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Let's talk Phonics...

Following on from our previous post regarding Literacy, letter sounds and recognition also falls into the Literacy development area within the EYFS.


What is phonics? 'Phonics is a method for teaching people how to read and write an alphabetic language. It is done by demonstrating the relationship between the sounds of the spoken language, and the letters or groups of letters or syllables of the written language'


But how?


Before children can successfully learn ‘phonics’, they must have phonological awareness. This is when they are able to separate words into the various different sounds and are able to pronounce them. This will usually develop around three to four years old.' Phonics and babies 0-1years.... The first stage of phonics is exposing your baby to as much language as possible. In order to acquire phonological awareness they will need to hear a range of words in context. It may be hard to think of ways to expose your child to phonics as a baby but here are some simple examples;

  • Respond to your baby’s sounds. Around three months old they will start to make more sounds as you interact with them. Treat these sounds as you would a conversation – talk to your baby and allow them time to respond to you.

  • Read to your baby. Babies’ brains are developing rapidly and as they hear more words the language areas of the brain are stimulated.

  • • Narrate your baby’s routines. Talk to your baby about what you are doing with them – nappy changing, feeding, bathing etc.

  • Respond to your baby’s body language and cries. If your baby puts up their arms you can say: ‘Would you like me to pick you up?’ If your baby is crying and you recognise this as a hungry cry you can say: ‘Are you hungry? Let’s feed you now.’

  • Book recommendations - https://www.booktrust.org.uk/booklists/b/best-books-for-babies-0-12-months/

Phonics and Teenies (1-2years) .... Between the age of 1-2 years your baby will start to learn and use more and more words, you will notice that they are repeating words and asking what things are around them all of the time... To support phonological awareness in 1-2years you can start by;

  • Listening to music and rhymes – this helps to develop an awareness of rhythm and rhyme is speech

  • Play with your child, for example, role play can stimulate the imagination and provides an opportunity to introduce new vocabulary or building towers with blocks – this provides opportunities to label colours and count

  • Read stories together

  • Book recommendations - https://www.bookdepository.com/category/3392/Books-for-Ages-0-2

Phonics and toddlers (2-3years)... At this stage you will notice that children have what is referred to as a 'language explosion' where they are starting to put words together to form short sentences and are learning new words rapidly. Supporting phonological awareness in Toddlers, you can do the following;

  • Continue to speak in simple sentences – modelling sentence structure will support your child to construct their own sentences. If they make mistakes, don’t correct them – repeat back what they said using the correct structure

  • Continue to play games – below are some of our favourites: - Talk on the telephone – each have a toy phone, pretend to dial and encourage your child to pick up by saying hello. You can then ask questions and encourage them to listen and respond - Play the ‘what’s that’ game. You can point to an item and ask your child to name it. They will begin to do the same to you

  • Continue singing songs and listening to music – this will build vocabulary and continue to develop around rhythm and rhyme in speech

  • Book recommendations - https://www.bookdepository.com/category/3392/Books-for-Ages-0-2


Phonics and Preschool (3-5years)...

As children enter the 'pre-school stage' they are generally speaking in longer sentences with more confidence. There may be some sounds that they have a few difficulties with, including r, w, l, f, th, sh, ch and dz. This is perfectly normal and will be monitored and supported during their time within early years settings. We recommend the following to support phonological awareness; ** Listening is a key aspect of a phonics programme and a skill that will be focused on during your child’s day at preschool. Listening helps children to discriminate between different sounds, which is key to the development of phoneme awareness in the later stages. Some of favourite listening games are:

  • • Nature walks – go to a park and listen to the sounds, birds, traffic, aircraft, insects etc.

  • • Sound stories – read a story and make the sounds described in the book.

  • • Soundtracks – this is a game that can be purchased and played at home with all the family https://maxedbuy.co.uk/en/ detail/1040078-galt-toys-soundtracks-listening.html

  • • Socks and shakers – fill a sock or bottle with items such as, rice, money, shells etc. Ask them to close their eyes, shake the sock or bottle and ask them to identify the sound.

  • • Play rhyming games – you say a word like ‘cat’ and your child has to say a word that rhymes, such as ‘mat’.

  • Introduce new words to describe objects or activities, for example, crunchy, rough, spiky, smooth etc.

  • Use alliteration in your conversations, starting off with two words and then extending to more, for example, busy bees, hungry horses, Alex alligator adores apples.

  • • Play listening and remembering games – Mummy went to the shop and bought a bag of apples, one banana and a loaf of bread.

  • Book recommendations - https://www.bookdepository.com/category/3392/Books-for-Ages-0-2


We are available to support parents in Literacy development, but encourage this loosely without following particular programmes such as 'Jolly phonics' as often this is not best practice for early literacy development.



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