Children start our bespoke systematic phonics programme as soon as they enter our school. They begin by taking part in games and activities that activate their eyes and ears to identify sights and sounds that are similar, but different. This prepares them for being able to discriminate between different letter shapes (graphemes) and letter sounds (phonemes). For example, the letters b,d and p that not only look similar, but sound similar too.
When they are ready, children are progressively taught the specific sounds that different letters, or groups of letters, make. At this point, they are given a word and an action to represent each sound, as well as a simple rhyme that describes the correct formation for writing each letter; all of which give the children hooks to remember the many different graphemes they are shown.
As they are introduced to new letter shapes and sounds, children are also taught to blend phonemes together in order to read words, e.g. m-a-n = man. Once children are able to do this, they are given a phonetically decodable book to take home to allow them to apply their phonic knowledge with minimal support. Families are encouraged to use the practise page at the front of each phonics book, before their children start to read, to refresh their knowledge and skills before attempting to read the text. As children progress through the phonic phases, the decodable books reflect their increase in knowledge. Children are also given access to e-books which match their phonic level, to give them additional opportunities and flexibility to practise their skills on a range of different electronic devices.
Some children require more support than others to learn to read and, through our Reading & Phonics Intervention Pathway, we ensure sufficient time and resources are invested in giving children the appropriate support they require to develop their reading skills across the school.