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Phonics and Spelling

In Early Years and Year 1, phonics is taught on a daily basis.

What are phonics and why are they important?

Phonics is the word used to describe the sounds the letters make. In simple terms, the word ‘rat’ can be read from its three sounds: r-a-t.


These are not the names of the letters as we say them in the alphabet, but the sounds these letters make.  Likewise, the word ‘light’ is made up of three sounds: l-igh-t, where pairs or groups of letters combine to make a single sound.  Similarly, ‘rash’ is made up of three sounds: r-a-sh.

Former Ofsted Director, Jim Rose, has said that phonics – where children learn the sounds of all the letters and combinations of letters – should be taught “first and fast” to young children.

We teach phonics proactively and systematically to children from the age of about four by showing them the sounds of the letters (not the letter names) and how these sounds can be blended to run together to make short words.

We use a phonics programme called Letters and Sounds. Many of our early reading books reinforce and support phonics learning. E.g. Dandelion Readers and Floppy’s Phonics

Letters and Sounds is divided into six phases, with each phase building on the skills and knowledge of previous learning. There are no big leaps in learning. Children have time to practise and rapidly expand their ability to read and spell words. They are also taught to read and spell ‘tricky words’, which are words with spellings that are unusual or that children have not yet been taught.

Fun activities to help with phonics

The following are phonics websites where you may find useful information to help support your child’s learning:

www.mrthorne.com

www.phonicsplay.com

Obviously, some children learn more quickly than others, so we still have some phonics groups in Year 2 and above. This is to ensure that all individual children are secure in their phonic knowledge.

Every year, parents in Acorns and Oaks are invited to an information session on phonics and handwriting.

Spelling

We follow the National Curriculum for spelling from Year 2 onwards. Spelling is taught every day for 20 minutes in all classes and is taught as a standalone subject rather than being integrated into the literacy lesson. Activities are varied – both oral and written and children have a set of spellings to practice and learn each week. They are then tested on a Friday.

However, we know that many children perform well in tests but then struggle to apply this knowledge when writing at length as they have lots of other things to consider in the writing process. Therefore, we always allocate editing time within a literacy lesson, allowing children to check and correct any spelling errors. We also encourage the children to use dictionaries and when working on the computers to look carefully at the options provided by the spelling check.