Teaching and learning focuses on what children already know and what they need to learn next in order to make best possible progress – by stage not age.
Phonics is a programme that uses systematic phonics to teach all children to read. It lasts two years for most children – if they start to learn to read in the Reception class. (There are some children with learning difficulties who spend longer on the programme.)
We teach the sounds first – in a specific order. We then teach your children to blend those sounds together in order to read words. The children read words in the matched storybooks. Each Storybook is carefully matched to the sounds they can already read – setting them up for success. We read to children ‘real’ books’. Once they have learnt to read, they will be able to independently read these books for themselves.
The English language is very complex. Phonics is the method of teaching reading through the identification of sounds and graphemes. All words are made up of sounds e.g. in ‘mat’ we have the sounds ‘m’, ‘a’,‘t’. A grapheme is another name for the letters we use to write the sound. Write the letters ‘m’ ‘a’ ‘t’ in the air as you say the sounds. We teach phonics so that your children will have the tools to read any word.
We teach using pure sounds. We use pure sounds (‘m’ not’ muh’, ’s’ not ‘suh’, etc.) so that your child will be able to blend the sounds into words more easily. Children need to know sounds – not letter names – to read words.
We use this Speed Sounds chart in Phonics lessons.
It shows the most common graphemes for each sound. Each box is a sound box showing different ways to read and write the sound.
We also use Fred in our classrooms. He is a frog who can only speak in sounds, and we call this Fred Talk. For example ‘m’ ‘a’ ‘t’, ‘l’ ‘u’ ‘n’ ‘c’ ‘h’. He helps children sound out words so they can read and spell.
Once they can Fred Talk and blend sounds into words from the simple chart, we teach them Set 3 sounds on the complex chart – the other ways of reading and writing each sound so that they can soon read anything.
Alongside learning each set of sounds, they read Storybooks that only contain the sounds and words they can read. This sets them up to succeed in their reading. We also teach children to read common exception words – words like ‘said’ and ‘they’.
We use Fred Fingers to help children sound out words to spell easily. It means they do not have to memorise lists of spelling words. It is a tool so they will be able to spell any word.
How you can help at home
It really helps to be aware of how your child is learning in the classroom – pure sounds not letter names; Fred Talk when they are reading words and Fred Fingers when they are spelling words.
Encourage your child to discuss their Phonics lessons with you and to read and discuss their storybook with you at home.
We have shared the basics of Read Write Inc. Phonics and how you can help.
There are also some online resources that you can access for free.
Ruth Miskin Parents’ Page:
Ruth Miskin Facebook:
Free e-books for home reading: