Phonics in Practice

Jul 14 / Kate Marriott

Phonics teaches children to read by teaching them the relationship between the sounds of spoken language and the letters or groups of letters that represent those sounds.

Pupils are taught to recognise letter sounds first and are then taught to blend these sounds together to read words. Phonics has proven very successful in giving children the skills they need to decode unfamiliar words effectively.  
Types of phonics

There are 3 main types of phonics these are embedded, analytical and synthetic.

and analytical phonics are whole word approaches and focus more on analysing words and the reading contexts.

In contrast to those whole word approaches, synthetic phonics teaches children to break down words into their constituent sounds and blend these sounds together again to read the whole word. By doing this, children become more confident in decoding unfamiliar words.  
Phonics training 

Prospero Learning has a new training course aimed at those wanting to gain a better understanding of what phonics is, and how to improve their phonics practice. The course is free, fully accredited and is online so you can do it at a time that suits you.

Tips for improving your phonics practice

1. Start with the basics 
When teaching phonics, it is essential to start with the basics. Begin by introducing the individual letter sounds (phonemes) and their corresponding letter(s). Use visual aids, such as flashcards to help students associate each letter with its sound. Once they have a solid foundation of letter sounds, move on to teaching consonant blends, digraphs, and vowel sounds. 

2. Make it multisensory 
Engaging multiple senses can enhance students' learning experience. Try to incorporate multisensory activities into your phonics lessons to help students reinforce their understanding of sound-letter relationships. For example, have students trace letters with their fingers while saying the corresponding sound, or use manipulatives like magnetic letters. 

3. Provide practice opportunities 
Repetition and practice are key when it comes to mastering phonics. Offer students plenty of practice opportunities to apply their knowledge of sound-letter relationships. Use word-building activities, and interactive games to reinforce phonics skills in a fun and engaging way. 

4. Integrate phonics into reading and writing activities 
Phonics instruction should not be isolated. Integrate phonics into everyday literacy activities so that students use their phonics skills outside of phonics sessions. Connecting phonics to real-world literacy tasks helps students develop a deeper understanding of how phonics relates to reading and writing. 

5. Differentiate instruction
Every student learns at their own pace, so it is important to differentiate your phonics instruction to meet individual needs. Regular assessment in phonics is important to see what a child read and what they need to work on you can then use these assessments to inform your planning and teaching to help ensure all pupils make progress.