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How to teach my child to read and write

I was a primary school teacher for over ten years, but I focussed on teaching upper primary levels, so generally 8–11-year-olds. When the Covid pandemic hit, lockdown began and my daughter who had just started Reception was suddenly back at home. Soon after that, we made the unexpected decision to move to Japan and my children started at the local Japanese state school.

I had two choices: let my daughter focus solely on learning Japanese or make the bold decision to teach her to read and write in English myself. I chose the latter. I had never taught this age group before, but I was determined to make it a success.

It’s been three years now and I can proudly say that my daughter is nailing it. The hardest part is done, and she has recently started reading and writing in English FOR PLEASURE.

This blogpost outlines six clear steps we suggest you follow. It is intended to support:

  • Parents who are raising their child bilingually and living outside of the UK.
  • Parents who are home-schooling their child.
  • Parents who want to give their child extra support with phonics.

Step 1: What is Phonics?

In the UK, children are taught to read and write by learning phonics. Most of us never learned phonics as a child, so it can initially feel quite confusing for parents. The way we learned was generally through ‘rote’ learning. We were shown words repeatedly which enabled us to learn how to recognise them. Children now follow a structured phonics-based programme. Whilst schools can choose their own programme, it is often taught in six phases which starts in nursery and ends in Year 2.

My first step is for you to listen to our webinar, ‘A Parents’ Guide to Phonics’. It is free and will give you a great introduction to phonics and how it all works.

Step 2: Do I need to cover Phase 1 phonics?

Phase 1 is all about speaking and listening in English. You can cover this phase easily by singing, talking, music etc. Read our blogpost all about Phase 1. You do not need a book to help you with this phase and games can really start from birth!

Step 3: What books will guide me?

We have written several phonics books, which will guide you through the process. They are workbooks to be used by your child, but also include guidance for you, the parent.

Bright Light Phonics

Bright Light Phonics Book 1: This book teaches “Phase 2” phonics. Generally, schools teach Phase 2 in the first term of the first year (Reception) at school, and we have split this book into 12 weeks to match this. However, do not worry if it takes longer for your child to complete this phase, especially if you are raising your child bilingually.

Bright Light Phonics Book 2: This book teaches “Phase 3” phonics. Generally, schools teach Phase 3 in the second term of Reception, and again we have split this book into 12 weeks to match this.

Bright Light Phonics Book 3: This book teaches “Phases 4-5” phonics. Generally, schools teach these phases from the end of Reception and throughout Year 1.

(Not yet released)

NB: Phase 6, which is covered in Year 2, moves on from phonics to spelling, grammar and punctuation. Our phonics books do not cover Phase 6.

Story books: Alongside these books, it is essential that you and your child read story books together. There are lots out there, some specifically written for phonics, and others which are general picture books. If you do read general books together, take care not to confuse your child with sounds and non-phonetic words which they have not learned yet.

Step 4: How do I learn the sounds?

It is vital that you teach your child the sounds correctly. If you don’t, your child will find it difficult to blend sounds together to make words. Our books obviously cannot teach you the sounds as you need to hear them!

You can hear all the sounds in order via our YouTube channel. Subscribe to our YouTube channel to receive updates.

Step 5: How can I make learning fun?

There are so many ways in which you can make learning to read and write fun!

Read our blogposts which include different games and activities for the different stages of learning.


Step 6: Is there a structured programme I can follow?

Yes! Our 12-week structured pre-recorded programme is ideal for children who are just starting to read and write English. It works alongside our book, Bright Light Phonics: Book 1. 

Phonics Programme Part 1 (Phase 2 Phonics)

What can I do next?

Once your child has mastered phonics, they will soon be ready to join our Creative Writing classes! Our classes are online and support children all over the world. We have so many loyal customers and students often complete all our courses throughout the primary school years.

We hope this blogpost has provided you with clear and structured guidance on how to teach your child to read and write in English.

We would really love to hear how you get on, so do drop us an email anytime!


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