We use the Sounds-Write phonics programme to teach our children to read, spell and write. It starts from what all children know from an early age – the sounds of their own language. In stages, it teaches them how we can spell each of the 44 or so sounds.
We introduce the words and how the alphabet code works.
For example, we start with simple words with one sound and one spelling. Pupils quickly learn to read and spell words such as ‘mum’, ‘dog’, ‘jam’ and ‘sit’.
We move from single-letter sounds spellings to the idea that certain sounds can have two-letter spellings.
We increase the difficulty of one-syllable words. Pupils learn more complex words like ‘elf’, ‘hand’, ‘swim’, ‘trust’ and ‘scrub’.
They go on to learn the concept ‘two letters - one sound’. We introduce the most common consonant two-letter spellings like ‘shop’, ‘chimp’ and ‘thin’.
Finally, we introduce two, three and four letter spellings of the vowels. The pupils learn how to read and spell polysyllabic words. They start with simpler words such as ‘bedbug’. Gradually they move to the more complex, such as ‘mathematical’.
Our approach teaches the conceptual understanding needed to become an effective reader:
- that letters are spellings of sounds: visual language is a representation of spoken language
- that a spelling can contain one, two, three, or four letters. Examples are: s a t, f i sh, n igh t and w eigh t
- that there is more than one way of spelling most sounds. The sound ‘ae’ as in ‘name’, has different spellings as in ‘table’, ‘rain’, ‘eight’ and ‘play’.
- that many spellings can represent more than one sound: like the sound ‘e’ in ‘head’, ‘a-e’ in ‘break’, or ‘ee’ in ‘seat’
Within this conceptual framework, we teach the factual knowledge pupils need to read and spell well.
Reading and spelling also requires pupils to make use of the alphabet code. They need to be able to:
- segment, or separate sounds in words
- blend, or push sounds together to form words
- manipulate sounds: take sounds out and put sounds into words
Sounds-Write provides opportunities for practising these skills on an everyday basis. With practice pupils achieve fluent reading and spelling.
If you would like to learn more about our approach to phonics, register for the free online course.