St Mary's

Catholic Primary School

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Reading in EYFS

The early reading skills your child will learn whilst in Early Years are an essential foundation for starting school. The focus of reading is on sharing stories, songs, and rhymes together and building talking and listening skills. It is crucial for children to develop a life-long love of reading. Reading consists of two dimensions: language comprehension and word reading. Language comprehension (necessary for both reading and writing) starts from birth. It only develops when adults talk with children about the world around them and the books (stories and non-fiction) they read with them, and enjoy rhymes, poems and songs together. Skilled word reading, taught later, involves both the speedy working out of the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and the speedy recognition of familiar printed words.


Key reading skills: 

Linking sounds and letters

Children will be getting used to letter sounds by playing lots of fun activities. They may also be beginning to learn how the speech sounds (known as phonemes) in the words we say are represented in written form by a letter or letters (known as graphemes).


Helping tell a story

Storytime is an important part of any day in EYFS! Children have plenty of opportunities to hear and enjoy stories together. They are also encouraged to retell stories in their own words. This all helps build talking and listening skills, which are essential for early reading.


Singing songs and rhymes.

Hearing and learning songs and nursery rhymes is an important part of early reading. It helps children to explore sounds and to begin learning story language and story structures.


Getting ready for reading at home

There are lots of fun and easy ways to help your child get ready to read. Here are some ideas.


1. Talk about books, words, and pictures

Before you start reading a book, talk about the title and the pictures on the cover (front and back). Ask your child what they think the story might be about. After reading, ask your child what they liked about the story.

Try asking ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions about the story and the pictures. For example: ‘How did the bear get across the river?’ ‘Why was the fox cross?’


2. Listen to (and sing!) songs and rhymes

Singing songs and nursery rhymes helps your child to hear the sounds in words and build up a bank of favourites they know well. Play with words and sounds and make up nonsense rhymes too. Encourage them to join in. See if they can do the actions in time with the rhymes.


3. All join in

When you are reading to your child, ask them to join in with bits that are repeated. For example, ‘Run, run, as fast as you can! You can’t catch me, I’m the gingerbread man!’. Traditional stories, like The Gingerbread Man, often have repeated phrases, and children will love doing the voices!


4. Play rhyming games

Rhyming games are fun and will help your child start to hear and understand speech sounds. Try ‘I spy’ when you are out and about. Have fun with rhyming words – for example, can your child think of a word that rhymes with ‘cat’?

In all games and activities, make sure you pronounce speech sounds clearly. Try to make them as short as possible – for example, the letter m has a short /m/ sound, not a continuous /mmmmmmm/ sound. Try not to add an extra sound onto the speech sound either (for example, the sound is /m/ and not /m-uh/).


Ready to Read? 

Children in Reception will bring reading books home. Which they will practice reading both in school and at home. 


How can I support my child’s reading?


When helping your child with their reading, make sure you choose a time when they’re not too tired. Remember that learning to read will take time – be sure to stay patient as your child acquires this new skill!

  1. Don’t read the book to your child before they read it to you – they may just remember the words and not get any real practice.
  2. If your child can read the story well, that doesn’t mean the book is too easy. They must get plenty of practise reading words containing the letters and sounds they have learnt. Celebrate their achievement with them – reading success is important in building their confidence and enjoyment!
  3. If your child struggles with a word, ask them to ‘sound out’ the word by saying the individual sounds in the word and then blending the sounds together (for example, ‘c-a-t – cat’).
  4. Don’t let your child struggle too much – if they are really stuck with a word, sound it out for them quickly so that they can hear the word. Plenty of praise when they succeed will help them to keep going.
  5. Don’t ask your child to use the pictures to guess the words. Pictures can provide great opportunities to talk about what is happening in a story, but it’s important that your child doesn’t become dependent on them to read.
  6. Read back each sentence or page to your child to ensure they have understood.
  7. When your child has read the book, talk about it together.


As well as your child reading to you, it’s important that you read stories, rhymes, and non-fiction books to your child. This will increase their vocabulary, develop their comprehension, and encourage the habit of reading – which is a great habit to have!