Learning to read is one of the most important things your child will learn in life. Learning to read starts as soon as a baby's eyes can focus - reading familiar faces, reading facial expressions, recognition of shapes and colours, recognition of animals. Soon the young brain starts to connect words spoken that are associated shapes and objects and, when introduced, a connection between the shapes of written words associated with shapes and objects begins to form, usually with a child's own name or CVC words, such as cat and dog.
Reading starts with a love of books, hearing stories from baby days read by a variety of people is rich stimulus and fosters an early love of the written word. Reading starts with pictures, picture books are a fundamental stepping stone of reading, being able to interpret a story, 'read' the pictures, comprehend the 'text' albeit spoken word and to talk about books, to feel the pages, turn the pages, have favourite stories and books.
When a child starts school they are surrounded by words, on displays, on posters, on doors, in the sand, painted, traced, on labels. Shapes of words begin to take on meaning, from recognising their own names, and family members ,'Mummy', Daddy' to commands, 'stop', 'entrance', children begging to 'read'. Books are everywhere in school and children are encouraged everyday to pick up books to continue to foster that love of 'reading. Reading is not phonics, phonics is one method used to decode new words, not all words are decodable. In this school we learn phonics everyday through 'Read,Write Inc' (link is below) this connects letters, or groups of letters, with common sounds so new words can be broken down and blended together. This is taught alongside sight vocabulary of key words, starting with the most common and CVC words (consonant, vowel, consonant). It is essential to remember that love of books and reading comes first along side hearing books being read, interpreting pictures and asking questions followed by learning shapes of words that carry meaning and supplemented by phonics.
Children start in reception by bringing home books to share with you at home, both colour banded and phonic books, at their own individual level, and library books. It is so important that you share/ hear your children 'read' these at least 3x a week. Research shows that those children supported at home in learning to 'read' will foster a love of and curiosity of the written word.
There is a phonics check in year 1, which is a statutory government initiative, we still believe that a love of the written word/ books is the most important factor in developing life long readers.