What is Phonics?

There has been a huge shift in the past few years in how reading is taught in UK schools. This is having a big impact on helping many children learn to read and spell. Phonics is recommended as the first strategy that children should be taught when learning to read. Phonics runs alongside other teaching methods such as Guided Reading and Shared Reading to help children develop all the vital reading skills. These strategies will hopefully give children a real love of reading.

Phonics In More Detail

Words are made up of small units of sounds called phonemes. Phonics teaches children to be able to listen carefully and identify the phonemes that make up each word. This helps children to learn to read and spell.

In phonics lessons children are taught three main things:

GPCs

They are taught GPCs. This stands for grapheme phoneme correspondences. This simply means that they are taught all the phonemes in the English language and ways of writing them down. These sounds are taught in a particular order. The first sounds to be taught are s, a, t, p.

Blending

Children are taught to be able to blend. This is when children say the sounds that make up a word and are able to merge the sounds together until they can hear what the word is. This skill is vital in learning to read.

Segmenting

Children are also taught to segment. This is the opposite of blending. Children are able to say a word and then break it up into the phonemes that make it up. This skill is vital in being able to spell words.

Phase

Phonic Knowledge and Skills

Phase One

Activities are divided into seven aspects, including environmental sounds, instrumental sounds, body sounds, rhythm and rhyme, alliteration, voice sounds and finally oral blending and segmenting.

Phase Two

Learning 19 letters of the alphabet and one sound for each. Blending sounds together to make words. Segmenting words into their separate sounds. Beginning to read simple captions.

Phase Three

The remaining 7 letters of the alphabet, one sound for each. Graphemes such as ch, oo, th representing the remaining phonemes not covered by single letters. Reading captions, sentences and questions. On completion of this phase, children will have learnt the "simple code", i.e. one grapheme for each phoneme in the English language.

Phase Four

No new grapheme-phoneme correspondences are taught in this phase. Children learn to blend and segment longer words with adjacent consonants, e.g. swim, clap, jump.

Phase Five

Now we move on to the "complex code". Children learn more graphemes for the phonemes which they already know, plus different ways of pronouncing the graphemes they already know.

Phase Six

Working on spelling, including prefixes and suffixes, doubling and dropping letters etc.

Phonics In School

In School we have a structured phonics programme. We have a whole school dedicated phonics session 4 times a week. All children in school are placed into appropriate phonics groups depending on the phase they are currently working on. This is continually monitored to ensure children develop their phonics at the appropriate level.  Once children have completed the end of Phase 6 they work on developing other key skills in Literacy.

In each session our trained staff deliver a 20 minute phonics session to a small group of children working at the same level. Each session follows a similar layout beginning with a Recap and Review of previously learnt information. Next a new phoneme/ grapheme is taught and then the children are given the opportunity to practice using and applying it.

What Can I Do at Home?

All children should be aware of the current Phase they are working on. Websites such as www.letters-and-sounds.com and http://www.phonicsplay.co.uk/ChildrensMenu.htm have a range of free games and activities related to the individual Phases.

These YouTube videos will help you to practice the way your child is taught their phonemes (sounds) in school

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