Phonics is a way of teaching children to read quickly and skillfully, by:
Children can then use this knowledge to ‘decode’ 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 experience 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’. This includes children who find learning to read difficult, for example those who have dyslexia.
(The information above is directly from the Department of Education’s, ‘Learning to read through phonics: information for parents’ document.)
Phonics at Al Furqan
We teach early reading through the systematic synthetic phonics programme (SSP) Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised.
From the start of Reception, children have a daily 30 minute phonics lesson which follows the progression for Little Wandle Letters and Sounds and this continues into Year One to ensure children become fluent readers.
In Reception, we build from 10-minute lessons, with additional daily oral blending games, to the full-length lesson as quickly as possible. Each Friday, we review the week’s teaching to help children become fluent readers. Children make a strong start in Reception: teaching begins in Week 2 of the Autumn term. We follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised expectations of progress. Four new phonemes and their corresponding graphemes (GPCs) are taught each week and they are then used in the final lesson of the week to review the week’s learning. Children will also learn tricky words during these sessions. In the Autumn and Spring term, Reception learn phase 2 and phase 3 GPCs and then will spend the final term learning phase 4.
Year 1 begin the Autumn term with 3 weeks of revision of phases 2, 3 and 4 before learning phase 5, which will be completed by the end of the year.
Year 2 children will begin the year by revisiting phase 5 and other previously taught phases to ensure all children are completely confident with applying these GPCs in both their reading and writing. The teaching of Phonics in Year 2 is supplemented by the use of the ‘Non Nonsense Spelling’ programme to ensure a breadth and depth of coverage of the spelling requirements for the end of Year 2.
Half- termly assessments take place through Reception and Year 1 to help inform future teaching and help identify children who have gaps in their phonic knowledge and need additional practice. Daily assessment of learning also takes place within the classroom so staff can quickly identify any children who are in danger of falling behind and provide the appropriate daily ‘Keep Up’ intervention.
Reading Practice Sessions
During reading practice sessions, children in Reception, Year 1 and 2, read fully decodable books with an adult three times per week. Children will have already mastered the phonemes and the tricky words to help them to read the text within the book. These books are then sent home for children to build their reading fluency and showcase their developing skills and phonetic knowledge to their parents/carers. Children progress through the Little Wandle Big Cat book bands as their phonological awareness grows and develops.
The three reading practice sessions each have a different focus; decoding, prosody (rhythm, stress and intonation of speech) and comprehension. .
Phonics Screening Check
Each year, all children in Year 1 must take the phonics screening check. Some children in Year 2 are also required to take the screening check either because they did not take it in Year 1 or because their Year 1 score did not meet the required standard.
The check, which provides important information about pupils’ early reading development, takes place in June each year and will be kept as low key and comfortable for the children as possible.
You will receive more information about the Phonics Screening Check when your child enters Year 1 and you will be invited to a Phonics Screening Check workshop where you can find out what it looks like, what is expected of the child and ask any other questions.
You can find some resources for preparing your child for the Phonics Screening Check at the bottom of this page.
How can I help my child with Phonics at home?
There are many ways you can support your child’s phonics learning and development at home: