What we do for children experiencing difficulties in reading

Many children experience some areas of difficulty during the course of their education, and all staff at Gidea Park Primary School are committed to finding ways of supporting children to access and make progress in their learning. Listed below are some of the ways your child might be supported if they are experiencing difficulties in reading:

A structured reading programme

This may comprise graded readers from a low-access/ high-interest scheme and will incorporate opportunities for oral and written comprehension. Children may use the Toe-by-Toe scheme, which is a structured daily programme - once the sound of a phoneme has been taught using the ‘polynons’ (nonsense words), these rules are then applied to any multisyllabic word.  We also use Nessy, which is an online program that supports children who would benefit from more practice and consolidation of phonics/reading sounds. The programme has a game-based approach to promote engagement.

Paired reading with a reading ambassador

Paired reading is a research-based fluency strategy used with readers who lack fluency. In this strategy, students read aloud to each other. When using partners, more fluent readers can be paired with less fluent readers, or children who read at the same level can be paired to reread a story they have already read. Paired reading can be used with any book, taking turns reading by sentence, paragraph, page or chapter.

Precision Teaching

Precision Teaching is a motivating teaching method which is very effective for children struggling to acquire automatic skills in learning letter sounds and recognising whole words. In Precision Teaching, the learner's daily performance in reading a set number of sounds or words in a limited time frame is recorded - a process which is known to increase motivation. A summative record tracks the rate of progress over time and as children’s skills improve, so they are introduced to new sounds/words.

Pre-learning and over-learning

Both pre-learning and over-learning aim to boost a child’s confidence. Pre-learning in reading is when children are introduced to new topic words in the days or weeks prior to the main class teaching, so they may recognise them when introduced as part of a lesson. Over-learning gives children additional opportunities outside of the main lesson to practise and develop reading key words, helping them on the pathway towards independence.

Further strategies

  • Visual cues including access to picture dictionaries, word lists and flashcards
  • Plenty of time to copy from the board
  • Different colours to divide work into sections, use of bullet points, bold larger text, sub-headings, etc.
  • Highlighting key words for reading comprehension, in both the questions and the text
  • Seating towards the front of the class with a clear, uninterrupted view of the interactive whiteboard
  • Use of ICT programs such as Clicker for writing/spelling or SpellingFrame for practising spelling rules

How parents/carers can help

  • Regular reading aloud practice to an adult is vital for success. Make a daily routine and stick to it; but take breaks to avoid frustration.
  • Take time to find your child’s reading preferences. There are many graphic books that contain text and pictures that are aimed at older as well as younger children. Choose books that are inviting and look enjoyable.
  • Experiment with different coloured overlays that reduce reading stress. These are readily available on websites such as Amazon. Alternatively, use a ruler to expose one line of text at a time.
  • Use your fingers to break words down into their sounds e.g. f/oo/t. Determine which sounds your child struggles with (e.g. ‘oa’) and practise the sound together before starting to read. Spot words that contain the sound.
  • Share the reading. At first the child may read a sentence, then the adult.  This can be extended to a paragraph each, a page each and a chapter each.
  • Take time to discuss the content of the book so that the sole focus is not on decoding.
  • We do get many enquiries in school regarding testing for dyslexia. While Havering schools do not test for dyslexia, some parents do decide they wish to go down the private route and pay for a test themselves.