Phonics Guide

Phonics is a way of developing independence in reading and spelling.

Phonics is made up of:

1) Basic knowledge of what sound letters make

e.g. /t/   in  top  , /ou/ in cloud

2) Skills

a) Blending for working out an unknown word when reading. i.e. the sounds are squeezed together smoothly, from left to right, to sound the word aloud. (this may take ore than one attempt). In order to do this the children need to able to recognise all the sounds (phonemes) as they are written (grapheme) and replicate their sound accurately.

b) Segmenting this is the reverse of blending. The child needs to stretch (segment) the word they need to spell, so they can hear the separate sounds inside the word and write them down in sequence. This  skill is more difficult because the child needs to be able to remember what each sound looks like and be able to write them accurately


Help! My child pronounces each sound in a word but then cannot put them back together to say the whole word?

When your child is sounding out make sure they are blending the words smoothly .If your child is chopping sounds apart (using a robotic voice)  they often are not able to put all the sounds together and ‘smoothly’ say the word, and therefore find it difficult to hear the whole word.  The child  either forgets the individual sounds by the time they get to the end of the word or is unable to combine the segmented sounds into a word. So smooth blending is paramount.

Help! My child does not automatically sound out words.

At BPS we have a catch phrase: If in doubt, sound it out! Aloud! This reminds the children what to do when they are unsure of a word. If this is continually used , sounding out will soon become a habit. Warning!!!! Some words are not phonetically plausible e.g. “laugh” in these cases just give the child the correct word.

I am unsure how to sound out each of the phonemes i.e. how each written sound is pronounced.

The English language is  particularly complex, with approximately 44 different phonemes and many of these can be represented in different ways. Please see the above video for the correct pronunciation of each sound. The correct pronunciation is vital to facilitate accurate blending.

Help! My child finds it difficult to recognise all the graphemes (written sounds) within words.

Then your child may not be secure with phonic knowledge. Use the sound mats and flash cards to reinforce the quick recall of sounds.

Why is the “th” sound one, but “bl” two sounds?

bl is a combination that spells itself, and therefore does not need to be taught as a whole sound. Other examples might be /scr/  /fl/  /nd/ . Whereas  /th/  /sh/  cannot bne worked out by combing the separate letters– they have a distinct sound of their own.