At The Meadows we teach children to write using Letters and Sounds, a synthetic phonics scheme. Phonics teaches children to segment words into sounds in order to write them; and to blend sounds into words in order to read them.
Reception and KS1 children have a daily phonics session of about 20-30 minutes.
In years 1 and 2, children are mixed into ability groups. This is to ensure that they are learning to read and write sounds at the level that they need. Some groups re-cap the sounds learned in reception class. Most of the groups focus on Phase 5, but at different paces. Children who are more confident spellers in Year 2 will move on to Phase 6.
Phase 1 of Letters and Sounds
is covered in pre-school and early in Reception. It is about listening for sounds, making them orally and breaking up words into units of sound.
Phase 2 of Letters and Sounds
In reception class, children learn to write all 44 sounds in the English language. They start with the most common ones, which are written with one letter. They learn to write them using songs and actions. Children record their initial attempts on Jolly Phonics sheets which are sent home for parents to practise. They will be learning how to hold a pen correctly and the correct way to form letters.
Phase 3 of Letters and Sounds
Later in Reception year, children proceed to more complex sounds which are written with two letters (for example, sh, oi, th, ar).
Phase 4 of Letters and Sounds
This covers longer words with adjacent consonants - words such as tent, splash, crab and so on. This is taught at the end of the year in Reception and covered again in Year 1 if needed.
Phase 5 of Letters and Sounds
This is when things get really tricky, as English has lots of confusing spellings! Children will be learning that the same sound can be written in lots of different ways: like the 'ee' sound in 'teen', 'steam', 'here' and 'funny'. This phase takes many months to complete and some children may learn it during both Year 1 and 2.
Phase 6 of Letters and Sounds
This phase moves onto spelling rules and looks at how to add 'ing' and 'ed' to words, among other things.
Helping children at home
We are pleased that many parents spend time on phonics at home with their children. Here are a few tips:
- Try to make it fun, so that children are engaged. Children can practise reading words in comics, recipes, signposts, on websites... and many more! Writing can be done using a stick and mud, a finger in the sand, a colourful pen, painting, and in other creative ways. Maybe you could try 'jedi-writing' with a light-saber in a dark room, for example?
- Children will learn both the name of a letter eg 'em' and its sound 'mmmm'. Names are useful if you are telling someone how to write something, but sounds help children to read and write independently, using their knowledge of what the word sounds like.
- Some sounds have two letters, try to use the the sound when reading these. It is not helpful for a child to make the sound 't' when they are reading the word 'bath' because the sound it makes is a 'th'!
- Please, please, please try not to make an 'uh' sound at the end. If a child says 'suh' instead of 'sss' it makes it very hard for them to read words - they will read 'sit' as 'suh' 'i' 'tuh' and blend this into 'suh-i-tuh' when they try to read it. Obviously this does not sound like 'sit' so it is doubtful that they will recognise it! Some letters we stretch the sound (sss, mmm, nnn) and others we 'bounce' it (p-p-p, i-i-i, d,d,d).