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Phonics explained

LETTERS AND SOUNDS : PHONICS

What you need to know about phonics at home

This page should have all the answers you are looking for about how to say each sound, which terminology to use and what is taught when. If you have any questions about anything at all, please speak to your child’s class teacher.

What is Phonics?

Phonics consists of teaching the skills of segmenting and blending, the alphabetic code and an understanding of how this is used in reading and spelling. Simply put, it is hearing the sounds in a word and writing them down to spell it correctly. When reading, it is sounding out a word and sticking the sounds back together to read the whole word.

Is there an assessment?

Yes, there is a National Phonics Screening in Year 1 where the children have to read 20 real words and 20 ‘alien’ words. This is conducted in a very child-friendly way by the class teachers. At every parents evening you will be informed of your child’s progress in Phonics and at the end of Year 1 the school report will inform you if they have passed or not. If your child does not pass in Year 1 they will be given additional support throughout Year 2 to enable them to pass the next year.

What will my child learn this year?

Phases 1 , 2 and 3 are taught within Reception. Phases 4 and 5 are taught in Year 1. All phases are then revisited as part of Year 2, alongside phase 6 to develop the children’s spelling understanding.

How do I know if my child is saying the sounds correctly?

It is important to enunciate the sounds correctly and try to encourage your child not to add on the /uh/ sound, for example saying /t/ not /tuh/. Any member of the team will be able to support you with the correct production of sounds, please just ask for a demonstration! Phonics workshops will be run during the school year to support with this.


KEY TERMINOLOGY

Phoneme

A phoneme is the smallest unit of sound in a word.

Feel/watch how your mouth changes when you say a word, every time your mouth moves/changes shape you are saying a new phoneme, e.g. b-r-i-ck

There are 44 phonemes in the English language

Grapheme

Graphemes represent how a phoneme is spelt. Each grapheme is a unit of sound regardless of how many letters there are.

e.g. The word b-r-igh-t is made up of 4 phonemes; the igh phoneme is represented by 3 letters but only makes one phoneme.

A grapheme can represent more than one phoneme e.g. C = cat and city

Diagraph

Two letters, which makes 1 phoneme. e.g. duck

A consonant diagraph contains two consonants

e.g.          sh             ck             th             ll

A vowel diagraph contains at least one vowel

e.g.          ai              ee            ar              oy

Split Diagraph

A diagraph in which the two letters are not adjacent e.g. make

a-e is a unit of sound (diagraph)- it is being ‘split’ by the constant k.

Trigraph

Three letters, which make 1 phoneme. e.g. light

Oral blending

Hearing a series of spoken phonemes and merging them together to make a spoken word without corresponding to any graphemes (no text is needed). e.g. teacher says “b-u-s” children say “bus”

Blending (links to reading)

Recognising the letter sounds in a written word and merging them together in the order they are written to pronounce the word. e.g. c-u-p = cup

Segmenting (links to writing)

Identifying the individual phonemes in a spoken word and writing them down to form a word.

IS THERE ANYTHING I CAN DO AT HOME TO HELP?

To ensure your child is regularly applying their Phonics skills at home, please ensure that you complete the daily reading challenge so your child can earn as many badges as possible for regular reading (see letters page). It will also be helpful to practice reading and spelling the key words contained in each week’s learning letter (see year group page). Below, please find useful links to other games and activities to support your child at home with phonics.

 

CEOPS