What is phonics?
Phonics is a method of teaching children to read by linking sounds (phonemes) and the symbols that represent them (graphemes, or letters) to form words.
Phonics teaches children to be able to listen carefully and identify the phonemes (individual sounds) that make up each word. This helps children to learn to read words and later to spell words.
There are 6 different ‘phases’ of learning phonics, ranging from Phase 1: listening to sounds to phase 6 which teaches more complicated reading and spelling skills such adding prefix and suffixes. At nursery level we focus on Phase 1 ensuring that children have all the skills in place they need to start phonics in Rception.
In Phase 1 phonics children focus on developing their listening and speaking skills so that when the time comes to introduce phonemes (letter sounds) children are able to listen closely and decipher between the different (often similar) sounds. Basically, it helps them to tune into sounds.
When planning for Phase 1 phonics we follow the order of DfE’s Letters and Sounds document. This breaks the listening activities into 7 different aspects, getting progressively harder as the children’s listening skills develop. These are all taught through fun, engaging games and activities.
- Environmental Sound Discrimination
- Such as sound walks around the nursery, drumming on different materials around the garden, describe and find it games.
- Instrumental Sound Discrimination
- For example deciphering between musical instruments, adding new words to old songs or adjusting volume when playing the instruments.
- Body Percussion Sound Discrimination
- We explore different ways to make sounds with our bodies.
- Rhythm and Rhyme.
- Voice Sounds
- Oral Blending and Segmenting
Blending: This is when children say the sounds that make up a word and are able to merge the sounds together until they can hear what the word is. This skill is vital in learning to read.
Segmenting: Like blending but in reverse. Children are given the word and taught to identify the individual sounds within it in order to sound out/ spell the word.