The impact of lockdown on children at the beginning of their reading journey

Lockdown was hard for everyone, but particularly so for children and teachers in Early Years Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1, especially with regard to phonics and reading. Teachers worked so hard to ensure their children had access to appropriate resources and parents did their very best to be teachers. However, despite everyone’s best efforts, many children had six months without regular access to a structured progression of reading books. This loss has impacted not just the children’s reading skills, but also their belief in themselves as readers. Kate Ruttle, co-creator of Shine: Targeted Interventions for Primary, discusses the impact of lockdown on children at the beginning of their reading journey.

The impact of lockdown on phonics

The teaching of phonics has changed since most of today’s parents were at school, and although many schools and educational publishers posted information online, many parents didn’t feel entirely confident to support their children’s phonics leaning. They may have secured the alphabet but are much less likely to have confidently practised vowel and consonant digraphs and trigraphs. This means that some children starting in Year 1 are re-learning the early digraphs and many in Year 2 are back at the beginning of learning different ways of representing the same sound.

And yet, end-of-year national assessments are still looming. So, what can you do to help the children to make rapid progress?

Shine Reading Skills: Targeted Interventions for Primary can help you.

How can Shine help to boost reading confidence?

Confidence is particularly critical in the first few years of learning to read. Shine helps you to walk alongside your children, giving them confidence and teaching them skills.

In every unit, the first text (Text A) is shared: you read and consider the questions together, and talk about how you might find the answers. This process helps the child to feel less exposed and gives them the confidence to work alongside you to find the answers.

In Key Stage 1, the second text (Text B) in each unit is a close mirror of the first: it has the same text structure, uses much of the same vocabulary and many of the same sentence structures. This means that children who are familiar with the first text, because they have read it with you, should build their confidence when they read the second text – and of course, if you want to read the text aloud to them once before they begin working on it, that’s fine too. The questions for Text B also mirror the questions for Text A, so children can use exactly the same strategies for finding the answers that you showed them in Text A. If you like, you can remind them of what you found in Text A to find the answer.

Shine for pinpointing interventions

For each text, there are three different sets of questions (retrieval, vocabulary, inference). Feel free to work through all the sets of questions, giving children more opportunities for independent work as they become more familiar with the text. Think of it as a seesaw: in the beginning, you’re doing most of the work, but by the time they have completed the unit, the unit will be working with more confidence and enjoyment and will be building a useful bank of skills for comprehension.

Creating Shine

Creating texts for Shine Years 1-3 was a process of constant revisiting and revising – as it was when writing the texts for PiRA and Cracking Comprehension. For Shine, we needed pairs of texts that were very closely related and which could be used to answer different types of questions, but above all we needed texts that might engage children enough that they wouldn’t mind reading and rereading them. That’s a tall order. But behind each text is a child – or a group of children – I have taught.  Sometimes things the children did and said are at the root of the stories; other times, the non-fiction texts address a specific child’s interests: Samir loved helping, but didn’t always get it right; Lian was a keen gardener without a garden; Charlie was full of questions about how things grew and where creatures lived; Lucy loved experiments, mixing this and that together… Each text is dedicated, in my mind, to the child, or children, who inspired it.


Shine: Targeted Interventions for Primary is a 3-step solution designed to help you seamlessly assess understanding, identify knowledge gaps and deliver targeted individual and group intervention activities for the areas of weakness demonstrated in your pupils’ diagnostic test results. Find out more about Shine today.

Kate Ruttle



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