Phonics is one method of teaching children how to read and write. 
There are 44 sounds in the English Language, which we put together to form words.  Some are represented by  one letter like 't' and some by two or more like 'ck' in duck and 'air' in chair.  Children are taught the sounds first, then how to match them to the letters, and finally how to use the letter sounds for spelling. 

Synthetic phonics
The most widely used approach associated with the teaching of reading in which phonemes (sounds) associated with particular graphemes (letters) are pronounced in isolation and blended together (synthesised). For example, children are taught to take a single-syllable word such as cat apart into its three letters, pronounce a phoneme for each letter in turn /k, æ, t/, and blend the phonemes together to form a word.

Analytical phonics
A popular approach in Scotland, this method is associated with the teaching of reading in which the phonemes associated with particular graphemes are not pronounced in isolation. Children identify (analyse) the common phoneme in a set of words in which each word contains the phoneme under study. For example, teacher and pupils discuss how the following words are alike: pat, park, push and pen.

Phase 1

The purpose of this phase is to develop children’s listening skills, including sound discrimination, through an awareness of sounds in the environment, sounds made with instruments, noise makers and body percussion. Children are also encouraged to experience and recognise rhythm and rhyme in stories, poems and speech, before moving on to an appreciation of alliteration – phrases beginning with the same initial sound/letter e.g. sizzling sausages or chunky chips. 

This is followed by voice sounds, where children are encouraged to explore a rich and expressive vocabulary and experiment with speech sounds e.g. replicating water noises with sounds such as drip,bubble, bubble, swoosh. This leads on to oral segmenting and blending where they focus on initial word sounds then blending sounds to make words e.g. ‘Give yourself a p.a.t. on the! 


Phase 2

The purpose of this phase is to teach at least 19 letters and move the children on from oral segmenting and blending to using letters for this activity. Most of the initial sounds (a,b,c etc) are learned and then the children are introduced to the principle that some sounds (phonemes) are represented by 2 letters e.g. ck, ff, ll, ss as in duck, puff, bell and mess (i.e. usually the ends of words with short vowel sounds). 

In Phase 2, children are introduced to segmenting and blending using letters to build specific vowel, consonant (VC) words e.g. is, at and consonant, vowel, consonant words (CVC) e.g. sat, pin etc. As well as real words the children make up, say and read alien or pseudo words to help them develop this important skill. 


Phase 3

The purpose of this phase is to teach another 25 graphemes (most of them represented by 2 letters) so that the children know and use 42 phonemes (sounds) and their corresponding grapheme (letter representation). The children also need to learn letter names.Letters :- j, v, w, x, y, z, zz, q


Phase 4

The purpose of this phase is to consolidate the children’s knowledge of Phase Two and Phase Three graphemes(letters) and phonemes (sounds) and apply these when reading and writing words containing adjacent consonant sand polysyllabic words. 

Children are introduced to consonant, consonant, vowel, consonant (CCVC ) words and consonant, vowel,consonant, consonant (CVC C) words while developing their segmenting and blending skills for reading and spelling simple polysyllabic words. 


Phase 5

The purpose of this phase is for children to broaden their knowledge of graphemes and phonemes for use in reading and spelling. They will learn new graphemes and alternative pronunciations for these and graphemes they already know, where relevant. Some of the alternatives will have already been encountered in the high frequency words they have already been taught. Children become quicker at recognising graphemes of more than one letter in words and blending the phonemes they represent. 


How can I support my child at home?

There are so many easy things you can do to help support your child’s phonics learning. Here are a few ideas:

Talk, talk, talk!
As a parent, you are the model of good speaking and listening. Regularly introduce new words (vocabulary). For example, for the word big you could also introduce large, huge, or enormous. Encourage them to say the word too. This is not about reading the words but about your child hearing and saying them.

Read to and with your child
This models good reading skills and promotes reading enjoyment. Have a special book box or bag where your child can keep the stories and any other texts, such as comics or non-fiction books, you’ve read together recently. Re-read these so that over time your child builds up their stock of stories and texts they know well.

Ebooks are another lovely way to share a story or non-fiction book together. Just make sure eBook reading is balanced with reading hard copy books so your child experiences all the different skills required for reading from a page and reading from a screen. Oxford Owl has a free eBook library where you can read together online.

Teach nursery rhymes and songs and make lots of opportunities to sing and recite them.

Pronounce words and sounds clearly
In all games and activities make sure you pronounce the speech sounds clearly and as short as possible. Do not make them too long. For example, the letter ‘m’ has a short /m/ sound not a continuous /mmmmmmm/ sound. Try not to add an extra sound onto the speech sound too. For example, the sound is /m/ NOT /m-uh/.

To find out how to pronounce the pure phonics sounds, watch our video:
Video: How to say the sounds