Structured Literacy

Literacy at Maungaturoto Primary School

At Maungaturoto Primary School we follow a Structured Literacy Approach to teaching early (foundational) literacy skills. This letter is to give you more information about structured Literacy and the Decodable texts we use to teach reading.

What can you expect from a Structured Literacy Approach?

We are excited to be helping children learn to read using a fun, engaging and evidence based programme. We teach using the Little Learners Love Literacy decoadable books and resources. This is a structured and explicit programme with multisensory activities to reinforce learning.

The programme is carefully sequenced in seven stages to teach children the 44 sounds of the English Language and the principles of the alphabetic code (that each speech sound can be represented by different groups of letters, such as the long vowel sound /i/ as in the words I , sky, pie, ice, cycle and that a letter (or groups of letters) can represent different sounds such as the letter ‘y’ in yes, gym, funny, sky.

We start by teaching the simple code in Stages 1-4. We focus on phonics and phonemic awareness to build the strongest foundations for reading and spelling success. We also focus on building vocabulary and oral language skills to develop equally strong foundations for comprehension and writing.

Did you know that learning the alphabetic code gives children the knowledge to read and spell 84% of ALL words? (Hanna, Hanna, Hodges, and Rudorf, 1966)

What are decodable books?

There are generally two types of levelled books given to beginner readers - decodable (books which require children to read words by sounding out, using letters and sounds that they have been taught) and predictable (repetitive texts which encourages children to look at the picture, use their knowledge of high frequency words and other strategies to ‘read’ the text) The books we use are decodable books and are carefully written to follow our teaching sequence. Children experience success right from the start by sounding out and blending the words in the books using the sounds and letters they have learnt so far. Generally speaking, the structured literacy approach, using decodable texts, is only needed until the middle to the end of Year 3 but as we know all children progress at different rates and some children may complete the stages earlier than others.

An example of a typical early level predictable text

An example of a decodable text featuring some of the first 8 sounds learned

How can you support your child at home?

Reading to your Child

Read many books to your children and talk about what you just read. This is crucial for building vocabulary and comprehension skills. Choosing a quiet time, such as bedtime, can build an easy and fun reading routine.

Play with sounds

Complete the homework sheets sent home to practise what they have been learning at school. Most homework will include saying sounds, blending sounds to read words and breaking words into individual sounds to accurately write words and or sentences. These activities support the development of phonemic awareness (helping the ability to hear, identify, blend, segment, and manipulate speech sounds within words).

At this stage we are unable to send Decodable books home as we only have limited numbers of each text. However, the homework sheets are designed so that by the end of the week, children have basically read all the words found in the books they are reading at school. Remember that this is the beginning of your child’s learning to read journey and, just as when they were learning to walk, your child will need support to build confidence.

Say the Sounds

Say the ‘pure’ sounds without the ‘uh’ sound on the end: for example say ‘lllllll’ rather than ‘luh’. You can listen to the NZ sounds at the link below.

This video was created by Emma Nahna - a New Zealand Speech Language Therapist. It is important to practise the speech sounds with a NZ accent as the vowel sounds are quite different to that of Australia, UK, USA etc.

If you would like more information about our Structured Literacy Programme you can ask your child’s teacher for more information or contact Mrs Cave.