What is Synthetic Phonics?
Synthetic phonics teaches the sounds (phonemes) associated with the letters (graphemes). The sounds are taught on their own and are then blended together.
There are 44 phonemes, these include:
- single letter sounds (e.g. s a t p i n)
- consonant digraphs – contain two consonants e.g. ch th ck sh ll
- vowel digraphs- contains two letters, at least one is a vowel e.g. ai ee oa ar or ow
- split digraphs (long vowel sounds) a_e i_e o_e e_e u
- trigraphs- contains three letters e.g. ear igh ire dge
Through Letters and Sounds, these phonemes are taught in phases. More information about these phases can be found below.
What are High Frequency Words (HFWs)?
These are common words that are essential for children to learn to read and spell. As children progress through the phases of Letters and Sounds they are introduced to sets of HFWs. Some words are decodable which children can blend to read e.g. then. Some are tricky words (e.g. said), which are not phonetically decodable and are learned by sight.
What is the Year One Phonics Screening Check?
The phonics screening check is taken individually by all children in Y1, during the Summer Term. This is not a formal test, but a way for teachers to ensure that children are making sufficient progress in the phonics skills to read words and are on track to become fluent readers who can enjoy reading for pleasure and for learning. Currently, there are two sections in this 40-word check, where your child will read real and nonsense words.
For more information about the phonics screen, please follow this link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/learning-to-read-through-phonics-information-for-parents
Letters and Sounds
Phase 1. Children explore sounds and words and develop awareness of rhyme, rhythm and alliteration. They learn how to orally blend sounds and distinguish different sounds in words. Phase 1 is started at the beginning of the Early Years Foundation Stage.
Phase 2. Children are introduced to at least 19 letters and corresponding sounds. They begin to read and spell simple CVC words. They also begin to read HFWs. These sounds are covered comprehensively through the Read Write Inc. programme in Reception.
Phase 3. Children learn one grapheme for a further 25 phonemes. These include consonant and vowel digraphs (e.g. ch, ng, ai, oa) and trigraphs (e.g. igh, air). They read and spell HFWs. Most children will complete this phase by the end of Reception.
Phase 4. Children read and spell words containing consonant clusters. These are 2 or more consonants that are often blended together when reading words (e.g. cl, dr, sk, mp, nd). Words containing these include- black, strip and chest. Phase 4 is generally started towards the end of the Foundation Stage, or at the beginning of Year One.
Phase 5. Children learn alternative ways of pronouncing the graphemes e.g. or, aw, au, ore. They are also taught to spell (segment) using the phonemes already taught. They read and spell new HFWs. Phase 5 is a long unit, taught throughout Year One.
Phase 6. Children apply their phonic skills and knowledge to recognise and spell an increasing number of words. They investigate and learn to add suffixes to words and to spell words in the past tense. Phase 6 is taught towards the end of Year One and throughout Year Two.
How can I help my child at home?
Helping your child to learn to read and learn to love reading is one of the greatest gifts you can give them. Encouraging your child to use their phonic knowledge, whilst reading at home, is a great way to support their early reading development. Don’t forget, your child’s class teacher is happy to help you with any questions that you have about reading or phonics. Here are a selection of websites that are a great way to help you support your child’s phonic development at home:
Oxford Owl is a fantastic resource for reading and phonics. The website includes over 200 free e-books which will support your child’s reading.
Suggested Apps for iPad:
There are a large number of apps available for the iPad (and other tablets), both for free and at a small cost.
- Mr Thornes does Phonics (various at £1.49-£2.99)
- ABC Pocket Phonics (free)
- Year 1 Phonics Screening Check