What is phonics?
Phonics is a way of teaching children to read quickly and skilfully.
Children are taught how to recognise the sounds each individual letter makes and to identify the sounds that different contributions of letters make such as ‘sh’ and ‘oo’.
Children are taught to read by breaking down words into separate sounds or ‘phonemes’. They are then taught how to blend these sounds together to read the whole word.
At Pentland Primary School we teach phonics, following the Ruth Miskin, Read Write Inc Programme.
Phonics Screening Check
The phonics screening check will check that your child can:
- Sound out and blend graphemes in order to read simple words.
- Read phonically decodable one-syllable and two-syllable words, e.g. cat, sand, windmill.
- Read a selection of nonsense words which are referred to as nonsense or alien (pseudo) words.
There will be two sections in this 40-word check and it will assess phonics skills and knowledge learned through Reception and Year 1. Your child will read up to four words per page for a familiar teacher and they will probably do the check in one sitting of about 5-10 minutes.
Who has to take it?
The phonics screening check will be taken individually by all children in Year 1 in England from June 2012. It is designed to give teachers and parents information on how your child is progressing in phonics. It will help to identify whether your child needs additional support at this stage so that they do not fall behind in this vital early reading skill.
Any children in Year 2 who have not yet passed the phonics screening check will also have the chance to re-take the test.
Alien or nonsense words
These are words that are phonetically decodable but not actual words with an associated meaning e.g. vorp, larg.
These words are included in the check specifically to assess whether you child can decode a word using phonic skills and not their memory. The pseudo words will be shown to your child with a picture of an alien. The children will be asked what the aliens name is by reading the word. This will make the check a bit more fun and provides the children with a context for the nonsense word. Crucially it does not provide any clues, so your child has to be able to decode it. Children generally find nonsense amusing so they will probably
enjoy reading these words.
You will be informed of your child’s progress in phonics and how he or she has done in the screening check, towards the end of the summer term.
All of the children are individuals and develop at different stages. The screening check ensures that teachers understand which children need support with decoding.
How can I help?
There are a number of things that parents can do to support early reading development:
- Let your child see you enjoy reading yourself. They are influenced by you and what you do!
- Immerse your child in a love of reading
- Make time for your child to read their school book to you
- With all books, encourage your child to ‘sound out’ unfamiliar words and then blend from left to right rather than looking at pictures to guess