Phonics is a way of teaching children to read quickly and skilfully.
They are taught how to:
- - Recognise the sounds that each individual letter makes
- - Identify the sounds that different combinations of letters make - such as ‘sh’ or ‘oo’ and
- - Blend these sounds together from left to right to make a word.
Research shows that when phonics is taught in a structured way – starting with the easiest sounds and progressing through to the most complex – it is the most effective way of teaching young children to read. It is particularly helpful for children aged 5 to 7.
Almost all children who receive good teaching of phonics will learn the skills they need to tackle new words. They can then go on to read any kind of text fluently and confidently, and to read for enjoyment.
Children who have been taught phonics also tend to read more accurately than those taught using other methods, such as ‘look and say’. This includes children who find learning to read difficult, for example those who have dyslexia.
How can you help your child at home?
It is important for a child to learn lower case or small letters rather than capital letters at first. Most early books and games use lower case letters and your child will learn these first at school. Obviously you should use a capital letter when required, such as at the beginning of the child's name, eg. Paul.
When you talk about letters to your child, remember to use the letter sounds: a buh cuh duh ... rather than the alphabet names of the letters: ay bee see dee ee. The reason for this is that sounding out words is practically impossible if you use the alphabet names. For example, cat would sound like: see ay tee which does not sound like ‘cat’.
The following link shows how the Phonemes (the smallest unit of sound in a word) should be articulated clearly and precisely:
There are a number of things that parents/carers can do to support early reading development:
- Let your child see you enjoy reading yourself
- Immerse your child in a love of reading
- Make time for your child to read their school book to you
- With all books, encourage your child to ‘sound out’ unfamiliar words and then blend from left to right rather than looking at pictures to guess the word
- Regularly go over the phonemes (sounds) with your child so you can support them with the ones they struggle with
One of the key strategies we use to support the children is by asking them to add sound buttons/lines (underneath words to help them identify the sounds they need to read, for example:
You can make this fun by using different writing materials like paint, crayons, felt tips as well as tracing the word on glitter or sand trays.
- By the end of Reception, children should be able to read and spell a wide range of CVC words using all letters from the Phases 1, 2 and 3 sections of Letters and Sounds (Appendix 2). This includes less frequent consonant digraphs, some long vowel phonemes, short vowels and double letters. Learners that are more confident will be working on segmenting and blending adjacent consonants in words and applying these skills in reading and spelling. (Phase 4)
- By the end of Year 1, children should be able to segment and blend adjacent consonants in words and apply these skills in reading and spelling. They should know the alternative graphemes, pronunciations and spellings set out in Phases 4 and 5 of Letters and Sounds and use these for reading and spelling.
- By the end of Year 2, children should recognise phonic irregularities, and have become more secure with less common grapheme-phoneme correspondences. They should be able to apply their phonic skills and knowledge to recognise and spell an increasing number of complex words. (Phase 6)
Here is a breakdown of the different phases: