At Eatnor, it is our intent that all children have a secure understanding of the letter sounds and spelling system of English. Phonic skills need to be developed in a systematic, staged approach in order to help all children to ‘achieve their potential’.
What is Phonics?
Phonics is a way of teaching children to read quickly and skillfully.
Children are taught how to recognise the sounds each individual letter makes and to identify the sounds that different combinations (blends) of certain letters make such as ‘sh’ and ‘oo’. Children are taught to read by breaking down words into separate sounds or ‘phonemes’. They are then taught how to blend these sounds together to read the whole word.
Research shows that when phonics is taught in a structured way, starting with the easiest sounds and progressing through to more complex sounds, it is the most effective way of teaching children to read. It is particularly helpful for children aged 5 -7. Almost all children who receive good teaching of phonics will learn the skills they need to tackle new words. They can then go onto read any kind of text fluently and confidently to enhance their enjoyment.
Letters and Sounds
At Eastnor CE Primary School we teach phonics following the Letters and Sounds programme. From Early Years Foundation Stage, through into KS1, the ‘Letters and Sounds’ programme schedule is followed, using Phonics Play and other resources.
The programme focuses on securing word recognition skills, essential for children to decode (read) and encode (spell) words accurately and reading comprehension. The programme is in six phases: phase one promotes speaking/listening skills, phonological awareness and oral blending/segmenting; phases two to five focus on high quality phonic work to help children develop fluent word reading and spelling skills.
In addition to discreet phonics teaching, phonic skills are applied in reading and writing opportunities as well as in other areas of the curriculum. Teachers will check pupil progress i.e. in their understanding of grapheme-phoneme (letter sound) correspondence.
Children who are secure at phase 5 can go onto phase 6, focusing on spelling. Sessions include direct teaching of spelling strategies, proofreading and high-frequency words.
High Frequency, ‘tricky’ words.
Children are taught to read and write ‘tricky’ words, which are not decodable, but frequently used when reading and writing. Throughout the phonic phases children build up a bank of these words. A ‘tricky word’ keyring is sent home with each child to practise and reinforce the reading and spelling of these words.
Year 1 Phonics Screening Check
In the Summer Term, Year1 children will take a Phonics Screening Check in which children will be expected to read 40 decodable ‘words’. This progress check identifies those children not at the expected level in reading – and these children will be re-checked in Y2.
What are Nonsense or Pseudo words and why are they included?
These are words that are phonetically decodable but are not actual words with an associated meaning e.g. ‘brip’, ‘snorb’. These words are included in the check specifically to assess whether your child can decode a word using phonic skills and not their memory. The pseudo words will be shown to your child with a picture of an alien. The children will be asked what the alien’s name is by reading the word. This will make the check a bit more fun and provides the children with a context for the nonsense word. Crucially it does not provide any clues, so your child has to be able to decode it. Children generally find nonsense amusing so they will probably enjoy reading these words.
How will the results from the screening be used?
You will be informed of your child’s progress in phonics and how he or she has done in the screening check, towards the end of the Summer Term. All of the children are individuals and develop at different stages. The screening check ensures that teachers understand which children need support with decoding.
What happens if a child struggles with the screening check?
The screening check will identify children who have phonic decoding skills below the level expected for the end of Year 1 and who therefore need extra help and support. Schools are expected to provide extra help and children will then be able to re‐take the assessment in Year 2.
If there is a need, pupils will be given extra support to help them improve reading skills and make progress. Support will also be provided for older pupils who may be experiencing difficulty in reading/writing because they have missed or misunderstood a crucial phase of systematic phonics teaching.
How can I help my child?
There are a number of things that parents can do with their child to support early reading development:
- Let your child see you enjoy reading yourself. They are influenced by you and what you do!
- Immerse your child in a love of reading.
- Make time for your child to read their school book to you.
- With all books, encourage your child to ‘sound out’ unfamiliar words and then blend from left to right rather than looking at pictures to guess.
- There are many phonic games for children to play and enjoy at www.phonicsplay.co.uk and www.lettersandsounds.com.
We hope this information is useful. Remember, we are here to help your child achieve their very best. If you have any questions, please ask your child’s class teacher or teaching assistant.
*** Help your Child Read! ***
1) Choose a quiet time (10 minutes is long enough with no screens)
2) make reading enjoyable (sit with your child and stop when they lose interest)
3) Maintain the flow (let your child self-correct and don’t be tempted to keep jumping in to correct)
4) Be positive (praise often and don’t keep pointing out the mistakes)
5) Success is the key (keep to easier books until your child is ready – don’t pressure them and rush to harder books)
6) Visit the library and read as a family (read to your child daily)
7) Regular practice (read for a few minutes each day)
8) Communicate (show an interest, connect the books to your child’s life, write in the school reading journal)
9) Talk about the books (talk about the pictures, predict the ending, discuss the characters and favourite parts)
10) Variety (children need to enjoy reading and not be forced - it’s therefore great to give them a wide reading diet which includes: comics, picture books, hard backs, magazines, poems and information books)