During the lockdown the phrase ‘homeschool’ is getting thrown around a lot. For some if offers a welcomed challenge, for other a daunted task, but we want to do everything we can to help out! After hearing a from a few families, our Pre-School EYT’s are going to releasing some key ’school readiness’ blogs, to help you help your little ones!
The first one is all about phonics… enjoy!
Before we get started… What is phonics?
Words are made up from small units of sound called phonemes. Phonics teaches children to be able to listen carefully and identify the phonemes that make up each word. This helps children to learn to read and spell words when they get to school.
Phonics at school
There are 6 phases of phonics altogether which are taught from Preschool to Year 2. During phonics sessions children are taught three main things:
GPCs – They are taught GPCs. This stands for grapheme phoneme correspondences. This simply means that they are taught all the phonemes in the English language and ways of writing them down. These sounds are taught in a particular order. The first sounds to be taught are s, a, t.
Blending – Children are taught to be able to blend. This is when children say the sounds that make up a word and can merge the sounds together until they can hear what the word is. This skill is vital in learning to read.
Segmenting – Children are also taught to segment. This is the opposite of blending. Children can say a word and then break it up into the phonemes that make it up. This skill is vital in being able to spell words.
Phonics at Muddy Boots
In preschool during phonics sessions we focus on Phase 1 phonics. This concentrates on developing children’s speaking and listening skills and lays the foundations for Phase 2 phonics which they will start in Reception. The emphasis during Phase 1 is to get children tuned into the sounds around them, which means playing lots of fun listening games!
Phase 1 is divided into seven aspects. Each aspect contains three strands: Tuning into sounds (auditory discrimination), Listening and remembering sounds (auditory memory and sequencing) and talking about sounds (developing vocabulary and language comprehension). If children are ready and start to show an interest in identifying different phonemes, we will begin to look at these; starting with ‘s’, ‘a’ and ‘t’ which are the first few phonemes they will learn in Phase 2 at school.
When teaching children to say each phoneme in a word, it is important to not add ‘uh’ onto the end, for example ‘s’ should be taught ‘sss’ instead of ‘suh’ and ‘t’ should be taught ‘t’ instead of ‘tuh’. Letter names such as in the alphabet song can be taught, however it’s best to stick to letter sounds which will help children to segment and blend these sounds into words at a later stage.
Phonics at home
If you would like to extend your child’s phonics learning at home, here are a few activity ideas:
- Go on a listening walk – what sounds can you hear?
- Phoneme hunt – choose a phoneme and go on a hunt around the house to find things which start with that sound.
- Noisy bag – fill a bag with different noisy objects inside e.g. crisp packet, foil, keys then guess what they are.
- Read rhyming stories – talk about which words sound the same.
- Sing songs together e.g. nursery rhymes.
- Make your own musical instruments – what sounds do they make?
- Matching pairs game with pictures that rhyme.
- Play ‘I Spy’.
- Help to write shopping lists – children tell you initial sounds of items (‘b for banana’)
- Use shallow trays filled with sand, flour, salt to practise forming letters (use fingers, straws, sticks, cutlery).
- Practise holding a pencil correctly and copying initial letters/writing name (if ready to)
Some useful phonics websites: