Reading together at home is one of the easiest but most important ways in which you can help your child. To support your child in becoming an effective and confident reader we need to help develop children’s knowledge of phonics (letter sounds) to enable them to decode different words they may come across. Children are also taught the correct technical vocabulary as part of learning phonics. The following technical terms are used with children in school:
CVC word - A consonant-vowel-consonant word, such as cat, pin or top. You may also come across the abbreviation CCVC for consonant-consonant-vowel-consonant words such as clap and from. Also CVCC for words such as mask and belt.
Phonemes - are the smallest unit of speech-sounds which make up a word. If you change a phoneme in a word, you would change its meaning. For example, there are three phonemes in the word sit /s/-/i/-/t/. If you change the phoneme /s/ for /f/, you have a new word, fit. If you change the phoneme /t/ in fit for a /sh/, you have a new word, fish - /f/-/i/-/sh/.
Graphemes - the letter or letters that are used to write a phoneme.
Digraph - a two letter grapheme where two letters represent one phoneme/sound
e.g. ar, ch
Vowel Digraph - a two letter grapheme that represents a vowel phoneme/sound
e.g. ay, ee, oi
Split Vowel Digraph - two letter grapheme that represent a vowel phoneme or sound where the sounds are pushed apart by another letter. This digraph often used to be referred to as a magic e e.g. cake, bite, phone, these, cube. It is used for the long vowel sounds.
Trigraph - a three letter grapheme where three letters represent one phoneme or sound e.g. air, igh, ear
Blending - building words for reading by pushing together all the phonemes or sounds in the word.
Segmenting - splitting up words for spelling by breaking up words into all their sounds and then working out what letter or letters are needed to represent each sound.
At Blair Peach we use the Read, Write Inc Programme to teach phonics. It is a structured, synthetic phonics programme designed to ensure all children learn to read accurately and fluently. Phonics is taught daily from Nursery to Year 2.
When your child is learning to read, there are two crucial things to learn:
- Sounds represented by written letters.
- How to blend the sounds together to make words.
Children are taught to read letters or groups of letters by saying the sounds. They can then start to read by putting the sounds together to make a word. At school we talk about blending or sounding out. The order taught is given in the ‘Sets’ but is never in alphabetical order.
At Blair Peach, Phonics is taught as a discrete 20-30 minute session daily from Nursery to Year 2. We use a range of multisensory strategies to enthuse and engage the children, including the use of visualizer whiteboards, magnetic letters, speaking and listening, songs, rhymes and practical activities. Children work with pace and are encouraged to apply their knowledge across the curriculum with any reading or writing activities. Below is an outline of the phases/sets and when they are taught in our school:
- Nursery – Phase 1 (Letters and Sounds). In Phase 1 the activities are split into seven aspects, including, Environmental Sounds, Instrumental Sounds, Body Sounds, Rhythm and Rhyme, Alliteration, Voice Sounds and Oral Segmenting and blending.
- Reception – continuation of Phase 1 activities, Set 1 (the children start to read simple captions), Set 2 (the children read captions, sentences and simple questions).
- Year 1 – repeat Set 2 (children recap prior learning from Reception and learn to blend and segment longer words with consonant clusters) and Set 3 (learning a more complex code). Children learn that there are more graphemes for phonemes and that there are different ways to pronounce the phonemes they have already learnt.
- Year 2 – repeat Set 3 to consolidate and work on spelling patterns in Phase 6 in the Letters and Sounds Programme.
In the classroom the sounds are displayed like this, to support the children’s understanding of the relationship of sounds:
Reading Scheme/RWInc books
At Blair Peach we use a range reading books to promote children’s fluency in reading. These include The Oxford Reading Tree Scheme (Biff and Kipper) as well as levelled phonic readers in Reception and Year 1. Read, Write Inc. levelled phonic readers are also used for independent reading during phonic sessions from Reception to YR2. It is important that children learn phonics to support decoding but in order to become competent, fluent readers they need to use a range of strategies and have strong comprehension skills.
Phonics Screening Check
The Phonics Screening Check is a statutory assessment at the end of Year 1 to ensure children have learnt to ‘read and decode’ to an appropriate standard.
Children who do not ‘pass’ the check in Year 1 are able to retake it in Year 2. The check is short, simple screening check that consists of 40 words (20 real and 20 nonsense words) read by a child, one-to-one with their class teacher in June.
Useful links for Phonics Sites