Phonics is a method for teaching children how to read and write an alphabetic language. It is done by demonstrating the relationship between the sounds of the spoken language, and the letters or groups of letters or syllables of the written language.
Children can use phonics knowledge to “sound out” words. [Children] learn to recognise how sounds are represented alphabetically and identify some letter sounds, symbols, characters and signs. Phonics is essential for children to become successful readers and spellers/writers in the early years of schooling and beyond.
The children at our school take part in daily phonics session which is planned specifically for where they are on their phonics journey.
This is reinforced through other curriculum areas eg reading about a topic, role play mark-making or when modelling writing.
Children also take part in regular guided reading sessions using decodable phonics books which match their phonics understanding.
LETTERS AND SOUNDS
We are following Government guidance which refers to 6 phases of Phonics teaching (The Letters and Sounds programme). The six phase teaching programme focuses on high quality phonics work. The intention is to ‘equip children who are 5 with the phonic knowledge and skills they need to become fluent readers by the age of 7.’ By the end of Year Two children should have completed phase 6. The teacher assesses which phase the children should be working on, and appropriate teaching is planned for.
The aim of Phase One aims to develop children’s listening and speaking skills as preparation for learning to read and spell with phonics. Children explore and experiment with sounds and become familiar with rhyme, rhythm and alliteration. Parents can play a vital role in helping their children develop these skills by encouraging them to listen carefully and talk extensively about what they hear, see and do. This continues throughout their Primary Education.
Phase 2 introduces grapheme/phoneme (letter/sound) correspondence. Children learn that words are constructed from phonemes and that phonemes are represented by graphemes. They begin with a small selection of common consonants and vowels (s, a, t, p, i, n) and begin to put them together to read and spell CVC words (consonant vowel consonant). E.g. c-a-t s-i-t p-a-n
Phase Three teaches children one grapheme for each of the 44 phonemes in order to read and spell simple regular words. Children link sounds to letters, naming and sounding the letters of the alphabet. They hear and say sounds in order they occur in the word and read simple words by blending the phonemes from left to right. They recognise common digraphs (1 sound 2 letters e.g. th) and read some high frequency words. E.g. sh-e-ll b-oa-t t-r-ai-n
Phase Four teaches children to read and spell words containing adjacent consonants. Children will be able to blend and segment these words and apply this skill when reading and spelling. They move from CVC words (pot, sheep) to CVCC words (pots) and CCVC words (spot) and then CCVCC words (spots). They will also explore polysyllabic words (shampoo, helper).
Phase Five teaches children to use alternative ways of pronouncing the graphemes and spelling the phonemes already taught. For example they will learn that the phoneme ‘ai’ can be spelt ‘ai’, ‘ay’ ‘ey’ and a_e’. They will also learn that ‘c’ can be pronounced ‘c’ in coat or ‘c’ in city.
Phase Six teaches children to develop their skills and automaticity in reading and spelling, creating ever increasing capacity to attend to reading for meaning. They apply phonics knowledge to recognise and spell and increasing number of complex words.
Blending for Reading
To learn to read and spell children must be able to smoothly blend sounds together. Blending sounds fluidly helps to improve fluency when reading. Blending is more difficult to do with longer words so learning how to blend accurately at an early age is imperative.
Segmenting to Spell
Segmenting is a skill used in spelling. In order to spell the word it is necessary to segment the word into its constituent sounds. E.g. ran r-a-n.
Tricky words are words that cannot be ‘sounded-out’ but need to be learnt by heart. They don’t fit into usual spelling patterns. When learning these words it is important for children to start with the familiar sounds and then notice the ‘tricky’ bits.
High Frequency Words
These are words that recur frequently in much of the written materials young children read and need to write.