Phonics at Pakefield
What is phonics and Why do we teach it?
Phonics are the sounds that letters make and learning them helps children to decode words and begin to read and write.
At Pakefield Primary School we use synthetic phonics to help children to read and write. With synthetic phonics, children start by learning individual sounds (phonemes) and how to blend sounds for reading, and how to segment the sounds in order to write words. We follow the government published programme “Letters and Sounds” supported by the actions taken from the ‘Jolly Phonics’ programme providing us with a multi-sensory approach to learning phonics. The ‘Letters and Sounds’ programme is divided into six phases, with each phase building on the skills and knowledge of previous learning.
The teaching of Phonics begins in the Nursery with Phase 1.
Teachers plan activities that will help children to listen attentively to sounds around them, such as the sounds of their toys and to sounds in spoken language. Teachers teach a wide range of nursery rhymes and songs. They read good quality books to and with the children. This helps to increase the number of words they know – their vocabulary – and helps them talk confidently about books.
In this phase children are taught how to sound talk.
The teacher shows children how to do this – c-a-t = cat. The separate sounds (phonemes) are spoken aloud, in order, all through the word, and are then merged together into the whole word. The merging together is called blending and is a vital skill for reading.
Children will also learn to do this the other way around – cat = c-a-t. The whole word is spoken aloud and then broken up into its sounds (phonemes) in order, all through the word. This is called segmenting and is a vital skill for spelling.
This is all oral (spoken). Your child will not be expected to match the letter to the sound at this stage. The emphasis is on helping children to hear the separate sounds in words and to create spoken sounds.
Once the children have mastered the art of “sound talking” they are ready for Phase 2.
In this phase children will continue practising what they have learned from phase 1, including ‘sound-talk’. They will also be taught the phonemes (sounds) for a number of letters (graphemes), which phoneme is represented by which grapheme and that a phoneme can be represented by more than one letter, for example, /ll/ as in b-e-ll. They will use the “Jolly Phonics” actions to help them remember these.
It is essential that your child learns to say the sounds (phonemes) correctly. Sounds should be sustained where possible (e.g. sss, fff, mmm) and, where this is not possible, ‘uh’ sounds after consonants should be reduced as far as possible (e.g. try to avoid saying ‘buh’, ‘cuh’).
The purpose of this phase is to:
- teach more graphemes, most of which are made of two letters (digraphs), for example, ‘oa’ as in boat
- practise blending and segmenting a wider set of CVC (consonant, vowel, consonant) words, for example, fizz, chip, sheep, light
- learn all letter names and begin to form them correctly
- read more tricky words and begin to spell some of them
- read and write words in phrases and sentences.
In this phase children continue to practise oral blending and segmenting, previously learned graphemes and phonemes and learn how to read and write. They learn the new skill of blending consonants
For example, CVCC words: ‘toast’, t = consonant, oa = vowel, s = consonant, t = consonant and CCVC words: ‘cream’, c = consonant, r = consonant, ea = vowel, m = consonant.
In Phase 5 children are introduced to new graphemes for reading. Some of these graphemes represent phonemes (sounds) that they have already learnt a grapheme for. For example, in Phase 3 children were taught 'ai' as the grapheme for the phoneme /a/ (as in rain). In Phase 5, children are taught that the phoneme /a/ can also be represented by the graphemes 'ay' (as in play) or 'a-e' (as in make). This variation needs to be taught as it is common in our language system.
The main aim in phase 6 is for children is to develop their fluency as a reader and increase their accuracy when spelling. They will have already learnt the most often used grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs) in the English language. Children will be able to sight read a large number of words
Children throughout Phase 1 and 2 take part in a daily phonics session. These focus on developing reading, writing and speaking and listening skills.
Phonics screening check
At the end of Year One all children take part in the national phonics screening check. The check requires children to be able to use all of the sounds learnt up to Phase 5. The check uses real and pseudo (fake) words to assess children's ability to decode. The check takes place in the Summer Term and parents will be informed of the date nearer the time. The results are fed back to parents in the end of year report.
Ways you can support your child at home?
Games to support Phonics Teaching:
Play ‘What do we have in here?’ Put some toys or objects in a bag and pull one out at a time. Emphasise the first sound of the name of the toy or object by repeating it, for example, ‘c c c c – car’, ‘b b b b – box’, ‘ch ch ch ch – chip’.
Say: ‘A tall tin of tomatoes!’ ‘Tommy, the ticklish teddy!’ ‘A lovely little lemon!’ This is called alliteration. Use names, for example, ‘Gurpreet gets the giggles’, ‘Milo makes music’, ‘Naheema’s nose’.
Teach them ‘Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers’.
- Find real objects around your home that have three phonemes (sounds) and practise ‘sound talk’. First, just let them listen, then see if they will join in, for example, saying:
- ‘I spy a p-e-g – peg.’
- ‘I spy a c-u-p – cup.’
- ‘Where’s your other s-o-ck – sock?’
- ‘Simon says – put your hands on your h-ea-d.’
- ‘Simon says – touch your ch-i-n.’
- ‘Simon says – pick up your b-a-g.’
- Magnetic letters
- Buy magnetic letters for your fridge, or for use with a tin tray. Find out which letters have been taught – have fun finding these with your child and place them on the magnetic surface.
- Making little words together
- Make little words together, for example, it, up, am, and, top, dig, run, met, pick. As you select the letters, say them aloud: ‘a-m – am’, ‘m-e-t – met’.
- Breaking words up
- Now do it the other way around: read the word, break the word up and move the letters away, saying: ‘met – m-e-t’.
- Both these activities help children to see that reading and spelling are reversible processes.
Other ways to help at home:
We teach lower-case letters, as well as capital letters. As most writing will be in lower-case letters it is useful if you can use these at home. A good start is for your child to write their name correctly, starting with a capital letter followed by lower-case letters.
Your child’s teacher can advise on the handwriting style that is taught and how you can help at home.
Spelling is harder than reading words – praise, don’t criticise. Little whiteboards and pens, and magic boards, are a good way for children to try out spellings and practise their handwriting.
Your child might be trying to use letters from their name to write; this shows that they know that writing needs real alphabet letters.
Make or buy an alphabet poster.
Here are some of the terms you may come across in our phonics work at school.
vowels – the open sounds / letters of the alphabet: a,e,i,o and u
consonants – sounds/ letters of the alphabet that are not vowels.
blend – to merge individual sounds together to pronounce a word, e.g. s-n-a-p, blended together, reads snap
cluster – two (or three) letters making two (or three) sounds, e.g. the first three letters of 'straight' are a consonant cluster
digraph – two letters making one sound, e.g. sh, ch, th, ph.
vowel digraphs – two vowels which, together, make one sound, e.g. ai, oo, ow
split digraph – two letters, split, making one sound, e.g. a-e as in make or i-e in site
grapheme – letter or a group of letters representing one sound, e.g. sh, ch, igh, ough (as in 'though')
mnemonic — a device for memorising and recalling something, such as a snake shaped like the letter 'S'
phoneme — the smallest single identifiable sound, e.g. the letters 'sh' represent just one sound, but 'sp' represents two (/s/ and /p/)
segment (vb) — to split up a word into its individual phonemes in order to spell it, e.g. the word 'cat' has three phonemes: /c/, /a/, /t/