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Top tips to get everyone reading- whats all this about phonics?

Updated: Dec 18, 2023

Teaching reading to learners with SEND and complex needs- where do we start?

If you know me or have attended any of my training sessions (and very soon I will be able to say read my book!) you will know I advocate the importance of seeing all learners as readers, in the widest sense. Once we establish this as a foundation, we can start with the process of ensuring every learner has access to an engaging, meaningful, and motivating reading curriculum that is personalised to their needs! So how do we do this and where do we begin?

I recently read a quote on the Talk Sense website that used the analogy of winning the lottery when referring to the importance of teaching emergent literacy skills. They state that if we never make any attempt, by definition, a person has no chance of gaining such skills.

"How do you win the lottery? You purchase a ticket! Sure, there is a remote chance but if you

never purchase a ticket, you definitely will not win."

Tip #1 - Start with what they love! Begin with learners interests, motivators and strengths

Do they love dinosaurs, trains, food, computer games, pop stars, history, wheels or places? Use these alongside whatever approach works, dependent on need this could be whole words, phonics, symbols, objects, technology based approaches embedded in meaningful rich literacy experiences. Check out

Tip #2 - Use successes and confidence gained to develop all aspects of the reading process.

Build on and celebrate skills demonstrated. Create displays to tell others how we read in our class, create collection of own authored books, books we love, build up banks of words or sounds known and share these. Ensure we are all clear about the processes involved in learning to read and why access to literacy is key for all learners. Use these successes to build on learners skills and develop reading, ensure we understand how reading develops and share with all. Make phonics a part of this, teach learners about the sounds in language. Ensure that we provide opportunities to manipulate, play and model blending, segmenting and more!

“Literacy offers…. rich opportunities to be literate through poetry, drama, literature and making their own marks on the world. It also offers many openings to become literate in their communication and emotions.” Flo Longhorn- Literacy For Very Special People 2001

Tip #3 - Make it personal, use photos, personal stories and experiences to bring literacy to life

Explore some of the ideas here!

Tip #4 - Make sure that we are all seen as readers.

Read every day – make this part of your daily routine, ensuring that the text is language rich, fun, and engaging, with opportunities for participation and movement. Sharing our own likes and dislikes, linking with the home environment to find out more from everybody (this includes all of the staff that work within the classroom).

Tip #5 - Be clear of our purpose, ensuring everyone has the opportunity to enhance their understanding of the world around them!

Share the impact that increased literacy engagement has had on outcomes for all learners (record and share using photos, videos of practice and examples of joy demonstrated by learners). Use this to support, coach and develop the knowledge of the whole community including our parents and carers. Make sure this is all based on the science of how reading develops.

Read this-

Book a place on my new live course via zoom to find out more about where phonics fits in

Don’t Forget to make it fun!

Provide a language-rich environment and curriculum with access to multi-sensory learning

opportunities with fun and enjoyment built in from the start. To find out more click below

Feel free to contact me for a free consultation to discuss your needs and how I can help. Happy Christmas everyone, here's to a wonderful New Year!

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