At Blakehill Primary School we are passionate about ensuring all children become confident and enthusiastic readers and writers. We believe that phonics provides the foundations of learning to make the development into fluent reading and writing easier. Through phonics children learn to segment words to support their spelling ability and blend sounds to read words. The teaching of phonics is of high priority.
At Blakehill Primary School Children in Reception and Key Stage 1 follow the synthetic phonics approach, using the Department of Education approved ‘Letters and Sounds’ programme. It’s an approach to teaching phonics in which individual letters or letter sounds are blended to form groups of letters or sounds, and those groups are then blended to form complete words.Our daily phonics sessions in Reception are fun, involving lots of speaking, listening and games. The emphasis is on children’s active participation. They learn to use their phonic knowledge for reading and writing activities and in their independent play. Daily Phonics lessons continue in Key Stage One and then regular weekly spelling sessions take place in Key Stage Two.
Letters and Sounds is divided into six phases, with each phase building on the skills and knowledge of previous learning. Children have time to practise and rapidly expand their ability to read and spell words. They are also taught to read and spell ‘tricky words’ – words with spellings that are unusual or that children have not yet been taught. These include the words ‘to’, ‘was’, ‘said’ and ‘the’ – you can’t really break the sounds down for such words so it’s better to just ‘recognise’ them.
Phase One begins when a child is at nursery. However this phase paves the way for the systematic learning of phonics and should continue to be a focus throughout Reception and KS1. During this phase, we 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. We teach a wide range of nursery rhymes and songs and read good 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. The children also learn to identify rhyme and alliteration.
As children begin Reception they continue to build on their listening skills and are introduced to Phase 2 which marks the start of systematic phonics work. They have discrete, daily phonics sessions where they revise previous learning, are taught new graphemes/phonemes, practise together and apply what they have learnt. Through Letters and Sounds, the children are taught the 44 phonemes that make up all the sounds required for reading and spelling. These phonemes include those made by just one letter and those that are made by two or more. Children work through the different phases and as they grow in confidence and experience, they are introduced to alternative ways of representing the same sound.
Through the teaching of systematic phonics, our aim is for children to become fluent readers by the end of Key Stage 1. Children can then focus on developing fluency and comprehension throughout the school. Attainment in phonics is measured by the Phonics Screening Test at the end of Year 1.
There are a number of things that parents can do to help at home:
Let your child see you enjoy reading yourself. They are influenced by you and what you do.
Make time for your child to read their school book to you every day
If your child brings home ‘tricky word’ flash cards, make time to work on them with your child – have fun with them!
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.
Play games that will develop letter sound knowledge such as I Spy.
There are also many phonic games for children to access on the computer or Apps if you have a tablet.
Mr Thorne Does Phonics is a great resource including videos and activities. Mr Thorne also has a number of Apps available.
Some of the terms used can be a little confusing so here is a guide to help you
At the end of Year 1 all children take part in the Year One Phonics Check.