What is phonics and how can I help at home?

What is Phonics?

Phonics is one method of teaching children how to read and write.

It's all about sounds. There are 44 sounds in the English language, which we put together to form words.

Some are represented by one letter, like 't', and some by two or more, like 'ck' in duck and 'air' in chair.

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

Synthetic phonics refers to 'synthesizing', or blending, the sounds to read words. It's based on the idea that children should sound out unknown words and not rely on their context.

What can I do to help?

Parents helping their child learn to read with phonics often ask why it uses letter sounds and not names?

Letter names don't always sound the same as the actual sounds.

For instance, the letter name for B is pronounced with a long E sound after the letter sound: we say 'bee', but that's not the same as the letter sound. 

Many children find this difference confusing. So, instead of trying to teach the two at the same time, it is helpful to focus on teaching the letter sound first.

The links below are aimed at the children but it is great for parents to look through them to get an understanding of how phonics is spoken.  Have a look and then maybe suggest to your child that they take part in some of the activities together with you.  When they have become confident then they can find the same links in the 'Pupil Zone' part of the website. 

Big Brown Bear

Letters and Sounds

Phonics Play

Dinosaur Eggs

BBC Deep Sea Phonics

Family Phonics