What is Phonics?
Phonics is a method of teaching children to read by linking sounds (phonemes) and the symbols that represent them (graphemes) and is the method that is used for teaching reading and writing in the English language. It is based on developing learners' phonemic awareness—the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate phonemes—in order to teach the correspondence between these sounds and the spelling patterns that represent them.
Once children can hear phonemes and identify the corresponding graphemes, they can be taught to use this phonic knowledge to create words by blending from left to right, for example, ‘c – a – t’, blended together gives ‘cat’. As the number of phonemes and corresponding graphemes that the children know increases, so does the number of words they can decode (read) and subsequently construct (spell then write).
Phonics is essential for children to become successful readers, spellers and writers in the early years of schooling and beyond. In the first years of their school life, it is a requirement that all children should have a daily lesson of phonics. Over these years (and beyond in certain cases), a systematic synthetic approach should be followed in order that the best possible outcomes are available for all children.
It is vitally important that children are taught phonics in a systematic and synthetic way. The definition of systematic phonics teaching is the direct teaching of a set of grapheme/phoneme correspondence (GPC) in a clearly defined sequence. If phonics teaching is truly systematic, the order is such that children become confident and successful readers, spellers and writers in a very short amount of time.
Synthetic phonics is the method where words are broken up into the smallest units of sound (phonemes). An emphasis is placed on every sound within each word. Children are taught how to break up words, or decode them, into individual sounds, and then blend all the way through the word. Children do not need to rely on any other cues to decode. They then spell and write the words using this approach as once the GPC is secure, the children can readily access the words needed for these skills.
At Thornborough Infant School, we have adopted Monster Phonics. This is a Governement approved, highly-engaging, structured, synthetic phonics programme. It facilitates learning by allowing children to learn new graphemes by using monsters to group graphemes for recall and to provide an easy and fun memory cue for children. It also uses colour-coding to highlight the grapheme when teaching a new grapheme. Once taught and secure, the colour is removed.
Monster Phonics matches the Reception EYFS framework and KS1 Spelling Curriculum. It progresses from simple to more complex phonic knowledge and skills, and ensures that prior knowledge is built upon. The main principles of systematic synthetic phonics teaching are followed, allowing children to become confident and successful readers, spellers and writers from a very early stage in their school life.
Each monster has a back story, and these are used in all areas of the phonics programme, story and song hooks, teaching PowerPoints, worksheets and activity resources, online downloadable apps, and the inclusive reading scheme and eBooks.