What is phonics?
Words are made up from small units of sound called phonemes. Phonics teaches children to be able to listen carefully and identify the phonemes that make up each word. This helps children to learn to read words and spell words. In phonics lessons children are taught three main things:
What makes phonics tricky?
In some languages learning phonics is easy because each phoneme has just one grapheme to represent it. The English language is complicated, it only has 26 letters in the alphabet. So some graphemes are made up from more than one letter, such as ch, th, oo, ay. These are all diagraphs (graphemes with two letters), but there are other graphemes that are triagraphs (made up of three letters e.g. 'igh') and even a few made up from four letters (e.g. 'ough') Another slight problem is that some graphemes can represent more than one phoneme. For example 'ch' makes very different sounds in these three words; Chip, School, Chef!
How is phonics taught?
Phonic sessions are very structured and last for approximately 10 minutes per day. The children are given the opportunity to explore what they are learning in phonics in independent. or adult-led activities throughout the nursery day. Phonics forms part of how we teach reading, but it is also important to help children become fluent readers by teaching them to recognise key words by sight. These are called 'tricky' words, words that cannot be segmented and blended to read. Phase two 'tricky' words include; I, no, go, to, the, into. These are words that children will need to learn by sight.