At Shirley Infant School we give a high priority to the teaching of phonics and every day we will teach phonics as a separate session. We adopt the synthetic phonics approach through the 'Letters and Sounds' programme. This just means that each unknown word is sounded out and then blended together in order to read the word. The scheme teaches the sounds in an order which allows them to quickly begin to put sounds together to read words. When we first teach the letter sounds to the children, we teach the children a short story and action to help children remember sounds. Alongside the skills of blending (putting sounds together to read) and segmenting (breaking words down to spell them), the children are also taught exception words that cannot be sounded out, such as 'was' or 'me'. We call these words 'sight words' and they learn to read and to spell these from memory within each phase.
The Year R phonics curriculum teaches children the first letter sounds in manageable groups, based on the Letters and Sounds programme. Children are then taught to read and then write simple words using these sounds. By the end of Year R, we aim for all children to be working securely in Phase 3 and the majority working within Phase 4. In our Year R Parent Curriculum Workshop we teach parents how we deliver phonics within the curriculum and model to them the skill of blending and segmenting.
The children in Year 1 continue with daily phonics practise, following the Letters and Sounds programme. Year 1 staff prepare and rapidly move children into Phase 5 where they begin to learn the alternative spellings for the sounds they know and begin to look at common spelling patterns- spelling plurals and suffixes –ed endings and –ing endings. The national phonics screen is taken by all children in year 1 during a specified week in June. Any children who did not take the test or did not pass the test in year 1 will retake it again in year 2.
The children in Year 2 continue to follow the Letters and Sounds programme and the main focus is on supporting children’s spelling strategies. Children will be taught the many different rules for spelling plurals, and adding prefixes and suffixes to words.
When teaching the children to spell, we encourage the children to segment the word into separate phonemes e.g. c-l-a-p. From Early Years the children learn different graphemes for the phonemes, e.g. when spelling luck, they might use 'c' for cat, 'k' for kitten or 'ck' for duck. When children begin to write words, we encourage the children to 'Ask the Question'. e.g. when spelling 'cup' they ask 'Is it 'c' for cat, 'k' for kitten or 'ck' for duck. When children become more confident spellings, we encourage children to begin to look at the likely position of the word, e.g. 'ck' usually comes at the end of the word.
When children enter into year 1 they learn lots of alternative graphemes, e.g -ay and a-e can also be used when spelling words with the -ai sound. We continue to encourage children to 'Ask the question', e.g. when spelling -drain is it -ai for snail, ay for play or a-e for cake. We teach children the most likely positions for words. They then learn alternative pronunciations for words, e.g. in cow and blow, the ow is pronounced differently. In year 2 children continue to embed this learning and increase their accuracy spelling new words. They learn the different principles for adding suffixes to root words, eg when spelling hopped, you double the p in hop and then add -ed. Weekly wordlists will be sent home for you to consolidate learning from school.
Reading and early phonics are instrumental and work closely together to ensure our children develop secure reading skills. We ensure our books our fully decodable and are given to the children at the correct phase of phonics they are working at. Alongside this skill they are taught how use the text to answer comprehension questions.
Lots of parents always worry about to pronounce the letter sounds. Click on this link to help you:
Useful Phonics Websites for Parents and Children
This video models the skill of blending sounds together:
This website explains the background to our theory in early phonics and reading:
There are also a wealth of websites with games which could support your child's progress in phonics...
This website has lots of free games that are useful for blending to read and is also useful for deciding whether word is real or nonsense:
This is a reading game where the children read a question and have to click on yes or no. The level can be adjusted for easier or trickier words:
This website is a listening and sight recognition game. The children listen to the word and click on the matching word. The level can be adjusted for the child's ability:
This game allows you to input your own words to practise reading. So if you are practising a particular sound like 'ch', you can type in all 'ch' words:
This game practises the sounds individually. You have to pop the balloons with the given sound.
Also remember that your child has an individual log in to the Education City website, which we regularly use in school.