What is Phonics?
Phonics is a way of teaching children to read quickly and skilfully.
The children are taught how to:
· recognise the sounds each individual letter makes
· identify the sounds that different combinations of letters make such as ‘sh’ or ‘oo’
· blend these sounds together from left to right to make a word
· Children can then use this knowledge to ‘decode’ new words that they can hear or see. This is a very important step in learning to read.
At Kingsway Primary School we follow ‘Letters and Sounds’ which is a phonics programme published by the government to teach phonics systematically through six different phases.
Children have phonics sessions every day. These normally last around 30 minutes and are fast, fun and multi-sensory. The children are given opportunities to apply their new skills in all areas of the curriculum. The more opportunities they are
given, the more confident they will become with these skills.
Children explore and experiment with sounds, differentiate between sounds and become familiar with rhyme, rhythm and alliteration.
There are seven aspects that the children will explore:
· Environmental sounds
· Instrumental sounds
· Body percussion
· Rhythm and rhyme
· Voice sounds
· Oral blending and segmenting
This phase continues throughout their primary education
Children will be taught that words are constructed from sounds, or phonemes.
They will be taught the knowledge of a small selection of common consonants and vowels (which usually begin with s, a, t, i, p, n).
They will then begin to put them together to read and spell CVC words such as tap, pin, sat.
Children link sounds to letters, naming and sounding the letters of the alphabet. They hear and say sounds in the order they occur in the word and read simple words by blending the sounds together from left to right. They recognise common digraphs (two letters making one sound e.g. ‘sh’ or ‘ch’) and read some common words.
Children will be able to blend and segment sounds in words and apply this skill when reading and spelling.
Children will move from CVC words to longer words containing more sounds.
Children will learn the alternative ways to pronounce letters (e.g. the ‘c’ in coat and city). They will recognise an increasing number of common words automatically and use their phonic skills as the main approach to reading and spelling.
Children will apply their phonic knowledge to recognise and spell an increasing number of complex words. They will also read an increasing number of words independently and automatically and be able to read for meaning.
You may also hear your child talk about tricky words. These are words which cannot be sounded out, for example said, have, little and you. These are taught as sight words or tricky words.
The Phonics Screening Check
The phonics screening check is a government strategy to complete a quick and easy check of your child’s phonic knowledge at the end of Year 1.
How does the check work?
· Your child will sit with his/her teacher and be asked to read 40 words aloud.
· Your child may have read some words before and others may be completely new.
· The check normally takes a few minutes to complete and there is no time limit.
What are ‘non-words’?
The check will contain a mix of real words and ‘non-words’.
You may hear your child describe them as nonsense or alien words as they are very familiar with these during phonics sessions.
Non-words are important to include because words such as ‘vap’ or ‘jound’ are new to all children. They cannot read the non-words by using their memory or vocabulary so they have to use their decoding skills and this allows teachers to check their ability to decode.
After the check
School will let you know about how your child had done in the screening check at the end of the summer term. Children who have not met the standard in Year 1 will have the opportunity to retake the check in Year 2. School will also let you know what support will be put into place to support your child.
Helping your child with phonics and reading at home
Phonics works best when children are given plenty of encouragement and learn to enjoy reading and books.
Parents play a very important part in this and there are lots of ways you can help.
- ENCOURAGE YOUR CHILD TO JOIN IN AND DO THE ACTIONS. THIS CAN BE DONE WALKING HOME FROM SCHOOL, DRIVING THE CAR OR WASHING THE DISHES!
- SING SONGS AND NURSERY RHYMES AT HOME TOGETHER.
- READ SOMETHING WITH YOUR CHILD – IT DOESN’T NEED TO BE A BOOK! COMICS, MAGAZINES, FOOTBALL PROGRAMMES, TEXTS, EMAILS OR A CATALOGUE ARE A GREAT ALTERNATIVE.
- MAKE TIME FOR YOUR CHILD TO READ EVERY DAY. WE KNOW HOW BUSY IT CAN BE AT HOME SO REMEMBER GRANDPARENTS AND OLDER BROTHERS OR SISTERS CAN HELP TOO!
- WORD GAMES LIKE ‘I-SPY’ CAN ALSO BE A FANTASTIC WAY OF TEACHING CHILDREN ABOUT SOUNDS AND LETTERS. YOU CAN ALSO ENCOURAGE YOUR CHILD TO READ THE SHOPPING LIST OR ROAD SIGNS WHEN YOU’RE OUT IN THE CAR.
- TALK ABOUT WHAT THEY ARE READING. TALK BEFORE YOU START, TALK WHILST YOU ARE READING AND TALK AFTER YOU HAVE FINISHED. TALK, TALK TALK!
After reading it may be useful to ask your child some questions or have a ‘book talk’. Book talk is a really useful way of seeing how much the children have understood when reading.
Here are some examples of questions you could ask before, during and after reading.
· Can you point to the title?
· What do you think this story will be about?
· What does the blurb/writing on the back tell us?
· What is happening in the pictures?
· What has happened so far? Is it what you expected to happen?
· What might happen next? How will it end?
· What sort of character is ___? Are he/she friendly/mean/nice, etc?
· Did you like the book? Why? (Encourage children to develop an opinion and explain their reason)
· What was your favourite part? Why?
· What was the most interesting/exciting/scary part?
Can you find it?
· What sort of character was___?
· What happened in the story?
· What did that character do ___ (give a situation or event from the story)
Useful Phonics Websites
There are lots of websites that can give you more information or some games to play with your child.
Have a look at the following:
www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies (especially the Alphablocks programmes and games)
www.mrthorne.com (lots of games and videos to show how sounds are pronounced)
APPs are also a fantastic way to get children learning Phonics.