Phonics is the relationship between sounds and letters and is useful for understanding the English language and how it can be read and written. At Thames View, we teach phonics using a systematic synthetic phonics approach called ‘Letters and Sounds’. Our phonics teaching is done daily. All phonics sessions include a mix of activities to develop the three main skills of decoding (sounding out and blending to read), encoding (spelling: segmenting words into their sounds and choosing the best letters to represent those sounds) and handwriting to support correct letter formation.
Useful phonics vocabulary
Your child will learn and use this vocabulary at school—especially as they progress in their knowledge and understanding of phonics.
Phoneme – the smallest unit of sound.
Grapheme - the sound written down.
Blending - joining the sounds together to form a word.
Segmenting - chopping the sounds up so it can be spelled.
Grapheme – phoneme correspondence is matching sounds with the letters that represent them.
Digraph - two letters that make one sound
Trigraph - three letters that make one sound
CVC word—a word made up of a consonant—vowel—consonant e.g cat Letters and Sounds
How is phonics taught in school?
Phonics is taught from nursery and can be seen in reading and writing activities across the curriculum. In addition, the following activities focus specifically on phonics:
Discrete phonics sessions—these are short 20 minutes daily lessons which reinforce previous phonics learning, teach new graphemes/phonemes and help the children to apply their phonic knowledge in reading and writing.
Reading - Children are encouraged to use their phonic skills to decode words they are stuck on when reading. We have a large number of phonic based reading books which enable the children to practice recognising and using specific graphemes as they read.
All phonics sessions include a mix of activities to develop the three main skills of decoding (sounding out and blending to read), encoding (spelling: segmenting words into their sounds and choosing the best letters to represent those sounds) and handwriting to support correct letter formation.
"Leaders have planned in detail what they want pupils to learn .... For example, in reading, leaders have carefully planned the teaching of phonics. " OFSTED 2020
In Reception, the children learn the 44 main sounds heard in the English language. They use these sounds to read and write simple words and sentences. They also learn some of the ‘tricky’ words that cannot be sounded out (e.g. the, to, you).
In Year 1, the children revisit the 44 main sounds and learn different ways to spell these (e.g. the long ‘o’ vowel sound can be spelt as o, oa, o-e and oe). The children also continue to learn many more tricky words and develop a more adventurous vocabulary. At the end of Year 1 all children take the national phonics screening check to assess their ability to use their phonics knowledge.
Year 2, phonics consists mainly of learning to spell and read more complex words and use them to write extended sentences. The children will also continue to revise and embed their phonics from the earlier years. The main aim at this age is for children to become more fluent readers and more accurate spellers.
In Key Stage 2, children will move onto the main spelling programme. There will be revision of Key Stage 1 phonics in Year 3, and where appropriate targeted intervention for those children who have yet to master the phonics program.
What do phonemes sound like?
One of the most important aspects of phonics is that the sounds are articulated correctly. Most sounds are much shorter than we imagine.
How can I help my child at home?
Reading - As always, we would encourage you to hear your child read as the first priority. However, when reading encourage your child to use their phonics to decode words they get stuck on.
Read to your child – especially rhymes and poetry which help children learn the sounds of the language.
Use the internet - There are a number of free interactive websites that have phonics games which reinforce learning at school.
http://www.busythings.co.uk – the activities are separated by age.
http://www.jollylearning.co.uk – a great website to help with
http://www.mrthorne.com – his tricky word videos are brilliant!