What is phonics?

Phonics is a way of teaching children to read quickly and skilfully. They are taught how to:

  • recognise the sounds that each individual letter makes;
  • identify the sounds that different combinations of letters make – such as ‘sh’ or ‘oo’;
  • blend these sounds together from left to right to make a word.

Children can then use this knowledge to ‘de-code’ new words that they hear or see. This is the first important step in learning to read.

Here at Yarm Primary we use a highly structured phonic approach of the Jolly Phonics programme to teach children the sounds needed to decode words.


Helping your child with phonics

Phonics works best when children are given plenty of encouragement and learn to enjoy reading and books. Parents play a very important part in helping with this. You may find the PhonicsPlay (www.phonicsplay.co.uk) as well as the Oxford Owl website (www.oxfordowl.co.uk) of interest.

Some simple steps to help your child learn to read through phonics are:

  • With all books, encourage your child to ‘sound out’ unfamiliar words and then blend the sounds together from left to right. Once your child has read an unfamiliar word you can talk about what it means and help him or her to follow the story.
  • Try to make time to read with your child every day. Grandparents and older brothers or sisters can help, too. Encourage your child to blend the sounds all the way through a word.
  • Word games like ‘I-spy’ can also be an enjoyable way of teaching children about sounds and letters. You can also encourage your child to read words from your shopping list or road signs to practise phonics.


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