What is Phonics?
Phonics is a way of teaching children how to read and write. It helps children hear, identify and use different sounds that distinguish one word from another in the English language.
Written language can be compared to a code, so knowing the sounds of individual letters and how those letters sound when they’re combined will help children decode words as they read.
Understanding phonics will also help children know which letters to use when they are writing words.
Phonics involves matching the sounds of spoken English with individual letters or groups of letters. For example, the sound k can be spelled as c, k, ck or ch.
Teaching children to blend the sounds of letters together helps them decode unfamiliar or unknown words by sounding them out. For example, when a child is taught the sounds for the letters t, p, a and s, they can start to build up the words: “tap”, “taps”, “pat”, “pats” and “sat”.
In the Summer term of Year 1, pupils show their understanding of phonics by taking part in a government screening check called the Phonics Screening Check (PSC). The children do not see this as a test as staff review past tests in an informal manner with them. After the screening check in May 2022, one parent asked when we would be carrying out the check as she was unaware that her daughter had actually completed it due to her daughter being completed unaware that it was any different to usual classroom activities! There will be a parents/carers meeting explaining how you can support your child with this after February half term. Please check your emails for a date and come along if you can. There is also some information about the PSC in the 'useful information for parents' section of this part of the website.
Learning to Read
Reading is probably the most important skill that a child will learn in primary school. It opens up a whole new world of learning and imagination and gives them the opportunity to become fluent, enthusiastic readers.
Children who read regularly or are read to regularly have the opportunity to open the doors to so many different worlds! More importantly, reading will give our children the tools to become independent life-long learners.
We aim to achieve this together through:
At St Mary's, we are very excited to use a Phonics and early reading scheme called Read Write Inc (RWI) to help our children to read. The teaching of this scheme along with your help as parents, sharing books at home with your children and encouraging them to read and share their new knowledge, will help your children become independent, life long readers.
What is Read Write Inc?
Staff are trained in how to deliver the programme and pupils are organised in to groups according to their phonic knowledge throughout the school.
All children who are accessing RWI Phonics will receive two reading books. One reading book that matches their book level and the sounds that they are learning and as children can read this themselves 'I can'. They have a second book, a 'we can' book to share together with an adult to develop their love of reading.
How is Read Write Inc taught?
This ensures that all children are learning the 'sounds' that they need to know to move them on confidently to the next stage of their reading journey. Children are taught in these groups, every day, focussing on the different sounds. For the first 4 weeks of the Autumn term, these sessions are for 1/2 hour each day and focus on 'speed sounds' (see parents powerpoint for more information). In KS1, these sessions are then extended to an hour when children share storybooks and develop their writing skills. Reception children continue with daily 1/2 sessions in addition to having access to learning opportunities during Child Initiated Learning (exploration time). Your children will bring books home to share with you focussing on the sound that they have been learning. In addition, they will bring home a picture book from the library to share together.
learn 44 sounds and the corresponding letters/letter groups using simple picture prompts – see below
learn to read words using Fred talk and sound blending
read from a range of storybooks and non-fictions books matched to their phonic knowledge
work well with partners
develop comprehension skills in stories by answering 'Find It' and 'Prove It' discussion questions
learn to write and form the letters/letter groups which represent the 44 sounds with the help of fun phrases
learn to write words by using Fred Talk
learn to build sentences by practising sentences out loud before they write
They work in pairs so that they:
answer every question
practise every activity with their partner
take turns in talking and reading to each other
develop ambitious vocabulary
The children are then assessed every 6 weeks to ensure they are in the correct group.
We use pure sounds (‘m’ not’ muh’,’s’ not ‘suh’, etc.) so that your child will be able to blend the sounds into words more easily.
At school we use a frog puppet called Fred who is an expert on sounding out words! we call it, ‘Fred Talk’. E.g. m-o-p, c-a-t, m-a-n, sh-o-p, b-l-a-ck.
The following video is an example of blending sounds with Fred. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dEzfpod5w_Q
The children are taught the sounds in 3 sets. You can support your child at home by completing the little sound books that are sent home. Please focus on the sound that has been taught that day but also recap on the previous learning. This will really help to cement the child's learning and will give them the opportunity to show you how clever they are :)
Set 1 Sounds are taught in the following order together with rhymes to help children form the letters correctly and instantly recognise sounds ready for blending.
Down Maisie then over the two mountains. Maisie, mountain, mountain.
Round the apple, down the leaf.
Slide around the snake
Round the dinosaur's back, up his neck and down to his feet.
Down the tower, across the tower,
Down the insects body, dot for the head.
Down Nobby and over the net.
Down the plait, up and over the pirates face.
Round the girls face, down her hair and give her a curl
All around the orange
Curl around the caterpillar
Down the kangaroos body, tail and leg
Down and under the umbrella, up to the top and down to the puddle
Down the laces, over the toe and touch the heel
Down the stem and draw the leaves
Slice into the egg, go over the top, then under the egg
Down the long leg
Down the horse's head to the hooves and over his back
Slither down the snake, then down the horse's head to the hooves and over his back
Down the robot's back, then up and curl
Down his body, curl and dot
Down a wing, up a wing
Down a horn, up a horn and under the yak's head.
Down, up, down, up the worm.
Down the tower, across the tower, then down the horse’s head to the hooves and over his back
Zig-zag-zig, down the zip.
Curl around the caterpillar, , then down the horse's head to the hooves and over his back
Round the queen’s head, up to her crown, down her hair and curl
Cross down the arm and leg and cross the other way
A thing on a string
I think I stink
For further information about Read Write Inc, please view the Parent's information powerpoint on this page, there are also parent information brochures available in the information stand in the front lobby of the school.
If you have any further questions please contact Debbie Bartlett (Phonics Leader) through the school office email address (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Helping your child at home:
In addition to the suggestions in the powerpoint of how to support your child with their reading at home, please find below some further guidance when sharing a book with your child:-
Encourage the child to use Fred talk to sound out the word before blending.
Encourage the child to find clues in the pictures as to the meanings of words.
If the child gets really stuck on a word, you could give him/her the first sounds to help them. Break the word down into smaller parts (syllables) if that helps.
Read the word for him/her if that helps the flow.
Read along with the child if he/she is nervous
Re-read familiar books to increase the child’s confidence
Praise the child for getting a word right
Aim to make the reading experience fun, cosy and time together you enjoy.
If a child reads a book easily, ask them to tell the story in their own words or to think of a different ending.
For children with longer texts – read part of the book and ask child to tell the rest of the story in their own words.
Write a constructive comment in reading diary – eg X was able to recognise words at random today, X was able to recognise initial sounds.
Some children may only be looking at picture books – so encourage them to talk about what is happening in the pictures.
If sharing a familiar story e.g. Goldilocks and the Three Bears, encourage children to join in repeated phrases.