Research shows that when phonics is taught in a structured way – starting with the easiest sounds, progressing through to the most complex – it’s the most effective way of teaching young children to read. It’s particularly helpful for children aged 5–7.
Phonics is a way of teaching children to read by breaking up words into small chunks of sound. For example we can break a simple word like ‘cat’ into the three sounds c-a-t. To become successful readers children will learn the individual sounds for each letter or group of letters. Some sounds in English are made up of more than one letter like the sound ‘ea’ in tea or team. Once children know the sounds they will be able ‘decode’ unfamiliar words by breaking the word into sounds then read the word by blending back together.
The Government has introduced a phonics screening check for all children in Year 1. The test will be held in the first half of the summer term when your child is in Year 1. Each child will sit with a teacher they know and be asked to read 40 words aloud. Some of the words they may have read before and some words will be completely new to them. The 40 words in the test will be made up of real words and non-words. The test normally takes a few minutes to complete and there is no time limit. If your child is struggling, the teacher can easily stop the test. The test is carefully designed not to be stressful for your child.
Each June, all children in Year 1 do their phonics screening test. This is a short assessment to find out how accurately the children are reading decodable words. Children will be asked to ‘sounds out’ a word and then blend the sounds together. For example:
d–o–g dog f-air fair l-igh-t light
The children will be asked to read real words and made up ‘alien’ words.