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Princes Risborough Primary School

An Academy of the Great Learners Trust



Mrs Zucchi and the team are here to help! Send us your questions and we will post the answers below ...


Q: Regarding teaching sounds from the sound mats - in class they do 'sound of the day', do you also recap the one from the day before? Do children need to write it out? Which sounds should they know by end of YR? 


A: When learning a new sound, we usually do a quick recap of some of the ones already learnt or even a challenge with a timer to go through all of them. The new sound can then be said, maybe written and used in a few words.  Playing games with the new sound and the previous ones is easy to do on the phonics play website.  Look for the current sound when reading too.

It would be helpful to have a solid knowledge of phase 3 for the end of Reception year.  Phase 4 builds on the complexity of the words by including more consonants together and longer words, it also introduces extra ’tricky words’ but no real new ’sounds’.  When a child reads a lot, they will already have seen many of the phase 5 sounds in action and you are welcome to do these if you feel confident of the previous ones.  However there will be revision of phase 3 and progression from there in Year 1 as children show they are confident in their knowledge.  Phase 6 phonics is generally taught to increase fluency and fundamental grammar skills and is usually taught in Year 2.  

12.05.2020 - READING UPDATE

Oxford Owl has free e-books that you can access with the same colour bands as we’ve been working in.  Take a look - and let us know if you have any questions!


How essential is it to have covered all the material from the spring term timetable and the learning packs before starting the summer material on the class pages website?

Pick anything you think your child still needs more practise in, otherwise feel free to move on to the next ideas for learning.  Many of these areas will be covered again to check that foundations are in place when school resumes.  The most important thing is keeping everyone healthy and happy and still keen to learn as we get back to more normality.


How do you use the rhyming strings?

Rhythm and rhyme are part of the enjoyment of early learning and pointing them out in reading, trying out making up funny rhyming strings of your own or even writing down a few that you look up can be fun.


How do you explain the teen numbers and what the tens and ones mean?

Making a home made number line 1-20 with objects is a great idea to get a concept of increasing by one each time - matching it to written numeral.  In class we often use numicon and coloured cubes - keeping the ten constant in colour in one ‘column’ and adding numbers from 1 to 10 in the ‘ones column’ on the right - calling out the numbers as you make different combinations.  You could easily replicate this with 2 ten frames - filling in the one ten frame in full with the child  colouring it in to show that the ten is constant.  Then using loose objects varying from 1 to 10 make different combinations in the other adding them to the constant 10 (1 lot of ten) in the teen number.  Try getting your child to write out the numerals to match to the number of objects as he/she plays with different combinations.  You could even make up the numbers in the second column with jelly tots for example, getting it right would mean a treat :)


How do you teach getting letters the right size as they vary considerably?
It is still normal for size of writing to vary greatly.  Encourage use of large lined paper to guide the learning of consistency but it will come as physical control of small movements of the hand and eye-hand co-ordination matures.  It is still a good idea to use large movements at times like painting or chalking to get the letter formation with more whole arm control and no pressure.  The following template may be useful as well as the link on our website to teach-handwriting-parents.html


A number of parents have asked whether it will be possible to change reading books after the Easter break. At the present time, with the government restrictions in place, we do not think there is any way we can safely change the books - so for the time being please use Bug Club which has lots of books at your child's current reading level. We will be checking regularly and adding more books as needed. Don't hesitate to contact us if you have any queries. 

The Bug Club website is


You might find the below links useful to match books you may have at home to the correct colour reading level.


Q: My child keeps doing some numbers backwards, how do I correct her without her losing confidence or getting frustrated?
How do you teach the high frequency words? Do we need to be rote learning them?


A: It is still really common at this age to reverse numbers and letters.  I wouldn’t draw attention to each one, but periodically ask her to check against a sheet of properly written numbers, to pretend she’s the teacher and spot the difference.  Really praise her for corrections she makes herself.  As she practises the formation correctly with the number formation sheets, it will start to stick.  If it’s a particular number, you could make it the number of the week and make it in various ways - maybe play dough, paint or  chalk at various times.  

It’s a great idea if children get to know the high frequency words by sight, it makes their reading so much easier  - at school we do quick recognition either written on a list or flash cards.  She could write them out herself on cards.
I want to encourage you - don’t feel like you have to replicate school, being mum is much more important than being teacher… there is so much on everyone’s plate in these strange times and keeping happy and safe is the most important thing.  Children are so resilient and will catch up on learning when we all get through this.