Phonics & Spelling
Developing Automaticity with Reading
As the school year progresses children are flying through the phonic phases, mastering phonic sounds phase by phase and set by set. They are learning to blend sounds at great speed , in order to read with automaticity. Teaching phonics at the schools of Woolton Hill, ensures that every child becomes a good reader.
Synthetic Phonics Explained
Children learn to map phonemes ( the smallest units of sound) to the letters or combinations of letters they correspond with. So c- a-t can be blended to make cat or c-a-t-ch can be blended to read catch. The sounds are “synthesised” to make words.
Here at the schools of Woolton Hill , we selected Floppy’s Phonics as a very engaging scheme, through which children can master phonics and become confident readers, spellers and writers. A scheme offering children continuity and structure until they have cracked the alphabetic code! Children are taught through whole class sessions, small group catch up sessions and individual sessions as needed. Learning is carefully monitored so we know exactly the phonemes that need to be taught next, learning is tailored to every child’s stage and need.
Phonemic awareness is a great predictor of future reading and spelling success. There are 44 phonemes in English and children learn to recognise each phoneme ( sound) and the letters, or combination of letters ( graphemes) they map to each phoneme. E.g. a as in ant , th as in this , sh as in shell and igh as in high . At the Schools of Woolton Hill we embrace Floppy’s phonics as an excellent scheme to teach synthetic phonics and create confident readers and writers.
Decoding is the process by which children apply their knowledge of letter sound relationships to correctly pronounce written words, to operate the code. Children learn by being given decidable books, that means books that contain knowledge that has been previously taught. Most of the decodable books have information on the inside cover, saying which phonic sounds the book contains. At the schools of Woolton Hill children enjoy a wide range of decodable texts including Floppy’s phonics, Alien Adventure Stories and Code X.
Some of the Jargon Explained
Being aware of the smallest units of sound e.g. a, th or igh.
Letters that match to phonemes.
Graph : one letter, one sound e.g. p as in pig
Digraph: two letters, one sound e.g. th as in that
Trigraph: three letters, one sound e.g. igh as in light
Pushing sounds together to read.
Taking sounds apart to spell.
Alternative spellings: This refers to the different ways the same phonemes can be represented in English e.g. “a”, “ai”, “ay” which children need to learn.
Children need to meet a wide range of books, so we also offer shared reading books. These books contain words children may not be able to decode yet or contain irregular “tricky” words that cannot be easily decoded, like “was” or “the” . These books are to be read with a confident reader who can support and say what these words are.
A Love of Reading
Remember children need to develop a love of reading and not just master the skill and drill aspects. So using the library , reading to children and with children , is vital so they appreciate why mastering this skill is worth while !
A tricky word in an irregular word, some words are just temporarily tricky, until a child learns more phonic sounds. Other words are always tricky , so the tricky parts need to be taught by remembering what the word looks like e.g. you or saw.
Age and Stage
Many children master the phonic system quickly, but others need more time. At Woolton Hill we are careful not to let any child fall behind, offering extra phonic lessons and a broad range of age appropriate decodable texts into the Junior school if needed.
The role of ICT
Children love to learn through the use of ICT. Floppy’s phonics or Nessy( a phonics, reading and spelling intervention). Animation through ICT brings learning to life , is readily accessible, interactive and offers learners instant feedback.
The children have lots of props to support their learning such as phonic word mats, tricky word mats and posters to refer to.
Children are also taught familiar routines e.g. to use their “phoneme fingers” to count the phonemes in any given word and to write dashes first before filling in the sounds when writing.
The Year One Phonics Screening Check
Each year children in year one take a National phonics screening check, MOST children reach the National standard but those who need more time have extra teaching sessions to catch up. In the screening check children need to read nonsense or alien words e.g. Felph or Gloof , this tests children’s ability to blend the 44 phonemes they’ve been taught.
Phonics is the backbone to being able to read, a core skills needed to crack the alphabetic code. This isn’t all reading involves though, it is also about:
Here are more ways you can reinforce phonics learning at home:
Work closely with the teacher. Ask how you can highlight phonics and reading outside of class, and share any concerns you have.
Find out how to pronounce phonic sounds correctly.
Listen to your child read regularly.
Boost comprehension by asking questions about what they have read.
Revisit familiar books to build confidence.
Read aloud to your child too.
Enjoy a wide range of books including decodable texts, shared reads and library books