Phonics is how we teach children to read and write. We do this through teaching the children the sounds that letters make e.g s makes a ssssssss sound. Everyday we introduce a new sound in a 30 minute teaching session. We then review the four sounds we have learnt each week on a Friday. We teach phonics in five phases:
- Phase One: At the start of EYFS we will teach basic sound discrimination. This is split into seven key aspects - environmental sounds, instrumental sounds, body percussion, voice sounds, alliteration, rhythm and rhyme and oral blending and segmenting. Blending is where you blend the sounds together to make a word e.g c-a-t cat. Segmenting is where you break the word up into sounds dog d-o-g.
- Phase Two: Here we introduce the first set of sounds s a t p i n m d g o c k h b e u f l ff ll ss
- Phase Three: In Phase Three we learn more complex sounds including some digraphs ("Two letters that make one sound" such as ay ee or ar) and trigraphs ("Three letters that make one sound" such as ear air igh).
- Phase Four: The children will consolidate the sounds that they have learnt already and practise words with adjacent consonants where the sounds are a little more tricky to hear e.g train, drink.
- Phase Five: This has the most sounds and children will spend a large part of Year One on Phase Five. In this phase children are taught alternative spellings e.g ee, ea, y and alternative pronunciations such as a-apple a-acorn.
Once children have completed all five phases, they will be ready to take the Phonics Screening Check at the end of Year One. Any children who do not pass the check in Year One will receive Phonics interventions to prepare them to retake the check at the end of Year Two.
At St John's we follow a phonics scheme called KTC. This is a really effective teaching style that used in a large number of schools across Leicester City.
In KTC we have set mantras that the children learn, in order to help them read and write.
For writing we "Say the word, robot the word, write the word!"
For reading we "Look at the letters, make the sounds, blend the sounds together!"
It is important to consolidate the sounds learnt in phonics through reading appropriate texts. Remember, when we read at school we use the following strategies:
- "We look at the letters, make the sounds, blend the sounds together".
- We put our reading finger "under the word".
- If it is a long tricky word then "We look at the first sound and cross check with the picture."
- "We look for smaller words in big words
- If your child comes across a word and they are unsure of the meaning ""We read the sentence before, the sentence again and the sentence after" to help give the word some context.
- If it is a sight word "We see it and we say it!"
You can find a range of ebooks to read with your child at home on the following websites:
Alongside phonics, we also teach children to read Sight Words. These are words that we teach the children to read quickly by sight (without sounding out), to increase fluency in their reading.
Our mantra for reading Sight Words is : "We see it and we say it!"
In EYFS and Year One, the children are given rockets with a set of 10 Sight Words to learn. Once they are able to confidently read and write these Sight Words, they move on to the next rocket.
Sight Words can be really easy and fun to learn with your child. Here are some ideas:
- Sight word snap
- Sight word bingo
- Sight word skittles
- Sight Word hopscotch
- Writing Sight Words in paint or chalk, or in a tray of sand or glitter
- You could make targets with Sight Words on and practise throwing bean bags at them
- You could hide Sight Words around the house and ask your children to find them
- You could make Sight Word chatterboxes
- You could write Sight Words on lego blocks and make a tower of the words your child can read
- You could write silly sentences using your current set of Sight Words
- You could play Sight Word pairs
Below are the Sight Word Rockets that we send home.