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What Is Phonics?

Phonics is the study of the relationship between sounds and letters. It is an essential component of reading and writing practice and instruction in the primary grades. Phonics knowledgel eads to word knowledge. Along with plenty of experience reading, students begin to read words fluently with little effort.

Phonics teaching helps students to learn the written correspondences between letters, patterns of letters, and sounds. It should be noted that phonics is one part of a comprehensive literacy program that must also include practice in comprehension, fluency, vocabulary, writing, and thinking.

When Are Students Ready to Learn Phonics?

There are several things to consider before involving children in a formal phonics program. Language development is the first thing and children need an ability to recognise and produce speech sounds, and use language appropriately. Phonics works alonsdide with all these language systems.

Phonological awareness is a particularly important language skill to acquire before phonics instruction begins. Phonological awareness includes the ability to separate spoken language into syllables and individual phonemes, the distinctive sounds for the language the student is learning to read. Phonological awareness is learned through singing, tapping syllables, rhyming, and dividing words into individual sounds.

When children are ready to, and with support from home and school, they develop concepts of print that can be huge, such as learning the purposes of writing and illustrations; understanding what an author is; and identifying text features including the front and back of a book, uppercase and lowercase letters, reading top to bottom, reading left to write, return sweep at the end of a line, and the meaning of punctuation.

After students have heard stories read to them repeatedly, they try to point to the words as they say out loud their favorite memorised parts. Students develop a concept of word in text when they point accurately to the words as they recite the text. Concept of word in text develops in parallel with students’ phonics knowledge of letter–sound correspondences (e.g., learning that the letter b makes the b sound by repeatedly seeing b words in a text)

What is Letters and Sounds?

Letters and SoundsThe academy follows the Letters and Sounds program. This is a phonics resource published by the Department for Education and Skills in 2007. 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. It sets out a detailed and systematic programme for teaching phonic skills for children starting by the age of five, with the aim of them becoming fluent readers by age seven.

There are six overlapping phases. The table below is a summary based on the Letters and Sounds


Phonic Knowledge and Skills

Phase One (Nursery/Reception)

Activities are divided into seven aspects, including environmental sounds, instrumental sounds, body sounds, rhythm and rhyme, alliteration, voice sounds and finally oral blending and segmenting.

Phase Two (Reception) up to 6 weeks

Learning 19 letters of the alphabet and one sound for each. Blending sounds together to make words. Segmenting words into their separate sounds. Beginning to read simple captions.
Phase Three (Reception) up to 12 weeksThe remaining 7 letters of the alphabet, one sound for each. Graphemes such as ch, oo, th representing the remaining phonemes not covered by single letters. Reading captions, sentences and questions. On completion of this phase, children will have learnt the "simple code", i.e. one grapheme for each phoneme in the English language.

Phase Four (Reception) 4 to 6 weeks

No new grapheme-phoneme correspondences are taught in this phase. Children learn to blend and segment longer words with adjacent consonants, e.g. swim, clap, jump.
Phase Five (Throughout Year 1)Now we move on to the "complex code". Children learn more graphemes for the phonemes which they already know, plus different ways of pronouncing the graphemes they already know.
Phase Six (Throughout Year 2 and beyond)Working on spelling, including prefixes and suffixes, doubling and dropping letters etc.