The Importance of Phonics
Word-reading is one of the essential dimensions of reading; the other is comprehension. Skilled word-reading involves working out the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and recognising familiar printed words. Underpinning both of these is the understanding that letters represent the sounds in spoken words. Fluent decoding supports pupils’ comprehension, because they don’t have to devote mental energy to individual words. A good grasp of phonics is also important for spelling, contributing to fluency and confidence in writing. (DfE 2012)
Phonics is the method of teaching reading and writing by correlating sounds with letters or groups of letters. There are 44 sounds in the English language which we put together to form words. Some sounds are represented by one letter like the 't' in tin, whilst other sounds are represented by two or more letters like 'ck' in duck.
Children are taught the sounds, how to match them to letters and finally how to use the letter sounds for reading and spelling.
At Aston Rowant School, we follow a fully resourced Systematic Synthetic Phonics Programme called 'Rocket Phonics', which enables children to learn how to read and write. Teachers use a combination of digital and printed resources, along with a fully matched series of decodable reading books. There is also an online platform, meaning that books and resources can be assigned digitally, to be used at home.
The Rocket Phonics lessons follow a Review, Teach, Practice and Apply format. Lessons last 30 mins and are taught daily. By the end of Reception, children who are working at Age Related Expectations will have been taught all of the sounds and Common Exception Words in Set 1 and they will have completed Practice Books 1, 2 and 3 and they should be reading a yellow or yellow plus coloured book.
By the end of Year 1, children who are working at Age Related Expectations will have been taught all of the sounds and Common Exception Words in Set 2 and they will have completed Practice Books 4, 5 and 6 and they should be reading an Orange coloured book.
Year 2, children working at Age Related Expectations should now know all of alphabetic code, so no new sounds are introduced, but decoding strategies are still revised and referred to frequently, as a means to decode new and unknown words.
By Phase 6, children should be able to read hundreds of words using one of three strategies:
Children should now be spelling most words accurately (this is known as 'encoding'), although this usually lags behind reading. They will also learn, among other things:
Although formal phonics teaching is usually complete by the end of Year 2, children continue to use their knowledge as they move up the school. ‘The whole aim of phonics teaching is not just to learn the sounds, but to use them as a tool for reading and spelling. ‘Everything leads on to independent reading and writing.
Technical Vocabulary Explained:
In Year 1, during the month of June, all children are required to sit the statutory Phonics Screening check. Children will be shown a mixture of real words and alien words, containing a mixture of phase 3 and phase 5 sounds. Your child will be asked to read the word, which they can either sound-out and blend or just read. Children either pass or don't pass the test. Children who don't pass the test, are given the opportunity to re-sit the test during the Summer Term of Year 2.Below, is a PowerPoint which explains a bit more about the test.