We teach phonics through the Letters and Sounds program.
What is Letters and Sounds?
Letters and Sounds is a phonics resource published by the Department for Education and Skills in 2007. It aims to build children's speaking and listening skills in their own right as well as to prepare children for learning to read by developing their phonic knowledge and skills. It sets out a detailed and systematic programme for teaching phonic skills for children starting by the age of five, with the aim of them becoming fluent readers by age seven.
How do we teach phonics?
The Letters and Sounds program is split into phases that allow children to build up the number of sounds that they know and develop their phonic skills. The program starts before children are even shown or expected to say any sounds. In the first phase, children are developing their listening skills to get them ready for discerning the individual sounds in words.
From phase 2 onwards, children follow a structured program: learning new sounds, being able to say the pure sound and developing their skills of blending to build words. They will also learn to recognise tricky words - these are common words that do not sound out as we would expect, e.g. the, to.
One common problem that parents face when supporting children at home is pronouncing the pure sound for each letter of the alphabet.
The following video explains what a pure sound is and why it is important when helping children to build words. It comes from a different scheme called Read, Write Inc, but the principles are just the same. (When they talk about Sets, these are different groups of letters than appear in the Phases of Letters and Sounds).