What is Phonics?

A new year seems like the perfect time to discuss what is phonics and what is its relevance today. Phonics is a method of teaching reading and writing of the English language. Learners are taught to distinguish between phonemes (that’s letter sounds to you and me) as well as manipulate them in order to read and spell.                                                                                                                                            When a child starts their literacy learning journey, they will be taught letter sounds rather than the name of letters (think the abc alphabet song). They are taught this by looking at a letter and saying the sound. Once they know a number of letter sounds they can use their knowledge to decode (read) and spell simple words. In order to decode or read words, they will be expected to learn to blend the sounds together first orally (without looking at letters) and then by looking at letters, saying each sound and blending them together to may a word. So, for cat they would say c-a-t and then put it together to say cat. Although this seems a laborious way of learning to read it offers children increased independence and develops a have a go attitude which prior methods – such as whole word – did not. When a child can say the first six letter sounds s,a,t,p,i ,n they can, as a result, read and spell a number of words whereas if they just learn six words by sight they would just be able to read six words.

When it comes to spelling children segment (or break up) words into single sounds so should they wish to spell fish they would break it up into sound talk f-i-sh and could then spell the word fish. When young children start to spell their spelling can often appear wrong such as cake could be spelt caik. This is what we would call phonetically plausible and a child would be praised for this. People find this strange because after all the child has spelt a word wrong, but the child has used their phonics to spell a word and made an accurate attempy. As a child learns more phonics, they will be taught that there are variations when it comes to spelling and different sounds can be created by different combinations of

Phonics is not a new phenomenon as it was a method of teaching reading and spelling up until 1960s when whole word - learning by rote irrespective of any knowledge of the alphabet or sound system - became fashionable. It was reintroduced in 1998 and in 2006, after a review of the way children were taught to read by Jim Rose (the Rose Report), it was announced that all primary school children would be taught to read using the systematic phonics method. Some years later in 2011, the Government introduced a new, statutory phonics screening test which would take place at the end of year one. The premise of this is to ensure that all children have learnt phonic decoding to an age-appropriate standard and the children who have not are given additional help.

Sounds Right Phonics Classes for Kids Classes support children with their early phonic awareness as our classes bombard them with sounds so that they quickly learn to discriminate between sounds as well as learn nursery rhymes, rhyming and alliteration as well as oral blending and segmenting. These early phonic skills will hold them in great stead as they enter school.

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