Phonics in The Coombes School

Phonics is important because it helps children to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary for reading and writing.  Working with phonemes and segmenting and blending gives children an understanding of the alphabet code and how it relates to reading and spelling.  (Phonemes are small units of sound within words, segmenting is breaking down words into phonemes to help with spelling and blending is building up words from phonemes to help with reading).

Phonics teaching, particularly in the early years, is taught in a ‘multi-sensory’ way so the activities are fun and interactive across all areas of learning and play.  For the youngest children the emphasis is on experiencing sounds and introducing phonemes ready to make words but as the children progress the emphasis switches to more formal teaching linked to reading, writing and spelling.

In Foundation and Year 1 the children are encouraged to do a wide variety of activities to familiarise them with the sound:  ‘eat’ it, chalk it outside on the paving slabs, feel it through textured letters, sing songs about it and make objects connected with the sound e.g. making a snail for the ‘ai’ sound.

Initially the children are encouraged to listen to different sounds; for example, everyday sounds, sounds made by shaking a bag of stones, different tones of voice and instrument sounds.  In this way the children can tune into sounds, listen and remember them and develop their vocabulary and comprehension by talking about them.  Rhythm and rhyme is very important, as is alliteration in order to develop an understanding of the sounds of words and syllables.  Eventually the children will experience segmenting and blending where different phonemes are sounded and joined to create simple words.

From Year 1 onwards the children have a discreet phonics session every day, usually about 15 minutes, where new sounds can be introduced, revisited or consolidated.  The children start to have a spelling book where the words will be related to the phonic sounds learnt that week.  Alternative spellings for different sounds and families of sounds are introduced to widen the children’s knowledge and understanding of the language. 

Later in the school some children will still have discreet phonics sessions tailored to their individual needs in order to help them with their fluency and competence in reading, writing and spelling.

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