Phonics: Are they important?

Phonics are the essential reading instructions that teach children the systematic and predictable relationships between written letters and spoken sounds. Through phonics, pupils acquire and apply the knowledge and skills to accurately read familiar words, decode and sound out new words.  Here at Dallington School we follow a six phase course for Nursery to Year 2, from identifying sounds in words, learning to read and write 44 sounds and finally alternative spelling – different spellings that are pronounced the same way. Our teachers teach phonics through a range of fun and multi-sensory activities to help pupils remember the sounds and to combine them to make age-appropriate words. Our aim is to help them develop their confidence in reading unknown words and in writing words they have not learnt how to write, so that they can become more independent learners. Children need many opportunities to apply phonetics to functional and interesting reading and writing activities inside and outside the classroom.

A few ideas to support your child with their phonics at home:

  1. Play fun phonics games like “I Spy a Sound…” This is a fun way to build phonics skills and phonemic awareness.
  2. Try to read with your child as often as possible. Make it a special time, one that your child looks forward to. Look for opportunities for your child to join in with parts that rhyme and phrases or sentences that are repeated. Showing enthusiasm for your children’s reading has a great influence on them.
  3. Encourage your children to talk about the pictures they see, encourage them to blend the sounds they already know. Ask them questions about the book, what do you think will happen next? Predicting, inferring and explaining will help your child pronounce too.
  4. Encourage your child to spell the word using their phonetical knowledge. Even if the spelling is incorrect, if they have used their phonics to write it they will be able to read it and their confidence will increase. At school we teach letter formation stories. When your child is learning to write letters ask them to tell you the story, it will help them to remember how to form the letter correctly.
  5. If your child has been given tricky words to learn try to practice these as much as possible. Can they read them, write them, and use them in a sentence? Trick words are the most common words children will come across in their reading – learning these makes reading easier.

Melissa Field, EYFS and Phonics Leader

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