At Bottisham Community Primary School we teach Phonics using the ‘Rocket Phonics’ programme.
What is Phonics?
Phonics is a way of teaching children to read quickly and skilfully. It is the skill of decoding words when reading and is one of many strategies used when teaching children to read. They are taught how to:
- recognise the sounds that each individual letter makes;
- identify the sounds that different combinations of letters make – such as ‘sh’ or ‘oo’; and
- blend these sounds together from left to right to make a word.
Children can then use this knowledge to ‘de-code’ new words that they hear or see. This is the first important step in learning to read.
A phoneme is the sound that the letter/s make and a grapheme is how the sound is written. Phonemes and graphemes are taught in a specific order that make up 6 phases. Daily phonics lessons are delivered in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2. However these skills are consolidated every time a child reads, is read to, writes or watches others write.
Research shows that when phonics is taught in a structured way – starting with the easiest sounds and progressing through to the most complex – it is the most effective way of teaching young children to read. It is particularly helpful for children aged 5 to 7. Almost all children who receive good teaching of phonics will learn the skills they need to tackle new words. They can then go on to read any kind of text fluently and confidently, and to read for enjoyment. Children who have been taught phonics also tend to read more accurately than those taught using other methods, such as ‘look and say’. This includes children who find learning to read difficult, for example those who have dyslexia.
Blending for Reading
To learn to read well children must be able to smoothly blend sounds together. Blending is more difficult to do with longer words so learning how to blend accurately from an early age is imperative. Model how to ‘blend’ sounds smoothly together without stopping at each individual sound, pronouncing the sounds correctly. It is also recommended to talk to your child about what blending is so they understand what they are trying to do.
Segmenting for Spelling
Segmenting is a skill used in spelling. In order to spell the word ‘cat’, it is necessary to segment the word into its constituent sounds; c – a—t. Children often understand segmenting as ‘breaking down’ a word into its sounds. Before writing a word young children need time to think about it, say the word several times, ‘break’ the word into the sounds and then write it. Once the children have written the same word several times they may not need to use these four steps as frequently. Children need to be encouraged to attempt unfamiliar words independently in order to improve their skills and increase their confidence.
Below are resources and links to websites that you may find helpful in supporting you child with Phonics.