Phonics and Early Reading
At St Mary's phonics is taught daily using the Essentail Letters and Sounds (ELS): a synthetic Phonics Programme.
Why Essential Letter and Sounds (ELS)?
ELS aligns perfectly with our school’s ideologies, as explicit modelling, followed by group practice before working independently forms the basis of its learning model, mirroring the ‘I do, we do, you do’ approach that we have adopted within other areas of curriculum. Both ELS and St Mary’s strongly believe that no child should be expected to attempt something before they have been shown exactly how to do it, and their ‘me, then you’ approach is what made ELS a perfect fit for St Mary’s.
Why teach phonics?
Research shows that when phonics is taught in a structured way-starting with the easiest sounds and progressing to the most complex-it is the most effective way of teaching young children to read. It is particularly helpful for children aged 5 to 7 years old. Almost all children who receive good teaching of phonics will learn the skills that they need to tackle new words. Children can go on to read any kind of text fluently and confidently, and read for enjoyment.
(Department for Education)
What is Synthetic Phonics?
Synthetic phonics is a way of teaching children to read. It teaches children how sounds are represented by written letters. Children are taught to read words by blending these sounds together to make words.
For example, they will be taught that the letters ‘m-a-t’ blend together to make ‘mat’. A synthetic phonics programme, such as ELS, is a structure for teaching these sounds in a certain order to build up children’s learning gradually. It is used daily during Reception and Year 1 to teach all the sounds in the English language.
What does a sythetic phonics lesson look like?
With ELS, children will have a daily phonics lesson where the teacher explicitly teachers a new sound, or reviews sounds learned earlier in the week.
Children learn the letters that represent the sounds. Children are then asked to read words and sentences with the new sounds in. Children will also practise writing the letters that represent the sounds.
What order are the sounds taught in?
New sounds are taught each day, with some review days and weeks to help children revist and review what they have learnt.
Click below to reveal the sounds your child will learn with us at St Mary's:
How should the sounds be pronounced?
Children learn to read letters or groups of letters by saying the sounds they represent. You pronounce the sounds as you would say them within a word. Make sure you don’t add ‘uh’ onto the end, so for ‘m’ say ‘mm’ not ‘muh’ and for ‘l’ say ‘ull’ not ‘luh’. The videos below show you how to pronounce the sounds.
How can I help at home?
Practising the sounds
You can help your child practise the sounds they have been learning at school - these can be found above. Then, you can show these to your child along with the picture to help them remember.
Reading decodable books
Your child will bring home reading books with words that use the sounds they have been learning in school. You may hear these reading books called ‘decodable books’. Use the prompts inside the front and back covers to enjoy the book together and help your child practise reading.
By reading and re-reading texts both in school and at home we offer children the opportunity to develop a cohesive orthographic map of the words within our language. This in turn helps to build their reading fluency. The more you can read at home with your child, the better. We ask that children read the decodable reader they bring home at least three times during the week.
How is phonics built upon from Year Two onwards?
Spelling Shed is our chosen scheme for delivering spelling at St Mary’s; its combination of orthographical (phonic), morphological and etymological approaches serve as a perfect next step after our pupils’ phonics journey in EYFS and Year 1.
In Year 2 onwards, pupils have 3x 20-minute spelling sessions per week, each week focusing on a new spelling rule.