Reception Reading Pack
Teach your Child to Read at Home. Parent FAQ

What is in the Reception Reading Pack?

The pack contains:

  • Parent Guide to teaching Phonics and Reading at home
  • Sound Flashcards
  • Sound Magnets
  • Sound Cubes
  • Mini High Frequency Word Cards
  • Magnetic Wipe-Board
  • Wipe-Board Pen and Rubber

Who is it for?

Reception Age Children (4-5 Yrs Old)

Essentially the resources are primarily targeted at parents who are supporting Reception age children learn to read. Parents use the resources to reinforce and practice what children have already been introduced to and are learning in school.

Nursery Age Children (3-4 Yrs Old)

The pack resources can also be used with children 3+ who are showing signs that they are ready to be introduced to phonics and show an active interest in books and reading. If you are not sure whether this is your child, you can always download the reading readiness checklist off this website site to help you decide.

Year 1 Onwards (5+ reading at Reception level)

The resources can also be used with slightly older children (Year 1 onwards) if they are struggling to read or just simply need more practice to become confident.

What is phonics? Is there more than one way to teach phonics?

Phonics is a way of teaching children to learn to read quickly and skillfully. Phonics instruction essentially teaches children the 44 sounds that individual letters (e.g. s, a, t, p, i) and combinations of individual letters make (ch, ck, sh, or). As children learn the 44 phonemes/sounds, they also learn how to blend these sounds together to make/read words.

Although phonic schemes do vary a little (e.g. they may vary slightly in the order of the sounds taught), generally they all teach children the letter sounds (phonemes) and then how to blend the phonemes to make words. The Word and Sound games are aligned to the DfES “Letters and Sounds” (2007) approach.

What is Letters and Sounds? Is it the best phonic approach?

Letters and Sounds is the name of the government published phonics programme (Department for Education and Skills in 2007). The resource teaches reading by developing children’s phonic knowledge and skills. The detailed and systematic programme starts at age three (early years foundation stage), and has the aim of children becoming fluent readers by age seven (end of Key Stage 1). There are 6 phases. It is the only DfES published phonics programme and the majority of schools in the UK still follow this programme.

When do schools start teaching my child to read?

In nursery, children learn to discriminate between sounds, gain some alphabet awareness and begin to hear how sounds blend to make up words. This is mostly done orally and the emphasis is on speaking and listening.

In Reception, the more formal aspects of learning to read are introduced. The synthetic phonics method is used to teach children the 44 sounds/phonemes and they are taught how to make/read words by blending the sounds. Children also start to learn the 100 high frequency words.

I’m not a teacher, how can I help my child learn to read when I don’t know how or what to do?

The Reception Reading Pack comes with a comprehensive guide that explains everything right from the beginning so that a parent does not need specialist knowledge to help their child learn to read at home.

There is also an accompanying instructional video parents can access once they have bought the pack to learn how to teach reading at home and get the most out of the supplied resources (Sound cards; magnets; sound cubes; High Frequency Words).

Can I teach my child to read before my child starts school?

Yes, although this is very much up to you and the extent to which  your child is ready and motivated to learn how to read. Some children are ready to learn before Reception and some are not. The main reasons for this are that there is a huge range of ability with children. Plus in the early years, age differences between the oldest and youngest in the class, also makes a difference. For example, a September born child is almost a whole year older than an August born child – yet both children are in the same class. September born children are often able to do more, simply because they are older.

Are there any benefits in my child learning to read as soon as they are ready?

Yes. If your child can read, this is likely to give your child high self-esteem and confidence to learn in school. All children like to be good at things.

Secondly, reading opens up the rest of the curriculum for your child. If your child can read, they are likely to access and enjoy the other curriculum subjects.

The ability to read will help your child to learn how to write. This is because your child is already familiar with the alphabet and how letter sounds/phonemes blend to make words.

If my child can read before starting school, won’t my child be bored in Reception?

No. Schools have a duty to teach children of all ability levels. There will be some children that start reception at higher levels of reading and others that are still learning to discriminate between sounds. The class teacher will make sure that work is set to your child’s ability – they will do this in literacy and all other subjects too. This planning and setting of work according to the child’s ability is called ‘differentiation’.

Finally, your child will spend most of the day experiencing a broad and balanced curriculum. Reading is just one element of literacy (there is also speaking & listening and writing) and in school, literacy hour happens once a day. Literacy is also one subject amongst 11 subjects covered by the national curriculum.

How do I know when my child is ready for the Reception Reading Pack?

Although this pack is targeted at the Reception aged child (age 4-5), some able children or old in the year children (e.g. September/October born) can access this pack earlier and can respond enthusiastically to phonics instruction. Be guided by your child. You could also try using the reading readiness checklist (link below) to help you decide.

Click here to download the HSC phonics readiness checklist

What are the main activities children have to engage in to learn how to read?

There are five key activities children need to engage in to learn how to read effectively. Children need to do the following in conjunction with another:

  1. Experience lots of picture books being read aloud to them
  2. Learn the 44 sounds/phonemes
  3. Learn to blend the sounds to make/read words
  4. Learn the high frequency words
  5. Read a levelled reading scheme book, matched to their current reading stage/book band (e.g. Oxford Reading Tree).

The Reading Guide in the Reception Reading Pack explains how to do the above five activities in detail (with all accompanying learning resources to support reading activities 2, 3 and 4).

How much time does a parent need to support their  child’s reading development using the Reading Pack and/or the Words&Sounds Game Box?

Reception-Aged Child (Age 4-5)

At least twice a week for approximately 10-15 minutes to:

  • Teach letter sounds/phonemes
  • Make words using the sounds
  • Teach approx 5 high frequency words a week
  • Play Word or Sound Games

Nursery-Aged Child (Age 3-4)

If your child is aged 3-4, then slightly shorter sessions of 5-10 mins might be appropriate. Be guided by your child.

Will the Words&Sounds Game Box also help my child to read?

Yes. Children love to learn whilst playing and having fun. The games in the Words&Sounds Games Box complement the Reception Reading Pack very well.

Should my child be reading actual books and not just doing “phonics”?

Yes. Picture books should be read aloud to children every day if possible (bedtime is a good time for this).

It is also ideal for children to read a levelled reading scheme book, matched to your child’s reading level (typically at this age children start with wordless books, then move onto reading stage 1/1+. Towards the end of Reception, children functioning at age appropriate levels are usually on stage 2 or 3. It is advisable however, to be aware that there is some variation in the different schemes. This is therefore a somewhat crude indicator.

Why not just use apps or online games to practise reading/phonics skills at home?

It is true that there are some excellent apps and online games which do enhance children’s reading and phonics skills. Furthermore children are excited and eager to use/play them. However, ICT modes of learning are just one way. They are a great source of learning, but ideally should form part of a child’s learning diet, rather than be the only or main part.

In school, children learn in a variety of ways (and modes) to keep learning fun, fresh and interactive (they discuss, observe, play games, engage in interactive activities, use ICT, and perform pencil/paper tasks etc). Primarily however, children learn most effectively with key adult involvement, interactive dialogue and social interaction. This is why in school, a computer can never be a desirable substitute for the class teacher. In the same vein, children at home learn best from an adult mediated (namely the parent), multi-sensory learning environment.

It is also fair to say that in today’s modern world, our children are already using ICT for entertainment and learning purposes – Online iPad games, PS4, Xbox etc. HSC is therefore offering an alternative learning mode for our young learners – an opportunity for dialogue, learning with ‘real’ (touchable) materials and with social interaction.

What are reading scheme books? Why should my child read these?

Reading schemes are graded/levelled reading books that schools usually supply to children at the early stages of learning to read. The books start off from stage/book band 1 and go right up to book band 16 (which according to Oxford Reading Tree for example, would be expected at the end of year 6).

Reading scheme books are very different from picture books you can buy in shops or borrow from the library. The books are carefully written at each level so that children can learn to read gradually and are not put off by having to read books that are too hard. Familiar characters and exciting themes are used to engage young readers. Some of the more recent schemes include words that correspond to the phonics phases children learn at school. This means that books include words that focus on particular letter sounds/phonemes and also the high frequency words associated with a phonics phase, such as in Letters and Sounds. Each new stage or book band within a reading scheme therefore introduces a new set of sounds and practises the skills and knowledge learned in previous levels. One scheme that corresponds to the Letters and Sounds phases is Floppy’s Phonics.

Should my child also read other books (non-reading scheme books) when learning to read?

Yes. It may be trickier to find books that match your child’s exact reading level, but if your child shows an interest in reading ‘real books’ (as they are often termed), then encourage this. You may find your child shows a greater interest in reading non-scheme picture books once they have reached stage 3/yellow book band.

How can I help my child to understand what he/she is reading and also what I read out to him/her?

When sharing a book with your child try asking the following questions and be sure to discuss the book with your child:

What do you think the book is going to be about?

What does the title of the book or picture on the cover tell us about the story inside?

Who wrote the book and who drew the pictures/illustrations?

Ask what certain words mean (inside the book)

Ask why questions such as why did a particular thing happen? Why did the character act in that way or feel the way they did?

At the end of the book, ask your child what they liked or disliked about the book. Talk about any common theme/s or significant factors.

There is a useful more detailed section in the HSC Reception Reading Guide which has further guidance on developing listening comprehension in children. There is an appendix listing various questions you might ask your child before, during and after reading (Literal Questions; Vocabulary Questions; Character/Setting questions; Sequencing, plot & prediction; Problem solving; Finding information questions for non-fiction books).