By learning the association between sounds (phonemes) to written alphabet letters (graphemes) children can learn to read and spell. They learn to turn the written word into sounds for reading (decoding) and to turn the sounds they hear into letters for spelling (encoding).
The first thing your child needs to learn is how to identify and categorise phonemes, as either consonants, short vowels or long vowels, in single syllable spoken words. Next they need to learn the letters that can represent a particular sound.
There are 44 sounds (Sound Blocks) in the English language, represented by over 280 letter and letter combinations. Children need to learn that letters can make different sounds, introducing the concept of educated choices. Some letters have a very strong one to one sound to letter correspondence but others such as the vowels do not.
Unlike most phonics schemes we teach all 44 phonemes, so there is no need to teach so called ‘tricky’ words, eliminating a child’s confusion as to whether a word can be read phonetically.
We believe it is best to teach in Sound Blocks because:
As there are so many letter to sound combinations we have produced a Phonics Memory Jogger as both a teaching tool and reference guide to help children become independent readers.
To get your child reading as quickly as possible we recommend teaching the Sound Blocks in their order of popularity, based on our analysis of the phonemes included in each of the ‘Top 300 Words’ taught to children.
The ‘short vowels’ are best taught first, as these appear more often in single syllable words, together with the consonants. Then the ‘long vowels’ and ‘long R controlled vowels’ are taught, with the final lessons covering letters that make more than one sound.
There is no quick fix to teaching phonics and so the best way of keeping your child engaged is to use as many different approaches as possible.
Our website has over 1,000 videos showing your child how the letters are representing the phonemes in each word, our Phonics Memory Jogger has picture and colour clues that act as a quick reference guide and our 19 Phonics Lessons, that take between 15 and 20 minutes each, include games and activities to prevent the required over learning becoming monotonous.
By the end of your phonics lessons your child should have been exposed to the most common letters that represent the 44 sounds of English and be ready to use this knowledge for reading.