From a very early stage, children develop an awareness of different sounds in spoken language. They develop an understanding that spoken words are made up of different sounds (phonemes) and they learn to match these phonemes to letters (graphemes). This is Phonics, it is about children knowing how letters link to sounds (graphemes to phonemes).
At a glance, Phonics is:
Children use this phonics knowledge when they are reading and writing. This system has been shown to be a quicker and more efficient way for children to learn to read the words on a page fluently and accurately. This also helps them greatly with their spelling.
At Dorothy Barley Infant School we follow the phonics programme ‘Letters and Sounds’
These words each have three phonemes (separate sounds). Each of these phonemes is represented by a grapheme. A grapheme may consist of one, two, three or four letters. We refer to these as sound buttons.
Letters and Sounds
Letters and Sounds is divided into six phases with each phase following closely from the last.
Phase 1 (Pre-school)
Children should learn to:
- Show an awareness of rhyme and alliteration;
- Distinguish between sounds in the environment/phonemes;
- Explore and experiment with sounds and words;
- Discriminate speech in words
Children should learn to:
- use common consonants and vowels;
- be able to blend and segment to read/ spell simple c-v-c words;
- begin to learn ‘tricky words’ that cannot be segmented;
- Understand that words are constructed from phonemes and that phonemes are represented by graphemes.
In this phase children will practice what they have learned in Phase 1. They will also be taught the phonemes (sounds) for a number of letters (graphemes), which phoneme is represented by which grapheme and that a phoneme can be represented by more than one letter, e.g. ll as in b-e-ll.
VC and CVC words
C and V are ‘consonant’ and ‘vowel’. VC words are words such as am, at and it (words made up of a vowel and then a consonant). CVC words are words such as cat, rug and sun (consonant, vowel, consonant). Words such as bell and tick also count as CVC words – although they have four letters, they only have three sounds. For example, in the word bell:
b = consonant e = vowel ll = consonant
Now the children will be seeing letters and words, as well as hearing them. They will be shown how to make whole words by pushing magnetic or wooden letters together to form little words, reading little words on the interactive whiteboard, and breaking words up into individual sounds which will help with their spelling. These will be simple words made up of two phonemes, e.g. am, at, it, or three phonemes, e.g. cat, rug, sun, tick, bell.
‘Tricky words’ are words that are made up of unusual spelling patterns and often cannot be sounded out. The only way these words can be read and spelt correctly is by learning them and having plenty of practice.
In Phase 2 the children will also learn several tricky words: the, to, I, go, no.
The purpose of this phase is to:
- Teach more graphemes, most of which are made up of two letters, e.g. ‘oa’ as in boat;
- Practice blending and segmenting a wider set of CVC words, e.g. fizz, chip, sheep;
- Learn all letter names and begin to form them correctly;
- Read more tricky words and begin to spell some of them;
- Read and write words in phrases and sentences.
The number of tricky words is getting larger. These are so important for reading and spelling: he, she, we, me, be, was, my, you, her, they, all.
In this phase the children will continue to practice the graphemes (letters) and phonemes (sounds) they have already learned. They will also learn how to read and write CVCC words – tent, damp, toast, chimp. E.g. in the word ‘toast’, t = consonant, oa = vowel, s = consonant,
t = consonant.
They will also learn to read and spell CCVC words – swim, plum, sport, cream, spoon. E.g. in the word ‘cream’, c = consonant, r = consonant, ea = vowel, m = consonant.
They will be learning more tricky words and continuing to read and write sentences together.
Said, so, do, have, like, some, come, were, there, little, one, when, out, what
Phases 5 and 6
As your child moves onto Phases 5 and 6 they will learn that most sounds can be spelled in more than one way. For example the 'f' sound can be written as 'f' as in fan, 'ff' as in huff or 'ph' as in photo.
This helps to develop knowledge of spelling choices. They will continue with this spelling work into Year 2 and beyond.
They will learn that most letters and combinations of letters (graphemes) can represent more than one sound. For example, the grapheme 'ea' can be read as 'ee' as in leaf or 'e' as in bread.
This supports their reading development. Good phonics knowledge and skills help your child to read words fluently and spell words, but they need to understand what they are reading.
Phonics Screening Test – Year 1
The National Phonics Screening Check is a statutory assessment that was introduced in 2012 to all Year 1 pupils and is a quick and easy way of checking your child’s phonics knowledge. It comprises of a list of 40 words; some real and some nonsense. The test assesses phonics skills and knowledge learnt through Reception and Year 1. In the Summer term of Year 1, parents will be invited to a separate Parents' Information Evening to provide more detailed information of how this assessment is carried out.