Select Page




TEACHING READING, AIMS and METHOD (presumes sounds of alphabet letters are well known)


Aim 1:  Begin to sound out three letter words (cat, dog, bus)

– Write a three letter word on one side of a card, put the matching picture on the reverse.  Have the child sound out the word and then check the picture to see if he is correct.

Here are some flashcards you can print off. You can also find a list of suggested words for this level here

–    make two sets of cards – on one set write the word, on the other draw the picture: have your child match the cards correctly. You can just print off an extra set of flashcards to and cut them up to use in this way.

–    make a little book with one word on each page and its matching picture on the reverse.

–   another helpful method, especially for a child who is quite confident at this stage, is to make plenty of individual letter cards (say, three or four of each letter, not too small). Place the letters for a simple word in front of your child but mix them up. Now give him the correct picture and see if he can ‘spell’ the word. When he’s done, have him turn the picture over and see if his word matches the one on the card. This not only re-inforces the reading but also ensures that the child really grasps what is happening with the sequence of letters: it also helps him to understand better how writing works.


Aim 2: Read simple one syllable four letter words with double letter sounds

This refers to words such as hiss, miss, bell, well, fizz, buzz. Don’t forget to include words with a double ‘ck’ too: even though the letters are different it is still effectively a double letter sound and children don’t seem to have any trouble with the idea that both letters are simply saying ‘k’. Many words use this combination so it’s worth learning early on.

Use the same methods as above.

Click here for Flash cards to print out.


Aim 3: Begin to recognise capitals

–   point these out as you are reading, keep it casual at this point as the child will pick up a lot of them just by seeing them around him.

–   make two sets of cards, one lower, one upper-case. Give the ones he knows and have him match them up. Introduce new ones as he picks them up from seeing them around. The aim eventually is

of course to set out all lower-case and have him match to all the capitals.

Click here for cards to print: lower case letters and upper case letters.


Aim 4: Match names as well as sounds to letters

Sometimes, when you have taught the sounds of the letters phonetically, it may take a child longer to learn the names of the letters. It’s important that he is clear as to how the sounds he has learned match up to the names. For this you just need to teach him an alphabet song and look at the alphabet pointing out that ‘a’ says ‘a’, ‘b’ says ‘b’ etc.




Aim: Trace forms of letter with fingers

There are many ways to achieve this: textured letters (I made mine from sandpaper), cut-outs in cardboards, a tray filled with sand. Try a felt tip on paper or a whiteboard marker if your child is keen to write properly. No need to use lines at this stage, as this is more about recognition than line placement which is taught later. Using language


Aim: To recognise and use rhyming words

Say a word, ask for a rhyme – as many as possible! Use a picture matching game with two or three cards for each rhyme (you can find plenty of matching cards on the ‘Net to print out). Have the child match them all up then have him make up silly sentences about the rhymes. You can buy games for this such as Orchard Toys’ ‘Slug in a Jug’.


Aim: To learn easy verses

Choose a few simple verses/poems and read them to your child to help him learn them. If he likes to draw, have him illustrate the poem; otherwise give him a picture to colour.

Finally, encourage him to recite the poem to someone, explaining how the picture illustrates the verse.

My children have all loved ‘The Macmillan Treasury of Nursery Rhymes and Poems’‘The Usborne Book of Poems for Young Children’ is also a nice one to start with


LEARNING TO READ: A Phonic Approach


I’ve always adopted a straightforward phonic approach (no ‘look and say’ or ‘whole word reading’) as I’ve found this to be the most effective method for producing fluent readers (as opposed to children who can read the correct level of a reading scheme book but stumble when confronted with a real book). Phonics gives children the confidence to have a go at new words. Moreover, even if direct instruction in phonics isn’t needed because a child has managed to read without it (as many seem to), it still comes in very useful as a basis for spelling correctly later on. I think one important thing to remember, however, with a phonic approach is not to get so focussed on teaching each individual grapheme-phoneme correspondence* (*or GPCs as they’re known in school jargon – meaning, for example that the written symbol, or grapheme, ‘ai’ makes the sound, or phoneme, ‘long a’), that we forget the big picture, i.e. learning to read books! We want our children to want to read, we want them to love books. There’s a danger with focussing on phonics that we wear a child out and drain his enthusiasm for reading: the exercises can seem meaningless (I know because I’ve made this mistake myself a few times). We need to keep on reading to our children, letting them see how important reading is to us, and encouraging them by focussing on the end result – that great feeling of being able to pick up any book they choose and master it for themselves. A note on reading schemes I’ve found that if one follows a phonic approach, there’s no need to invest in a reading scheme. These are aimed at schools and although each individual book can be cheap, the cost soon adds up if you want to buy the whole series. If you want the security of a reading scheme, getting hold of a second hand set is a good solution. Reading schemes are updated fairly regularly (so all the schools need to buy the latest ones), but reading doesn’t change, and a set from the 90’s, 80’s or even 50’s can do the job just as well (Peter and Jane, anybody?). Be careful when choosing one: many schemes work on the basis of a controlled vocabulary – the child learns a set of words by sight and these are the only words used in the reading book. One big problem with this is that you can get a child who may have successfully read all the ‘readers’ for his level, but flounders when confronted with a ‘real’ book, simply because it contains words he hasn’t been taught yet. If you teach a child to decode words phonetically, he can have a go at a real book much sooner. Obviously, you still need to build up slowly and at first use texts which contain only the GPCs he’s covered – but even learning the whole set of these is a lot less work than having to build up a memory bank of countless thousands of words and yet still being clueless when confronted with a word one hasn’t met before. I tend to just make very simple three or four page books to practice the letter combinations learned so far or to practice new ones.

With regard to teaching reading by a phonic method, the instructions and lessons here can sound quite technical but the important thing is to keep reading real books to your child, occasionally pointing out words that he can already read but always focussing on the real reading and not just on the phonics exercises. Reading always comes first. If your child hates learning this stuff, don’t worry – he has plenty of time to catch up. The worst thing you can do is make him thinks he hates reading when he actually just hates phonics lessons (I know, because I’ve done it!). And remember, your child might learn to read without even doing all these exercises so long as you just keep encouraging him and give him plenty of time to look at books.

Handwriting Making a start Most little children at some point have a go at forming letters, often around age 3 or 4. Maria Montessori believed that it was natural for children to write before they could read and, in one sense, writing is an easier task than reading: it is less abstract. One problem with this approach is that many children, especially boys, find the fine motor skills involved in writing very challenging at a very young age. My own sons were all reading fluently long before they felt comfortable writing, and for this reason I wouldn’t advocate insisting that writing should precede reading (though there’s no need to discourage it if it does). When children do start to form letters, I find it best to just let them have a go – no lines, no rules about formation (until they begin to grow frustrated because they can’t make their letters like the ones in the book…). Then I start to show them that there are good and not-so-good ways of forming letters. At first, it’s best to not to worry about lines at all: children have enough to do forming the shapes without having to worry about correct line-placement, and there’s plenty of time for that later. It’s a good idea to give children at this age a chance to copy/learn those patterns which form the bases of the various letter families. That way, you can lay a good foundation for later writing without hindering the child’s natural enthusiasm for trying to write now in his own stumbling way. Once your child shows signs of being keen to write his own ideas down, the trick is to strike a balance between offering enough guidance to help him write what he wants to write in a pleasant and legible way, yet not overwhelming him at this early stage with rules and demanding a really high standard, which can put him off the process altogether. You might want to keep handwriting lessons separate from writing lessons so that you can resist the temptation to criticize his letter formation rather than focus on what he’s actually trying to say in his writing. Don’t worry: after a while, the skills he’s learning in the handwriting will begin to show in his general writing.





Formation of letters of the alphabet in exercise book, copying over dots.

Any 4+ writing book, copying over dots and progressing to writing letter without dots.

Practise sounds of letters in the alphabet with matching cards and pictures e.g. c for cat.

Draw or glue picture in exercise book and have child write letter underneath and say the sound.

Once most of alphabet sounds are known, start to blend the sounds e.g. c-a-t spells cat.

Draw or glue pictures of simple 3 letter words into an exercise book and have child spell out word and write it.

Introduce cards with key words from Ladybird scheme (publisher Ladybird) e.g. like, dog, shop. Practise and learn.

Begin first book, Ladybird 1a.  Try to read every day.

Write the sentence you have read from the book into an exercise book and have child copy your writing underneath. Draw a picture and colour. Continue adding new words over time as words are learnt and start to progress through the reading scheme.

At the same time practise writing 3 letter words in books such as Early Spellings (publisher Schofield and Sims). Book 1 introduces some new sounds such as the ss and ck.







1. To learn all the phonics sounds and will start and write to read simple words.

2. To learn to recite poems and make a poetry diary.

3. To will enjoy listening to stories every day.




1. Use 100 easy lessons book Simon and Schuster and supplement with easy books from the library. Use jolly phonics for writing practice and letter formation.

2. Use poems to improve memory, retention of information and development of language. Record them in poem diary.

3. Read aloud to the children every day from good fairy tales and saints stories, looking to emphasise good and noble characters.


Age 4


Read aloud at least 3 books per day. Also read aloud poems.

Ten minutes of phonics each day, alphabet games and puzzles, letter snap

Bible reading and saints stories


Your local library should have a selection of reading schemes such as

The Oxford Reading Tree Biff and Chip

Apple Tree Farm Usbourne

Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons Simon and Schuster

Try to read every day. Write the sentence you have read from the book into an exercise book and have child copy your writing underneath. Draw a picture and colour.

Continue adding new words over time as words are learnt and start to progress through the reading scheme.

At the same time practise writing 3 letter words in books such as Early Spellings (publisher Schofield and Sims). Book 1 introduces some new sounds such as the ss and ck.



Age 5 Term Plan.


Reading and phonics

Work through ‘100 easy lessons to teach your child to read’

Letter combinations and sounds, continue to recap these and introduce new sounds. Read every day from Usborne books and early readers. Look at odd words and key words.

Read stories to her every day.




Bring poetry notebook up to date.

Learn ‘Bird Talk’, Merry Sunshine and others if time.

Illustrate poems and write sentences from poems.



Letter formation, practice writing. Writing is incorporated into all subjects.


Weekly Lesson Plan:



20 mins reading

5 mins poetry



20 mins reading



20 mins reading



20 mins reading



20 mins reading

20 mins poetry