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Phonics at Newton Primary School

What is phonics?

Phonics is essentially the link between letters and the sounds they make. There are 26 letters in the alphabet but these make more than 40 different sounds.

Eg: In the word cat the ‘c’ makes a /k/ sound but in the word ceiling the ‘c’ makes a /s/ sound.

The /ai/ sound in table is made by the ‘a’ but in the word prey it’s made by ‘ey’

Teaching children phonics is a first step towards them becoming successful, independent readers. By learning phonics children gain the ability to segment words (break them into their sound parts eg sh/i/p- ship) so they can hear their separate sounds and to blend sounds (link the sounds together) so they can learn to read and write them and then apply this knowledge to other words (eg /sh/i/n-shin.)

How is Phonics Taught?

Phonics is taught in six phases that progress in difficulty. It is taught daily for 20 minutes in the Reception, Year One and Year 2 classes. It is taught in small groups where the children work within their appropriate phonics phase. Your child’s reading book will give them the opportunity to develop their phonics skills as will their spellings (from Phase 2) and word lists which will be focused on a specific sound or sounds.

We start by teaching the children the 26 letter sounds. We use the scheme ‘Jolly Phonics’ where each letter has an action that the children learn to help them remember the sound.

When your child is confident and knows all the sounds that the letters make they move onto more complex sounds for eg /j/ can be made by the letter G for giant (alternative pronunciation) and that the same sound can be made in different ways:

 eg /ee/ = eel, emu, concrete (split digraph), key, chief, sardines, eat, sunny, monkey, and movie. (alternative spellings).

How Can I Help My Child?

  • Taking time to read with your child will help them to understand that print carries meaning and they will start to see sound/letter correspondences and to recognise common words.  You can support your child’s developing sounds awareness by pointing out objects that begin with sounds they may be working on in school: ‘What sound does car begin with?’ You can make collections of objects that begin with the same sound. You can play ‘I Spy’ and rhyming games.
  • Make sure your child has the opportunity to practise their school reading book regularly. ‘Little and often’ is the key. It is the familiarity which develops the recognition which builds up the fluency which makes an independent reader.
  • You can give them opportunities to practise their writing skills that will help them make the connection between how a sound is spoken and written.
  • Practising your child’s spellings orally (‘How do you spell ‘church? sound it out’ ‘/ch/ur/ch’ and through writing the words.

At Newton your child’s phonic skills are assessed in class but also more formally in Year 1 through ‘The Phonics Screening Test’. This takes place nationally in June.

The test is a Reading test that assesses a child’s phonic skills and all Year 1 children complete it on a 1-2-1 basis with a teacher. It comprises of 20 real words and 20 pseudo (alien) words. The ‘alien’ words are included so the child can demonstrate their phonic knowledge by the reading of unfamiliar words. Eg sike /s/i/k/e

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