Phonics is the system we use to teach children how to read and write.
During Nursery, or at the beginning of Reception children learn how to listen for sounds in words.
Children hear individual sounds and can blend them together to make a word.
c - a - t 'cat'. We play lots of games to help them with this.
Segmenting is the opposite of blending. The child is able to split up a word they are thinking of into its individual sounds.
eg I'm touching my l-e-g.
How you can help at home
It really helps the children if they are used to hearing and working with these sounds BEFORE they start to use the individual letter shapes (written letters).
At home, you can play I-spy with sounds rather than letter names or play games with puppets or soft toys who speak in this funny way. You could get out some toys. Say the name of a toy by splitting the sounds in the word and then see if your child can pick out the correct toy. Just stick to words of one syllable (eg bird, bed, block, car etc rather than 'computer').
We play games like this at school - see the video below!
It is important that you say the sounds clearly. Click on this link to help.
Moving on - Reception -Y2.
When we introduce letter shapes to go with the sounds we do not do it in alphabetical order. We follow the Department of Education 'Letters and Sounds' programme.
In the beginning the children learn one sound for each letter.
We use 'Jolly Phonics' sounds, actions and songs to help the children remember. Click here to watch a video of all the sounds and actions.
As children move through the phonics programme they learn that sometimes a sound is represented by more than one letter eg. 'igh' makes one sound in n-igh-t.
Once the children are familiar with some letter shapes and the sounds they make they can begin to read. It is so helpful if you can share the book your child will bring home. Please continue to read stories to them. If you see a word which you think they can read, pick it out for them, or just enjoy reading and chatting about books and stories.
Unfortunately, in English, there are important words which do not correspond to phonic rules! We call these 'tricky words' and your child will have to learn these ones by sight. They include: the, he, she, me and I.
They also begin to learn that a sound can be represented in different ways.
eg. all these words have the same 'igh' sound but they use different letters to make that sound. When a child is spelling, they need to make the right choice. And this, of course, keeps them busy until Y6!
n-igh-t bite shy kind
Click here to see the Jolly Phonics chart used in reception and letters and sounds chart which we use at school with the Year 1 and 2 children.