Phonics is the systematic teaching of the sounds, or ‘phonemes’, that accompany the written letters (‘graphemes’) in English. It is designed to teach children to become confident and fluent readers by the end of Year 2.
All children in Early Years and Key Stage 1 have a 20 minute phonics session every day where they are introduced to new sounds and practice the sounds that they are familiar with.
At Dog Kennel Hill, we follow a bespoke phonics programme based on ‘Letters and Sounds’, a document published by the Department for Education. It is broken down into 6 parts, or ‘phases’.
Phase 1 is completed in Nursery and focuses on sounds in the environment, instrumental sounds, body sounds, voice sounds and rhythm.
Phase 2 begins in Reception. Children are taught 19 letters of the alphabet along with the sound that goes with them.
Phase 3 is also started in Reception. During this phase, the remaining 7 letters of the alphabet and their sounds are taught. Digraphs (where two letters make one sound) eg. /sh/ and /ch/ are taught in this phase for the remaining sounds in the English language.
During Phase 4, children are taught to segment (break down) and blend (read fluently) longer words. Phase 4 is a chance for children to practice and apply the phonics skills they have already learnt.
Phase 5 is taught throughout Year 1 and focuses on different ways of spelling the same sound e.g. /oi/ and /oy/ and different ways of pronouncing the graphemes they already know e.g. /ear/ in ‘hear’ and /ear/ in ‘bear’.
Phase 6 is taught throughout Year 2. This phase focuses on consolidating all of the other phases, as well as introducing ‘rules’ for reading and spelling, such as prefixes, suffixes and when to double or drop a letter.
Year 1 phonics screening check
At the end of Year 1, children will undertake a statutory phonics screening check. This is a short assessment to make sure that children have learnt phonics to an appropriate standard.
There are 40 words in the screening check which children are asked to read on a one-to-one basis with their teacher. The check is made up of ‘real words’ (e.g. ‘mud’) and ‘non-words’ (e.g. ‘splog’) and children need to apply their phonic knowledge to read all words.
Preparation for the check takes place during the daily phonics session, but you can help your child at home by practicing phonics on a regular basis.