Phonics is one method of teaching children how to read and write. Phonics simply means sounds. There are 44 sounds in the English language which we put together to form words. Some are represented by one letter, like 't', and some by two or more, like 'ck' in duck and 'air' in chair. Children are taught the sounds first, then how to match them to letters and finally how to use the letter sounds for reading and spelling. The 44 sounds (phonemes) of the English language, and the way they are written down, are taught one by one.
Synthetic phonics refers to 'synthesising', or blending the sounds to read words. At Newburn Manor we use a national synthetic phonics scheme called Letters and Sounds. ‘Letters and Sounds’ by the Department for Education provides us with games and resources to support our teaching of phonics. It aims to build pupils’ speaking and listening skills, as well as prepare pupils to learn to read, by developing their phonic knowledge and skills. It sets out a detailed programme for teaching phonic skills, with the aim of pupils becoming fluent readers by age seven. This scheme is split into 6 Phases with children working on Phase 1 in Nursery and moving through to Phase 6 in Year 2.
Daily Phonics Lessons
The children in Reception are taught phonics daily in their classroom as part of the whole class or within smaller groups as necessary. In Reception, the children are also taught actions for the phonemes using the Jolly Phonics scheme alongside ‘Letters and Sounds’ which continues to be used in Year 1 where appropriate. This is a multi-sensory scheme which supports children in learning the different phonemes by teaching a picture, a song and an action for each different sound. This is an effective and interactive way for young learners to recall phonemes.
The children in Year 1 and Year 2 (KS1) attend daily phonics sessions either in their own classroom, in one of the other KS1 classrooms or as part of a smaller focused group depending on their level of phonic acquisition. Children are regularly assessed in their progress through the ‘Letters and Sounds’ phases and attend a group that is matched to their current level of skill. Assessment is continuous and children are moved between the groups as they are ready.
Children in Year 3 who still require phonics input have access to phonics interventions. Key Stage 2 class teachers can provide individual pupils with reading scheme books which are phonic-based where they feel necessary. Other pupils in KS2 who are experiencing difficulties with reading or spelling or who may have gaps in their phonic knowledge and skills use the Lexia Programme to develop their skills further. All children across the age phases have access to the Lexia Programme from home.
Letters and Sounds Phases
The order of teaching the 44 phonemes in the English language has been specially developed so that children can start reading complete words as soon as possible.
Activities are divided into seven aspects, including instrumental sounds, rhythm and rhyme, alliteration, voice sounds and finally oral blending and segmenting of familiar words.
Moving children on from oral blending and segmentation to blending and segmenting with letters. Learning 19 letters of the alphabet and one sound for each letter. Blending sounds together to make words eg. c-a-t = cat. Segmenting words into their separate sounds eg. duck = d-u-ck. Children also begin to read simple captions.
s, a, t, p, i, n, m, d, g, o, c, k, ck, e, r, f, u, b, h, l
Learning the remaining 7 letters of the alphabet and the sound for each one. Graphemes such as ch, oo, th are taught discreetly which represent the remaining phonemes not covered by single letters. Children read captions, sentences and questions.
j, v, w, x, y, z, zz, qu, ll, ss, ff, ch, sh, th, ng, ay, ee, igh, oa, oo, ar, or, er, ur, ow, oi, air, ear, ure
No new grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPC) are taught in this phase. Children learn to blend and segment longer words with adjacent consonants e.g. swim, clap, jump, desk, spring, float
Children learn more graphemes for the phonemes which they already know, plus different ways of pronouncing the graphemes they already know.
ai, oy, oo, ie, ei, ea, ue, ir, ew, wh, ph, al, a_e, e_e, i_e, o_e, u_e, oe, eigh, ey, ou, au, aw
Learning common suffixes and spelling longer more complex words. Identifying the difficult parts of some words and finding ways to remember how to spell these.
It must be remembered that phonics is the step-up to word recognition. The automatic reading of all words whether decodable or tricky is the ultimate goal.