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How to support Phonics and Spelling

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 that we use when teaching phonics in school: 

  • 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. 

Some words cannot be read or spelt phonetically and need to be read and learnt as sight words. You will see the words in the High Frequency Word Lists and the Common Exception Word Lists. 

Some of the most useful guides are listed below.

Phonics and reading

Phonics: How to pronounce pure sounds

Phonic Sound Mats

Tricky Words Mats

High Frequency Words

PHONICS AND READING

Common Exception Words and Spelling Lists