This is the first year I've worked (TA) in a Reception class so I am no expert on phonics/teaching children to read, but I am confused by the approach my teacher is taking.
We are doing Jolly Phonics in class and the children have just covered the phase 2 sounds. However, we have sent home books since the first couple of weeks of term that the children cannot possibly decode. Teacher encourages lots of guessing words from the pictures and the books support this (e.g.. This is my bike/This is my skateboard on every page with a picture of a bike or skateboard).
Some of the children are on level 3 or 4 books now, but they are guessing from the pictures and have to have every new word given to them as they can't work out "castle" or "wheels" for themselves yet. Therefore they are not having any chance to put into practice what we have been learning in class - sounding out and blending words.
Another one saying this is not what should be happening. Unfortunately some heads do not like/understand phonics and are reluctant to buy the necessary resources despite the governments match funding. I've also worked with several teachers who are unwilling to change the way they teach reading.
. . . but all should not be lost. Most children DID learn to read even using the old systems. It just probably needs more effort on the part of the child and the teacher/TAs.
And at one time as a child I was in a class of 45 with one teacher, before TAs were even 'invented'.
You, and your parents could find this helpful:
An inexpensive and easy to use book, that can encourage children with reading, spelling and writing, and really help them to understand Phonics, is reviewed in the MN Book Reviews section. Just search ‘Phonics’.