there is no one right way of teaching reading. Getting this right for you, your children, and your school can be a big challenge. Whatever your approach to early years teaching, phonics and reading need a high priority to embed a culture where books, vocabulary and reading take top priority. In Reception, short, focused, daily phonics sessions are crucial in developing these reading skills, but supporting children to become independent readers who love reading is undoubtedly our goal.
It is essential to make story time a special part of the day and show that you value this experience. Carefully select stories you would like the children to listen to throughout the year and ensure they provide opportunities for the children to associate with the characters or offer new perspectives on life. Take time throughout the day to build excitement and anticipation around storytime so that children are eager to listen. You could display the storytime book somewhere prominent or provide choices of books for children to vote on.
Children love to listen to stories multiple times, so you can use this to your advantage. Once the children are familiar with a story, subsequent readings can allow time to explore vocabulary, join in with the story and develop comprehension. After sharing the story, ensure the children have access to the book so they can read and retell the story independently.
Here are some practical ideas to consider:
Reading needs to be highly valued in the early years to ensure that children can foster a love of books at an early age. A strong synthetic and systematic phonics programme is essential to teach the mechanics of reading in Reception. However, it is crucial that staff and parents understand the early stages of reading development so they can make story time a priority. When children are given regular opportunities to share their stories with adults at school and home, their language, communication and comprehension skills can naturally develop and bolster their phonics learning. The practical ideas in this blog are designed to help you weave these opportunities into your daily planning and build a connection between home and school so that everyone can be, quite literally, on the same page.
As part of your EYFS offer, Maestro provides:
Check out our new story packs!
This collection of stories provides opportunities for children to associate with the characters or help them understand the lives, experiences and perspectives of others. Each story pack follows a structure so children can hear the story multiple times and build their understanding as they listen. We aim to provide children with a bank of quality stories they love so they can revisit and retell them independently. The story packs are fully resourced and provide teacher information to guide practitioners through each stage.
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