Phonics & Literacy
Phonics is the most important aspect of learning to kick-start your child's reading and writing development. Phonics is a daily learning opportunity, where children spend at least 30 minutes of focussed time on developing their reading skills. This includes blending and segmenting, reading tricky words, phoneme recognition, sentence structure, grapheme formation, and so many more vital literary skills.
This is a lesson which the children love, as it is a pacey and upbeat session with simple objectives. The session also includes so many exciting games, and really gives the children a chance to show off their skills and challenge themselves. These daily sessions paired with consolidation of their learning at home, can have an incredible impact on your child's reading development.
Below we have given you some games to play at home with your child, and simple ways to support them on a day-to-day basis.
'Your Support Pack'
Starting in Foundation, children are taught phonics; the journey of learning to read, write and spell. These vital skills are the beginning of a lifelong literacy journey. At Holbrook, we follow the ‘Letters and Sounds’ scheme of phonics, with the Jolly Phonics actions.
The process of learning to read and write begins from an early age, where children can learn and practise many skills. This can be done in a range of ways and settings, including home. Exposing children to conversation and books at home is essential to great communication and language skills.
The most beneficial thing you can do for your child to promote their literacy skills is to listen and talk to your child as much as possible. Speaking and listening are the building blocks for reading and writing. The more language your child is exposed to, the more they will understand and use for themselves.
Letters and Sounds
The letters and sounds programme is divided into six phases across the programme, slowly developing children’s skills and building upon their previous learning. In Foundation, we work through phases 1-4 which are explained below.
This is the beginning of the systematic learning of phonics which falls primarily within the Communication, Language and Literacy areas of learning in the curriculum. Phase 1 is taught and supported throughout the whole of the Foundation year, as these are the most vital skills to build the foundations of each child’s literacy journey.
How to support Phase 1 at home:
- Share as many books as you can - this could be bedtime, bath time, over dinner, a snack, or even a made up story in the car!
- Listen to a variety of sounds in the environment by going to different places and trying a ‘listening walk’. Talk about what you can hear and compare to other places or noises.
- Play listening games such as ‘Simon says’ or ‘I can hear a ‘ssss’ somewhere’
- Explore the sounds of different instruments – these could be real instruments or pots and pans, rice and water bottles, drum bowls, anything!
- Clapping and tapping to the beat of songs, nursery rhymes, etc.
- Exploring rhyming words and alliteration. Alliteration is explored through a great game of I-Spy!
- Oral Blending and Segmenting – breaking down words by their phonemes for children to hear regularly – e.g. j-u-m-p (jump) / s-i-t (sit) / c-a-t (cat).
This phase builds upon the oral blending and segmenting of the previous phase. Children must continue to practise what they have learnt. They will also then be taught the grapheme-phoneme representations (letters) for 19 phonemes.
A grapheme is the written form of the sound (the letter), and a phoneme is the sound that letter makes. The sounds we will be learning in phase 2 are the following:
s a t p i n m d g o c k ck e u r h b f ff l ll ss
When we are learning a new sound, we try to find as many different words beginning with that sound as possible. This is a really simple thing to try at home, especially in games when you are looking for something, choosing something in a shop, etc. To learn what each phoneme is represented as in a grapheme, flashcards are a really fun and fast way to reinforce their knowledge of each sound. At home, magnetic letters on the fridge are also a fun way of practicing each sound.
When sounding out each phoneme, ensure you are using ‘pure’ sounds. With our lovely Suffolk accents, we often tend to emphasise the end of each sound. For example, when we should be saying ‘ssssss’, sometimes we sound them out as ‘suh’. This makes it really difficult to blend words together, therefore we consistently teach children pure sounds throughout all phases.
When you are practicing word reading in Phase 2 at home, the children should be reading both VC (vowel, consonant) and CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words.
Examples of VC words: it, am, is, on, in
Examples of CVC words: cup, cat, dog, bell, met, got
Tricky Words in Phase 2 (words which cannot be sounded out)
no go the to I into
In Phase 3 we continue learning more sounds, and move onto sounds which are made up of two or three letters (digraphs and trigraphs).
Examples of digraphs: ‘ee’ as in ‘bee’ or ‘tree’ / ‘sh’ as in ‘shop’ or ‘ship’
Examples of trigraphs: ‘igh’ as in ‘thigh’ or ‘night’ / ‘air’ as in ‘hair’ or ‘fair’
The sounds we will be learning in Phase 3 are listed below:
j v w x y z zz qu ch sh th ng ai ee oa oo ar or ur ow oi er igh ear air ure
As in Phase 2, lots of oral blending and segmenting is vital to continue your child’s confidence and progress throughout phase 3. The more you are reading at home, the more they will learn! They will also be learning even more ‘tricky words’ and begin to learn how to spell them. During this phase, we also try to encourage children to begin reading high frequency (common) words by sight, rather than segmenting and blending them each time (e.g. ‘and’).
Continue using flashcards to practice pure sounds at home, and if you don’t have time to read a whole book, practice reading words with your child’s newly learned sounds in (you will be updated on the sounds we know via Tapestry). For example, writing ‘ch-ee-k’ or ‘t-r-ee’ for your child to read. Other ideas for helping at home are listed below:
- Explore www.phonicsplay.co.uk – this is a great website for practicing segmenting and blending, and also distinguishing between real words and pseudo words (buried treasure is usually a top favourite!).
- Hide words or sounds around the house for you all to hunt for and sound out.
- Splat – a super easy game to play at home, with sounds or words in the middle of a pair or group of people. The first one to splat the correct word/sound with their hand wins!
Remember to sound out digraphs and trigraphs as one sound, rather than segmenting both sounds in the digraph. For example, ensuring you are segmenting ‘b-oo-k’, not ‘b-o-o-k’
Tricky Words in Phase 3 (words which cannot be sounded out)
he she we me be was my you they all
In Phase 4, we work on consolidating the sounds already taught. This helps to reinforce and secure the children’s knowledge before they move onto Year 1. Alongside this, children are also taught ‘adjacent consonants’ (consonant blends and consonant clusters), for example ‘nt’ in ‘tent’ / ‘st’ in ‘toast’ / ‘pl’ in ‘plum’ / ‘sp’ in 'spoon'.
Tricky Words in Phase 4 (words which cannot be sounded out)
said so do have like some come were there little one when out what
'What Else Can I Do at Home?'
- Sing nursery rhymes at home for them to join in with, sing songs, dance to music, have fun!
- Share books and stories as much as possible. Your child will have a reading book from school, a library book, and access to a free, local library.
- Listen to your child read each night to allow them to practise their reading skills.
- Read to your child as much as possible, children need access to vocabulary beyond their reading ability – just ensure you explain the meaning of these words and use them frequently. Children love learning new words (especially if they think it is a fancy word!). At school we have ‘fancy pants’ words which are of a much higher level than their reading capacity. For phonics, these can be words like ‘phoneme’, ‘grapheme’, ‘digraph’, ‘segment’, etc.
- Use props and puppets to tell stories, get your imaginations flowing!
- Make reading a fun and enjoyable activity – read everywhere you can!
- Phoneme – the sound a letter makes
- Grapheme – what the letter looks like when it is written down
- Digraph – when 2 letters go together to make a new sound
- Consonant digraphs: ch, sh, th, ng
- Vowel digraphs: ai, ee, oa, oo, ar, oi
- Trigraph – when 3 letters join together to make a new sound igh, ear, ure.
- Tricky words -words which can't be decoded (the, go, you, me)
- Split digraph – when the digraph is split for example the ay sound in make
- CVC word – consonant, vowel, consonant word such as cat, leg, bed
- Blend – seeing a word and merging the individual letter sounds together to read the whole word
- Segment – chopping up a word into the separate phonemes to sound it out.