Introduction to Phonics
What is phonics?
Phonics is a way of teaching children to read quickly and skilfully. 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 years.
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.
Children who have been taught phonics also tend to read more accurately than those taught using other methods, such as 'look and say'.
How do we teach phonics at Heathcote Primary school?
Our approach enables children to start learning phonic knowledge and skills using a systematic, synthetic programme by the age of five, with the expectation that they will be fluent readers having secure word recognition skills by the end of key stage one (Year 2).
Phonics is taught in discrete, daily sessions progressing from simple to more complex phonic knowledge and skills and covering the major grapheme / phoneme correspondences. We use a multi-sensory approach so that children learn variously from simultaneous visual, auditory and kinaesthetic activities which are designed to secure essential phonic knowledge and skills. Children are taught that phonemes should be blended, in order, from left to right for 'all through the word' reading. Teachers demonstrate how words can be segmented into their constituent phonemes for spelling and that this is the reverse of blending phonemes to read words.
Letters and Sounds
'Letters and Sounds' phonics resource was published by the DfE. It aims to build children's speaking and listening skills in their own right as well as to prepare children for learning to read by developing their phonic knowledge and skills. There are six overlapping phases: