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Reading at ISB 📚

This article aims to:

  • Provide an overview of your child’s reading journey at ISB​

  • Share research and evidence related to the importance of reading​

  • Share ideas and strategies you can use at home to help support and promote reading

Foundations of Reading 🧱

Seen below on the Scarborough Reading Rope are the elements that make a skilled reader. The importance we place on talk and vocabulary build solid foundations in language comprehension (seen in blue on the rope). In addition, it is essential all children also develop word recognition skills (seen in orange on the rope). It is the combination of these elements that lead to mastery.

The importance of: Talk​ 🗣️

Research has shown that children can’t learn language effectively from TV, videos on your phone, or computer games, even if they are ‘educational’. (Kuhl 2007 et al). ​

Talking in your home/family/native language is incredibly important. Children need a solid, fluent, foundation in one language to be able to learn other languages. If English is not your first/family language, then don’t try to talk to your children predominantly in English. They will pick up English and begin to learn it when they start school with us.

Learning more than one language doesn’t cause problems, it actually has a positive impact on a child’s ability to focus, multi-task, solve problems, memory, and future employment opportunities.

Talking together - face to face - is much more helpful for children’s speech, language and communication development.​

The importance of: Vocabulary​ 💬

Vocabulary size is a convenient proxy for a whole range of educational attainments and abilities – not just skill in reading, writing, listening and speaking, but also general knowledge of science, history and the arts. ​Hirsch Jr, E. D. (2013). ‘A Wealth of words. The key to increasing upward mobility is expanding vocabulary’.

A study in 1990s by researchers Hart & Risley, followed the linguistic lives of 43 families in the USA. This included children aged between 7 months and 3 years over a period of 30 months. Between birth to 48 months, parents in some families spoke 32 million more words to their children than parents in other families. That talk gap between the ages of 0-3, explained a vocabulary and language gap at aged 3 of over 30 million words. It also transpired into a reading and maths gap at aged 10. ​Horowitz, R., & Samuels, S. J. (2017). The achievement gap in reading: Complex causes, persistent issues, possible solutions.

The ‘British Cohort Study’ compared the vocabulary skills of thousands of 5 year olds across a range of social groups, from 1970 into their 30s (1990s). Children with restricted vocabulary at 5 years were more likely to be poor readers as adults, experience higher unemployment rates and even have more mental health issues. ​Law, J., Rush, R., Schoon, I., & Parsons, S. (2009). ‘Modeling developmental language difficulties from school entry into adulthood: Literacy, mental health and employment outcomes’.

🪢 Reading is interwoven into each element of school life, from Pre Kindy to Year 6 and beyond.

The importance of: Phonics 🔤

Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), a global reading test carried out in a multitude of languages, found that of all the factors, the strongest correlation is between children who have a solid grounding in phonics (and pass phonics screening in Y2) and those who are then secure readers by the end of their Primary school education.

Phonics and Early Reading at ISB​ in Early Years: Pre-Kindy, Kindy & Reception​

Language Development

Throughout Early Years, there is constant exposure to a range of stories, songs, rhymes, images and wordless books. Developing the ability to talk and listen well. In addition, use of class libraries, reading aloud, weekly poems and storytelling form an important part of the curriculum. We aim for children to live the language & have a deep conceptual understanding.​


Daily Phonics (moving into Reception)

Reading sounds, words, captions and sentences takes place daily with every child & individually, during phonics sessions. Reading is modelled as part of each phonics lesson. In Phonics, children are taught the letter sounds/names and how to blend to read words and 'tricky words' are introduced. Home readers are read with staff as often as possible to encourage fluency. Children start with a picture book to talk about. When appropriate, books are matched to their phonics ability. ​

Continuing to build solid foundations and master reading skills​ Reading in KS1 (Y1-2)​

Daily phonics continues throughout Yr1 and Yr2

Regular small group guided reading: These sessions allow students to read aloud, and target specific needs including phonics, decoding and fluency, comprehension and vocabulary. Planned teacher questioning, resources and tasks allow children to make progress in areas for development and stretch those secure students to mastery.​

Access to the KS1 library ensures each student develops a love of reading, independently accessing books based on their wider interests. Throughout Year 1 and Year 2, we continue the development of oracy​, imagination and creativity​ and create a strong culture of reading​.

The Importance of: Guided Reading 📚

Whole class Guided Reading

These are carefully chosen texts which are age-appropriate, ensuring exposure to rich vocabulary, language and age-appropriate themes. Fluency, intonation, a love of reading as well as thinking about reading is modelled by the teacher. Our students are encouraged and supported to articulate their thinking about reading, including paired or group discussions about reading and using oral teacher questioning. In addition, written activities are given periodically to support understanding and apply what has been read.​

Small group guided reading

Targeted and teacher-led; a form of intervention and an opportunity for children to focus on reading for fluency and comprehension needs. Levelled book banded books are used in Years 3 & 4 to ensure the relevant progression of skills. Moving into Year 5 and in Year 6 most children are free readers. These targeted reading sessions are at the level/need of each student in the group and therefore, student grouping will be fluid and according to needs. In addition to the focus on fluency, these sessions also focus on comprehension skills, vocabulary and language and link to learning in English writing. ​

📚 Access to the Whole School Library

📚 Daily access to corridor libraries

📚 Culture and community of reading

📚 Celebrating reading

Celebrating Success 🙌

In upper Primary, our mean average Standardised Age Score exceeds the expected global average, with a large percentage of students scoring significantly above world averages.

Why is reading so important?​ ⚠️

Reading aloud to children from day one is incredibly important. And making it part of the daily routine helps children to cultivate good reading habits and a love of reading. ​It can have a lasting impact on a child’s life. These children tend to have higher vocabularies and often become frequent readers themselves. This process builds relationships and bonds between children and the adults who read with them.​

Considering some of the recent decreasing school performance in some schools around the world, due to the constantly increasing time spent on social media platforms and gaming, getting your child to read for just twenty minutes every day can make a huge difference. ​

School closures and the increase of screen time have had a huge impact on reading, cognitive development as well as general communication skills between children.​ Both reading and writing work to improve children's communication skills. That’s why if you’re looking to become a better writer, many of the suggestions that you come across will include reading more. Reading can open your eyes, literally and figuratively, to new words. ​

Reading is a neurobiological process that works & builds your brain muscles. As you do so, you can help to slow down cognitive decline and even decrease the rate at which memory fades. Scientists at the University of California, Berkley USA, have even found that reading reduces the level of beta-amyloid, which is a protein in the brain that is connected to Alzheimer’s. ​

Reading 20 minutes before bed can alleviate insomnia​. Modern life is stressful. Reading may reduce stress more than walking, listening to music or playing games. When people read a really engrossing book it actively engages their imagination, which in turn distracts from daily stresses.​ People who are well read tend to be more empathetic and have higher self-esteem. When we read about other people it introduces the idea that people are human. We’re all different, we have flaws, things are not always perfect and that’s okay.​

When you read a lot, you undoubtedly learn a lot. The more you read, you can make it to the level of being considered “well-read.” This tends to mean that you know a little (or a lot) about a lot. Having a diverse set of knowledge will make you a more engaging conversationalist and can empower you to speak to more people from different backgrounds and experiences because you can connect based on shared information. Some people may argue that “ignorance is bliss,” but the truth is “knowledge is power.” And, the more you read, the more you get to know! ​

A sample of over four thousand people in the UK:

Regular readers for pleasure reported fewer feelings of stress and depression than non-readers, and stronger feelings of relaxation from reading than from watching television or engaging with technology intensive activities​.

Those who read for pleasure have higher levels of self-esteem and a greater ability to cope with difficult situations. Reading for pleasure was also associated with better sleeping patterns. ​Adults who read for just 30 minutes a week were 20% more likely to report greater life satisfaction​.

Billington, J, (2015) Reading between the Lines: the Benefits of Reading for Pleasure University of Liverpool.

How can you continue to support at home?​ 🏠

Pre-Kindy, Kindy and Reception​

  • Talk, talk, talk!​

  • Sing songs & nursery rhymes​

  • Playing with words and language, onomatopoeia and sounds​

  • Utilise any resources such as sound cards, high frequency words, tricky words, word lists and captions which may be sent home. ​

  • Read stories to with your child​

  • When questioning before, during and after reading stories, use a combination of closed and open questions​

  • Encourage your child to retell stories in their own words and anticipate key events in stories​

  • Help them to learn and understand use recently taught or exposed vocabulary​

  • Avoid YouTube videos & screens​

KS1 & KS2​

  • Encourage a consistent approach to behaviour and expectations e.g. 20 minutes of reading at home, each day​

  • Daily home reading, sharing of books, discussions about reading​

  • Facilitate shared book reading at home​

  • Support and encourage your child to set goals, plan, and manage their time, effort, and emotions

  • Create a regular routine and encourage good home reading habits: regular and early bed times facilitate time for shared or independent reading before bed​

  • Consider initiatives/incentives to encourage school holiday reading​

  • Create a culture and community of readers at home – model reading in your spare time​

The Importance of: VIPERS 🐍

VIPERS is an acronym to aid the recall of the 6 reading domains as part of the ISB reading curriculum. They are the key areas which we feel children need to know and understand in order to improve their comprehension of texts.

VIPERS stands for:

🐍 Vocabulary

🐍 Inference

🐍 Prediction

🐍 Explanation

🐍 Retrieval

🐍 Sequence or Summarise

The 6 domains focus on the comprehension aspect of reading and not the mechanics: decoding, fluency, prosody etc. As such, VIPERS is not a reading scheme but rather a method of ensuring that teachers and parents ask, and students are familiar with, a range of questions. They allow the teacher to track the type of questions asked and the children’s responses to these which allows for targeted questioning afterwards.

Resources to use at home:

The Importance of: Home Readers 📔

Home Readers: are books at an appropriate level (including phonologically decodable) that a student takes home to read independently. Choice of book is guided by book band (or Free Readers thereafter) and teacher judgement. Home readers are selected to ensure the student can read to a family member with minimal support as well as engaging and good quality, to promote a love of reading. Home readers are changed regularly and tracked by the class teacher to monitor progression.​

Library Books: are more of a free choice. Library books may not necessarily be at the reading level of the student but are selected to nurture a love of reading. At times, library books may only be accessible if read to a student by a family member.​

*Physical books are used as a priority over digital media. ​


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