I can't believe my little girl has just turned 5! She's nearly finished her reception year now and of course one of the major challenges for her (and us) has been learning to read. Of course at the moment reading is taught mainly by phonics - a decision that some have seen as controversial. I have to say that although of course phonics is an important part of learning to read I am not convinced it is the panacea that it has been made out to be.
Firstly I have found that instead of seeing the word and reading it phonics means that children see the word as individual letters and it therefore takes much longer to read a word or a sentence as it involves saying each sound and blending them together. I have also found it very hard to explain the words that are not phonetically correct- of which we have absolutely loads in the English language.
Therefore I have been doing a bit of internet research about other methods of teaching literacy and I've become quite interested in "high frequency words". There are about 150 high frequency words in the English language - learn just 50 of these and you will be able to read 25% of any text. Learn all 150 and you should be able to read 50% of any text.
I really like this idea and as my daughter has a great memory I think this will work really well for her combined with phonics knowledge. But I wanted to make learning these words fun and add a bit of interest to what is essentially a memorising task. So I have created a word jar for her. I printed off the high frequency words and cut them up into individual words and put them into a jam jar. I then filled the jar with a mixture of sweets and treats.
The idea is that we pick 5 words from the jar each day to practice and as a reward she gets to pick a treat! It seems to be working well at the moment and I'm hoping we will see real steps forward with her reading.