How we teach Phonics at St Chad's
At St Chad's we want every child to be successful. We know that the sooner children learn to read, the greater their success at school. We use a phonics programme called Letters and Sounds. This is a high quality phonics resource published by the Department for Education (DfE) in 2007. It aims to build children's speaking and listening skills in their own right as well as to prepare children for learning to read by developing their phonic knowledge and skills. It sets out a detailed and systematic programme for teaching phonic skills for children starting by the age of five, with the aim of them becoming fluent readers by age seven.
We start teaching phonics in Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 2. Some children in Year 3 and 4 may continue to be taught phonics if this is needed.
Our phonic sessions are typically for 30 minutes. During this time, we group children by their reading progress and re-assess children every half-term so we can place them in the group where they’ll make the most progress. We provide extra booster sessions or after school clubs for children who need a bit of a boost to keep up.
How do we make phonics easy for children to learn?
Letters and Sounds Phonics depends upon children learning to read and write sounds effortlessly, so we make it simple and fun. The phonic knowledge is split into two parts.
First we teach them one way to read and write the 40+ sounds in English. We use pictures to help, for example we make ‘a’ into the shape of an apple, ‘f’ into the shape of a flower. These pictures help all children, especially slower-starters, to read the sounds easily.
Children learn to read words by sound-blending using a frog called Fred. Fred says the sounds and children help him blend the sounds to read each word.
Then we teach children the different spellings of the same sounds, for example, they learn that the sound ‘ay’ is written ay, a-e and ai; the sound ‘ee’ is written ee, e and ea. We use phrases to help them remember each sound for example, ay, may I play, a-e – make a cake?
We teach them that there are ‘tricky’ words that do not follow a regular pattern and need to be recalled visually by sight.
What Are Phonics Phases?
Phases are the way the Letters and Sounds Programme is broken down to teach sounds in a certain order.
At the same time whole words that cannot be broken down easily, (we call “tricky words”) are taught to the children.
Phonic Knowledge and Skills
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.
(Reception) 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.
Phase Three(Reception) 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.Readingcaptions, 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.
(Reception) 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.
(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.
(Throughout Year 2 and beyond)
Working on spelling, including prefixes and suffixes, doubling and dropping letters etc.
What are “Tricky words”?
Tricky words are words that cannot be ‘sounded-out’ but need to be learned by heart. They don’t fit into the usual spelling patterns. In order to read simple sentences, it is necessary for children to know some words that have unusual or untaught spellings. It should be noted that, when teaching these words, it is important to always start with sounds already known in the word, then focus on the 'tricky' part.
What are High Frequency words?
High frequency (common) are words that recur frequently in much of the written material young children read and that they need when they write.
What do the Phonics terms mean?
Phoneme: The smallest unit of sound in a word, e.g. c/a/t, sh/o/p, t/ea/ch/er.
Grapheme: A letter or group of letter representing one sound, e.g. sh, igh, t.
Clip Phonemes: when teaching sounds ,always clip them short ‘mmmm’ not ‘muh’
Digraph: Two letters which together make one sound, e.g. sh, ch, ee, ph, oa.
Split digraph: Two letters, which work as a pair, split, to represent one sound, e.g. a-e as in cake, or i-e as in kite.
Trigraph: three letters which together make one sound but cannot be separated into smaller phonemes, e.g. igh as in light, ear as in heard, tch as in watch.
Segmentation: means hearing the individual phonemes within a word – for instance the word ‘crash’ consists of four phonemes: ‘c – r – a – sh’. In order to spell this word, a child must segment it into its component phonemes and choose a grapheme to represent each phoneme.
Blending: means merging the individual phonemes together to pronounce a word. In order to read an unfamiliar word, a child must recognise (‘sound out’) each grapheme, not each letter (e.g. ‘th-i-n’ not ‘t-h-i-n’), and then mergethe phonemes together to make the word.
Mnemonics: a device for memorising and recalling something, such as a hand action of a drill to remember the phoneme /d/.
Adjacent consonants: two or three letters with discrete sounds, which are blended together e.g. str, cr, tr, gr. (previously consonant clusters).
Comprehension: understanding of language whether it is spoken or written.
How do we ensure children can read every book?
During KS1 children are heard read individually daily. During their reading sessions we give children books we know they can read using their sound blending skills. Before they read the story, they sound out the names of characters and new words, practice reading any of the ‘tricky’ words, and tell them a thought-provoking introduction to get them excited about the story.
Then, the children read the story two to three times: first to focus on reading the words carefully; then to read fluently with comprehension and understanding. We talk about the story together for example, how characters might be feeling and why. By the time your child reads the story to you at home, they will be able to read it confidently with expression.
How do we teach children to spell confidently?
We teach children to spell using ‘Phonic Fingers’: we say a word and then children pinch the sounds onto their fingers and write the word, sound by sound. Children are encouraged to see spelling patterns in words; play, may, day, say, ray. They also practice writing a target word in a dictated sentence.
How parents can help their children learn to read at home?
Read a bedtime story to your child.
Share books with your child. We recommend that you visit the local library in South Norwood to choose books together. Talk about the pictures and the content of these stories. There is some really good advice about how to make bedtime story-time fun on http://www.ruthmiskin.com/ parents
Listen to your child read the storybooks we send home.
Your child will bring home a reading book they have just finished reading in their group. They will be able to read this book confidently because they have already read it two or three times. Please do not say “This book is too easy!” Praise your child for how well they read it – celebrate what a great reader they are. They’ll sometimes bring home previous stories they have read too. Re-reading stories develops their fluency on every reading. There’s more good advice on how to listen to your child read on; www.ruthmiskin.com/parents
Please attend any phonics workshops that you are invited to.
We run these for Reception and Year 1 parents. There are also short film clips for parents to enable you to support your child to use phonic skills when reading; www.ruthmiskin.com/parents
This video has been created to outline sounds used when teaching Phonics. To watch this video, please click on the play button below.