How unique is our system for teaching reading?

This week, Huili Nursery Hangzhou was very busy. At the beginning of the week, we warmly welcomed three nursery heads from Suzhou, Jiangsu Province to visit our nursery. Then, the Early Years Network Meeting was held in Huili Nursery Hangzhou. Heads from 4 nurseries of Wellington College China attended this meeting. About 20 visitors visited our nursery and had a two-day teaching seminar and experience exchanging session this week.

Every visitor saw our achievement over just one year. Meanwhile, the visitors also brought us fresh educational research and learning experience. We are very delighted to establish good learning partnership with other nurseries to support each other and learn from each other. In the long process of education, we need to open our mind to learn from outside and to cooperate with others to go further and further. As educators, we need to bring the most advanced education philosophy and education experience to pupils. Now, let’s see the reading plan for nursery pupils made by Ms. Sarah, Literacy Lead of Huili Nursery Hangzhou.

The system we use at Huili Nursery Hangzhou for teaching reading is designed for our school and our children. It has been created based on extensive research and our understanding of our children, with the aim of creating the best possible reading environment. The core of our reading approach is Read Write Inc. This is the same system used in Huili Primary Hangzhou, Wellington College International Hangzhou and our other sister schools in China. It is a tested method for teaching reading based on synthetic phonics. We have enhanced this system to make it more authentic, joyful and relevant to bilingual learners.

In EY1, the focus is on pre-reading skills, such as songs, listening games and percussion. This is called Phase One. Phase One is made up of seven aspects. Aspects 1-4 are part of daily games when the children start Nursery in August/September. Aspects 5, 6, and 7 tend to be introduced when the children are ready. Aspects 5, 6, and 7 usually start in spring time, but the beginning time differs from class to class and child to child.

Aspect 1: General sound discrimination - environmental; raise children’s awareness of sounds around them and develop their listening skills.

Aspect 2: General sound discrimination - instrumental sounds; develop children’s awareness of sounds made by various instruments and noise makers.

Aspect 3: General sound discrimination - body percussion; develop children’s awareness of sounds and rhythms.

Aspect 4: Rhythm and rhyme; develop children’s appreciation and experiences of rhythm and rhyme in speech.

Aspect 5: Alliteration; the focus is on initial sounds of words, with activities including I-Spy type games and matching objects which begin with the same sound.

Aspect 6: Voice sounds; the aim is to distinguish between different vocal sounds and to begin oral blending and segmenting.

Aspect 7: Oral blending and segmenting; develop oral blending and segmenting skills.

In EY2, the work on Phase One continues, with particular focus on Aspects 4, 5, 6 and 7. When they are ready, the children will be introduced to the Set One sounds from Read Write Inc.

These sounds allow children to start reading simple words quickly. At our nursery we tend to teach words which can be linked to a concrete object wherever possible. These objects are those that are widely seen in the classroom or at home.

In both EY3 and 4, the first period of phonics teaching will typically be used to recap the sounds, fill in any gaps and introduce new children to the sounds. In EY4, children usually learn sounds at a faster pace than those in EY3, because the senior children are more linguistically advanced in their preferred language, which means they tend to acquire a second or additional language more quickly.

In November, EY2, 3 and 4 teachers are expected to make a new assessment of their class. We will look at collected data and plan phonics groups accordingly. In most classes, two (or more) groups will emerge; there is typically a group who need to recap the sounds a second time, and a group who have retained the sounds they have learnt. Within those who have retained sounds, there may be more than one level of ability. The new assessments will allow teachers to further personalise learning.

In the new year, we will start to use RWI reading books in EY3 and 4. Pupils will read the books with their teachers in class, and the pupils will also bring a copy home to practice. We will provide training on this later.

In 2020, our reading approach is expected to evolve slightly as we will have fewer new pupils. Therefore, those returning to EY3 and 4 will have either one or two years of prior English, which means their baseline assessments on phonics programme will be further enhanced. This means that we will group pupils based on their abilities when new semester begins in 2020.