What is synthetic phonics teaching?

There has been a huge shift in the past few year in how we teach reading in UK schools. This is having a big impact and helping many children learn to read and spell. Phonics is recommended as the first strategy that children should be taught in helping them learn to read. It runs alongside other teaching methods such as Guided Reading and Shared Reading to help children develop all the other vital reading skills and hopefully give them a real love of reading. Words are made up from small units of sound called phonemes. Phonics teaches children to be able to listen carefully and identify the phonemes that make up each word. This helps children to learn to read words and to spell words

At Four Elms, children experience phonics teaching on a daily basis. Children are split into small groups for this learning which allows adults to really personalise learning. Our teachers use several schemes to support the teaching of phonics. These are: Letters and sounds, Jolly phonics and phonics play. In phonics lessons children are taught four main things:

GPCs : This stands for grapheme phoneme correspondences. This simply means that they are taught all the phonemes in the English language and ways of writing them down. These sounds are taught in a particular order. The first sounds to be taught are s, a, t, p. 

Blending :Children are taught to be able to blend. This is when children say the sounds that make up a word and are able to merge the sounds together until they can hear what the word is. This skill is vital in learning to read.

Segmenting :Children are also taught to segment. This is the opposite of blending. Children are able to say a word and then break it up into the phonemes that make it up. This skill is vital in being able to spell words.

Using and applying: Children are taught to put these phonics skills into action so that they are not learnt in isolation. This is done in a variety of ways. Often, children are dictated a short sentence that contains the key phonemes and tricky words that have been taught. Sometimes, children play word soup and are encouraged to create their own sentences. We discuss the type of sentence that has been written and always use the correct punctuation - especially for question sentences! 

Offering Support to parents:  In the autumn term, we invite parents into school to learn more about why phonics teaching is so important, how we teach phonics and learn about the year 1 phonics test. We also invite parents to come into school to see a phonics session in action so that it might help parents when decoding and encoding with their own children.

At the last phonics parent meeting, you asked us if we could help by providing some information to show how phonemes should be pronounced. Please take a look at the video link below. The first part of the video explains the relevance of phonics and the second part demonstrates the correct pronunciation of phonemes.

Phonics Pronounciation video