What is phonics?
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 (s, a, t)
- 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
- It’s important that you use the pure sound when pronouncing sounds with your child as this will support them in hearing the sounds when segmenting and blending simple words.
- When we teach the children a new sound we also teach them the letter name for this sound.
- We refer to two letter sounds as a digraph. The children will be taught that a digraph is two letters, one sound.
- We refer to three letter sounds as a trigraph. The children will be taught that a trigraph is three letters, one sound.
Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised
Here at Fernvale, we teach phonics using the “Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised” programme. Children have a phonics lesson every day, which is at least 20 minutes long.
Phonics is taught in six phases:
Children do a lot of preparation to prepare them for phonic work. Children ‘tune’ into sounds, patterns and rhymes around them. It’s important to sing songs and nursery rhymes.
Phonic work begins.
- Children learn 19 sounds – s a t p i n m d g o c k ck e u r h b f ff l ll ss
- They learn to blend the sounds together to make words.
- They learn to segment the sounds to spell words.
- Children begin to read VC (two letter) words – at, in, on
- CVC (3 letter) words – man, dog, sat
- They read “tricky” words – words which you just have to learn – the, why, come
Phonic work continues
- Children learn another 25 sounds – j v w x y z zz qu ch sh th ng ai ee igh oa oo ar ur ow oi ear air ure er
- They continue to read CVC words and practise blending and segmenting as in Phase 2
- They read more “tricky” (Common exception) words.
No new sounds are introduced in this phase.
- Children continue to practise spelling and reading words containing adjacent consonants – went, lost, stop.
- They read polysyllabic words – thunderstorm, chimpanzee, champion.
The children learn about sounds which are spelt in more than one way – ee (in seen) and ea (in seat), ou(in round) and ow (in down).
- They are encouraged to broaden their knowledge of sounds for use in reading and spelling.
- They will become quicker at recognising sounds which have more than one letter.
- They will become better at blending the sounds to make words.
- They read more “tricky” words.
The children will be able to read hundreds of words, doing this in three ways:
- They will be reading words automatically if they are very familiar.
- They will learn about tenses, suffixes, prefixes
- Their reading will become increasingly fluent, but spelling is known to lag behind. This phase addresses this.
Common Exception Words
These are words which the children will come across many times during their reading. They need to read these quickly on sight. They are taught alongside the sounds in each of the phases.
What can you do at home?
- Ask your child what sounds they have been learning at school.
- When reading with your child encourage them to use sounds to break down the word and then blend them together to read it.
- Read with your child and read stories to them each day. Other family members can help too!
- Word games such as “I Spy” can be an enjoyable way of teaching children about sounds.
- Encourage your child to read words all around them such as your shopping list, signs and adverts.
- We encourage parents to use pure sounds as it helps greatly with spelling and reading.
Support on helping with Little Wandle at home can be found here:
We offer all parents an invitation to a phonics and reading meeting as their child starts at Fernvale, here we model how we teach the skills of blending and segmenting and show how parents can continue the learning at home.