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Early Reading and Phonics

Our children begin the Read Write Inc Phonics programme when they start at The Cathedral School in Foundation. 

Your child learns a new sound every day accompanied by a handwriting rhyme which helps them to remember how to form the letter shape when writing it.  For example, if they were learning the phoneme (sound) ‘a’, they would also learn the rhyme ’round the apple and down the leaf’ when they start to write their letter.

As your child learns each sound (phoneme), they are taught how to blend the sounds together to make two and three letters words (CVC words, consonant, vowel, consonant such as dog).   Alongside this, your child will start to read green words.  These are words which can be sounded out and blended like ‘dog’, ‘cat’ and ‘red words’  (tricky words) which can’t be sounded out phonetically like ‘to’, ‘go’.

When the children have learnt the single sounds they begin to move on to two and three letter sounds. These are called digraphs (2 letters making 1 sound like ‘ea’  in tea) and trigraphs (3 letters making 1 sound like ‘igh’ in light).

Here are some tips to help children of all ages to enjoy reading and to get reading more often.

  1. Take breaks while reading. 
  2. Build reading into your child's daily routine. 
  3. Encourage your child to follow their interests. 
  4. Use technology together. 
  5. Encourage your child to be the author, retell or make up stories.
  6. Have a chat.

Listening to your child reading is important. However, your child hearing your read or tell a story is just as important. This will support them to develop new vocabulary, learn how to use expression in their voice. Encourage your child to decode the sounds e.g. segmenting or drawing on sound buttons. When you are out and about read signs around you. Practise speed reading the sounds your child has been learning in school.  

Useful Terminology:

blend –  to draw individual sounds together to pronounce a word, e.g. s-n-a-p, blended together, reads snap.

digraph – A digraph is a single sound, or phoneme, which is represented by two letters like ‘ow’ as in  ‘s-n-ow’ reading ‘snow’.

grapheme – A grapheme is a letter or a number of letters which represent a sound (phoneme) in a word.

grapheme-phoneme correspondence (GPC) – the relationship between sounds and the letters which represent those sounds; also known as ‘letter-sound correspondences’.  This means that your child will be able to recognise and/or identify the written form of a letter when listening to the sound.

phoneme – A phoneme is the smallest unit of sound in speech, this may be one letter, or a group of two or three letters which make one sound.

segment – to split up a word into its individual phonemes (sounds) in order to spell it, e.g. the word ‘cat’ has three phonemes: c – a – t,

sound buttons – the number of phonemes (sounds) in a word, your child will be encouraged to draw a dot under a single letter to denote the number of sounds, if it is a digraph they will underline both sounds instead of drawing a dot. For example ay in play.

split digraph – two letters, split by another letter, but which make one sound, e.g. a-e as in make or i-e in site.

trigraph –  A trigraph is a phoneme which consists of three letters like ‘air’ as in ‘hair‘.

Reading in the Early Years & Key Stage 1

Phonics Books
Pupils who are still learning to decode through phonics will receive a phonics book which has words containing sounds that they can read. These books are fully decodable and matched to the Read Write Inc Phonics Programme. 

Reading for Enjoyment Books
Pupils will also receive a reading for enjoyment book from the school library. These books are to read alongside an adult/ read by an adult as a shared reading experience. These books help pupils to develop an understanding of story structure, characters and setting. Pupils may not be able to read all of the words in these books as they may yet to be taught the sounds needed. We encourage pupils however to read known high frequency words, recognise tricky words and use pictures as clues.

Some helpful videos to watch
Understanding Phonics
Pronunciation of Sounds
Why read to your child?