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
- 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
Children can then use this knowledge to ‘de-code’ new words they hear or see. This is the first important step in learning to read.
Children begin to learn phonics in Early years. Once children begin learning sounds, they use this knowledge to read and spell words. The first sounds children learn are: ‘s’, ‘a’, ‘t’, ‘p’, ‘I’, ‘n’. These can immediately be blended for reading to make simple CVC words (consonant, vowel, consonant), e.g. sat, pin, tin, pit. Children then develop segmenting for writing skills; breaking the word into sounds to spell it out.
In our school we teach phonics using the Read Write Inc. This is a scheme, developed by Ruth Miskin, which provides a structured and systematic approach to teaching literacy. It is used by more than a quarter of the UK's primary schools and is designed to create fluent readers, confident speakers and willing writers. We teach in this way because, research shows that, when phonics is taught in a structured way – starting with the easiest sounds and progressing through to the most complex – it is the most effective way of teaching young children to read. According to the DfE (Department for Eduction), ‘almost all children who receive good teaching of phonics, will learn the skills they need to tackle new words’. They can then go on to read any kind of text fluently and confidently, and to read for enjoyment.
Children are assessed in Year 1, using a phonics screening check. Children who do not pass this in Year 1 will be re-assessed in Year 2, in the same manner. The phonicsscreening check takes place in June. The check is designed to confirm whether individual children have learned sufficient phonic decoding and blending skills to an appropriate standard. The test consists of 40 words – it is a combination of 20 real words and 20 pseudo words (nonsense words) for the child to read 1:1 with their teacher. The results of this are reported to parents in the summer.
To support your child you can make sure they sound out words when reading. There are many phonics activities you can play online with your child. Also, if your child is in Year 1 (or re-sitting in Year 2) come along to our phonics meeting on Wednesday 1st March 2017, at 3.30pm, where we will be giving out lots of activities you can try at home.