How we teach Phonics at RFPS
At Rugby Free Primary, phonics is a high priority as we see it as the key building block for early reading. Regular phonics sessions are taught four days a week where the children have the opportunity to focus on a key sound and practice reading and writing this.
We use the Read Write Inc (RWI) programme. RWI is a method of learning centred round letter sounds and phonics, and we use it to aid children in their reading and writing.
In phonic sessions children are taught to recognise letters, understand the sound they make and then blend them together to create words. Some words, which cannot be phonetically sounded out, are taught at each phase. These are ‘tricky words’ and are taught through sight recognition.
Children continue to apply their new knowledge of phonics, through regular interactive reading of texts with the teacher and their reading partner during the school day.
Alongside our RWI scheme, our children also use a phonics based reading scheme to compliment this through home reading. The focus of this is reading comprehension and children using their growing knowledge of phonics and sight words to encourage them to read with increasing accuracy. Children are then taught to develop Early Writing skills and encouraged to combine their phonics skills and sight vocabulary skills within this.
In 2012 a statutory Phonics Screening check was introduced in Year 1. The check assesses phonics knowledge learnt in Reception and in Year 1. It was developed to help identify the children who need extra help with decoding and blending before they begin Year 2. RFPS Year 1 children will take this test in the summer term and their results will be reported to parents.
Read Write Inc. lessons
Children enjoy their RWI lessons immensely, rapidly learning a very complex alphabetic code which they apply to both reading and writing. RWI teaching begins formally in Reception, with the aim that most children complete the programme by the Autumn term of Year 2.
Partner practice is embedded in every stage of the teaching cycle, ensuring children are given lots of opportunities to formulate and discuss their ideas, develop their comprehension and make links to their own experiences. Fostering a love of reading is one of our core purposes and we use a range of high quality storybooks to make explicit links to the RWI text children are reading in class.
From the very beginning of the programme, children’s writing skills are developed through phonetic knowledge. In Reception, children begin by practising forming written sounds (graphemes) and short, phonetically regular (green) words. Children soon move onto writing short, coherent sentences and later, descriptive, imaginative compositional pieces of writing. Lots of concrete experiences are provided during the teaching cycle to further support children’s writing, and the use of Read Write Inc. teaching strategies throughout the day reinforces children’s confidence in and enjoyment of literacy across the curriculum.
Phonics at Home
There are many great websites and apps to help support phonics learning at home. Some of our favourites are on our Children Zone under English for the children to play. We also use the Forest Phonics App in school and this can be purchased at home also if you wish. We would also recommend your buy the RWI phonics flashcards and practice these with your children. These can be bought very cheaply on the internet. As you practice with your child, it is crucial however that the sounds are pronounced in the same way as in RWI scheme. The video below shows how each to pronounce the different sounds.
Phoneme – The smallest unit of sound. There are approximately 44 phonemes in English (it depends on different accents). Phonemes can be put together to make words.
Grapheme – A 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.
GPC – This is short for Grapheme Phoneme Correspondence. Knowing a GPC means being able to match a phoneme to a grapheme and vice versa.
Digraph – A grapheme containing two letters that makes just one sound (phoneme).
Trigraph – A grapheme containing three letters that makes just one sound (phoneme).
Blending – This involves 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.
Segmenting – This involves hearing a word, splitting it up into the phonemes (sound talk/sounding out) 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.
Alien words – These are ‘made up’ words which test children’s knowledge of known phonemes.