Phonics provides a solid foundation that enables children to become successful readers and writers. This is why at St Mary and All Saints Primary School, phonics underpins all areas of the curriculum from Reception, Key Stage One and up into Key Stage 2.
Children in Reception and Key Stage 1 follow the synthetic phonics approach, using the ‘Letters and Sounds’ programme. It is an approach to teaching phonics in which individual letters (phonemes) or a combination of letters (digraphs and trigraphs) are blended to form groups of letters or sounds, and those groups are then blended to form a complete word. Children in Reception and Key Stage 1 also use ‘Jolly Phonics’ actions to support their learning of the different sounds.
Our daily phonics sessions across Reception and Key Stage 1 are fun, involving lots of speaking, listening and games. The emphasis is on children’s active participation and interactive teaching. They learn to use their phonic knowledge for reading and writing activities and in their independent play.
Letters and Sounds is divided into six phases, with each phase building on the skills and knowledge of previous learning. There are no big leaps in the learning. Children have time to practise, revise, recall and rapidly expand their ability to read and spell words.
Within lessons we teach the children high frequency words. These are words that appear most often in print. High frequency words are quite simply those words which occur most frequently in written material, for example, “and”, “the”, “as” and “it“. They are often words that have little meaning on their own, but they do contribute a great deal to the meaning of a sentence. Some of the high frequency words can be sounded out using basic phonic rules, e.g. “it” is an easy word to read using phonics.Therefore the children should be secure in reading and writing them. High Frequency words are taught across the school and throughout the curriculum to ensure all children know how to spell these words.
Children are also taught to read and spell ‘tricky words’ – words with spellings that are unusual or that children have not yet been taught. These include the words ‘to’, ‘was’, ‘said’ and ‘the’ . These words are not easily segmented as the sounds differ to what is phonetically plausible. These words are taught from phase 2 through to phase 5 and beyond. They are taught in isolation as they do not follow phonological rules and children cannot easily break the sounds down for such words. Therefore we teach the children to ‘recognise’ them by sight. To support the recognition of ‘tricky’ words children are taught to use phonic strategies in guided reading sessions and lessons across the curriculum.
As a school we have produced a guide to help you with some of the Terms and Concepts . This will take you through some of the phonics terms that the children will be learning in our lessons.
Ways you can support your children at home:
There are many different ways to help support your child at home with their phonics. Our Phonics Resource Pack can be downloaded and used at home to support you and your child’s phonics learning. The pack includes all the different phonemes, digraphs and trigraphs that children learn at school in each phase.
This provides a perfect opportunity for a word building game where the children can use the sounds to make different words.
The pack also offers suggestions of games to play, websites to visit and apps that your child can use on an ipad, ipod or iphone.
At St Mary’s we feel it is important to inform parents of the phase their child is working at so they can help with phonics at home. Each child receives a phase letter explaining the sounds that will be taught in that specific phase and the high frequency and tricky words they will be learning. When a child moves phases a corresponding phase letter will be sent home to notify parents of a phase change to ensure parents know how to support their child at home and through each phase.
It is vital that when you are supporting your children with their phonics at home that the children are saying all the sounds correctly. This is important for their phonic development and supports each child in their reading and writing. This video link shows you how each sound should be said and by reinforcing this at home will only help support their phonics teaching and learning at school.
Please see the left side menu for resources specific to each Phonic phase click on the link to download resources you can use at home.
Year 1 Phonics Screening Test (Summer Term)
The National phonics screening check is a statutory assessment that was introduced in 2012 for all Year 1 pupils and is a quick and easy check of your child’s phonics knowledge. It comprises of a list of 40 words and is taken in June of each year. The words in the test are a mixture of words the children will see in their phonics lessons and in their reading books and some words will be ‘nonsense’ or ‘alien words.’ These words are made up words where different phonics sounds are put together.
The test assesses the phonics skills of segmenting and blending and the knowledge of sounds learned through Reception and Year 1. The check is very similar to tasks the children already complete during phonics lessons.
By downloading the Alien Words you can support your child with words to practice and use as examples when working at home.
Phonics Resource Pack to download a Phonics Resource Pack.
Parent Phonics Training Presentation to view Phonics Training Presentation.