Phonics is the ability to decode words for reading and writing by understanding the ‘sound’ letters make. At the Welland Academy, phonics is taught from Reception through to Year 3, using a blend of Read, Write Inc phoneme cards and phrases and letters and sounds.
In Phase 1, children focus on developing their listening skills by exploring natural, musical and man-made sounds.
In Phase 2 they are introduced to the ‘sound’ letters make which are called phonemes. They will begin to segment CVC words (for example c-a-t) and blend them (putting the sounds together for example c-a-t = cat). Once children are secure with these skills and can recognise most letters in the alphabet, they will move onto Phase 3 where they will learn the rest of the alphabet and be introduced to digraphs (2 letters = 1 sound for example th, ai, ng) and trigraphs (3 letters = 1 sound for example igh, air, ear). They will continue to segment and blend words applying this skill to their reading and writing.
Once secure, they move onto Phase 4 learning about longer words (for example bump and slap) and words that use 2 syllables.
In Phase 5 they will focus on alternative spellings for vowel digraphs (for example ai = ay, ee = ea, igh = i_e). Once secure they will move onto Phase 6 which builds on this knowledge by exploring prefixes and suffixes and word-specific spellings i.e. words that don’t follow phonic patterns.
As well as developing their phonic knowledge, from Phase 2 onwards, children learn how to read and write irregular words that do not follow the phonetic code, (for example the, house, called). These are called ‘tricky words’.
It is really important that children learn to use the 'pure' sounds when segmenting and blending. Watch the video below to find out what the 'pure' sounds are.