Phonics teaches children how to read and write by developing their phonemic awareness—the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate different sounds used in the English language. Children learn the correspondence between these sounds and the spelling patterns (graphemes) that represent them. At Little Ealing, we strongly emphasise the teaching of phonics in the early years of reading and writing to give all children a solid foundation for learning. Because not all words in the English language comply with phonics rules, we also teach so-called 'sight words' by repetition and retrieval.
Phonics lessons at Little Ealing are taught daily from Nursery up to Year 1. Some children from Year 2 are also taught in phonics groups. The sessions are short, engaging and memorable, emphasising revising a previously learned letter-sound correspondence, learning a new one, practising this, and applying it to sentence-level work.
At Little Ealing, we teach children to read using a published phonics programme called 'Read Write Inc (RWI)'.
Sounds are introduced at a rate of one a day throughout the Autumn and Spring term. Children consolidate these sounds in the Summer term whilst learning to blend the sounds to read and write words.
What is Read Write Inc?
Read Write Inc (RWI) is a complete phonics literacy programme that helps all children learn to read fluently and at speed so they can focus on developing their skills in comprehension, vocabulary and spelling. The programme is designed for children aged 4-7. However, at Little Ealing, we begin the programme in Nursery and will continue teaching RWI to children beyond the age of 7 if they still need support in their reading.
Ruth Miskin developed RWI, and more information can be found at http://www.ruthmiskin.com/en/parents/.
Reading opens the door to learning. A child who reads a lot will become a good reader. A good reader will be able to read more challenging material. A child who reads challenging material is a child who will learn. The more a child learns, the more they want to discover.
Using RWI, the children learn to read effortlessly so that they can put all their energy into comprehending what they read. It also allows them to spell effortlessly so that they can put all their energy into composing what they write.
When using RWI to read, the children will:
When using RWI to write, the children will:
During the Summer term in Year 1, children nationwide are tested on their phonic knowledge. This test helps us identify children with gaps in their phonic knowledge and may need further support in Year 2. The test is low-key, and we endeavour to make it stress-free for the children. Essentially, the children are asked to read 40 words from a list, using their phonics to 'sound out' the word and blend it if needed. Parents are informed whether their child has achieved the national expectation within the child's end-of-year report.
The best phonics resources are ordinary reading books. Alongside the books, your child brings home, seek books that you and your child enjoy reading. Discuss words that present a challenge, breaking them down into their component sounds to read them if necessary. Make sure you set aside quiet time for reading and enjoying books together.
In addition to books, your child will bring home packs of words that can be decoded using their phonics knowledge. Practice reading and spelling these words. Play fun games with them, such as thinking of words that rhyme. Finally, your child will receive a word fan displaying 'high-frequency words' – common words often appearing in written texts. They are a mixture of decodable words (words that can be sounded out) and sight words/exception words (words in which the English spelling code works unusually or uncommonly, which means the words have to be learned and recognised by sight). The expectation is that by the end of Reception, children should be able to read most of these words, and by the end of Year 1, they should be able to spell most of them. Try to practice one word with your child from the list per day.