At Beacon Rise, we follow the Letters and Sounds programme which is a publication written and recommended by the Department for Education and Skills. It is split into six phases and designed to help teach children to read and write using synthetic phonics. Spoken English has 44 sounds (phonemes) and these phonemes are represented by letters (graphemes). The alphabet contains only 26 letters, but we use it to make all the graphemes that represent the phonemes. In other words, a sound can be represented by a letter (eg. ‘s’) or by a group of letters (eg. ‘th’ or ‘igh’). The Letters and Sounds programme uses this idea to progress children through six phases of learning at a pace that suits them, starting in Reception and continuing through to Year 2 or 3.
In each phase, children learn set letters and sounds as well as high frequency (common) words. Some of the high frequency words are decodable once letter sounds have been taught, for example ‘in’ but some of them are more tricky and need to be learned by heart for example ‘was’. Children are taught to blend (when sounds are merged together to make a word) and segment (split words up into their constituent sounds). They also read some made up words in order to enhance the skill of blending.
Full details of the Letters and Sounds programme can be found here:www.education.gov.uk
The following website may also help with understanding the programme:www.letters-and-sounds.com
As a parent, you can help your child learn the letters and sounds in their phase in a numbers of ways:
- Read your child’s reading book with them and other books they enjoy
- Use magnetic letters or letter cards to make words
- Practise reading tricky and high frequency words using flash cards
- Look out for words when out and about and also in the home
- Play games such as I-Spy or letter/sound bingo
- Whack a word – display key words and children hit them when they are read out (this could be timed)
- Put words or sounds on lolly sticks and hid them – when they are found they are read out loud.
- Buy or make an alphabet poster
- Read the books and complete the activities on BUG CLUB
- Play some online games (listed below)
Here are just a few websites that have games and activities to help with learning phonics: