Download a copy of this page

Children’s spoken language supports reading and writing

In order to make a good start in reading and writing, children need to have an adult listen to them and talk to them. Speaking and listening are the foundations for reading and writing. This can be achieved through everyday activities, such as:

  • Preparing meals
  • Tidying up
  • Putting shopping away
  • Getting ready to go out

All of these activities offer you the chance to talk to your child, explaining what you are doing. Through these activities, children hear the way language is put together into sentences for a purpose.

Daily Phonics – Every child in Reception and KS1 learns daily phonics at their level.

Every day the children have 20 minute sessions of phonics.

  • It is a fast paced approach.
  • Lessons encompass a range of games, songs and rhymes.
  • We use the Letters and Sounds planning document to support the teaching of phonics and Jolly Phonics.
  • There are 6 phonics phases which the children work through at their own pace.

Phase 1

Getting ready for phonics starts in nursery.

  • Activities are planned to enable children to listen attentively to sounds around them, such as the sounds of their toys and to sounds in spoken language.
  • The children are taught a wide range of nursery rhymes and songs.
  • They listen to a wide range of stories which helps to increase the number of words they know – their vocabulary – and helps them talk confidently about books.

Phase 2 Children in Reception learn their first 19 sounds (called phonemes) to read and write simple words, for example, sat, tap, duck.  

    • A phoneme can be represented by more than one letter, for example, /ll/ as in b-e-ll.
    • Your child is taught these phonemes through pictures and actions to help them remember.
  • They will also learn several tricky words: the, to, I, go, no.

Phase 3

The purpose of this phase is to:

  • Teach phonemes made using two letters, for example, ‘oa’ as in boat
  • Practise blending and segmenting a wider set of CVC words, for example, fizz, chip, sheep, light
  • Learn all letter names and begin to form them correctly.
  • Read more tricky words and begin to spell some of them: he, she, we, me, be, was, my, you, her, they, all.
  • Read and write words in phrases and sentences.

Phase 4

Children continue to practise previously learned phonemes and learn how to read and write: CVCC words: tent, damp, toast, chimp

For example, in the word ‘toast’, t = consonant, oa = vowel,  s = consonant,  t = consonant.

They will learn more tricky words: said, so, do, have, like, some, come, were, there, little, one, when, out, what

Phase 5 and 6          In Key Stage 1 (Year 1 and Year 2)

  • Children learn that most sounds (phonemes) can be spelt in more than one way. For example, the f sound can be written as f as in fan or ff as in puff or ph as in photo.
  • This develops their knowledge of spelling choices. They will continue with this spelling work into Year 2 and beyond.
  • They will learn that most letters and combinations of letters (graphemes) can represent more than one sound. For example, the grapheme ea can be read as /ee/ as in leaf or /e/ as in bread.
  • This supports their reading development.
  • Good phonics knowledge and skills help your child to read words fluently and spell words, but they need to understand what they are reading and understand the processes and purposes for writing too. Your help is vital here.

Year 1 Phonics Screening

  • The check assesses decoding skills using phonics.
  • Children will sit with a teacher they are familiar with and be asked to read 40 words aloud (20 real words, 20 non-words – nonsense words).
  • Non-words are important to include because words such as ‘vap’ or ‘jound’ are new to all children. Children cannot read the non-words by using their memory or vocabulary already learnt. This is a fair way to assess their ability to decode.
  • If children do not pass the screening check, they retake the test at the end of Year 2.

Ways you can support your child at home

  • Ask your child’s class teacher about the letters and sounds the class is covering in lessons each week. You can then highlight these sounds when you read with your child.
  • Enjoy and share books that will fire their imagination and interest. Read and reread those they love best.
  • Continue listening to your child read, even when they are reading independently. This is very important – your child needs to practise their reading and comprehension skills regularly, and needs the support of an interested adult. Grandparents, older brothers or sisters can help, too.

Hearing your child read                                      

  • Choose a quiet time and give your child your full attention;
  • Give support if required;
  • Explain the meaning of new words;
  • Talk about the text using open questions. For example,
            • Which word tells you what the character is like?
            • How would you feel?
            • What do you think will happen next?
            • What would you do?
            • What have you learned about …… in your book?

What to do if your child is stuck on a word

  • Use phonics first: What sound does the word begin with? Can you say the sounds in the word? Blend them together.
  • Read to the end of the sentence. What would make sense?
  • What is the text about – what might fit here?
  • Does it sound right?
  • Look at the picture. Does it help?

Useful phonics websites