Phonics Support for Parents

The Importance of Phonics

Word-reading is one of the essential dimensions of reading; the other is comprehension.  Skilled word-reading involves working out the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and recognising familiar printed words. Underpinning both of these is the understanding that letters represent the sounds in spoken words. Fluent decoding supports pupils’ comprehension, because they don’t have to devote mental energy to individual words.  A good grasp of phonics is also important for spelling, contributing to fluency and confidence in writing. (DfE 2012)

Phonics is the method of teaching reading and writing by correlating sounds with letters or groups of letters.  There are 44 sounds in the English language which we put together to form words.  Some sounds are represented by one letter like the 't' in tin, whilst other sounds are represented by two or more letters like 'ck' in duck. 

Children are taught the sounds, how to match them to letters and finally how to use the letter sounds for reading and spelling.

Technical Vocabulary:

  • Phoneme: the smallest unit of sound. There are 44 phonemes in English. Phonemes can be put together to make words.
  • Grapheme: way of writing down a phoneme. Graphemes can be made up from 1 letter e.g. p, 2 letters e.g. sh, 3 letters e.g. tch or 4 letters e.g ough
  • Digraph: a grapheme containing two letters that makes just one sound (phoneme). 
  • Trigraph: a grapheme containing three letters that makes just one sound (phoneme).
  • GPC: grapheme-phoneme correspondence
  • Blending: Looking at a written word, looking at each grapheme and using knowledge of GPCs to work out which phoneme each grapheme represents and then merging these phonemes together to make a word. This is the basis of reading.
  • Oral Segmenting: Hearing a whole word and then splitting it up into the phonemes that make it. Children need to develop this skill before they will be able to segment words to spell them.
  • Segmenting: Hearing a word, splitting it up into the phonemes that make it, using knowledge of GPCs to work out which graphemes represent those phonemes and then writing those graphemes down in the right order. This is the basis of spelling.

How will my child learn to read?  

First, your child will learn to read:

  •  sounds written with one letter:

m a  s  d  t  i  n  p  g  o  c  k  u  b  f  e  l  h  r  j  v y  w  z  x and sounds written with two letters: sh  th ch qu  ng  nk ck

  • Words containing these sounds, by sound-blending,

e.g. m–a–t mat, c–a–t cat, g–o–t got, f–i–sh fish,
s–p–o–t  spot, b–e–s–t  best, s–p–l–a–sh splash

Second, he or she will learn to read sounds with 2 letters which we call digraphs and then sounds with 3 letters which we call trigraphs:

ay ee igh ow oo  oo  ar  or air  ir  ou oy ea oi a-e i-e o-e u-e  aw are  ur  er  ow  ai  oa  ew  ire  ear ure

Phonics Booklet for Parents