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Reading in Year 1 (age 5–6)

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Reading skills

You'll probably hear about different methods of teaching and practising reading such as:


Children will continue to learn to read using phonics. Children will still be learning letter sounds for reading and spelling, but these will become more complex. For example, they will look at the same sounds but with different spelling patterns, such as long vowel sounds, e.g. ai, ay, a-e. It’s valuable to help them with these sounds at home when you are reading together and reinforce the letter sounds from the previous year so that children start to automatically apply their phonic skills when reading unfamiliar words.

Children are also expected to recognise some tricky words by sight. They will continue to build up a bank of tricky sight vocabulary and some schools may send home lists of these words so that they learn them off by heart.

In England, when children are 6 years old (in the Summer term of Year 1) they sit a statutory phonics screening check to ensure they are making good progress in the basic phonic skills.

Find out more about phonics here >.


Children also draw on their own experiences (the language and stories they know), the setting of the story and the pictures to help them understand what they are reading about. Comprehension skills are vital in making sense of what the words say and interpreting meaning.

The teaching of reading

The teaching and practice of reading will be more teacher-led now than in the early years, so whole class teaching or group or guided reading really begin to feature more strongly. Individual reading practice might be with the teacher, teaching assistant or a parent helper.

Reading schemes (Reading programmes)

A reading scheme is a structured and levelled set of books written specifically to ensure that your child can take steady and progressive steps towards reading success. There are many reading schemes available to schools. Some schools use only one reading scheme for the first few years and others use more than one. Most schemes are very phonic-based at the beginning.

Your child will probably now be regularly bringing books home from a reading scheme or from a selection of schemes. Sometimes these books will be colour coded in boxes so that your child can choose a book at the right level of difficulty to ensure the appropriate level of challenge and success.

Reading at home

As parents, you can make the biggest difference to your child’s success as a reader by encouraging your child to read as much and as widely as possible at home. Reading with your child every day, even just for 10 minutes, can make all the difference to their progress. Most reading schemes have notes for parents to help you support your child. Find out more in our Advice for parents section or take a look at our free eBooks.

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