What is Phonics?

Phonics is a way of teaching children how to read and write. It helps children hear, identify and use different sounds that distinguish one word from another in the English language.  Words are made up from small units of sound called phonemes. The written format of this phoneme i.e. the letter, or group of letters, is called a grapheme, for example, the sound k can be spelled as c, k, ck or ch. Phonics is about children knowing how letters link to sounds (graphemes to phonemes), for example, c as in ‘cat’, ll as in ‘fell’, ee as in ‘sheep’. Children use this phonic knowledge when they are reading and writing. This approach has been shown to provide a quick and efficient way for most young children to learn to read words on the page, fluently and accurately. We want children to develop this skill so that it becomes automatic. This also greatly helps them with their spelling.

Teaching children to blend the sounds of letters together helps them decode unfamiliar or unknown words by sounding them out. For example, when a child is taught the sounds for the letters tpa and s, they can start to build up the words: “tap”, “taps”, “pat”, “pats” and “sat”.

At Great Tew we use the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme for our phonics teaching. It is divided into five phases, with each phase building on the skills and knowledge of previous learning. Phonics are the sounds that letters make and learning them helps children to decode words and begin to read and write.

Children in Reception and Year take part in a daily, high quality phonics lessons, usually first thing every morning.

Children in Reception will work through phases 2-4, where they will begin to identify sounds and the matching grapheme (the letter). Children are also taught to read and spell ‘tricky words’, which are words with spellings that are unusual.

Children in Year 1 will work through phases 5-6, where they will learn more graphemes and phonemes and develop fluency and confidence. For example, they already know ai as in rain, but now they will be introduced to ay as in day and a-e as in make.  They will also be introduced to alternative pronunciations for graphemes, e.g. ea in tea, head and break.

Here is a link to the Little Wandle parent page, where you can find out more about Little Wandle phonics and access resources to support your children at home.