Help your child read aloud

Helping your child read a book from a reading scheme. 

1. How do the newer reading scheme book bands/stages (e.g. Floppy’s Phonics) correspond to the Letters and Sounds phases?

Book Band/Stage

Letters and Sounds Phase

When the L & S phases are usually taught in school



Reception (age 4-5):

Autumn Term

1+ & 2


Reception (age 4-5)

Autumn Term


2 & 3

Reception (age 4-5)

Spring Term


3 & 4

Reception (age 4-5)

Summer Term

4, 5, 6


Year 1 (age 5-6)

2. If my child gets stuck on a word, should I help them to sound it out?

Yes. Help them by prompting each letter sound (phoneme), e.g. s, a, m, sh, th, ng, ur, oi, oo. So ‘moon’ would be m-oo-n

3. How do I help my child read a tricky (non-decodable) word?

Some words cannot be easily sounded out and are known as non-decodable ‘tricky words’. Your child will be learning these at school and possibly with you at home (e.g. 5 new words a week). If your child comes across a tricky word they have not learnt to read yet, help them to read the parts they can (like the initial sound) and then read the tricky part for them, letting them know that it’s a ‘tricky’ word.

4. Why do some reading scheme books contain words that do not correspond to the ‘Letters and Sounds’ phases?

Many of the reading schemes were written before the DfES published ‘Letters and Sounds’ in 2007. Some of the newer schemes however, do directly correspond to the Letters and Sounds phases such as Floppy’s Phonics (the sounds being covered by the book are usually listed on the back cover).

5. Should I stick to one reading scheme or provide a selection of reading scheme books for my child to read?

Children sometimes show a preference for a particular reading scheme (as they enjoy the repetition and familiar characters). However, children can get used to reading books written in a particular style, therefore it is often a good idea to vary it up a little. This also includes reading both fiction and non-fiction books.

6. How do I know if a book is too easy or too difficult?

Your child’s school should supply you with the correct level book for your child and most schools use a reading scheme to help children learn how to read.

It is generally accepted that your child should be reading books with 90% accuracy (9 out of 10 words read correctly) in order to get the most from them. Reading scheme books are carefully levelled so that children can read them easily enough to enjoy the book and not give up with frustration.

However, when children are first learning to read (particularly in book band/stages 1- 4), every word they read is a big deal and a huge step. Really praise your child for their efforts with each word/sentence that they read. Remember to also be patient and not hurry your child along. Give them a chance to work out the sounds and blend them together. Try these strategies with your child if they need encouragement to read:

  • Read alternate pages or alternate sentences
  • Help them to sound out the phonemes in the word they are struggling with, then speed up the reading of the phonemes, so that your child can ‘hear’ the word,

e.g. b-a-t

  • Allow them to choose which book they wish to read from a choice of two
  • Get out their reward card and stickers and let them choose which sticker they are going to get at the end
  • Move onto another book, if they really don’t like the one you are reading

7. Why does my child phonetically sound out every word, even words they have read many times over or has just read?

In the beginning stages of reading, children need a lot of exposure to words before they instantly recognise them (because they have read them before). Usually when reading book band/stages 1-4, children rely heavily upon phonetically breaking down the word (particularly as this is what they are being taught at school). It is very common for children to tackle each word as if they have not seen it before. Be patient, as your child’s reading confidence will grow over time. In time, they are likely to start using a bigger range of strategies, such as reading words from memory, using picture clues, or reading on to use context clues and infer what the difficult word might be.

8.  What strategies should I use when helping my child read aloud?

The full range of read aloud strategies are contained within the HSC Reception Reading Guide, but some useful pointers include:

  • Use your finger to point to each word as your child reads
  • Re-read the sentence for your child, if they have taken time to break down each word (this is so that they do not lose the meaning of the sentence)
  • Be patient and allow your child time to sound out the phonemes. Be careful not to jump in too quickly and tell them the word.
  • Praise your child for their efforts and ask them how well they think they read. Make a specific, positive comment about the way that they read (e.g. “Wow! You read the words with the sound ‘oi’ in it really well! ” or  ”It was really good how you tried to sound out some of those longer words – excellent!”

9. How often should I hear my child read aloud?

HSC recommends that children read aloud every day for optimum reading progress. The quantity of reading scheme books supplied a week by schools do vary and it is usually difficult for schools to supply more than 4 a week. Some parents therefore may wish to supplement the books they receive from school with externally loaned reading scheme books. For example, from Alternatively parents can encourage reading of non-scheme books, but usually it is harder to match these books to the exact reading level of your child. Towards the end of Reception, more children find it easier to read non-reading scheme books.