The Volute System


In the early years of reading, a child will come across words that are completely made up of letters or groups of letters for which there is a sound, e.g. 'd' in 'dog', 'sh' in 'shop','nk' in 'pink, 'ee' in 'feet' and many more. The phonic way of learning to read is to lock sounds together to make words, such as 'h-o-p' ['h' as in 'hat'-'o' as in 'on'-'p' as in 'peg']. English speaking children need to learn these sounds. They are the foundation 'blocks' upon which reading grows and the child's language can flourish. About 40% of words encountered by children in the early years of reading are formed purely of these sounds.

Phonic Reading Level Assessment

Buying an early reading book for a child is difficult when his or her attainment level is unknown. The Volute Readers series comes with a Phonic Reading Level Assessment at the back of every book.

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Words in Colour

  • Many words of the stories in are in colour. These are phonic words. The child needs to sound the letters or groups of letters, separately. 
  • The words in black letters should be read without sounding. These are sight words, part-phonic or phonic words from a higher level. 
  • By repeating sounds in this ‘hearing-seeing’ way, much is learned and reading confidence grows.
  • To teach children the letter names 'a' [ay], 'b' [bee], 'c' [see] in the traditional manner is for the most part and for too many a meaningless, abstract exercise. For example, the word 'cat' when sounded with the letter names, instead of the letter sounds, becomes 'see-ay-tee' or 'seeaytee'. How does the child get from 'seeaytee' to 'cat'? The answer is, 'with difficulty'! The child has to make an abstract adjustment, to convert an idea of the mind [letter names], which bear no relationship to the sound of the word, into the shapes on the page, which is difficult, confusing and an enormous barrier to reading. This is the point at which, some children ‘switch off’ from learning to read: indifference grows, upset gathers and confidence is put to flight.
  • Sounds on the child's lips, matching letter shapes, make a far more powerful and lasting bond in the mind and have a far greater meaning to the majority of children than letter names ever did, or ever will!

Phonic Spelling Lists

Regular phonic spelling tests, for those children able to group letters into words, will improve reading progress considerably. At the end of each story are lists of phonic words that are applicable to that Level.

Phonic Spelling Lists

  • Approximately 60% of the language encountered by early readers is made up of ‘part-phonic’ and ‘sight’ words. 
  • Following the phonic tests are part-phonic and sight word spelling lists of the most common words encountered by early readers. These will, in addition, widen the vocabulary and improve confidence.