Reading and Phonics

What is Phonics?

Phonics is a way of teaching children how to read and write. It helps children hear, identify and use different sounds that distinguish one word from another in the English language. Phonics involves matching the sounds of spoken English with individual letters or groups of letters.  At St Joseph’s, we use Read, Write Inc as our systematic synthetic phonic programme. Synthetic phonics is a method of teaching where words are broken up into the smallest units of sound (phonemes). Children are taught how to break up words or decode them into individual sounds and then blend all the way through the word.

Phonics is a way of teaching children to read quickly and skilfully.

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 ‘decode new words that they hear or see. This is the first important step in learning to read.
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 4 to 7. Systematic teaching of phonics helps our pupils to learn the skills they need to tackle new words. They can then read any kind of text fluently and confidently and read for enjoyment.

Key terms we use in our teaching:

Phoneme – a single unit of sound
Grapheme – a written letter, or group of letters that represents a sound
Consonants – b, c, d, f, g, h, j, k, l, m, n, p, q, r, s, t, v, w, x, y, z
Blend – to put or merge the sounds together to make a word (e.g. the sounds c-a-t are blended to the word ‘cat’.)
Segment – to break down the word into individual sounds to spell (e.g. dog can be split into the sounds d-o-g.).
‘Special Friends’
Special friends are a combination of two or three letters representing one sound, e.g. ck, ay, igh, oa.

Meet Fred

Fred the Frog

Fred Talk

Fred the Frog helps children read and spell. He can say the sounds in words, but he can’t say the whole word, so children have to help him. To help the children read, Fred (the teacher) says the sounds, and then the children say the word.
For example:
Fred says c-a-t, children say cat, Fred says l-igh-t, children say light.
Teachers are encouraged to use Fred Talk throughout the day, so children learn to blend sounds.
For example:
Play Simon Says: Put your hands on your h-ea-d/ f-oo-t/ kn-ee.
Put on your c-oa-t/ h-a-t/ s-c-ar-f.
Set the table with a b-ow-l/ f-or-k/ s-p-oo-n.

Fred in your head.’
Once children can sound out a word, we teach them to say the sounds silently in their heads.
We show them how to do this by:

  1. whispering the sounds and then saying the whole word;
  2. mouthing the sounds silently and then saying the entire word;
  3. saying the whole word straight away.

Perfect pencil grip
Children sit at a table to write.
They hold up a pencil in a tripod pencil grip with the non-writing hand flat holding their paper.

Developing Early Reading

Step 1

Children are taught the following sounds. Set 1 Sounds are taught in the following order together with rhymes to help children form the letters correctly and instantly recognise sounds ready for blending.

Set 1

Set 1 Sounds

Set 2 & 3

The children are then taught Set 2 Sounds – the long vowels. When they are very confident with sets 1 and 2, children are taught Set 3 Sounds.

Set 2 and 3

Step 2

‘Ditty books’ will be introduced when they successfully begin to read single words.   Children will be also be taught to blend to read ‘speedy green words’ and ‘red words’.

Green words are linked to the sounds they have been learning and are easily decodable.

Green words

Red words are words that are not easily decodable and challenge words to extend children’s vocabulary.

Red words

The dots and dashes are written under each word to help our children to read.

Nonsense words (Alien words)

Children use their phonic knowledge to decode ‘nonsense words’ and also to help our children practise sounds they have learnt so far at school.  Here are a few examples of our ‘Nonsense words’.  As you can see, they are not actual words.

Alien words

Step 3

Children are introduced to storybooks. During each lesson, pupils will be given the opportunity to practise reading and will be given the opportunity to develop their comprehension skills. Children will learn how to hold, edit or build a sentence’.

  • ‘Hold a sentence’ encourages children to remember a whole sentence while focusing on spelling and punctuation.
  • ‘Build a sentence’ is to give children the opportunity to create their own sentences.
  • Edit a sentence’ allows the children to critique a sentence using their knowledge of spelling, punctuation and grammar.

How can I support my child’s reading and writing?

Here are the top five things you can do.

  • Ask your child to read the Speed Sound cards speedily.
  • Use Fred Talk to help your child read and spell words.
  • Listen to your child read their Read Write Inc. Storybook every day.
  • Practise reading Green and Red Words in the Storybook speedily.
  • Read stories to your child every day.

Ditty & Storybooks Progression

Ditty & Storybook Progression

Parent Information

How can I support my child to learn Set 1 sounds and to blend?

      • Use pure sounds, not letter names. Watch the ‘how to say the sounds’ parent film on How to say the sounds – YouTube.
      • Watch the ‘Reading the stretchy sounds with your child’, ‘Reading the bouncy sounds with your child’ and ‘Reading the digraphs with your child’ parent films on http://www.ruthmiskin.com/en/parents/ to see how to teach Set 1 sounds.
      • Practise reading known Set 1 Speed Sounds cards speedily. If needed, show your child the picture side of the card to help them remember the sound.

We teach children to read and spell using Fred. He is a toy frog who can say the sounds in words, but not the whole word. Children have to help him.To help children learn to blend, we say the sounds as Fred and then children repeat the sounds and say the whole word. Here are two ways you can use Fred Talk at home:

    • play Fred Games together
    • speak like Fred throughout the day e.g. time for l-u-n-ch! Let’s p-l-ay!
    • Watch the ‘Sound-blending’ parent film on http://www.ruthmiskin.com/en/parents/

We teach children to read and spell using Fred. He is a toy frog who can say the sounds in words, but not the whole word. Children have to help him. To help children learn to blend, we say the sounds as Fred and then children repeat the sounds and say the whole word.

Here are two ways you can use Fred Talk at home:

      1. play Fred Games together
      2. speak like Fred throughout the day e.g. time for l-u-n-ch! Let’s p-l-ay!

How can I support my child to learn Set 2 or 3 sounds?

        • Watch the ‘Set 2/3 tutoring’ film on http://www.ruthmiskin.com/en/parents/.
        • Help your child practise reading known Speed Sounds cards speedily. If needed, show your child the picture side of the card to help them remember the sound.

How do I listen to my child read?
Your child has a Storybook matched to the sounds and words they know – a decodable book – so they should be able to read all the words.
Please avoid saying, “This book is too easy for you!” but instead say “I love how well you can read this book!”

‘Special Friends’, ‘Fred Talk’, read the word

Remind your child to read words using ‘Special Friends, Fred Talk, read the word’ (see glossary).
For example ship’: spot the ‘sh’, then Fred Talk and blend to read the word e.g. sh, sh-i-p, ship.

Red Words

Red Words are also known as common exception or tricky words. They occur in stories regularly (said, what, where) but have unusual letter combinations (‘ai’ in the word ‘said’ makes the sound ‘e’).
Remind your child not to use Fred Talk to read Red Words but instead to ‘stop and think’.
Tell them the word if you need to.
 
Read the same book again and again

Children love reading the same book again and again. Their reading becomes speedier and they understand what they are reading.

      • Encourage your child to read words using ‘Fred in your head’ (see glossary).
      • Show your child how to read the story in a storyteller voice.
      • Share your enjoyment of the story when they read it again and again.