Engaging Parents in Phonics – My top tips!

Parental involvement is key to developing enthusiastic, fluent, confident readers who have a real love of reading!  However, this is often easier said than done.  Here are some of my top tips for engaging parents.

Firstly, remember that as an adult you move away from using phonetics to read and spell so Phonics is often a very abstract idea for most parents.  Let’s be honest, if we weren’t taught it during our teacher training, would we have a clue what it was?  No!

Also, remember that for parents who do understand Phonics, they will not know how your school do it!  So always start by ensuring parents understand what it actually is and how their child will be taught it!

Top tips –

  • Host a parents event which explains the basics of Phonics and how you teach it at your school.  Cover things like articulation of phonemes, content of the phases and progression, the structure of a session, key terminology that is used with the children and lots of examples of activities and resources that are used.  A good hook to get parents in is to start this event with a class assembly or a model lesson.  One of our teachers also very kindly volunteered to deliver a sample lesson with his class to the parents first.  This really helped the parents understand what I was talking about.  I have uploaded the parents event slides to my tes account should you want to download it, it’s free!
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  • Follow this event up with a ‘workshop‘ type session, where the parents can participate (with their child) in the typical games and activities from a lesson, you could even do a mock lesson!  We also invited parents into the classroom, a few weeks later, to participate in a real Phonics lesson with their child.
  • Host ‘come read with me‘ sessions for parents, based around phonics.
  • Have ‘phonics/reading champions‘ every week.  For children who complete set phonics/reading challenges at home or read a certain number of times a week.  They could be a ‘champion’ which could come with certain perks or rewards.  We have reading champions and they get a raffle ticket entered into the class box.  Then at the end of the half term, one ticket is drawn from every box and the winners go to Waterstones to choose a book to buy and keep.  Just be aware of children who may not have the home support to complete this challenge though!
  • Stay and Play’ sessions are always popular, why not try a Phonics stay and play session.  Parents love to see how ‘play’ based learning can actually be.
  • ‘Take home packs’ – If you have the funds, why not create Phonics packs that have ideas and games that can continue the learning at home.  Look out for more ideas on these packs but you could include games resources such as cross the river, bingo or snakes and ladders.
  • Upload lesson videos, games and links to your school website or invest in subscriptions like Reading Eggs or Phonics Play.
  • Parents Evening’ – talk about Phonics at every opportunity you get, just like other areas of learning.
  • Keep parents up to date on learning through weekly newsletters or add a section into your whole school one!
  • I haven’t tried this one yet, but you could have parent ambassadors for Phonics or Early Reading.  Creating a support network for other parents.

Let me know how you get on with these ideas and I would love to hear yours!

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