What is phonics?
A knowledge of phonics is a first reading strategy that needs to be taught alongside other skills that equip children to be good readers and writers.
All words are made up of units of sound called phonemes (the sounds that letters make)
In phonics lessons children are taught three main things:
They are taught GPCs. This stands for grapheme phoneme correspondences. This simply means that they are taught all the phonemes (sounds) in the English language and ways of writing them down. These sounds are taught in a particular order. The first sounds to be taught are s, a, t, p.
Children are taught to be able to blend. This is when children say the sounds that make up a word and are able to merge the sounds together until they can hear what the word is. This skill is vital in learning to read.
Children are also taught to segment. This is the opposite of blending. Children are able to say a word and then break it up into the phonemes that make it up. This skill is vital in being able to spell words.
How do we teach phonics?
We teach our phonics from the ‘Letters and Sound’ document which is provided by the Department for Education. Our phonics sessions take place daily and last for up to 20 minutes. They begin in Nursery and continue into Key Stage 2. Phonics provision is also made in our Nurture group Stepping Stones.
Each session would look different according to the phonics phase that is being taught but all sessions contain similar opportunities for the children to learn their phonics skills whether that is through games, songs or quizzes. Each session is planned by the teacher so that it is made up of six main parts – introduction, revisit, teach, practise, apply and assess. Further into Key Stage 2 sessions are based around the Support for Spelling principles and teachers use the document to plan sessions.
Children bring home spellings from their phonics sessions and are regularly assessed. In June our Year 1 children take part in the National Phonics Screening Tests.