Phonological Awareness - Stage 8 (4 years - 7 years+)
Phonics is learning the relationship between the individual sounds (phonemes) of our language and the way we represent them in writing through letters (graphemes).
The phonics stage in phonological awareness development is being introduced to our children at a much younger age, usually the second term of reception class. For us, as adults, this can seem a little daunting as most of us were not brought up with phonics as the main strategy for learning to read or spell.
For a child who has developed through all seven stages for good phonological awareness the phonics stage is a natural progression, allowing them to use all the segmentation, blending, substitution and deletion skills previously learnt.
It is important that your child understands that letters have names; just like they do, and just like them they make different sounds. Knowing the letter names allows them to understand which letter you are talking about when discussing letters and sounds as the letter name is the unique characteristic of the letter - as it can make more than one sound. A classic example is the word ‘was’, if spelt phonetically it would be ‘woz’.
Your child should already have been taught the names (not sounds) of the letters of the alphabet, through alphabet songs and rhymes.
Understanding letter names is important in the teaching of phonics as children need to develop an understanding that a letter can make different sounds depending on the location and pairing with other letters.
For example, the letter ‘a’ can make a number of different sounds on its own depending on the word it is in: ant, baby, swan and with other letters as in words like day, train and car.
Phonics programs tend to teach:
- The use of phonic skills to blend and segment the written forms of words (CVC words) starting with one sound - one letter correspondence such as sat, pat and dog.
- Develop understanding that one sound consonant can be represented by two letters (digraph) such as 'ch' in 'chip' or 'sh' in 'shop'.
- Develop understanding that one vowel sound can be represented by two letters (vowel digraph) such as 'ea' in 'head', 'ai' in 'rain'.
- Develop understanding that some sounds are represented by 3 or 4 letter combinations such as 'igh' in 'light' and 'eigh' in 'eight'.
- Identifying the initial, end and medial sounds and their corresponding letter(s).
However, many phonics schemes teach high frequency words by rote as they do not teach the letter associations required for children to decode / encode them phonetically.