Reading awareness check

Families and schools, working together to support reading

Families play a key part in supporting their children to read. Reading to and with your child for at least 10 minutes a day will help your child develop reading skills, but it is just one part of learning to read.

In the early years of school, your child will be taught the letters of the alphabet, what the letter names are called and the sounds the different letters and letter combinations make when you say them. Teaching children the relationship between the speech sounds they can hear and the way the sounds are written down is called phonics. Your child’s teacher will be able to tell you which letters and sounds the class is covering in lessons each week for you to practice with your child at home.

Why is phonics important in learning to read?

While phonics is just one part of learning to read, alongside phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension, studies have shown phonics to be the most effective way of teaching children to read words accurately. Understanding how the sounds in spoken words are written in text is critical to being able to read and to spell words.

Spoken language is made up of lots of different sounds. In English, there are only 26 letters of the alphabet, but these letters represent 44 sounds. These 44 sounds can be written in lots of different ways. The goal of teaching phonics is to enable readers to work out or ‘decode’ written words by sounding them out and blending from left to right, and eventually being able to read words easily.

Does my child understand phonics?

It is important to identify children who need extra support in learning to read early so teachers and families can plan for any specific support they may need. When this is done early, children have the best possible chance to improve their reading skills.

To help identify students that need support there is a Phonics Check that Year 1 teachers can do with their class, and a reading awareness check for families to do at home.

What is the teacher administered voluntary online Phonics Check?

The teacher administered online Phonics Check is a quick and easy way to check the phonics knowledge of Year 1 students at school. The check is just one part of a literacy program for your child. The online Phonics Check is freely available for teachers.

The check will help the teacher to identify how well children can ‘decode' written words by listening to how the child sounds out the letter and letter groups and blends these sounds together from left to right to make a word. Some of these words in the check are made up.

The reading awareness check

The reading awareness check is a simple observation check list that families can do at home. The check has been made so families can get a sense of how their Year 1 child is developing in learning to read in English.

The awareness check lists some of the skills you might see your Year 1 child doing at home. If you are concerned about your child’s progress in reading, you might like to discuss the check with your child’s classroom teacher.

The child’s classroom teacher is best placed to advise on how to support the development of literacy skills at home. Teachers will be able to draw on a range of resources from the Literacy Hub that will reinforce learning that is underway in the classroom.

Download the reading awareness check

Follow-up strategies

There are also other ways to for you to support your child’s literacy skills at home. Discover what some of the reading skills look like and some activities to support reading on the Literacy Hub.