What is Phonics?

Children are taught to read by breaking down words into separate sounds or ‘phonemes’. They are then taught how to blend these sounds together to read the whole word. There are around 40 different sounds.


When the children know the letters of the alphabet they can start to read and write cvc, ccvc, cvcc words.


After children become confident with cvc, ccvc, cvcc words, they then move onto learning digraphs and trigraphs.


Digraph- 2 letters making one sound


Trigraphs- 3 letters making one sound


Split digraphs- 2 vowels with a consonant in between. Use to be known as the magic e!

spine   - i_e

•Children need to be encouraged to ‘sound out’ when reading or writing.

Focus particularly on spotting more unusual sound patterns.

Please look at our How to say the sound page to view videos and activities.

Phonics: top 10 tips | Oxford Owl

Phonics expert and creator of the Read Write Inc. Phonics programme Ruth Miskin shares her top tips for developing phonics skills at home. Includes advice on decoding and blending words, and how to make the phonics sounds correctly.

1. Saying sounds correctly
This is really important when you are helping your child to learn the sounds. Just remember not to add an 'uh' to the end of the consonant sounds – so say 'mmm' not 'muh', 'lll' not 'luh', etc. because then later it’s easier to blend the sounds together to make words.

If you’re not sure then use our sound chart to hear how to say each sound .

2. Linking sounds to letters
Encourage your child to make a link between the sound and the written letter shape. Start with the sounds in your child’s name and then look out for them in signs. The sound m in McDonalds is always a good starting point too!

3. Sounds represented by more than one letter
Some sounds are represented by more than one letter such as 'sh' in ship, 'ch' in chat, 'th' in thin, 'qu' in quick and 'ng' in sing. When you’re out and about point out examples of these to your child too. You might see them in posters, signs, or leaflets.

4. Practise, practise, practise
Build up a knowledge of the letters and sounds quite quickly with your child and keep practising so that it becomes automatic. Keep reminding ‘Do you remember when we were talking about the sound 'ch'...?’, or ‘Oh look! There’s a big 't' (sound) on that poster!’.

5. Putting sounds together to read simple words
Say the sounds 'c-a-t' to read cat, 'sh-o-p' to read shop and' s-t-r-ee-t' to read street. If your child gets stuck and is struggling to blend the sounds, say the sounds yourself, quickly, until your child can hear the word!

Only beginner readers need to sound out every word as they read all the time. But, they will still need to work out new and long words.

6. Tricky words
Some everyday words in English have tricky spellings and can’t be read by blending. Imagine trying to read the word 'said' or 'does' by blending each letter! These are sometimes called high frequency tricky words , or Red words. These words just have to be learned by sight and flashcard-type games are a good way to practise these.

7. Reading books
Schools using a synthetic phonics scheme are likely to be sending home decodable books. This means the books contain mostly words that children can read by sounding out to get them off to a good start with independent reading. After your child has read a page, you can read it aloud again, to make sure that the story is enjoyed and understood.

8. Using pictures
Pictures are great for sharing and talking about a story (which is really important too!) but don’t encourage your child to use pictures to guess the words that they don’t already know.

9. Writing letters
Teach your child how to write the letters as the letter sounds are learned. And don’t forget to show your child how to hold the pencil correctly too!

10. Common sense ...
Lots and lots of books! Carry on sharing and reading lots and lots of stories and information books to and with your child.

11. Praise and hugs!
Most importantly, remember that your child will learn much faster with encouragement, praise and hugs.