I introduced Anaya, my daughter to Home School Connect, in February whilst she was still in nursery (when she was aged 4 years, 1 month). Seven months later, in September, Anaya went up to Reception class. She started school being able to read and was on Reading Scheme Stage 5/Book Band Green (this was approximately 1 – 1.5 years ahead of what was expected for her age). Her teacher was truly amazed, but I know it was simply down to a little effort on my part and the Home School Connect approach and child friendly materials (within the Reception Reading Pack).
I read the HSC parent guide carefully and was delighted to find out that there were actually just 5 key home activities I had to do! For some reason I thought it was going to be really complicated, but it just wasn’t.
I hope our story (and what we did described below) inspires you. I can’t thank Home School Connect enough for the pride and satisfaction I felt in knowing I had taught my daughter to read. Anaya’s confidence soared throughout Reception, but it was Anaya’s early love of reading books that pleased me the most.
WHAT WE DID
1. We read a huge variety of picture books together (nearly every day) and I asked Anaya different comprehension questions to make sure she developed a deeper understanding of stories and also increased her vocabulary. The HSC guide provides these questions on one sheet, so you have them as an aid memoire at your fingertips! There are some great age-appropriate picture books for 3-5 year olds, most of which we got from the library, but we bought a few of her favourites too.
2. I taught Anaya the “sounds” in the order that they are typically introduced in schools. Home School Connect corresponds to the DfES Phonics programme – Letters and Sounds (2007). She learnt all the phase 2 (orange) sounds and then also the phase 3 sounds (purple). You can watch a video on the HSC website showing parents how to pronounce the sounds correctly – that was ever so useful!
3. For each set of sounds, we had to make lots of words together and practise blending the sounds. We used fun magnetic tiles, the wipeboard & pen, as well as phonic sound cubes to do this. The words to make and the order in which to make them were listed in the HSC guide – having the words all listed infront of me was very useful! How parents can teach ‘blending’ is explained well in the guide. However, watching the instructional video demonstrating how to teach your child made things even clearer.
4. I taught Anaya the high frequency words by sight. There are about 100 to learn and I taught her about 5 words a week using a fun procedure described in the guide. Again the HSC website has demonstration videos so that if you are still unclear about anything after reading the guide, parents can watch videos of children being taught on these videos. I worked through the orange words, then purple, then lime green.
5. Finally I heard Anaya read a reading scheme book aloud every day or nearly every day. This was so that she could put into practice all the phonic skills she was learning and read a book set at her reading level! As Anaya was not in school at the time, she couldn’t get any reading scheme books from school. Buying the reading scheme books were very expensive, so HSC recommended I join Reading Chest – a reading scheme book loan system that works through your letterbox! I joined and it was brilliant – Anaya received up to 6 books at a time through the post, and as Anaya finished reading them, we posted them back! For a small monthly fee, it was really convenient and a lot less expensive than buying the books, particularly as she was only going to read a book once and then move onto the next book!