early reading and phonics
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”.
How do we teach phonics and early reading skills?
At Ashwood Primary School we teach synthetic phonics through a daily discrete phonics lesson. Phonics is taught in Foundation Stage, Key Stage 1 and beyond using the Bug Club Phonics validated systematic synthetic phonics teaching programme. School follows specific long term planning for phonics in order to meet and exceed age related expectations. Teaching the whole class a daily phonics lesson ensures that all children are taught to the level of phonics which is expected for their age group, and even challenged beyond this. Lessons follow a four – part lesson structure of revisit and review, teach, practice and apply. Children are assessed regularly. Lessons are taught through interactive resources, songs and actions. Children work both independently and collaboratively with partners and in small groups to hone their phonological knowledge and skills. They also practise writing their graphemes in small writing books. In addition to this, there are lessons throughout the week for early readers who are still learning to decode or develop their reading pace. This is to ensure that we are providing clear and planned opportunities for programmes for children with their early reading and phonics skills.
In Foundation 1, children follow Phase 1 of the Bug Club Phonics programme, the pre-reception programme. This focuses on tuning into environmental sounds, alliteration, instrumental sounds, voice sounds and oral segmenting and blending. When children are ready, they begin Phase 2.
Bug Club Phonics teaches a new grapheme and related phoneme in every Phoneme Session. This fast paced, backed up by daily revision of past teaching, has proved the most effective and successful method of phonic training. This means that the basic 40+ phonemes are acquired quickly, and early reading skills develop rapidly. Decodable readers are introduced after just 10 days’ teaching at the end of Unit 2. This enables children to apply the taught strategies and enjoy contextualised reading early on. The order of grapheme introduction ensures that children are able to start reading and spelling a wide range of words at the earliest possible stage.
We encourage pupils to read widely for pleasure through an engaging and relevant reading environment, opportunities to read outside, a lending library to support reading at home and by ensuring pupils are read to in school in a way that excites and engages them.
There is a whole-school focus on teaching the wide vocabulary that pupils need to unlock learning across the curriculum and become confident communicators. As well as discrete sessions, the teaching of vocabulary is embedded within English lessons and the wider curriculum, forming an intrinsic link between reading and writing.
How do we support parents?
In the autumn term, we organise parent workshops to support parents with their understanding of phonics and how it is taught. We also update parents on dojo regarding new phonemes that have been taught, tricky words as well as allocating online books for children to read at home via the Bug Club Phonics app. Children also bring home a book to practise.
Information for Parents
Use the following link to be able to find resources to use at home such as using the e books in your child’s account. This link shows you how your child can collect coins in their My rewards area of their bug club phonics world. There is a grown-up tab on your child’s account on Bug club phonics to help you if you have any other questions.
Your child may have homework around the sounds they are learning. These might be linked to the spelling pattern they are learning in class or linked to their Bug club phonics grapheme-phoneme correspondence work they are working on.
- Read the parents’ help and watch the video.
- Your child will bring home with them their phonetically decodable book which they will use to develop their fluency and reading speed and a more challenging book for them to read for pleasure with parents/carers.
- Find quality time to spend with your child as the electronic books are intended to be shared with an adult.
- Talk to your child about the book they have chosen. Challenge your child to be a book detective: look at the book cover and see if they can guess what the book will be about or what type of book it is
- Initially they may want to listen to the book and can do this by pressing on the speaker icon
- Now get your child to read the book (as you would do with their home reading book) getting them to use their different strategies like phonics, tricky words, and the context of the sentence.
- Re-read the book if necessary. Your child should be able to read it independently before they move onto the next book.
- Take time over each book to get the most learning from it.
- Two books a week is plenty if they are done thoroughly and the hard copy has also gone home.
- Understanding the book is vital
- As you read together, talk about what is happening in the book,what might happen next, and anything that has puzzled them. Get your child to re-tell the main parts of the story, using the pictures as a prompt if they need it. When your child finishes a book, ask them whether they liked it or not and encourage them to explain why.
- Now would be a good time to do the activities linked to the book.
- Click on the bug icon. If they get it wrong, talk about the activity and have another go. Try to discourage guessing.
It is important that your child can read the books fluently and understand the information before they move on. If they race through they will not be ready for books from the next colour band and will struggle. This will really affect motivation.
If you don’t have access to a computer or prefer for your child not to use on line reading they can still enjoy a hard copy of the books.
The teacher is able to log on and see what books your child has accessed and how many attempts it has taken to get the answers of the activities correct.
Make a note in your child’s reading diary to let us know at school how your child is getting on with developing their reading skills at home.
Thank you for your continued support.
The phonics screening check is a short, simple assessment to make sure that all pupils have learned phonic decoding to an appropriate standard by the age of 6. All year 1 pupils in maintained schools, academies and free schools must complete the check.
The phonics check will help teachers identify the children who need extra help so they can receive the support they need to improve their reading skills. These children will then be able to retake the check in year 2.
The check comprises a list of 40 words and non-words which the child will read one-to-one with a teacher. The class teacher in Y1 will prepare the children for their phonics screening check. Children will have phonics work to take home at different stages in the year.
Example of non-words which are known as alien words by the children (words which do not make sense but are used to assess their phonics ability)
For further information on the phonics screening check, click on the link below.
Regular monitoring of children’s progress allows gaps in learning to be identified and children to receive appropriate intervention programmes. All classrooms have phonic displays and resources for children to use during their lessons.
As children’s phonic knowledge advances and they can blend phonemes together to build words, they are given a reading book to take home to practise and apply this skill. The books that children take home are phonetically decodable and relate to their phonic phase.
Spelling, punctuation and grammar (SPAG) is taught throughout Key Stage 1 with a specific focus on spelling in Year 2. Phonics programmes continue into Lower Key Stage 2 for those children not meeting the expected standard in the phonics screening test.
- Pupils’ phonic knowledge
- The speed at which pupils are able to read the text
- Their understanding of the stories they read.
We record the results from the Sound and Word Assessments, which take place every eight weeks, on the Assessment Tracker. These data allow us to intervene in different ways. For instance, we quickly move pupils to another group if they are progressing faster than their peers. Those who continue to struggle have one-to-one tutoring so that they keep up
Here are some websites that can help children to develop their phonic knowledge.