At Laycock we use ‘Letters and Sounds’ to develop children’s phonic skills. We use a range of different strategies all aimed at supporting children to successfully blend for reading.
Aims and Ethos
At Laycock we are passionate about reading. We aim to create confident, successful and engaged readers with a love of literature. In order to do this, an enjoyment of letters and phonics is imperative. We understand that phonics impacts many other areas of the curriculum, which is why we put such a big emphasis on it. We encourage our children to be inquisitive about books, enjoy sharing stories and ask questions.
What is phonics?
Phonics is based on the alphabet which contains 26 letters and 44 spoken sounds. These sounds, otherwise known as phonemes are represented by graphemes (letters). A group of letters can also make a collective phoneme such as sh or air. The terms VC, CV, CCVC etc appear throughout the phases when related to words that children should be able to segment and blend within a particular phase. The C symbol refers to a consonant while the V symbol denotes a vowel.
We begin phonics input when children join us in Reception class. Letters and Sounds has 6 clear phases which begin at phase 1. Below is an overview of what they entail.
If your child has attended a nursery they should have been exposed to phase 1 phonics but where needed this will continue into Reception. The aims of phase 1 phonics are to aurally segment and blend spoken words such as ‘c/a/t’, develop speaking and listening skills, sing songs and explore rhyme. It is key at this stage that children develop a positive relationship with books and letters and talk extensively about what they see, hear and do.
Phase 2 -4
During phase 2- 4 children learn how to represent all of the 44 sounds with a grapheme or multiple graphemes. They also learn how to blend words together for reading and segment them for spelling. Children will also learn letter names and learn to read and spell some ‘tricky words’.
In this phase children learn new ways of representing sounds such as a-e and oy. They will practise blending for reading and segmenting for spelling.
By the time children reach phase 6 they should know most of the common grapheme correspondences. Children should now be confident fluent readers and use phonic strategies to support themselves when reading. These strategies include reading on sight, decoding quickly without reading aloud and decoding aloud.
As a parent your involvement and support is key. This is why we offer a phonics workshop for parents in Autumn and encourage you to practise your child’s learning as much as possible at home. Your child will also have ‘rocket words’ to practise at home as well as at school. These words are words for children to learn by heart. They are a combination of high frequency and tricky words for your child to learn on sight.
Children in Years Reception to Year 2 will have a book that is phonetically decodable for them to practise at home alongside an interest book of their choosing to promote a love of reading.
At the end of Year 1 children undertake a Phonics Screening Check. This is a nationally administered assessment where children’s ability to segment and blend for reading is checked. In preparation for this the Year 1 teacher administers a phonics screening test every half term. All children are tracked which means that those who are not making progress receive extra support and intervention.
Key Stage 2
Children entering Key stage 2 without passing the Screening Check will continue to have daily phonics input and support to ensure they make accelerated progress. Where children don’t make sufficient progress we use additional strategies and schemes to support reading such as ‘Toe By Toe’.
Useful documents and websites
The below websites have a range of games that support children’s learning in synthetic phonics.