Phonics, reading and handwriting
What is phonics?
Phonics is one method of teaching children how to read and write. Phonics is all about sounds. 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 letters, and finally how to use the letter sounds for reading and spelling. Synthetic phonics refers to 'synthesising', or blending, the sounds to read words. It is based on the idea that children should sound out unknown words and not rely on their context.
Our school phonics schemes
At Gurnard Primary School, we teach children in our Reception and Key Stage 1 Classes how to read and write using a synthetic approach and resources from the Song of Sounds Phonics Programme.
Song of Sounds uses songs to teach children all the phonemes necessary to read and write English successfully. The programme is divided into different stages for Reception, Year 1 and Year 2. Each week has four short daily sessions and then a longer consolidation session at the end of the week.
Click here to hear the song used to help consolidate children's learning.
Please click here to see a film clip demonstrating how to pronounce sounds when teaching children to read with synthetic phonics.
This is the "script" we use when we are teaching the children how to form each letter:
Year 1 Phonic Screening Check - Information for parents and carers
Our school reading scheme
At Gurnard Primary School we use a number of different phonically based reading schemes to give the children depth and variety in their reading experiences. These include Phonic Bug, Rigby Star and Oxford Reading Tree.
Books are graded into colour-coded book band levels, and within each level there is a carefully planned progression of books. This ensures that each child has a book at exactly the right level for them. This fine progression gives children plenty of opportunity to develop their reading skills and master each fine step while moving through the reading programme.
Reading book bands
How to help at home
Reading at home is one of the most important ways you can support your child. Here are some ways you can help:
- Try to create a relaxed reading atmosphere. Establish a regular time and place to read and ensure the surroundings are as calm as possible. If your child doesn’t feel like reading, offer to read to them instead. Be positive about reading.
- Children don’t have to read with you. It can be very motivating for them to read with siblings, grandparents or friends.
- Talk to your child about the books they are reading. Before reading, challenge your child to be a book detective: look at the book cover and see if they can guess what the book will be about or what type of book it is. As you read together, talk about what is happening in the book, what might happen next, and anything that has puzzled them. When your child finishes a book, ask them whether they liked it or not and encourage them to explain why.
- Help your child engage with books by using them as an inspiration for play. You could try acting out part of the story or making something from the book.
- Remember that reading a book is not the only reading your child will do. Encourage them to read signs, leaflets, recipes, instructions and so on. By reading these types of texts your child will often be reading without realising they are doing so!
Julia Donaldson’s top tips for reading with your child
Julia Donaldson has written some of the most popular and best-loved children’s stories including The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child, Room on the Broom, The Highway Rat, Zog and Stick Man.
She is also the author of the popular phonic Songbirds series, part of Oxford Reading Tree published by Oxford University Press.
Watch these videos from Oxford Owl of Children’s Laureate Julia Donaldson talking about some simple and fun ways you can help your child with their reading at home. Guaranteed to make reading fun and help your child develop a love of reading.