Phonics is a way of teaching children how to read and write by developing their phonemic awareness—the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate different sounds used in the English language. Children learn the correspondence between these sounds and the spelling patterns (graphemes) that represent them. At Cherryfold, we place a strong emphasis on the teaching of phonics in the early years of reading and writing in order to give all children a solid foundation for learning. Because not all words in the English language comply to the rules of phonics we also teach so-called ‘sight words’ by repetition and retrieval.
The Teaching of Phonics
Phonics lessons at Cherry Fold are taught daily from Nursery up to Year 2. The sessions are short, engaging and memorable with an emphasis placed on revising a previously learned letter-sound correspondence, learning a new one, practicing this, and applying it to sentence level work.
The teaching of phonics begins in Nursery and Reception using the ‘Red Rose’ scheme? Sounds are introduced at a rate of one a day throughout the Autumn and Spring term. Children consolidate these sounds in the Summer term whilst learning to blend the sounds together to read and write words. In Years 1 and 2, the children follow the DFE’s ‘Letters and Sounds’ scheme, learning alternative spellings of the previously learned sounds and refining their knowledge to become more fluid readers and more accurate spellers.
The Phonics Screening Check
During the Summer term in Year 1, children nationwide are tested on their phonic knowledge. This test helps us to identify children who have gaps in their phonic knowledge and may need further support in Year 2. The test is low-key and we endeavour to make it stress-free for the children. Essentially, the children are asked to read 40 words from a list, using their phonics to ‘sound out’ the word and then blend it if they need to. Parents are informed as to whether their child has achieved the national expectation within the child’s end-of-year report.
Practicing Phonics at Home
The best phonics resources are ordinary reading books. Alongside the books your child brings home seek out books that you and your child enjoy reading. Discuss words that present a challenge, breaking them down into their component sounds in order to read them if necessary. Make sure you set aside quiet time for reading and enjoying books together.
In addition to books, your child will bring home packs of words that can be decoded using their phonics knowledge. Practice reading and spelling these words. Play fun games with them such as thinking of words that rhyme. Finally, your child will receive a word fan displaying ‘high-frequency words’ – common words that appear very often in written texts. They are a mixture of decodable words (words that can be sounded out) and sight words/exception words (words in which the English spelling code works in an unusual or uncommon way, which means the words have to be learned and recognised by sight). The expectation is that by the end of Reception children should be able to read most of these words, and by the end of Year 1 they should be able to spell most of them. Try to practice one word with your child from the list per day.