How we teach Phonics

Phonics is a way of teaching children to read quickly and skillfully. They are taught how to:
  • recognise the sounds that each individual letter makes;
  • identify the sounds that different combinations of letters make - such as /sh/ or /oo/; and
  • blend these sounds together from left to right to make a word.

Children can then use this knowledge to ‘de-code’ new words that they hear or see. This is the first important step in learning to read.

Research shows that when phonics is taught in a structured way – starting with the easiest sounds and progressing through to the most complex – it is the most effective way of teaching young children to read.

It is particularly helpful for children aged 5 to 7. Almost all children who receive good teaching of phonics will learn the skills they need to tackle new words. They can then go on to read any kind of text fluently and confidently, and to read for enjoyment.

At Grange children in Nursery begin their phonics journey through focusing on developing their listening skills this is known as Phase 1.

In Phase 1 phonics, children are taught about:

  • Environmental sounds
  • Instrumental sounds
  • Body percussion (e.g. clapping and stamping)
  • Rhythm and rhyme
  • Alliteration
  • Voice sounds
  • Oral blending and segmenting (e.g. hearing that d-o-g makes ‘dog’)

Typical activities for teaching Phase 1 phonics include 'listening' walks, playing and identifying instruments, action songs, learning rhymes and playing games like I Spy.

This phase is intended to develop children’s listening, vocabulary and speaking skills.

At the end of Nursery and the beginning of Reception children embark on Phase 2 through daily phonic lessons.

 In Phase 2, children begin to learn the sounds that letters make (phonemes). There are 44 sounds in all. Some are made with two letters, but in Phase 2, children focus on learning the 19 most common single letter sounds. At Grange we follow our own bespoke phonics scheme in line with the Letters and Sounds document.  Children learn the most commonly used phonemes first, starting with: /s/, /a/, /t/, /i/, /p/, /n/.

By the end of Phase 2 children should be able to read some vowel-consonant (VC) and consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC) words, and to spell them out. They also learn some high frequency ‘tricky words’ like ‘the’ and ‘go'.

Phase 3 introduces children to the remaining, more difficult and/or less commonly used phonemes. There are mainly made up of two letters such as /ch/, /ar/, /ow/ and /ee/. These sounds enable the children to read and form useful words.

Alongside this, children are taught to recognise more tricky words, including ‘me,’ ‘was,’ ‘my,’ ‘you’ and ‘they’. They learn the names of the letters, as well as the sounds they make. Activities might include learning mnemonics (memory aids) for tricky words, practising writing letters on whiteboards, using word cards and singing songs like the Alphabet Song.

By the end of Phase 3 children should be able to say the sound made by most, or all, Phase 2 and 3 graphemes, blend and read CVC words made from these graphemes, read 12 new tricky words and write letters correctly when given an example to copy.