The Parent's Page
A few of my non-teaching friends asked if I would include this page. They wanted to support their children with their phonic knowledge but were a little unsure what it was all about. So here comes a simple guide.
What is phonics?
Simply put, phonics is about teaching children the SOUNDS that letters make rather than their names. This is important because many words in English can be sounded out. In other words you can look at the letters, make their sound and put them together to make a word. For example, c-a-t = cat, sh-o-p = shop, t-igh-t = tight. So the sentence ‘A cat in a bed’ could be read purely by knowing those letter sounds and putting them together to make words. This is called BLENDING.
In reverse, this procedure is called SEGMENTING. This is when children are able to tell you the sounds that make a word, for example, pig is made with p-i-g, coat is made with c-oa-t. This forms the basis of early spelling as you can ask a child to tell you the sounds they can hear in a given word.
These skills are really important in early reading and writing (although they are not the only strategies that should be used).
The poems in this resource help to focus the children on the sounds that certain letters make rather than their names. It is still important to tell the children the name of the letter but explain that you will be learning the sound it makes. The children can then identify these sounds and hear them in a range of words. Eventually, they will be able to use this sound knowledge to read and spell simple phonetically correct words.
Of course, there are always exceptions to all letter sounds, and words containing these exceptions should not be used when teaching the given sound. That is why the words iron and ice were not used in the ‘i’ poem whereas itch, India, in and insect were. And crucially when teaching the sound x never use the word xylophone as an example, instead words like box, fox, ox are used to demonstrate the sound the letter x makes. All of the poems in the resource use words that make identifying the sound as easy as possible. This is particularly helpful once you start using the sounds in Phase 3 (CD2) and Phase 5 (CD3). Parents who are worried about confusing their children should just remember these rules or speak to your child’s teacher.
Although the formal teaching of phonics normally begins during your child’s Reception Year at school there is no reason why children can’t be exposed to sounds before this. Poems and rhymes are an essential part of any child’s enjoyment and recognition of pattern, rhythm and sounds in words and language.
The poems in this resource can be used at any age. Here are some suggested activities which can be done as part of your bedtime routine or during a spare 5 minutes!
SUGGESTED ACTIVITIES FOR YOU TO DO WITH YOUR CHILD
- Read a chosen poem and talk about the sound the letter or letters make.
- Identify objects in the illustration that start with or contain the sound you are focusing on.
- Encourage your child to join in with the Signalong actions.
- Identify the words containing that sound throughout the poem
- Go on an object hunt around your house/garden to find objects beginning with the sound or containing the sound.
- Play I spy
- Use magnetic letters or floating letters to make words containing the sound from the poem
- Try to come up with a silly sentence using the sound from the poem.
- Play the Little Lamb Phonics app (click on the lamb icon at the bottom of the page for details).
- Enjoy spending time with your child!
KEY PHONICS TERMS
Phoneme the sound that a single letter makes, for example, s as in sun, t as in tap. This is NOT the name of the letter as you would say it in the alphabet.
Grapheme a letter or number of letters that represent sounds in our speech.
Digraph ‘friendly letters’ the sound that two letters (or graphemes) make when they are together (being friendly) in a word for example, ‘oo’ in moon, ‘ng’ in song.
Trigraph ‘friendly letters’, the sound that three letters (or graphemes) make when they are together in a word for example, ‘ear’ in hear, ‘igh’ in night.
Split digraph –this used to be called ‘magic e’ when we were at school. Basically, the ‘e’ at the end of the word changes the sound the preceding vowel makes from its letter sound to its letter name. For example, cap becomes cape, bit becomes bite. It is a split digraph because there is always a consonant between the first vowel and the e.
CVC word – this is a word made from the basic consonant - vowel - consonant pattern. For example dog, pan and mud are all CVC words. CVC words are the first words your child will learn to read and spell using their sound knowledge.
If there are any other terms you are unsure about, please feel free to email me and I will do my best to answer your questions.