What is phonics?
Phonics is the system of ‘blending’ sounds together to read, and ‘segmenting’ sounds to spell. They are linked skills that are taught together. You may hear your children use some vocabulary that you are not familiar with that they have learnt in their phonics lessons.
Is the smallest unit of sound that we use in the English language. A phoneme can be made up of one letter as in the alphabet sounds – s, a, t, p, i, n etc, or two letters (a digraph) as in sh, ch, th, ay, ar, or three letters (trigraphs) as in air, ear, ure. Phonemes can not be broken down into separate sounds.
Is the way we spell a phoneme. A phoneme may have only one grapheme for example ‘b’. Or may have several different spellings –for example or can be spelt ‘or’ in torn, ‘aw’ in claw, ‘au’ in naughty or ‘ore’ in more.
Are made up of two or three phonemes blended together quite quickly as we learn to read. Examples are sc, sm, bl, pr, str
Short Vowel Sounds
Are the vowels saying their sound as ‘a’ in c a t.
Long Vowel Sounds
Are the vowels saying their name as ‘ay’ in day, ‘oa’ in boat or ‘igh’ in night.
Phonics is one element of reading
In Foundation Stage we use a system called “cued articulation” to help children learn the sounds of speech; it links sounds to actions and we have found it helps children learn the sounds more quickly. You can find out more about cued articulation by following the link below.
When teaching phonics we use a government produced scheme of work called” Letters and Sounds”. It aims to build children's speaking and listening skills and to prepare children for learning to read by developing their phonic knowledge and skills.
It is a detailed and systematic programme for teaching phonic skills for children starting by the age of four, with the aim of them becoming fluent readers by age seven.
Letters and Sounds is broken down into 6 phases which are worked through from 4 year olds in foundation stage to 7 year olds in year 2. See the table below for detail.
Phonic Knowledge and Skills
|Phase One(Foundation Stage)||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(Foundation Stage) up to 6 weeks||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.
Set 1 - s, a, t, p,
Set 2 - l, n, m, d,
Set 3 - g, o, c, k,
Set 4 - ck, e, u, r,
Set 5 - h, b, f, ff, l, ll, ss
|Phase Three(Foundation Stage) up to 12 weeks||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.
Set 6 - j, v, w, x
Set 7 - y, z, zz, qu
ear, air, ure, er, ar, or, ur, ow, oi,
ai, ee, igh, oa, oo
ch, sh, th, ng.
|Phase Four(Foundation Stage) 4 to 6 weeks||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(Throughout Year 1)||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.
ay, ou, ie, ea, oy, ir, ue, aw, wh, ph, ew, oe, au, a-e, e-e, i-e, o-e, u-e.
Alternative pronunciations for:
i, o, c, g, u, ow, ie, ea, er, a, y, ch, ou
|Phase Six(Throughout Year 2 and beyond)||Working on spelling, including prefixes and suffixes, doubling and dropping letters etc.|