Supporting your child with reading and phonics

In Foundation Stage 2 we introduce phonics and reading using the principles of phase one in letters and sounds. We practise nursery rhymes, listen to environmental sounds, play listening and attention games and sing the jolly phonics songs.

So what is phonics?

Phonics is recommended as the first strategy that children should be taught in helping them learn to read. Words are made up from small units of sound called phonemes. Phonics teaches children to listen carefully and identify the phonemes that make up each word. When phonemes are written down they are called graphemes. We teach the children to recognise the phoneme-grapheme correspondences. Once they know some of these, they can begin to sound out and blend to read words and segment to spell words.

Phonemes can be graphs, digraphs and trigraphs.

  • A graph is a single letter making one sound.

                       s     a     t     p     i     n

  • A digraph is two letters making one sound.

                  ai    ee    ur    oa    oo

  • A trigraph is three letters making one sound.

                   igh    ear     air     ure


How can parents help?

When your child starts taking reading books home these will be lilac books. These books do not have any words in them this is to promote children's language and imagination. Take time to look at the pictures and discuss what they can see. Ask questions for example what can you see behind the tree? Is the girls hair long or short? Do you think the characters look happy or sad? When your child starts to bring books home with words it would be helpful if you could use the first night to do a walk through of the book for example- discuss the pictures, talk about the story language and key vocabularly. Then on the second night children can use these strategies to support them reading as well as segmenting and blending. When your child is reading their home reader, you can help them to spot digraphs and trigraphs, to sound the word out softly and then blend to read. The YouTube video, at the bottom of the page, shows you how to best pronounce the phonemes to aid blending. It also shows the alternative graphemes for those phonemes which are spelt differently.

A good tip- After your child has sounded out, ask them to reread the sentence. This helps them to remember and understand their reading.

What are common exception words?

Common exception words are those tricky words which can not be sounded out e.g. the, no. You can support your child by regularly reading through them. You could focus on learning just 2 or 3 a week. As well as reading them you could write them. We spell out common exception words as they can not be sounded out.

Here are some links to useful phonics and reading websites.

Phonics Play-

Topmarks phonics games-

Book Trust-

The School Run-

BBC Bitesize phonics-